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An Itch You Can't Scratch

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Tenko was used to many things at this age. Things a kid like him should not be used to.

 

Things like being left behind, or being pushed around, spoken over, yelled at. Things like being told his Quirk was more suitable for a villain, or seeing fear in the other kids’ eyes.

 

He was used to standing on the outskirts, watching from the outside.

 

Honestly, it was more comfortable that way. He wasn't good at running and chattering and role playing like the other kids liked. He didn't like the teasing that came with his separation from the norm, but doing his own thing was just fine.

 

So whether the kids didn't look his way during recess, or they chose him to be the (unwilling) villain, he was used to it.

 

---

 

“Tenko, take your dastardly hands off of my sidekick!” The kid chosen to be the ‘hero’ for today demanded, pointing at Tenko’s slouched form.

 

Scarlet eyes drifted over to the kid cowering in fear next to him, who had been given the instruction to ‘be captured’.

 

“I'm not even touching him.” Tenko murmured, kicking at the mulch that layered the floor of the gymnasium outside. “You'd know if I was.” He added- quieter, because these kids didn't like to be reminded of his destructive Quirk.

 

As long as he was someone to be defeated, their game went on smoothly. Any notion that suggested a chance at victory for Tenko was quickly squashed with tiny fists (and sometimes, shoes).

 

“Don't worry, Hina!” The ‘hero’ called, grin triumphant. “Everything is okay!” He declared, fists on his hips. “Why?” He added, waiting for his gang of fellow ‘heroes' to join in on the chant.

 

“Because I am here!” They cried as a group, charging Tenko.

 

Ah.

 

Another game of ‘All Might vs. Villain’.

 

All Might was everybody's favorite hero from watching the news on the little TV in the common room.

 

Tenko was quickly growing tired of him, seeing as the pro-hero was consistently beating him up every Tuesday.

 

“You won't win!” One of the kids declared, her hair lengthening to wrap around one of his wrists.

 

The kids around here had figured out long ago that as long as at least one of his fingers was restrained, he was pretty much powerless. At this point, he didn't even bother fighting back.

 

When they pinned him to the ground, many Quirks working together to properly restrain him, their ringleader pulled his stricken sidekick away from danger. As he rolled up his sleeve, the kid smiled down at him, teeth much too sharp and menacing for the grin to be friendly.

 

“Detroit… Smash!”

 

Tenko's body kicked on instinct, all the air rushing from his lungs as the fist connected with his stomach. Held down like this, he was completely defenseless.

 

His heel caught a girl's cheek.

 

When she stumbled back, tears flooding her eyes while she pressed a hand to the offending shoe mark, Tenko knew he was in trouble.

 

The ‘hero' playing All Might lost the smile. He turned back towards Tenko with a frown, eyes burning with… something. Tenko couldn't really tell.

 

“You'll pay for that, villain.” The kid spat. Tenko flinched despite the fact that the kids hadn't made a move yet.

 

The crowd holding him down seemed to press in, and he did his best to fold into himself, protecting himself from future blows.

 

“Hey, that's not very hero-like!”

 

The ‘hero' paused. Tenko cracked an eye open.

 

“You rescued your sidekick, didn't you?” A girl, short, dark haired, and frowning, crossed her arms over her chest. “You won already. A hero that hits someone when they're down is no hero at all! Heroes are supposed to save people!”

 

The ringleader’s fist fell to his side, Tenko forgotten.

 

“He hurt her! He deserves to be punished!” The kid insisted, gesturing to Tenko, who had obviously not been forgotten.

 

The girl pushed thick framed glasses farther up her nose. “Heroes save people.” She reiterated.

 

The ‘hero' stepped back, frowning still. Some kids followed his example, leaving Tenko's side.

 

“C'mon guys.” The ‘hero' finally sighed. “Let the police take this villain to jail. We have more villains to defeat.”

 

When his wrists were released, the ones holding him down jumped back quickly as if he'd snatch them mid-retreat. He watched them go from the ground, his stomach too knotted to make any sudden movements (like sit straight up).

 

Honestly, he was not upset about being forced to play the villain (again). He was used to that.

 

Now, someone standing up for him?

 

He was not used to that. That was new.

 

It wasn't hard to spot the girl again, now that he knew she existed. Most of the time, she didn't notice him. Even during recess, she was usually playing with another group of kids.

 

When those kids turned him into the villain again, he noticed that she played along.

 

Of course. It's fun being the hero who always wins.

 

Most of the time, she didn't say anything- to the ringleader or to Tenko.

 

When they threw the next punch, she wasn't there to stop them.

 

Well.

 

It was nice while it lasted.

 

After brushing off the momentary bump in normalcy, Tenko continued with his life. His terrible, stepped all over, pushed around life.

 

On a particularly dry day, after the ‘heroes' had played their game and had their way, Tenko did his best to dust the sand out of his clothes.

 

He didn't like sand or dirt.

 

It was dry and gritty and it seemed to stick to him. It made him itchy- and he was itchy enough, what with the side effects of his Quirk on his skin.

 

Sand made him itchy. All he could do was itch.

 

Itch itch itch itch itch itch itch

 

“Don't scratch yourself so hard. You'll hurt yourself!”

 

Immediately he turned towards the source, looking up through his bangs to catch the identity of whoever had addressed him.

 

“Stop! Stop!”

 

The girl from earlier, with the glasses, swatted at his hand. He stepped back, surprised.

 

People didn't… touch him. Especially his hands.

 

They knew what he could do. They didn't want to risk it.

 

He wasn't used to this.

 

“You'll hurt yourself!” She insisted. “Stop scratching!”

 

When she grabbed his wrist, forcefully pulling his hand away from his chin, he panicked.

 

With five tiny fingers curled into a fist, he punched her.

 

When she staggered away, a hand pressed to her cheek in surprise, his stomach dropped.

 

You really are a villain.

 

For a moment, they were quiet.

 

She didn't cry. She didn't even sniffle.

 

He let his fist fall back to his side.

 

She let her hand fall from her face. Little red welts raised in the wake of his knuckles, and he looked away in shame.

 

“I'm sorry.” She finally managed.

 

Eyes that had been studying the floor shot to her, surprised.

 

“I haven't been very nice to you, have I?” She directed the question at him, but he didn't know how to reply. “It's no wonder you don't want to be my friend.”

 

When she turned on her heel, hand coming back up to hold her cheek, he felt panic rising in his chest again.

 

No one had ever wanted to be his friend.

 

“Wait- wait!”

 

She stopped in her tracks, hopeful, and he did too, arm still outstretched. When she turned towards him he quickly dropped his hand, reprimanding himself for reaching out so foolishly.

 

“I…” Tenko trailed off, dark eyes fixed on the sand beneath him. “I don't have any friends.”

 

The girl regarded him with a look he couldn't read.

 

“Do you want some?”

 

He nodded quickly, eyes still fixed on the ground.

 

“Then why'd you punch me!?” She demanded, stomping once for emphasis in the dry sand.

 

He coughed within the cloud of dust she kicked up, and her expression fell- as if she'd hurt him or something.

 

“You- you grabbed my hands,” Tenko explained as best as he could.

 

He'd never been in a situation like this.

 

“I could've hurt you.” He added in a whisper, flashes of muscle and bone and screaming and crying flashing in the back of his mind.

 

“Oh.” She hummed, tilting her head to the side. “I didn't know. Sorry! I'll do better next time.” She promised, hands set on her hips in resolution.

 

Tenko's gaze shot up from the ground, astonished.

 

She approached him then, to ask what he had been doing. He admitted to doing nothing, just sitting against the brick and pulling up grass. Without complaint, she sat with him, leaning up against the warm brick building.

 

“What's your name?” She asked, twirling a piece of grass between her fingers.

 

“Shimura Tenko.” He answered softly, ripping up a pile of weeds.

 

“Oh cool! I like it!” She chirped, grinning brightly in his direction.

 

He didn't know what to do with that, so he looked away.

 

“I'm Takako! Hiyashi Takako!” She introduced herself, sticking a hand out in his direction.

 

He regarded her palm with a wary gaze.

 

Surely, she must not know about him.

 

“What's wrong?” Takako wondered, letting her hand fall back to her side.

 

“I… I could hurt you.” Tenko mumbled, eyes drifting from her hand to the ground.

 

“How? Is it your Quirk?” She grilled him, leaning into him despite the danger he'd warned her of.

 

In lieu of an answer, he showed her the clump of weeds in his hand. One by one, he curled his fingers in, and, sure enough, when his pinky touched the ball of grass, it crumbled to dust, blowing away in the wind.

 

She regarded him with an expression he'd never seen before.

 

“Wow! That's a powerful Quirk!” Takako chirped with a smile, eyes sparkling, unfazed. “You can make things… disappear?” She guessed, clarifying.

 

Tenko shook his head. “Disintegrate.” He corrected, using one of the big words he'd heard one of the adults using while they discussed him. “Dust.” He added, seeing the confusion on her face.

 

“Oh. Okay!” Takako nodded firmly, understanding. “You have to use all five fingers?”

 

He nodded.

 

“Then we can definitely shake hands!” She declared, sticking hers back out to him. “Just don't use all of your fingers!”

 

Tenko shook his head. Her hand dropped again.

 

“I don't want to make a mistake.” He whispered.

 

His first friend, blown away in the wind from a slip of his fingers. No thank you.

 

“That's okay!” Takako assured him. She leaned back against the wall, watching the other kids play on the playground. “At least you have a Quirk.” She whispered. “Mine hasn't shown up yet.”

 

Tenko didn't know how to respond.

 

“But that's okay, I can wait. In the meantime, I'm learning everything I can about other people's quirks!” Takako announced, smiling brightly at him.

 

Tenko stared back, his mouth twitching into a thin line.

 

He wasn't used to this at all.

 

---

 

After that day, Takako kept coming back. She'd lean against the wall with him and offer up games they could play, trying to find something he would participate in.

 

“What about… tag?” She tried.

 

He merely stared down into his open palm.

 

“Right.” She agreed, shaking her head. “Not tag. What about… catch?”

 

His eyes didn't move from his hands.

 

“You've gotta know how to touch things without desi- desinte- dusting them!” Takako demanded, giving up completely on the bigger word.

 

“I do.” Tenko answered softly. “I just mess up.”

 

“Everybody messes up!” Takako insisted, frustrated. “What about the swings? Do you like to swing?”

 

Tenko shook his head. Whenever he got on the swings, someone always pushed him too hard, making his insides knot up when he fell backwards from the resulting height. When his stomach flipped like that, it was instinct to grip tighter on the chains beside him and… he'd disintegrated a lot of swings, okay?

 

“No swings.” Takako sighed, pulling up some more grass.

 

“What do you like to do?” Tenko asked in return, knowing that his list of ideas was probably much shorter than hers.

 

“I like the monkey bars.” She admitted. “But I never get to play on them. That's where the older kids hang out.”

 

Tenko's gaze swung to the metal bars nearby.

 

Sure enough, there sat the older kids. None of them were actually using the equipment. They simply sat on top of the bars and hissed at the younger kids when they came too close.

 

“What about hide and seek?” Takako offered next, her eyes bright. “You could play that!”

 

Tenko nodded slowly, though uncertain, and Takako grinned widely, pleased.

 

It was Takako that argued with the other kids, convincing them that Tenko could play and not hurt anyone. The other kids were skeptical, but they weren't dumb. They knew that hide and seek didn't require any contact to win or lose.

 

When they agreed to have Tenko play with them, Takako pretty much dragged him over to the crowd.

 

With a little grumbling, the kids separated into teams.

 

Tenko wasn't ecstatic to be on a team without Takako, but at least the other kids were tolerating him. His team discussed hiding places while Takako’s counted down, and he rushed off along with the other kids.

 

Well, he'd thought they were tolerating him. When the seekers broke off from their counting spot and beelined for where Tenko hid, he knew he'd been set up.

 

They dragged him from the tunnel slide, pinning his hands before he got any ideas about escaping.

 

“You thought we'd let a villain play with us?” One of the kids demanded, tossing his head in disgust.

 

“He's gross looking,” one of the girls whispered to a friend. “What's wrong with his face?”

 

Tenko wished he could hide under his hands.

 

It wasn't his fault his Quirk made his skin horrifically dry. He didn't like what he saw in the mirror either.

 

“Yeah, crusty! Who said you could play with us?” Another kid demanded, raising sharp claws that Tenko knew would hurt.

 

“Hey! I did!”

 

The crowd around him parted to reveal none other than his personal savior, Takako.

 

“What did Tenko ever do to you?” She demanded, kicking at the bonds someone had restrained him with.

 

“He turned my favorite jacket into dust!” One kid shouted.

 

“He looks ugly!” From another.

 

“He hurt Miss Kagehira!”

 

“Oh yeah?” Takako challenged, only satisfied with her attack when the bonds retreated from Tenko's hands. “Kiko burned Mr. Genji last week! Why aren't you hurting her?”

 

The kids quieted, anger dropping from boiling over to a low simmer, as if Takako had turned some kind of dial on the stove.

 

“Karachi is green! That's not weird to you?” She cried out, pointing into the small crowd.

 

The green boy in question raised a hand to his chest, offended. “It's because of my Quirk! I can't control it!”

 

“And you think Tenko can?” Takako shot back.

 

The mumbling in the crowd silenced.

 

“Don't you guys play hero all the time? What kind of heroes are you?” She demanded, her voice stressed.

 

“But- but we're not playing heroes right now!” Someone with horns argued.

 

Takako’s mouth drew into a thin line, her eyes blazing behind her glasses. “If you act like a villain when you're not being a hero, what are you really?”

 

“Wha- I'm not a villain!” The horn kid reacted immediately. “You take that back!”

 

Takako scoffed, grabbing Tenko by the wrist and hauling him to his feet.

 

The kids around them murmured in surprise.

 

“Let's go.” Takako huffed in Tenko's direction, pushing through the crowd of kids.

 

Tenko followed. He was used to that.

 

“Tennchan,” Takako spoke up as she stopped by the swings. “Doesn't it make you angry?”

 

She didn't specify what, but Tenko could guess.

 

“Kind of.” He admitted, his voice soft. “They're mostly right, though.”

 

“They're not!” Takako shouted, kicking at the mulch under their feet.

 

Tenko stepped back, surprised.

 

“They're not right! You're not a villain!” She cried. Patches of dirt showed where she'd scuffed the mulch away.

 

“Takako,” Tenko called, stepping towards her with concern. “It's not that big of a deal.”

 

“It is!”

 

He froze in place, stunned by the frantic pitch of her screech. Takako whipped around to face him, her teeth set in a harsh line.

 

“They shouldn't be able to get away with bad things just because they call themselves heroes.” She hissed, fat tears rolling down her cheeks. “They shouldn't be able to hurt you like that.”

 

Tenko could only stare. It wasn't like he hadn't seen Takako cry before. She'd fallen and scraped the skin off of her palms and knees too many times to count, an event which was often accompanied with tears. Once, she'd even fallen from the fireman’s pole and twisted her ankle. She'd cried then too.

 

But even then, he'd never seen her so… distressed.

 

“I… I'm okay, Takako.” He assured her, showing her his hands to prove it. “Nobody hurt me.”

 

She frowned while she wiped the tears from her face, but quieted anyways. “Good.” Takako huffed, sniffling into her sleeve. Her glasses were fogged.

 

“What… what do you want to play now?” Tenko ventured, doing his best to lift the mood.

 

“Let's find a ball.” Takako replied, a little quieter than usual. “You can't vanish things with your toes, right?”

 

Tenko shook his head. “Besides,” he added, “I have shoes on.”

 

Takako nodded thoughtfully, wandering off. Tenko followed.

 

There was dirt in his collar.

 

He frowned, scratching at the back of his neck.

 

Itch itch itch itch itch-

 

“Stop that,” Takako called over her shoulder. “You'll hurt yourself.”

 

Tenko stopped.

 

She was right. If he scratched for too long, he'd start bleeding.

 

He didn't mind. He was used to it.

 

---

 

Playing with Takako was fun. She found games he could play without fear of disintegrating anything, and even when he did slip up, she didn't mind.

 

“Just get another ball from the basket. This time, don't grab it with all five fingers!”

 

She never gave up on playing with the other kids. However, when she would convince them to play hide and seek with Tenko, she always made sure she was on his team.

 

They talked a lot. They talked about Quirks and heroes and the other kids and the adults…

 

But they didn't talk about home.

 

Or at least whatever home was before they ended up here.

 

Tenko was used to that.

 

After awhile, he realized how lonely he'd been. Playing by himself was alright, but Takako added to him. She built upon his ideas and contributed some of her own. It made recess much more fun.

 

But, of course, it was the day when Takako was nowhere to be found that the worst happened.

 

“In the name of All Might, I banish you!”

 

Tenko choked when the shoe connected with his ribcage. He couldn't raise a hand to his mouth to stop the blood from running down his chin.

 

He knew that somewhere nearby there was an adult. He'd already cried out for help, but no one had come yet.

 

If not an adult, then a hero? Someone? Anyone?

 

Takako?

 

Someone kicked him again. That one was gonna bruise.

 

“You're not welcome here, freak!”

 

Tenko tried to shield his face with his shoulder, but something sharp hit his cheek anyways.

 

He was used to the words.

 

He was used to the fists.

 

He wasn't incredibly used to the blood, but he would be soon, he was sure.

 

And when the ‘heroes' left him, curled up on the ground, well… he was used to that too.

 

The man in a suit that had approached him afterwards, the one that spoke to his hatred, his insecurities, the one that helped him up and promised him revenge…

 

The one that gave him his new name. Shigaraki Tomura.

 

He wasn't used to that, but it didn't take long to become second nature.

 

---

 

“Shigaraki-kuuun~”

 

Tenko- or as he was known now, Tomura- frowned at Toga as the little blonde bounced around. She playfully swiped at Dabi with a knife as she passed.

 

“When are we going after Deku-kun again?” Toga demanded- for probably the fifth time that day. Maybe the sixtieth time that week.

 

If he wasn't already tired of the hero-in-training’s name, he would be by the end of this wait.

 

“Not yet.” He managed through gritted teeth, scratching irritably at the rough patch on his neck.

 

“Awww~! But I want to see him now!” Toga bared sharp teeth in what Tomura assumed was supposed to be a persuasive grin. “I'm a girl in love! You can't keep me from my Deku!”

 

Tomura sighed, ignoring her for the fifth time that day. He was going to have to pick up drinking to deal with Toga at this rate.

 

“Can I braid your hair, Shigaraki-kuuuun??”

 

God, he hated the way she drew everything out like it was cute.

 

“No.”

 

“Awwwww!” Toga whined, throwing herself onto the table he sat at in a childish fit. “But it's so messy! I just have to do something with it!”

 

Tomura wanted to scream.

 

“No.” Was what came out instead.

 

“Toga,” Kurogiri- bless him- called for the weeping blonde sprawled across the table. “I need your intel to inform some of our next decisions. Come discuss with me.”

 

Toga popped up immediately, skipping towards the giant warp gate with glee.

 

Tomura sighed, deflating into the fingers pressed to his temples. The anxiety of the wait was almost as bad as the impending battle itself.

 

The news channel they had the TV on suddenly crackled to life, showing the beginnings of this year's sports competition- or whatever dumb thing they did at UA to show off their precious students’ quirks.

 

Oh well. More intel for him.

 

Familiar faces flashed past as they introduced the competitors for this year, UA’s second years gearing up to battle.

 

Why did this so called ‘hero's academy’ pit its students against each other in what ultimately became a fight to the death?

 

Heroes and their stupid propensity for showing off.

 

Tomura yawned as he clicked the volume up by a couple notches.

 

“And next up in the quarterfinals, Class A’s Midoriya Izuku versus Class B’s Monoma-”

 

“Izuku? My Izuku?!” Toga shouted, breaking from her discussion with Kurogiri. Tomura tried not to disintegrate her on the spot when she knocked him off of his chair in her attempt to get closer to the screen.

 

From his position on the floor now, he could at least still see the screen as they panned over the crowd, showing Class A and Class B cheering their classmates on.

 

There was that troublemaker Bakugou- an unpleasant memory in Tomura's mind. Ah, and the half and half, Todoroki- who always had Dabi on some weird sort of edge.

 

He scratched a little more furiously at his chin.

 

UA could burn in hell. Better yet, crumble to dust under his very fingertips-

 

The screen flashed with smiling high school faces, showing Kirishima waving over the wall between class A and B to see the iron boy, Tetsutetsu.

 

There- there, next to Tetsutetsu- who was that with the glasses-

 

“And Midoriya starts the match out strong, sending Monoma scrabbling for purchase with a blast from his first supercharged punch!!”

 

“Damn-” Tomura hissed, slamming his fists against the floor as the camera angle changed to keep up with the narration.

 

He'd never hated Present Mic’s voice more.

 

When he finally straightened, getting up to sit in his chair, he found the room's eyes on him.

 

“What?” He spat, lips pulling into a wobbly frown.

 

“Is something wrong, Shigaraki?” Kurogiri asked slowly.

 

Of course the warp gate knew his wide range of emotions better than anyone, so when the suited figure was concerned, everyone was interested.

 

“I'm fine.” Tomura cut out through gritted teeth. “I need an updated list of Class A and Class B. Now.”

 

“Oh! Did you see someone new??” Toga cried, her hands pressed to the screen. “New friends, new friends, yay!”

 

Tomura pressed his fingers to his forehead again.

 

This was about to be even more of a headache then it already was.

 

---

 

“This one,” Tomura hummed, sliding the picture back in Kurogiri’s direction. “I want to know more about this one.”

 

If Kurogiri had eyebrows, they'd be raised.

 

“This one’s quirk is… interesting. It's not common to have a quirk like this.” Kurogiri began. “Though, I'm not surprised by its strength, considering the lineage they came from.”

 

“Lineage? You mean the parents, right?” Dabi interjected, sitting down next to Tomura.

 

“Yes.” Kurogiri, ever patient, confirmed Dabi’s translation. “The pro hero, Nightmare, is the father. He wasn't incredibly popular, considering the nature of his Quirk, but he saved many nonetheless.” Kurogiri clicked a button on the remote, turning the TV on, and played a video.

 

A man fought fearlessly against a masked figure that Tomura assumed was a villain, the two exchanging punches and blasts of… something.

 

The villain dodged each blast, but the flashes of light coalesced, turning into something else.

 

The people on the street screamed in fear, cowering away from the images.

 

The lights danced and spun, changing shape as they encountered new people.

 

“Nightmare…” Dabi hummed, watching the screen. “I'm assuming those are their worst fears?”

 

Kurogiri nodded, switching off the screen.

 

“This one was put into foster care after it became clear that their home situation was something of a… well, excuse the pun, but a nightmare.” Kurogiri finished, sliding the picture back in Tomura's direction.

 

Tomura stared down at glasses and dark hair.

 

“They shouldn't be able to get away with bad things just because they call themselves heroes.”

 

“Hiyashi Takako,” Tomura murmured, tracing the outline of her unsmiling photo ID. “So you're trying to be a hero, too?”

 

---

 

It wasn't long before his plan came together. He was getting better at this with every strike upon UA’s back.

 

Tomura was going along, this time.

 

It was time to crush that Deku while he was still fragile. The longer they left him under All Might’s care, the stronger he became.

 

Walking through the massive encampment UA had built to further test their students, Tomura once again wondered where the funding came from to create a facility of this size.

 

Though he walked with a purpose, he still hunched over himself, leaving his hands balled up in his pockets.

 

Explosions boomed somewhere off to the west of him, and in the east he saw lightning crackling through the air.

 

Tomura returned his eyes to the road in front of him, thinking about the upcoming battle with the aspiring hero Deku.

 

This one, this green eyed, freckled one… this was One For All’s successor.

 

Ugh.

 

Just the thought of it made him itch.

 

Not to mention the obstacles he'd overcome- obstacles that Tomura had put in his way, only for him to hop right over them.

 

Itch itch itch itch itch

 

And the infuriating grin, his refusal to bend, the ideals he'd held strong to even in the face of disintegration by Tomura's own hands…

 

Itch itch itch itch itch-

 

“You shouldn't scratch like that.”

 

Tomura froze.

 

Kurogiri stopped walking too, looking around for the source of the voice.

 

“You'll hurt yourself, Tennchan.”

 

The voice was sad, and so was the expression on Takako’s face when she stepped out from behind a nearby building.

 

“Shigaraki,” Kurogiri murmured. “Do you… know this girl?”

 

“Shigaraki?” Takako echoed. “Who's that? I thought your surname was Shimura!”

 

Kurogiri’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “She knows who you are?” The warp gate hissed.

 

“What, did you think I wouldn't recognize you?” Takako asked, immobile in her spot. “You have blue hair, Tenko. And you still wear those damn shoes.”

 

Tomura glanced down at the red high tops on his feet.

 

“What are you after?” Was her next question, her voice dwindling as if she feared the answer. “Why are you here?”

 

“Did you think I was here for you, Tacchan?” Tomura spat suddenly, sneering from behind the hand over his face as he broke his silence. “Is your heart skipping beats with fear?”

 

Takako clearly shrunk away from him, frowning. “That wasn't very nice of you, Tenko.” She replied softly. “You know I'm not afraid of you.”

 

“You should be.”

 

He chose that moment to rush forwards, using his inhuman speed to get close to her before she could even blink. When he reached out, hands outstretched in her direction, she disappeared- gone, in the blink of an eye.

 

He touched the street light she'd been leaning against instead, all of his fingers closing in on the structure in his surprise.

 

It crumbled to dust in front of him, laying in a pile at his feet.

 

“Jeez, Tenko,” Takako called to him, her voice somewhere else. “You were going to turn me to dust? What'd I ever do to you?”

 

“Are you hiding from me, Tacchan?” Tomura called out, swiveling away from the crumbled pile of what had been a street lamp. “I thought you said you weren't afraid of me.”

 

“I'm not afraid of Tenko.” She confirmed. “I don't know about this… Shigaraki.”

 

Takako’s voice replied from somewhere far away, close enough to hear, but far enough that it echoed.

 

“This is who I am now.” Was the simple reply. “And I've got things to do. I didn't come here to play games.” Tomura turned to nod to Kurogiri, who had been waiting patiently, and took a step in the direction he'd been heading.

 

Well, he took a step, and then he didn't. His foot reversed, planting itself in the position he'd begun in.

 

“Takako, I thought I told you I wasn't here to play-”

 

He paused, turning his head to glance over his shoulder.

 

Takako stood still in the middle of the street, not too far away from Kurogiri. She didn't pay much attention to the warp gate though, dark eyes fixed on Tomura.

 

“But Tennchan,” she whispered, voice pitched up with the intent to plead. “We used to have so much fun.”

 

Tomura hated himself for the way his heart kicked in his chest.

 

Did she know how badly he craved acknowledgment? How desperately he wanted to be loved?

 

He doubted she did, or else she would've used that against him by now.

 

“Is this some kind of heroic effort to save your friends?” He spat, face twisted up around the word hero, as if it were the worst curse.

 

“You could call it that,” she agreed, taking a step towards him. Then another.

 

He didn't back away, only turned to face her.

 

“Shigaraki,” Kurogiri called, a warning in his voice as Takako drew closer.

 

“Let her have her fun.” Tomura dismissed him, one eye lazily tracking Takako’s movements through bangs and the palm over his face.

 

Takako stopped within arm's length of him. If he wanted to, he could reach out and destroy her now, take down the last string connecting him to hope and humanity.

 

“Where did you go, all those years ago?” Takako asked, pushing her glasses farther up her nose. “No one would tell me the truth. I looked for you, Tenko. Even when I got out of there, got into school, I searched for you.”

 

“You found me.” Tomura hummed, voice flat.

 

Takako’s face fell.

 

“Not in the way I wanted to.” She admitted. “Not like this.”

 

Tomura choked back a giggle, amused. “What a plot twist, huh?” He managed around the smile beginning to split his lips. “Childhood friends grow up only to face each other on opposite sides? Hero versus villain?” He let slip a chuckle, entertained by his own narration. “Sounds like a movie, doesn't it, Tacchan?”

 

Takako’s hand raised, but it only fell back to her side, something conflicted in her gaze.

 

“Who hurt you, Tenko?” She whispered. “Who let you become this?”

 

Tomura couldn't help the laughter then. That was funny.

 

“You think-” he gasped around maniacal laughter, “that someone made me into this? No, Tacchan. This is who I made myself to be, after no one else would help me. I had to help myself.”

 

Takako’s eyes had flooded with tears now, and while he didn't find that funny, the subject matter at hand still had him chortling.

 

When she moved, he stayed still.

 

She passed through the warp gate Kurogiri had opened and stumbled out behind him with a gasp, tears splattering against the concrete.

 

“Tenko,” she sobbed, turning to face him again. He did the same, despite Kurogiri’s mumblings behind him. She reached out with one hand, stood farther away than she had been before. Now if she wanted to touch him without moving, he would have to meet her in the middle.

 

“Tenko, I'm sorry,” she managed through the breaths that seemed to catch in her throat.

 

Tomura didn't move, but his eyes widened.

 

“I'm sorry for not being there for you. I should've been by your side- no matter what.” She hiccuped, wiping at her face with her free hand. “I'm no better than my father, playing games at being a hero while I let this happen. Tenko,” she calls again, and he meets her eyes, despite the pit of fear settling in his stomach. “I'm so sorry.”

 

She's still reaching out to him, and it's only then that he realizes what she wants from him.

 

---

 

“Tenko,” Takako ran to him as soon as the children were released outside for a recess. “Tenko, I've been thinking,” she hummed, buzzing around him in excitement. “Do you want to play heroes with the other kids? I'm sure I could bother them until they'd-”

 

“No.”

 

Takako stopped in her tracks, looking down at the seated Tenko with surprise in her eyes.

 

“I just… I figured you still wanted to play, as long as you weren't the villain,” she began hesitantly, not sure where this was going.

 

“I don't want to play heroes.” Tenko huffed, disintegrating the weeds he held in his hands.

 

Takako eyed him for a second, surprised.

 

“Tenko, are you… mad?” She ventured, sitting down beside him.

 

Tenko didn't answer, just fisted his hands in his lap.

 

“I don't think I've ever seen you angry before.” She noted. “Hey, show me your face, Tenko,” she prodded at his cheek, making him duck away from her even further. “Tenko,” she whined, pulling at his cheek. “Are you really angry?”

 

When she leaned too far over him, they toppled over, Tenko’s hands splayed out over the ground, one finger on each hand lifted for safety.

 

He'd gotten better about that. Especially with Takako there to encourage and remind him, pushing him along.

 

Tenko glared up at Takako, shrinking behind his bangs.

 

He was angry, but it was hard to continue being angry with Takako on top of him, pulling the corners of his mouth into a smile.

 

“You need lotion, Tenko.” Takako noticed, prodding at the cracked skin of his lips. He bared his teeth at her. “What? It's not that hard to take care of dry skin. And you're not menacing at all, so stop that.” She insisted, tugging on his nose.

 

“I don't ‘eed lotion.” Tenko huffed around her fingers. “I'll just get dry again.”

 

“That's part of taking care of yourself, Tenko.” Takako rebuked him. “That's like saying you'll never take a shower because you're just going to get dirty again.”

 

Tenko sulked, but it was only because he knew she was right.

 

“It's okay if you don't want to play heroes.” Takako assured him, sliding off of his midsection to lie beside him in the grass. “Nobody plays it right, anyways.”

 

They sat in silence for a while, staring up at the clouds.

 

Tenko was the first to break the silence, which was unusual.

 

“Tacchan,” he murmured, lacing his fingers together over his chest. “Do you want to be a hero when you grow up?”

 

Takako tensed, which was not the reaction he was expecting.

 

“I… maybe.” Takako replied just as quietly as he had asked. “I think it depends on what Quirk I get. If it's no good, then I probably won't be much help out there.” She laughed to herself, but Tenko could tell that she was uncertain.

 

There was clearly something else, something she wasn’t telling him.

 

“Plus…” Takako sighed, frowning. “Heroes should be good. Like… all the time. Not just while they're on TV.”

 

“You are good.” Tenko insisted, and Takako at least smiles at this.

 

“Thanks, Tenko.” She whispered back.

 

They watched the clouds collect and disperse for a couple more minutes, content to lie underneath the sun.

 

When Takako sat up, dusting herself off, Tenko stayed on the ground. Even when Takako stood, leaving to go get a ball to kick back and forth, he didn't follow.

 

Fear had its cold fingers hooked into him, intent on pulling him under.

 

What snapped him out of it was the light press of a ball as it rolled into his side, bouncing lightly off of him. He looked up to see Takako standing over him. She reached out, offering her hand to help him up.

 

Tenko eyed her extended hand with hesitation. He didn't like touching her, still feared hurting her.

 

“If I become a hero, Tenko, will you be by my side?”

 

Tenko’s eyes widened.

 

No one had ever asked him to be a hero before. No one had ever assumed he'd become one.

 

With the bright sun behind her, all of her edges glowing nearly as bright as her smile, Takako looked kind of… ethereal. He reached up without a second thought, grabbing her hand (with four fingers, mind you) and letting her hoist him to his feet.

 

Takako's smile softened as she offered the ball to him, and he managed a smile in return.

 

His mind whirled while they kicked the ball back and forth. She’d caught him off guard.

 

Darker thoughts, summoned by years of being looked down upon, crept in, tainting Takako’s sunny proposition.

 

“Tacchan,” Tanko whispered, hands shoved in his pockets- which told Takako that he was thinking hard (or nervous).

 

“Yeah?” Takako returned, balancing the ball on her toe. “What's up?”

 

Tenko looked away, a maroon gaze fixed on the grass.

 

“What would you do if I didn't become a hero?” He managed through the tightening of his throat.

 

Takako hummed, kicking the ball to him. “That's fine, I guess. Just because you have a cool quirk doesn't mean you have to be a hero.” She assured him.

 

“No, Takako.” Tenko mumbled. “What if I became… you know, a villain?”

 

Takako's head whipped up immediately, something intense burning in her eyes. “Is this about the other kids? What'd they say to you?”

 

“No, Takako,” Tenko pleaded, waving her rage off. “It's not about them. It's just…” he looked down at his hands, frowning. “How could I be a hero when all I can do is destroy?” He whispered.

 

Takako only stared at him, clearly struck dumb.

 

To her credit, she recovered quickly.

 

“Well, for one, I would never let that happen.” Takako nodded once, confident. “But if it did, then… well…” she trailed off, just standing there, looking at him.

 

“Well, I'd have to save you, wouldn't I?” She chirped, her smile returning. “That's what heroes do!”

 

---

 

Takako didn't flinch away when Tomura reached out to her in return. Kurogiri watched closely, clearly in the dark as to whatever was going down.

 

Tomura took her hand in his.

 

She was warm.

 

She wasn't wearing any gloves. It was just her skin against his.

 

For a second, the finger that he kept raised to keep her pitiful crying self from being turned into dust twitched. A voice in the back of his head urged him on, reminded him that All Might wasn't the only one that had failed to save him.

 

Takako took in a sharp breath, like something had punched her.

 

“Tenko,” she whispered, squeezing his fingers. She looked like she wanted to say more on the earlier topic, but she's conveniently distracted by his choice in attire. “What's with the hands?”

 

Tomura snorted, shaking his head in lieu of an answer. He tugged on her hand, curious, and, sure enough, she stumbled forwards to stand closer to him.

 

She truly wasn't afraid of him? Or was it that she really believed she could sway him?

 

He let their hands dangle by his side.

 

“Shigaraki, don't get distracted.” Kurogiri sounded kind of annoyed, but it wasn't anything new for the warp gate.

 

Ah, perhaps this was it. This was why she was so fearless.

 

“Is that what you're doing?” Tomura asked, raising an eyebrow at the girl in front of him. “Distracting me?”

 

Takako burned red, smiling sheepishly. “Maybe.” She admitted. “I mostly just wanna talk.”

 

“Don't have time for talking.” Tomura reminded her, taking a step towards her.

 

It was supposed to be menacing, what with how tall he loomed over her now, but it just ended up putting the two of them closer together, fingers entangled at his side.

 

“We've got a lot to talk about.” Takako insisted. “Where you've been, the hands, how I got adopted, my Quirk- Tenko, we never got to talk about my Quirk!” She realized, eyes wide as they gaze up at him through thick frames. “Not to mention how much you've grown, and whatever is hiding under that hand,” she tapped the one over his face, lips pulling at the corners like she was going to frown.

 

“You wouldn't like it.” He spoke quickly, deviating from his calm demeanor for the second time since running into her. “We can talk later.” Tomura insisted, letting go of her hand.

 

Takako deflated, looking at the ground. “So I can't stop you.” She whispered.

 

“Later.” Tomura confirmed- because it was really all he could do to insist upon leaving when really he never wanted to lose her again.

 

It was weird to want such a mundane thing, but having someone for himself was something he never had the pleasure of doing.

 

“I could take you back with me,” Tomura offered slowly, hesitantly. Kurogiri spluttered in shock, blown away by the offer.

 

“Tennchan,” Takako whispered. She wouldn't meet his eyes, and he knew the answer was no before she said it. “You know I can't. Besides, wouldn't that put you in danger?”

 

He decided not to linger on that, slightly surprised that she wouldn't jump on the chance to potentially sabotage his villainous efforts.

 

He felt something in his chest, like his heart was warming. Before he could analyze it, Takako flung herself onto him, wrapping her arms around his chest. For a moment, he thought he was being attacked, but when she didn’t move, just held him, he didn’t really know what to do.

 

“Missed you, Tenko.” She mumbled into his chest, glasses smushed against her face. Tomura took note of the fact that she’s much shorter than he remembered, barely coming up to his chin.

 

He's… taken, by this image, this moment.

 

It's oddly comforting. It's… it's everything he could've hoped for from their reunion- even despite the fact that they were on opposing sides.

 

But, of course, good things never lasted for Tomura.

Chapter Text

When Tenko disappeared, Takako had been distraught.

 

No one could give her a straight answer, and everybody’s answer was different.

 

Some said he was adopted for good. Other said he ran away. Some others claimed he straight up disappeared.

 

After demanding answers from the playground bully, the one who loved to pick on Tenko the most, she was pushed to the ground, dismissed.

 

“Why do you care about crusty?” He sneered. “He got what he deserved.”

 

Takako’s eyes widened, fearing the worst.

 

“What did you do to him!?” She screeched, jumping up from the floor to fling herself at the bully, latching onto his collar and shaking him with all she was worth.

 

The kid pushed her to the ground again, dusting himself off as if he'd been mildly inconvenienced.

 

“What does it matter to you, Takako? Did you like him?” He teased, making heart signs with his hands.

 

“You don't have to like somebody to care if they get hurt!” Takako screeched, back on her feet in seconds. “What'd you do to him??” She reiterated, stepping forwards to get another grab at him.

 

One of her other friends, a soft spoken boy that could blow gusts of wind, pulled her back.

 

“Don't, Tacchan.” He warned quietly. “Don't get hurt too.”

 

It was he who told her about the gang that had formed to beat up Tenko while she was out sick, confined to her room. He'd also been the one to see some man help him up and lead him off.

 

No one had stopped him.

 

Takako had cried that day, mourning the loss of her friend.

 

---

 

She'd made it out of the system, managed to be snatched up by an older couple that was well meaning and quiet.

 

The house was stuffy, so Takako played outside on her own a lot.

 

It was there that she discovered her quirk, there that she'd dreamed about the future, and there that she'd cried upon receiving her acceptance into a prestigious hero school.

 

She trained hard, studied her butt off, and learned more about herself and her budding Quirk.

 

But everything changed the day that the hero killer had been detained.

 

It was only a blurry shot from far away, of suspects atop a roof nearby the carnage of that night, but Takako would recognize that blue hair anywhere. The newscasters buzzed over the picture, analyzing what they could about the mysterious figures.

 

It was then that she knew she had to transfer into UA. If the carnage like she'd seen on the news reports was anything to go by, they were going to need all the help they could get.

 

---

 

When Takako had first sought out an audience with All Might, eyebrows had been raised. One of the teachers even laughed in her face.

 

They'd sent her to meet with the principal instead.

 

She'd waited outside his office with a scowl until a small bear… dog… mouse… thing opened the door.

 

“Hiyashi Takako?” He greeted, clearly expecting her.

 

This was the principal?

 

“Yes.” She replied, not moving from her spot.

 

“I've heard you need to speak with Mr. All Might himself?” The principal opened the door wider, inviting her inside.

 

She couldn't tell if he was making fun of her or not.

 

“Yes.”

 

Still, she sat.

 

“Come in,” he finally insisted, smiling still. “Let's discuss inside.”

 

Takako relented, taking a seat inside the office, letting the door close behind her.

 

“Now,” the president spoke through the obvious strain in his body as he hoisted himself into his chair. “What seems to be the problem?”

 

Takako sighed. “I didn't want to anyone but All Might to know this, but I guess it can't be helped.”

 

The principal leaned forwards, waiting patiently.

 

“The guy with the blue hair on the news awhile ago when the hero killer was caught?” Takako described. The way the principal's eyes widened made her wish she'd made it to All Might first. “I knew him, for awhile.”

 

The principal was quiet for a moment, stunned. She opened her mouth to speak again but stopped when he began punching numbers into a phone on his desk instead of answering her.

 

“One moment please.” The mouse bear thing requested of her.

 

Takako sat quietly while the phone rung, fiddling with her fingers in her lap while he spoke with whoever was on the line.

 

When he hung up, the principal turned back to her, his expression no less pleasant than it had been before. “I've requested another audience member, if that's alright with you.” He informed her, smiling still.

 

Takako’s face twisted up in disapproval. “I told you already, I don't want to spread this aro-”

 

There was a soft knock on the door before it swung open, revealing an out of breath stick figure.

 

“O- oh-” Takako stammered, standing quickly. “All Might!” She cried, bowing quickly.

 

It was still a surprise to see this weakened form, even after All Might’s secret had been televised live. Despite the too skinny frame, she’d recognize those eyes anywhere.

 

“Please, both of you, have a seat.” The principal offered, gesturing to the couch nearby.

 

The two sat down, eyeing each other nervously.

 

“You said… Shimura?” All Might echoed, his voice oddly far away, unlike anything Takako had ever heard from him on the news.

 

“Yes.” Takako replied, just as softly. “Blue hair? Decay Quirk? Kinda itchy?”

 

All Might and the principal nodded in unison.

 

“That information isn't public.” The principal informed her. “How do you know these things about him?”

 

“We…” Takako trailed off, thinking back to foster care and the ups and downs of her time there. “He was my friend… in foster care.”

 

She didn't want to talk about foster care, but it seemed she had no choice.

 

“Tennchan… sorry. Tenko,” she corrected herself, blushing a little in embarrassment at the childish nickname. “The other kids picked on him a lot because of his Quirk.”

 

“And when you became friends… did the other kids stop?” The principal pressed, sipping a cup of hot tea.

 

Takako thought it was kind of weird that she wasn't really discussing this with All Might, but she answered the question anyways.

 

“Not really. Especially if I wasn't around.” Takako sighed.

 

“So you protected him?”

 

All Might finally spoke, leaned in with something like hope in his dark eyes.

 

Takako couldn't hold his gaze.

 

“I… I don't know,” she admitted, her face screwing up with regret. “I wasn't always there. And one day, Tenko just… disappeared.” She breathed. “I'm honestly surprised he's alive.”

 

The office was quiet, the three of them digesting this.

 

“What was he like?”

 

The question came from All Might, spoken in an oddly soft way.

 

“Isn't… isn't Tenko a villain now?” Takako choked out- something hot rising to press behind her eyes. “Why would you want to know that?”

 

She hated the way her voice wobbled, but she knew that her confession would ultimately lead to this. They were going to use the things she said against Tenko, use them as his weakness so they could take him down for good.

 

“Shimura Tenko is…” All Might trailed off, looking down at skeletal fingers in his lap. “He's the grandson of a mentor of mine.”

 

Takako slid back in her chair, shocked.

 

Out of all the ways she'd expected this meeting to go, this wasn't it.

 

“I can't go after him anymore,” All Might admitted, smiling sheepishly. The stretch of his lips seemed to emphasize his hollowed cheeks. Takako understood that he meant he was too weak to take her childhood friend down. “But that's probably a good thing. I'd be acting from selfish emotions, at this point.”

 

Takako wrung her hands together, visibly distraught.

 

“You wanna know what he was like?” Takako echoed the hero’s earlier question.

 

The principal and All Might nodded together, like puppets on a string.

 

“Tenko was quiet. He didn't fight back.” She recalled. “He was afraid of hurting people, so he did nothing when they hurt him. I had to stop myself from walking all over him… he wouldn't say anything.”

 

The office was still quiet, as if they were waiting for more, so Takako pushed on.

 

“He didn't like to talk about heroes.” Takako remembered. “So we talked about his Quirk instead. We worked together, figuring out how to handle things without turning them to dust.”

 

“You worked on your Quirks together?”

 

Takako blushed, looking down at her own hands.

 

“Mine didn't show up until well after he disappeared.” She admitted. “He doesn't know about mine.”

 

This time when the principal and All Might moved in unison, exchanging a glance, Takako didn't feel very at ease.

 

“What? What's wrong?” She demanded, sitting forwards on the edge of her seat.

 

All Might took a deep breath. “I'm sure you saw the news over the last year concerning UA and the League of Villains. They kept getting hits in no matter where we went- even kidnapped one of our students.” He told her, even though she knew.

 

“Bakugou,” Takako remembered. “The angry one. He… he saw Tenko? He was there?”

 

All Might ignored her. Probably for the better.

 

“The League of Villains probably has somebody on the inside, here.” All Might continued- despite the frown on the principal's face. “If Shimura doesn't know about your attendance at UA now, he will soon.”

 

Takako froze, hands held mid-air, mouth half open.

 

Tenko would know where she was.

 

Honestly, it was something she'd always hoped for, to find him again, but…

 

Not like this.

 

---

 

When Takako returned from the principal's office, her professor asked her if she'd gotten to meet with All Might, a derisive smirk clear on their face.

 

Takako bowed and thanked them for their help, telling them yes, she had talked to All Might.

 

The stunned look on their face made Takako laugh, and she returned to her seat full of mirth.

 

Despite the animated chatter of her friends, she fell quiet again when lunch came around, her thoughts elsewhere.

 

“Hey, Tetsutetsu?” She spoke up out of nowhere, grabbing the silver haired boy's attention. “Aren't you friends with Kirishima?”

 

Tetsutetsu nodded enthusiastically, starting on some rant about them being soulmates, separated at birth, or something along those lines.

 

“Hey, hey, that's great!” She managed to get in over the clamor. “Where does he sit for this lunch period? I need to ask him about something.”

 

“Oh! Lemme show you!”

 

And Tetsutetsu was dragging her across the lunchroom before she can get another word in.

 

“Eijirou!!”

 

“Tetsutetsu!”

 

The boys hug each other in what was the manliest display of strength and affection that Takako had ever seen.

 

“What's up, my dude?” Kirishima asked, sitting back down at his table of friends.

 

Ah.

 

Class A.

 

Takako recognized these faces. They'd been on the news multiple times, and now she goes to school with them.

 

“My girl Takako here has a question for you. Thought I'd bring her over, because I'm a good bro.” Tetsutetsu thumped his chest with his fist, then Takako's shoulder.

 

Kirishima noticed that she didn't wobble from the force of the blow, but she did track the movement out of the corner of her eye. He resolved to keep his hands to himself.

 

“Thank you, Tetsutetsu.” Takako nodded. Tetsutetsu saluted, shook hands with Kirishima one last time, then disappeared across the lunchroom once more.

 

“What did you need?” Kirishima asked, eyes bright as he waited for her answer.

 

“Is Kirishima about to get a girlfriend?” One of his friends murmured, and the table erupted in chatter.

 

“Sorry to disappoint, but no.” Takako apologized, cheeks tinted pink. The table sighed collectively. “Actually, I,” she leaned in, whispering her request into Kirishima’s ear. “It's important, and I don't… I don't know how to…”

 

“Don't worry about it!” Kirishima assured her, his face lit up in excitement.

 

“This isn't a confession,” Takako added quickly, blushing again.

 

Kirishima laughed, but his smile is understanding. “It's cool! I'll help no matter what you need to talk about!”

 

Takako wondered where UA found these people.

 

Later, at the end of the day, when Kirishima was pretty much dragging her by the wrist towards their destination, Takako began to regret the decision she'd made.

 

“Maybe this isn't a good idea,” Takako voiced her fear aloud.

 

“Nonsense! You'll be fine.” Kirishima assured her, stopping in front of a door marked 2-A.

 

When he slid the door open, only two people stood inside. Aside from Kirishima and the struggling girl he dragged in behind him, Bakugou Katsuki and Midoriya Izuku were shuffling around, gathering their things before they left.

 

“You asked me to wait after class for this?” Bakugou growled, red eyes fixed on the girl peeking over Kirishima's shoulder. “For some… megane? To do what, confess?” He spat, mouth twisting at the corners.

 

“Now, now, Bakugou,” Kirishima waggled his finger, and the crease between Bakugou’s eyes deepens.

 

“Yep, I changed my mind,” Takako decided, spinning on her heel to face the exit.

 

“Nope!” Kirishima chirped, grabbing the collar of her shirt without looking. “Ask!”

 

“I'm not here to be confessed to.” Bakugou huffed, obviously irritated, and pushed past the two of them.

 

With her chance slipping through her fingers, Takako gathered her courage.

 

“It's about your kidnapping,” she called after him, eyes squeezed shut.

 

Kirishima’s fist slackened around her collar, obviously stunned. She hadn’t told him what she needed to talk with Bakugou about...just that she needed to talk.

 

Takako even heard Midoriya suck in a breath of surprise.

 

“The villain, the one with blue hair,” she continued, and the footsteps that had been retreating stopped cold. “I… I need to know about him.”

 

Those footsteps started back up, stomping back in her direction.

 

“Why the fuck would you want to know,” Bakugou all but hissed at her, and she was unpleasantly surprised by the two fists that grabbed her by the shirt, shaking her in place. “About that crusty ass villain?”

 

It was a little too much all at once, what with Tenko’s bullies’ favorite nickname for him and the raging violence looming right in front of her.

 

Kirishima and Midoriya barely had time to step closer, warning Bakugou about his behavior- suggesting that assaulting another student wasn't the best idea, perhaps- before Takako reacted. She dug her nails in Bakugou’s wrists just deep enough for his grip to slacken in surprise, dragging a grunt of pain from the blond. Before he could manage anything else, she planted her palms on his chest, pushing him away from her before she stepped back and darted behind Kirishima once more.

 

“Hey!” Bakugou nearly screamed, and she could hear the explosions crackling in his palms from where she hid on the other side of Kirishima. “Who do you think you are, tiny bitch? I'll kill you!”

 

Takako didn’t bother to hide the shiver that wracked through her body. Kirishima spread himself out in front of her in an immediate response to her fear, clearly doing his best to protect her from the spitfire rage blooming in front of them.

 

“I know!” She shouted in rebuttal. The room fell silent, and Takako knew it was because of the obvious panic in her voice. “This is why I didn't want to come here.” She mumbled to Kirishima.

 

“You shouldn't have come here, poking around in other people's business,” Bakugou started up again. “Go back to your own class and let the real heroes do their work! Get out of my way!”

 

He stomped off before Takako could think of anything else to say, so she slumped against Kirishima with a defeated sigh.

 

“I'm sorry.” She managed. “I knew it was going to end up like this.”

 

“I didn't think you were going to ask about the kidnapping.” Kirishima admitted, glancing at her over his shoulder. “I would've stopped you, if I'd known.”

 

“Why do you need to know about that villain?” Midoriya piped up. Takako turned to him with something tired in her gaze, her fingers slowly unclenching from Kirishima's shirt.

 

“He…” Takako shrunk into herself, uncertain. “We grew up together, for a couple years. I know it's weird,” she added quickly, seeing the surprise on both boys’ faces. “But he wasn't a villain to me. We were friends. I want…” She trailed off.

 

What did she want?

 

To find him? To know what went wrong? To catch up with him, see how he's been doing? To see him again?

 

“I want to know what's going on.” She finally settled on an answer, sighing heavily. “I want to know how afraid I should be.”

 

Midoriya’s gaze was kind- if not sympathetic- and Takako wondered what she'd done to earn his concern.

 

“Sit down for a minute,” he invited. “Let's talk.”

 

---

 

Talking with Midoriya and Kirishima had been nice. They were both very supportive, very kind people, and she had felt oddly light after walking out of that classroom.

 

Getting to talk about Tenko was difficult nowadays. She remembered him in a positive light, but everyone around her knew him with a perspective of fear. It was hard to admit to enjoying spending time with him when most people seemed to want him dead.

 

She hadn't expected Midoriya to be so… understanding.

 

At least until he'd mentioned Bakugou by first name- with an honorific attached that told Takako that Midoriya had either known Bakugou for a long time, or Midoriya had absolutely no fear.

 

She was hoping it was the former, but she wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter.

 

Kirishima assured her that Bakugou hadn't meant her any harm, and had promised her she'd get an apology from the feisty blond. Takako pleaded with him not to do so, but Kirishima merely smiled widely with his too sharp teeth.

 

When Bakugou stomped up to her lunch table the next day, everyone in a five foot vicinity went quiet.

 

“What?! You idiots forget how to talk when a real hero comes into your midst?” Bakugou barked, a vein ticking irritability on his forehead. The chatter resumed almost immediately, though the fear in the air was so thick, Takako could've stabbed it.

 

“You.” Bakugou pointed with his chin, which was not helpful at all. “Glasses.” He clarified, glaring holes into Takako. “Let's go.”

 

He started walking away before Takako had time to process what was going on.

 

“Hey!” He shouted over the noise of the cafeteria. “I said, move!

 

Takako sighed, begrudgingly getting up from her seat. “If I'm not back by next class, I'm probably dead.” She informed her classmates, her lips pressing into a thin line.

 

“We'll have a nice funeral for you.” Kendo assured her. Takako bowed her head in thanks before she rushed off after the boy who had threatened her life the day before.

 

“And when you say jump, I jump.” Takako muttered as she caught up to Bakugou, already irritated.

 

“Eh?” Bakugou ground out, a short warning.

 

“Nothing.” Takako lied, following him out of the lunchroom. “If you're going to kill me, can I at least get something out of the vending machine first?”

 

“I'm not going to kill you.” Bakugou snapped.

 

“Damn. No candy for me, I guess.” Takako sighed. Bakugou threw her a look over his shoulder, as if he were thoroughly unimpressed by her attempt at humor.

 

When Bakugou stopped without warning, she nearly crashed into him.

 

“What do you want?” Takako asked as she managed to sidestep him. She made sure to keep any traces of irritation out of her voice, hoping he didn't take it as a challenge.

 

Bakugou was quiet for a moment before he turned a blazing red gaze on her.

 

“I'm not here to apologize.” He said first, voice short.

 

Takako rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I figured that would be too much.”

 

Bakugou’s eye twitched, but he ignored the jab.

 

“Are you the leak?” He finally said. “Because if you are, then I'm really going to kill you.”

 

“What makes you think I want my friends to die?” Takako demanded, a question for a question. “No, I'm not the traitor, if that's what you're asking.”

 

The blond in front of her tensed, the lines of his shoulders stiffening as he prepared to shoot back.

 

“Because the traitor’s going to admit to being a traitor.” This came from a new voice, someone she didn’t recognize walking out from around the corner.

 

Bakugou growled low under his breath. These two didn’t get along well, that much Takako could tell.

 

The dude had purple hair and purple eyes, and he looked like he hadn't slept in days.

 

“Why are you terrorizing this poor girl?” New Guy asked.

 

Bakugo didn’t answer. He'd stopped speaking.

 

Takako wondered if she should speak.

 

The purple haired guy’s equally as purple gaze flicked over to her, as if he had heard her thoughts. “My Quirk is triggered by voice,” he explained, and she nodded in understanding. “Bakugou is extra careful around me nowadays. I won't hurt you, promise.” He assured the blond, a lazy smile pulling at his lips.

 

Bakugou growled again, eye twitching relentlessly. “Like you could.” He muttered.

 

Bakugou tensed slightly, like he expected something, but when nothing happened his jaw finally went slack. The tension left him.

 

“She's connected to that villain with the hands.” Bakugou finally said, eyes still on Takako. “Knows him. Trusts him. Wouldn't be hard to convince you to tell him things, huh?” He jeered.

 

Takako frowned. “First of all, I haven't seen him in like… ten years. Second, I just transferred here, so how was I supposed to leak all that information last year? And third,” she pressed an accusing finger into his chest, “you dragged me out of lunch to accuse me of being a spy?”

 

Bakugou swatted her hand away.

 

“Even I can tell you've got the wrong gal.” The purple haired boy noted, none to Bakugou's liking. “What's your name? Anyone that can stare down Bakugou is a friend of mine.” He offered.

 

Takako managed a smile. “I'm Hiyashi Takako. And you?”

 

“Shinsou Hitoshi. Nice to meet you.” He returned, smiling back.

 

“This is not about you,” Bakugou pushed Shinsou away, teeth bared. “I'm in the middle of something.”

 

Shinsou frowned again.

 

“Why do you want to know about crusty?” Bakugou turned back to Takako, snarling now.

 

“He has a name.” Takako hissed immediately, eyes flashing behind her glasses.

 

“And I'm supposed to use it?” Bakugou dismissed her immediately. “He's just a villain. I don't need to know anything more than that.”

 

Takako stepped back, stunned, her vision going white with rage. Shinsou stood nearby, watching with interest. Slowly, she took a breath, willing herself not to pick a fight she couldn't finish.

 

“It was people like you that made him into a villain.” Takako finally muttered. “Forget it. I couldn't get useful information from a bully anyways.”

 

She began to walk away- it was more of a barely contained stomp- but a hand on the back of her neck pulled her backwards, threw her up against the wall.

 

“You wanna repeat that?” Bakugou snarled in her face. He was too close. She could feel the force of her heart hammering in her chest reverberating through her shoulders and up into her ears.

 

She didn't feel like she was in school anymore. She felt small. She felt like someone else was towering above her, rage sparking in their eyes.

 

“I said,” she ground out through her teeth. The bravado was an act, which was clear by the way she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “It'suseless to try and talk to a bully.” She reiterated sharply, moving to push past him once again.

 

Clearly looking for a fight, Bakugou moved to box her in, palms sparking with an explosion soon to come.

 

Takako didn't wait. It was easier to focus on what she had to do when she spun her hands in a circle, so she moved accordingly and forcefully put Bakugou in reverse. He stepped back, the crackling in his hands dying down to a red hot glow against his will.

 

“What the-”

 

Takako fled before he could manage anything else, running and running and running until she was lost in the crowd. She knew Bakugou wouldn't come after her. It was beneath him to be chasing after some girl from Class B.

 

A clock hanging on the wall told her she had five minutes until class.

 

She locked herself in the bathroom and cried.

 

---

 

If Takako was completely honest with herself, the run-in with Bakugou had really shaken her.

 

Maybe if she knew the explosive blond a little better, maybe if she understood what motivated his aggressive outbursts, maybe then she'd be a little less shaken.

 

Maybe if the rage in Bakugou's eyes didn't so closely mirror that of her father's, she'd be okay.

 

She was lucky she'd gotten out of Nightmare’s grip as young as she did. She knew it could've been worse.

 

Maybe with a little more push, she'd have become a villain like Tenko.

 

“Hiyashi,”

 

It was Monoma that called for her, and she twisted in her seat to face him.

 

“Some of the losers from Class A wanna talk with you.” The blond informed her through gritted teeth. He should not have been the one forced to convey that particular message. Poor boy.

 

“O-oh?” Takako couldn't help but stammer. “Who?”

 

If it was Bakugou again, then hell no.

 

Monoma turned to look towards the door but paused, catching on something in her tone. “Hiyashi, are they bothering you?” He asked slowly, something dark flashing in his eyes.

 

“Not all of them. Just Bakugou.” She admitted plainly. No point in lying, really.

 

Monoma ground his teeth, eyebrows furrowed. He looked like he had half a mind to get up and go after the spiky haired explodey boy, and he was actually getting out of his seat before Takako stopped him.

 

“Don't bother.” She pleaded. Monoma scowled but sat back down anyways. “Who's asking?” She opted to ask instead, directing the conversation elsewhere.

 

“Not the blond bitch.” Monoma assured her. Takako bit back a laugh, intensely amused at the insult. “It's All Might wannabe and the pink girl.”

 

“Oh. Guess I'll go… see them?” Takako agreed hesitantly, picking up her bag from the ground.

 

When she exited the classroom, she had been expecting the ‘All Might wannabe’ to be Midoriya. She was not expecting Uraraka Ochako to be ‘the pink girl’ that Monoma had described.

 

Whatever they've come to ask her about, they seem to have forgotten about it. They hunched together as if sharing conspiratorial secrets, muttering under their breath.

 

“Hi?” Takako ventured, making her presence known.

 

Both of them jumped to attention at her voice, heads snapping up as if they'd been caught. They greeted her warmly, but now Takako’s suspicions had been aroused.

 

“What's going on?” Takako cut right to the chase.

 

“Oh! Uh,” Uraraka pressed the tips of her fingers together in a nervous movement, glancing away from her for a moment. “I wanted to see if you were okay.”

 

Takako blanked, surprised. “I'm… I'm okay?” She answered with a question mark, because she didn't know why Uraraka would ask in the first place. “Why?”

 

“W-well,” Uraraka looked like she'd made a mistake somehow. “Midoriya saw Bakugou corner you yesterday, and I heard you in the bathroom afterwards. So…” she trailed off, tap tap tapping her fingers together. Her wide brown eyes were full of concern, and the look in Midoriya’s green reflected them.

 

“Oh.” Takako huffed out, surprised. “Well, sorry about that. I meant to be quiet.”

 

Uraraka’s eyebrows furrowed together, something like a frown on her face now. “No, no, that's not-”

 

“Hiyashi,” Midoriya interrupted her. “What did Kacchan do?”

 

Takako suddenly realizes that they think Bakugou attacked her. And while he kind of had, he hadn't dragged her out of the cafeteria for that.

 

“He didn't- it's not as bad as you think, really,” Takako assured them quickly, forcing a smile. “He was just concerned, I guess. He thought I was a spy.” She took a breath, then rolled her eyes. “It's a logical conclusion, I guess, except that I just started going here.”

 

“That's so mean!” Uraraka pouted, crossing her arms over her chest. “He should leave the investigating to the pros.”

 

“Ah, well, I was trying to do some investigating of my own, so I guess I'm every bit as in the wrong.” Takako admitted.

 

“Oh,” Midoriya realized, green eyes lighting up in a sudden understanding. “About your friend?”

 

She was really glad that he had the courtesy to not oust her relationship with a villain ringleader in the middle of the school.

 

“Yes.” Takako nodded. “But… Bakugou pissed me off. So, I said some mean things. He didn't take it very well.”

 

Midoriya nodded back, completely understanding.

 

“Is that why you were so upset?” Uraraka asked next.

 

Takako paused, uncertain. “Um, I guess?” She laughed nervously. “Don't tell Bakugou, but… I'm not afraid of him because of his Quirk. It's… it's just...” She admitted slowly. “When he gets aggressive like that, it reminds me of… someone else. Someone that used to toss me around.”

 

Uraraka’s eyes widened, and if Takako wasn't mistaken, there were tears pooling at the corners of sympathetic brown.

 

Really, she hadn't given that much information. It wasn't that sad of a confession.

 

“I'm gonna kill him.” Uraraka determined, her voice much softer than Takako would expect for a resolution of that manner.

 

“It's not his fault.” Takako admitted, kicking at the ground. “I riled him up. I should've known. Should've avoided what I knew I couldn't handle.”

 

“No,” Midoriya surged forwards, taking her shoulder in his hand. “Standing up to your fear takes so much courage. That was brave of you, Hiyashi.”

 

Takako couldn't help but smile. “You think so?”

 

Green curls bobbed frantically as he nodded, fire in his green eyes. “Absolutely.”

 

Takako took a breath, gaze skittering past him for a moment, and froze. Not far away, leaning against the wall with a scowl, was Bakugou himself. He had clearly been listening, but he didn't move, just glared at the ground.

 

Tearing her eyes away, she turned back to Midoriya. “Thanks for checking up on me. You guys are really cool.”

 

Both of the heroes-in-training that stood in front of her began to blush and stutter in embarrassment, but she could tell they were flattered.

 

Midoriya took a step back, giving her space, then reconsidered, glancing over to Uraraka once with hesitation.

 

“Hiyashi, it wasn't… your friend that pushed you around, was it?” He asked slowly. Green eyes filled with an emotion she couldn't quite read, something like a mix between rage, sadness, and sympathy. She still didn't understand why he would grace her with his concern and understanding.

 

“No!” Takako yelped, waving her hands frantically. “No, no, never.” She hissed, adding a frantic head shaking to prove her point.

 

“Okay, okay, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to assume-”

 

“He tried not to touch me.” Takako added, looking away. The statement cut Midoriya’s apology off, and she felt the attention it drew from Uraraka. Maybe it grabbed Bakugou's attention too, but she wasn't looking his way. “He was afraid of himself.”

 

They were quiet. The hallway buzzed around them with conversations and pleasantries, drowning Takako in the noise.

 

---

 

She had thought she was in the clear with Bakugou, despite him overhearing her conversation with Midoriya and Uraraka. Though she often passed Class A in the hallways, none of them paid much attention to her, so she figured she didn't have a target on her back.

 

Later in the week, she got a note from her teacher telling her to meet Professor Aizawa in the Class A homeroom. That was when she first suspected something was up. When she dutifully trudged there after class, sliding open the door, the first person she saw was- other than- Bakugou Katsuki.

 

“Nope.” Was the only thing out of her mouth before she swiveled on her heel. “I see I'm early. I'll wait outside.”

 

“You're not early, Hiyashi.”

 

Slowly, she turned around, peeking back into the classroom. Aizawa was indeed there, along with Bakugou and Midoriya. With a sigh, Takako dragged herself into the classroom and plopped into a front row seat.

 

“We're only waiting on All Might.” Aizawa informed her, his tone as flat as usual. “The principal had another meeting to attend, so he can't make it.”

 

“All Might?” Takako echoed. “The principal? What's this about?”

 

The door flew open with a slam that sent both Takako and Midoriya approximately five feet straight up into the air, the two students startled by the sudden noise. Bakugou merely sniffed, unimpressed, and Aizawa rolled his eyes.

 

“I am here!” Came a familiar voice, and standing in the doorway was the fully muscled form of All Might himself. He deflated almost immediately, steam rising from his suddenly skinny form, and the blonde man wiped a trail of blood from the corner of his mouth with a wry grin.

 

“All Might!” Midoriya cheered, standing from his chair and running to the man to shake his hand. All Might ruffled Midoriya's hair in a gesture that Takako felt was strongly paternal in nature, and she realized then that the theatrical entrance was probably solely for Midoriya's entertainment.

 

In her seat nearby the door, Takako wondered what All Might truly desired. Surely, of all the heroes, he'd be the purest of heart, right? That's what she expected from the Symbol of Peace, at least.

 

She closed her eyes, reaching out towards the skinny blond that was merely smiling while Midoriya chattered away, reaching for the sensation that only she could feel around a person.

 

The first thing that hit her was All Might’s desire to keep Midoriya safe. It was no wonder that that would be the first thing she felt from him, Takako mused, since Midoriya was standing directly in front of him. As All Might smiled down at his student- and she daresay his protegé, based on what she'd seen of Midoriya's training- Takako was having a hard time distinguishing between the desires of a mentor and the strongly paternal desires coming off of the pro hero.

 

She skipped over the inconsequential desires- specifically the feelings with no name and the ones that seemed to be labeled SECRET even within his own heart.

 

It was an accident, really, coming across one particular desire.

 

Apparently, All Might didn't half-ass things whether he was on the job or in his feelings.

 

The sheer determination that washed over her when she stumbled across an image of Tenko, a determination to succeed, a determination to love, knocked Takako back in her seat.

 

What was really embarrassing was that her knee jerk reaction was to immediately break down in tears.

 

“Hiyashi?” Midoriya called, panic lacing his tone as she crumbled in her seat, hands pressed over her eyes. Even Bakugou looked a little concerned, clearly offput by the suddenly sobbing girl in the middle of the classroom.

 

Suddenly, the determination flooding through her, the desire to help her very very lost best friend, was cut short in a flash. Takako let out a breath of relief as the main source of her hysteria was siphoned away.

 

“I would appreciate it if you refrained from using your Quirk outside of battle.” Aizawa droned, and when she looked up in surprise, she took note of the way his hair stood on end like he was standing in a wind tunnel, his eyes wide and red while they focused in on her.

 

Takako could only wipe the tears off of her face in an odd mix of shame and embarrassment, smiling sheepishly and apologizing to All Might.

 

“No worries!” All Might assured her with a large smile while Midoriya headed back to his seat behind Bakugou.

 

Takako was beginning to understand why everyone loved All Might so much. He was a hero on and off the field. A true hero.

 

“May I ask what caused such an intense reaction?” All Might asked next, eyebrows pushed up in concern while he watched her push leftover tears off of her cheeks. “I hope you didn't find anything bad,”

 

“No- no!” Takako assured him, sitting up straight. “It was very kind. It's embarrassing, really, that I reacted the way I did.” She mumbled, slumping in her seat. “I shouldn't have used my Quirk on you.”

 

“That's right, Hiyashi! We never talked about your Quirk!” Midoriya realized, rummaging around in his bookbag and pulling a worn notebook from its depths.

 

“Oh, not this again,” Bakugou grunted, pushing the pad of paper off of Midoriya's desk while the other boy bent to get a pencil. Midoriya barely blinked, just caught the notebook before it hit the ground and replaced it on his desk. “You and your creepy stalker ways.”

 

“Please hold off on the hero analysis,” Aizawa agreed, and Midoriya deflated. “We have other matters to discuss.”

 

All Might took a seat as well, giving Takako an odd vision of the pro hero as a student before Aizawa began speaking again.

 

“There's a reason only the three of you are here.” Aizawa informed the students seated in front of him. “With a spy still in our midst, this plan must be limited to as little people as possible.”

 

“Not that that's ever stopped them from infiltrating before,” Bakugou muttered, and Aizawa glared at him in return.

 

“Midoriya is likely the target of the next attack, Bakugou has been up close and personal with the League of Villains, and we plan to use Takako’s Quirk and personal experience to our benefit.” Aizawa listed, eyes flicking listlessly to each of them as he spoke.

 

“This is about crusty,” Bakugou realized, probably not for the first time. “This is how we're finally going to take him down?”

 

Takako’s breath hissed between her teeth, and she glared at Bakugou across the room until Aizawa cleared his throat.

 

“The plan is not to take anyone down.” Aizawa cut in. “The plan is to hinder their escape until they're captured.” The professor reminded the blond with a sharp look.

 

“And how am I going to help with this?” Takako spoke up, hand raised meekly as if she needed to be called on first.

 

“What with the nature of your Quirk,” Aizawa began, and things were immediately becoming clear, “we need you to get close to Tomura and relay back the intent for the attack. If at all possible, any additional ulterior motives you uncover will probably come in handy as well.”

 

For a moment, Takako puzzled over the unfamiliar name. When All Might turned his head and mouthed Shimura, she guessed that it must just be a code name for Tenko.

 

“See, Hiyashi,” All Might began, turning his whole body towards her in his seat. “We don't just need the intent for the next attack. We need to know what's driving him to act upon these desires.”

 

Takako could list a few guesses, but she didn't really know how much Tenko had changed.

 

“Can you do that?” Aizawa asked.

 

All eyes were on her, and Takako weighed the possibilities.

 

“It depends on how close he'll let me get.” Takako admitted. “I won't be able to dig out a desire like that without being really close to him. Plus,” she added, teeth digging nervously into her lower lip, “Even if he lets me get close, he could just kill me, if he really wanted to.”

 

“It's a double edged sword.” Aizawa agreed. “Both of your Quirks rely on proximity.”

 

“Speaking of,” Midoriya cut in anxiously, looking over to Takako with a curious gleam in his eyes. “What is your Quirk, exactly?”

 

Takao glanced to Aizawa for permission to go off on a tangent, and the eternally sleepy professor nodded once as an agreement.

 

“I can feel other people's desires.” Takako began, pressing a fist to her heart. “If I'm nearby, I can choose to dig through any variety of wants buried in somebody's heart. The closer I am, the easier it is, and the deeper I can dig.”

 

“What kind of desires can you feel far away?” Midoriya asked without looking up from his notebook, scribbling away in a fury.

 

“Uh, around here it's things like crushes, or the desire to take a nap.” Her eyes panned over to Aizawa, who didn’t look at all surprised by her wandering gaze. “I get a lot of ‘I want to be a hero’ around here as well.” She listed off, snapping back to Midoriya, embarrassed. “It's the unguarded things that I can feel from a distance. The things other people aren't trying to hide.”

 

“And close up?”

 

“That's when the deeper, hidden stuff comes out. If you desire something and you don't want anyone to know, I have to be close in order to see it. I also have to dig through all the other, surface desires before I can see the hidden ones.” She listed. Midoriya’s pencil was nearly smoking at the speed it was writing at. “Oh! And sometimes I can see what a person wants to happen, which is part of why I want to be a hero. If I can pull out a person's intents, I can potentially avoid conflict in tons of ways.”

 

“You're right! That's so cool,” Midoriya hummed, scribbling frantically.

 

“Eh? Then what'd you do to me in the hallway last week?” Bakugou demanded. “That had nothing to do with what I wanted.”

 

Takako shrunk under Aizawa's accusatory glare. “He- he was going to kill me!”

 

“I highly doubt that, seeing as he wants to be a hero someday.” Aizawa droned. “At his worst, Bakugou is a bully. Not a murderer.” The professor informed her- and she felt like it was supposed to be reassuring, but Bakugou's triumphant stare just made it feel mocking.

 

“Well, regardless,” Takako huffed, frowning at the desk in front of her, “Yes, there is a second part to my Quirk. It helps me get close without fear of getting hurt.”

 

When she paused to wait for further comments and received none, she plowed forwards.

 

“The other side of my Quirk is Time Reversal. It's nearly impossible for me to fine tune, so I haven't pushed the boundaries of it lately. I just do what I've always done with it.” She continued.

 

“Which is?” Midoriya prompted, pencil pausing to hover over his notebook page.

 

“I can throw myself back in time, which pretty much just teleports me back to wherever I had been standing before. That's what I use to get close, because after I do that, I duplicate.” Takako explained. When Midoriya looked up, eagerly inviting more information, she laughed and continued. “I guess it's because I messed with the proper timeline, but another me exists for the duration of time I jumped backwards in time.”

 

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Aizawa recited, and Takako nodded, pleased.

 

“I exist in two consciousnesses for a short period of time. The newly created one dissolves after time is up, or if it gets hit too hard.” Takako explained. “I usually use my second form to approach danger, then use my Quirk to get information without injury to myself.”

 

“Smart!” Midoriya praised her, and Takako felt her cheeks turn red.

 

“I can also turn somebody else back in time. It also reverses the effect of whatever action they just performed. I can only manage a couple seconds of that at a time, so I use it sparingly.” Takako finished, noting the way Bakugou nodded, connecting the dots.

 

“Makes you good at running away.” The blond appraised her Quirk, frowning.

 

“Or, saving someone’s life.” Aizawa corrected him, glaring in Bakugou's direction. Takako went warm with gratitude, smiling widely at the dark haired teacher.

 

Aizawa began to discuss something with All Might, dragging Midoriya into the conversation at one point, leaving Takako to wait for them to need her again.

 

She'd never seen All Might without a smile.

 

She liked watching him on the news when she was younger, because he was one of the few heroes that didn't have a bad rap offscreen.

 

Tenko never stayed inside to watch the news with the other kids. She'd always gotten the feeling that he didn't like heroes much.

 

She must have zoned out at some point, because, all of a sudden, the meeting was over. As soon as Aizawa picked the sleeping bag up off the floor, Bakugou stormed out of the room, gone before she could blink.

 

“Young Hiyashi,” All Might called her, using the modifier he used with all of his students. “Earlier, when you were using your Quirk… what upset you so?”

 

His eyes were kinda weird, all black save the bright blue irises, but they were full of concern.

 

“Oh,” Takako breathed, noticing immediately how Midoriya leaned in to listen. “It was about… Tenko.” She whispered, looking down to the floor, unable to hold his gaze. “I guess I wasn't expecting you to want to save him. If he's really a villain now, then I'd expect a hero to want to take him out, lock him up, or something like that. Not…”

 

She trailed off, pressing a hand to her sternum, feeling her heart beat against her palm.

 

“I understand, young Hiyashi.” All Might assured her- and he looked relieved, as if he'd thought she'd found some glaring fault in him. “We're going to do everything we can to get your friend back.”

 

She found her breath catching in her throat at his reassurance.

 

As if Tenko was lost somewhere instead of openly attacking the foundations of society.

 

As if he truly deserved to be saved.

 

She believed that, but she feared that not many of the other students and heroes agreed.

 

“I'll do my best too.” Takako assured him with a nod, her fingers curling into a fist against her chest in a promise.

 

---

 

When Takako heard the screaming, she knew something was wrong.

 

They'd been trucked out to this training facility, and the entire ride had been filled with warnings, with what to do if the League of Villains struck again.

 

It didn't feel like they were driving to go train for a day.

 

It felt like they were headed into a war zone.

 

Now, on top of a rooftop, she saw an explosion that could only have come from Bakugou to the east of her. Trouble was afoot. She could feel it in her bones.

 

Quickly, she clambered down from the rooftop, sticking to alleyways lest she run across something dangerous.

 

Everything was eerily quiet in her vicinity.

 

She didn't like it.

 

Quiet enough that she'd heard a familiar sound and prayed it wasn't what she thought it was.

 

Fingernails against sandpaper, scratching skin so dry that the noise was palpable, thick and heavy in the air.

 

She peeked around the corner towards the sound.

 

Of course.

 

Tenko.

 

He was so tall, now.

 

There he was, scratching an itch that would never be satiated. Hadn't she told him not to do that?

 

“You'll hurt yourself, Tennchan.”

 

The words slipped out of her mouth before she could stop them.

 

Tenko looked somewhere between surprised and not surprised, as if he had known she was here but hadn't been expecting to run across her.

 

It was useless to stay hidden, now, so she stepped out in front of him. When his red eyes met hers, she leaned against the street light behind her to steady her shaking legs.

 

“Shigaraki, do you… know this girl?”

 

Something looming and shadowy hovered by Tenko’s shoulder, speaking in a deep voice and watching her with wispy yellow lights that she assumed were his eyes. This was the other figure in the picture from that rooftop scene on the news.

 

“Shigaraki,” Takako echoed, suddenly confused. “Who's that? I thought your surname was Shimura!”

 

The shadowy figure’s wispy eyes widened comically. If she wasn't struggling to breathe normally, she would've laughed. “She knows who you are?”

 

What? Was his identity a secret, now?

 

“Did you think I wouldn't recognize you?” She demanded.

 

C'mon. Blue hair. And the same red shoes. He wasn't making it hard for her.

 

“What are you after?” Was her next question. “Why are you here?”

 

“Did you think I was here for you, Tacchan?” Tenko’s response was sharp, his voice deeper than she remembered. It was also kind of muffled, what with that weird severed hand holding onto his face. “Is your heart skipping beats with fear?”

 

Takako sunk into herself, frowning. “That wasn't very nice of you, Tenko.” She replied softly. “You know I'm not afraid of you.”

 

It was the truth. She wasn't afraid of him, merely of what might happen to her. And she didn't like the way he was mocking her, as if her worry was something he could laugh at.

 

“You should be.”

 

Surprised at the venom in his voice, she balked. Tenko ran towards her faster than she'd ever seen anything move, but she was way ahead of him. As soon as she registered the venom in his voice, she'd bounced out of there.

 

Not that she didn't trust Tenko, but something was different for sure, and she didn't know if she was completely safe within his grasp.

 

She turned out to be right, her feet coming in contact with the rooftop she'd just been on and her eyes watching the street lamp she'd been leaning against crumble.

 

It crumbled to dust in front of him, laying in a pile at his feet.

 

“Jeez, Tenko,” Takako called to him from atop the building she'd returned to. “You were going to turn me to dust? What'd I ever do to you?”

 

She was not going to cry. She was not.

 

“Are you hiding from me, Tacchan?” Tomura called out, swiveling away from the crumbled pile of what had been a street lamp. “I thought you said you weren't afraid of me.”

 

She wished she had her hero costume on so she didn't have to strain to hear what he was saying while he stood on the ground and she stood on top of a building. She was going to have to get a little closer.

 

“I'm not afraid of Tenko.” Takako confirmed. “I don't know about this… Shigaraki.”

 

Should she call him Tomura now?

 

“This is who I am now.” Was Tenko- no, Tomura’s simple reply. She almost missed it while she clambered over an air conditioning unit. “I've got things to do. I didn't come here to play games.”

 

Tomura turned to nod to the shadowy thing, who had been waiting patiently beside him, and they took a step in the direction they'd been headed in before.

 

Shit. She had to act now.

 

While her jump from ground to rooftop was enough to fuel her plans for the next couple minutes, she needed to surprise him. She needed to convince him to stay.

 

He started walking, but then her hands were moving, aimed at him from the rooftop. Then, he wasn't, his foot reversing to plant itself in the position he'd begun in.

 

She needed to get closer to him, needed to see what he was planning.

 

That's where the first part of her Quirk, Heart’s Desire, came in handy. That's why she was here. If she got close to Tomura, she could potentially get a semblance of an idea as to what was going on.

 

The other part of her Quirk was Reversal. That part would help with the ‘getting close’ that was needed for Heart's Desire.

 

Reversal was difficult, unruly, and nearly impossible for her to perfect. Takako assumed it was because time didn't follow a set of rules like humans did, so she was left to figure that out on her own. What she had learned so far about messing around with time was that time... did not like to be messed around with. Besides only being able to manage small interval jumps, things tended to get a little wonky after she messed around with time.

 

“Takako, I thought I told you I wasn't here to play-”

 

Tomura paused, and she watched him turn and glance over his shoulder.

 

There, against all odds, stood Takako, completely still in the middle of the street.

 

When she messed with time too much, Takako duplicated. It only lasted for however long she'd screwed things up for, which currently was the amount of time it had taken her to climb down the building earlier and run into Tenko.

 

But, two Takakos were better than one when it came to solving problems and getting close to people, so she took what she could get.

 

“But Tennchan,” she whispered, voice pitched up in the hopes that it would have some effect on him. “We used to have so much fun.”

 

Judging by the way he didn't move, maybe it was working.

 

“Is this some kind of heroic effort to save your friends?” He spat.

 

Okay, maybe not working.

 

She hated the way he said hero, as if it were poison he needed to spit out.

 

“You could call it that,” she agreed. She was trying to save her friends. Save them a little time, maybe even save them from danger. But… she was also trying to save Tenko- Tomura- whoever he was now. He was her friend too, no matter what he called himself.

 

She took a step towards him. Then another.

 

He didn't back away, only turned to face her completely.

 

“Shigaraki,” the smoky thing called, a warning in his voice as Takako got closer than she'd expected him to let her.

 

“Let her have her fun.” Tomura dismissed him.

 

She could see one of his eyes through the unruly bangs and the severed hand holding his face. She wondered how bad he looked underneath. What had time done to her old friend?

 

Takako stopped within arm's length of him. If he wanted to, he could reach out and destroy her.

 

She'd always wondered how quickly it would take him to disintegrate her completely. It wasn't a pleasant thought, just a nagging one.

 

“Where did you go, all those years ago?” Takako asked, pushing her glasses farther up her nose. She really wished she had her hero costume on. “No one would tell me the truth. I looked for you, Tenko. Even when I got out of there, got into school, I searched for you.”

 

It was true. Her search had yielded nothing. Probably because he changed his name.

 

“You found me.” Tomura hummed, voice flat.

 

Takako’s face fell.

 

Did he… not care? Had he never worried about her?

 

Was her old friend completely out of reach?

 

“Not in the way I wanted to.” She admitted. “Not like this.”

 

Tomura choked back a giggle, amused, and her head snapped up in surprise. “What a plot twist, huh? Childhood friends grow up only to face each other on opposite sides? Hero versus villain?” He laughed under his breath, entertained by his own narration. “Sounds like a movie, doesn't it, Tacchan?”

 

She'd heard Tenko laugh before. Tomura's laugh was different. It was bitter. It was crazed.

 

“Who hurt you, Tenko?” She whispered. “Who let you become this?”

 

Tomura’s giggles became frantic, and his shoulders shook at the force of his laughter.

 

“You think-” he gasped around maniacal laughter, “that someone made me into this? No, Tacchan. This is who I made myself to be, after no one else would help me. I had to help myself.”

 

Takako’s breath caught in her throat, tears pooling in her eyes.

 

This was… this was her fault.

 

“I would never let that happen.” Her own voice echoed in her head, assuring Tenko they'd be heroes together.

 

Does he hate me now?

 

Only one way to find out, she guessed.

 

He didn't even flinch when she rushed forwards, but she figured out why after she ran into a giant purple vortex.

 

It must be the other guy's Quirk, opening gates in space. She exited the mist on the other side of Tomura, stumbling once in confusion. The jolt of disappearing and reappearing was enough to kickstart her emotions, and soon enough she was openly sobbing in front of two villains.

 

Look, when she got worked up, she cried. That’s just how her body worked. She’d learned a long time ago that there was nothing she could do to stop it. She just had to keep moving.

 

“Tenko,” she called, facing him again. Tomura turned as well, taking his time.

 

She didn't have time.

 

Takako extended a hand, reaching out to him. She didn't move towards him again, fearing that every attempt to get close would result in jumping through one of those warp gates into who knows where. If she wanted to activate her Quirk, he was going to have to meet her halfway.

 

“Tenko, I'm sorry,” she managed through the breaths that seemed to catch in her throat.

 

Tomura didn't move, but his eyes widened. She noticed that, at least, and pushed forwards with her emotional outburst.

 

“I'm sorry for not being there for you. I should've been by your side- no matter what.” She hiccuped, wiping at her face with her free hand. “I'm no better than my father, playing games at being a hero while I let this happen. Tenko,” she called to him again, mentally pleading with him to take her hand. “I'm so sorry.”

 

Her apology was sincere. She meant every word of it.

 

Tomura's attention was fixed on her outstretched hand now, and she hoped and prayed that this would be enough.

 

Spindly fingers twitched by his sides. He took a breath.

 

In.

 

Out.

 

Takako didn't flinch away when Tomura reached out to her in return. She wouldn't back down. Not now.

 

When Tomura took her hand in his, she felt her heart kick mercilessly in her chest.

 

His palms were rough, the spaces between his fingers dry and jagged.

 

It was very clear he hadn't been taking care of himself. She could only imagine what was under the hand mask thing, what state his skin was in after years of neglect.

 

Takako took in a sharp breath, the thought socking her right in the gut.

 

You should have been there for him. This is your fault.

 

“Tenko,” she whispered, squeezing his fingers. She was close enough to feel the twisted mix of desires within him, but nothing was obvious. She could only pick up muted feelings, no description of why.

 

She needed more time.

 

“What's with the hands?” Takako demanded, squinting at the fingers curled around his arm, his face, his neck.

 

Tomura snorted behind the one on his face, shaking his head instead of answering. Takako wondered if he was smiling under there. Before she could ask, he surprised her by tugging on her arm, requesting her closer.

 

Who was she to say no?

 

She stumbled forwards, the pull offsetting her balance just a smidge before she moved. Now instead of ten feet away, they were separated by maybe five feet, hands dangling in between them.

 

“Shigaraki, don't get distracted.” The wispy purple thing sounded annoyed. Takako wondered if he'd force them apart.

 

“Is that what you're doing?” Tomura asked. She caught a glimpse of a raised an eyebrow through the fingers. “Distracting me?”

 

Takako felt her cheeks turning red, and she smiled sheepishly. Caught.

 

“Maybe.” She admitted. “I mostly just wanna talk.”

 

“Don't have time for talking.” Tomura reminded her. He surprised her even further when he took a step towards her, closing the gap between them.

 

His fingers still clenched around hers. She could feel tendons and ligaments twitching, his mind still uncertain about dissolving her or not.

 

She supposed he was trying to be threatening, what with how tall he loomed over her now, but they just stood in silence, a foot apart, fingers entangled at his side.

 

Now he was close enough that she could start picking one desire apart from another. The ones she didn't need, like the fact that he was hungry, she ignored. There were some that concerned her, like how badly he wanted to scratch at his neck, but those weren't important either.

 

“We've got a lot to talk about.” Takako insisted. “Where you've been, the hands, how I got adopted- my Quirk, Tenko, we never got to talk about my Quirk!” She realized, eyes wide as they gaze up at him through thick frames. God, they had so much to talk about.

 

She wondered if he wasn't scratching because she'd reprimanded him earlier. Curious, she sifted through the less urgent desires, looking for something.

 

“Not to mention how much you've grown, and whatever is hiding under that hand,” she tapped the one over his face. She couldn't see his face or his neck with the hand that clung to his features.

 

“You wouldn't like it.” He spoke quickly, and his desire to hide his state of being flashed like a beacon in front of her.

 

Wait, wait, was that it? Was that what she was looking for?

 

“We can talk later.” Tomura insisted suddenly, letting go of her hand.

 

Takako deflated, glancing at the ground. “So I can't stop you.” She whispered.

 

She'd already known that, but she'd hoped...

 

“Later.” Tomura insisted, and she looked up again in surprise.

 

He wanted to talk to her. He wanted it.

 

“I could take you back with me,” he offered slowly, hesitantly.

 

Damn, and he wanted that too. For real. She could feel it.

 

“Tennchan,” Takako whispered. She sifted frantically through the wants popping up in front of her, looking for what she needed. “You know I can't. Besides, wouldn't that put you in danger?”

 

There. That was it. She could really feel it now.

 

She wasn't a brawl type hero. She fell more into the category of de-escalation, of calming situations down.

 

One of the more difficult parts of controlling her Quirk was looking past someone's present desires and the goals they'd already promised to achieve. Sometimes, like now, she needed to see what someone wanted to happen.

 

Before she could talk herself out of it, Takako flung herself onto him, wrapping her arms around his chest. Immediately, he tensed, but she ignored it in favor of pressing into his warmth.

 

“Missed you, Tenko.” She mumbled into his chest, her glasses smushed uncomfortably against her face. His sweatshirt smelled a little like sweat and greasy food, but Takako was more focused on trying to make out the shape of his face under that damned hand. She barely came up to his chin, and from her new angle, she could see that the skin of his neck was scratched raw from his fingernails.

 

Tomura didn't move, frozen underneath her. Takako didn't mind- she could feel the contentedness thrumming under her cheek. 

 

As if he weren't tense enough from her proximity, he stiffened even more with a sharp breath, one arm whipping up so fast she could barely track the movement. The sudden movement startled her, but the quick jump of her heart was almost immediately soothed by the arm that wound around her shoulders.

 

She looked up to see a knife buried in his palm- a knife, someone had thrown a knife, and he’d just caught it, as if it were nothing, stopping it from piercing her skin, his other arm pulling her closer to him almost as if on instinct-

 

Was he… protecting her?

 

Takako let out a slow breath into his sweatshirt. She had one more thing to do.

 

Someone was babbling nearby, a female voice that was too loud and too cutesy. Takako ignored them in favor of digging into the deeper desires of Tomura's heart, desperately trying to get to the bottom of this.

 

The first desire that surprised her was his desire to crush Midoriya. There were other darker ones, but she had already guessed that he desired some kind of societal upheaval, that he wished to change the definition of a hero. That was just the first one that caught her off guard.

 

She didn't notice the blood dripping from his palm. It was probably better that she didn't.

 

There was something else buried beneath it all. Something he'd locked away from even himself, a desire he didn't want to admit to.

 

It was difficult for her to uncover- she'd already pushed her Quirk to the limit, and Tomura wasn't making it easy for her to get a read on him even with how close she was.

 

It had something to do with… attention?

 

“Shigaraki-kuuun!!” The girl nearby screeched. Takako didn't really like how she said his name, but that wasn't what she was worried about in the moment.

 

It had something to do with… acceptance? Praise?

 

“I didn't know you had a girlfriend!”

 

Takako felt like she'd been punched in the gut again.

 

“Huh?” Was all she could manage, and she could feel the heat in her face as she looked up from where her nose had been buried in his sternum.

 

Tomura- Tenko- craved love. He wanted to be loved.

 

Takako wasn't sure what to do with that information.

 

“Oh, oh, no,” the girl nearby changed her mind, drawing Takako's attention to yellow eyes that glinted with malicious glee. “Not a girlfriend. That's not what I smell, no, not at all,” the blonde girl got caught up in maniacal laughter that rivaled Tomura's from earlier, and Takako was hit by a sudden wave of desire from the newcomer.

 

She wasn't anywhere near the cackling girl, but the lust for blood rolled off of her in waves so strong that they nearly knock Takako over.

 

“What the hell is she on?” Takako whispered- truly in fear of this girl- but Tomura merely laughed.

 

She was about to reprimand him for laughing at her fear, but a sharp pain lanced through her side before she could get any words out. With a surprised glance down, Takako saw what looked like a syringe buried in her side.

 

Instead of blood dripping into the tube that led to the crazy blonde, something shiny and luminescent came out instead.

 

Ah. Show’s over.

 

Takako’s double dissolved in the villain’s arms, the syringe clattering to the ground.

 

Since all of her focus had been diverted into her double, Takako nearly fell back into reality where she sat on the rooftop nearby. The voices of the villains nearby were harder to hear now, but she could still make out the stunned murmurs from beneath her.

 

“It was just an illusion.” She heard Tomura speak up. “It had been the whole time.”

 

So he did know about her Quirk. Why had he let her in close if he knew what she could do?

 

Why had he trusted her to sift through his deepest desires?

 

“You knew that, and yet you still wasted your time here.” The wispy shadow noted, sounding extremely unimpressed. Takako nodded to herself as she stood, agreeing with the warp gate.

 

“It wasn't wasted!”

 

Takako froze in place at the venom in his voice. She'd heard that tone before, when they were younger, but this was… different, somehow.

 

Maybe it was because he was defending her?

 

“She was cute! Cute cute cute-” the crazy girl danced on her toes, singing to herself. “I should go find her, cut her open- she'd be cuter then,”

 

Takako turned on her heel, done listening. That settled it: she needed to get out of here before someone found her.

 

“Suck suck suck some blood and then- and then! You'd be able to see her all the time! Wouldn't you love that, Shigaraki-kuuuun?”

 

Takako didn't want to know what that meant, so she just scurried even farther out of earshot and turned her communication device on.

 

“Midoriya? Aizawa? Literally anyone?” She breathed into the microphone, a little shaky from the encounter.

 

“Little busy here,” Midoriya grunted back. “Did you do it?”

 

“Hell yeah,” Takako beamed at nothing, no one in sight. “Of course I did.”

 

“Update us,” Aizawa’s voice crackled in, and he sounded just as busy as Midoriya. “What are we looking at?”

 

“He's going after Midoriya, but you knew that,” she began, speaking quickly to get to the point. “There's probably no chance of changing his mind about heroes in one shot. I knew that there was going to be something in the way, but I wasn't really expecting this.”

 

“Less vague, Hiyashi,” Aizawa droned.

 

“It's hard to explain,” Takako trailed off, biting at her lip. “Also, I think one of them is coming after me?”

 

“Hiyashi, you're useless-” the now familiar bite of Bakugou’s voice cut through the line. “Be a hero for three seconds and do your job. Explain it and fight!”

 

Takako audibly sighed into the microphone. “Alright, here's a summary.”

Chapter Text

Logically, Takako had known that Tomura wasn't going to go down without a fight. Her heart had hoped that her efforts to dig into his soul would help at least a little bit, but her mind had known better.

 

From what she could hear over the headset, it was an all out war over there.

 

Midoriya had stopped responding long ago, and Takako was pretty sure that Bakugou was over there too. Aizawa’s the only one left on the line. All Might was too far out of range.

 

“Hiyashi,” Aizawa's voice was curt, she knew he was fighting something. “Do not go after him.”

 

“I wasn't planning on it,” Takako muttered, offended. “I'm not stupid.”

 

“Emotions cloud rationale,” Aizawa reminded her, as if she didn't already know. “Even if you weren't planning on it, if you're not actively walking away-”

 

His voice cut out momentarily. Takako heard a series of grunts, followed by a sickening crack. Aizawa sighed, and Takako took this as his victory cry.

 

“You're probably unconsciously headed towards them.” He continued as if he'd never left off.

 

“I am not-” she argued childishly, but she stopped when she realized that the dust cloud rising above the buildings in front of her crackled with green energy and fiery explosions. “Oh. You're right. I am.”

 

“I know.” Aizawa droned, unimpressed. “Head towards something else. You need backup.”

 

The professor was right, unfortunately. She wasn't much on her own. With her head hung, she obliged, turning on her heel and looking for a classmate to team up with.

 

Actually, she had someone assigned to watch her back, but they'd gotten separated from her in the initial chaos. Takako had a job to do, and one less bodyguard wasn't going to stop her.

 

It did make her nervous, though. She wasn't bad at close combat, but a lot of these villains’ Quirks were long distance or weapons based.

 

If she'd had her hero suit, she'd have a couple small weapons and a variety of chemical weapons- each of which were formulated with the intent to stop an oncoming attacker. If her opponent was out of commission, she could get close, do her job, and escape without injury.

 

But she didn't have her hero suit.

 

She only had her fists, a Quirk that would tell her exactly how badly an oncoming villain wanted to kill her, and about ten seconds of time reversal.

 

A lot of her training was meant for situations like this. Total chaos, heroes fighting villains, and Takako running through the shadows trying not to be seen.

 

“Oho! Is that you!?”

 

Takako flinched away from the sound, darting back into the alleyway she'd just peeked out of.

 

So much for not being seen.

 

“Oh, don't hide! I've finally found you!”

 

Shit. It was that voice from earlier.

 

She ran a little faster.

 

Something whizzed past her arm, just grazing her uniform. A knife bounced off a nearby dumpster, and a laugh echoed off the walls of the alley.

 

“I won't miss, next time,” came the cold warning, and Takako ducked around a corner with a shudder.

 

She considered climbing the ladder onto the nearby fire escape, but she didn't think she could climb it fast enough to avoid the crazy blonde and her penchant for knife throwing.

 

“Hold on! I just want to make friends!” The girl shouted after her.

 

Be a hero for three seconds and do your job. Bakugou's voice cut through her thoughts, jarring her. Takako skidded to a halt.

 

“Much better.” The blonde crooned.

 

Takako spun on her heel to face the girl, but there was already something flying her way.

 

She barely had time to reverse the knife’s trajectory for a couple seconds, enough time to let her step out of the way.

 

The blonde tsked under her breath, but when she truly looked at Takako's face she broke out into a scary grin once again.

 

“You're the megane that Shigaraki-kun told us about!” She screeched. “Hi, megane-chan! I'm Toga Himiko! Call me Himiko, I wanna be best friends.” Toga chirruped, sharp teeth poking out over her lip while she grinned.

 

“He told you about me?” Takako hesitated to respond, not really wanting to engage the psychopath. Nonetheless, it seemed that the knives were only thrown when Toga’s mouth wasn't running.

 

“Only that we weren't allowed to kill you.” Toga relayed, smile widening, if possible. “He didn't say anything about maiming, though,” her voice dropped low, lips curling evilly, and Takako didn't have time to dodge the next sharp object.

 

The syringe hit her in the side (again), but instead of dissolving, Takako merely grunted and pulled it out, crushing the glass under her foot.

 

“Oh, you're no fun!” Toga cried, teeth bared in a snarl, like she'd forgotten to smile.

 

When the blonde stepped towards her, a wave of bloodlust washed over Takako for the second time that day.

 

She forcefully tuned her Quirk out. She didn't need any more reason to fear this girl.

 

When Toga came running at her with another knife, Takako sidestepped, putting her training into action. Toga was feisty, she refused to give up immediately, so Takako curled her fingers into blonde hair and pushed, following the momentum of Toga’s thrust.

 

Takako couldn't determine whether she wanted to categorize the resulting crunch of Toga's face against the nearby brick wall under nauseating or satisfying. Toga reared back to retaliate, screaming bloody murder, but Takako still had a grip on the back of her head.

 

Takako put her body weight into her next push, and Toga stopped screaming, slumping uselessly to the ground.

 

She took a moment to look down at the crumpled figure, cold calculation in her gaze. There was still adrenaline coursing through her veins while she rid Toga of a few of her knives, and she tucked them into her uniform with a shiver as the cold metal met her skin.

 

“Sorry, Toga.” She apologized, bowing even though there was no one to see her.

 

With a deep breath, Takako collected herself, and with steady steps, she walked back to the entrance of the alleyway.

 

What she wasn't expecting was to run into someone else. It was another face she didn't recognize, which could only mean one thing.

 

“I thought I heard Toga running her mouth around here.” The man mused, blue eyes blazing while he clearly took in the sight of Toga's prone figure somewhere behind Takako. “And just my luck, you're just the girl I need.”

 

Takako reached for one of her newly acquired knives, but this guy was faster. He's got her by the throat before she could blink, fingers squeezing in a threat she was very certain he would carry out.

 

“Be a good girl and come with me.” He simpered, smiling through what she had thought were piercings but could definitely be staples. “You don't want to get hurt, now, do you?”

 

Takako knew she was being reckless, but she's not going down without a fight either.

 

He didn't appreciate the boot to the shin, nor did he enjoy the fingernails she aimed at his eyes.

 

He let the boot go, wincing a little, but he caught her hand and twisted her arm behind her back before she could blink.

 

“Shigaraki never told us your name. What's your name, darling?” The man asked, turning her around so he can march her forwards. She aimed a heel at his instep instead of answering, and he tightened his fingers around her throat in response. “Feisty. Shigaraki doesn't seem like the type.” He noted, grinning against her ear. His breath smelled like smoke, and not the kind from a cigarette.

 

He's some kind of burner, Takako gathered.

 

She struggled against him, but he was stronger than her, and he made sure to limit her airflow just enough that her vision was spinning by the time they finally stopped walking.

 

Takako knew where they were. She wasn't dumb.

 

Bakugou's familiar cursing was somewhere above her, and the roar of something definitely not human was off to her right. She couldn't really see, but she could feel the pulse of Midoriya's energy somewhere nearby.

 

“Oi,” the man behind her called out, obviously taking his sweet time. “I'd take a look at what I brought to the party before you keep going.”

 

Midoriya swore this time, which surprised Takako despite her clouding thoughts.

 

She realized suddenly that she couldn't breathe. She couldn't breathe at all.

 

She clawed at the hand around her throat, kicking and scratching with everything she had, but she's too weak from the lack of oxygen to do much damage.

 

“Dabi. If you value your life, you'll stop.”

 

Takako gasped in relief, her vision flooding back to her all at once.

 

A ways off in front of her, Tomura stood still, arms limp by his side as if he hadn't been fighting Midoriya just a second ago. Midoriya also wasn't moving, his clothes a little tattered but looking good overall.

 

Takako could see Midoriya glancing between her and Tomura, trying to figure out what was going on. It's obvious he's concerned, but he clearly didn't know why she'd been brought to the battleground.

 

It's less obvious that Tomura was watching her too, but she could just barely make out the shift of red eyes beneath all that mask them.

 

“If you value her life at all, you'll do as we ask. Like good children.” The one Tomura had named Dabi called to Midoriya, fingers tightening around her throat again.

 

“Hiyashi,” Midoriya ventured, gaze flicking from villain to villain.

 

Bakugou was still cursing up a storm somewhere above her. She couldn't crane her neck to see.

 

Takako opened her mouth to answer but found that she couldn't, courtesy of her current state of asphyxiation, so she just elbowed Dabi in the sternum with a growl.

 

Midoriya took that exactly how she meant it and charged Tomura again, alight with crackling energy.

 

“You little-” Dabi hissed, twisting her arm further behind her back. Takako feels her tendons scream, bones creaking ominously, but she masked her yelp by stomping into Dabi’s foot.

 

She froze as soon as the hand around her throat heated up to an unbearable temperature, and though she hated the whimper that fell from her mouth, it was the only reaction she could manage. Real fear courses through her veins after she checked the sincerity of his threat, fully aware that he's planning on leaving his fingerprints burned into her skin.

 

“Please-” she managed, and Dabi’s grin lit up with glee when she relented, going lax against him.

 

“Now, be a good girl and tell your friends to stop.” Dabi instructs, loosening his grip on her, the temperature of his palms dropping blessedly normal again.

 

Takako wheezed, regaining her breath, and Dabi shook her in a warning not to get too comfortable.

 

After she cleared her throat, there was only one viable option for her to choose.

 

“Ten- Tenko! ” She shouted, straining against Dabi’s grip. “Please stop- please-

 

She wasn't sure who she's pleading with at this point, because Dabi was shaking her with a growl, cutting off her air again.

 

“Takako,”

 

The bland way Tomura said her name reminded her of better days.

 

“You know as well as I do that I can't stop now.” He hummed, tone completely level, as if he wasn't reaching for Midoriya in an attempt to disintegrate him. “I'm so close, ” his voice lilts with glee, eyes flashing as he easily avoids a punch. “Soon I'll have All Might himself begging at my feet, and I'll finally fill the role I was meant to play-”

 

Takako flashed back to the desires she pulled from deep within him.

 

“Whose shoes do you need to fill so desperately?” She screamed out, yelping in pain as Dabi pinched her skin with another twist of her arm. “Who's been leading you down this path?”

 

“It's All For One!” Midoriya yelled back, teeth bared in a scowl as he dodged an outstretched palm. “He's a villain that takes people's Quirks and uses them for himself! He's been grooming Shigaraki to take on the mantle and defeat All Might!”

 

By the way Tomura snarled and pursued Midoriya with greater vigor, Takako guessed that Midoriya was telling the truth.

 

“You're being used, Tenko!” Takako choked, still struggling against Dabi’s grip.

 

“And so what if I am?” Tomura wasn't shouting, but his voice was no longer the measured tone it was before. “Haven't I become stronger from it? Haven't I gained?”

 

Midoriya yelled something unintelligible- Takako's vision was blurring again, she missed it- but a shout back from Tomura accompanied the return of the breath to her lungs.

 

“All For One doesn't care one bit for you,” Bakugou was the next to pitch in, and Takako finally caught sight of what he was fighting. “You're foolish to believe that he does.”

 

He was fighting one of those horrifying monsters that she saw on the news one time. She looked away before she could throw up.

 

Tomura screamed, and Takako looked up to see his fists clenched by his sides.

 

“What do you know?” Tomura hissed, and Midoriya staggered back in surprise when Tomura's knuckles connect with his jaw. Tomura didn't fight with his fists because he needed his fingers free for his Quirk to activate. This wasn't something Midoriya saw coming.

 

Though he saw the next punch and dodged it, Tomura was fast and got another one in before Takako can blink.

 

“What? You think All For One actually loves you?” Bakugou taunted- probably using Takako's earlier discovery in the worst way.

 

Tomura gritted his teeth, channeling his rage towards Midoriya.

 

Takako phased out again, vision blurring like a camera out of focus. Dabi was toying with her at this point, stealing her oxygen until she went limp, only to allow her a few precious breaths so she could struggle again. He had probably figured out that Tomura's concern for her wasn't one sided, and was content to flaunt her life in front of her friends while they watched them fight.

 

When she opened her eyes again, weakly sucking in air at every chance she got, she was met with a pair of scarlet eyes much closer than they'd been before.

 

“Tenko-” she gasped, swiping at him, grabbing onto the front of his sweatshirt.

 

“Don't get in my way, Dabi.” Tomura muttered through his teeth, red eyes alight with adrenaline and rage.

 

Dabi laughed and tightened his grip again, fingers heating up in a threat. Takako squeaked out a yelp, but the searing heat at her throat wasn't the source of her concerns.

 

Her eyes darted wildly from Tomura to Midoriya, caught between trying to warn him and letting Midoriya gain the upper hand.

 

In an instant, everything went wrong.

 

Tomura sidestepped Midoriya's advances without hesitation, but regret seeped into his gaze as soon as he realized where Midoriya’s trajectory would lead him.

 

With Tomura out of the way, Dabi held Takako out like a human shield, a punch crackling with unearthly energy headed her way.

 

She'd seen this happen before on TV, when All Might was fighting that crazy strong villain. All Might had rushed forwards with a punch, and the villain had pulled another hero out of nowhere, using him to block All Might’s fist.

 

Midoriya's eyes went wide as well, and while he did his best to aim his fist away, Takako knew what was coming.

 

The other hero had survived, hadn't he? She'd be fine.

 

She'd be fine.

 

As soon as her skin buzzed in anticipation, she aimed what was left of her Quirk at Midoriya, setting him back a couple seconds, giving him another moment to readjust. She'd moved him backwards in time, but his body still carried him forwards.

 

She'd be fine.

 

Do your job.

 

Be a hero for three seconds.

 

Even though Midoriya's punch connected with her side, she moved just far enough over that he glanced off of her and into Dabi, sending them both flying.

 

Takako’s world went white before she hit the brick of the nearby building, but all she could think about was the knife blade she'd driven into the burner behind her before Midoriya's fist ended the show.

Chapter Text

Tomura had every reason to be pissed.

 

If it wasn't bad enough that Midoriya wasn't going down, or that these children were mocking his mentor, Dabi had sauntered in with Takako. Of all the students he could've picked up, the stitched together freak had grabbed Takako.

 

What Dabi had meant to use as a threat to the UA students to give in had ended up being a distraction to everyone. Takako hissed and spit like a feral cat whenever Dabi wasn't choking her, never giving in no matter how many times she'd gone limp against the burner’s chest. Midoriya's attention kept drifting to the girl, which made Tomura grind his teeth a little harder against each other.

 

And then, and then, as if all of this wasn't enough, Tomura had stepped out of the way of a punch from One For All as if it was nothing- only to realize where exactly the punch had left to go.

 

It would've hit Takako square in the chest if she hadn't used her Quirk to give herself another moment to move. Instead, it glanced off of her side and caught Dabi on the way past, separating the two.

 

Of course, even in the face of a potentially life ending punch, Takako had to be a hero, which meant that Dabi was coughing up blood from the knife Tomura suspected was Toga's. She must've wedged it into his chest in the chaos before Midoriya’s punch landed. This also meant that Takako had come across Toga at some point today, and not only had she come out on top, but she'd also stolen some of Toga's knives.

 

His childhood friend was more than just talk, that much was certain.

 

He'd only been able to watch as Takako and Dabi went flying, their bodies leaving little craters in the concrete where they landed.

 

Dabi pushed himself up onto his elbows by sheer force of will, but it was clear he wasn't moving any farther than that. The punch and the knife had blood dripping from his lips, and he was smoking in a way that clearly wasn't connected to his Quirk.

 

Takako merely blinked, dazed. She didn't move besides that.

 

Stupid, stupid Takako, getting herself in the middle of his business, getting herself hurt-

 

Tomura loomed over Midoriya, one hand outstretched. “You'll pay for that.” He intoned, nearly clamping down on the back of his neck before an explosion catapulted him off to the side.

 

“Keep your hands to yourself, freak.” Bakugou spat from above him, and Tomura barely had time to avoid another blast from the rapidly descending Bakugou.

 

The blond had been airborne for a while, fighting one of Tomura’s Nomus, but apparently, that was over.

 

Yet another thing to push him just a little further over the edge.

 

He couldn't lose his temper. He had to stay focused, use what he had to come out on top.

 

He had to prove himself.

 

But god, he was so pissed.

 

Bakugou barked out a sinister laugh, blowing through one of the pieces of falling debris that threatened to crush him as he approached Tomura with a deadly grin.

 

“Ready to die, crusty?” He sneered, teeth seeming to sharpen with the upwards pull of his lips.

 

Takako coughed nearby, her fist beating weakly against the concrete. Momentarily, Bakugou frowned, clearly familiar with Takako’s protests, and Tomura took that as his chance to act.

 

Clearly, Bakugou expected him to directly attack him, so avoiding the first blast was easy.

 

Under the smoke and dust the explosion kicked up, he carried out his plan.

 

A touch here, a touch there…

 

He'd become quite the strategist over the years.

 

When the dust cleared, all Tomura could do was laugh.

 

These heroes were so funny. So predictable.

 

With a couple five fingered touches, he'd compromised the stability of a few buildings, toppled a few street lamps, and scattered a couple telephone lines. Now Bakugou laid under a creaking mass of metal, live wires sparking dangerously close to his legs.

 

And poor, poor Midoriya, straining with all his might against the several large pieces of debris that had caught him off guard. Tomura knew he had to act fast. Midoriya had proven himself to be something of a wild card when it came to power, so he couldn't assume that would hold him for long.

 

“I wouldn't act impulsively, if I were you,” Tomura hummed, walking calmly towards the pinned hero. “Any big gusts of winds or explosions could compromise the stability of that pile,” he glanced over to Bakugou, inspecting him.

 

The blond growled as loud as he could, but Tomura wasn't fooled. His thrashing legs stilled as soon as he realized his frantic movement could bring tons of metal and debris down on top of him.

 

“I'd hate for an up and coming hero to face paralysis. Or death.” Tomura smiled beneath the hand over his face, kneeling next to Midoriya.

 

“Or would I?”

 

He reached for Midoriya's curls, the green mass of hair matted with blood and dirt.

 

This was it.

 

Victory was his.

 

Game over.

 

---

 

Tenko knew something was wrong when Takako came out to recess without the usual spring in her step. She'd given him a weak smile, then sat down next to him in the grass only to stare into nothingness for the next ten minutes.

 

He knew something was wrong.

 

But what was he supposed to do to help?

 

“Tenko,” Takako spoke first, and he winced at her dull tone. “I don't really feel like playing today.”

 

“That's okay,” he assured her quickly. “We don't have to do anything.”

 

Takako let out a breath that sounded suspiciously like relief and sank her fingers into the soft earth beneath her.

 

They didn't talk for another ten minutes, which Tenko would have been used to if he didn't hang out with Takako so much. Nowadays, it just seemed wrong.

 

“Tacchan,” Tenko spoke up slowly. He purposefully used the diminutive of her name, since she always smiled when he said it. “Is everything okay?”

 

Takako nodded, but the reaction was a little too quick, as if she'd been expecting the question.

 

He didn't know what to do with that, so he just sat in the uncomfortable silence that followed. They merely picked at the grass around them, examining the roots and bugs they pulled up.

 

When he pulled up a clump of colored petals, he asked Takako what she thought of the flower he'd found.

 

She turned to him slowly, dark eyes dull and hollow. “I tried to give some to Miss Jira, but she wasn't very happy about it. They're weeds.”

 

“Oh.” Tenko hummed, dropping the stem.

 

Takako watched the flower meet the earth. “Why do we call some plants flowers and others weeds? Just because one grows different from the other? Because one doesn't behave like we think it should?”

 

Tenko got the feeling that this question wasn't about flowers.

 

“Dunno,” he answered honestly. He couldn't meet her eyes. He could only fiddle with the pieces of grass in his lap. Takako only sighed in response.

 

“Do you really care if they're called flowers or weeds?” He asked, breaking the newly forged silence.

 

Takako tilted her head. “Not really.” She admitted.  “I'm not allergic or anything.”

 

“Oh. Then, here.” He held out the circle of connected flowers he'd crafted with his thumb and forefinger, keeping his other fingers from joining and disintegrating his hard work.

 

Takako took the creation into her own hands, delicately holding the strands.

 

“It's a crown,” he explained, pointing to the thing she held. With a nod of realization, she settled the flowers on her head.

 

When she brushed her hair back from her face, he noticed something new.

 

A bruise.

 

“Takako, did you hit your head?” Tenko worried immediately, leaning in closer to her to check. She sighed softly and pushed him away with a gentle hand on his shoulder.

 

Even after all this time, she touched him without thinking.

 

“Don't worry about it.” Takako whispered. “One of the older kids was bothering me. It's over now.”

 

Tenko's gaze shot to the monkey bars where the older kids hung out.

 

Something white hot and angry reared within him, pulling at the edge of his lips. He could feel them twitching, aching to snarl.

 

He stood, his legs moving without him.

 

“Tenko? Where are you going?” Takako called after him. He kept walking. “Tenko?”

 

How dare they, he seethed, his fists clenched as he tried not to stomp towards the monkey bars. How dare they hurt someone that's only ever been kind.

 

One of the older kids sprouted an eye on the back of his head, the brown iris tracking him as he approached.

 

“Hey,” one dressed in all pink called out. “Where do you think you're going?”

 

Tenko stopped at the base of the monkey bars, his hand resting on one of the rungs. The kid standing on the rung he touched scowled at him and told him to piss off.

 

“You play on the monkey bars every day.” Tenko spoke up, keeping his voice flat even though it threatened to tremble. “You can deal with one day off.”

 

The one in pink laughed in his face. “Yeah, we could. Doesn't mean we're gonna.”

 

Someone else swung their legs from where they hung on top of the bars. Though they weren't touching the ground, they kicked up dust into Tenko’s face anyways. He coughed, but he didn't back down.

 

“One day without playing on the bars,” Tenko repeated, stock still. “Or forever without them.” He finished, closing his fingers around the rung he touched.

 

If they wanted him to be a villain so bad, then a villain he would be.

 

The kid standing on the rung yelped as his foothold disappeared, and he slipped off the monkey bars. He tried to scrabble for purchase, but the rung underneath him was too slippery, and he fell off the structure completely, landing with a thump on the wood chips below.

 

The other kids reacted in a myriad of ways. Some reared back, fear evident in their posture, others scoffed, ignoring him, and still others completely bounced, leaving the scene as quickly as possible.

 

Only one kid advanced on him.

 

The one dressed entirely in pink hopped off the monkey bars, landing in front of him with a frown etched into their face.

 

“Who do you think you are?” They asked, voice low and dangerous. “You think you're some kind of hero?” With the frown and the fist that was slowly raising to aim at Tenko’s face, the kid could definitely be categorized under menacing.

 

Tenko didn't back down. “No. Do you?”

 

The older kid paused, their fist slackening.

 

“Hey! What are you doing?!” Takako’s voice cut into their staredown, and the pink kid looked away first.

 

“Oh. It's you.” They hummed. “I thought I got rid of you earlier.”

 

Tenko’s vision edged white with rage again. This was the one that had emptied Takako of everything good and bright? He stepped forwards in a threat, but Takako beat him to it. She flung herself in front of him, hands planted on her hips.

 

Tenko had half a mind to push her aside.

 

What drove her to protect him? Couldn't she see what a villain he was being?

 

He was busy being threatening!! For her sake!!

 

“You just don't quit, do you?” The kid in pink noted, eyeing the two determined children. “Whatever. C'mon guys. It's not worth getting in trouble for beating up a couple kids.”

 

They waved a pink gloved hand over their shoulder, summoning the others. Some scurried off immediately, others took their time in disentangling themselves from the bars, glaring at the two kids while they retreated.

 

Takako watched them go with wide eyes, arms dropping from their protective stance as she turned to face Tenko again.

 

“Were you… standing up for me?” She asked him, looking up at him through her glasses.

 

“Uh,” Tenko felt heat rise to his cheeks, caught off guard by the question. “I was… worried.” He admitted softly. “You were upset, so I… I tried to get something that would make you happy.”

 

Takako’s wide eyed gaze swung to the monkey bars in a sudden realization.

 

Had she been so focused on protecting him that she'd completely overlooked their location?

 

Why did she run into conflict so blindly?

 

Takako only stared at the metal rungs for a moment, her hand lifting to brush against the crooked crown on her head. Before he could straighten it, she jumped once with glee- real happiness lighting up her features. “Tenko!” She cried out, smiling at him. “Thank you!”

 

She'd left her gratitude at that, choosing to clamber up the rungs and swing across with a dexterity Tenko didn't know she'd possessed. He merely watched her for a couple minutes, satisfied with his work.

 

It had been… thrilling, at the very least, to truly play the villain for a moment.

 

So why did Takako look at him like he was her hero?

 

“Tenko! You try!” Takako called to him, hanging from one of the middle rungs. “I bet you could make it all the way across without disintegrating any of them!”

 

He'd climbed up after her after only a moment of hesitation.

 

He decided not to mention the new dry patch that had cropped up under his chin. A single swipe of his fingernails had been enough to quell the itch of dry skin for the moment, so he left it alone.

 

---

 

Dazed and swimming in and out of consciousness, Takako was only certain of a couple things.

 

She was sure that at least five of her ribs were broken from Midoriya's punch.

 

It was clear that Bakugou was trapped under an unsteady pile of debris, and Midoriya was completely pinned under another, sturdier mass.

 

Tomura had murder in the one eye she could see.

 

She had to get up.

 

These were the things she was certain of.

 

There were things she was uncertain of as well.

 

She might have gotten a concussion from hitting the concrete. The arm Dabi had twisted behind her was probably sprained, if not fractured.

 

She knew Bakugou was smart, but she wasn't sure how rationally he was thinking while a villain reached toward his (childhood?) friend with the intent to kill.

 

She knew Midoriya was strong, but she didn't know if the debris would be enough to pin him.

 

As she dragged herself to her feet, she wondered blithely if her uniform had been torn open along with her skin. She knew she was bleeding, she just didn't know where from.

 

She didn't know how long her legs would hold her up.

 

She didn't know how stable her steps would be with the world spinning like it was.

 

She just kept her eyes on Tomura.

 

She just walked.

 

She saw Midoriya mumble something up at Tomura, and if something had changed in his expression Takako would never know. Damn that hand over his face.

 

Tomura had to hear her coming. He had to.

 

Bakugou could see her. She could tell by the way his eyes widened. She figured if she were closer- if her vision wasn't spinning- she'd be able to see how narrow his pupils had shrunk as well.

 

Tomura was turned away, his back to her as he kneeled over Midoriya.

 

Should she open her mouth? Would it stop him? Would he hesitate for a childhood friend?

 

Deep down, she knew the answer was no.

 

She staggered forwards, a shaky breath causing her ribs to scream out in pain- nearly convincing her to as well.

 

Be a hero for three seconds, Bakugou’s voice echoed in her head.

 

Be a hero.

 

For three seconds.

 

She didn't know if she had three seconds left in her. She didn't even know if she had one.

 

But when Tomura’s hand finally twisted into Midoriya’s curls, yanking his head up to face him, she realized it didn't matter how much time she had left.

 

Midoriya had none.

 

Bakugou screamed when the first flecks of dust floated away, green curls dissipating into the air. Even the tears in Midoriya’s eyes began to crumble underneath Tomura’s Quirk.

 

The rush of feeling- or desire- that washed over Takako, unbidden, uninvited, nearly knocked her fragile body to the ground.

 

She didn't need to be anywhere close to Bakugou to feel what he felt for Midoriya.

 

With a sigh, extending her (probably broken) arms in front of her, Takako pushed past her limit.

 

Be a hero for three seconds.

 

Three seconds.

 

When Midoriya reformed underneath Tomura’s hand, he sucked in a breath like a dead man come back to life.

 

Straining, teeth grit together despite her headache, arms trembling, she suspended him there, milliseconds before Tomura’s fifth finger made contact. Tomura screeched in something like hysteria as he shook Midoriya by the curls, the hero-in-training refusing to die.

 

All of this would be for naught if she let go. Tomura was still holding onto Midoriya, straining against Takako’s Quirk whether he knew it or not.

 

She dared not breathe, for fear that the pain would knock her out of her concentration.

 

With her foot, the only part of her she was confident would hold up, she kicked Tomura’s hand away.

 

Scarlet eyes whipped up to meet hers, wide eyed rage meeting barely open exhaustion.

 

Takako wobbled in place, swinging dangerously far off balance. Tomura’s stare darted between her and Midoriya, connecting the dots.

 

It only took a moment for Bakugou to finally wriggle free.

 

It only took a moment for Midoriya’s power to seize within him, an ungodly amount of strength pouring into his being to free him from his confines.

 

It only took a moment for Takako to stagger too far to the left, her body pitching towards the ground. She didn't bother to try and break her fall.

 

Tomura lunged for her, arms outstretched.

 

She didn't know whether he'd meant to catch her or kill her.

 

She'd never know, because Bakugou was on him in a second, knees pinning Tomura’s arms to the ground, palms already lighting up with an oncoming explosion.

 

When she hit the ground, she screamed, but she wasn't sure if it was because of her injuries or because of the first fist Bakugou aimed at Tomura’s face.

 

Okay, truthfully, it was the injuries.

 

Takako couldn't move from where she'd landed. She couldn't even roll onto her other side.

 

She could only watch while Bakugou roared and punched and cursed, a flurry of movement even while Midoriya tried to hold his arm back.

 

She could only lie in place while Bakugou’s desires washed over her, one word on repeat.

 

Die, die, die, die-

 

When Tomura went limp under Bakugou’s hold, Takako sobbed.

 

Bakugou didn't stop.

 

Midoriya shouted, Takako cried, but Bakugou didn't stop.

 

Even when Takako’s vision finally went completely black, the roar of Bakugou’s rage followed her into unconsciousness.

 

---

 

Takako woke up in a much smaller body than she remembered.

 

She blinked up at her own personal childhood bully, a kid who refused to wear anything other than pink because it benefitted their Quirk in some way.

 

Their lip curled while they glanced between Takako and someone else behind her.

 

“You just don't quit, do you?” They mumbled, lips twisting as if they were tasting something sour. They called to their friends- cohorts? lackeys? followers?- and the older kids that were piled on the monkey bars all scurried away after the one in pink, shooting many a dirty glance back at her.

 

Surprised at how easy that had been, she turned around, letting her body relax.

 

Only to come face to face with Tenko.

 

How old was she? How far back had she been thrown?

 

“Were you… standing up for me?” She asked slowly, assessing his posture, the way he still leaned forwards, fists clenched as if he was looking for a fight.

 

That was… incredibly unlike Tenko.

 

He hid behind his hand, peeking over his knuckles at her while he stammered something about wanting to make her feel better. If she wasn't mistaken, behind the unruly strands of blue hair and his trembling fingers, that was a blush staining his cheeks.

 

Hmm.

 

Takako looked away, over to the gift Tenko had given her.

 

Monkey bars. Clear of bullies.

 

Wait, she remembered this day. They'd played on the monkey bars until the adults had called them inside, laughing and swinging and showing off for hours.

 

Gently, she checked her head. Her fingers brushed against strands of flora, a crown woven into the dark strands of her hair.

 

He'd made this for her. Honestly, that had been enough to cheer her up- the monkey bars had been a surprise bonus.

 

Tenko probably didn't know, but her ramblings about weeds and flowers had been more or less aimed at the difference between heroes and villains. He'd knocked her train of thought right off its tracks when he'd shrugged and given her the simplest, most obvious response.

 

“Do you really care if they're called flowers or weeds?”

 

What difference did it make? They were still flowers, still plants at their basest level of being.

 

Heroes and villains- they were just humans with powers and goals and the means to achieve them.

 

“Tenko,” she'd called to get his attention before she bounded off onto her favorite pastime. “Thank you!”

 

She'd left it at that, but she should've said what she meant.

 

You're my hero, Tenko!

Chapter Text

The next time Takako woke up, she was in the body she remembered having last.

 

Something beeped by her ear, and she found her heartbeat displayed on a screen nearby.

 

Slowly, she moved.

 

Legs, check.

 

Arms, check.

 

Ribs?

 

She took a careful breath. The heart monitor beeped in protest.

 

Check.

 

She was alive.

 

She was not in danger.

 

She was in… a hospital?

 

Her heart monitor protested as her heart rate sped up, fueled by her sudden panic.

 

“Ah! You're awake!”

 

Though her body was stiff with panic, she almost immediately relaxed at the familiar sound of Recovery Girl’s voice. The bent figure of UA’s nurse hobbled over to her and checked the monitor nearby.

 

“Can you tell me where you are?” Recovery Girl started up, pulling out a clipboard.

 

“Uh,” Takako floundered, looking around. “UA? A hospital?”

 

“Close enough.” Recovery Girl nodded, scribbling something down. “And who am I?”

 

“Pretty sure you're Recovery Girl.” Takako answered, a little more sure of this response.

 

“Aaaand how old are you?”

 

“Sixteen. Seventeen in three months.” She relayed, smiling proudly.

 

Recovery Girl nodded firmly, satisfied. “That confirms it. You're really back.”

 

Takako paused mid smile, the recovery hero’s choice of words catching her off guard. “What… what do you mean?”

 

The nurse didn't look up while she unhooked Takako’s many monitors. “You've woken up a few times before. I don't think you were truly conscious.”

 

“I have? ” Takako screeched. “What happened last time I woke up? How long have I been out?” She demanded, struggling to sit up.

 

Recovery Girl tutted under her breath and pushed Takako back onto the bed with a gentle touch. “You've been out for about four days.”

 

“Four- four days? ” Takako repeated, struck.

 

“I suspected you were out for so long because it took so long to heal your injuries,” when Takako's eyes widened even more, Recovery Girl sighed and backtracked even further. “You had five fractured- nearly shattered- ribs, two fractured bones in your hand, an overextension in your wrist, torn ligaments, a concussion, and road rash from your shoulder to your knee.” The nurse listed. “Obviously, considering the state you were in immediately following extraction, I couldn't draw upon much of your energy to heal your wounds. It took a couple days of rest before you were rested enough to really recover.”

 

Takako sat back in the bed, staring at the ceiling.

 

“Wow.” She managed.

 

“Not to mention the strain you put on yourself doing whatever you did with your Quirk.” Recovery Girl added. “That may also have something to do with your temporary coma.”

 

Takako tried not to think about how she'd just been in a coma. “I thought you said I've woken up before?”

 

Recovery Girl’s neat bun bobbed with her solemn nod. “At least three times.”

 

“What happened?” Takako whispered.

 

“Nothing serious. I don't think you were fully conscious.” Recovery Girl admitted. “The first time you woke up, you just talked for awhile and passed out again. The second time, I tried asking you questions, but you didn't answer me. The third time, and all the ones after that, you answered my questions with less and less hesitation every time.” The nurse explained, raising a small light to examine Takako’s eyes.

 

“I must've been nearing consciousness.” Takako mused. The short woman by her side nodded in agreement.

 

“You seemed to be reliving old memories.” Recovery Girl continued. “You were always in the same place, about primary school age.”

 

Takako nodded. That would explain the flashback.

 

Tenko.

 

Takako's eyes widened, and she sat up again despite the exhaustion that washed over her.

 

“W-where's Tenko? What happened to- oh my god- ” she breathed, remembering the rage in  Tomura’s eyes and the slow way Midoriya had crumbled to dust. “What happened to Midoriya? And Bakugou? Are they alright?”

 

Recovery Girl hushed her, trying to calm her down before things got out of hand.

 

“What happened? ” Takako demanded, struggling against the older lady’s hold. “Where is-”

 

“Hiyashi! You're awake!”

 

Takako stilled, her head whipping towards the door nearby.

 

Midoriya stood in the doorway, smiling brightly. Her friends from Class B and Class A alike peered over his shoulder, scrambling to get a look at her. She waved and they waved back, pouring into the room to join her at her bedside.

 

“Dude, I heard you were super cool out there!” Tetsutetsu crowed, the first to speak up.

 

“Did you really survive Midoriya's punch?”

 

“Did you really save his life?”

 

“Get any cool scars?” Shinsou piped up over the other questions. Takako shrugged in response.

 

“Are you okay? How are you feeling?” Shiozaki fretted, pushing green hair out of her face while she leaned over Takako to check her face.

 

“I'm okay.” Takako admitted. “Tired. A little confused. A little worried.” She added, looking over to Midoriya.

 

He seemed to know what she was getting at, because something in his face fell, and he looked away from her searching gaze.

 

She talked with her classmates a bit longer, learning who fought who and who came out with what injuries and how everyone was doing so far in the aftermath of the biggest attack on society in modern history. She assured everyone she was alright, thanks to Recovery Girl, and eventually they all filtered out.

 

Leaving her with Midoriya.

 

When he wouldn't meet her eyes, she feared the worst.

 

“He's dead, isn't he,” she whispered, gripping the white sheets of the hospital bed between her fingers.

 

Midoriya looked up in surprise, and her heart broke.

 

She'd guessed correctly.

 

“He's recovering.” Midoriya corrected her.

 

She froze, going completely still.

 

“He… he's alive? ” Takako stammered. “But- Bakugou-”

 

Midoriya winced, looking away again. “Yeah. I did say recovering.”

 

Takako sighed heavily, pressing her palms into her eyes to staunch the immediate threat of tears. “I shouldn't be happy,” she whispered, choking on her words. “He tried to kill you. He tried to kill me. ” She swiped at her eyes, frowning sharply.

 

“Hiyashi,” Midoriya murmured, lips pulling into a frown to mirror hers. “He's your friend. You're allowed to be glad he's alive.”

 

Takako hiccupped, shaking her head. “What kind of hero am I?” She demanded softly, wiping the tears from her eyes before they could fall.

 

“A great one!” Midoriya shouted, knocking his chair over as he surged to his feet. “Hiyashi, without you, I'd be dust. Without you, Shigaraki would still be out there doing who knows what on his own.” He assured her. “You're a great hero. You care about your friends so much that you never give up on them. Even when they're so far gone, you're not even sure you can get them back. That goes for me and Shigaraki.” Midoriya insisted.

 

Takako didn't bother hiding her sobs after that. Midoriya rubbed her shoulder until she calmed down.

 

With some pitiful sniffles and a tissue box she gratefully accepted from Recovery Girl, Takako peered up at the green haired hero sitting next to her.

 

“Bakugou's alright?” She ventured. Midoriya merely smiled.

 

“Yeah.” Was all he gave her.

 

“And… Shigaraki?” She continued, using the name Midoriya must have known him by.

 

Midoriya sighed. “He… he was pretty messed up- b-but he's stable now.” He assured her quickly, noticing her sudden panic at his confession. “They’re doing what they can to keep him contained- it's kind of difficult to restrain him.”

 

“I couldn't imagine why,” Takako mused.

 

That dragged a wry smile from Midoriya, but it didn't last long.

 

“He's going on trial soon. So are the others that we managed to drag in.” Midoriya informed her next. “I don't know what's going to happen to him.” He admitted. “He's a villain, yeah, and he did that all of his own free will, but he's been manipulated for most of his life. All For One, that villain I mentioned mid battle?”

 

Takako nodded. It was fuzzy, but she remembered.

 

“We're pretty sure he's been teaching Shigaraki to be a villain ever since he was little. All For One encouraged everything bad in him, forced it to grow until that was all he was.” Midoriya’s face was twisted into an emotion Takako didn't usually see on him. It was something dark, something mean. It was something that didn't really suit his positive demeanor.

 

Takako sighed. “So it's up to the legal system to decide whether or not to hold that against him.”

 

Midoriya nodded.

 

They were quiet for a moment, until Takako broke the silence.

 

“Do you think I could see him?” She whispered hesitantly.

 

Midoriya immediately balked at the suggestion. “Not a chance.” He replied quickly. “Not with how violent he's been. There's no way they'd let you visit. You'll get hurt.”

 

Takako sighed, dejected.

 

“I just want to help.” She mumbled. “I can still see my old friend in there. I can feel him. But I'm the only one who can.” She relented, “Everyone else only knows him as a villain.”

 

Midoriya mulled over this, a hand on his chin.

 

“I have an idea,” he began slowly, voice rising to an audible level from where he'd been mumbling.

 

Takako leaned in, all ears.

 

---

 

Fuck UA and all of its students.

 

Tomura wanted them dead.

 

And after they were dead, he wouldn't mind dying either.

 

He'd failed.

 

Utterly and completely.

 

He'd even been captured.

 

He wished he had the power to disintegrate himself. He'd do it in a heartbeat.

 

Anything would be better than constantly struggling against new and improved restraints, snapping and growling at whoever came too close to his bruised and battered form.

 

They were lucky he was out cold when they'd first brought him in, or else he'd be a lot messier than he was now. Unconscious, they'd been able to get that damn Recovery Girl in to heal most of his bruises and fractures.

 

He still hurt, but that didn't stop him from struggling with all of his might.

 

Speaking of might.

 

All Might himself had the audacity to show his face around Tomura. The newly captured villain had thrown a fit that would make his previous temper proud.

 

He'd fought until he passed out from exhaustion, and once he regained his strength he started the cycle all over again.

 

With enough trial and error, they figured out a way to inhibit his Quirk and restrain him, rendering his disintegration useless no matter what fingers he tried to lay on his restraints. They'd even been so confident as to cart him to a courtroom to put him on trial.

 

Fuck, he'd been so pissed.

 

At one point, they had to muzzle him, because he wouldn't stop screaming during the trial. The legal process dragged on for days, people that didn't even know him arguing whether or not he should be punished and how. He exhausted himself over and over, occasionally falling limp against whatever held him hostage when his energy ran out.

 

He'd screamed and screamed and screamed.

 

He wished he could itch, but his hands were restrained.

 

Please, he tried to communicate through the muzzle. Just kill me. Prove me right. Prove that all the morals you stand for fall through when you decide to break them. Punish me with the same punishment you persecute villains for.

 

Kill me.

 

He figured things were going his way, what with all the evidence given against him and the scene he kept putting on display.

 

Yeah, things were going his way, right up until Takako walked in the courtroom and sat down as a witness to testify.

 

Takako.

 

He should've killed her when he had the chance.

 

He didn't listen to the questions they asked her. He tried not to listen to her answers.

 

She cried a few times on the podium, but mostly maintained her composure while she testified.

 

When she walked off, exiting the room as soon as she was done, Tomura knew he'd made a mistake.

 

He'd quieted down, sat still for the entirety of her interrogation. He'd stopped raging, and for what?

 

Some girl?

 

But the court noticed.

 

Typical Takako, meddling with his aspirations while meaning the best for him.

 

He'd hoped for the death penalty, but they didn't give him the pleasure.

 

He should've killed Takako when he'd had the chance.

Chapter Text

It was three months of silence concerning Tomura and his state of being before Takako got any word of him.

 

The court had sentenced him to something that basically boiled down a year (or more, as needed) of total lockdown and psychological intervention, five years of house arrest, and a lifetime of parole.

 

If he messed up even once in the years after the doctors and psychologists did what they could, he was toast.

 

Takako couldn't really blame them. He had done some terrible things.

 

Luckily, the court came to understand that Tomura couldn't be entirely blamed either. The punishment came from his choice to commit those crimes, but the second chance came from the hope that the damage incurred upon him could be undone.

 

Tomura, she'd heard, had fought this decision tooth and nail. For months, he'd viciously fought against those holding him captive, nearly breaking free a handful of times. The more he broke out, the better they got at keeping him in. He wouldn't let anyone close, and he screamed and cursed at anyone who tried to talk to him.

 

Then, out of nowhere, he'd fallen silent. Those guarding him had thought it was a ruse, something to get their guard down, but it dragged on for weeks.

 

He'd stopped everything. He wouldn't eat, he wouldn't drink, he wouldn't respond. Nothing.

 

They were getting desperate.

 

Which was why Takako stood in front of a door she'd never expected to see, flanked by two guards on either side of her as they prepared to face their most unruly captive yet.

 

Tomura didn't even look up when the door opened.

 

“Dinner, Shigaraki,” one of the guards intoned, setting the tray down on the table in the middle of the room.

 

It was just a square. There was a bed in one corner, a table in the middle, and a curtain around a toilet and a sink in another corner.

 

Tomura sat at the table, feet curled under him, staring listlessly down at the food presented to him.

 

Takako tried not to immediately break down into tears.

 

“I asked them to bring this noodle soup,” Takako spoke up, her voice quieter than she'd like. “I don't even know if you still like it,” she admitted.

 

She stuck out a foot to step towards him but paused and looked over to one of the guards for permission.

 

They'd already shared the nature of their Quirks with her and assured her that nothing would happen to her while they were there.

 

Still, she was cautious.

 

When one of them nodded, her body continued moving as if someone had unpaused her.

 

Takako sunk down to her knees at the table, sitting across from him and the food.

 

“I just remember that… we used to share the crackers,” she continued talking, reaching for one of the packets. “I had to hide the ones I wanted to eat with, because you would eat them all before the soup.”

 

The plastic crinkled in her hand, and the combination of the noise and Tomura's sudden movement made her jump.

 

He looked up at her through the hair that fell over his face, two red eyes burning into her.

 

She couldn't read him at all. His gaze was blank- not sleepy, just open and empty- and his heart was guarded. She couldn't even pick up on something simple, like whether he wanted to eat or not.

 

She was a little unsettled.

 

“What?” She demanded, trying to sound playful and not scared. “You're denying it now? I'll eat them all, if you don't want them,”

 

She moved to pull her hand back, but something stopped her before she could fully retreat.

 

Tomura had her wrist in the circle of his fingers. All five of them clenched around her. If it weren't for the glove that only covered two of his fingers, she'd be dead.

 

“Be gentle,” she pleaded, gaze locked onto his. “That's the hand that Dabi broke.”

 

Something flickered in his eyes- and in his desires too, but he'd closed her off from seeing those, locked them away, so she only received a flicker- and for a moment she wondered if he would ignore her.

 

Then his grip slackened, loosening so that his knuckles weren't white anymore, and Takako smiled.

 

“Thank you.” She returned, the sentiment coming easily from her as she settled in. “Do you want those, or not?”

 

When he let go of her wrist, she let go of the crackers.

 

She tried not to laugh when he took both packets and hid them in his pockets. She could hear the plastic crinkle when he moved.

 

“You don't have to respond, but I don't want to bother you.” Takako began slowly after his attention returned to her. His hands slowly moved to the top of the table, fingers splayed out across the surface.

 

Tomura looked so normal wearing black sweats with no weird hands attached to his body.

 

“Would it be okay if I just talked?” She ventured, peering up at him.

 

His gaze was as intense as ever, but one hand rolled his fingers across the table in a barely audible taptaptap.

 

Takako noticed.

 

“Do you want to talk too?” She tried again, a little hopeful.

 

The intensity of his gaze faltered for a moment, but both of his hands rolled a steady taptaptap across the tabletop.

 

“One for yes, two for no?” She confirmed quietly, lowering her voice so it was only him that heard.

 

One hand tapped a yes.

 

Takako couldn't help but smile again.

 

Can you talk?” She tried next. This time the answer wasn't immediate, but he shrugged after a beat, a barely noticeable movement of his shoulders as an answer. “Not encouraging, but okay.” She relented.

 

Red eyes never left her. She didn't back down.

 

“I'm okay, in case you were wondering,” she began, unconsciously rubbing her side. Tomura's eyes followed the movement, and she couldn't help but notice the one hand movement of yes that responded to something that wasn't a question. “Apparently I pushed myself too far. Messed with my consciousness or my neural pathways or something,” she admitted- and she couldn't tell if this was a touchy subject or not. “But I kind of hallucinated for a couple days while I was recovering.”

 

Tomura was completely still.

 

“I'm fine.” She assured him quickly in the silence that followed. “Just spent a while revisiting my childhood.” Was her short explanation. “Do you remember when you made me a flower crown?”

 

Tomura looked away from her that time, and Takako wondered if she made a mistake.

 

He still didn't look at her even after he tapped out a yes.

 

“Tomura,” she began to speak again- and the name brought his gaze back to her in an instant. “Oh,” she realized her mistake, (nobody around here called him Tenko!!) and fought to keep her expression level. “Would you rather me call you Tenko?”

 

It's a quick yes.

 

“Nobody knows you by that.” She hummed. “I got used to calling you Shigaraki Tomura.”

 

He rapped a double no into the table despite the lack of a question, and she couldn't help her smile that time.

 

“Okay, Tenko it is. Is Tennchan too childish? Should I be embarrassed if I slip up and use that instead?” Takako wondered.

 

He wouldn't look at her when he double tapped a no.

 

“Should I… should I tell the others to call you Tenko?” She offered slowly, hesitantly.

 

The furious no she received in response was the first sign of the aggressive explosion she had been fearing, but the anger didn't seem to be directed at her.

 

“Okay, okay,” she waved him off, shaking her head. “Just me. That's okay.”

 

She sat in that moment, looking down at her own hands while she thought.

 

“Tenko, don't lie to me,” she began softly, chancing a glance at him. He was staring intently at her, so she knew he was listening. “Are you okay? Are they treating you alright?”

 

There's a no, but it's followed by a yes after a pause.

 

“I'm going to assume that means they're not hurting you, but because you won't take care of yourself, you're feeling horrible.” She guessed, lifting an eyebrow so he fully understood how unimpressed she was.

 

The light shifted just enough when he turned that she could see his lips pull down in a frown.

 

“Oh boy,” she blurted, eyes widening upon sight of the cracked skin around his mouth. “It's worse than I thought.”

 

She kind of regretted commenting on his appearance, because his immediate reaction was to hunch his shoulders and cover his face with his hands.

 

Now he couldn't answer her. Good job, Takako.

 

“I didn't mean to be rude.” She tried to apologize, lacing her fingers together on top of the table. “I just…”

 

Takako sighed, looking away again.

 

“It's dumb, really, but… Seeing you like that makes me worry. I wish you'd take care of yourself.” She admitted to the floor, lips pressing together as soon as the confession left her.

 

When she gathered enough courage to look up again, his hands were back on the table. He was watching her again.

 

“Tennchan,” Takako murmured, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “Are you… upset with me? Because of what I did?”

 

For a moment, it was quiet. Tomura didn't move a muscle.

 

Then, a slow yes.

 

“Yeah, I figured.” Takako breathed, sinking into herself. “It's okay. I'm upset with you too.”

 

She didn't say why. She figured he knew.

 

“But Tenko,” she trailed off, holding his gaze. “I don't hate you. I… I still want to be friends.” She admitted.

 

If she's not just hallucinating again, his eyes widened with… Surprise? Disbelief?

 

“I understand if you don't want to-” she stammered, unable to keep his gaze. “You probably… you probably hate me. And that's okay, I understand. I wasn't around when I should've been, and I've pretty much ruined your life ten times over.” Takako rambled, nervously readjusting her glasses on her nose.

 

“Hiyashi, time's up.” One of the guards called to her, reminding her of the time limit they'd set to keep her safe.

 

Takako stood abruptly, biting her lip so she wouldn't cry. “Thanks for seeing me, Tenko.” She whispered before she turned on her heel, marching herself back to the guards by the door.

 

She almost missed it in her haste to leave him alone.

 

Two taps in succession, two hands, ten fingers against the table.

 

No.

 

She stopped just before the guard opened the door.

 

“No?” Takako echoed.

 

Tomura's fingers echo her words back. A double tap. No.

 

“Do you- do you hate me?” Takako hated the way her voice warbled with hope, and she knew that if he had any ill intention towards her, he was probably reading her like a book.

 

His fingers tapped no again.

 

“Do you want me to come back?” She managed around the lump in her throat. “I can visit again, if you want.”

 

One hand.

 

Yes.

 

Takako smiled to herself, pressed her hands over her heart. “Okay. I will. As soon as I can.” She promised before she followed the guards out.

 

---

 

It turned out that ‘as soon as possible’ ended up being another week, because the people in charge of securing and rehabilitating Tomura had been caught off guard at how well their encounter went.

 

In the meantime, she got to know the professional in charge of Tomura's mental recovery, Doctor Kido Ao. She was nearly as tall as Takako, and had years of criminal psychology under her belt. Unfortunately, Tomura had been so volatile so far that she hadn't been able to get any work done.

 

After hearing about the battle, Takako's testimony, and the results of her last meeting with Tomura, Dr. Kido complimented Takako's tenacity and offered her an internship at their practice.

 

Another thing on the list to tell Tomura at her next visit.

 

When she finally got cleared to see him, she found him again at the table in the same position as before.

 

“Don't your legs hurt?” She asked first, equal parts curious and concerned.

 

The yes she received in response was quiet.

 

She argued with him about moving for a while, but after plenty of no’s repeated in the same bored manner, she gave up.

 

Mostly she talked about her day, about what was going on in school or her life.

 

Occasionally she'd ask him questions, mostly making sure he was doing okay, but occasionally prying about his existence as a villain.

 

Sometimes he answered, sometimes he didn't.

 

“Can I talk about the League of Villains?”

 

His answer was reluctant, but he tapped a yes nonetheless.

 

“Did you like them?” She asked, tilting her head. “Were you guys friends?”

 

It usually took a little extra observance to tell what Tomura's face was conveying, since he kept it hidden under his hair. This time, the sour pull of his lips was obvious.

 

A double tap. No.

 

“Hmm.” Takako mused. “Did you try to be friends with them?”

 

Tomura glared at her. His answering no was stronger this time, more confident.

 

She rolled her eyes. Of course not.

 

“The doctor I told you about, the one that might mentor me,” she reminded him, and he rolled out a yes to show he remembered. “She wants me to visit with the others too, if I'm up for it. I told her I was, but… I'm not actually sure. They're not you.” She admitted.

 

Tomura didn't respond.

 

“I'd be visiting Dabi first-”

 

Tomura surprised her by lurching forwards, the most movement she'd seen from him yet. His eyes were wide, and his hands tapped out a no faster than she'd ever heard from him.

 

He had thrown himself nearly halfway across the table, arms shaking under his weight, and the wild look in his eyes made Takako hesitate.

 

“Hiyashi, is everything okay?” One of the guards asked, eyeing Tomura carefully.

 

“I think so,” she called back, taking a quick check of Tomura's desires. They were still locked away, mostly hidden from her, but there was one burning brightly in front of her as plain as day.

 

It was something muddled, a mix of the desire to protect and the desire to destroy.

 

She couldn't quite tell which part was aimed at her.

 

Takako sat still, holding eye contact with the villain that leaned towards her over the table between them. She couldn't sort through her questions quickly enough, her tongue tied in her mouth while she debated on her next course of action.

 

“...What do you have a problem with?” She finally settled on asking, pursing her lips. “With me visiting Dabi?”

 

The answer was a quick yes.

 

“Because… he's dangerous? You don't think I can handle myself?” Takako demanded, squinting at him through her thick framed glasses. “I did just fine handling him before.”

 

Tomura audibly sighed while he sat back down, his head tilting so she could see the eyebrow he raised at her- turning her earlier unimpressed glare back on her.

 

Takako stammered in utter disbelief, offended. “Excuse you! I stabbed him!”

 

Tomura raised a hand to cover his mouth, but she saw the smile before he could hide it.

 

She wondered for a moment why the professionals were having such a hard time with him. Tomura was responding- in his own way, but responding nonetheless- and he was damn near expressive when they talked.

 

“Did Dabi and you get along at all?” She tried prying next. All she got was a tiny shrug, no taps. “He's not crazy- like- like that Toga girl, is he?”

 

Tomura tapped a no.

 

“So what's the problem?” Takako wondered. “He'll be restrained, I'll have guards, I'll be careful,” she promised, listing off the precautions they already took when she visited Tomura.

 

Something flashed on her radar.

 

Tomura was… pushing something at her. Pushing something he knew she'd pick up on.

 

It was that desire from earlier. The desire to protect.

 

“You don't want me to get hurt.” She realized slowly, turning to face him.

 

He didn't answer. He didn't move.

 

“That's very nice of you, Tenko!” She couldn't help but smile, and he scowled and shrunk away, hiding his face in his hands again, peering at her over his fingertips. It was kind of cute, how defensive he got whenever she accused him of doing something kind or thoughtful.

 

Takako noticed something. Tomura's hands were… in rough shape, to say the least. He usually kept them in his pockets, or pulled his sleeves up over his knuckles, but held up in front of her she could see every scrape and scar and dry patch. Each one seemed to remind her of just how bad his state of well being was right then.

 

“Tenko,” she repeated, eyes fixed on his hands. “Would you let me touch you?”

 

The guards behind her reacted before Tomura could, and suddenly they're mumbling and muttering and generally assuring her that that was not a great idea.

 

Takako had heard the stories from the guards and professionals, the stories about how violently Tomura reacted when someone moved to touch him. It wasn't just avoidance, it was aggression.

 

“Not a lot,” she promised quickly, noticing the way his shoulders tensed. “Just your hand.”

 

His eyes darted to hers through his fingers, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

 

Takako blushed as soon as she realized what she was asking for, but she didn't take it back.

 

Slowly, he removed his hands from over his face. For a hopeful moment, Takako thought he was going to reach for her, but he merely settled his hands on top of the table instead.

 

“Hiyashi, time.” One of the guards called in warning.

 

“Next time?” Takako offered as she stood.

 

His hands moved slowly, as if he was still in the process of considering. Despite his hesitation, she received a tentative yes.

 

Takako hid her relief. She smiled. “I'll come back soon!”

 

When she told Dr. Kido about this visit, she received a look of surprise in response.

 

“All the more reason why I think you should try speaking with some of the others.” Kido decided firmly. “As I thought, you're less threatening than any of the adults or professionals. Shigaraki clearly trusts you.”

 

“Yeah, but I know him already.” Takako argued half heartedly. “And all I really do is talk.”

 

“That's a big part of mental therapy,” Kido assured her. “Just the fact that he responds at all is an improvement. Plus,” the doctor adds thoughtfully, “You seem to lack the bias that most of us have regarding the labels of heroes and villains. I think it will catch our unfortunate captives off guard.”

 

Takako knew she was right, which was why she agreed to visit Dabi before she next visited Tenko.

 

And that visit was weird.

Chapter Text

Dr. Kido was right, at least in Dabi’s case. The burner was not intimidated by her in the least- not that she had entered the room with that intention- and even went so far as to flirt with her for most of her visit.

 

“I just turned seventeen, dude,” Takako noted at one point, frowning at Dabi’s latest comment. “I'm not even legal yet.”

 

Dabi merely smiled widely and sat back in his chair.

 

It didn't take Takako long to figure he was being difficult on purpose, but… to hide what, she didn't know. He prodded at her, finding her buttons and pushing them, smiling triumphantly whenever she frowned or stopped talking, taken aback by his behavior. In return, she sent out test questions, tested different topics, prodding him until she found one that changed the look on his face- if only minutely.

 

They'd been talking about his piercings- he wouldn't tell her if they were purely aesthetic or actually holding his skin together- and she'd had a thought.

 

“Dabi, are those… burns?” She asked, the realization dawning on her almost as slowly as the actual sun rose over the horizon.

 

Something dulled in those bright turquoise eyes. “No.”

 

Takako bit her lip. “Don't you... Don't you use fire? I figured you couldn't be burned-”

 

“Not if it gets too hot.” Dabi’s voice stayed level, as if they were simply discussing Quirks, but Takako picked up on something else.

 

Coupled with his very obvious desire for revenge, it wasn't hard to connect the dots.

 

“Someone hurt you.” She concluded softly.

 

“What- no-” Dabi hissed, baring his teeth at her. “Nobody can lay a finger on me.”

 

Takako decided not to mention the fact that she'd definitely stabbed him. “They can't anymore.” She agreed, peering up at him.

 

Dabi’s eyes widened- he'd been caught, and he knew it- and they darted to the guards that stood by the door. Takako immediately understood.

 

When she next spoke, her voice was much lower, quiet so the conversation was only between them.

 

“It's okay.” She said simply. “I understand.”

 

Dabi’s face twisted up in a sneer, and those blue eyes regarded her harshly, bright with poison. “You- are you pitying me?” He hissed, scooting forwards with his chair in a threat. “You think I'm some weak bastard that couldn't take a hit- and now I'm some bad guy so I can cry about it? Well, guess what,” he snarled, “You're wrong.

 

“No, Dabi,” she reiterated, keeping her cool despite his outburst. If she didn't know he was securely attached to that chair, she'd be a little more concerned. “I understand.”

 

Something clicked into place, and Dabi sat back in his chair again.

 

“I don't think you do.” He finally replied, and his eyes had darkened considerably. “If you did, you'd be on my side.”

 

Takako raised an eyebrow. “Who says I'm not?”

 

“Hiyashi, time.” One guard called to her. Takako gathered her things, standing quickly.

 

“Dabi,” she called before she walked away, requesting his attention. “The doctor only wanted me to do this once.” She told him the truth, shouldering her bag. “I'd like to talk again. Would that be okay?”

 

Dabi’s expression mirrored his earlier easy grin as he leaned back in his chair, lifting two of the legs off the ground. “I'd be happy to see you anytime, babe,” he winked, one turquoise eye glittering in her direction.

 

“Dabi,” she reiterated, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. “If I'm bothering you, please let me know.”

 

Dabi’s smirk pulled down at the corners, slowly falling into a scowl. “If I had a problem with you, you'd know. Now get lost.”

 

It was more truth than she was expecting from him, so she turned to the guards and let them lead her out.

 

She was almost immediately transported to the cell where they kept Tomura, only taking a break when the guards made sure she was still a go to visit the next villain.

 

Despite the fact that it had been 48 hours since she'd seen him last, Tomura looked like he hadn't moved at all from where he knelt by the table.

 

Takako set her bag down before she sat; a warning, just in case he hadn't noticed her presence. She didn't want to spook him.

 

“I talked to Dabi today.” She began, folding her hands on the table.

 

She received silence in response.

 

“He didn't hurt me. They've actually got him restrained quite a bit,” she added, her tone unabashedly amused. “We didn't talk about much. He's not comfortable around me yet, so he wouldn't talk about anything serious.” She explained.

 

Tomura kept his eyes on the table.

 

“He did seem to enjoy flirting with me, though,” Takako mentioned, tapping her chin. “I figured he just wanted to make me uncomfortable, but I couldn't tell if he was serious or not.”

 

Tomura rapped a harsh no into the table.

 

“Oh, he's not?” Takako mused.

 

Another no. The sound was loud, punctuated by not only his fingertips but his nails as well. It's a firm denial.

 

Takako considered the different routes she could take from there. She decided on a silly question, one she didn't expect him to take very seriously.

 

“Are you familiar with Dabi’s flirting?” She teased, a tiny grin pulling at her lips. “I thought you said you weren't even friends!”

 

The banter felt familiar, as if they really were childhood friends teasing each other about high school crushes.

 

What she was not expecting was for him to flush the faintest of pinks before he rapped a no with both hands into the table at least five times in quick succession.

 

“Tenko!” She gasped, stunned. She lowered her voice next, as if it was really a secret. “Are you and Dabi-”

 

No no no no no no no-

 

“Okay! Okay! I get it!” Takako laughed, giving in to his persistent denial. “I'm sorry, I couldn't help it,” she apologized to the look of betrayal he gave her in response. “It just felt so normal, talking about things like that.”

 

His face twisted up into something she easily read as disgust. “What? What's the problem?” She demanded. “Being normal, or liking someone?”

 

The single handed tap of yes seemed to cover both of her points.

 

“Is being normal so bad?”

 

The subsequent yes she received was quick.

 

“And liking somebody? That's worthy of disgust too?”

 

The next yes he responded with was slower, but it was just as insistent.

 

“Tenko,” Takako sighed, shaking her head. “What's the point of living if you don't chase what makes you happy?” She demanded. “In a healthy way, obviously,” she tacked on quickly, realizing that many crimes were committed ‘just for fun’. “And who are you to judge what pursuits are ‘worthy’?”

 

Tomura was quiet. He obviously couldn't answer that question with a yes or a no.

 

“Damn, Tenko,” She sighed, shaking her head. “Is it really beneath you to love?”

 

There was a new kind of hollowness in his gaze that she took as, and what exactly is there left to love? It also could have been, and you think I'm capable of love at this point? But she's not as fluent in the nuances of Tenko’s silent stares as she used to be, so she settled on both.

 

“There's plenty of things to love.” She insisted. “And you're far from broken.”

 

By the way his eyes widened, she assumed she'd guessed correctly on at least one front.

 

“You can start with loving yourself.” Takako compromised, digging around in her bag while she spoke.

 

Tomura's no was loud and clear, and his gaze bordered on defiant. Takako ignored him, merely flipping him her middle finger instead of arguing.

 

When she found what she was looking for, she looked back up and met Tomura's usual intense red glare.

 

“Have I upset you?”

 

His no was quiet.

 

“Are you still okay with what I asked about last time?” When he didn't answer immediately, she clarified with, “Your hand. Will you be alright if I touch you?”

 

It took a moment before he responded, leaving her to wiggle nervously in place.

 

Yes.

 

There's no doubt about it, now. She's been given permission.

 

She scooted over to his side of the table, sitting a few feet away, careful not to let their legs touch or their knees bump. Her permission only stretched so far, and she'd heard the stories from the other professionals about his touch aversion.

 

“Promise I don't bite.” Takako quipped, smiling her warmest smile while she laid her hand on the table, extending her open palm towards him.

 

Tomura just looked at her for a while, clearly hesitant about the contact. Takako didn't say anything more, painfully aware that she could reassure him as much as she wanted, but the choice was ultimately up to him.

 

When he finally settled his hand in hers, he curled his fingers into his palm.

 

Was he already hiding from her judgment?

 

More importantly, did he already have something to hide?

 

“Too much?” Takako clarified, not moving an inch until he was settled. He shifted in place, his shoulders hunching defensively. Because one of his hands was busy, she realized he couldn't answer no, so she changed her approach. “Just tap with your free hand when you're good.”

 

It was probably another full minute or two before his fingers rolled across the table with the signal for her to go ahead.

 

Takako stayed quiet, careful to keep her expression neutral as she took his hand in both of hers, flipping it to expose his palm to the ceiling. His fingers curled tighter like a turtle that had been flipped on its back, hiding from her.

 

Gently, she nudged his pointer finger until it unfurled, loosely curled in a half point up towards the sky.

 

“I figured your nails would be long.” Takako mumbled, mostly to herself. She slipped the thing she'd unburied from her bag out of her pocket and slid it onto the table, letting him see it before she made any sudden movements with it. “You know what a nail file is, I'm assuming.”

 

The impatient rap of his free hand made her smile.

 

“If you don't mind?” She ventured, looking up once with the nail file in one hand, the other still loosely holding his.

 

No response.

 

Takako hummed to herself, getting down to work. Despite how unkempt his nails were, it wasn't hard to file through them, and she rounded the jagged edges out to an even level in no time.

 

“There. One down,” she announced, letting him take his finger back. “Next up,” she narrated, pulling his middle finger free.

 

Takako paused, looking up slowly from the solitary middle finger brandished in her direction.

 

“Rude, Tenko,” she teased, then laughed when he immediately frowned in response. “No wonder Dabi likes teasing you so much. You're easy to rile up.”

 

His fingers curled with purpose, and though he wasn't intentionally giving her the finger before, he definitely was now.

 

Takako merely laughed, filing down that fingernail with ease in quick, practiced motions. When she blew on his finger, a quick puff of air to dispel the nail dust, he rocked back, flinching away from her.

 

“Sorry,” she apologized immediately, gently tucking his finger back in. “I won't do it again.”

 

She stared down the two fingers covered in a glove- obviously to inhibit his Quirk so he couldn't lay all five fingers on something at once. It also seemed to be oddly pieced together, perhaps in an effort to keep him from maneuvering his remaining fingers onto the fabric and disintegrating it too.

 

“Guess I've gotta leave these.” Takako sighed, pressing the pad of her thumb into the jagged nail she could feel underneath the fabric.

 

If it even was fabric. Who knew what they'd come up with to restrain his Quirk.

 

“Thumb?” She requested, tapping his knuckles with the cardboard nail file. Reluctantly, Tomura offered up his last available finger. Takako didn't waste any time, rounding down his thumbnail as quickly as the others she'd handled. “Clearly, I should pursue a career in manicures,” she mumbled to herself, rolling her eyes as she filed out a particularly uneven edge.

 

She wondered if she could count Tomura's yes as playful when it was only the tapping of his fingers.

 

“Shut up.” She grumbled, returning his thumb to him.

 

She had planned on only bothering him with the one, but when he extended his other hand in her direction, fingers already unfolded, she quickly changed her plans.

 

She dared not tease him for this, for fear that he'd never ask her for something ever again.

 

His thumb and forefinger were quick, easy, but when she took hold of his middle finger she couldn't help but pause.

 

There was blood crusted under the nail.

 

At first, she didn't say anything, just scraped it off and filed the nail down.

 

She probably should have said something, should've asked about it. Maybe then he wouldn't have freaked out as badly as he did when she lifted her hand to brush his hair aside, check the side of his neck that must be bleeding.

 

Why had she reached for his neck? What had driven her to check there? It was his most frequently itched place, but it wasn't the only place he scratched. Honestly, the scrape could have been anywhere.

 

But there it was, a streak of red just under his jaw.

 

Before she'd had time to reprimand him, he'd ripped her away, gripping her much smaller hand in his and twisting her arm so that she fell face first into the table.

 

She'd barely had time to process what happened before the guards had him restrained, their Quirks working together to remove his hand from Takako and root him solidly in place.

 

“Are you okay, Hiyashi?” One of the guards cried out, rushing to her side.

 

Takako could only blink up at Tomura, stunned.

 

If she wasn't wrong, his usual dead eyed stare was full of… unease? Caution?

 

Dare she call it fear?

 

“Sorry,” she piped up, pushing up onto her elbows. “That's my fault. I surprised him.”

 

The guards waited until she was back on the opposite side of the table to release Tomura from their hold. His hands dropped onto the table with a thunk, and he stared at them, unblinking.

 

“Sorry,” Takako directed at Tomura. “I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to upset you.”

 

He still wouldn't look at her. She sighed.

 

“I'm going to talk to Kurogiri next. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Should I tell him you're okay?” She tried.

 

She received a single handed tap.

 

For a moment, she sat still, thinking carefully.

 

“You don't have to answer this,” she began, keeping her eyes down at her lap. “But… do you worry about me?”

 

She didn't clarify beyond that, letting him interpret it as he wished.

 

Slowly, ever so slowly, he ran the fingers of one hand across the table. His nails didn't click against the surface anymore.

 

Takako smiled down at her knees.

 

How did everybody else miss this?

 

How come she was the only one allowed to see this side of him?

 

“Hiyashi,”

 

It was unspoken now, what the call of her name in that tone meant.

 

“Ah. Gotta go.” Takako sighed. “Want me to come back?”

 

A lazy tap of one of his hands tried to convince her that he didn't care that much, but she wasn't buying it.

 

With her bag slung over her shoulder, prepared to turn and go, Takako caught a glimpse of the cut under Tomura's jaw once again, his hair and the light shifting just enough to expose it.

 

“Tenko,” she piped up before she left. “I worry about you too.” She admitted, lacing her fingers together in front of her. “But you probably already knew that. I'll see you soon!” She waved, following the two guards out.

 

---

 

He should have killed Takako.

 

Tomura should've killed her when he had the chance because now-

 

Now?

 

Now he looked forwards to seeing her.

 

Somebody just kill him, before he truly loses his mind.

 

He's going soft, he's convinced. Sitting in this bland white cell, barely moving, never speaking, rarely sleeping, he must be losing his edge.

 

He needs to get his hands on something- somebody- watch them crumble under his grip, feel the rush and convince himself he's truly meant to be a villain. But these stupid gloves do their job well, and he can't seem to peel them off or disintegrate them.

 

Plus, there's a new nagging thought at the back of his mind.

 

Even if he did manage to get the gloves off and turn something to dust…

 

What would Takako think?

 

The issue wasn't that he'd never be able to see Takako again. That wasn't true. He could think of many ways to get around that if he ever escaped. He could simply take her with him, but he doubted she'd willingly do that. If he nabbed Kurogiri, he could just warp to see her. Hell, they could just meet in the middle somewhere, provided he could get her a location.

 

No, despite the sickening amount of thought he'd put into that loophole, he wasn't worried about that.

 

He was worried about what she'd think of him. As if it mattered.

 

Somebody please, put him out of his misery.

 

And then, if that hadn't been bad enough, her most recent visit flipped him in a neat 180°.

 

Is it really beneath you to love? 

 

It echoed in his head, accompanied by the little frown on her face.

 

Then she'd filed his nails?? What was he, a dog?

 

I'm assuming you know what a nail file is,”

 

You know what, shut the fuck up, Takako. He damn well knew what a nail file was.

 

And then, he'd flipped her over the table. Why? Because she reached for his neck.

 

He scowled to himself, retreating further beneath his mop of hair.

 

She'd… caught him off guard.

 

He should've known she would check, after finding the blood on the hand he'd so foolishly offered.

 

He'd immediately reacted to her hand reaching for him- even though it was her hand-

 

Just the thought sent a violent shudder through him, and he rocked back onto his hands as he pitched off balance.

 

He stared up at the blank ceiling.

 

Now she was visiting Dabi. And Kurogiri. And who knows how many other villains.

 

What, did they think because Tomura could stand her that she was the cure-all for villainy?

 

Tomura didn't mind Takako meeting Kurogiri as much as he minded her meeting Dabi.

 

Kurogiri was bearable. He was calm, logical, and didn't push Tomura's buttons.

 

Dabi pushed all of Tomura's buttons on purpose. Not to mention the fact that he'd so violently accosted Takako that he'd broken her bones.

 

(That definitely did not push Tomura's buttons. Those buttons didn't exist.)

 

(How had Dabi known to push them, if they truly didn't exist?)

 

Plus, Dabi had a nasty habit of flirting in lieu of being civil. Paired with the fact that- if you looked past the burns and stitching (unless you were into that)- Dabi was not an unattractive man.

 

And fuck Takako for even insinuating-

 

I thought you weren't even friends! Tenko, are you and Dabi…”

 

No, no, no, no, no!

 

Thankfully, she'd relented, but she had made sure to hit him hard before she left.

 

Do you worry about me?”

 

He wanted the answer to be no.

 

He wanted to only think of killing her when she left his sight.

 

He knew that if she had any ill intention- or at least intentions that he would consider ill, since he assumed she didn't have a vindictive bone in her body- she was probably playing him like a violin.

 

He tried to hold onto that, tried to convince himself that she was just using him, toying with him, pretending until she got the internship she wanted, convincing him to be good (or at least neutral) so the pros didn't bother her for her help anymore… he'd come up with a lot of excuses.

 

He thought about her a lot.

 

If he told her he didn't care, it would be a lie, and he knew it.

 

He'd had full intentions of lying to her face.

 

But fuck, with Takako sitting there, shoulders drooped, avoiding his eyes because she knew what he wanted the answer to be, she at least expected the answer to be no…

 

His body betrayed him, rolling a yes into the table before he could stop himself.

 

Goddammit.

 

It wouldn't have been worth the embarrassment and self-hatred if Takako hadn't lit up, beaming at her lap instead of up at him- and he hadn't known he could be jealous of knees.

 

He wasn't surprised that he could be jealous of Dabi, but of Takako's own knees?

 

This was why he didn't eat, didn't sleep, didn't move.

 

He was a fucking disappointment.

Chapter Text

In the past couple months, things had settled down at UA. People didn't come up to Midoriya asking for autographs anymore, and no one questioned Takako about being held hostage anymore, nor did they pry about what exactly went down out there.

 

There was only one difference that really stuck.

 

And only Takako knew why.

 

“Dude, I tried to go eat with Kirishima today,” Tetsutetsu piped up at lunch one day, picking at his food with a frown. “And the only open seat was by Midoriya, so-”

 

“And you took it?”

 

Tetsutetsu nodded morosely.

 

“That was your first mistake.” Kendo agreed with their table's collective disbelief. “What happened?”

 

“Bakugou threw my lunchbox.” Tetsutetsu sulked. “Now my bento is squashed.”

 

Takako hid her laugh behind her hand.

 

Bakugou had been… emotionally unstable, these last couple months. Especially when it came to Midoriya. If anyone stood in between him and Midoriya, whether friend or foe, he usually pitched a fit and started a fight.

 

Midoriya would smile and do his best to calm Bakugou down, usually taking the freckled boy’s attention off of whoever had gotten in the way in the first place. When the ordeal was over, Bakugou would always sit back with his arms folded across his chest, a tiny, smug smile pulling at his lips.

 

Only Takako truly knew why.

 

She kind of wished she could ramble about her suspicions and hunches to Tomura, but the lingering fear that he would escape and use the knowledge against her stopped her from bringing it up.

 

She couldn't even talk to her friends about it, for fear that they'd leak the information to Bakugou and get her killed.

 

Plus, it didn't seem like Bakugou himself knew what was going on- as evidenced by the many times he'd snapped a little too quickly and hurt Midoriya in the process. To anyone who didn't know him, it just seemed like Bakugou was in a bad mood.

 

Takako knew better than that. She assumed his friends had picked up on it too, judging by the way a couple of them had pulled Bakugou aside with concern in their eyes and questions on their lips. So far she'd only seen two reactions to that, consisting of either explosions or moody silence.

 

Bakugou was in a mood. And while it wasn't her job to fix it, she felt like she was the only one that had any proof as to what was going on.

 

Only one way about it, she supposed.

 

Once again walking directly into the belly of the beast- because she obviously had no self preservation and welcomed death- Takako sought out a particularly explosive blond after school for a discussion.

 

“Bakugou,” she called across the courtyard, pulling the attention of his group of friends to her.

 

“Eh? You again?” Bakugou sneered- as if they hadn't fought and nearly died together a couple months ago.

 

“Yeah, it's me again.” Takako sighed. “Hey Kirishima.” She greeted the only friendly face she could pick out from the group, and the redhead waved enthusiastically back to her.

 

Bakugou looked between her and Kirishima with slitted eyes, clearly suspicious.

 

“Bakugou, are you walking home with Midoriya again today?” Mina Ashido spoke up. The Acid Quirk user was pink skinned and pink haired, and was what Takako had been expecting to come face to face with when Monoma had described Uraraka as ‘the pink girl’. It made more sense now, that Uraraka would be described in the context of Midoriya, since Mina seemed to hang out with Bakugou.

 

“Yeah?” Bakugou barked back, already bristling, ready for a fight. “What about-”

 

“Isn't that him, waiting, over there?” She pointed a pink finger across the courtyard at a mass of green curly hair.

 

Bakugou's mouth snapped shut, and he began pushing through his crowd of friends with hurried goodbyes, ready to join Midoriya for what seemed to be a new tradition.

 

Takako planted herself in front of Bakugou, refusing to budge.

 

“I need to talk to you.” She insisted.

 

“No, you don't. Now get out of my way.” Bakugou shot back, nearly speaking through his teeth.

 

“I know that threatening you isn't going to work, and you'll probably take an offer of advice as some kind of ridicule,” Takako began, forcing herself to hold his gaze. She dropped her voice low, keeping her final blow between them. “So I figured I'd tell you what I know, and you can decide to kill me from there.”

 

Bakugou hesitated at that.

 

Takako knew she was on thin ice.

 

This wasn't technically her responsibility. Anybody else in Class A could put out this fire.

 

She couldn't help but wince at the inevitable miscommunication looming in Bakugou’s near future if she didn't get a word in now.

 

“You can grab someone to tag along,” she continued slowly, hesitant to insinuate any potential weakness of his.

 

Bakugou didn't even blink. “Kirishima!” He shouted. Red hair popped up from the crowd again, and Bakugou wasted no time in summoning him with an insistent wave of his hand.

 

Takako wondered if Bakugou really was hiding a heart in there. She wouldn't have expected him to jump on the option of emotional support, nor would she have pegged Kirishima as his main man. Okay, that's not true. Kirishima was a good dude, and Takako could see why anyone would rely on him for support.

 

“Yeah, man, what's up?” Kirishima greeted, slinging an arm over Bakugou's shoulder.

 

Brave. Takako applauded him.

 

“Need you to ask Deku to wait up. Tell him I gotta… do something.” Bakugou muttered, eyes flicking to Takako.

 

“On it!”

 

“Hey, Bakugou! Getting a girlfriend before me?” Kaminari Denki, the Electricity Quirk boy, grinned and pointed not so subtle fingers at Takako.

 

“No.” Bakugou and Takako answered at the same time, one a little more pissed than the other.

 

While Kirishima sprinted towards Midoriya, chattering amiably, Bakugou steered Takako away from his nosy friends.

 

“This had better be worth it,” Bakugou huffed, crossing his arms.

 

Takako didn't reply, just watched Kirishima and Midoriya talk.

 

There weren't a lot of Bakugou's desires that he had purposefully hidden away. Most of them were loud and clear, on display to Takako, as if he were daring her to read them and make fun of him. There were only a handful that were muddled- nobody was one hundred percent clear on everything they wanted- and even less that she couldn't read at all.

 

So when she shifted her weight and bumped into the blond, she was surprised to feel a flash of protection, a desire to protect, aimed at Midoriya.

 

That wasn't what she was here to talk about, but it was part of it.

 

“Did you send Kirishima for a reason?” Takako queried, glancing up at Bakugou. His red eyes met her brown for a second, then looked back to Midoriya.

 

Hmm. No violent reaction. How far could she push her luck?

 

“Because Kirishima's better with social conventions? Or because-”

 

“Do you gotta know everything?” Bakugou snapped.

 

Takako shrugged. “The pursuit of knowledge is hopeless and eternal.”

 

Bakugou recoiled, squinting at her. “Are you digging around in my head?”

 

“Can't help it, really,” she admitted, not bothering to lie. “Even when I'm not standing next to you, you're pretty easy to read.”

 

“You can read him?” Kirishima demanded, jogging up to them. “You can read Bakugou’s eternal resting bitch face?”

 

Takako laughed while Bakugou punched Kirishima in the shoulder.

 

“It's not his facial expressions. It's more like emotionally, what he wants.” She explained while Kirishima rubbed his abused shoulder. “Bakugou isn't really the type to hide how he feels. If he wants something, he chases it.”

 

“You're right,” Kirishima agreed. “And you can get all this from… your Quirk? Or have you two been hanging out without me?” He accused, gasping dramatically.

 

“With this nosy brat?” Bakugou huffed, giving Takako a cursory once over. Takako stuck her tongue out at him. “No. It's her Quirk.” He informed Kirishima, arms returning to their crossed position over his chest.

 

“Which is why I'm over here.” Takako agreed. “Part of it because I'm annoyed and tired of picking up on your feelings from across the room. The other part is because you're confusing your friends, especially Midoriya,” she emphasized, looking pointedly over to the green haired topic of her conversation. “And being even more of an ass than you usually are.”

 

Bakugou frowned. Well, he was already frowning, so really he just frowned more. “I didn't stay behind so you could lecture me.”

 

Takako sighed, glancing once to Kirishima to see if he was as exasperated as she was. He looked like he understood her pain, at the very least.

 

Looking at Kirishima, she hesitated, realizing something.

 

“Wait- does he know?” She asked Bakugou, tossing her head in Kirishima’s direction.

 

“Do I know…” Kirishima echoed, waiting patiently.

 

Bakugou didn't answer her immediately.

 

“You know why I'm over here, right?” Takako tried again, peering up at Bakugou.

 

A vein twitched in his forehead, but he didn't explode. “I can take a guess.” He answered through his teeth. “It's about Deku, isn't it?”

 

“Oh,” Kirishima hummed, something clicking for him. “You mean your obvious and very hard to miss crush on Midoriya Izuku?”

 

Bakugou’s eyes nearly bulged out of his head, and Kirishima cackled loudly while the blonde tried to put him in a headlock.

 

“Boys, boys,” Takako waved, pulling their attention back. Bakugou glowered at her while he released Kirishima, looking betrayed. “I'm not here to tease you about it. I just need you to stop.”

 

“Stop liking Midoriya?” Kirishima parroted, confused. “Oh, Takako, are you also planning to confess to Midoriya?”

 

Takako turned red, eyes wide in surprise. “No! Why does everyone think I'm trying to confess all the time?” She demanded, crossing her arms to mirror Bakugou. “I'm just sick and tired of Bakugou being weirdly possessive and tsundere. It's really loud on my radar- and, if you haven't noticed yet, Midoriya doesn't quite understand what you're trying to pull off.” She gestured vaguely in the direction of Midoriya, and Bakugou pushed her hand down.

 

“You think I can't read that nerd like a book? ” Bakugou demanded. “I've known him for like, ten years. I know he doesn't get it.” He sighed, something shifting in his eternal resting bitch face to reveal a Bakugou that Takako had never seen before.

 

Vulnerable Bakugou?

 

“It's probably better that way.” Bakugou huffed. “He doesn't- he shouldn't want me.” He corrected himself, scowling sharply.

 

“Bakubro!” Kirishima cried, clutching his chest as if Bakugou had physically wounded him. “Why would you think he wouldn't want you?”

 

Bakugou clenched his jaw, baring his teeth at nothing. “Didn't I just say I've known the nerd for ten years? I just know, alright?”

 

“Baku- you can't just assume-” Kirishima tried to argue, but to no avail.

 

“Ten years, Kirishima. All ten of which I spent beating his sorry ass into the ground and making sure he knew exactly how far beneath me he stood.” Bakugou hissed, glaring daggers into the ground. “I just know.

 

“Well, you don't, actually,” Takako piped up. “Not for sure, at least.”

 

“I think I have the right to assume-”

 

“But I would.” Takako continued, and Bakugou stilled immediately. “I'm not offering to eavesdrop in on Midoriya's feelings and report back. That's cheating.” She insisted, and Bakugou looked like he was offended that she even mentioned it. “But I will talk with him about the bullying. That's… that's what I do, Bakugou.” She admitted. “That's the kind of hero I want to be.”

 

Bakugou lifted an eyebrow. “You wanna be a glorified shrink?”

 

Takako scowled. “Do you want a boyfriend or not, Mr. I Feel the Need to Crush Everyone's Dreams?”

 

Kirishima openly laughed. Even Bakugou smiled a little bit, the crease between his eyebrows easing.

 

“Do whatever you want, megane.” Bakugou finally relented, readjusting his bag on his shoulder and turning to leave.

 

“Uh uh, no,” Takako pulled him back by the collar, repositioning him in front of her again. “That was a yes or no situation. You either give me the go ahead, or you stay in the dark.”

 

Bakugou scowled deeply, clearly not very happy about being manhandled by a girl that barely stood over five feet tall. “I was pretty sure you knew by now that if I didn't want you to do something, I'd just kill you.”

 

Takako didn't even blink when he loomed over her. “So is that a yes?”

 

Bakugou groaned, defeated. “Yes. Go talk with Deku about his feelings and get my stupid hopes up. Or crush them. Whatever.” He huffed under his breath, kicking at the ground.

 

“C'mon, Hiyashi,” Kirishima invited, jogging after the quickly retreating blond. “Walk back to the dorms with us!”

 

Takako only obliged because Bakugou’s palms immediately lit up in an annoyed explosion following Kirishima’s invitation.

 

“Hey, Midoriya! All done!” Kirishima called, the sound of his voice pulling Midoriya's head out of the notebook he held. “Ready to head back?”

 

“Yeah!” Midoriya beamed, putting his notebook away.

 

Takako coughed, surprised by the rush of emotion she picked up on from Bakugou.

 

“Oh, Hiyashi!” Midoriya greeted, and Takako waved in response- elbowing Bakugou in retribution.

 

“What the fuck,” Bakugou hissed under his breath.

 

Control yourself.” Takako hissed back.

 

Stop reading me!” Bakugou threatened, his hands balling into fists.

 

“How is Shigaraki doing?” Midoriya asked, completely missing the exchange between the two, his back turned to them while they walked.

 

Kirishima and Bakugou turned to Takako in surprise, eyebrows raised.

 

“Oh, that wasn't supposed to be a secret- was it?” Midoriya realized, glancing at Takako over his shoulder.

 

“Well, I guess at this point it shouldn't be.” She sighed, scratching the back of her neck. “He's not doing all that well, to be completely honest.”

 

“It's not- he's not still recovering, is he?” Midoriya yelped, his eyes betraying him by darting to Bakugou.

 

Like she could forget.

 

“No. It's not that.” Takako assured him. She didn't look at Bakugou. “He spent the last three months in some kinda violent rage, lashing out at anyone that got close to him, screaming until his voice gave out,” Takako listed, looking down at her feet as soon as Midoriya's expression turned to something like horror. It might've been pity. “Then, pretty much out of nowhere, he just quit.”

 

“Wow.” Bakugou droned. “It only took him three months to give up?”

 

“Kacchan-”

 

“No, Bakugou,” Takako bit out. “He quit. He won't eat, he won't sleep, he won't speak- he won't even move. He's been in the same spot every time I've gone to see him.” She whispered.

 

The group was silent for a couple paces. Takako didn't bother to alleviate the uncomfortable air that had fallen around them.

 

“Shigaraki was your friend once, wasn't he?” Kirishima spoke up, bravely breaking the silence.

 

“He's still my friend.” Takako whispered. “I won't give up on him. Even if he already has.”

 

Kirishima clapped one of his hands on her shoulder, wiping a fake tear from his eye. “That's the manliest thing I've ever heard. Bravo.”

 

Takako allowed herself a smile.

 

“You must really like him, to be so kind after everything that's happened,” Midoriya considered her situation with a thoughtful look on his face.

 

“It's not hard, really. For whatever reason, he tolerates me.” Takako explained.

 

“Hiyashi,” Kirishima gasped, scandalized. “You do like someone!”

 

“I can't believe you went through all of that to lecture me when you're in love with a villain.” Bakugou muttered under his breath, smirking while he shook his head.

 

Takako momentarily shut down.

 

It took the group of boys a couple seconds to realize Takako was no longer with them, but as soon as they registered her absence, Kirishima and Midoriya rushed back to her side. She'd stopped cold in the middle of the sidewalk, staring straight ahead at nothing.

 

“Hiyashi? Did I break you?” Kirishima whispered, shaking her gently.

 

Takako blinked once, her eyes slowly coming back into focus.

 

“Sorry,” she mumbled almost automatically while she rebooted. She didn't say anything else, just rubbed her shoulder and rejoined the group, staring at the ground.

 

“So was that like a sudden revelation or some kind of absolute horror…?” Kirishima tried again, still sending looks of concern in Takako’s direction.

 

“I just-” Takako stammered, still looking a little dazed. “I hadn't thought about it before.”

 

Bakugou scoffed. “What you're telling me is that you, Queen of Wants, did not know what you wanted? ” He demanded, raising an eyebrow at her.

 

“I need to talk to Monoma tonight,” she whispered. He could reflect her Quirk back at her, tell her what she really wanted. “Wait- I don't think I trust him that much,” she amended, her brows knitting together over her eyes while she thought.

 

“You're so goddamn busy meddling in other people's business that you don't even know what you want. Good job, megane.” Bakugou rolled his eyes, unimpressed.

 

“Is that what you guys were talking about before we left today?” Midoriya piped up, green eyes wide. “Somebody else's business?”

 

Bakugou nearly froze- nearly, he was Bakugou, after all- and he sent a warning glare in Takako's direction.

 

“Yeah, we were discussing Bakugou's deep and personal feelings.” Takako replied, not missing a beat, holding Bakugou's enraged stare with ease.

 

Midoriya nearly choked, stumbling over his own feet. “Really?

 

No, not really,” Bakugou grumbled. “Goddamn, I thought you were supposed to be smart.

 

“Don't listen to him. He secretly loves puppies and chocolate.” Takako informed Midoriya, nodding resolutely.

 

Bakugou spluttered, enraged while the other three laughed. “That's not even a secret!” He screeched, looking like he was highly considering wringing Takako’s neck.

 

“I'm just kidding, Midoriya,” Takako managed through her giggles. “I was just asking Bakugou to tone down his very loud desire to wear a collar and be called ‘princess'.” She informed him very matter of factly. “It gets distracting in class.”

 

Midoriya's jaw dropped open, and he looked between Takako and Bakugou in astonishment while Kirishima howled with laughter.

 

Dammit- that's it, I'm going to kill you-” Bakugou growled, lunging for Takako's head, palms alight.

 

“Oh no, Midoriya, save me!” Takako wailed, cowering behind the green haired boy.

 

“I feel like Kirishima would be a better protector,” Midoriya offered nervously, caught between a giggling Takako and a fuming Bakugou. “Considering I am soft and human and very vulnerable to explosions,” he insisted, but Takako wasn't sure who the pleading was aimed at.

 

Kirishima was a little busy trying not to die, since he was laughing so hard he couldn't breathe.

 

“Come out and fight me face to face!” Bakugou demanded, hopping from foot to foot.

 

“That's not in my job description!” Takako shot back, steering Midoriya by his shoulders. “That's why I have Deku, the up and coming pro brawl type hero, to defend me!”

 

Midoriya laughed, a high pitched and nervous sound, but Takako knew that comment went straight to his heart, joke or not.

 

Takako didn't have to be plastered to Midoriya's back to know his number one desire.

 

To be a hero, his heart cried- pleaded, even.

 

“You think you can harm innocent citizens on m-my watch?” Midoriya slipped into their stupid game, raising his fists.

 

Innocent?” Bakugou screamed, insulted. “She just implied that I'm a sub! A sub with a pet play kink!”

 

Kirishima wheezed. They weren't getting him back any time soon.

 

“Wow, Bakugou, I can't believe you know the specific terminology for that,” Takako noted, hiding a sinister grin behind Midoriya's shoulder. “Are you sure I don't know what I'm talking about?”

 

Bakugou was exploding nearly constantly now, his gums nearly completely exposed in his snarl. He threw away the idea of waiting for her to detach from Midoriya and just reached around the smaller boy, grabbing a hold of her by the shirt collar.

 

“No!” Takako complained when Bakugou lifted her clean off of the ground. She latched onto Midoriya, forcing Bakugou to step closer in order to better tug on her struggling form. “Screw you and your massive biceps!” She complained, clinging to Midoriya with all her might.

 

“Kac-Kacchan?” Midoriya yelped, hands raised by either side of his face.

 

Takako was surprised it took Bakugou so long to notice.

 

He was inches from Midoriya, chest to chest and arms pretty much wrapped around the shorter boy, caging him in.

 

Takako yelped when she reconnected with the ground without warning, and Bakugou's shocked stillness broke with the noise. He stepped away from Midoriya like he'd been burned, then immediately advanced on Takako.

 

She'd been planning to laugh and dash behind Kirishima, despite the fact that he was out of commission and bent at a constant 90° angle. But something in her just… clicked.

 

She fell back onto the ground, scrabbling backwards like a startled crab. Bakugou didn't register her fear as real real real and kept coming after her, fury evident in his eyes. When she threw her hands up, flinching away, she was fully expecting to be hit.

 

“Kacchan, no!

 

Ah. She knew Midoriya was the one to count on.

 

Takako stayed where she was, arms raised to stop a blow that was never coming. She tried to focus on breathing correctly, eyes still blown wide with panic.

 

“I thought you already knew that I'm not going to fucking hurt you,” Bakugou snarled, and from the sound of his voice and the way the sun isn't blinding her anymore, he's standing above her.

 

“Sorry,” she blurted, pressing her hands to her face. She swore she could feel the color drain from her.

 

“Don't apologize,” Bakugou griped.

 

“I- I'm sorry- it's just what I'm used to doing-” she stammered, wincing at the automatic apology that slipped from her.

 

“Hiyashi, that's okay. There are still things you're working through. We respect that.” Midoriya assured her, kneeling beside her.

 

“It… it's not. It's not okay.” Takako breathed, closing her eyes. “I shouldn't be treating Bakugou like this. I shouldn't even be reacting to Bakugou like he- like he's- like he would ever-”

 

“Hiyashi,” Kirishima cut her off, finally sobered. Good job, Takako, way to ruin the mood. “We're always improving ourselves. Real men are always moving forwards. You'll get better. You know you will.”

 

Takako nodded firmly, pressing her palms into her eyes. “I will. I am.” She insisted.

 

“Right.” Midoriya agreed. “It's not too far from home, now.”

 

“I'm getting hungry, and Present Mic gave us an essay to write. Let's go.” Bakugou insisted. Midoriya scrambled to his feet, complying immediately to Bakugou's command, but Takako only dropped her hands to her sides. “I said, c'mon.” Bakugou reiterated, shaking his arm at her.

 

Takako looked up to find Bakugou reaching for her, offering his hand.

 

The last of her panic subsided, her brain finally registering friend, not Nightmare.

 

She tried not to smile when she took it, letting him hoist her to her feet like she weighed nothing.

 

Bakugou eyed her after she regained her balance, a question on his tongue.

 

She wondered what it would be. Lots of people had accidentally triggered her panic, sending her into immediate fight or flight with mixed results. She was always interrogated afterwards, so she was used to the questions.

 

Who hurt you? What happened?

 

Did I really remind you of whoever hurt you?

 

What'd they… do to you?

 

Bakugou wrinkled his nose, scrutinizing her. “What do you even eat? You weigh like, fucking nothing.” He noted.

 

Takako couldn't help the smile this time- and something in Bakugou's shoulders eased. He must really not hate her if he was concerned about how much she was eating.

 

“It's not my diet.” She assured him. “It's your ungodly biceps.”

 

Kirishima couldn't help but snort, desperately trying to hold back his laughter. Midoriya cracked a grin too.

 

Bakugou's smile was proud, and he nodded firmly. “Hell yeah it is.”

Chapter Text

Meeting Kurogiri had Takako nervous, to say the least.

 

She was nervous to meet Dabi, but not like this.

 

Dabi was annoying and young and reacted to her when she prodded him.

 

She had the sneaking suspicion that Kurogiri would not be like Dabi in the least.

 

And now, sitting across from him, knowing full well that those glowing yellow slits were his eyes, she found she was correct.

 

“I'm Hiyashi Takako.” She introduced herself like she had with Dabi. “I'm not a professional or anything, I'm just a student.”

 

“I know who you are.” Kurogiri intoned simply.

 

His voice was deeper than she remembered.

 

“Oh!” Takako hummed, lacing her fingers together. “Dabi did say that Tomura had insisted on getting my information. I didn't know if that meant that everyone knew about me or not.”

 

Kurogiri was quiet. He merely watched her.

 

“Well, anyways, Tomura says he's doing alright, as that you don't need to worry about him.” She opted to move on, ignoring the lull.

 

She was surprised to pick up on protect from Kurogiri when she mentioned Tomura, so she threw that out there to test the waters.

 

“Hmm.” Kurogiri didn't sound impressed. “You're not very good at lying. I've been told that Tomura refuses to speak at all.”

 

Takako tapped her fist to the table in agreement. “Ah, yeah, he's not speaking. He mostly just taps on the table for yes and no, and I go from there.” She explained. “When I asked him if he wanted me to tell you he was alright, he tapped yes.”

 

If Kurogiri had eyebrows, they'd be raised. He leaned back in his seat. “Oh? Tomura speaks to you?”

 

Takako nodded. “You can say that you're concerned about Tomura. It's alright, I am too.”

 

Kurogiri didn't respond. His silences were suffocating.

 

Tomura's were so much easier to maneuver.

 

“Unless you're not,” Takako ventured. "Though I'd be surprised if you said you didn't care.”

 

“You're reading me, aren't you.” It wasn't a question, Kurogiri was just trying to be threatening.

 

“Well yeah,” Takako huffed. “I don't like being lied to. And I bet you don't either, so if you really do care about Tomura,” she offered, leaning on her elbows. “I'll tell you something.”

 

“You could just tell me anyways, instead of acting like a child.” Kurogiri sighed.

 

Takako pressed her hand to her chest, exaggerating her offense. “I am a child, thank you very much.” She huffed. “You're just as difficult as Dabi. If not worse in a completely different way.” She complained, glaring at him. “I wonder why Tomura likes you so much.” She added the last part under her breath, crossing her arms with a puff of breath.

 

Kurogiri reacted to that, if only minutely. The widening of his eyes in response to her mutterings was slight, and it was difficult to read thanks to his ever shifting smoky face.

 

There was a flicker on her radar, a seed she'd planted. Kurogiri definitely wanted to know exactly how Tomura was doing.

 

“Tomura admitted to liking someone?” Kurogiri replied, and the dubious tone of his voice made her think he was trying to catch her in a lie (that she hadn't told) again.

 

“Well, he doesn't react with immediate disgust or annoyance like he does when I mention anybody else. So I read that as, at the very least, he can stand your presence.” Takako elaborated, and to her surprise, she received an exasperated nod from the cloud of smoke.

 

“Sometimes that's all you can hope for, with Tomura.” He sighed.

 

The flicker in his chest was stronger. Takako's pretty certain now.

 

“Last chance, admit that you're worried about Tomura, or I'll take my secret to the grave!” She threatened.

 

Kurogiri made the same face from earlier, the one she assumed was his invisible raised eyebrows.

 

“Poor choice of words, I guess.” She admitted with an embarrassed nod. “Tomura might laugh at that when I tell him about this later.”

 

“You'll see him again?” Kurogiri hummed, interest snagged.

 

Takako nodded. “I'm trying to get to the point where I visit him regularly, but the guys in charge are so confused by my visits that it takes them a little bit to get everything sorted and analyzed before they're ready to let me back in.”

 

Kurogiri's eyes narrowed. “What do you do to him?”

 

Takako shook her head, sweeping a finger across her lips. “Not telling. We have conditions, you know.”

 

Kurogiri rolled his eyes. She's surprised she can read the expression.

 

With a sigh, Kurogiri monotoned: “I'm concerned about Shigaraki Tomura.”

 

Takako didn't tease about the confession, just smiled. “I just go in and talk to him for a while. And here's your tidbit of information:” she offered, folding her fingers together. “He's… he's not doing so well.”

 

Kurogiri leaned back in his seat, something she took as a sign to go on.

 

“He won't eat, and he won't move. I don't think he's sleeping, either.” Takako tried not to murmur, but her voice dropped low when she worried like this. “And honestly, his physical state probably isn't helping his mental state. I'd seen him chapped and dry before but this is… something else.” She sighed, pressing her glasses close to her face.

 

Kurogiri ruminated on this, blinking slowly.

 

The response he came back with was: “You've seen Tomura before?”

 

Takako tilted her head, sending a curious look his way. “You don't know about me.” She realized. “I'm really not surprised that he didn't tell you- oh, damn, I bet Dabi is really confused.”

 

She'd gone through that meeting under the assumption that Dabi knew she'd grown up with Tomura. Apparently, he'd just singled her out from a group of students and left it at that. The others didn't know.

 

“What do I not know?” Kurogiri demanded slowly.

 

Takako scratched the back of her neck in embarrassment. “Tomura and I, we grew up together. It was only a couple years, but we were really close.”

 

Kurogiri visibly relaxed. She hadn't noticed him tense up. “I did gather that.” He said simply. “It slipped my mind.” He added- and if she wasn't wrong, that was an apology.

 

“It's okay!” She assured him with her brightest smile. “It'd be nice to talk to someone about Tomura. The professionals care, but they don't actually know him. None of my classmates are really down to chat about the guy that tried to kill Midoriya like three different times, either.”

 

“You're telling me,” Kurogiri began, and she can already tell he's unimpressed. “That the professionals let a child into my prison cell so she could chat with someone about her childhood friend? Who's also in prison?”

 

Takako couldn't help but laugh. “I mean, if you wanna put it that way, yeah.” She managed, shaking her head. “It doesn't really matter to me what your alignment is. You also care about Tomura, so we have common ground.”

 

Kurogiri seemed to be caught off guard by this. She would be able to tell better if he actually had a face.

 

“You don't care about alignment? That I'm a criminal and you're…”

 

“A hero in training?” Takako supplied. “No, not really. Good and evil are pretty subjective, and everyone's moral compass points in a different direction. We're all just humans with wants and desires and goals we strive to achieve, taking whatever path will get us there.”

 

She realized she was rambling when she caught wind of Kurogiri's quiet chuckling.

 

“It's okay if you don't agree.” Takako continued. “To each his own, I guess.”

 

“How do you plan to be a hero with a mindset like that?” Kurogiri wondered- and she can hear a smile in his voice.

 

“I think I'm doing just fine.” She admitted, smiling back.

 

---

 

She entered Tomura's cell in a really good mood. Kurogiri hadn't been forthcoming, per se, but he had been civil, and their meeting didn't go as badly as she'd thought it would.

 

“Tenko, you would not believe-”

 

She was cut off mid sentence when she lifted her eyes from her bag to Tomura.

 

"Hiyashi, maybe you should-" one of the guards put a hand on her arm in warning, clearly seeing exactly what she saw.

 

She stumbled forwards, dropping her bag on the floor, her knees giving out before she could tell them where to sit her down.

 

Takako kind of collapsed next to Tomura, sitting in a heap, staring openly in horror.

 

His fingers were stained red with blood. They sat innocuously on top of the table as if they'd done nothing wrong. As if Tomura had nothing to hide.

 

It wasn't his fingers she was worried about.

 

His neck- his neck-

 

It's covered in dark red streaks, lines that Tomura had gouged out with the nails she'd just filed down.

 

(Fuck - how much effort did he have to put into scratching to dig that deep with nails that short?)

 

When Tomura turned to face her, he tilted his head, making sure she could see the full extent of the damage. For a moment all she could do was stare in horror, but then she looked up into his eyes. Her plan had been to demand an answer, but she was cut short. The damage done to his neck clearly wasn't the end of it.

 

She hadn't seen his entire face yet.

 

She'd seen bits and pieces, glances through the mop of hair and the shadows he hid underneath.

 

She knew his lips were cracked so bad they pulled in, as if he were eighty instead of a little older than her. She knew he had a couple scars on his face- she'd caught the tell-tale shiny skin under the light every so often.

 

She didn't know that his nose was crooked, probably courtesy of Bakugou's fists.

 

She didn't know that his eyes were surrounded by dry patches, currently scrubbed raw by his own fingernails. His red eyes seemed even redder than usual, drowning in the pools of blood and angry veins around them.

 

It was all of this that set her off, but what really got her going was the mantra on repeat that his desires echoed back at her.

 

I want to die I want to die I want to die I want to-

 

She could barely breathe, suffocating under the death wish on repeat that she can't seem to block out. “Tenko,” she pleaded, and his head cocked to the side in a show of listening.

 

“What, Tacchan,”

 

She froze, eyes wide and already full of tears.

 

Did you think you could fix me?”

 

His voice was barely audible, scratchy and rough from disuse, but she heard him. Loud and clear.

 

As if the image before her wasn't enough, he had the audacity to smile at her.

 

Sometimes Takako felt like a grenade. Now was one of those moments. Something had managed to pull her pin, and it was only a matter of seconds before she truly exploded.

 

She started crying so suddenly and so violently that the guards immediately restrained Tomura. They rushed to her, gentle hands on her shaking shoulders while they ask her what happened, but she was so far beyond talking at that point.

 

Takako hated the way her sobs rocked her back and forth in sporadic twitching motions.

 

This wasn't a little, controlled cry.

 

This was a full on, drop of the hat, total hysteria. She had totally lost control of her emotions, a train without brakes on a hill.

 

The guards didn't seem to know what to do with her.

 

She was quickly losing the ability to breathe, and the sudden feeling of asphyxiating almost immediately sent the rest of her rational thought out the window.

 

When she started screaming, scrubbing at her eyes and clawing at her chest, the guards forgo trying to get answers from her. They just picked her up and hauled her out of there, depositing her in the hallway after they went through all of their necessary security measures.

 

For a moment she thought they were just going to leave her in the hallway to scream herself hoarse- or, even better, into unconsciousness- but they came running back with Dr. Kido instead.

 

It took her fifteen minutes to stop crying. The screaming stopped as soon as Dr. Kido got her to breathe, but Takako couldn't seem to get a grip on herself after that.

 

Every time she tried to tell Dr. Kido what had set her off, she just dissolved into tears again.

 

Eventually, she just shut off, something she'd conveniently held onto from when she was little. In a voice that didn't lift or fall, Takako told the doctor what exactly had set her off.

 

Dr. Kido took in the description of Tomura's state with a frown, but when Takako tried to explain her despair regarding his insistent internal monologue, her expression softened.

 

“Hiyashi. You and Shigaraki, you were close once?”

 

Takako didn't bother to nod. Dr. Kido knew the answer.

 

“What I think is happening,” she began slowly, offering Takako a tissue. “Is that you're getting to him.”

 

Takako's head lifted slowly, tissue forgotten. “What?”

 

“Hear me out.” Kido pleaded. “When people convince themselves that they don't need anyone, that they're fine on their own, it will obviously be difficult to get close and convince them to trust you, yes?” Takako nodded to agree. “It's very hard to get rid of old habits, old thoughts, especially when you've been taught them for as long as Shigaraki has.” She reminded Takako.

 

“Yeah, I get that,” Takako mumbled, Bakugou's face flashing in her recent memory.

 

“He could be lashing out.” Kido concluded. “Your actions dictate a truth that is completely against everything he's ever known. That you care about him, and that you can be relied on to care about him.” She explained. “His mind might very well be trying to convince him that it's not real, that you're just faking it to take advantage of him.”

 

“That's a logical conclusion to make, but a dumb one.” Takako noted. Kido smiled, but it seemed stretched thin.

 

“What do you think he needs?” Kido asked her, letting her be the one to problem solve.

 

Takako sighed. “I think… he needs me to come back. To keep coming back, even when he pulls stunts like this.”

 

Kido nodded softly, impressed.

 

“I'm still going to cry when things like this happen.” Takako insisted. “I can't help it.”

 

Kido only nodded. “His actions upset you. That's perfectly normal. As long as you don't take it out on anybody, you're allowed to be upset.”

 

Takako nodded back, wiping her eyes for the twentieth time. “Okay.”

 

“So.” Kido clapped gently, promising the beginning of something. “What do you need to move forwards?”

 

Kirishima's voice echoed in her head.

 

We're always improving ourselves. Real men are always moving forwards.

 

She took a deep breath. She moved on.

 

“I need a bucket of water and a shit ton of soap. The simple kind, not the flowery stuff.” She listed. “Also, a towel, a lot of bandaids and bandages, and some medical tape.”

 

“Alright, Hiyashi.” Kido helped her stand, patting her shoulder. “Let's get to work.”

Chapter Text

Tomura felt some kinda way, that's for sure.

 

He couldn't really describe it. It felt like some kind of manic high, his emotions on 150%, the dull throb of his skin only turning him up higher.

 

When Takako had first bounded in, clearly excited to be back, he barely felt the flash of regret that rose in his throat like bile.

 

He couldn't categorize the feeling.

 

Did he relish Takako's horror? Was it a sweet taste or a sour one?

 

Was it concern he was feeling when the tears started dripping down her perfect, perfect face? Did he care? Or was it anticipation?

 

He let her get a good look at him, at everything.

 

Everything he'd tried to hide, because he was so disgusting-

 

He'd been waiting for the fear, but it never came.

 

“Tacchan,” he'd forced his voice to sound after weeks of refusing to use it. Maybe he could squeeze the fear out of her. “Did you think you could fix me?” He'd demanded.

 

Truthfully, he wanted to know.

 

Had she really sauntered in here with a couple memories of the past and expected everything to be okay?

 

Did she really have it in her head that she could… That she could what, turn him back? Back to what? Back to good? Back to normal?

 

Even when he was younger, he'd never been normal.

 

(Nevermind the fact that she'd liked him then too.)

 

She really thought she could walk in here and pretend to care for a couple days? That she could play him like a violin and get away with it?

 

No. no.

 

He tore down her success with the very thing she'd most recently achieved, digging dulled nails into his neck with an unsatisfactory scrape.

 

The more he'd torn himself open, the faster the itch faded. The more he bled, the more blood he wanted on his fingers.

 

It echoed in his head, a broken record he knew Takako could hear skipping over and over again.

 

I want to die I want to die I want to die I want to-

 

And if he hadn't been convinced that he wanted to die, he could pinpoint the exact moment in which his certainty solidified.

 

When Takako’s shuddering sobs stuttered to a halt, her eyes glazing over, looking at nothing, when she stopped breathing, when she curled into herself and screamed-

 

That's when he knew for sure.

 

The first scream had shaken him, sent a rush of lucidity through his system. He'd never heard a noise like that from Takako. He'd heard it before, from other people in different contexts, but this was here and now with Takako.

 

And then she didn't stop.

 

She just sat there, half propped on the table, a couple feet away from him, clawing at her chest like she could pull her heart right out. Screaming.

 

The guards restrained him as if he'd moved from his spot at some point, which was completely untrue. They'd run to Takako, trying to get answers from her.

 

Something small within Tomura wanted to be the one comforting her.

 

He knew how stupid that was, since he was the cause of it all.

 

When the two guards lifted Takako off the ground and bodily carted her away, Tomura had assumed that would be it.

 

He'd assumed Takako would never come back. He'd assumed that the institution would put him on lockdown.

 

He knew the room was mostly soundproof. Some less than compassionate guard had once told him to stop his shouting since no one would hear.

 

They must not have dragged Takako very far away, because he could still hear her, despite the walls and doors and locks between them.

 

For a moment, he'd thought it was just ringing in his ears, but then the screaming stuttered, like someone had pressed pause and play in rapid succession on her sudden hysteria.

 

The sound sunk into his bones.

 

He'd dream about it, the next time he passed out into a fitful rest. It would follow him around, the sound of her absolute terror.

 

As he came back down from the high, regaining bits and pieces of his conscious mind one at a time, dread crept into the back of his mind.

 

What have you done?

 

Truly, he didn't care about the state of his own body. The constant itch he usually felt was muted by the throb of the lines he'd gouged in his neck. If he regretted anything, it wasn't the blood on his fingers.

 

It was Takako he feared.

 

If she stopped coming to see him, he knew he'd only spiral faster in his downspin. He kind of hoped she'd just leave him to die. Truly, that was the twisted motivator behind his crazed self destruction.

 

He pushed her away without touching her. It was all he knew how to do.

 

And he hated himself for it.

 

He hated that he hated himself for it.

 

He should relish in getting what he wanted, in laughing in the heroes’ faces, proving that nothing they could try would work. He couldn't be turned.

 

Really, the only thing that could be worse than Takako never coming back to see him again would be if she kept coming back nonetheless. If she came back and yelled and screamed and accused him of hurting her, he could probably take that. It was what he deserved.

 

But if she came back and looked him in the eye after all he'd done and said, “Tenko, I forgive you,” he might just completely lose it.

 

When it went completely silent in the hall outside, Tomura glanced up at the door.

 

It stayed shut.

 

He waited.

 

It didn't move.

 

With a defeated sigh, he bent over, resting his forehead on the table. He folded his hands in his lap, the blood dried and crusting beneath his fingernails.

 

His throat ached from his sudden decision to use it. Beyond letting it fall into disuse, he also hadn't had much to drink in a while. His mouth was dry, tongue thick like it was coated in cotton.

 

Well, if there's anything he's used to, it's the feeling of dry skin.

 

His ears caught on a sound.

 

A click.

 

The door was opening.

 

He wondered if it was the guards come to truly punish him. Maybe one of those medical professionals would come to chew him out.

 

There's a thump nearby him. Something had been set down.

 

He heard objects being placed on the table, the sounds vibrating directly into his ear canals.

 

When everything stopped moving, someone sat down across from him. Whoever it was, they took a deep breath in and let it out slowly.

 

His mind whirled, desperately trying not to hope.

 

“You can hate me if you want to, Tenko. I get it.”

 

No.

 

No no no no no nononono-

 

“I understand things a different way than you do. That's normal.” Takako kept talking.

 

Tomura wasn't sure if it was better or worse that her voice was flat, tone empty of anything he could pull on to gauge the mood.

 

“I can't read your mind, though. If I upset you, you didn't tell me. I didn't know.” She mumbled this time. “I don't like being the reason that you're hurt. Next time, please tell me.”

 

He stiffened.

 

...next time?

 

Next time?

 

He raised his hands to the tabletop, arms straining to push himself up.

 

In front of him was… bandages? Gauze? And… soap?

 

Takako had her hands folded on top of the table. She didn't look up at him.

 

“You can be upset.” She offered, her eyes dark. “But you said you wanted me to come back. So I will.”

 

He wished he could dig his fingernails into the table. Maybe that would be satisfying. Maybe it would satisfy his sudden urge to just fucking choke Takako.

 

She wanted to come back? Because… because he said so? Despite her obvious fear, her disgust, how intensely she'd reacted to his blatant dismissal of her concern? How stupid was she? He'd made her cry- he'd made her scream, in the worst way, and she wanted to come back?

 

Stupid stupid stupid Takako.

 

He was gripped by his worst compulsion in a frenzy, and he raised his hands to dig into his neck without a second thought.

 

Tomura didn't understand.

 

None of this made sense.

 

“Tenko, no.

 

His hands stopped moving. He was frozen in place.

 

It wasn't by his own free will. He knew this particular tingling feeling was one of the guard's Quirks.

 

If they hadn't stopped him, would the tone of her voice have been enough?

 

His head was stuck where he'd lifted his chin to scratch at his neck, so he had to look down his nose to see her.

 

Takako took a deep breath in. Slowly, she took off her glasses and placed them on the table.

 

“I came back because I'm worried about you.” Takako announced, sifting through the medical supplies in front of her. “Now, usually, I'm very considerate of how you feel and what you are and are not comfortable with. There are two things standing in the way of that today.” She narrated calmly, washing her hands in- a bucket? Was that a bucket?

 

“You really upset me, Tenko. But more importantly than that,” she continued, finally looking up at him. “You hurt yourself. You need medical attention whether you like it or not.”

 

The look in her eyes resembled the look she'd get when she would stare down bullies all those years ago. It was a steely resolve, a determination that burned into him, through him, told him that she had come with a mission and by god she was going to accomplish it.

 

“This is what's going to happen, Tenko.” Takako began, standing from where she'd been seated. “The guards are going to release you. I'm going to take care of you whether you like it or not. If you don't trust yourself not to hurt me, tap out a no and I'll have the guards restrain you again.” She instructed, bending to pick up the bucket- buckets, plural, there were, like, three.

 

As promised, the guards released him. His hands fell back on top of the table, fingers twitching restlessly.

 

She waited, as promised for his signal.

 

He didn't give it. Not yet.

 

He's caught in her stare. There's no glare of prescription lenses to block how the light could catch every hue of brown, red, and green in her eyes. There's nothing between him and that stare, the one that's promised to keep coming back.

 

What did he ever do to deserve this?

 

“Tenko,” the call of his old name pulled him out of his thoughts. “If you're lying to me, to get me to come in close so you can hurt me,” she raised an eyebrow- and he balked for a moment, pushing back at the warmth that glowed in his chest, the feeling he'd connected with Takako's Quirk.

 

Tomura didn't want her in his head. Heart. Wherever his desires may lie.

 

If she was upset by the truth he'd presented to her today, the rest of his muddled, mixed up thoughts were sure to break her.

 

“I believe you've heard about my father. Kurogiri told me that that was one of the things you discussed about me.” Takako continued. There's something new in the tone of her voice. “Tenko, if you think you can scare me away- if you think you can threaten me,” her voice pulled up at the end in the first hint of emotion she'd expressed since she'd walked back inside.

 

She set the buckets down next to him and bent over so that she was eye level with him.

 

For a moment, his heart kicked in his chest, instincts telling him to back up. Takako wore the same mix of emptiness, despair, and rage that he had seen in nearly every villain’s eyes.

 

“Tenko, you're wrong.” She intoned.

 

For a moment, neither of them move.

 

Then, Takako sat down next to him. The moment shattered.

 

After she'd settled herself and the supplies, she spoke up once more. “Do you need to be restrained? Yes or no?”

 

Tomura mimicked her earlier actions, taking a slow, deep breath.

 

One of his bloodstained hands tapped out a yes.

 

Takako nodded, raising a hand. Tomura's body didn't seize up, but the faint tingling sensation over his skin told him the guard's Quirk had been activated.

 

Takako sat in place, unmoving for a moment, just staring down at her hands.

 

It was very very clear that something was wrong. Something about the way she stared off into nothingness, the way her brows furrowed over glazed over eyes, clued him in.

 

Takako was always emoting. Even after being apart for so long, he could still easily tell how she was feeling just by looking at her face. It was a blessing and a curse, because while it made her easy to read, easy to manipulate, it also meant that he always knew exactly what his actions were making her feel.

 

Right now, Takako was blank. Whatever reactions his actions were eliciting in her, she'd found a way to hide them from him. Either that, or she wasn't reacting at all.

 

“I'm going to start with your hands.”

 

The noise startled him even though he'd been intently studying her face and had definitely seen her mouth form the words. If he hadn't been paralyzed, he would have jumped.

 

Takako leaned over the table, reaching for him. Though her fingers were soft and gentle, the contact still made his skin crawl.

 

He couldn't help it, at this point. What had begun as a fear of potentially hurting someone had grown into an intense aversion to outside touch. If someone touched him, they could see him. They could see him and every disgusting part of himself. They could see everything he was trying to hide. If someone touched him, he was vulnerable.

 

It was truly a mystery to him how Takako had managed to get as close as she had before, out on that battlefield. He'd known then that it was a trick of some kind- maybe he'd just been more comfortable with something that wasn't real.

 

Takako dipped a washcloth in one of the buckets and wrung it out. The barrier of the fabric between his skin and hers made the scrubbing motion across his knuckles a little more bearable.

 

While she scrubbed his hands, she didn't speak.

 

It was yet another abnormality, something else to make him uneasy.

 

Every time the rag stopped absorbing, merely began moving the blood around, she dunked it in another bucket, rinsed it out, and continued her job.

 

She held each of his hands in both of hers, cleaning him off with the utmost care, never missing a single streak of blood. It was weird enough to be handled, much less handled with care, and he couldn't decide if he liked it or not.

 

Eventually, she sopped up all of the blood in her chosen area of concern. Even with the skin of his hands cleaned, blood remained on his fingers, caked under his nails.

 

Carefully- very carefully, he noticed- Takako slid her own fingernail under his, scraping the blood out from where it was trapped. At one point, she squinted and lifted his hand, pulling it close to her face to scrutinize the nail she was working on.

 

Tomura realized suddenly that her glasses still sat on the other end of the table. She probably couldn't see very clearly, if he correctly remembered how very nearsighted she was.

 

Had she taken her glasses off to avoid the sight of him? Was it disgust or despair that kept her from looking up at his face?

 

Her breath was warm when it washed over his knuckles, nearsighted eyes fixed on the task at hand.

 

It occurred to Tomura that the tingling in his hand was not the same as the tingling from the guard's Quirk.

 

And that… surprised him.

 

For a moment, his mind waged war over what he should be feeling.

 

A part of him demanded he lash out, push Takako away, struggle against the Quirk that was holding him down. He knew that with enough strain on his end he could break through the guard's paralysis. He'd done it before.

 

Isn't your skin crawling? Don't you want her to go away? To leave you alone?

 

The other part of him wanted to sink into her warmth, to sit back and enjoy her company (like he had been before today, but wouldn't admit to doing). He knew she didn't mean him any harm, knew that she was going to take care of him. She'd done it before.

 

Isn't your skin tingling? Don't you want her to come closer? To never leave your side?

 

“There.” Takako hummed, setting his hands back on the table.

 

Tomura stared at them.

 

Clean.

 

Like he'd never committed a single wrongdoing in his life.

 

She'd even rubbed off the flakes of dead skin in between his fingers, leaving him a little raw but mostly looking like new.

 

She raised her hand to signal the guard, and the tingling sensation of the paralysis Quirk left him completely.

 

“I wanted you to be able to respond again.” Takako informed him. He knew that the break was in large part for the guard, but he wasn't going to mention it. “Was that too much?”

 

Tomura glared at her. She'd already told him that she was going to touch him whether he had a problem with it or not. What did it matter if the contact was too much?

 

He tapped out a no anyways. He knew by now that she'd always wait for an answer if it pertained to his consent.

 

Takako looked down at the rag in her hands, her teeth pulling at her lip. “Was it a lot?”

 

That answer was easier. He rolled a yes into the table with one hand.

 

“It's probably going to be worse when I clean your neck.” She admitted. He knew this. “I'm going to assume you want to be restrained again.” Takako guessed, finally looking up.

 

Tomura could only sit still under her careful gaze.

 

His thoughts still warred.

 

One side was pulling ahead, beginning to shove the other down into submission, into silence.

 

His fingers twitched.

 

“Tenko?” She called, head tilting to one side while she waited.

 

What do you want from me? He tried to demand answers from her with only his eyes, but she was steadfast under his intense glare. She'd probably grown used to them, at this point.

 

Tomura knew, if only tentatively, what he wanted.

 

And for now, a tentative decision was better than none at all- especially with Takako waiting so patiently by his side.

 

Both of his hands rolled his fingers across the surface of the table.

 

Takako froze, surprised. “No?” She echoed, making sure she heard him right. He repeated the motion. She blinked, confused, another emotion he hadn't seen from her in a while. “You… you don't want to be restrained?”

 

He was getting tired of repeating himself. He rolled another no into the table, louder this time.

 

She picked up on his irritation, and the bewilderment on her face becomes as clear as day.

 

There's the Takako he knew.

 

“But, Tenko,” and there she goes again, arguing with him when all he could manage was yes or no. “Last time, when I reached for you, it was like a knee jerk reaction when you threw me on the table.” She remembered, glancing up at him with her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “Tenko, I know how hard it is to stop reacting to something when it's instinct like that.”

 

He couldn't help but sigh.

 

It's only fair that she's confused. She's right about last time being a knee jerk reaction, and he's only just made up his mind on this subject. Honestly, Tomura's still a little confused.

 

“You're sure?”

 

He tapped yes.

 

“You're not going to hurt me?”

 

That question lanced through him like a knife, but it's only fair that she would worry about that.

 

He didn't mean for his no to sound so hesitant, and she's clearly still on guard about his decision. After a moment of hard thought, something cleared in Takako's eyes.

 

“Let me take a guess.” She ventured, peering up at him. “You don't want to hurt me, but you don't know if instinct is going to make you move or not.”

 

Takako's getting good at this.

 

He rolled a yes without hesitation. She'd pinned his thoughts down better than he could.

 

“If you push me away, I'm going to have them restrain you.” Takako told him firmly, eyes fierce while they wrung out the washcloth once again.

 

In lieu of a response, he moved.

 

His joints popped as he did so, his body stiff and creaky. Luckily, it wasn't a drastic change. He mostly just repositioned his legs to mirror Takako's position, sitting cross legged in front of her, body turned to fully face her.

 

There was something new in Takako's gaze, something sparkling and curious and questioning that she aimed directly at him, waiting for an explanation.

 

This wasn't something he could answer with yes or no, so he pushed something at her that she could understand without his voice.

 

The first time he'd done this, she'd been pleasantly surprised. The last time he'd done this, she'd broken down right in front of him.

 

Now she just sat in front of him, still as a statue, staring at him with something like awe and disbelief in her expression.

 

He focused on what he wanted, on what his warring desires had settled on.

 

I want you to touch me.

 

I want to be okay with you touching me.

 

Beneath it was another desire, but this one was quieter. He hoped she didn't hear this part, but their knees were bumping against each other and he knew her Quirk was proximity based. He's more hesitant to want this.

 

I want to enjoy your touch.

 

He couldn't tell what parts of him she'd read and which parts she hadn't. It didn't matter much to him in the next couple moments, because he found himself very focused on her next movements.

 

Slowly, carefully, giving him plenty of time to change his mind, Takako leaned towards him.

 

It took everything in Tomura's power not to push her away. He didn't want her to go away. He wanted her to stay.

 

He flinched away from her regardless of his control over his screaming instincts, and her apology was hushed and hurried. The next time the rag touched his neck, he was ready. He only blinked, doing his best to dial his reactions down.

 

The rag was cold, and the soap she put on it stung a little when it came in contact with his open wounds, but he didn't mind it too much. Whenever the water dripped too far down his neck, she always caught it before it disappeared into his shirt, drying him off with a towel.

 

“Speaking of knee jerk reactions,” Takako spoke up- and it seemed she was back to her usual self, the emotion back in her voice, the conversation back in his ears. “I embarrassed myself today.”

 

Tomura tilted his head, simultaneously allowing her better access and conveying his interest.

 

Takako clearly thought over her next words, glancing up at him every so often while she dabbed at his neck.

 

Before she spoke, she leaned back, settling in place a fair distance away from him. “How touchy of a subject is Bakugou?” She ventured meekly, fiddling with the edges of the rag.

 

Briefly, rage rose within him, choking out the more docile thoughts he'd been centered around.

 

“I want to talk about him, but if it really upsets you, I will absolutely shut up.” She assured him quickly, dropping the washcloth in one of the buckets.

 

Tomura swallowed harshly. He took a deep breath.

 

There wasn't a table to tap on now, and tapping answers into his legs was going to be useless. He steeled himself, preparing for impact, and settled his hands on either of Takako's knees. When she jumped, he immediately retreated, regretting his decision and holding his hands to his chest.

 

“No,” Takako breathed- and there was something odd about the way she said it. Something wistful and regretful and desperate. Gently, she took one of his hands in both of hers and pulled it back towards her, pressing it to her knee again. “It's okay.” She assured him. “You just surprised me.”

 

She left his other hand hovering by his chest, leaving the decision up to him to redo what he'd attempted before. Wordlessly, (obviously, because he wasn't speaking) he let his remaining hand fall to her leg.

 

His hands were warm where they pressed into her skin. They tingled like an electric shock, and he could only manage to stare helplessly at her, waiting for her next move. He'd forgotten what he'd meant to accomplish by this.

 

“Bakugou,” she reminded him, quietly. She seemed as stricken as he was. “Allowed to discuss? Yes or no?”

 

Only one hand moved against her knee.

 

Takako visibly relaxed.

 

The cloth was a little warmer when she raised it to his skin this time, and he twitched when she swiped under his ear. “I embarrassed myself today.” She repeated, tracing a line across his jaw with the washcloth. He decided to ignore the way his stomach flipped in response. “I was walking back to the dorms with Bakugou and Midoriya- two names you hate, I know. Bear with me.” She digressed in response to the way he clenched his jaw. “And I was teasing Bakugou, because he's arrogant and tightly wound, and it's easy to get a reaction from him,” she described.

 

He hadn't noticed that her fingers were rubbing soothing lines over the straining tendons in his jaw until he relaxed.

 

“So Bakugou was reacting as Bakugou usually does, with threats on my life and whatnot,”

 

She paused when Tomura's fingers tightened on her knees.

 

“It's okay, Tenko,” she assured him, fingers skirting over the back of one of his hands. “He doesn't mean it. He's just very convincing sometimes, and I…”

 

She sighed, her breath washing over his cheek.

 

Maybe her proximity wasn't such a bad thing.

 

“It just digs a very specific reaction out of me.” Takako admitted, leaning away to rinse the washcloth. “It's embarrassing, the way I curl up like my friends are going to hurt me.” She whispered, frowning into one of the buckets. “Pitiful, really. Don't you think?” She laughed, but he could hear the strain behind it.

 

He rolled a no with both of his hands, one on either of her knees.

 

“Thanks, Tenko.” Takako murmured, lifting his hair off of the side of his neck. She apologized immediately after he winced away from a press on top of a particularly deep scratch, and made sure her next touch was much more gentle.

 

When she finished cleaning the streaks of blood off of his neck, she draped the rag over the edge of a bucket and pulled a bottle from the tabletop.

 

“This will probably sting.” She warned him. “Do you need restraints?”

 

Tomura rolled out a firm no, but she clearly wasn't convinced.

 

“How about this,” she offered, squeezing some of whatever was in that bottle onto her fingertips. “If you feel like you need them at any point, squeeze my leg.”

 

He tapped a yes into one of her knees to let her know he understood, and she smiled- one of the first real ones he'd seen all day.

 

It was then that she really got down to work, and he's suddenly grateful for his choice to embrace her touch. The salve stung in his cuts, yeah, but it's nothing compared to the feeling of her skin against his.

 

His hands... he didn't like people touching his hands.

 

His neck…? Well, no one had ever really touched his neck before.

 

(Imagine, his brain whispered, imagine if your skin wasn't torn open. How would it feel then?)

 

The thought gave him pause.

 

Did he… did he want Takako's touch beyond her obligatory medical help? That was what he asked for, right? To be okay with just simple, normal contact?

 

His earlier desires whispered in his own ear. I want to enjoy her touch.

 

Her palm rested against the side of his neck to hold him steady while she worked, the broad press of her skin seeping warmth into him. Despite this, he wasn't immune to the sting of the salve she was rubbing into him. The little zings of pain had him hissing between his teeth, and Takako apologized for every one of them.

 

“You know,” she piped up when she leaned away to get more from that bottle. “People keep thinking I'm trying to confess to them.”

 

Tomura tried not to stiffen at the comment.

 

Let's not get too ahead of ourselves here…

 

“I'd understand if my personality was more like Dabi’s, but I'm… I'm kind of sharp around the edges. I'm not always very nice, and sometimes my jokes go a little too far.” She listed. “Like, maybe if I was bubbly like Uraraka, or cool like Kendo,”

 

Tomura had heard enough.

 

He tapped no’s into her knees until she stopped talking, and when she leaned away to wipe her hands off, she's smiling again.

 

“You don't think so, Tenko?”

 

What- no, he didn't agree-

 

He tapped another no immediately, and she laughed.

 

“What,” and her tone had gone teasing, so he had to be careful of how he answered next, “You like me just the way I am?”

 

The question was so glaringly simple that he couldn't help but be suspicious of it. Of course he liked her the way she was. She didn't grate on his nerves, and she tried her best not to make him uncomfortable. She… For whatever reason, she cared about him enough to keep coming back even when he pushed her away. Violently.

 

Despite his hesitance, he still tapped a yes into one of her knees.

 

He almost missed the way her teasing smile softened into something warmer. Almost.

 

“Thanks.” She whispered in a simple response. “I'd return the sentiment, but I'd rather you not be cut up and bloodied, so for today I have to pass.”

 

That's fair, he mused.

 

“Alright, I'm going to wrap your neck.” She announced. “If you take the bandages off, I'm going to tell Dabi about how you used to peel the dead skin off your hands and eat it.”

 

Tomura's double handed tapping was so insistent and angry that he ended up just hitting her knees, glaring with all of his might.

 

“It's a real threat!” She insisted. “Don't take the bandages off! I'll tell Kurogiri too!”

 

He couldn't tell if his insistent no’s counted as begging or not, since he wouldn't speak, and he'd never beg.

 

Takako only laughed at the intensity of his dissent, catching his hands in hers to stop the assault on her knees. “Hold still,” she pleaded through her laughter, pressing his palms firmly against her legs.

 

Tomura stopped, but he would never admit that it was to focus in on the insistent tingling in his hands.

 

He noticed wryly that one of his fingers on each hand remained raised above her leg. Old habits die hard. Honestly, he couldn't rely on the gloves, so this was probably for the best. While he watched his hands, she started wrapping his neck.

 

If you asked him- which you wouldn't, because you value your life- Tomura would never admit to enjoying the press of her fingers into his neck, scratches or no scratches.

 

Soon he learned that he had much more to worry about than a couple fingers brushing against his neck.

 

When she first brushed his hair away from his face, he cowered away from her. Of all the things he didn't want to come to light, his face was the worst of them.

 

Takako began to ask him something, concern written all over her face, but he collected himself before she could formulate the thought. He pushed his chin out towards her, forcing himself to hold her gaze.

 

“Tenko, I know this is hard for you.” She hummed, absently rubbing his knuckles. “I'm not going to hurt you, if that's what you're worried about.

 

He tapped a no into her knees. That wasn't it.

 

He's just disgusting, that's what it was.

 

“Oh. Well,” she searched for what the other reason could be, biting her lip. “Are you embarrassed? Because of what your Quirk does to your skin?”

 

This was close, but not quite. The yes he rolled out was hesitant.

 

“Oh, okay.” Takako nodded once, understanding. “You can fix that though. You just have to take care of yourself.”

 

They've had this discussion before. She already knew his answer.

 

“And I don't mind it much.” She added thoughtfully- and he intensely disliked the way her eyes drifted over his face, despite the fact that she didn't look disgusted at all. “You're still you.”

 

He let her brush his hair aside again. He glared up at her, sulking.

 

“Wow, Tenko, pouting?” She teased, picking up the washcloth again. “Childish.” She reprimanded him, reaching for him.

 

This time he didn't flinch away. He's ready.

 

And truly, the little brushes of her fingers against his neck were the least of his concerns.

 

She used her whole hand to cradle his cheek while she cleaned his face, the other busy scrubbing and swiping and dabbing until the blood washed off. He's almost overwhelmed by the contact- even considered giving her the signal to restrain him- but she leaned away to clean the washcloth before it got too bad.

 

The next time she touched his cheek, she ran her thumb across it in a thoughtful motion, her eyes tracking the movement as if it surprised her. This time, he couldn't help but lean into it, the panic in his chest giving way to a warm contentedness that he'd much rather feel.

 

He watched Takako take a quick breath of surprise, her dark eyes set on him while he pressed into her touch. “Not bad?” She asked, making sure.

 

His yes was slow, but not in a hesitant way. It was slow because he felt like melting into her hands, his body clearly starved for touch, and everything felt like he was moving through molasses.

 

Of course, that didn't stop him from being generally difficult. When she cleaned the blood from the cuts around his eyes, he refused to close them.

 

“Tenko,” she sighed, exasperated after he'd flinched again. “Just close them.”

 

She sighed louder when he tapped no into her knees.

 

Nonetheless, she cleaned, taking the edges of his eyes very slowly, careful not to startle him.

 

And if his earlier vulnerability wasn't embarrassing enough, when her fingers slid into his hair, curling around the back of his head to steady him while she cleaned, his eyes fluttered shut against his own will.

 

“Oh?” Takako breathed, surprised.

 

He fought hard to open them and glare at her, but when she repeated the motion, her nails dragging lightly across his scalp, his eyes nearly rolled back in his head.

 

It was embarrassing, was what it was, but Takako seemed enamored with the reaction it pulled from him. The motion was repeated until his eyes stayed firmly shut, and she hummed happily while she finished her work around his eyes.

 

“You have pretty eyelashes.” She noted, her voice high and curious as if this surprised her. “And you need to wash your hair.” She added- and his eyes didn't have to be open to know that her nose had crinkled up. “Actually, when's the last time you showered?”

 

The no he tapped into her knees was pretty clear.

 

“Ugh, Tenko. Gross. No wonder you smell like sweat.” She huffed, and Tomura cracked an eye open to see her shaking her head.

 

He mourned the loss of her hand in his hair when she pulled away, but realistically, she couldn't have stayed there forever. The salve she used earlier stung a little worse on the sensitive skin of his face, but her hand against his cheek anchored him.

 

“I've been thinking about what you said, earlier,” Takako spoke up, and he immediately disliked the topic she'd chosen. “And I wanted you to know that you're partly right and you're partly wrong.” She informed him as she taped little gauze pads to the scrapes on his face.

 

Did you think you could fix me?

 

“I do want to fix you, but not all of you.” Takako's voice was weary, like this topic made her tired. “For one thing, all of your mental and emotional issues are too complicated for me to dig into. I'm just not smart enough. I think I'd just make it worse.”

 

He considered tapping a no into her legs, but he's focused on being offended that she'd accused him of having issues.

 

“And your whole thing about heroes and society, okay, whatever. If that's what you wanna change in the world, fine. I'm not going to try to fix your moodiness, or your silences, or your reactions to things. Tenko, I don't want to change what makes you you.” She listed, finishing her work on his face.

 

Takako didn't move away. She merely held his jaw, her thumb settling over his cheek again.

 

“I don't want you to hurt anymore.” She told him, something in her gaze pleading with him to understand. “I don't want you to hurt yourself, and I don't want you to hurt anybody else. Neither of those are easy matters to address, but that's what I want to fix.”

 

Tomura couldn't look at her.

 

Besides the fact that her intentions were much simpler than he'd assumed, making his earlier episode a gross overreaction, her words made guilt pool in his stomach.

 

He had no intention of changing. She must know that.

 

“I'm finished, now.” She announced, gathering up the medical supplies. He got the feeling that today they were running on Takako's schedule, not the guards. “Tenko,”

 

Her voice was hesitant, and it made his eyes snap back to hers.

 

“Do you want me to come back?”

 

It took him no time at all to roll a yes into her knee. Her smile was bright and immediate.

 

“Okay! I'll see you soon, then!” Takako promised, squeezing his hands.

 

It was only after she'd gathered the supplies up and left his cell that he realized how much he anticipated her return.

Chapter Text

Takako had made a mistake.

 

She'd made a mistake- a big mistake.

 

She'd held Tomura's face in her hands, watched those long, blue lashes flutter closed, and felt the heat in his cheeks under her palms when she'd called him pretty.

 

Okay, she'd called his eyelashes pretty.

 

But she'd meant it.

 

She always meant it, when it came to Tomura, and for some reason, her earnest honesty seemed to pay off with him. The payoff usually came in the form of a docile, she daresay friendly, villain that she could talk to.

 

It had never resulted in said docile villain melting like putty in her very hands.

 

What a day. Her emotions were reeling from the whiplash of snapping from horror and hysteria to whatever this feeling was, with only a moment of total emotional shutdown to serve as a break in between the two.

 

All because Tomura had decided- out of nowhere- that he wanted to be okay with physical contact.

 

He wanted to be okay with it. That didn't make him okay with it.

 

But he'd asked in a way she understood best, his cheeks tinting the faintest pink while he pushed his desires towards her Quirk.

 

She'd be lying if she said her face hadn't heated up too. But his eyes were closed when it happened, so he'd never know.

 

And it would stay that way until she could get a better grip on herself, figure out what the actual heck she was feeling.

 

---

 

The next day at school was... eventful. It was full of training and sparring, their teachers pushing them until kids started dropping like flies.

 

Nowadays, especially after all they'd been through, Class A and Class B trained together.

 

Monoma always complained about it, but Takako knew he was secretly glad to level the playing field even the slightest bit.

 

Today she'd been teamed up with Kendo first, working on Takako's defense and Kendo’s offense. The big handed girl threw a powerful punch, but she was still working on upsizing and downsizing in quick succession to adjust to an enemy's proximity. Takako, as always, was just trying not to get hit.

 

When she didn't duck fast enough, Kendo caught her on the side of the head, knocking her glasses clean off of her face. Unaffected, Takako dashed forwards, trying to achieve the goal of this practice, which was land a touch on Kendo’s body that wasn't her fist.

 

She wasn't totally blind without her glasses. Everything was just intensely blurry, little details were pretty much drowned within the bigger picture. Without her glasses, Takako operated mostly off of contrast in color, shadow and light, and shape.

 

In her hero suit, it wouldn't be a problem, because even if her electronic visor broke, she had digitized contacts (courtesy of Hatsume Mei).

 

But she wasn't in her hero suit.

 

With Kendo, Takako's limited vision wasn't a big deal. Her biggest concern was the giant hand, which didn't require any little detail analyses.

 

So she pushed on, and eventually finished the match with a hand on Kendo's shoulder.

 

Next, after she retrieved her glasses, the teachers paired Takako with Shinsou.

 

“Hey!” Takako cried as her opponent approached, waving excitedly. Shinsou’s smile was lazy, but she knew he was glad to see her.

 

“Giving in already, Hiyashi?” He teased, elbowing her in the side. “This match won't take long at all.”

 

“I'm excited to see how much you've improved! You were really impressive at the sports festival this year.” Takako remembered, running to him to shake his hand before the match began.

 

Shinsou rolled his eyes, but he didn't stop smiling. His Quirk allowed him to take control of people's minds only after they'd spoken to him, so Takako's insistence to carry a conversation with him always amused the purple haired boy.

 

“You'll have to watch him out of the corner of your eye,”

 

Takako turned to look over her shoulder, hand still in Shinsou’s, and came to see Aizawa standing nearby.

 

“Because you two are training with me. Welcome to intensive close combat training.” The professor droned, spreading his hands like he'd gifted them something.

 

“Um,” was all she could manage in her confusion.

 

“Both of you have useful Quirks for incapacitating a villain, but without your hero costumes, you're both defenseless.” Aizawa reminded them.

 

“You don't have to rub it in,” Shinsou muttered under his breath, eyeing the clash of ice and acid on another sparring field.

 

Takako knew the feeling.

 

“That's why you'll be sparring with me as a team until the next rotation.” Aizawa continued as if Shinsou hadn't interrupted him, glaring at the boy.

 

Takako blinked in surprise, but Shinsou didn't bat an eye.

 

“Alright. Where do we start?” Shinsou asked while Aizawa raised his goggles to fit over his eyes.

 

“How come you get to use your hero costume?” Takako huffed, walking to where Aizawa pointed her to go stand. “Aren't you just as defenseless if you start running into the upper limits of your Quirk?”

 

Aizawa didn't react to that, merely settled back into a comfortable stance. “Try me.”

 

Shinsou didn't hesitate, running towards Aizawa without a second thought. Takako began running too, but she slowed when Shinsou threw his first punch.

 

Aizawa dodged the punch as if a child had thrown it, his body barely tensing as he immediately landed a hit on Shinsou in return.

 

Shinsou coughed in surprise, rubbing his side. “Did you get faster, or were you just holding back before?” He demanded, jumping back into the melee.

 

Aizawa dodged and returned another punch with ease. “Holding back.” He grunted, moving the farthest from his original spot yet when Shinsou tried to kick him.

 

Shinsou looked plenty offended, especially when Aizawa’s hair lifted off his shoulders and muted the student’s Quirk, refusing to let him take control of his mind.

 

Takako took note of the way Aizawa didn't put a lot of weight on his left leg if he could avoid it. Shinsou seemed to know Aizawa much better than she did, so she paid close attention to the decisions he made as well.

 

“These fights are a participation grade,” Aizawa threatened, and Takako barely had time to hop out of the way of one of the (deceptively soft looking) scarves that aimed at her chest.

 

“Center mass,” Takako noted aloud, ducking when the scarf whistled back over her head, a move that was meant to hit her as the scarf returned to its owner. “You know I only weigh like a hundred pounds, right?”

 

“That's not going to stop a villain.” Aizawa returned- cold, no mercy, she winced- and sent two more in her direction.

 

“Yeah, but I was hoping the sympathy card would make you pull a couple punches.” Takako admitted, spinning on her heel when she didn't move far enough out of the way and got hit hard in the shoulder. “Damn,” she complained, rubbing her arm. “Didn't you say those were laced with some kinda metal? I'm fragile!

 

Shinsou had the nerve to laugh, and Aizawa shook his head.

 

“I'm not going to go easy on you, Hiyashi.” He droned- and she slid on her knees to avoid the closing circle of a binding loop of metal scarves.

 

“But you would for Shinsou?” Takako complained, hopping over a low sweep. “I know he's your favorite, Professor Aizawa,” she drawled, grinning when Shinsou blushed before Aizawa could respond. “But you don't have to make it so obvious.”

 

Takako found herself in a circle of scarves once again, and she knew immediately that she wouldn't have time to escape.

 

Well, she wouldn't if she couldn't willingly manipulate time.

 

“I don't play favorites.” Aizawa answered after she reversed the tightening knot of his scarves, slipping away just in time.

 

His response seemed normal enough, but both students were trained in vocal cues. Neither of them missed how the denial came quicker than was absolutely necessary.

 

Takako couldn't help the shout of victory that ripped from her when she avoided a sneaky shot meant to hit her in the back, nor could she stop the yelp of pain that left her when one of the scarves caught her across the cheek.

 

“Mean,” Takako muttered, frowning, and joined Shinsou in a double attempt to try and land a hit on Professor Aizawa.

 

The exercise ended with Takako on the ground, wrapped in a scarf, Shinsou lying somewhere nearby, groaning and holding his stomach. Despite Aizawa’s obvious weakness in one leg, even despite the fact that Shinsou kept the professor busy enough to allow Takako to save their asses quite a few times with a couple seconds of added response time, they still lost to the pro-hero.

 

“This wouldn't be so bad if these weren't metal,” Takako noted, her voice a little dreamy with exhaustion. “They're kinda cold, actually,” she huffed, flexing her fingers where they were trapped at her sides.

 

Aizawa stood them both up, scarves returning to wrap around his neck and shoulders once they were back on their feet.

 

“Oh, Hiyashi,” Shinsou hissed, reaching to brush his knuckles across her cheek. “That looks nasty.”

 

Takako touched her cheek too, wincing when her skin smarted and ached. It was probably from that nasty hit from Aizawa that had sent her head snapping to one side, her body nearly following with it.

 

“Ah, your leg,” Takako noted the large rip in the knee of his gym uniform, the skin underneath raw and purpling.

 

“I'm fine, promise,” Shinsou assured her, scratching his head. He took a step forwards, to show her exactly how fine he was, and his knee immediately buckled underneath him.

 

“Oh boy,” Takako yelped, rushing to catch him and staggering under his weight. “Man, you definitely don't weigh a hundred pounds.” She teased, maneuvering his arm around her shoulder so she could help him stand.

 

It was a little difficult, due to how short Takako was, but they made do.

 

“Recovery Girl set up a tent over there,” Aizawa pointed, and the students followed his finger’s directions. “Both of you go get patched up.”

 

“I'll be sure to let her know that Eraser Head is beating up his students in the name of ‘practice'.” Takako called over her shoulder- and a scarf whacked her on the back of her head in retribution.

 

“I probably deserved that,” Takako admitted, smiling sheepishly. Shinsou shook his head, his laughter vibrating through him and into her via the arm that connected them.

 

When exercises ended that day, Takako tried to grab Midoriya's attention, tried to fulfill her promise to Bakugou.

 

Unfortunately, Midoriya was a pretty popular guy, and Takako… didn't stick out in a crowd, to say the least.

 

After this, they'd go back to separate classes, where she'd have to wait until school ended to try again.

 

This might be harder than she'd originally thought it was going to be.

 

---

 

“Aw, princess, did you get into a fight?”

 

Takako paused, midway into setting her bag down, and reached up to brush her fingers over her cheek.

 

Recovery Girl had fixed Shinsou's leg and a nasty cut on Takako's arm, but they'd both been exhausted from training with Aizawa, and the recovery hero hadn't wanted to drain their stamina too much when their training exercises weren't over. She let Takako decide whether or not she wanted to heal the scrape that was bruising on her cheek, and Takako had declined.

 

“Yeah, actually.” She replied slowly, blinking up at Dabi. With her bag settled on the ground, she plopped into the chair across the table from where the burner sat.

 

“Did you win?” Dabi prodded, his face alight in an easy grin.

 

“No.” Takako returned, smiling sheepishly.

 

“And all you've got is a little scrape?” Dabi pressed, demanding more details.

 

“That you can see,” Takako muttered, rubbing her side.

 

“You know I wouldn't mind-”

 

Dabi,” Takako groaned, and the burner laughed, settling back in his chair.

 

“Are you a troublemaker, little hero?” Dabi asked next, head cocked to the side.

 

“Not really.” Takako admitted. “But I haven't had much of a reason to break the rules yet.”

 

Dabi's eyebrows raised at this, interested.

 

“And you?” Takako returned. “Do you chase trouble, or does it find you?”

 

“Whatever's faster,” the villain admitted easily, grin still wide.

 

“Did Tomura find you? Or did you find him?” Takako eased into her next question, hoping to slip past his defenses.

 

“You're on a first name basis with him, I've noticed,” Dabi ignored her question, as she'd expected from him. “But that's not what you called him a couple months ago.”

 

His grin turned predatory, something flashing in those blue eyes.

 

Takako assumed the villain thought he had something to hold over her, which made him confident enough to smirk at her.

 

Truly, Dabi didn't know much at all.

 

“Yeah. Apparently, he changed his name.” Takako dismissed the attempt. “You ignored my question.” She reminded him.

 

“Maybe I don't want to answer it.”

 

Takako tried not to roll her eyes. Dabi reminded her of some of her classmates sometimes, with how purposefully immature he acted.

 

“I really doubt that Tomura sought you out.” Takako hummed. “But I could be wrong. Maybe he dug the motivation out of some surplus storage for the sake of villainy.”

 

Dabi laughed at that, amused. “Did you just say villainy?” He demanded.

 

“For villains and their villainous deeds,” Takako confirmed, nodding sagely, feeding Dabi's laughter.

 

“It's hard to miss dusty hands man when you're much more amusing than he is.” Dabi sighed, peering at her out of the corner of his eye. “Much cuter too.”

 

“I'll let him know,” Takako promised, and Dabi merely smiled. “You know, I could just ask him how you met. He'd probably tell me.”

 

“He'd tell you, huh?” Dabi mused, looking off at something else for a moment. “You… you're not just some girl, are you…?” He began to ask, the gears whirring away behind those bright blue eyes. “Shigaraki didn't like me hurting you. It's usually not something he complains about, especially for the sake of villainy,” Dabi purposefully used her word, momentarily focusing in on her before drifting out again. “And he singled you out all those months beforehand too… Does he call you by your first name too?”

 

Takako only smiled in response, not giving anything away.

 

“Do you and Shigaraki… know each other?” Dabi accused, squinting at her.

 

“Took you long enough,” Takako giggled, shaking her head. Dabi's eyes widened, and he demanded more information, wiggling impatiently in his seat. “I knew him a long time ago, before any of this happened. We were friends.”

 

Something clouded Dabi's bright gaze. “You remember him as something else. You want him back.”

 

Takako shrugged. “That's a little too optimistic, I'd say.” She admitted, her smile slipping. “He's not who he was, sure, but neither am I. People grow. People change.” Takako explained. “The person he's grown into, I don't mind it much at all.”

 

Her voice had fallen too soft for that to be the end of her explanation, and Dabi was acutely aware of this.

 

“But…?” He prodded, interested.

 

Takako sighed. “But, I really wouldn't mind if he would stop hurting people. Even if he started with himself.”

 

It was clear that Dabi didn't really know how to take this, so Takako moved on before he could press into something she couldn't answer.

 

“Anyways, I've been thinking a lot about my last visit,” Takako started up, and she quickly ducked around Dabi's self-satisfied grin by cutting right to the chase. “Those burns are in really odd places. Whatever happened, it was on purpose, wasn't it?”

 

Dabi's grin dropped in an instant. “I never said they were burns.”

 

“You didn't.” Takako agreed. “Though you did kind of insinuate in that direction last time. Especially towards the fact that someone hurt you like this.”

 

Dabi sneered, tilting his chin to look down at her. “That's right,” he remembered, “You thought you had me all figured out.”

 

“I never said that!” Takako argued- and the distress she purposefully put in her voice had him smirking like he'd gained the upper hand once again. “I only said that I understood your situation. Not you.” She insisted.

 

If Dabi could cross his arms over his chest, she figured he would be right about now. He only glowered at her instead of responding.

 

“Trauma affects people in a bunch of different ways. One of my friends, her mom left their family out of nowhere, left a note and packed her bags. It hit her especially hard, since she had her mother's Quirk, and now, she's terrified of rejection and being left behind.” Takako explained, drawing small circles on the tabletop. “There's a kid in one of the upper level classes whose dad is a real jerk. But since the public sees him as this really great guy, his kid squashed everything he felt about him and buried it inside.” She described- and she noticed the way Dabi leaned into that scenario. “He's got a lot of cold rage.”

 

Dabi looked unusually soft. Clearly, she'd caught him off guard, because she'd never seen him with his defenses down like this.

 

“Yeah.” The burner breathed. “I know what that's like.”

 

Takako hooked into the confession immediately, and Dabi could tell by the look in her eyes that he'd made a mistake.

 

“Forget about it. I don't want to talk about it. It's over now.” He scrambled to cover his slip, looking away with a huff.

 

“That's okay,” Takako assured him. “I get it.”

 

Dabi's eyebrow twitched, and she wondered if she'd said something wrong.

 

“You keep saying that.” He noted- and there's something dangerous in his tone. “But I don't think a hero ever will.”

 

Takako opened her mouth to respond, but thought better and closed it again. She looked down at the table, eyebrows furrowed. Dabi called to her a couple times, trying to rile her up, but she tuned him out.

 

Nothing in Dabi's desires was giving any hint as to what had happened to him. The only thing she thought was related to the subject was the burning desire for revenge, but she can't read who it's aimed at, and she won't be able to unless she gets much closer.

 

She settled on something else instead. Something a little difficult, but something with the potential to get his guard down again.

 

“You get all upset when you think I've figured you out,” she noticed, tilting her head. “And then go assuming that you've got me pinned just because I want to be a hero.”

 

Dabi looked like he wanted to argue, but she's right and he knew it.

 

“Dabi, I know that just because the public calls you a hero, it doesn't mean you're always one. I don't think that's fair.” She told him- and her own conviction made her fist clench on top of the table. “So I'm going to be a hero on the field and off. No one should see a hero and have to think of what happened to them behind closed doors.” Takako insisted, gaze fixed steadily on Dabi.

 

The burner raised an eyebrow- and she couldn't tell if he was feigning the laziness of the movement or not. “Oh, princess,” he drawled in his usual tone, but he was missing his usual smile. “Who hurt you?”

 

Takako felt her own lips twitch, threatening to pull into a less calm expression. She shoved it down.

 

“A hero.” She returned, voice as even as she could make it. Not much changed in Dabi's expression besides the slight raise of his eyebrows, but that's enough to tell Takako that she'd caught his interest.

 

“Hiyashi, time.” One of the guards spoke up.

 

Takako took a deep breath, collecting herself. She grabbed her bag from the floor and slung it over her shoulders when she stood.

 

“We keep getting interrupted.” She noted, stretching her back. “Next time let's start with you! We still barely know each other!”

 

Dabi shook his head, smiling to himself.

 

“Do you want me to come back?” Takako affirmed, making sure she wasn't assuming.

 

“Sure, princess.” Dabi drawled, leaning back in his seat. “Any time.”

Chapter Text

When she arrived at the location where Tomura was being held, the guards that usually escorted her to the cell met her at the door.

 

“Dr. Kido wanted you to know,” one of them spoke up after they'd checked her bag and her personage for suspicious items. “Shigaraki has been eating since the last time you visited.”

 

Takako stared up at them wide eyed, the beginnings of a smile pulling at her lips.

 

“We offered him a shower, but he didn't take it. He still won't respond to us.” The other guard informed her before they let her in.

 

Well, not everything can be fixed at once, she mused, lost in thought while she wandered in.

 

A strangled noise of surprise snapped her out of it, and she fell back into the present moment in a snap.

 

She should've known that if Dabi reacted to the bruise on her face, then Tomura definitely would.

 

For the first time yet, when she entered the room, Tomura's eyes were already on her, awaiting her appearance. She watched him take in the mess on her cheek and scrambled to placate him before the rage in his eyes grew any more intense.

 

“It's fine! It's fine,” she promised him quickly, settling in front of the table. “It's just from training. I didn't move out of the way fast enough.”

 

Tomura set his teeth on edge, but the fire in his eyes dimmed a little.

 

“How are you doing?” She changed the subject immediately, taking in the (still present!) bandages around his neck. “Does it hurt?”

 

One of his hands rolled out a yes.

 

“Well, I'm not surprised,” she huffed, frowning. “You really did a number on yourself. You scared me.”

 

Tomura looked away, unable to keep her steady gaze.

 

She wondered if that meant he felt even a little bit guilty about the incident.

 

“Well, if the tape on the bandage hadn't fallen off in last period, we would've matched.” Takako laughed, rubbing her cheek. One of Tomura’s hands lifted to mirror her, pressing his fingertips to a bandage on his cheek as well. “Are those holding up? Do you need new ones?” She asked next, trying to take inventory despite the cover of shadows and hair.

 

Tomura put his hand back on the table, but neither of them moved to answer. He shrugged instead.

 

“I guess we can leave them for now.” Takako relented. “They're not going to come off for a couple days, unless you shower.” She noted thoughtfully, squinting at him.

 

The room was silent- and for once, Takako didn't know what to say. Tomura wasn't ignoring her, nor did he look upset. He was just quiet.

 

Just as she had settled on a topic to pursue, Tomura raised his hand, slowly reaching up to card his fingers through his hair. When he reached the ends of the wavy strands, he brought his hand back in front of his face. For a moment, he just stared at his own fingertips like there was some kind of message written out in his skin.

 

“Tenko?” Takako spoke up, a question in her voice.

 

Tomura looked up, touched his hair again, and blinked slowly at her, like an owl, or a cat that had just woken up.

 

Clean.

 

Takako jumped, surprised by the sudden blip on her Quirk’s radar. Usually around Tomura, it was silent. He'd completely locked himself away. Even getting closer wouldn't merit much more than some muddled feelings.

 

Only occasionally would she pick up desires from him, and she was beginning to get the feeling that it was only because he wanted her to hear them.

 

I want to be clean.

 

“Tenko, are you-” Takako began, eyebrows furrowed low over her eyes. “Do you want to wash your hair?” She ventured a guess, trying to piece together the clues he'd given her in silence.

 

Yes. Tapped into the table with no hesitation.

 

“Oh! Okay.” She easily agreed. He didn't have to convince her to let him take care of himself.

 

Takako stood, catching the guards’ attention as she turned around, and began to discuss with them how they might go about accomplishing Tomura’s request.

 

With a little questioning of Tomura’s preferences, they decided on using a small tub and something that would attach to the sink. Because the guards had to leave the room to retrieve the items, for safety reasons, Takako was forced to leave with them.

 

“I'll be right back!” She assured him with a smile, waving once before the door closed behind her.

 

They only walked down the hall in silence for a few moments before one of the guards broke, laughing behind their hand.

 

“I forget that Shigaraki’s young unless you're around.” They admitted after collecting themselves. “When you walk in the room, it's like his personality suddenly exists, where before there was nothing.”

 

“Dr. Kido says it's probably because I'm not much of a threat.” Takako recited, nodding while she walked.

 

Dr. Kido was the only one out of all the professionals that knew her exact relationship with Tomura. The guards had probably picked up on the context clues of their conversations and guessed that Takako wasn't some random UA student chosen for the job, but Takako never mentioned it in outside conversations.

 

“Oh, I dunno, kiddo,” the other mused, a playful smile on their face as well. “You were pretty scary when you were cleaning him up that one day.”

 

Takako blushed, surprised. She hadn't meant to be threatening- but then again, hadn't she?

 

“I think it's funny that we ask him a question and he acts like we're not there, but you ask him the same question and suddenly we're trekking across the building for soap. ” The first guard agreed, sliding open the door to the supply room.

 

“You don't really think that he only talks to you because you're less of a threat, right?” The other one asked, hauling a tub off of one of the shelves. Takako sputtered, caught off guard, but the guard was suddenly busy struggling with the main thing they'd come to get.

 

“You think it's something else?” Takako demanded. After the guard had removed everything hidden inside the bucket, they hoisted it onto their hip.

 

“Sure. I see it all the time with my kids.” The first guard agreed with the second, picking up a bottle of soap in one hand and the faucet device in the other. “Especially with the younger one. She's a happy girl, tends to make friends with the quieter ones. Some of them will resist it at first, because they're not used to someone that talks as much as my youngest does, but as soon as they start opening up…” They trailed off thoughtfully, smiling to themselves.

 

“What?” Takako demanded, instantly impatient.

 

“Well, it's not hard to tell what's going on, what with how they'll cling to her, smiling like she's given them the greatest gift in the world.” The guard confessed, turning that warm smile on her in full force. “They're always so head over heels for her, but my youngest doesn't have a clue.”

 

“That's kinda sad.” The other guard noted as they began to trek back to Tomura's cell. The first guard just shrugged, unmoved.

 

Takako tottered behind them, orbiting around that particular string of words.

 

Head over heels…

 

Tomura… could he even feel that way? Would he even feel that way? For Takako?

 

Did she want Tomura to feel that way?

 

(She resolved to herself to really sit down and sort through her feelings soon, because she couldn't ignore this for much longer.)

 

Despite how quickly her mind had fixated around the guard's words, she couldn't help but notice how quickly her worries left her as soon as she felt Tomura's gaze fall on her once again.

 

(Probably not the reaction you should have to walking into a room with a villain inside of it. Maybe the opposite, in fact.)

 

“They didn't have a lot of different kinds of soap, obviously, because this isn't a grocery store,” Takako muttered, mostly to herself, while she took the materials from the guards. “But I figured you didn't want soap that smells like bubblegum.”

 

Tomura's frown was obvious and immediate in response, and Takako laughed, glad her joke had gotten through.

 

The guards showed her how to hook up the showerhead to the sink, and Takako let the water run until it was warm, then let the warm water fill up the tub to a little bit over half full.

 

“It's probably best if you come over here,” Takako noted, realizing that the attachment to the sink only stretched so far. There was also a drain nearby, so any mishaps could just be washed away. “You can sit and wash over the tub.” She invited, turning to face him from where she hunched over the bucket on the floor.

 

Tomura didn't move.

 

Takako turned the water off, walking over to him with caution in her steps.

 

“Did you change your mind?”

 

Two hands rolled into the table. No.

 

“Then let's go over there,” she pointed behind him. “The thing can't reach this far.”

 

Tomura twisted to face her, but he didn't make any moves to stand.

 

For a moment she's distracted by her own handiwork. She looked over the bandages she'd laid and wondered how he was holding up underneath them. He shrank under her calculating stare, hiding under his hair again.

 

Something occurred to her in that moment, and she suddenly felt stupid.

 

“Tenko, can you even stand?”

 

There's a quick shrug of indifference, like he'd been anticipating the question.

 

“Can you move?”

 

Tomura pushed back, plopping from his usual kneeling position to sit completely on the floor.

 

“I'm going to take that as a very limited yes.”

 

Tomura glared at her, but her point was only further proven when he had to physically reposition his legs with the help of his own arms.

 

Takako raised her hand, waving to the guards and asking them to help, but Tomura almost immediately started knocking both hands into the table on loop. The guards had listened to the two of them for long enough to know what that meant, and they paused, not wanting to upset the unpredictable prisoner.

 

“Tenko, you've only got two options here. Let them help you, or don't shower.” Takako reminded him- trying to soften her tone as much as possible. She was acutely aware of how intensely he rejected physical contact, so she knew this was a difficult decision for him to make. This hunch of hers was hammered in by the glare he shot her, his fists clenching by his sides.

 

After a beat, she realized the glare was much more pointed than she'd originally assumed. He's exasperated with her.

 

“Tenko, I can't carry you.” Takako winced at how quickly she had to shut him down, but it's true. Her Quirk had nothing to do with strength, so she'd only just begun building muscle mass. It also didn't help that she barely stood over five feet tall.

 

Tomura tossed his head, his impatient sigh as obvious as the petulant crossing of his arms.

 

Takako glanced over to the guards, specifically to the one who'd been telling her about their kids earlier. That guard was smiling a knowing smile, eyes crinkled in amusement.

 

For a moment, she nearly blushed, the guard's earlier comparison to children becoming quite clear in this situation. The inclination left her as soon as she realized that Tomura was probably intensely frustrated, caught between two options that didn't pan out and water that was steadily losing its temperature.

 

“I… I could try and help you up,” Takako relented, kneeling next to him. “But I'm going to have to touch you. Is that okay?”

 

The yes Tomura reached to roll into the table was accompanied by another spark on her radar, a desire she'd only heard once before.

 

I want to be okay with your touch.

 

It's big for him to admit this, probably even bigger to even want it in the first place. It's not something she can just ignore.

 

But wants and desires didn't always translate into action. She knew that very well.

 

“If I can't do it,” Takako added, her voice low. “Is it okay if the guards help me?”

 

Both of his hands reached out to make contact with the table, but he hesitated before he made a decision, glancing between her and the guards.

 

His final answer was a very weary yes, accompanied by a sigh.

 

“Here,” Takako offered to take his arm, unable to keep the smile off of her face. “Put this around my shoulders. I'll do what I can.”

 

It took him what seemed like a century to fully settle his arm around her, hesitance obvious in every move he made. She was surprised to hear how fast he was breathing, and she honestly didn't know if it was from the proximity or the effort it took to raise his arm.

 

With the physical contact pushing them side to side, it was much easier to get a read on him even with how jealously he guarded his emotions from her.

 

Which was why when she looked over to him to check if he was alright, and Tomura immediately ducked his head, hiding from her behind curtains of hair, his desires came flashing through loud and clear.

 

He didn't want her to see him. He didn't want anyone to see him.

 

(He didn't want the looks of disbelief, the teasing, the disgust-)

 

Takako threw a towel over his head before they tried to stand, hiding him beneath yet another layer and effectively silencing the onslaught of emotion.

 

“Ready?” She warned, reaching around him to lay her palm into his side, announcing her presence before she took hold of him. Tomura jumped nonetheless, but he settled down and quickly tapped his fingers into the back of her hand in an affirmative.

 

Her first attempt brought to light exactly how weakened Tomura was at this point in time. After refusing to eat for so long, he barely had the strength to keep himself balanced, much less support his weight.

 

They collapsed in a huff, landing right back where they'd started.

 

Takako didn't say anything, just readjusted his arm around her and repositioned her feet underneath her.

 

Her second attempt was successful, but this try reminded her, for the second time that day, of how short she was. Tomura stood almost an entire head taller than her, and consequently had to hunch quite a bit to lean on her shoulders.

 

“You,” Takako ground out, struggling beneath nearly his full weight, “are deceptively skinny.” She noted. “ Where are you packing away this density?”

 

Even with a towel draped over his head, Tomura still managed to look menacing when he glared down at her.

 

“What?” She demanded. “Unless I'm way more drained from training than I thought, it shouldn't be this hard to carry you.”

 

In retaliation to her jab, Tomura shuffled a foot forwards to take a tentative step. Takako braced herself, ready for him to collapse, but his leg held his weight with minimal shaking.

 

Then he took another step. Then another, and soon after that, another.

 

Takako moved with him, trying not to grip too tightly on his side while they shuffled towards the sink.

 

“Imagine if I could carry you,” Takako spoke up, tone somewhere between thoughtful and teasing. “Would you ride on my back? Or would you let me carry you like a princess?”

 

The snort that escaped Tomura was derisive, and it took her a moment to realize that he had laughed.

 

“You’d prefer princess style?” She retaliated immediately, head whipping to look towards him despite her efforts not to so far. “I'd have to get really strong for that, to carry you with just the strength of my arms on their own.”

 

She watched his teeth dig into his lip, the corners of his mouth pulled tight in an attempt not to smile. He had every right to be amused- the image of tiny Takako with huge biceps was a strange one.

 

“Imagine me, ripped, benching something like 220,” she listed- and his shoulders were shaking from silent laughter now, not strain. “Heroes and villains come from afar to know my secret, to learn how I doubled my body weight in only muscle,”

 

Tomura weakly hit her in the side, breaths stuttering in and out of him. She relented with a laugh of her own that was much louder and fuller than Tomura's breathy rhythm, shaking her head at her own absurdity.

 

When they finally reached the sink, Takako gratefully relinquished the weight on her shoulders, setting Tomura down and collapsing next to him on the tile.

 

“The soap is over there,” Takako gestured vaguely to the other side of the bucket. “You might need to wash twice.”

 

Tomura was breathing just as hard as her, looking twice as exhausted. Before he reached for the soap, he made sure to kick her in retaliation for the jab at his hygiene.

 

One of the guards called out an obligatory warning, reminding Tomura of his limits, but the other guard just laughed. They'd moved across the room with Takako and Tomura, ready to catch them if they fell or otherwise needed to intervene.

 

Takako pointed out the cup nearby as well before she closed her eyes, letting Tomura get down to work on his own.

 

She had actually drifted off where she'd propped herself against the wall, but a loud splash and an angry noise from Tomura startled her out of it. For a moment, she was disoriented, her brain registering the noises as something much more sinister than Tenko, but her vision cleared soon after and allowed her to settle down.

 

Taking in the scene in front of her, she tried not to laugh. Tomura was clearly frustrated, which, combined with his exhausted and shaking arms, was not helping him complete the task at hand. The splash, she assumed, was from the soap bottle he was fishing out of the tub, and his hair was clearly only wet in patches, dry in some places and wet in others.

 

“Tenko- Tenko, hold on,” Takako waved her arm as frantically as she could in her exhaustion.

 

Tomura glared at her from under his hair, resting his arms on the sides of the tub.

 

“If you're that tired, it's okay, you don't have to,”

 

The answer to that was very clearly a denial, because he ground his teeth together and turned away, struggling with the bottle once more.

 

“Tenko, please,” she sighed, exasperated, reaching for the bottle. “Just let me-”

 

He whipped around in an instant, eyes shot wide, red swimming in stark white. She realized her mistake before he even reached out to stop her, and the bottle fell back into the tub with another splash when he caught her by the wrist.

 

“Shigaraki,” came a low warning from the guards behind them, and Tomura dropped her hand as if it had burned him.

 

He pulled the towel low over his face, hiding behind it. She didn't have to feel the traces of I wish I hadn't done that to know he was immediately buried in regret.

 

Takako didn't let him sit in silence for long. She had limited time in here, and there was a job to be completed.

 

“Do you want me to do it?” She offered, settling back on her haunches while she waited for his answer.

 

The offer must have surprised him, because he pulled too hard at one edge of the towel on his head and yanked it off. She was struck by how young he looked when he turned to look at her, his eyes wide in honest surprise and a little confusion, fingers wrapped tightly around the towel in his lap.

 

I forget that Shigaraki’s young unless you're around,” echoed in her head from her earlier conversation with the guards.

 

Before she could repeat her question, his eyes darted away from hers to stare at the tile and his cheeks heated up in an unfamiliar shade of red. She's stuck between categorizing the blush as one of either embarrassment or shame when he clicked the nails of one hand against the tile underneath him.

 

Yes.

 

“Alright, sit like this,” Takako instructed, guiding his movements until they're comfortably situated.

 

Like she said, not a lot of time to waste.

 

She settled the base of his skull on the lip of the bucket, sitting behind the makeshift tub with her legs splayed out on either side of it. She's struck by her own lack of height again when her feet barely reach Tomura's sides.

 

“I'm going to get your hair wet first.” Takako announced, warning him so he knew what was coming. She saw his fingers tap into the floor in a confirmation, and scooped water out of the tub with the cup they'd brought.

 

Tomura seemed to realize he needed to tilt his head back a little further, and as his hair fell out of his face, he lifted the towel from his lap and hid underneath it. As she gathered stray bits of hair back to fully soak him, his desires pleaded don't look don't look don't look on repeat.

 

Light blue strands darkened to a deep bluish-gray with the more water they absorbed, and soon Takako had the whole mop of it completely soaked through.

 

“Gonna start with the soap,” she called out next. “Double tap a no if you need me to stop touching you.”

 

At first, all the signs pointed to a potentially violent reaction to her initial touch. The way his shoulders had pulled up nearly to his ears, the way his fingers gripped white knuckled on the towel over his face, it made her nervous that he would startle upon first contact. As it turned out, she was dead wrong.

 

As soon as her fingers started scrubbing into his scalp, doing their best to fight through the tangles of wavy hair, the tension left his shoulders. She watched in surprise as the blood rushed back into his fingers when he released his death grip on the towel. Tentatively, she scraped her fingernails over his hairline, running the soap from the root to end of his hair. The crease in between his eyebrows disappeared. She could only see that bit of his face from a fold in the towel that covered it, so she wondered if the rest of his face had also gone slack.

 

His arms dropped, the tension leaving them completely when she scrubbed her fingers around the back of his head. The motion allowed her to dig into his hair and run her fingernails across his scalp, and soon enough she once again found herself with a handful of villain putty.

 

She wondered in awe at how at peace he looked, at least just in that moment, and repeated the motion one last time, making sure the soap had reached every part of his hair.

 

What she was definitely not expecting was the way his lashes fluttered in surprise, nor the sound that escaped him. She almost didn't hear it- there was a towel over his face and none of his voiceless sounds had been very loud yet- but the little sound kicked her right in the gut as soon as it registered in her ears.

 

Now she could add little breathy groan alongside long, blue eyelashes on the list of things she should not like about a villain.

 

It was almost as soon as she finished rinsing Tomura's hair that the guards called time, and the yes she received when she asked Tomura if she should come back was insistent and immediate.

 

She felt bad for having to leave before she could help him back to his spot at the table, but there's a flush in her face she couldn't explain, and the shy way Tomura peeked out of the towel he'd wrapped around his head was not helping.

 

Almost as soon as the doors closed, the guards were laughing. It was much like the last time they'd exited Tomura's cell, except that this time both of the guards tried to hide their laughter in their hands and Takako's face was nearly steaming with heat.

 

“Oh boy,” the one that hadn't told her stories of their children chuckled, shaking their head. “Now you've gotta know. It's not because you're not intimidating, Hiyashi.”

 

Takako pressed her hands to her face, mortified. She'd been caught.

 

The guards tried not to tease her too much while they went through security measures that allowed her to leave, waving goodbye and promising they anticipated her return.

 

Head over heels.

 

Maybe she had more self-reflection to do than she'd originally thought.

Chapter Text

Sitting in her room, digging around in her own feelings, Takako quickly came to a realization.

 

Even if she knew what she wanted, it wouldn't help to stew in her own mind.

 

She needed someone else to listen to her.

 

(She needed someone to tell her she wasn't crazy. Or that she was. Honestly, she'd take anything at this point.)

 

Running through the list of people in her class, she realized something else. The list of people she trusted with this information was small. The list of people she knew would give her useful information and advice on this topic was smaller.

 

The list of people that could do all of the above and not intensely judge her (or Tomura, for that matter) came out to exactly zero.

 

Right now, the students had about an hour before curfew. Most people were bathing or eating before they were forced to hole up in their rooms. Takako had already holed up in her room, set on untangling the weird knot of emotions buried in her chest.

 

Suddenly, she needed to get out.

 

Pulling on her running shoes as quickly as she could, Takako stumbled out of the dorms and onto the grounds of UA. Her feet just left , running where they may, without care of destination.

 

For a while, her mind was blessedly blank, focused more on the burn in her lungs than anything else. Unfortunately, she wasn't extraordinarily physically gifted in any way, so her tiny legs gave out after what she guessed was about five miles.

 

She laid in the grass in the middle of a paved track in one of the multitudes of gyms they had strewn across campus, catching her breath.

 

Or at least she was until a ball flew out of nowhere and popped her in the gut.

 

“What the-” Takako wheezed, rolling on her side to inspect the offending projectile.

 

“I think it came over here,”

 

Voices approached her resting spot, and to her surprise, Shinsou popped his head around the corner of one of the nearby bleachers. He squinted into the distance, clearly scanning the field for the brightly painted ball.

 

“Looking for this?” Takako called to him, waving the thing around in the air.

 

“Hiyashi!” Shinsou shouted back, jogging to her. He was in his hero costume, she noticed. “What are you doing laying out in a field?”

 

“Getting hit by unidentified projectiles, I guess,” Takako grumbled as she handed the ball back to him. She also took his offered hand and allowed him to hoist her to his feet.

 

“Sorry,” he apologized with a tiny grin. “I'm practicing some new techniques. They're not very controlled yet.”

 

“Shinsou,” someone else called, and the boy in question turned on his heel to face the direction of the sound. “Did you find it or did you die,”

 

“Morbid, professor,” Takako noted as Aizawa stepped into view.

 

Aizawa frowned but joined the two in the middle of the field anyways, and as the pro hero got closer, Takako noticed something…

 

Shinsou and Aizawa's hero costumes were... suspiciously similar.

 

“I thought you said you didn't play favorites, Aizawa,” Takako spoke up slowly, a smile pulling on her face as she looked between Aizawa's scarves and the things piled around Shinsou's neck that could only also be scarves.

 

“I don't.” Aizawa's response was immediate and firm, clearly reprimanding her for bordering on disrespectful. Takako took the hint and backed off.

 

“What are you doing out here, training in the last hour before curfew?” She directed at Shinsou. The boy opened his mouth to respond, but Aizawa cut in before he could say anything.

 

“Some people want to be heroes. They put in the work.” Eraser Head's voice was unusually sharp, and Takako's actually a little hurt by what he was implying. “Shinsou's been training all afternoon.”

 

While you disappear off campus, was the unspoken undertone.

 

Well damn, Takako mused. I didn't think I'd pushed his buttons that hard. 

 

“Sorry I couldn't join,” Takako began, her eyes a little wide and offended while she stared at Aizawa. “But I was putting in hours at what's turning into an internship. You know, in the field I actually want to be a hero in.” She pressed, trying not to glare at a professor who could easily expel her just for fun.

 

He would, she knew.

 

Aizawa was a tough teacher. If he didn't think you had potential as a student, he didn't waste his time with you. If you did have the potential to be a hero and you wasted your time at UA, Aizawa had a problem with you.

 

She'd seen it before, with some of the kids that complained about not being as sought after by the big companies as others.

 

Spend your every free hour training and improving, like those students you're so jealous of do. Then complain.”

 

Additionally, though this was not entirely obvious, Aizawa loved his students. Like, with a warmth that had Takako spitting out her drink when she'd first run across it.

 

Now standing in front of Aizawa and Shinsou outside of practice, it was very clear.

 

She was not one of Aizawa's students. To him, she was in the way.

 

Poor Shinsou looked between the two of them with concern, trying to diffuse the situation. “An internship? What do you do?”

 

Takako finally looked away from Aizawa, turning towards her friend. “Right now I'm kind of acting as a bridge between the professionals and some particularly… difficult prisoners.” She explained, only stumbling to search for the correct word.

 

Shinsou didn't have to say anything more. The look on his face was enough to prompt further explanation from her.

 

“With my Quirk, I wanna work in de-escalation. I'm small, unassuming, and pretty non-threatening, so I'd go into a high tension situation, gather information, and try and ease the tension.” She explained, allowing herself to get a little carried away on the details, because dammit this was her dream!

 

“Non-threatening?” Shinsou echoed with a teasing smile. Takako merely gestured to herself before launching back in.

 

“I'm kinda working on a much smaller, much less dangerous scale of that right now.” Takako continued. “These guys are pretty much harmless, given the proper restraints and procedure, but they're belligerent, immature, or completely silent. They're just generally impossible to get through to. The professionals can't talk to them, so no progress is being made.”

 

“So you go in and slip past their defenses as a harmless, innocent, high school student and convince them to behave.” Aizawa finished for her, following along. “Who approved this?” He muttered to himself, frowning.

 

“That's really cool, Hiyashi,” Shinsou congratulated her. “Is it scary?”

 

Takako paused, thinking over the villains she'd run into. “Yeah? I mean, they're criminals, but at the end of the day, they're just people. Once they figure out that I don't want to fundamentally change them, they're usually open to talking in a more civil manner.”

 

“Sounds right,” the purple haired boy agreed. “So what's got you out here running?”

 

Takako sighed, pressing her palm to her forehead. “My brain.” She admitted, frowning. “Can't stop thinking. Needed to get out.”

 

Aizawa’s head jerked up at that, snapping to face her.

 

“Yeah?” Shinsou hummed. “I get that.” He admitted, tossing the ball between his hands. “As annoying as it is, it usually helps when I vent all of it out.”

 

Takako nodded morosely. “That's the problem. I can't figure out who would listen.”

 

Shinsou looked offended almost immediately. “Hiyashi! Like, everyone in Class A and B combined would listen. Don't convince yourself you're on your own.”

 

“Okay, okay, you're right, I could find someone that would listen.” Takako relented, admitting her mistake. “I think I'm more afraid of what they'd say. How they'd react.”

 

Now everyone's quiet, and Takako couldn't help but feel like she'd said something wrong.

 

“So I won't bother you with that,” Takako added quickly, trying to backtrack. “You're busy training.” She aimed that comment directly at Aizawa- and the responding frown should've made her feel a little sense of victory, but it ends up making her feel worse.

 

“Let's take a break, Shinsou. You've pushed yourself pretty hard today.” Aizawa sounded like he couldn't care less, but Takako froze in her tracks, feeling particularly called out.

 

“Hiyashi,” Shinsou called to get her attention, and she slowly turned back around from where she'd been prepared to run away. “Let's take a break.” He echoed his teacher, pointing to the bleachers nearby.

 

---

 

Settled on the cold bleachers under the setting sun, Aizawa standing not far enough away to be out of earshot on the track beneath them… Takako couldn't help but feel like this was some kind of intervention.

 

Shinsou didn't push her, just laced and unlaced his scarves around his neck. The quiet shuffling served to soothe Takako's nerves while she worked up an explanation.

 

“You probably know about this already.” She began, propping her leg up so she could fiddle with her laces. “But my old friend showed up last year as a villain.”

 

She didn't say a villain that attacked UA, or the leader of the villains that attacked UA, or even the villain that tried and nearly succeeded in killing Midoriya, because they all know who she's talking about.

 

After the League of Villains had hit them as hard as they did, especially with the weird aftermath and the plain girl from Class B standing in the middle of it… word got out pretty quickly, even if it was only vague information.

 

“Yeah. I heard.” Shinsou didn't sound too excited in any direction, positive or negative, so Takako let out a breath.

 

“I can't talk about him, because of the stuff he's done and the people he's connected to. Sometimes because I'm not allowed to, but most of the time because no one wants to listen. And I get it.” Takako admitted, nervously twisting a piece of hair in her fingers. “I don't push it on anyone, I don't bring it up, and I try not to sound too happy about him being back within reach.”

 

Shinsou only nodded, following along.

 

“I mean, am I even supposed to be happy? He's, like, the most wanted villain right now, but when I found out he didn't die in that battle, I was… I was ecstatic.” Takako whispered. She knew her eyes were wide, that she looked afraid.

 

She's afraid of herself and whatever else might hide within her.

 

“That's pretty noble of you,” Shinsou noted, his expression still blank. “To celebrate a life simply because it's a life.”

 

Well, if that wasn't a good chunk of Takako’s entire paradigm, she didn't know what was.

 

“I guess so,” Takako whispered. “I got pretty lucky, overall. I didn't die, my friends didn't die, and now I… I get to visit him.”

 

Shinsou looked up, surprise written in his expression. “You do?”

 

Takako nodded quickly. “It's that thing I was talking about earlier. I'm visiting him and a couple other prisoners.”

 

“That's cool.” Shinsou returned, his voice blessedly level. “Do you like visiting him?”

 

The creaking of the bleachers was the only sound in the sudden silence. Aizawa turned to look up towards the students to check if they were done, but the look on Takako's face told him they had only just gotten started.

 

“I think that's the problem,” Takako whispered, scuffing her foot against the metal seats. “I do like visiting him. I look forward to it.”

 

“That's not such a bad thing,” Shinsou assured her. “He was your friend, after all. Plus, it's gotta be nice for him to have someone to talk to, right?”

 

The responding nod came slowly, Takako's gaze remaining pretty clouded.

 

“Obviously, that's not it,” Shinsou noted. “What's the deal?”

 

Takako bit at her lip, unable to look up from the bleachers. “I'm afraid of the reaction.” She echoed her earlier worries, tracing the lines in the metal beneath her.

 

“You're my friend, Hiyashi.” Shinsou assured her.

 

Takako buried her face in her hands, curling into a ball.

 

She'd already done her soul searching. She knew the truth.

 

She'd just been running from it ever since.

 

“I think I… I think I like him.” She whispered into her hands, pressing her eyes shut with her fingers.

 

“Eh? What's that, Hiyashi?” Shinsou elbowed her, nudging her hands away from her mouth.

 

Jeez, Shinsou-”  Takako huffed, throwing her hands down, eyebrows pulled together. “I said, I think I like him!”

 

Shinsou only laughed, shaking her back and forth a little bit. “I heard you the first time.”

 

“You're the worst.” Takako muttered, crossing her arms over her chest. “What am I supposed to do with this?” She demanded. “I can't- I shouldn't- he's in prison!

 

Shinsou nodded, completely unhelpfully.

 

“He's not even stable,” her voice was slipping into hysterical hissing at this point, and Shinsou's calm hand on her shoulder was only doing so much to calm her down. “I don't even think he knows how to love.” She admitted next, letting slip her biggest apprehension so far.

 

Shinsou hummed, considering this. “Well, then you'll just have to teach him, right?”

 

Takako turned to stare at her purple haired friend.

 

“If you're serious, then he'll see that. Love isn't something you just know how to do, Hiyashi. You learn how.” Shinsou mused, thoughtful consideration in those purple eyes.

 

“I… I guess so,” Takako admitted reluctantly, kicking at the bleachers. “I just don't want to hurt him. Or me.”

 

"I understand that." Shinsou returned, voice just as soft.

 

“It's important that you include yourself in that sentiment,” Aizawa spoke up from the track, turned away to face the field.

 

She knew he was listening. Sneaky bastard.

 

“It's foolish to throw your entire well being into a relationship. You'll burn out, and then both of you are left worse for wear.” Aizawa warned her. “Or worse, one comes out having gained from the relationship, and the other has nothing left. Don't ignore yourself, Hiyashi. It's unhealthy.”

 

“Yeah,” Shinsou agreed. “It's like hero training. If you throw your all into it, you might get better, but you also might hurt yourself. You could be temporarily out of commission and miss more training, or permanently out of commission and lose your whole career.”

 

“Thanks for the metaphor.” Takako muttered, playfully shoving Shinsou. “You don't think it's… weird? How I feel?”

 

Shinsou snorted. “Oh, I think you're plenty weird,” he assured her, earning him another shove. “But it doesn't surprise me. You've never been the type to treat people differently based on a label.”

 

Takako nodded firmly. This, at least, she could agree with. “Thanks, Shinsou.” She sighed gratefully. The two stood to rejoin Aizawa on the track, hopping over the barriers and landing with a thump next to the professor.

 

“Hey,” Takako spoke up suddenly, placing a hand on Shinsou's shoulder. “I appreciate you listening to me and all, but,” he tensed when her grip tightened, and she smiled brightly (read: dangerously) in his direction. “If I hear this floating around, I will tell Bakugou about the crush you used to have on Midoriya.” She assured him sweetly, fingers white knuckled on his shoulder.

 

Hiyashi! ” Shinsou complained, the color draining from his face. “First of all, I would never,” he hissed, offended. “And second, do you have a death wish?”

 

Takako's smile never faltered. “Never fear death. Defy him, and drive him into the enemy’s ranks.”

 

Shinsou recoiled, but the quote dug a dry laugh from Aizawa. “Napoleon Bonaparte,” he noted, and if she wasn't wrong, the professor sounded impressed.

 

Eraser Head checked the time and decided it wasn't worth pursuing any more training. The professor walked with them towards the dorm, looking as generally displeased as he always did.

 

“Hey,” Shinsou complained while they headed back, drawing out the vowel. “Why aren't you threatening Aizawa? He heard everything too, you know.”

 

Takako glanced over to the professor, unconcerned. Aizawa glared at her, daring her to try.

 

“Aizawa's not dumb like you.” Takako dismissed both of them at the same time with a shrug. Shinsou grunted, kicking at the ground with a scowl. “I think I'm allowed to trust a pro hero a little more than a seventeen year old boy.”

 

Shinsou grumbled under his breath, kicking harder at the loose rocks in the paved path beneath them.

 

Takako bumped him with her shoulder, laughing under her breath. “Besides, I don't need to tell Aizawa what I know. You need a warning.”

 

Shinsou's jaw dropped in surprise, and Takako merely laced her fingers behind her back and skipped ahead.

 

“See ya!” She called back, waving to the two as she entered the gate to her dorm.

 

Shinsou watched her disappear into the double doors, then stared up at Aizawa in shock. “What does she-”

 

“Hell if I know.” Aizawa muttered. “That one's a little more of a wild card than I'd originally assumed.” He admitted, shaking his head.

 

Shinsou agreed, and teacher and student walked in silence for a few minutes in the direction of the Class A dorms.

 

Then, out of nowhere, Aizawa sighed.

 

“...Midoriya? Really?”

 

Shinsou immediately flushed a bright red.

 

---

 

Takako spent next week attempting to get Midoriya's attention.

 

She tried to grab him at lunch, in between classes, even after school, but this boy had too many friends. Not only did he have a billion friends, but he cared about each and every one of them, so he was always helping somebody out.

 

She was getting frustrated, which wasn't helped at all when Bakugou grabbed her by the collar and jerked her into a side hallway one afternoon.

 

“It should not be that easy for you to manhandle me,” Takako grumbled, rubbing her neck.

 

“Don't you only weigh like a hundred pounds?” Bakugou remembered. “That's like, nothing.” He picked her up and shook her to prove his point, and Takako swatted at him in a complaint. “You talk to Deku yet?” He asked after he set her down- trying to sound like he didn't care.

 

He should know better, what with her Quirk and his desires set on loud and clear.

 

“Can't get a hold of him.” She admitted. “I'm not high on the list of ‘Midoriya's friends’ so it's been a little difficult getting a moment of his time.”

 

Bakugou seemed to accept her explanation, but he accepted it with a scowl nonetheless. “Damn nerd’s always got something going on. If not, he's studying or training.” He grumbled. Before she could comment on that, his face screwed up in a sudden realization. “And what do you mean, you're not high on his list of friends? You saved his goddamned life, didn't you?”

 

Takako scratched the back of her neck sheepishly. “Yeah.” She admitted. “I think it's part of the reason why Monoma gets so upset about the division between our classes. You guys are just on another level, so you tend to look right past us.”

 

“Not my fault you're not as great as me.” Bakugou mumbled, baring his teeth at the ground.

 

Takako shrugged. “I don't have the same goals as you.” She corrected him. “Anyways, it's not like I can just pull him aside. I've gotta run across him.”

 

Why? ” Bakugou huffed.

 

“How am I supposed to walk up to him, ask him if we can talk, sit down, then say, “hey Midoriya, let's talk about how much Bakugou bullied you for the last ten years”?”

 

Bakugou's eyebrow twitched. “Do better!” He insisted.

 

“The answer would be that easy for you.” Takako muttered, rolling her eyes. “I'll try.” She promised anyways, adjusting her tie.

 

Bakugou nodded once, satisfied. Then, she encountered something she wasn't expecting from him.

 

“You ever figure out if you're hot and bothered for crusty?” He asked next, something sharp in his smile.

 

It's the same look that Dabi had worn when he'd thought he had something to hold over her. The difference was that Bakugou actually knew what he was talking about.

 

Takako let out an exasperated sigh, but Bakugou had already won. Her cheeks had already turned a bright pink that she had no chance of controlling.

 

“You're a nasty bitch,” Bakugou laughed, shaking his head. “What are you gonna do about it?” He asked next- and she's struck by the sincerity of the question. His eyes glittered with genuine amusement, not scathing taunts, so she can only assume that he held no ill intent behind the words.

 

“I can't do much, honestly.” Takako admitted. “I think he only just came to the understanding that I'm not going anywhere, that I really mean it when I try to help him. He doesn't really understand the concept, yet. So all I can really do is keep showing him what I mean.” She explained, trying her best to keep eye contact but failing, her gaze falling nervously back to her hands.

 

“He knows how you feel, then?” Bakugou followed up, eyebrow raised, clearly interested. “Damn. Can't believe I let the midget megane beat me.” He huffed, kicking at nothing.

 

“He doesn't.” Takako admitted, shaking her head. “At least, I haven't told him. It hasn't come up.”

 

“You said he wasn't speaking.” Bakugou accused. “If you're controlling the conversation, it's never going to come up, is it?”

 

Takako clicked finger guns at him, smiling sheepishly. The blond rolled his eyes, unimpressed.

 

“Well, I've still got a chance at beating you, at least.” The statement seemed to be a self reassurance, and Takako could only laugh.

 

“Not at this rate, you won't.” She teased- and consequently spent the next couple moments trying to avoid Bakugou's swipes at her, the taller boy trying to catch her and shake her around again.

 

Only when they needed to depart to their next class did Bakugou finally relent, shoving his hands in his pockets with a growl.

 

“Later, Bakugou.” Takako called, beginning to depart.

 

“Hey,” Bakugou called after her as if he'd just remembered something. “You wouldn't happen to know why the mind control kid won't make eye contact with me anymore, would you?” He demanded. “I know you two hang out. What'd you tell him?”

 

Takako smiled brightly, flashing a peace sign back in his direction and disappearing into the crowd.

 

She couldn't help but laugh when Bakugou's angry yells echoed down the hallway after her, nearly drowned by the chatter of her classmates.

Chapter Text

Not only did she go the whole week without managing to get Midoriya's attention, but she also didn't get to visit Tomura at all.

 

Instead, Dr. Kido had asked Takako to meet with Toga. According to the professional, the problem with Toga wasn't getting her to talk, but getting her to talk about anything serious. The doctor was hoping that Takako's Quirk would help dig a little further to find something that could be discussed.

 

That meeting had gone as well as one might expect.

 

Takako had agreed as hesitantly as she usually did when approaching new villains, but tried to convince herself that things would go as they usually did.

 

She'd walked in, semi-confident, and almost immediately flung herself back in time, landing herself back outside of the cell. The guards had rushed into the hallway in a panic, heads snapping back and forth in a search for the suddenly missing girl, only to find two Takakos leaning heavily against the wall.

 

“Sorry,” she'd only spoken from one of her doubles, a hand pressed over her heart. “I was afraid that would happen.”

 

Toga was leagues worse than Bakugou. Her desires were so unguarded, so loud and overwhelming, that Takako had the traces of a headache from only a couple seconds of being in her vicinity.

 

“She’s a lot to handle. Everything is very… loud.” She explained sheepishly. “I don't know if I can be in there for long.”

 

The guards assured her she shouldn't worry about it, telling her she could decide when to leave.

 

They also gave her a couple weird looks when her double started braiding her hair, resulting in a neat single braid by the time the double ran out of time. Takako caught the end of her hair before it fell apart, trying it with the hair tie on her wrist.

 

“Alright.” Takako sighed. “Let's try this again.”

 

When she walked back in, Toga squealed in excitement.

 

“I thought it was you!” The blonde cried.

 

Takako tried to tune out the screaming that her Quirk had no choice to pick up on, squinting a little while she shoved her natural instincts down.

 

“Wow! What a coincidence! Now we can really be friends!” Toga cheered, wiggling in her seat.

 

Takako sat down across from her slowly and noticed with surprise that Toga was equally as restrained as Dabi was.

 

“You never introduced yourself to me! Let's try again! I'm Toga Himiko,” she introduced herself with a wide grin, waiting patiently for the new face’s response.

 

Toga seemed to speak completely in exclamation points.

 

“I'm Hiyashi Takako.” Takako returned the smile, though it didn't pull as hard at the corners of her mouth.

 

“Hi, Takako! I can call you Takako, right? Because we're friends now?” Toga chirped, bouncing in her seat.

 

“Uh,” Takako hummed, considering her options. “Yeah, it's fine, I guess.”

 

“Great!” Toga squealed, leaning forwards- her restraints rattling as she did. “That was crazy, how you just disappeared like that- is it your Quirk? Didn't you disappear the last time we met, too?”

 

Takako blinked again, sifting through the questions as they were fired at her. “It's part of my Quirk, yeah.” She settled on answering.

 

She wondered how she was going to dig anything of use out of Toga if anything and everything she could pick up on was enough to make Takako flinch away.

 

“Why'd you disappear this time? I didn't even get to stab you!” Toga huffed, curiosity sparkling in her eyes.

 

“Do you always stab people you consider friends?” Takako wondered. Toga only smiled. “Okay. Is there a reason for that?”

 

“Well,” Toga hummed, chin tilted in consideration. “Once I've got their blood, I can become them! You know, when you spend a lot of time with someone and you start acting like them? That's like, the closest kind of friend, right?”

 

Takako tried not to squint in confusion, because Toga was clearly genuinely attempting to explain the concept to her.

 

What wasn't helping was the dizzying onslaught of Toga’s desires, which were almost never constant, ever-changing. Not to mention, the underlying bloodlust that never wavered.

 

“Sure.” Takako agreed slowly. “Do you have any friends like that?”

 

“Yeah!” Toga began listing names that Takako didn't recognize, except for, inexplicably, Uraraka. “And you have Shigaraki, right?”

 

Takako hesitated a moment before she nodded. “I don't know him like I used to. But yeah, he's my friend.”

 

“I thought so!” Toga chirped. “I could smell it on you two when I first saw you! I thought Shigaraki had hidden a girlfriend from me, somehow!”

 

“Are you two close?” Takako wondered, her eyebrows lifting with the question.

 

“Oh sure,” Toga hummed. “We talked all the time. He's so quiet! Easy to get a rise out of, though.”

 

Takako nodded slowly, intrigued. “Dabi mentioned something along those lines too. Tomura does seem to get irritated easily.”

 

Her headache was starting to press against the back of her eyes.

 

Toga laughed suddenly, eyes bright. “Especially about his hair! He would never let me touch it. I asked all the time!”

 

“Oh,” Takako hummed. “Do you like to do hair?”

 

“I do!” Toga nodded empathetically. “I've only gotten to brush mine out a couple times in my whole time being here. They don't like it when my hands are free.” She explained with a grin that seemed sharper than the rest. “Yours looks pretty, braided like that! I love to braid hair!”

 

“Thank you. I like to braid hair too.” Takako replied. “My mom taught me how. Who taught you?”

 

Something dropped in Toga’s expression, and it was so sudden that it startled Takako. Suddenly she was staring at a totally different person, the perpetual smile and crazed gleam in Toga’s eyes wiped clean off her face.

 

Takako was sure that Toga replied, but her head was so full of I don't want to talk about that I don't want to talk about that I don't want to talk about that that she honestly missed the response.

 

Fighting the urge to hold her head in her hands, Takako managed a smile at Toga. “I didn't mean to upset you. I'm sorry about that.” She apologized.

 

Toga lit up like someone had plugged her back in, returning to her earlier personality.

 

Before the blonde could speak again, Takako stood abruptly from her chair.

 

“It was nice to meet you, Toga.” She bowed slightly, turning to leave.

 

“Call me Himiko!” Toga insisted. “You're leaving already? But we only just met!” She complained, the chair rattling immediately as she moved.

 

Takako nodded and apologized once more, doing her best not to stumble as she headed for the guards. Quickly, the guards ushered her out of the cell, only for Takako to lean unsteadily to one side, careening heavily into a wall.

 

She slumped against it, breathing heavily.

 

It was like as soon as she'd gotten out of range of  Toga’s desires, everything shut off.

 

Even with her glasses on, everything seemed a little unfocused, and everything was just a little too bright. The wall should've been cold against her shoulder, but she barely noticed the change in temperature.

 

It took her a minute to realize that the guards were calling her name, trying to get her attention. She blinked up at them in confusion until the ringing in her ears subsided enough for their voices to register.

 

“That's it. We're taking you to Dr. Kido.” One of them announced, and the other quickly agreed. They slung her arms over their shoulders and hauled her to her feet, helping her walk in the direction of… something.

 

Takako's head swam. She'd never been overwhelmed like this. No one had ever been too much for her to handle, especially in so little a time period.

 

She barely registered the steps it took to get them face to face with Dr. Kido. The guards could've put her on a plane and flown her to Europe and she wouldn't have noticed.

 

“Hiyashi? Hiyashi, can you hear me?”

 

“Eh?” Takako huffed, rubbing her eyes.

 

Two hands laid themselves over her temples, and she felt almost as if she were being scanned in some way.

 

“Hmm. That's… that's odd.” Someone hummed. “Hiyashi, can you see me?” They asked next.

 

Takako blinked hard, trying to clear her vision.

 

Someone stood in front of her. She just couldn't… she couldn't process the face, couldn't get everything to focus as it should.

 

She pressed her fingers to her nose on instinct to slide her glasses up from where they must've fallen, only to find the frames already in place.

 

“No?” Takako hazarded a guess, uncertain.

 

Someone said something to her again, but the words came out garbled, unintelligible.

 

When she didn't respond, things started moving.

 

Nobody moved her, but people started bustling around, getting down to business.

 

Takako was very confused when someone placed something over her ears, and even more confused when someone draped a blanket over her head.

 

She sat still, frozen in confusion.

 

But, she had to admit… it was kinda nice under here where it was all quiet and dark. With all the stress of this week- especially in the last couple of minutes- not to mention how intensely the lights had been bothering her eyes… this was nice.

 

Before she knew it, she'd drifted off to sleep, embracing the silence.

 

---

 

Dr. Kido Ao was not a woman who panicked.

 

After years of working with criminals and villains, she'd run across her fair share of crises and learned to deal with each of them accordingly. Losing one's cool was never the answer to a problem, and almost always made things worse.

 

Of course she knew who her most recent clients were. This wasn't the first time that she'd seen a client's face on TV before she saw them in person.

 

Of course she expected her clients to be difficult. It was rare for a criminal caught under the thumb of the system to be sincerely jumping at the chance to repent. That wasn't her job anyways. She left the decisions of guilty and not guilty up to the courts.

 

Her job, in theory, was simple. She was to diagnose any neural divergence, address any unhealthy behaviors and thoughts, and ultimately come up with a treatment plan. This would be a difficult job, if it weren't for the Quirk that had led her into this field.

 

Dr. Kido’s Quirk basically boiled down to a human brain scan. With a press of her hands on either side of the skull, she could scan a person's brain and read the activity occurring inside.

 

This was not always a foolproof path to diagnosis. Her Quirk only presented a list of facts, not a solution or explanation, leaving it up to Dr. Kido to run through years of personal experience and scientific studies to come to a conclusion.

 

Once again, her job, in theory, was simple.

 

With criminals, getting a professional in close proximity was no easy task.

 

Of course she always asked for permission, but her superiors were impatient for results, and unfortunately, criminals’ rights were too often stepped on and ignored.

 

With the demand for results in mind, she stepped forwards into clear danger. Her superiors should know by now how well this tended to go.

 

Toga had come inches from biting her, sharp teeth gleaming in the fluorescent lights while she snapped at Dr. Kido’s proximity.

 

Kurogiri had simply let the doctor's hands phase through his body.

 

Shigaraki, though, was the worst. Even in his recent silent moodiness, any attempt of Dr. Kido’s to come close to him had resulted in something akin to a tantrum.

 

Dr. Kido was used to her job taking months, even years to achieve success in.

 

So when UA second-year student Hiyashi Takako had walked into Shigaraki’s cell- a suggestion from All Might himself, so who was Dr. Kido to refuse- and held a conversation with him…

 

Well, let's just say, Dr. Kido never wasted an opportunity.

 

Even the stoically silent Kurogiri had opened up a little to the teenager’s presence, which rekindled Dr. Kido’s hope for her recent problem cases.

 

That was why Kido had Hiyashi visiting Toga today, since Toga was the only one of the villains so far that hadn't opened up in the slightest. Dr. Kido was fully aware that this was due to Toga’s obvious psychopathy, so she sent Hiyashi in the hopes of digging a little deeper into the captive’s intentions.

 

Hiyashi was unassuming and plenty innocent looking, but Dr. Kido knew better. She’d watched over the security cameras plenty of times, making sure someone with a trained eye was monitoring the situation between a criminal and a high school student. If she hadn’t been convinced that Hiyashi could handle herself, then her conduct while handling Shigaraki’s mental break fully satisfied Dr. Kido.

 

Kido was fully aware of Hiyashi’s attachment to Shigaraki. In her preliminary screening, a mandatory step for anyone attempting to come face to face with any of the criminals, Hiyashi had honestly explained their relationship before the doctor had even asked.

 

Even if she hadn’t… it was plenty obvious in the two’s interactions.

 

This was why the doctor had trusted Hiyashi with Shigaraki’s medical treatment after his episode. While it was possible for the guards to physically restrain him, the process drained her employees and put her patient under incredible stress. If Hiyashi could get close without injury… so be it.

 

Of course she had followed up on her protege’s work, checking in with Shigaraki and offering the services she always did. The answer was the same then as it was now.

 

Silence. A sullen, red stare.

 

Shigaraki wouldn’t communicate with anyone other than Hiyashi. Even then, Hiyashi did a lot of guesswork and reading in between the lines, making up for when yes or no wouldn’t cut it.

 

“I have to offer,” Dr. Kido conceded after the silence stretched into an obvious no. “It’s my job, you know.”

 

Shigaraki only stared, folded in his usual position across the table from the professional.

 

His guards told her he’d moved the last time Hiyashi visited. Adding this development to his sudden decision to start eating again, Shigaraki was certainly making progress. Whether he knew it or not.

 

“You know, Shigaraki, if you want to,” Dr. Kido began, folding her hands on top of the table. “You can communicate with me in the same way you communicate with Hiyashi.”

 

If she wasn’t mistaken, his glare became a little more intense.

 

“At the very least, I’ll know for sure what you want.” Kido relented. “I won’t have to guess at whether you’re denying or accepting my help. What do you say?”

 

For a moment, she swore his fingers lifted the slightest amount off the table, but the door to Shigaraki’s cell opened before he gave her a complete response.

 

“Sorry, Dr. Kido, sorry to interrupt,” a guard she recognized as being assigned to Toga’s cell barged in, breathing hard like they’d run the entire distance. “We need your assistance. Hiyashi’s unresponsive.”

 

Dr. Kido stood slowly, caught between concern and exasperation.

 

Of course she was concerned about Hiyashi’s wellbeing. Especially so soon after she’d been assigned to Toga.

 

Unfortunately, there were more pressing matters at hand.

 

Shigaraki was on his feet in seconds, the frantic speed of his motions hindered only by the weakness of his limbs. Moving faster than she’d expected him to be able to, he grabbed the collar of her jacket, rooting her in place.

 

All five of Shigaraki's fingers curled into the fabric. His arm shook nearly as badly as his eyes, and she couldn't tell if he was shaking from rage, fear, or exhaustion.

 

Dr. Kido Ao was not a woman who panicked.

 

“Shigaraki,” she stated calmly, turning to face him. “I understand that you’re upset. But I need to do my job. Hiyashi needs my help.”

 

Shigaraki towered over her, two red flares of rage the only thing she can make out of his face while she stared, unshaken, up at him.

 

She wondered for a moment how Hiyashi- young, untrained, inexperienced Hiyashi- had kept her cool in similar moments. Dr. Kido wasn’t shaken, having grown quite used to prisoners trying to threaten her many years ago, but how had little Hiyashi fared under the weight of this gaze?

 

“The longer we wait here, the faster things can go wrong.” Dr. Kido reminded Shigaraki. “Please let me do my job.”

 

Before he released her, his expression shifted, eyes screwing up to squint at the professional as if in some kind of warning. It’s probably the fourth time she’s seen something different flit across his face since he first went silent.

 

“Thank you, Shigaraki.” Dr. Kido nodded once before walking away, heading towards the exit. She left the room without any more unexpected obstacles, and soon she walked at a brisk pace down the hallways, the guard assigned to Toga by her side.

 

After a couple minutes of following the guard, she realized they were leading her to the hospital ward- the room devoted to major incidents that couldn’t be handled within a cell. She hoped and prayed that Toga wasn’t behind this. She’d never forgive herself if a student in her care came into harm’s way by her own direction.

 

“By the way,” she huffed in her accompanying guard’s direction, turning sharply into the hospital ward. “I would appreciate it if you could keep specific details out of earshot of our clients. Shigaraki does not need to know why I am leaving his cell, nor who specifically is in trouble. Understand?”

 

The guard blushed in shame, ducking their head and nodding rapidly to confirm.

 

Maybe she needed to review the security measures they had in place for Toga Himiko. Had something slipped through her team’s careful gaze?

 

“Over here, ma’am.” The guard directed her, and Dr. Kido let out a breath of relief when Hiyashi entered her sight.

 

From what she could see, the girl seemed physically unharmed. Hiyashi did seem to have a hard time tracking Kido’s movement though, which was definitely something that warranted concern.

 

“What happened?” She began with, addressing both of the guards and Hiyashi (if she was listening). She’d purposefully saved this question until she stood in front of both guards, wanting to gather as much information as possible.

 

The guards tag teamed the explanation, relaying Hiyashi’s initial hesitation about speaking with Toga before the UA student insisted upon sitting down with the criminal for as long as she could stand. They made it very clear that they hadn’t forced Hiyashi to interact with Toga, nor had Toga gotten her hands on Hiyashi at any point. Apparently, Hiyashi had signaled the end of the meeting looking drained but otherwise normal, only to collapse in the hallway outside and stop responding to the guards’ concern.

 

“Hiyashi,” Dr. Kido began speaking, but Hiyashi didn’t react at all. She snapped a couple times near the girl’s ear and received the same non-response. “Hiyashi, can you hear me?” Dr. Kido asked first.

 

Hiyashi merely blinked, rubbing her eyes. All she received in response was a mumbled, “Eh?”

 

Concerned, Dr. Kido placed her hands on each of Takako’s temples, readying a scan. A broad scan of Hiyashi’s brain didn’t reveal anything incredibly abnormal, but the doctor did notice that her thalamus was functioning at a lower level than it should have been.

 

“Hmm.” The doctor hummed. “That’s… odd.” She admitted out loud, stooping to stand eye level with Hiyashi.

 

Dr. Kido noted the way Hiyashi kept squinting and pushing up her glasses as if she could almost see what was happening.

 

“Hiyashi, can you see me?”

 

Hiyashi squinted again, and Dr. Kido made sure to move from side to side to check that she wasn’t guessing from the sound of the doctor’s voice. Sure enough, Hiyashi followed her movement, brown eyes sliding almost sluggishly.

 

Despite this, Hiyashi’s face still screwed up in a frown, and she offered a very hesitant “No?” as an answer.

 

Running off of that information, Kido ran quick scans on Hiyashi’s sensory inputs. Optical nerves, auditory nerves, the like…

 

“You said she complained about Toga being loud?” Dr. Kido confirmed with the guards. They both nodded, clarifying that Hiyashi had come to this conclusion before Toga had ever spoken.

 

Dr. Kido hummed to herself while she considered Hiyashi’s very confused expression and very abnormal readings.

 

“I’m afraid I have to guess what’s going on,” she admitted slowly, the words bitter but familiar in her mouth. The brain was a complicated organ, and no two were the same. “But I believe Hiyashi’s gone into some kind of sensory overload.”

 

“What… what do we do?”

 

That was a very good question.

 

“We should try and lower her sensory input. Try and find something to plug her ears with, maybe we can dig up some sunglasses…” Dr. Kido trailed off, trying to find a way to isolate Hiyashi’s overloaded brain with the limited supplies they had at this facility.

 

“Will a blanket help?” One of the guards offered, lifting up something blue and vaguely fuzzy. “It could make everything dark.”

 

“Brilliant,” Dr. Kido agreed, nodding in satisfaction when the other guard procured headphones (or earmuffs?) from… somewhere.

 

Almost as soon as they’d settled Hiyashi under the blanket, the poor kid passed right out- probably from sheer exhaustion, if the guards were correct about what had happened.

 

Dr. Kido called the school. It was all she could do.

 

After much explaining of the situation and their current solution, the principal thanked the doctor for her diligent work protecting their student. Principal Nedzu assured her that trusted faculty were on their way to the establishment to pick Hiyashi up, and Dr. Kido confirmed his choices and set some extra security measures, just in case.

 

It would be bad enough if she handed Hiyashi over to the wrong people, much less let the wrong people into this very carefully guarded establishment.

 

“Principal Nedzu,” Dr. Kido began, a hint of nervousness creeping into her tone for the first time all afternoon. “We don’t believe that Hiyashi was physically harmed by the inmate she was visiting, and we don’t believe the current situation was created with intent, but… we can’t rule out the possibility that Hiyashi has somehow been harmed by someone under our surveillance.” She finally admitted with a long sigh. “I am deeply sorry for our mistake, and I fully understand if Hiyashi will not be allowed back in our care.”

 

“Thank you for your honesty, Dr. Kido.” Nedzu humbly replied. “We will certainly take that into account.”

 

When the principal hung up, Kido kept her shoulders straight- despite how badly she wanted to deflate.

 

This was not defeat. They’d gained ground yet.

 

Still, as faculty and staff from UA carried Hiyashi’s unconscious form out of the hospital ward, Dr. Kido couldn’t help but feel like she was losing something.

Chapter Text

Takako awoke with a start and a shout, immediately on edge in an unfamiliar place.

 

“Hiyashi, dear, take a deep breath.”

 

For the second time in her life, her immediate panic, fueled by waking up in a nondescript hospital, was almost instantly calmed by the sound of Recovery Girl’s voice.

 

She released her grip on the sheets, heartbeat still pounding against her ribcage like it was trying to escape.

 

“I was just- how’d I-” Takako stammered, looking around in a frenzy.

 

“Dr. Kido thinks you overloaded yourself somehow. It’s good that you’re back to normal.” Recovery Girl explained, though while the explanation was helpful, it was still vague.

 

Takako sat back, taking a deep breath. “Oh… yeah.” She hummed, something falling in her chest. “That was weird. I’ve never… that’s never happened to me before.”

 

“Can you explain what happened at all?” The nurse queried, waiting patiently.

 

“I went to speak with one of the prisoners, and she… she was just so loud.” Takako whispered. “I mean, not her voice- though that was also loud. It was what my Quirk can read, desires,” Takako explained, and Recovery Girl nodded- because of course she knew about Takako’s Quirk already. “It was so loud and constant. Like, around here, at school, it’s like… being rained on. Even though there’s a lot of people, they’re not very loud. But in that room… it was like a pressure washer. It was... a lot. Constantly.”

 

“Sounds overwhelming.” The older woman noted, typing notes into her computer. “And afterwards?”

 

“Oh,” Takako let out a breath, thinking hard. “It’s fuzzy, but… everything was very muted. It took a long time to process things, like my brain was moving through molasses.”

 

“Would you agree with Dr. Kido’s diagnosis of ‘sensory overload’?”

 

Takako nodded. “That’s probably what happened. Sounds right.”

 

Recovery Girl mulled over this, typing quickly into her computer.

 

“I think…” Takako trailed off, uncertain.

 

Did she really want to talk about this?

 

“I think that this happened to my father, too. Sometimes he’d come home from hero work, sit down, and stare at nothing. I couldn’t get his attention for hours, not even if I shook him.” She remembered, staring at her hands while she spoke.

 

Recovery Girl mumbled something about genetics and generational Quirks, but before Takako could add anything else, another voice piped up.

 

“I didn’t know your dad was a hero, Hiyashi,”

 

Takako whipped around, facing the occupant of the bed she’d missed in her earlier scans. Of all the people, Midoriya smiled back at her, eyes alight with interest and awe.

 

“Who was he? Where’d he work?” Midoriya chirped, getting into that fanboy state of his like he always did in the presence of (or at the mere mention of) pro-heroes.

 

“You ever heard of the pro-hero, Nightmare?” Takako offered, her voice very soft. Very very soft.

 

Midoriya, focused on his hero worship, missed the warning in her tone. “Oh, wow, Nightmare? ” He echoed. Takako hated that she was disgusted by the smile on his face. “He wasn’t super popular, but he was plenty strong! Did a lot of good work on the field, if I remember correctly- oh! Hiyashi, that must be where your Quirk comes from!” Midoriya chirped, reaching the same conclusion that Takako had reached years ago. “That’s so cool that it manifested in a completely opposite way! Wow, Hiyashi, your dad was so-”

 

No, Midoriya,” Takako cut him off with a tone that bit down hard, stopping his sentence before it could end. “He wasn’t.”

 

The uncomfortable silence they sat in was only broken by Recovery Girl’s fingers clicking against the computer keyboard.

 

“He wasn’t cool. He wasn’t anything the media said he was.” Takako whispered, fingers gripped tight around the sheets. “He wasn’t a hero. Not to me. Not when it mattered.”

 

Midoriya’s mouth was completely open, jaw dropped in surprise.

 

“Every time I flinch, every time I back down from a fight,” Takako listed, ranting through clenched teeth at this point. “That’s all him. He’s the reason I know what a concussion feels like, he’s the reason I can tell if a blow has broken my bones or not, and yet,” she bit out, glaring at nothing. “I got to watch the reporters praise his work, watch them congratulate him for stopping evil in its tracks-”

 

“Hiyashi, I’m sorry,” Midoriya breathed, leaning forwards like he wanted to get up and walk to her. “I didn’t know- I don’t think anyone did.”

 

“No, they didn’t.” Takako agreed, her words still razor edged. She didn’t mean to cut Midoriya in the process, but… for a moment, he had chosen to stand on Nightmare’s side. “Because once you’re a hero, you get some kinda free pass that says you’re good all the time, that you act like a hero everywhere. It’s bullshit.” She hissed, head whipping up to burn an unforgiving glare into green eyes that regretted saying anything in the first place.

 

“You sound like crusty.” Came a voice from the doorway. “You sure he’s not getting to you?”

 

“Kacchan!” Midoriya yelped. Takako’s gaze cut down at her lap, teeth still bared in a snarl. “What are you doing here?”

 

“I’m here to take you back, obviously,” Bakugou intoned, as if they’d all been given some memo and only he had read it.

 

Midoriya looked confused, but it only lasted a moment before he glanced over to Takako again, his face falling.

 

Bakugou looked between the two, collecting data, then walked to Midoriya’s bedside. “What’d you do?” He demanded, just low enough to stay out of Takako’s hearing range.

 

Midoriya sighed. “I, uh… she mentioned her father was a hero, and I got excited, and-”

 

Deku,” Bakugou sighed, shaking his head. “You got all worked up over her abusive father, didn’t you. Idiot.

 

Midoriya stammered helplessly, arms jerking in some aborted movement to attempt to explain. “I didn’t know!” He finally tried to defend himself.

 

“You couldn't connect the dots? ” Bakugou hissed, eyes boring holes into the shorter student. “Like her Quirk isn’t obviously related to his, and he just dropped off the face of the earth right around the time an investigation went into his home life?”

 

“I- I mean, they never confirmed anything-”

 

Of course they didn’t!” Bakugou whisper screamed. “How dumb are you?”

 

Midoriya frowned. “I- I’m sorry, Kacchan. I just… I have faith in people. I even have faith in the system. To a fault, I guess.”

 

“S’not me you should be apologizing to,” Bakugou grumbled, jerking his head back towards Takako.

 

“Done talking about me?” Takako asked wryly, one hand buried in her hair as she propped her head up with her arm.

 

“I’m so sorry, Hiyashi!!” Midoriya yelped, popping up out of bed and stumbling to her side. He bowed deeply, nose nearly touching the bed by her toes, and she lifted an eyebrow. “I should’ve known already- I shouldn’t have even asked-”

 

“That’s silly, Midoriya.” Takako dismissed him, voice dropping back to a normal tone. He peeked up from his deep bow, confused. “How were you supposed to know? I never said who hurt me, and he made sure to keep me out of the media.”

 

Midoriya stood straight and shot a glare back at Bakugou, who merely sniffed, unimpressed.

 

“I should be the one apologizing,” Takako whispered, the rigidity leaving her posture. “I freaked out on you. It’s not your fault. And… you didn’t really deserve to have all that poured on you. That’s my problem. I’m sorry.” She returned the bow, though she could only bend so far while seated.

 

Completely uselessly, her mind made sure to put ‘improve flexibility’ on her checklist of things to do.

 

Midoriya began stammering again, saying something about how it wasn’t a problem, she shouldn’t worry about it, etc, etc, but his ramblings were cut short when Bakugou turned to leave.

 

“Wait! I thought you were-” Midoriya began speaking but quickly cut himself off. Takako tilted her head at the sudden pulse of I want to walk home with you that echoed out of him. It was almost drowned out by the much louder intonation of I don’t want to bother you that followed quickly behind.

 

Bakugou had turned around at the sound of Midoriya’s voice, so he noticed the change in Takako’s expression. “Clearly, you can walk.” He noted, pointing to Midoriya’s legs- which must have been the reason why he’d landed in the infirmary in the first place. “And this one here,” he jabbed his finger in Takako’s direction, turning the attention to her for a moment, “Mentioned that you spend a lot of time ignoring her, which I find hilarious- since she saved your goddamned life, Deku,” Bakugou growled, his tone switching from amused to downright murderous in an instant.

 

Midoriya’s eyes blew wide, and he turned to Takako in surprise. She stuttered out a denial, waving her hands in front of her, but Bakugou was having none of it.

 

“So I came to the conclusion that your time would be better spent,” Bakugou sounded eerily pleasant for a moment, and it was off-putting. “Elsewhere.”

 

Ah. There goes the pleasant. Back to the good ole’ murderous Bakugou they knew best.

 

“Oh- okay,” Midoriya stammered, watching Bakugou leave with wide eyes. “I- I didn’t know-” he began, raising his hands in surrender almost immediately after turning to face Takako once again.

 

“It’s okay, I promise,” Takako shook her head. “You’re busy training to be a hero. I understand.”

 

MIdoriya’s face fell. “But you were trying to get a hold of me?”

 

Takako looked away sheepishly, scratching the back of her neck. “Maybe a little.” She admitted. “Don’t feel bad. It’s not like I don’t have other friends. It’s not a big deal.”

 

Midoriya looked caught between arguing with her some more and just being disappointed in himself.

 

Takako let him suffer while she cleared her ability to leave with Recovery Girl. As long as everything was working properly, she was free to go. Any return of symptoms- any, Recovery Girl insisted- was to be immediately reported.

 

“I know you wanted to walk with Bakugou,” Takako shamelessly revealed what she’d read off of him earlier, and Midoriya flushed a pretty shade of pink. “But will Hiyashi do instead?”

 

Midoriya smiled. “That sounds just fine.”

 

The students checked out of the infirmary and headed out, walking down bricked in paths that led across campus.

 

“Midoriya,” Takako spoke up, hands jammed in her pockets. “Did I really sound like Tomura? Just now, when Bakugou showed up?”

 

Normally, with a loaded question like that, she'd expect Midoriya to stumble and scramble over an apology. However, he didn't immediately move to respond, choosing instead to think carefully over his answer.

 

“A little bit.” The hero in training finally conceded, thoughtfully rubbing his chin. “One of the first things Shigaraki ever complained about was how heroes get to hurt people and call it ‘justice', while villains do the same and get put in jail for it. It's a similar concept.” He concluded. “Shigaraki's grown a lot since then, so he probably doesn't think the same way, but I think that's what Bakugou was talking about.”

 

“Alright… it's not entirely the same.” Takako agreed. “That complaint relies on the idea that heroes and villains choose to deal damage with the same motives driving them. I think in society so far, we've chosen to label villains as people acting on selfish motives, while heroes protect something greater than themselves.” With a sigh, she kicked at a loose rock in the paving. “Unfortunately, I think once you're labeled a hero, no one suspects you of having selfish motives until it's too late.”

 

Midoriya considered this, humming to himself. “You might be right. A lot of complaints from the media about heroes nowadays center around their paychecks.” He agreed, adding another example.

 

Takako pointed at nothing in particular, nodding to agree. “That too. But that's not to say there aren't plenty of good heroes, or even that there isn't a majority of good heroes.” Midoriya nodded emphatically, eyes shining brightly in response to her point. “I just don't like that people can call themselves heroes and then take off the mask and be a horrible person.”

 

Midoriya nodded thoughtfully, then glanced over to her before he spoke again. “You don't think that Kacchan’s that kind of hero, do you?”

 

Takako laughed, almost immediately draining the tension from the air. “No. Bakugou is King Explodo-Kill whether he has the costume on or not. If he can become a hero like that, then there's nothing to hide. Besides,” Takako’s voice dropped to a level suitable for thoughtful musing, “I'm not convinced that Bakugou’s truly a bad person.”

 

“Good.” Midoriya breathed, eyes cast off somewhere far away. “He's not.”

 

“There's… there's just one thing,” Takako admitted, running her fingers through her hair. “He used to push you around, didn't he?” Midoriya's head whipped up, green eyes wide, and Takako immediately backtracked. “Not- not like my father!” She clarified quickly, and he backed down just as fast. “Just like… a bully.”

 

Midoriya laughed under his breath, a sheepish noise. “Yeah. My Quirk didn't show up for a very long time, and Kacchan’s manifested early. It put us at odds really quickly. I idolized him- I still do, actually,” he admitted easily, not a trace of embarrassment in his voice. “And not until very recently did I learn that he took every bit of my kindness as condescension.”

 

“Idiot.” Takako smiled fondly, no trace of malice in her voice. “King of miscommunication.”

 

She bumped shoulders with Midoriya, jostling him, and he laughed- mostly out of surprise.

 

I want to be as cool as Kacchan

 

I want to be as strong as Kacchan

 

I want to surpass Kacchan

 

Takako shook her head, smiling to herself. Midoriya didn't look it, but he was fiercely competitive.

 

“So in some ways, he's like your rival,” Takako guessed, lifting an eyebrow at the green haired boy. “Someone that pushes you to be better.”

 

“Yeah,” Midoriya agreed easily, opening up in a smile. “Sometimes I feel like- no offense to you, or any of the other students here,” he interrupted himself with frantic hands, apologizing in advance. “But I feel like with my drive, the things I want to accomplish, the lengths I'll go to, even the power I have… Kacchan’s really the only one that understands.”

 

Takako nodded slowly, lost in thought.

 

I want to be a hero

 

Honestly, it was near impossible to hear anything else but that.

 

“Does Bakugou see you the same way?” Takako hummed out an innocent filler question, something to move them onto another subject while she continued her search.

 

Midoriya hesitated, only for a beat, but it was enough to send up a flare on Takako’s radar.

 

I want Kacchan to see me

 

“I don't know.” Midoriya answered honestly.

 

I want Kacchan to look at me

 

Takako hid a smile under a cough, covering her mouth for a moment. “But it'd be cool, right? To have someone like Bakugou by your side?”

 

If she was expecting hesitation from Midoriya, he proved her wrong in an instant.

 

“Yeah.” The hero in training grinned, smiling at Takako while they walked. “It would.”

 

I want to stand by Kacchan's side

 

I want Kacchan to stand by my side

 

I want

 

I want

 

I want Kacchan

 

I want Kacchan to want me

 

Ah. It took a little digging, but it's what she was looking for.

 

“People sure do change here at UA, don't they?” Takako mused, her tone airy. Midoriya nodded instead of verbally responding, looking up at the sky while they walked.

 

You and I, we're not so different when it comes to this, are we?

Chapter Text

If the guards noticed how upset Tomura was, they didn't mention it.

 

They weren't always inside the room, so they probably didn't even know. There was no reason for personal supervision, especially since Tomura wasn't constantly trying to escape anymore.

 

He'd been a little upset that Takako had left before she could help him back across the room. Dealing with the guards was not his favorite thing, so he wasn't about to ask them for help- nor was he about to crawl across the floor. By sheer force of will, he'd dragged himself into a standing position and stumbled back to the table.

 

There he sat, as he always did, for a couple of days.

 

Or at least, that's what it seemed like.

 

It was hard to keep track of the days when his cell didn't have a window. Additionally, Tomura had control over the lights, so it wasn't like they were telling him when the sun had gone down. He didn't mess with the lights anyways, so it had been bright in his cell for a very long time.

 

If he wasn't wrong, Takako was taking longer than usual to visit again. She'd explained to him once before that she didn't have much of a schedule, that she simply waited for Dr. Kido to call her in again.

 

Tomura didn't like Dr. Kido much.

 

She, like most professionals, had that air about them that assumed they already had him figured out. If they hadn't already condemned him for being a villain, there was always some sort of pity in their eyes instead.

 

He hated that the most.

 

Nobody forced him to be like this. He'd made himself this, and worked hard to get here.

 

Well, not here, in prison. But, here nonetheless.

 

So, Tomura sat. Tomura stared. Occasionally, he ate.

 

Tomura tried not to wait. Waiting implied that something was coming, implied that he had hope for the future.

 

Yet, he waited.

 

He waited for Takako, at the very least.

 

Tomura didn't like to admit it, but even news of Takako's impending visits was something he didn't mind waiting for.

 

Sometimes, after her mandatory check-ups with him, Dr. Kido would tell him when to expect Takako next. For this reason and this reason only, he wasn't immediately upset when Dr. Kido walked into his cell instead of Takako.

 

The doctor carried on business as she usually did, taking his silence as a no to every question she asked of him. She gave him updates on his legal standing but not much else, and he couldn't help but be a little irritated by her presence after a while.

 

“You know, Shigaraki,” she'd hummed, looking thoughtfully at his hands- which were curled into fists on top of the table to prevent any kind of response. “You can communicate with me in the same way you communicate with Hiyashi.”

 

Tomura fought the urge to sneer.

 

The answer was no, but he didn't act upon it. He simply sat in silence, fighting his frown.

 

He would not respond.

 

If she couldn't understand what he wanted after all the time he'd spent kicking and screaming, he didn't see the point of speaking to her. No, he wouldn't give in to her or anyone else that entered his room hoping for answers.

 

She'd gone on to speak again, and he'd nearly tuned her out until his door opened without warning.

 

He would've ignored that too, if the new entrant hadn't started shouting about Hiyashi.

 

Hiyashi. Unresponsive.

 

He shouldn't have to hear those words.

 

He shouldn't immediately flash back to Takako lying on cement cracked by the force of her impact, staring up at the sky.

 

He shouldn't have to relive being frozen in time, fractions of a second from his ultimate goal, only for his hand to be kicked out of a nest of green hair.

 

He shouldn't have to think about Takako hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes, glassy brown eyes staring right through him, unfocused and unseeing.

 

Those words shouldn't have upset him.

 

He shouldn't have cared.

 

But Tomura moved anyways. Something like rage propelled him to his feet, and he caught the doctor by her neck in seconds. When his arm shook pitifully even with the grip he had on her, Tomura knew it wasn't really rage that had driven him to move. 

 

(It was probably fear, but admitting that would be admitting to a weakness even greater than a physical lack of nutrients.)

 

If he wasn't so weak, he probably could've shaken Dr. Kido around, maybe even picked her up. She might be shorter than Takako.

 

If he didn't have these damn gloves on, he probably still wouldn't have disintegrated her. He wanted answers, dammit.

 

Dr. Kido was infuriatingly unshaken by his show of power. She merely turned to look at him, meeting his glare with something like irritation in her eyes.

 

That fueled his rage, made the pounding of his heart feel a little less like fear.

 

“The longer I stay here, the faster things can go wrong.” She reminded him coolly, expression impassive.

 

That shouldn't make him fear for Takako.

 

He shouldn't fear at all, much less for Takako.

 

Those words shouldn't convince him.

 

But he let go of the woman's jacket anyways, hoping that she read his glare as a threat.

 

She left without another word, the guards following her out.

 

Leaving him in silence.

 

It was silent for a long time.

 

When his door opened next, Tomura was fully expecting an update on Takako.

 

Instead, they set a plate of food down in front of him. No one spoke.

 

Of course, he thought miserably to himself, glaring at the steam rising from his meal. Of course they wouldn't update a villain on any outside information.

 

For all he knew, Takako was dead.

 

It wouldn’t be the first time someone close to him just up and disappeared. Whether dead or straight up gone, it certainly wouldn’t be the first nor the last time he’d lose someone.

 

That thought didn't settle well with him. His mind was still at war, opposing desires still grappling restlessly with each other in an attempt to gain total control.

 

Wouldn't it be better that way?

 

Still, the part of his desires he hadn't yet completely silenced nagged at him. As much as he'd tried to convince himself he didn't care, even the darkest side of him knew the truth.

 

Wouldn't it be easier to fight? To hate? To continue to tear down the system, if you didn't have to worry about the look in her eyes?

 

What does one girl mean to you anyways?

 

If someone had physically asked him that question, Tomura would've laughed at them.

 

But the question wasn't spoken. It wasn't something he could ignore.

 

It lingered in the back of his mind as the days blurred together.

 

What does Takako mean to you?

 

Every time the guards brought him food, Tomura wanted to scream at them, shake them and demand answers. Those were always fleeting thoughts, though. He'd never show them his desperation. He'd never admit weakness directly to their faces.

 

Especially not such a human weakness, something so compassionate and useless.

 

Is it really beneath you to love?

 

And of all the voices he needed echoing in his head, Takako’s was not one of them.

 

Why couldn't he focus on Sensei’s voice? Why couldn't he pull up the low, hushed tones, nearly drowned out by the humming of the monitor that never held an image anyways? Why couldn't he hold fast to the rage in his gut, his certainty that humanity had failed him, that even the heroes had left him to die?

 

“I'm going to be a hero.”

 

Why? Of all the people, why did Takako want to be a hero?

 

Heroes should be good, like… all the time.”

 

Shouldn't she be just as against a society of heroes as he was? What made her stick to that ideal? Hadn't Takako been through enough?

 

First, she'd had to survive her father, then she'd had to make it through the system, and once she'd made it out, she'd dedicated herself to hero training with a Quirk that didn't defend her from much at all.

 

If my Quirk’s no good, I probably won't be much help out there.

 

Tomura couldn't keep his teeth from grinding together at the brief memory. If Takako didn't have it bad enough nowadays, showing up bruised and battered from training, now Tomura stood in her way. Why did she come back when he'd already dedicated himself to tearing down her progress, to resisting her kindness? Even when he mercilessly sought after the fear hidden within tear filled eyes-

 

Stupid, stupid, stupid Takako was out there doing who knows what (Dr. Kido- it's Hiyashi- she's unresponsive-) only to come back to unruly, destructive Tomura. Why did she put herself through this? Why did she come back?

 

She came back because… because…

 

“You said you wanted me to come back. So I will.”

 

Because Tomura wanted her to.

 

What does Takako mean to you?

 

Honestly, the question scared him. He feared the response. He feared his own answer.

 

He feared the yes his hand tapped out every time she asked if he wanted her to come back. He feared how little thought he had to put into the answer.

 

He feared how easily the hours that blurred together in a haze lifted as soon as she walked in his door, the clouds in his mind parting as if she were the goddamn sun.

 

He feared the way his eyes settled closed without question, the way his body leaned into her touch before he could think, before he could resist.

 

The fact that he didn't know what emotion to categorize his reactions to her under made him worry. The label evaded him, nothing quite able to encompass the complexities of Takako.

 

That was the sort of storm he sat in the middle of for what seemed like forever, thick clouds of thoughts too complex to unravel on his own swirling in a dark mass around him. The clash of his desires, still fiercely grappling for victory, whipped his fear into a frenzy. He couldn’t tell if he’d sat in the same position for minutes or days. Absently, he barely noticed one tray of food replaced by another.

 

His limbs turned to stone over the centuries, his gaze locked onto the table in front of him despite the fact that he wasn't seeing anything at all. He was busy, senses occupied, body entirely devoted to drowning in the flood of questions- no, demands- that his mind threw at him.

 

Distantly, something shouted at him. Someone, probably.

 

The cacophony of his own thoughts was louder.

 

What does one girl mean to you anyways?

 

Takako, he insisted back at the storm. It's Takako.

 

What does Takako mean to you?

 

What makes you ask for her return?

 

Who do you think you are to worry for her? For some girl?

 

For Takako, he repeated, as if the discretion made a difference.

 

What's so different about Takako?

 

What does Takako mean to you?

 

The question, the one that's whipped up a hurricane of anxiety in his chest, in his head, high speed winds throwing thoughts and emotions around at a breakneck speed.

 

What does Takako mean to you?

 

Maybe he's hoping that his neck will break while abstract concepts collide with enough force to make him see stars.

 

What does Takako mean to you?

 

Takako didn't have anything to defend herself with, always coming back sore and burnt out from training.

 

Tomura had plenty, despite what the scars riddling his body would say. The walls he’d built for himself were meant to keep people out, keep them away.

 

Those walls were cracked, shot to hell by fucking Takako. Fear settled low in his gut, but the ice was only a reaction to the warmth that peeked out of the one crack in his defenses. The feeling pulled at him, spread over his skin, settled in his bones.

 

What does Takako mean to you?

 

All Tomura really had to show for it was this comfortable warmth, which wasn’t much of an answer at all.

 

(It wasn't much of an answer, but it was an answer. Tomura was content to soak in the warmth he'd never allowed himself to embrace.)

 

Almost as soon as he’d settled fully into the feeling, hesitantly sinking into some sort of truce with his own mind, something- something touched him.

 

Someone touched him. First of all, who fucking dared-

 

Dizzy from the sudden transition from frenzied movement to stillness, dropped unceremoniously back into reality, Tomura jolted. His body kick-started, bones creaking, system rebooting.

 

Caught somewhere between hysteria and rage, he lashed out, growling between his teeth and throwing his entire body into the assault he planned for this unfortunate soul.

 

Of all the times to touch him, none of them were good. Particularly now, after the mental shitstorm he’d just come out of, he wanted none of it.

 

Tomura launched himself onto whoever had made the mistake of touching him, teeth bared in the nastiest snarl he could manage. His head still spun from the aftermath of checking out into subspace for who knows how long and not eating for… however that long had ended up being.

 

These guards could go to hell. Dr. Kido too.

 

He shook his head, his senses coming back to him in a rush. Voices squawked somewhere off to his right, and he vaguely registered that they were yelling at him. He assumed they wanted him off of whoever he had attacked.

 

Tomura curled his fingers tighter around the body underneath him, blinking a little harder to speed the return of his vision. Fuzzy became clear, two became one, and suddenly-

 

 

 

Suddenly he was staring down at Hiyashi Takako.

 

 

 

She had no right to look the way she did, sprawled underneath him. With her glasses askew, hair haloed around her head, eyes blown a little too wide, he’d clearly caught her off guard. Tomura had her wrist in one tight fisted grip, her throat in the other.

 

And fuck, he should not be marveling at how soft her skin was, smooth in comparison to the scarred terrain of his own neck.

 

Tomura felt his face heat up in an embarrassing flush of red, suddenly aware of the way he’d so easily caged her underneath him.

 

She was so… so tiny- so little and warm-

 

He barely had time to process that thought before his body stopped responding to his commands, freezing in place on top of Takako. These damn guards- he really was getting tired of this.

 

Either Takako hadn’t been aware of the guard’s Quirk activation or she’d simply been pissed, but her responding course of action was not what Tomura was expecting.

 

She flipped him.

 

Little Takako, barely a hundred pounds, shoved at his elbows until they buckled, planted her foot on the ground and a knee in his hip, and flipped him onto his back.

 

Hero training had its perks, he guessed.

 

Takako pinned him almost easily, as if she’d done this a million times (which was completely possible). The sole of her shoe kind of pinched the skin of his wrist, and her bony shin was not a very welcome pressure boring into his thigh, but he couldn’t really complain about much with the guard’s Quirk still buzzing over his skin. He noticed that she didn’t pin his other arm, and instead found her hands busy holding her up at arm’s length over him.

 

Her chest heaved- from the exertion or the proximity?- and her glasses slipped down her nose a little further every time she took a breath.

 

Tomura should not be caught in the burning gaze she’d pinned him under, nor should he feel even the slightest bit victorious about the pink tinge in her cheeks that mirrored his. (He definitely should not feel his stomach flipping wildly after being thrown around by a girl that’s almost a foot shorter than him.)

 

It was all over in a second, though, and Takako was ripped off of him before Tomura could really commit the angry line of her lips to memory.

 

“What the fuck, Tenko!” Takako shouted, kicking uselessly in protest as the guards lift her off the ground completely. “That’s low, going for my throat like that- I had half a mind to just-”

 

Her threat was cut off by the thump of her feet reconnecting with the ground. Her voice dropped to an angry mumble, and she’s a constant stream of muttered curses while the guard released Tomura from their hold.

 

He sat up slowly, rubbing his wrist with a thoughtful look on his face.

 

Well, she’s not dead.

 

Slowly, he scanned her, squinting while he checked for… he didn’t really know, honestly. Some kind of physical proof?

 

Takako stopped cold, her vengeful grumbling coming to a halt as she caught his curious stare.

 

“What’s with that look?” She demanded, squinting right back at him, her hands raising to plant on her hips.

 

Tomura stifled a grin, mostly because she looked exactly like he remembered her as a child in that moment.

 

“I’m genuinely upset with you, you know.” She grumbled- and though her tone was petulant, the accusation shot a cold spike clean through his chest. Takako cleared something with the guards, probably permission to re-engage after the fiasco that had just occurred. After a quick discussion, she plopped down in front of him in a huff, her arms crossed over her chest. “Want to know why, or should I keep it to myself?”

 

For half a second, he’s tempted to be difficult and deny her. It’s second nature at this point, what with how often he fought with Dabi and ignored Toga.

 

He tapped out a yes anyways. The line between her eyebrows softened just a little- and he’s secretly glad she’s as easy to read as ever.

 

“I had the worst week,” she began, frowning sharply. “Including but not limited to: Bakugou’s impatience, intensive physical training, Midoriya almost worshipping my father, and weird medical problems.” Takako bit out- and he’s very nearly amused until he caught Midoriya and the mention of Takako’s father in the same phrase.

 

Weird medical problems also wiped the threat of a smile from his face.

 

“Now,” Takako pushed on, not even stopping to breathe, “I’ll admit, I look forward to visiting you. So imagine my surprise, if you will,” she’s still glaring at him in periodic bursts, reminding him that she’s genuinely upset. “When I wait an entire week, then another- fully expecting that after the episode I’d had that I’m never coming back, mind you- only for Dr. Kido to call me and tell me you’re unresponsive.”

 

This caught him by surprise. Takako noticed.

 

“Oh, like you didn’t know?” She accused, hands back on her hips even though she’s sitting down. When he didn’t move, offering no response, her posture deflated a little. Suddenly, she looked concerned. “They spent like two days trying to get your attention. You wouldn’t even react to touch.”

 

Tomura’s lip curled, equal parts disgusted and frightened that people had been close enough to touch him without him knowing. Takako’s hard gaze softened, and she contemplated him for a moment with her lip caught between her teeth before she returned to railing into him.

 

But,” she insisted, eyes alight with a particular brand of fury. “You spoke.

 

Tomura blinked. This was also news to him.

 

Takako sighed impatiently. “You really had no idea, huh?” She hummed.

 

He tapped a no into the table with both of his hands. The rage seemed to seep out of her, and she propped chin up on her palm, suddenly deflated.

 

“I figured you were just being difficult in order to see me again, since you only said my name, but…” Takako eyed him, curiosity seeping into her brown eyes. “Something happened.”

 

Since you only said my name was the only part of that sentence he could focus on. Not only had he spoken without knowing, but he’d unconsciously called for Takako while he was mired in his thoughts.

 

Not surprising, was what his brain supplied him with, still full of disdain for the subject. Since she’s all you thought about. For what could’ve been a week or two. Moron.

 

“Tenko,”

 

Goddamn it, Tomura, you're really going to let her control you like that? Let her run amok in your head, kick around your feelings?

 

“...Tenko?”

 

You called for her. Even in your darkest moment, you knew. You already know, Tomura.

 

Tomura blinked, flinching away from the hand that reached a little too close to tap against the tabletop. It wasn't a loud noise, it wasn't angry or annoyed, wasn’t meant to be menacing- but he jerked back anyways.

 

When he looked up, attention fully caught, he found Takako regarding him with brown eyes full of concern. She retracted her hand, whispering a tiny sorry as it settled in front of her, and promised not to do that again.

 

“Tennchan,” she whispered after a tense silence, her eyebrows knit together like she truly didn't know what to do.

 

The nickname only fueled the warmth within him, igniting something he'd been trying to tamp down. It's just fucking cute coming from her, and nothing about him should be cute.

 

“You have pretty eyelashes,” echoed in his mind, reminding him that her rendering him cute was not limited to a single incident.

 

Tomura exploded with heat, the sensation crackling from his chest straight down to his fingers. Such a simple compliment should not get a rise out of him- he's heard much worse from Dabi and countless other low lives that substituted crude comments for simple niceties.

 

It shouldn't make him want to hide behind his hands, but it did anyways.

 

“Tennchan, what happened?” Takako sighed, the fist buried in her cheek squishing her mouth into a lopsided frown.

 

It’s cute, she's so cute-

 

Tomura shoved the thought down, focusing on how on earth he was going to answer her.

 

They're quiet for a long time.

 

Takako,

 

Takako let out a breath, her head dropping forwards. “It's fine. It's not a yes or no question.” She agreed softly, pushing her glasses up before they slid off.

 

Takako, I-

 

“Let's talk about something else, I guess.” She offered, tilting her head and smiling what seemed to be a pretty genuine smile.

 

Takako- no, Tacchan,

 

He tapped into the table with both hands, halting her in her tracks.

 

She waited patiently.

 

Tacchan- really and truly, I… I-

 

Tomura cleared his throat, a noise that seemed much too loud for the silence of their situation. Takako’s eyes widened, curiosity glittering in those warm brown eyes. He couldn’t hold her stare, choosing instead to drop his gaze to his fingers on the table in front of him.

 

“Tacchan, I… I thought you were dead.”

 

Tomura’s cell was very quiet after he spoke. He didn’t dare look up.

 

Ultimately, it was one of the guards that spoke up first.

 

“Dr. Kido’s going to be pissed.” They noted. There’s no malice in their tone, merely a curious foreboding as if they couldn't wait to know what happened next.

 

Takako rustled in front of him. Tomura chanced a peek up from his hands to see that she had turned around to stare at the guards waiting patiently by the doors, probably demanding answers.

 

“Oh,” the guard realized as they registered Takako’s attention. “One of the guards taking care of you last week came to request Dr. Kido’s assistance, but she was busy in here consulting with Shigaraki. They basically burst in here and announced that you were unconscious somewhere on the premises- broke protocol all over the place. It certainly got our attention.” They explained.

 

Tomura huffed under his breath. It certainly did.

 

“Pretty soon after all of that, Shigaraki stopped responding.” The other guard, the older one, added in. “Dr. Kido was already upset about the security mishap piled on top of what happened to you. When she hears about this…” they trailed off, mouth pulled into a wry grimace.

 

Tomura could read between the lines. When the doctor heard that the security guard’s outburst had triggered his own spiral into nothingness… oh, he hoped someone would lose their job. Fuck them overall in the first place, and fuck them for sparking the chain reaction that had wreaked havoc on him for who knew how long. They deserved it.

 

“You knew I passed out?” Takako squeaked, whipping around to face Tomura again. Her eyes were even wider than they had been before, barely contained behind her thick glasses frames. “Did they tell you I was okay?” She demanded.

 

Tomura rapped out a solid no into the table, glaring past Takako to the guards stationed behind her.

 

Takako whipped around again, and the guards were immediately protesting, giving plenty of excuses as to why they couldn’t tell him anything about her situation.

 

He shouldn’t have known about it in the first place.

 

Takako finally just sighed and turned back around, pushing her glasses up to rub at her eyes. The motion was quickly followed by a stifled yawn, and Tomura tried desperately to hate himself for the way his chest warmed at the sight.

 

“Alright,” she started to speak, her voice loud enough that Tomura knew the coming words weren’t directed at him. “Am I allowed to tell him about what happened?” She demanded, fingers still covering her face.

 

One of the guards squinted, clearly running through security protocols in their head. “I guess so.” They finally relented. “The incident wasn’t a result of a weakness in our security, simply a weakness in yours, so if you’re okay discussing that…” they trailed off, and Takako finally lowered her hands to the table.

 

She smiled, and though the pull of her lips was tense, the emotion behind it was genuine (and Tomura was definitely not warm again). “I don’t mind giving away my weaknesses to Tenko, if that’s what you’re afraid of.” She assured them- and the implied trust in that statement nearly knocked Tomura onto the ground.

 

Finally, she lowered her voice, bringing the conversation back to just the two of them. “Especially if you were so worried about me,” she added, her eyes crinkling with the force of her smile.

 

He couldn’t tell if her words were teasing or genuinely joyful, but that didn’t stop the inexplicable heat in him from spreading down his arms and settling in his hands once more.

 

So Takako told him about meeting with Toga, about how the bouncy blonde was an unfiltered firehose of open emotions that nearly drowned the hero in training in under ten minutes. She told him about stumbling around, unseeing and unhearing, barely able to feel the guards guiding her to get help.

 

“I’m already pretty blind,” she admitted with a sheepish laugh, tapping the edge of her glasses. “So it felt like I didn’t have my glasses on. Even when my vision would focus enough, it was just… weird. Like I couldn’t process anything.” She let out a breath, eyebrows pulling together over a smile that had turned quizzical, like the event still perturbed her.

 

He’d seen Takako scared for him, scared for others, for her friends, but he’d never seen her scared for herself.

 

It made the warmth in his chest morph into heat, simmering and bubbling in his gut. What happened wasn’t Toga’s fault- Takako had made that very clear- but the thought of her going back into that room made his hands clench into fists.

 

“Anyways,” Takako derailed, adjusting her glasses. “Once I closed my eyes, I pretty much passed out. I woke up later in the infirmary and talked with Recovery Girl about what happened.”

 

Tomura definitely had not been watching her closely, which was why he definitely did not pick up on the way the light in her eyes dimmed. He drummed his fingers on the table in a yes that had nothing to do with what she was talking about, simply making noise to catch her attention.

 

“Interested?” She teased- and he regretted the action immediately. Despite her tone, her eyes were still empty. “I guess this year I’m finding my limits and pushing them. I’ve never had this happen to me before.”

 

There was a very clear opening at the end of her statement, something else she wanted to say evident in the air of her tone.

 

Tomura just waited. He hoped she didn’t skip past it and move on- he’s only equipped with yes and no, and he didn’t plan on speaking much more than he already had.

 

“I’ve… seen it happen before.” Takako finally admitted, and her eyes dropped from his face. “My father would zone out like that after coming home, sometimes.”

 

And there it was.

 

Takako’s father.

 

Tomura didn’t know much about the pro hero Nightmare. He’d never heard of him growing up, and Takako had never spoken of him when they were younger. The only information he had was from Kurogiri’s research, a video clip and a news story his only things to go off of aside from the occasional reaction from Takako regarding the matter.

 

The heat that curled his fingernails into his palms when he thought about Takako facing Toga again was nothing next to the inferno that rose higher with every new bit of information he collected about Nightmare.

 

“I… we’ve never talked about him, have we?” Takako spoke up after a tense silence.

 

Tomura had already acknowledged this fact. The no he responded with was quiet.

 

“I feel like a hypocrite, coming in here to encourage you to open up,” Takako admitted- and she was definitely avoiding his eyes now. “When I’ve never talked to anyone about him. Not you, not my classmates, not even Dr. Kido,” she listed, and her fingers loop into themselves.

 

When he noticed her hands shaking, he was surprised by the sudden urge to reach over and take her hands in his. He wanted to give her something to anchor onto, cover her in warmth at the very least. Tomura wondered if she was cold. He didn’t know how she could be when he was practically burning up in her general vicinity.

 

“I probably should.” She relented with a sigh. “It’s not very healthy to keep things bottled up and… I’ve been holding onto this for a long time.”

 

Tomura didn’t have a response to that. He’s not really the best example of emotional stability, and definitely not the poster child for openness and vulnerability.

 

Though Takako had a way of dragging that last part out of him.

 

“But,” she piped up suddenly, straightening her shoulders. The smile she put on was fake, and it was painfully obvious when she raised eyes devoid of light to meet his again. “This isn’t about me! I’m supposed to be taking care of you! So, did I miss anything? Still worried?” She queried, head tilting in a motion that would’ve been adorable if she didn’t look so forced.

 

Tomura tapped a resolute yes into the table with one hand. Takako frowned- and this expression fit the absence of light in her eyes much better than the last.

 

“Hmm,” Takako mulled over the story she’d told, furrowing her eyebrows. “I told you about Toga,”

 

Yes

 

“And about shutting down,”

 

Yes

 

“And… I told you about not really knowing what was going on until I woke up in the infirmary,”

 

Yes

 

“And everything was normal afterwards, so that’s it, really-”

 

No

 

Takako squinted at him, concentrating as if she were trying to put a puzzle together. “But everything was normal,” she insisted, “I could see and hear and feel just fine.”

 

He tapped out another no. It’s difficult communicating this way, a little frustrating, but it also kind of amused him to see Takako floundering for the answer.

 

“After I woke up, I was fine.” She repeated. “The only other thing that happened after I woke up was-”

 

She paused so suddenly that he worried she’d choked on something, especially with the way her eyes widen to stare at him.

 

“Tennchan-” she hummed. “Are you worried about me holding on to all that stuff about my father?” She pressed- though the pressure of the question was quite gentle.

 

Honestly, he was embarrassed to admit this, but he’d made her work for it so he supposed she deserved an answer. His responding yes bordered on unintelligible, but she understood him anyways.

 

A smile pulled at her mouth while the light slowly crept back into her eyes. Tomura couldn’t help but feel a weird sense of accomplishment.

 

She mulled this over for longer than he felt was necessary. He was beginning to get a little irritated, scared that she was making fun of him, but before he could make a noise to break her out of her pensive thoughts, Takako focused on him once again.

 

“How about this.” She offered- and he immediately got the sinking feeling that a negotiation was fast approaching. “I’ll talk with Dr. Kido about my father if you start responding to her.”

 

Both of his hands tapped a no into the table without hesitation. Absolutely not.

 

“I don’t really know what your problem is with her,” Takako admitted. “But she just wants to help.”

 

He tapped another no. Clearly, Takako trusted too blindly.

 

She squinted at the denial, frowning at him. (He wanted her smile back.) “Okay,” she moved on slowly, the gears clearly still turning in her head. “What if I’m there with you?”

 

Ah, his most obvious weakness. More time with Takako.

 

More time with someone who didn’t have their mind set on what he was supposed to be, with someone who treated him like a human instead of a villain, with someone that asked permission, apologized for upsetting him, didn’t flinch away from his face, someone that… someone that cared for him, carefully and obviously, someone that never backed down no matter how obstinate he got.

 

Tomura hoped she hadn’t managed to read his fledgling desires before he could figure them out himself. She wasn’t close enough, he didn’t think, and he liked to think that he’d gotten good at having a sense of whether or not she was digging around in his emotions.

 

“I could just sit there and glare at you every time you don’t respond,” she offered jokingly, clearly trying to clear the air. He tapped out a petulant no, his mouth twisting despite himself. “Okay,” Takako laughed- and he liked that much better. “I guess I could see if she’d do a double session,” she mused, gazing thoughtfully at Tomura while she thought out her next words. “I’d be there with you, and we’d both have to be uncomfortable and talk about things we don’t want to.”

 

When Tomura didn’t immediately shoot her down, Takako pressed forwards.

 

“But if we do that, it’s not just going to be me talking.” She insisted. “I’ll answer if you do.”

 

For a moment, his brain warred over the proposition, threatening to overcome him once again.

 

Why should you care if she needs to talk out her daddy issues?

 

Don’t let her manipulate you into giving in, Tomura, don’t-

 

“Hey,” Takako pulled him out of it, something soft in her gaze that wasn’t there before. “If we do that, then I could wash your hair again- if you’d like me to.”

 

His body betrayed him as soon as the words finished coming out of her mouth, warmth spiraling from his center down to the hand that rolled out an immediate agreement. Takako’s responding smile was brilliant, and it fanned the flames in his chest, making them rise to his cheeks.

 

Damn his pale skin. He couldn’t hide a single blush, no matter how small.

 

“I’ll talk to Dr. Kido about it for sure!” Takako chirped, sounding way more excited about their agreement than he really thought was necessary. She settled back down, happiness obviously buzzing through her body. “I’m really impressed, Tenko, you’re doing really well!”

 

He didn’t like the sound of that. His disgust must have been evident on his face, because Takako immediately jumped back on the subject to clear things up.

 

“I don’t mean like- not like-” she stammered, waving her hands out in front of her. “I mean- Tennchan-” she stressed the childhood nickname suddenly, leaning forwards when she met his eyes. “You looked like a zombie the first time I walked in here.” She insisted- and he wondered if his responding frown fueled her panic more or not. “And- and I did my best, but you barely responded, and I thought I was going to lose you,”

 

Tomura’s half hearted eye contact turned into a full blown stare before he could stop himself, caught off guard by the confession.

 

“Honestly, Tenko, I don’t care if you hate heroes or love them- I don’t even care if you ever ‘fully integrate back into society’ or- or whatever that final sentence from the court wanted,” Takako stammered. “My best friend grew up without me, and I don’t want to lose him before I get to know him again. Please, Tennchan,” and if his blush had died at all in the last couple minutes, it certainly returned in full force then, “After all you went through, I’m just glad you’re living again.”

 

It was all he could do not to hide behind his hands. Holding her gaze, his vision focused solely on big brown eyes that had better not be shiny with tears, he knew his face was a pathetically bright shade of red splashed across his cheeks and nose. All he wanted to do was hide from her concern- from her honesty, because it only made the warmth in his chest worse.

 

Deep down, he knew he didn’t deserve any of it.

 

Takako came back to him time and time again no matter how hard she’d been beaten down before, all because of his own selfish desires.

 

He was hurting her. She was getting hurt.

 

And still she worried about him. Still she pushed him to do better, to thrive instead of merely surviving.

 

“Tenko, I’m honestly impressed by how much better you’ve been. I’m- I’m proud of you.” Takako whispered. He knew the volume wasn’t loud enough for the guards to hear. It made the statement that much more intimate, and what had been a splash of red on his cheeks was quickly spreading to the rest of his face.

 

He had to stop this- had to stop her before she saw, before she understood.

 

If Takako figured him out… would his request for her to return be enough? Or would she flee him, run to escape his muddled mix of feelings before it became something he couldn’t put a stop to?

 

(He feared he’d already reached this point, but for Takako’s sake, he hoped he could reign himself in if need be.)

 

“That sounds so dumb, but it’s true,” Takako laughed, scratching the back of her neck- an action he knew was reserved for moments when she truly felt embarrassed. Tomura tapped out a begrudging no, letting her know it was fine. “Oh, yeah? You don’t mind that I’m proud of you for little things like these?” She hummed, something sly and teasing sparkling in the slow way she framed the question.

 

Both of his hands assisted in rolling a no into the table, and he ducked a little further behind his tangled mop of hair before she could look closer. He didn’t care if she teased him about it, he just wanted to hear it again- preferably without his steadily reddening face on display.

 

“Well, I am.” Takako insisted. “It’s not easy to be okay in a situation like this.” She vaguely gestured to the plain cell walls, her smile faltering for a moment. “But you’re doing… you’re pretty okay now, right?” She waited until he replied, smiling at his quiet reassurance. “I’m glad. Coming back to a ‘pretty okay’ Tenko is better than no Tenko at all. So, I’m proud of you.”

 

Warmth buzzed through him like a shot. Tomura shuddered.

 

Takako squinted at him, but he quickly dismissed her with a roll of one hand, five fingers tapping into the table one at a time.

 

“Hiyashi, time.” One of the guards spoke up. The sound shattered a bubble that Tomura hadn’t noticed was wrapped around them, and his ears rang in the aftermath of it breaking.

 

“Want me to come back?” Takako asked- and it’s more of an automatic call and response to the guards telling her to leave than her actually checking, since they’ve already discussed their next meeting. His immediate yes made her smile nonetheless- and he marveled at how easy it was to make her lips pull up at the corners. “I’ll check with Dr. Kido, and we’ll wash your hair?”

 

It’s funny that she said we as if she hadn’t already offered to wash his hair for him. Tomura was sure he could do it himself this time, but he wanted her hands in his hair, her nails on his scalp.

 

The shudder that ran through him ( again ), was embarrassing, but he tapped out a yes nonetheless.

 

Takako smiled and Takako left, taking the guards with her and leaving Tomura on his own.

 

For now, he’d settled on accepting this feeling, this warmth… whatever it was. It felt good, at the very least.

 

What didn’t feel so good was the realization that he was going to have to hide this newfound warmth. Not just from the guards or Dr. Kido- who would surely be intrigued- but also from Takako. Because…

 

No matter how much he wanted Takako, it wouldn’t matter much at all if Takako wanted nothing to do with him.

Chapter Text

“If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were purposefully flirting with Shigaraki.”

 

The younger guard made this observation while checking Takako's bag as if it were the most normal statement in the world.

 

Takako froze, eyes wide as she turned to stare at them.

 

“What- what makes you think that I am?” She demanded, trying not to look flustered.

 

“Seriously, Hiyashi?” They queried, shaking their head. “Who just offers to wash a very dangerous criminal’s hair?”

 

Takako couldn't stop the red that took over her face, and she found herself stammering for probably the eightieth time in the last hour. “Shigaraki's not- he's not dangerous,” she argued, snatching her bag back in what she hoped looked like anger and not embarrassment. “Isn't that what you guys are there for anyways?”

 

Both of the guards laugh at that- in an agreement, not a dismissal- and Takako busied herself with sliding her bag back onto her shoulders.

 

“I can't say I wouldn't be surprised,” the older guard sighed, tapping out a code into the next doorway they needed to pass through. “Shigaraki has always been responsive to you. You always perk up a little too, after these sessions.” They noted, tapping Takako's shoulder with a clipboard.

 

Takako was unabashedly bright red now, and she didn't bother to hide it.

 

“Oh,” the younger guard- whose tongue seemed to be a little looser than the older’s, Takako had noticed- suddenly noticed Takako's expression. “You're- you're serious.”

 

“Yes, I'm serious!” Takako huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. “Did you think I would lie to him?”

 

“No- I just-” it's the younger guard's turn to stammer now, and Takako kept her frown set to bothered. “I can't help but think that's… not such a great idea, you know?” They admitted. Bothered turned quickly to pissed, and suddenly Takako found her teeth grinding together.

 

“I mean,” apparently the younger had no sense of discretion (not to mention self preservation), because they just kept digging themselves a deeper hole. “I'm supposed to be on duty to keep you safe, and you go chasing after villains with your heart. I can't protect your heart.”

 

Okay, Takako relented, the tension in her shoulders easing. That's a fair point.

 

“That's what being a kid’s all about, right?” The older guard spoke up this time, and Takako's glad, because she didn't trust herself to say anything nice. “You chase a few hearts, break your own in the process. Really learn what this world’s all about. Get to know yourself in the process.”

 

Takako's really glad the older guard chose to speak up, because suddenly she's more convinced to trust her own decisions.

 

“Alright,” the younger guard relented, “but does she have to break her heart on a villain?”

 

Takako gathered all five foot and some inches of herself, ready to just frikkin' lay into this fool, but the older guard saved her once again.

 

“Who says she's gonna break?” They hummed, sliding a keycard into a slot and opening another door. “Shigaraki's certainly better for it.”

 

Takako was about to agree, maybe send a nasty face in the younger guard's direction, but the younger came back with a point that echoed Aizawa, a warning that had clung to her for weeks.

 

“Yeah, but what's Hiyashi getting out of it? What's the use if she gives and gives and never receives?”

 

Takako stepped through a metal detector- or at least she thought that's what it was meant for- and on the other side the older guard was already shaking their head.

 

“You're dense.” Was all they said, and the younger guard began squawking in protest. They caused a general ruckus until the older picked up a phone attached to the wall and dialed into it. “Hello, Sector 5541-C requesting an audience with Dr. Kido.”

 

Takako brightened, the realization hitting her.

 

“Hiyashi would like to set up an appointment with you,” the guard spoke as soon as they're put through, and the phone was quickly handed to Takako.

 

“Hi, Dr. Kido!” Takako greeted, bouncing on her toes.

 

“Hello, Hiyashi. Feeling better?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“How was your meeting with Shigaraki? Did he respond to you at all?”

 

“Oh- uh, yeah,” Takako tripped over her words, suddenly remembering that when she'd walked into Shigaraki's cell today she'd been met with a blank wall.

 

After waiting two weeks for the next call, Takako had picked up after the first ring upon seeing Dr. Kido’s caller ID. The doctor had been as blunt as ever, asking with no preamble if Takako could come in to meet with Shigaraki.

 

It was then that she was informed that the villain was completely unresponsive, in an even worse state of unreachableness than when he'd first gone silent.

 

Dr. Kido had been able to get a brain scan off of him. That's how unresponsive he'd been.

 

It became clear Tomura wasn't reacting to anything at all, and when he started mumbling Takako's name, the professional had finally given in and called the high school student.

 

“What happened?” Dr. Kido queried, suddenly curious.

 

“Well, I tried calling to him, but that didn't work, and neither did hitting the table in front of him, so I sat down next to him and touched his leg,”

 

“Contact didn't seem to work for us,” Dr. Kido echoed, as if she already knew what had happened.

 

“Oh no, it worked,” Takako laughed nervously. “He uh… he kinda threw me to the ground.”

 

“Hiyashi!”

 

“It's okay! It's okay, I swear,” Takako promised. “The guards handled it really well, they didn't even let me punch him when I flipped him over on his back.”

 

“Hiyashi,” now Dr. Kido sounded exasperated, and Takako wondered wryly if perhaps that wasn't the right thing to say. “And after that? How did he respond to you fighting back?”

 

“Not at all? He just kinda put himself back where he had been.” Takako admitted. “He seemed kinda upset- but I figured out why. It's because he knew about me passing out, but no one told him if I was okay.”

 

The line was silent for a couple moments. Takako hoped she had sounded menacing.

 

“That's… understandable.” Dr. Kido finally sighed. “How'd you manage to weasel that out of him with yeses and nos? Did the guards tell you?”

 

“No, uh… Shigaraki spoke. To me.” Takako forced out her words, fully aware that this was a milestone she probably should've opened on. The next silence she sat in seemed stunned, but Dr. Kido breezed past it before she could apologize.

 

“That's good to hear. I'm glad he's improving again. And the rest of your meeting?”

 

“He went back to tapping out yes and no. But it's fine, because I got him to agree to talk to you!”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah… with conditions.” Takako admitted. “If it's okay with you, I'd like to do a session… like… together. If that's possible.”

 

“Well- sure, Hiyashi. What made him agree to that? We've offered that to him before.”

 

Takako hadn't previously known this. Nonetheless, there's a clear difference between her offer and Dr. Kido's.

 

“I told him that he wouldn't be uncomfortable alone. I promised I'd talk too.” Takako's reluctant to explain the deal even though it had to be done. More for her sake at this point than Tomura's. “I promised I'd talk to you about my father. Because I haven't. With anyone.”

 

Dr. Kido knew about Takako's relationship with Tomura, but she'd never mentioned her father. She's sure the doctor had picked up on the contents of a few of Takako and Tomura's conversations- she's told they're reviewed after she left (for obvious security reasons).

 

“I'd be happy to sit down with you.” Dr. Kido assured her, voice so calm and collected that it kind of served to soothe Takako's building nerves. “Are you okay with discussing this in front of Shigaraki? You don't have to, you know. I'll get to him eventually. It's my job, after all.” Dr. Kido sounded just the slightest bit worried this time, something Takako only noticed because of how calm the doctor had sounded before. “Please don't strain yourself to force progress.”

 

“I'm not! I'm not, promise. This is…” Takako trailed off, sighing into the phone. “I've been doing a lot for Shigaraki. It's my turn to get better too.”

 

Dr. Kido contemplated this for a moment, her humming distant over the phone line. “I'll call you in soon.”

 

“Alright! Thank you so much!” Takako exclaimed, exchanging quick goodbyes before handing the phone back to one of the guards.

 

She couldn't keep the smile off of her face, her optimism returned, and the younger guard squinted at her while they walked.

 

“Is this what-”

 

The older guard knocked their counterpart in the back of the head before they could finish their sentence, and the two sent Takako back to UA with one bright and one slightly annoyed smile.

 

---

 

It smelled like it was going to rain.

 

Takako liked rain. She liked the sound of it against her window, liked the smell in the air before the sky tore open, liked the way the thunder would shake her furniture if the storm was close enough.

 

She didn’t so much like the way the preceding humidity made her skin sticky, nor how it made her hair curl and frizz, but she ignored that while she made her way back to her dorm.

 

With everything so nicely in place, Takako felt light. If her feet were going to dance, well, they deserved music to dance to. So with her headphones firmly in place, eyes closed (because she knew this route by heart), and skin sticky with the threat of rain, Takako danced.

 

Another great part about the rain was that it made everyone hide away inside. No one wanted their clothes to stick to their body, or their hair to fall flat into dripping strings. They tried to avoid letting their makeup run or having their shoes squish.

 

She’d grown used to the low buzz of noise that a crowd ended to elicit from her Quirk, but it was always nice to be alone.

 

Takako didn’t mind the rain.

 

When the first couple drops hit her head, she simply tucked her phone inside her jacket and let the music keep playing. After about five minutes of walking (dancing), she was soaked. She splashed in the puddles beginning to collect on the paths in time to the beat of her music, wiping fruitlessly at her smeared glasses lenses after too much rain collected on the glass.

 

Takako danced.

 

She tripped once, catching her toe on a loose stone, but the mishap merely made her laugh, and hero training had taught her how to catch herself before she fell.

 

Throwing her arms wide, she spun in a quick circle, face upturned to the sky.

 

Someday, Tomura, you’ll be here to feel this too.

 

The thought surprised her. It felt natural, kinda came out of nowhere.

 

But the hope embedded in it was real, and the sentiment behind it true.

 

She hoped she could dance in the rain with Tomura someday. It’d be dumb- she’d probably be the only one making a fool of herself, would probably spend a lot of time tugging at Tomura’s wrists and pleading with him to just let loose. But he’d laugh at her, and she’d enjoy herself. Maybe she’d even dig out one of those blushes that she’d noticed cropping up more often nowadays.

 

It’d be fun, to-

 

“Oof.”

 

Takako bounced off of somebody. She knew it was a somebody and not a something because it was warm and definitely made a noise of protest. Plus, she would’ve fallen to the hard paving stones beneath her if that somebody hadn’t grabbed her arm.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Takako wiped her sleeve over the lenses of her glasses, trying to clear a path for her vision.

 

It didn’t matter much, her sleeve was just as soaked as her glasses, and she’d recognize that hair anywhere.

 

“Todoroki!” She said his name, but it was more of a yelp than a greeting. “Yeah! Yeah, I’m fine.” She assured him, pocketing her headphones.

 

Without the music in her ears, the world was awash with white noise.

 

“What are you doing out in the rain?” Todoroki asked, lifting one white eyebrow. “You’re soaked.”

 

You are too, was her first thought, but she shoved that one down in favor of a kinder response.

 

“I like the rain.” She replied simply, pushing her bangs up and aside. Now that they were wet, they were scraggly and just long enough to drip water into her eyes.

 

Todoroki eyed her for a moment, something like curiosity in his two-toned gaze. “I do too.”

 

Which was how the two of them ended up on top of a building nearby, sitting under dark skies.

 

“Is it something about your Quirk, or do you just not mind being soaked?” Takako spoke up first, watching the water stream off of her hand onto the rooftop.

 

Todoroki considered her question, carefully thinking it through before he answered. “I don’t mind being wet. You can always dry off later.”

 

“Having a heat Quirk probably helps too,” Takako noted. “That’s kinda why I asked. I always end up freezing once I go inside.”

 

Todoroki nodded thoughtfully, gazing down at his fingers. “And you?”

 

“It’s a lot of things.” Takako admitted. “I can just feel when they’re coming, and I like the way a storm drowns everything out. I like how it washes everything away.”

 

Todoroki didn’t reply, simply nodded again, and Takako let him be.

 

She’d heard from her classmates and plenty of other students that Todoroki wasn’t big on words. He wasn’t stupid, that was obvious. If anything, the infrequent manner of his speech made a good argument towards his intelligence. He didn’t say anything unnecessary and always got to the point with the shortest amount of words. So she didn’t mind the silence.

 

“You’re Hiyashi, from Class B, right?”

 

His recognition of her would’ve surprised her a couple months ago. But after everything that went down with Midoriya and Bakugou, being recognized by Class A didn’t faze her in the slightest anymore.

 

When Takako nodded, flashing him a smile, he continued speaking. “You’ve got a dual Quirk too, I’ve heard.”

 

“Yeah,” Takako confirmed his information, watching a droplet fall from his eyelashes. “I can’t physically show them to you like you could, though. They’re both kind of… abstract concepts.”

 

Todoroki was quiet for another moment, and all Takako heard was the rain against the rooftop until she spoke again.

 

“I can’t remember what they are.” He finally admitted. “I’m sorry.”

 

“That’s fine. They’re not flashy or anything.” Takako assured him, waving off the apologetic look he sent her way.

 

“One of them saved my best friend’s life.” Todoroki’s tone was grave as he said this- and Takako guessed he meant Midoriya. “I never… I never thanked you for that.”

 

Takako immediately flushed a searing red. “It’s- it’s okay! I don’t need-”

 

“Heroes don’t need praise. They deserve it.”

 

That came very quietly from Todoroki, and Takako took a closer look at him.

 

She was trying not to read his desires- it wasn’t kind, especially since they’d just met- but something echoed out of him that felt intensely familiar.

 

“Agreed.” Takako finally replied, sinking against the wall behind her.

 

“Tell me about your Quirks.”

 

It’s an invitation, a pleasantry in a community such as theirs. Takako took it.

 

“They’re pretty different from each other. They’re not simple concepts like… like fire and ice,” she sent an apologetic look his way, and Todoroki merely smiled. “The one I saved Midoriya with is called Reversal. I can run time backwards on a specific individual. I can manage about thirty seconds on someone else- not all in one go, yet. On myself, I can manage about ten minutes. I’m trying to push it to fifteen, but… time doesn’t bend to the rules of humanity.” She sighed. “Or at least that’s what I keep telling Vlad and Aizawa when I haven’t made any progress all day.”

 

Todoroki’s responding laugh was dry, but there was something about it that convinced Takako her joke was appreciated.

 

“The other one is Heart’s Desire. I can’t turn this one off and on, it’s just a sense I have. The closer I am to someone, the easier I can read their desires. Most of the time it’s stupid stuff, like needing to eat or sleep. Other times, I’ll bump into someone in the hallway and feel their burning desire to jump out of the nearest window, so that’s cool too.” Takako let out a sigh, squinting up at the light peeking through a crack in the nearest storm cloud.

 

Todoroki hummed over this, his mismatched eyebrows furrowing in towards each other.

 

“Were your parents heroes?” He finally asked. Takako’s heart sank in her chest. “Those sound like useful field Quirks.”

 

“My dad was. He’s where I got Heart’s Desire from.” She explained. “He went by Nightmare on the field.”

 

There were suddenly two very bright eyes aimed at her, brown and blue burning under eyebrows that had pulled into a sharp V.

 

“Know him?” Takako asked weakly, smile fake and faltering under the glare she couldn’t read.

 

Plenty of people had run across her father fighting crime. He subdued villains by trapping them in visions of their worst fears, but occasionally a citizen or two would get caught in the mix without him noticing. Nightmare wasn’t a popular hero for a reason. Not many people enjoyed a traumatic experience on their evening walk home.

 

“I… I do,” Todoroki admitted, and he turned his intense gaze away from her, staring off at the tops of buildings instead. “But not for the reason you’d think.”

 

Takako didn’t really know what to say to that.

 

“Your Quirk is different from his, though,” Todoroki noted, changing the subject.

 

“Desire instead of fear.” Takako confirmed. “He could turn his on and off, too. I can’t.”

 

“Are you reading me?”

 

It wasn’t an accusation, simply a question.

 

“I’m trying not to.” She pulled at her hair while she admitted this, tugging the strands into a slick braid. “This close, I’d be able to dig pretty deep. I don’t want to invade your privacy like that.”

 

“It’s okay,” Todoroki said plainly. “I have nothing to hide.”

 

Takako squinted at the boy next to her, caught off guard. “You do.” She insisted, and he turned towards her as well. “There’s always something you want that you’re not allowed to have.”

 

Todoroki considered this, then spread his arms out on either side of him, sleeves sticking to obvious muscle as he moved. “Tell me what that is.”

 

Takako blinked- and not because of the rain in her eyes. “What?”

 

“Use your Quirk on me. If you’re okay with it,” he added at the end, lips pressing into a thin line as his arms dropped back to his sides.

 

Takako once again found herself struck dumb by someone who wasn’t supposed to talk much themselves. Instead of responding out loud, she scooted closer to press to his side, leaning shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip.

 

With a deep breath, she focused on Todoroki Shouto.

 

“Want them read out loud?” She asked, pushing back bangs that had found their way into her eyes again. “Ah, nevermind,” she cut him off before he could nod. “I read that already.”

 

“Cool.” Todoroki grunted, crossing his arms over his chest while he waited.

 

“Hmm. Despite liking being out in the rain, you want to be dry.” She noted aloud and laughed when he shook his head hard enough to spray her. “Ah, these are common around here. You want to be a hero. You want to be strong. You want to be the best.” Takako listed, familiar with these, especially in the higher level classes. “You want to be better at a lot of things. Better at using both sides at once, better at controlling your emotions, better at talking to people, better at comforting civilians.”

 

Todoroki nodded along, recognizing each one as true.

 

“You want… mmm, this one is… difficult.” She broke off, opening her eyes. “Some of these are just things I can feel, not things I can put into words, but… I’ll try.” She promised. “You want… freedom? Peace? Something like… relief?” She guessed.

 

“About what?” Todoroki asked calmly for details, unbothered. Takako squinted, sifting through the want.

 

“I’m gonna go with ‘someone watching you’ as my final answer,” Takako guessed.

 

Todoroki squinted at her for a second, but the confusion on his face cleared almost immediately.

 

“Your father,” Takako realized as soon as he did. “You want out from under your father’s shadow. It was difficult to read because it’s… it’s like he’s watching you, but everyone else is watching you too.”

 

“And they both see him.” Todoroki confirmed.

 

Takako looked up at him, caught by his tone.

 

He didn’t look at her, just motioned her to continue.

 

The mention of his father had opened up a dizzying amount of desires, most of them conflicting.

 

“You… you and your dad don’t get along, do you?” Takako ventured. When Todoroki didn’t respond, she pressed on. “I’m just getting a lot of mixed signals. You want to overcome him, but you don’t want to leave him behind. You want to respect him, but you don’t want to be around him.”

 

“Sounds right,” Todoroki grunted, suspiciously calm.

 

“You want- fuck, there it is,” She’d heard of this around school before, but she hadn’t heard any specific names attached to the stories. Takako winced away, pulling out of Todoroki’s desires as soon as the next one registered. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have-”

 

“What?” Todoroki demanded, his one blue eye catching the electric light nearby.

 

For a moment, Takako dangled in time, frozen for a beat. Especially considering what she’d just dug up, the blue of his one eye was intensely familiar.

 

“You want to protect your family. And yourself. You don’t want to let him hurt you anymore.” Takako whispered, looking down at her knees. It seemed she wasn’t the only one with a parent who wasn’t always a hero at home.

 

“That’s true. If you’re okay to, please continue.” Todoroki moved on without missing a beat, knocking the breath out of Takako.

 

Okay,” Takako wheezed, shaken. “You want your family to be whole again. You… want to be whole again.” She continued softly. “There’s a lot of stuff about your friends, about wanting to protect them, wanting to be the best for them- and honestly, Todoroki, your communication skills are not as bad as you think they are.” She assured him, knocking her shoulder into his. “It’s kind of weird that there’s nothing about acknowledgment or praise in here. You don’t have anything to prove, Todoroki?” She joked.

 

His mouth twitched into a tight line, and something else flickered on her radar.

 

I want to prove that I’m not my father.

 

“Okay, one thing to prove.” She corrected herself. “You want to prove you’re not your father.”

 

Todoroki nodded sharply. His shoulders kind of hiked up, but they quickly fell back down- and Takako had been around enough kids with not so great home lives to read ‘I’m trying not to look vulnerable’ like a second language.

 

“You’re not your dad.” Takako offered reassurance, but she doubted it would do much.

 

“Sometimes I feel like I am.” He replied, and the confession was very quiet, almost drowned out by the rain that was beginning to subside. “It’s little things, things I don’t notice until they all come crashing down on me.”

 

Takako knew she’d felt something familiar in him. She hadn’t realized how similar.

 

“I get that.” Takako admitted, a confession for a confession.

 

It wasn’t much to go off of, but Todoroki turned a look on her that made her feel like he knew more than he was letting on.

 

“What was your dad like?” Todoroki asked next.

 

If the air hadn’t been tense with past trauma before, it certainly was charged full of it now.

 

Takako let out a sigh. “Not so great, as far as dads go.” She returned quietly. It was easier admitting it to someone in a similar situation, someone who just understood.

 

“I figured.” Todoroki had fallen back into his usual monotone, and something about it helped Takako let go of some of the tension in her shoulders. “I knew the pro hero Nightmare was abusive. I just didn’t know it was you.”

 

This kind of took Takako by surprise. “Yeah?” She replied, but it sounded more like an echo of her voice, hollow and far away. “He made sure to keep all of that out of the news. How’d you know?”

 

“After the court case settled and they took his kid- you, I’m guessing- out of his care,” and Takako nodded dumbly to confirm Todoroki’s theory, “Some investigations started going into other heroes with kids, especially some of the more… callous heroes.”

 

Takako thought back on what’d she’d seen of Endeavor in the news. Todoroki’s dad could definitely be categorized under calloused.

 

“Did they investigate your house?” Takako realized suddenly what he was implying towards, and Todoroki nodded.

 

“They didn’t find anything, but… he didn’t hit us so much after that.” Todoroki continued. “So, in a way, you’ve been my hero for a long time, Hiyashi.”

 

Takako squeaked, blushing a fierce red again. “I- I didn’t do anything, it wasn’t-”

 

Todoroki laughed then, a real, full laugh, and Takako stopped stammering in order to watch his face light up.

 

She’d also heard from many classmates and other students that Todoroki Shouto was pretty easy on the eyes, especially when he was smiling- and Takako couldn’t help but agree. Unfortunately for them, she’d just dug through some of his deepest desires, and none of them were directed at chasing someone’s affections.

 

She wasn’t exactly certain what to categorize his feelings for Midoriya as, but while it wasn’t necessarily romantic, it certainly wasn’t any regular sort of friendship. If their fight at the Sports Festival their first year was anything to go by, Todoroki had good reason to be perplexed.

 

“Hey, Todoroki,” Takako hummed after he’d settled down, catching his attention. “Has anyone ever told you that you look really pretty when you smile?”

 

Todoroki squinted at her, suddenly on guard, but his cheeks pinked anyways. “No.”

 

“Shame.” Takako sighed. “How about me?” She demonstrated a smile in return, and Todoroki nodded once, still very confused. “Good. I have people to impress.” Takako mumbled very seriously- and Todoroki looked like he was starting to catch onto her playful tone. “You know, I’ve just heard around school that you’re very nice to look at. I wanted you to know that you don’t disappoint.”

 

Todoroki nodded more resolutely now, finally on the same page. “Clearly, it’s the scar that does them in.” He informed her. His tone was so serious that Takako choked a little in surprise before noticing the amusement twinkling in his mismatched eyes.

 

“Oh my god, Todoroki-” she managed around astounded giggles. “That was horrible! I’m truly taken aback,” she wheezed, flicking raindrops off of her hand as she fanned herself. He looked proud of himself.

 

They spent the next couple minutes soaking in the last bits of the storm, and as the rain fizzled out into a light sprinkle, the two of them agreed to end their meeting.

 

As they parted ways, heading to separate dorms, Takako wondered if Todoroki liked the rain for the same reason she did.

 

When it really poured- rain coming down hard enough to uproot trees and wash away mailboxes, thunder loud enough to shake figurines off of high shelves- it was harder to hear the rage echoing through your house.

 

She didn’t need to block anything out anymore, but the rain still gave her a sense of security.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Kurogiri,” Takako hummed, twirling a finger in her hair.

 

She would’ve been bored if she didn’t have so much to think on. Today was clearly not a good day for Kurogiri, because he had literally ignored her for the entire time she’d been there. Every time she came up with a new topic, he just kept his mouth shut, glaring at her through glowing yellow slits.

 

“Do villains talk about their feelings with each other?” She asked, fully expecting to be ignored again. After a pause, giving him time to answer, she kept going. “Even the little things, like disappointment over a job, or distrust among coworkers… do you ever talk about the way things affect you?”

 

Kurogiri didn’t respond, as was the usual that day, so Takako kept talking, unperturbed.

 

“I’ve been running into a lot of emotional disturbance recently- and not just with the people I visit here. A lot of it tends to boil down to the same base problem: miscommunication.”

 

More silence. Takako reached the ends of her hair and let the little braid she’d spun fall against her cheek.

 

“Sometimes it’s people talking past each other, other times it’s that one person got left in the dark and had to make assumptions because they had nothing to go off of.”

 

Okay, that second example was pretty specific. But she’s still kinda pissed that Tomura freaked out because nobody thought to tell him that she wasn’t dead.

 

“Sometimes it’s just one person bottling things up,” Takako laughed to herself, scratching at the back of her neck for a moment. “And I know how bad that can be for a person.”

 

Kurogiri was giving off pretty steady I do not care vibes.

 

“It just makes me wonder what goes on in a community of villains. Are you so driven by discontent that it permeates your every action and reaction? Or is it merely one of many motivators in your everyday lives, openly discussed and understood by all?” Takako sighed, rubbing her hands together for no reason other than to do something with them. “It’s just annoying conjecture from a young hero in training, I suppose, but I really do wonder.”

 

She wished she had something to scribble on. Sometimes it was easier to sketch out what was going on in her mind, a mess of words and pictures filling a page until Takako fully organized what she was thinking about.

 

“Here, since you’re not talking today, I’ll give away answers for free.” Takako smiled at him, adjusting her glasses on her nose. “Tomura’s not as bad as he was.”

 

This gets a little reaction from the misty villain. It’s small, but his shoulders relax.

 

“Don’t think I’ll always give you what you want if you don’t answer me,” Takako threatened, but there’s no bite behind it and Kurogiri probably knew that. “But yeah, he’s eating now. Even washed his hair once.”

 

She decided to skip over the part where he tore himself open with his own hands, and the time that he completely mentally checked out for like a week. Kurogiri didn’t need to worry more than was necessary, and Tomura was past that.

 

“Hiyashi, time.”

 

“Oh, oh, just one more thing before I go,” Takako promised both the guards and Kurogiri, swiveling back around to face the giant mass of purple and black mist. Even though he was tucked neatly into a suit, Takako still marveled at his semi-solid form. “I have a question for you that I’d like you to answer.” She informed Kurogiri.

 

He gave her that look again, the one that would be much easier to read if he actually had eyebrows. Takako merely shrugged under the glare. She hadn’t asked anything of him this whole meeting, merely sent conjectures and conversation his way in the hopes that he’d respond.

 

“Do you think Dabi would laugh if I told him about how Tomura tried to scare me but I ended up pinning him to the floor instead?” Her tone was earnest, eyes bright while she waited for a reaction.

 

Kurogiri looked mildly concerned, but he spoke for the first time that session. “Yes. I think Dabi would enjoy that immensely.”

 

“Good.” Takako hummed, nodding firmly while she stood up. “I thought it was funny too.” When Kurogiri made that face again, the one that could be anywhere between entirely unimpressed or a glare full of reproach, Takako cracked a grin. “Tomura’s fine. I don’t weigh that much anyways.”

 

When she turned to leave, swinging her bag over her shoulder, she decided to add one more thing to her story. “At least, that’s what the guards said when they lifted me clean off the ground.” She made it sound like she was talking to herself, tone pensive as she considered the event.

 

She’s pleased by the snicker that rumbled out of Kurogiri, and the bounce in her step may have confused the guards while they walked her out, but the smile on her face stayed strong.

 

---

 

After entering, Takako was pleased to find the tub and soap by the sink when she took her first scan of Tomura's cell. A second, closer look at Tomura took her by surprise, and she openly scrutinized him as she sat down, taking a closer look.

 

Whenever she made it obvious that she was looking at him, Tomura always sunk further behind his mop of hair, peering out at her from underneath scraggly bangs. Honestly, they weren't even bangs at this point. It was all long and wavy, the ‘bangs' were just hung over his face.

 

“You took the bandages off.” She noticed.

 

Probably recalling her threat the first time she'd put them on him, red eyes blew wide, and he tapped an insistent no into the table.

 

“It's fine, Tenko,” Takako assured him quickly. “It's almost been a month since then. I should've changed them a long time ago.”

 

Tomura looked away to hide his sigh (probably a sigh of relief) and pressed his hand to the side of his neck. Takako settled into her seat while he traced over scars and scratches, careful not to aggravate the itch that probably always laid dormant in his dry skin.

 

“Can I see?” Takako ventured, the request coming out very very hesitantly.

 

It was becoming clear that Tomura didn't just have a touch aversion, but a proximity aversion as well.

 

His hand fell from his neck, and red eyes wouldn't meet hers.

 

“I just want to make sure you're okay,” Takako explained, noticing his hesitation. “You could be in trouble if anything got infected. And I wanna see how you're healing.”

 

Tomura kept his chin tilted down, hiding not only his gaze but also his face and neck from her prying eyes.

 

“Yes or no?” Takako reiterated. “Either answer is fine.”

 

Tomura raised both hands just slightly off the table to answer, and Takako thought for sure a no was coming. But he surprised her, letting out a defeated sigh and only rolling one handful of fingers into the table.

 

“Okay,” Takako agreed, flashing him a smile. Tomura’s eyes snagged on her for a moment before they darted back down to his hands, and Takako wondered if this was just a bad week for all the villains.

 

She scooted around the edge of the table, sitting next to him instead of across. His shoulders hiked up the closer she got, so she made sure not to knock knees with him while she settled into place.

 

“Ready?” She warned, hand paused halfway to him. One of his hands rolled out a quiet yes, and her movements picked up where they left off.

 

Takako noticed that he didn't flinch when she made contact this time, merely closed his eyes when her fingers took hold of his chin. She tilted his head up, letting the florescent lights illuminate skin usually covered in shadow.

 

The raised scars lining his throat and jaw made her stomach turn, the reminder of Tomura's self destruction only amplified by the healing scabs streaked across his skin.

 

“I don't see anything too bad,” Takako murmured after a while of silence. “I'm not a professional though. If anything bothers you, you have to tell someone.”

 

Tomura didn't respond.

 

Was silence an epidemic that was going around?

 

She understood him being initially withdrawn- no matter how much she may lift his mood, he still spent every day locked up in here, in total silence 24/7. Maybe it wasn't anything to worry about. He'd open up with time.

 

“I don't think you need any more bandages.” She finally decided. “You promise you didn't take the other ones off before it was time?”

 

Tomura glanced over to her as her hands fell back to her side.

 

“Promise.”

 

Takako only gaped for a moment before she closed her mouth and turned away, hiding her smile. It was just a whisper. Nothing to get excited about. “Okay. I believe you.”

 

“Hiyashi,” the older guard called to her after the radio on their waist crackled to life. “Dr. Kido’s caught up in another session, she says she'll be by later.”

 

Takako nodded, looking back up at Tomura with determination. “Let's get your hair washed first, then.” She offered. He rolled a placid yes with one hand and turned, bracing hard on the table. Takako stood up, then remembered he might not be capable of the simple task she'd just performed. “Can you stand?”

 

She almost asked, “do you need my help,” but- despite how far they'd come- she didn't know if Tomura’s pride would allow him to admit that or not.

 

Tomura didn't answer her, choosing instead to position his legs under him in preparation to stand. Slowly but steadily, he rose to his full height, looking down his nose at her.

 

From this angle, she could kinda see under the curtain of hair and shadows. He frowned, obviously aware of her prying gaze, and slouched a bit. Though it brought him closer to her height, it shifted the light so she lost sight of most of his face.

 

How did he know how do that? How long had he been practicing hiding from curious onlookers?

 

“Good to go?” She chirped, pushing away those thoughts. Tomura huffed, shrugging, and she couldn't help but smile. She took a couple steps in the direction of the sink, then paused and turned around, waiting for him to follow.

 

She watched him clench his jaw and extend a foot, carefully carefully putting his weight on his leg. When it held, his head whipped up, eyes wide in surprise (and something like victory?) as he stared at Takako. He took another step, gaining confidence, but he moved too quickly and stumbled, his knees buckling underneath him.

 

Before she could think about it, Takako rushed forwards, bracing herself to catch the brunt of his body weight as he pitched forwards.

 

She's talking as soon as he's tensed against her, mumbling apologies as soon as his breath quickens in surprise. For a moment, she struggled underneath him, his weight nearly overwhelming her. Knowing she was making a mistake, she held her breath and wrapped her arms around him in order to keep them from falling over.

 

“I'm sorry- just hold on a second, I'll let go, I'm sorry,” Takako stumbled back, babbling in fear now. She waved off the guards’ concern, letting them know she had it under control and trying to keep them off of Tomura- for fear of the breakdown she knew was coming.

 

Tomura let out an exasperated huff and adjusted his arms, moving them from where they laid haphazardly around her neck.

 

“Eh?” Takako gasped, lifting her chin so she could breathe around his shoulder. He settled comfortably on her shoulders, seemingly unerred by their proximity. Leaned against the length of him like this…

 

I want to be okay with your touch.

 

Then, quieter underneath it: I want to enjoy your touch.

 

For a moment, they stood in silence, breathing heavily from their joint struggle, finally situated.

 

“You're so small, Tenko,” Takako noted, her arms nearly wrapping double around him. Okay, well… her arms were short like the rest of her, so they didn't wrap double . But they wrapped farther than she could usually reach when she hugged her friends.

 

Tomura's shoulders shook, and she craned her neck to look at his face.

 

He was… he was smiling.

 

It was a derisive smile, kind of sinister- but that's probably the only way he'd smiled for the last ten years of his life, give or take, so she wasn’t upset about it.

 

I'm so small?” Tomura echoed, voice raspy from disuse, breath warm against her ear.

 

“Okay, alright, you got me,” Takako conceded, grumbling. “You're not really small. You're like… deceptively small.” She grunted as she heaved herself (and him) to stand completely upright. “Seriously, how are you this heavy when I can feel your ribs?”

 

If she'd been expecting another response, she was sorely mistaken. Tomura hung on her shoulders, quiet.

 

“Let's keep walking.” Takako invited. “And just for the record, you still smell like sweat.”

 

Tomura elbowed her in retribution, shaking her around for good measure while she attempted to resituate their positions. Takako only laughed, taking up the poses they'd stood in the first time she'd helped him walk across the room.

 

It was much easier to get the taller, heavier villain to the tub this time, his steps surer and less of his weight leaning on Takako's shoulders. The guards followed them, step by step, only pausing when Tomura released his grip on Takako and sank down to the floor to rest.

 

“Come here,” Takako summoned the pile of exhaustion while she filled the tub with water. “I don't know how much time I have. We'd better get to work.”

 

Tomura pushed himself into a sitting position and leaned against the tub like he had the first time. Quickly, Takako remembered the towel, and she pressed it into his hands before she made any moves towards exposing his face.

 

“Ready?” Takako called to him after he hid underneath the towel. A single handed yes clicked against the tile.

 

Once she thoroughly soaked the blue mop of hair, running her fingers through the tangled strands in a preemptive attempt to comb through the knots, she pulled the bottle of shampoo closer to her side. “Soap now,” she announced while she poured a glob onto her fingers.

 

“Do you like your hair wavy?” She piped up, curious while she began to work the soap into his hair. When she received a shrug of indifference, she couldn't help but laugh. “Never thought about it?”

 

To that, she received a no .

 

“Sometimes after I've left my hair braided, it stays wavy for a while. But it goes back to normal after I wash my hair.” Takako chattered, getting more shampoo. “But yours stays that way! That's really cool, Tenko.”

 

Beneath the towel, she saw his cheeks light up pink.

 

Chuckling to herself, Takako merely shook her head. Silly boy.

 

He didn't clutch the towel to his face this time, merely left it to rest there while his arms laid lax by his side. She peered over the peak of his chin, following the dark material of his shirt (sweater?) down the line of his body. Slim shoulders led to slimmer hips, long, gangly legs splayed out in front of him, and spidery fingers awaited the next opportunity to answer while they rested on the floor.

 

“Is this okay?” She queried, beginning to dig further into tangled locks in order to scratch into his scalp.

 

The yes she received was quick , a click of one hand against the tile that she almost missed. Takako laughed to herself, amused, and scrubbed harder into him.

 

He surprised her with another one of those little sounds, tensing slightly before he melted, body going slack against the tub.

 

“Oh, Tenko,” she hummed, a grin tugging at the corner of her mouth. “Is that nice?”

 

Another quick yes was the response, his body still relaxed. She wondered if he was too blissed out to be embarrassed.

 

She wondered if his eyes were fluttering shut, blue lashes struggling to stay held open over scarlet eyes. She'd seen the way his eyes rolled back the first time she'd done this to him. Even now, the recollection sent a shiver down her spine. Unconsciously, her fingers tightened in his hair, the shudder of her body curling her over the edge of the tub for a moment.

 

Tomura reached up to press the towel into his mouth, muffling a groan with his hand. Takako went warm all over, eyes wide in surprise.

 

“I- I'm sorry!” She squeaked, nearly letting go of him completely. “I didn't mean to hurt you, I-”

 

“Didn't hurt.”

 

Tomura's voice continued to stun her into silence. She dropped the apologies and returned to making sure the soap had permeated every inch of the jungle of hair in her hands.

 

“I visited Kurogiri recently.” Takako kept the conversation up. Even if she was mostly talking to herself, knowing Tomura was listening was enough for her. “He was quieter than usual. I did get him to talk towards the end, but only because I told him about pinning you to the ground.”

 

That got a reaction from him. Tomura pressed his hands over his face- well, over the towel that laid over his face- and she couldn’t tell if it was from embarrassment or exasperation.

 

“I think I’m gonna tell Dabi about it. Kurogiri agreed with me that he’d think it was funny.” Takako teased, poking the tip of his ear.

 

Tomura grumbled something that sounded suspiciously like, “fuck Dabi,” but Takako couldn't be sure with the towel muffling already quiet responses.

 

“I guess that shows how much hero training has affected me. As soon as I registered your hand around my throat, I was flipping you over.” She admitted. “Do that again and I’ll move faster than last time.” She warned- and she tried to sound menacing, but she doubted Tomura took her seriously. “The guards pulled me off of you before I could do something stupid like punch you. It would’ve been satisfying, but I would’ve regretted it. You don’t deserve that.”

 

All of the relaxation in Tomura’s body disappeared. He tensed up so quickly that his body nearly seized, limbs jerking to curl into himself.

 

“Hey, hey, hey,” Takako called, forgoing the soap and planting her fingers on his skull to rub comforting circles into his skin. “I’m not going to hurt you. I promised, didn’t I?”

 

Two hands tapped a distressed no into the floor.

 

“I’m not!”

 

Another no, faster this time.

 

“...Not that?” Takako clarified, realizing they were on different pages. The single handed yes he returned to her confirmed her theory. She ran back through what she’d said, her own voice echoing through her head. “Don’t tell me you don’t think you deserve this-”

 

His confirmation was immediate.

 

“Tenko,” Takako sighed, making her exasperation clear. “You don’t deserve bruises from me. You shouldn’t have to carry the brunt of my anger. I need to deal with my emotions- they shouldn’t overflow onto you.”

 

Tomura huffed, clutching the towel to his face.

 

“I asked Kurogiri about that, too. I asked about villains and how they deal with emotions, but he didn’t answer.” Takako added. “I think it’s pretty sinister when someone takes out their emotions on someone else. Though… that might be from personal experience.” Her tone swung darker, and she knew Tomura didn’t deserve to hear this either, but she was still working out the kinks with this topic. “Let’s deal with that later. Lemme finish this up.”

 

He didn’t complain when she spent a little more time working the shampoo through his hair than was completely necessary, and she kept at it until he fully relaxed against the tub again.

 

I’m sorry, Tenko. I didn’t mean to upset you.

 

“So, where was I,” she hummed, dragging another satisfied sigh from Tomura with careful fingers. “Right. Telling Dabi about pinning you with ease,”

 

Movement caught her eyes, but it was only the lift of Tomura’s arm so he could lazily flip her off.

 

“He really enjoys getting a rise out of you. Come to think of it, so does Toga.” Takako hummed, and Tomura mumbled more curses under his breath. “Oh, c’mon. You don’t hate them, do you? You worked with them.”

 

Tomura shrugged, but the moment of hesitation before his answer told Takako he wasn’t as rooted in his indifference to them as he seemed.

 

“Dabi does his best to mess with me too. I keep reminding him that I’m not even out of high school yet, but that doesn’t seem to stop him.” Takako sighed. “He did say that I was cuter than you, so there’s also that.”

 

The mumbled, “ fuck Dabi,” was much clearer this time, and Takako giggled while she rinsed out blue-gray hair.

 

“Jealous, Tenko?” She teased, running her fingers through the strands to check for leftover soap. Heavy with water, his hair sat straight, but as soon as she separated them, squeezed the water out, they curled again. She spoke up again before he could answer, because she wasn’t sure what she would do with that information. “I think that’s all the soap. You’re good to go.” She informed him, squeezing his hair out one last time.

 

Slowly, he sat up. She watched on in curiosity as he ran a hand through his hair, pulling it back down over his face before he moved the towel away. The straggly, wet strands didn’t do as good a job at hiding his face, so when he curled the towel over his head he made sure to turn away from her and the guards.

 

Takako didn’t bother him about it, choosing to clean up after herself instead. She dumped the dirty water down the drain and dried her hands on her pants after rinsing the tub out for good measure.

 

When she finished, Tomura sat patiently on his knees on the tile nearby, waiting for her to return to him. She couldn’t help but push the towel back and ruffle his hair, her smile wide and bright while he frowned and rearranged his hair with spindly fingers.

 

She noticed that he held the towel with four fingers each, still handling objects with care in fear of disintegrating them.

 

“Done with the towel?” Takako asked, kneeling in front of him. He didn’t meet her eyes but tapped a yes into the tile nonetheless.

 

She had just reached out to lift the towel off of him, had just closed her fingers around the cloth when he stopped her in her tracks with a hand on her wrist.

 

Four fingers held her in place. She daresay they held her  gently.

 

“Tenko?” Takako breathed. He didn’t answer immediately, his only response consisting of his eyebrows pulling low over his eyes, mouth twisting as if something had upset him.

 

“For someone else,” he rasped, avoiding her eyes. “You’d do this?”

 

Takako froze, caught off guard by the lowly mumbled words.

 

She wanted her answer to be yes. Yes, she’d take care of anyone if they needed it, if it would help them grow and succeed. As a hero, her answer should be yes.

 

Sitting across from Tomura, his fingers pressed to her wrist, her thumbs brushing his cheekbones, she couldn’t help but pick up on the desires rolling off of him.

 

I don’t want to share Takako

 

I want Takako for myself

 

Her face exploded with red, the flush of her cheeks reaching her ears and forehead before she could process what the heat actually was.

 

Tomura didn’t want her answer to be yes.

 

After not receiving an answer, Tomura finally looked up- wincing as if he were bracing himself for the worst.

 

All Takako could do was stare, face an embarrassingly bright red, hands fisted in the towel draped over his head. Slowly, Tomura turned the slightest shade of pink, red eyes wide and staring up at her in disbelief.

 

“Sorry I’m late,” the unmistakably even tone of Dr. Kido’s voice echoed through the room as she entered, and Takako quickly stood, taking the towel with her.

 

Carefully, Tomura rearranged the hair over his face. Takako folded the towel.

 

She prayed the blush on her face would fade before Dr. Kido noticed.

Chapter Text

“How have you been, Dr. Kido?” Takako asked while she was still turned around, bending to pick up the soap (as if she was going to do something with it). Dr. Kido gave an obligatory response, busy choosing a spot at the table in the middle of the room. “We just finished up.”

 

Takako paused, caught in between two worlds for a moment. She referred to him as Shigaraki or Tomura when speaking with Dr. Kido- and anybody else- but to his face, he was always Tenko.

 

“Good. How have you been doing?” Kido asked, settling into her chosen spot. Takako noticed that where she’d settled suggested that Takako and Tomura were to sit across from her, side by side.

 

“I’m nervous, honestly,” Takako admitted, twisting her fingers together. “I’ve been thinking about this since I agreed to it.”

 

Kido smiled a little. “That’s normal. And you, Shigaraki? Are you well?”

 

Takako turned back to Tomura, also waiting for his answer.

 

There was silence for a long time, an uncomfortably long time, until Takako nudged the villain with her foot.

 

“Don’t be rude.” She hissed, jostling him. Tomura immediately flipped her off, looking up at her to make sure she knew who the middle finger’s intended target was. “You promised,” Takako insisted, raising her eyebrows in what she hoped was a meaningful look.

 

Tomura made sure to roll his eyes in plain sight, shoulders stiff while he dropped his offensive gesture to roll an angry yes into the floor.

 

Dr. Kido looked pleased, but in a gentle way, not a condescending way. Takako hoped that Tomura read it the same way she did.

 

“I’m glad. Let’s get started.” The doctor invited, gesturing in an invitation to join her at the table.

 

Again, Takako turned, looking down at Tomura. Though she wasn’t completely certain that he wouldn’t flinch away, she extended a hand in his direction, even less certain that he’d take it.

 

To her surprise, even though he flinched away like she’d expected, he took her hand anyways. With a grunt from both of them, Takako pulled Tomura to his feet. She hovered nearby while he made his way back across the room, ready to catch him if he stumbled again.

 

“I’m glad to see you’re up and moving again.” Dr. Kido informed him, her smile pleasant while the two sat down across from her.

 

Tomura flipped her off. Takako sighed.

 

“It’s okay, Hiyashi.” Dr. Kido assured her- and if Takako wasn’t wrong, she looked amused. “This is the most responsive I’ve ever seen him.”

 

Takako huffed, lifting eyebrows in Tomura’s direction again. “You’re even more of an asshole when I’m not around, aren’t you,” she noted, incredibly unimpressed by the immediate yes tapped into the table in response. “I figured.” She sighed, pressing her fingers into the bridge of her nose.

 

“Why don’t we begin with questions for Shigaraki, before he changes his mind?” Kido offered, a small smile still tugging at her lips. Takako agreed, acutely aware of the scarlet glare boring into her. “Alright. I’ll try to keep my questions limited to yes or no answers.” She assured the sulking villain, crossing her hands on top of the table.

 

For a while they talked about mundane things, obviously warming Tomura up to the interrogation. He tapped out answers in a manner that Takako had never seen, the sound quick and harsh. Takako sat by quietly, just watching and learning, observing both Dr. Kido and Tomura’s choices in behavior.

 

She’s jarred out of her passive observance by this question:

 

“And you, Shigaraki? Would you say you’ve improved in these past weeks and months?”

 

An image of Tomura, of haunted eyes, shoulders hunched and skin unusually sallow flashed in her mind. He had seemed hollow the first time she’d sat and talked with him, merely a shell of the person she’d run across on the battlefield before.

 

Next came images that set her heart to racing, remembering streaks of red, a crooked nose, eyes alight with crazed malice while a suicidal mantra echoed all around her.

 

Now Tomura sat still, skin still pale but back to a healthy color, shoulders hunched but stiff with emotion, with life instead of rigor mortis.

 

She knew he’d improved, she’d even congratulated him on it. But his negative reaction to her sentiments made her wonder… would Tomura admit to positive change? Did it mean anything to him at all?

 

The reluctant yes he rolled into the table with one hand dispelled her doubts.

 

Dr. Kido nodded, but she looked lost in thought for a moment. The two talked more, Tomura looking more and more pissed off the longer it went.

 

“Would you say you regret any of what you’ve done?” Dr. Kido asked coolly, as if it’s as mundane a question as asking about the weather.

 

Tomura’s one handed response was immediate and unapologetic.

 

“I wish I could say the same.” Dr. Kido hummed under her breath, scribbling something on her clipboard. “You don’t feel any remorse? Everything you did before, you’d do it again?”

 

Tomura tapped a yes. Takako didn’t hear it. Out of nowhere, she found herself drowning under the onslaught of emotions unlocked by that question.

 

Do it again- would I do it again- do I want to do it again-

 

Do it all over- start from scratch- tear the world down with my bare hands- would I do it again-

 

Do I want to run- hide- fear- laugh- do I want to go back to the beginning- want to start over-

 

Want the old Tenko- want what he had, what he built, what he didn’t tear down-

 

Do it all over- do I want the old Tenko- want my dad, want my mom- my mom- my mom- my mom-

 

Do I want to do it again- watch the world crumble- watch a life come to an end- by my own hands- my own home- my own family- do I want to have nothing, do it all again?

 

I don’t want to be alone again

 

“Hiyashi?”

 

Takako flinched back hard, landing on her back on the floor beneath her. For a moment, her vision swam, and she wondered if she’d fall back under that sheet of numbness from only a couple seconds of Tomura’s… Tomura’s what, exactly? Insecurities? Memories?

 

It felt like reading anyone else’s desires, except for how disjointed it had been. It had been so much at one time.

 

“Hiyashi?” Dr. Kido called for her again, and she realized that the doctor must’ve gotten up at some point. “Oh, Shigaraki, don’t glare at me like that. I’m a medical professional.”

 

Was the warmth on her cheek a hand?

 

“He doesn’t trust you.” Takako piped up helpfully from the ground.

 

“I gathered that.” Dr. Kido informed her dryly, hovering over her. “Are you alright?”

 

“I think so.” Takako hummed, pushing herself up on her elbows.

 

“Are you sure?” The doctor echoed. “You’re crying.”

 

Takako sat up completely and pressed a hand to her face. Indeed, she wiped tears from her face. “Oh,” she breathed, and suddenly realized that she was shaking, breathing hard.

 

“Hiyashi, what happened?” Dr. Kido asked softly, kneeling next to her. The warm hand she placed on Takako’s back pushed down some of the unexplained hysteria, and Takako felt her shoulders relax.

 

She opened her mouth to reply but found her attention drawn to Tomura. He was turned towards her, but he looked beyond her- maybe at Dr. Kido, Takako couldn't tell. Something kept those red eyes alight that wasn’t his usual rage, but whatever it was, it was nearly as heated.

 

After a moment, his attention snapped back to her, eyes still burning with whatever that unidentified emotion was. She closed her mouth. He looked away like he'd been caught.

 

“It’s not mine to tell.” Takako finally whispered. The three of them settled back in their original places at the table, but Takako felt like they were still waiting on her, so she added, “I just got hit by… something. From Tomura.”

 

Tomura reacted immediately, his shoulders tensing, head whipping to turn and stare at her.

 

“It was a lot at once, really fragmented, but intense,” Takako admitted. “Took me by surprise. I don’t pick up a lot from Tomura nowadays.”

 

Tomura squinted at her.

 

“I won’t pry into the contents.” Dr. Kido assured her. “Is it silent around him? Completely cut off?”

 

“With Tomura?” Takako clarified. Dr. Kido nodded to confirm the clarification, but Tomura surprised her by tapping out an impatient no. “Eh? Yes it is,” Takako argued, turning towards Tomura completely. “I can’t get anything from you unless I’m really close.”

 

Tomura only glared at her, crossing his arms over his chest. This usually meant that he wasn’t going to answer until she figured it out. Whatever it was, in the first place.

 

“I don’t understand what you’re upset about,” Takako admitted, shrugging helplessly.

 

Tomura didn’t move, but suddenly where there was nothing before, there was something.

 

I want you to call me by my name

 

Now Takako was the one squinting, confused by the vague desire he’d pushed over to her. “Be more specific. I can’t read that.” She insisted- and Tomura frowned.

 

I want you to call me Tenko

 

This one came through loud and clear, the concept registering immediately. “Oh.” Takako chirped, blinking once at the steady red glare attempting to dig holes into her. “Sorry.”

 

Dr. Kido waited patiently at the other end of the table, something Takako didn’t realize until she turned back around.

 

“He prefers- uh…” her initial explanation died down after she felt the intensity of that red glare ramp up like six levels, so she quickly chose a different path. “I call him by two names. I wasn’t sure which one to use.” She admitted sheepishly, an explanation for both of her listeners.

 

“He has a preference?” Dr. Kido hummed, eyes lighting up.

 

Tomura sank, slouching even more, but Takako merely laughed.

 

“Yeah. He’d prefer Tenko from me.” She informed the doctor. “We’ve only discussed it once before. Apparently, I’m the only one allowed to use Tenko, but Tenko is the only name I can use.” She explained, shooting a smirk in Tomura’s direction. He glowered at her, clearly frowning despite the hair and shadow in the way.

 

“I’m guessing that’s because you two grew up together, so you originally knew him as-” Dr. Kido stopped before she made a mistake, the corners of her mouth lifting for a moment. “As his original name. And you never got to know him as who he is now.”

 

Tomura tapped a yes into the table, building on Takako’s hesitant nod.

 

“Let’s talk about your time together as kids,” Dr. Kido offered. “Something the both of you can talk about.” When the two of them consented, the doctor proceeded without hesitation. “How’d you meet?”

 

“He punched me.” Takako couldn’t help but blurt out her immediate reply- and it seemed to surprise Dr. Kido and Tomura. “Something happened beforehand that got my attention… it must’ve been those playground bullies,” Takako looked over to Tomura for confirmation and received a quiet yes. “But that’s the memory that sticks out the most.”

 

“I can see why…” Dr. Kido mumbled to herself, scribbling something down. “How’d you become friends with a meeting like that?”

 

“Oh,” Takako realized she’d started at the wrong place in the story and flushed pink in embarrassment. “We met in foster care. I found him on the playground. He was scratching himself and I told him not to, but he didn’t stop, so I pushed his hands away from his neck.”

 

Something in Dr. Kido’s gaze cleared, and her eyes settled on the gloves inhibiting Tomura’s destructive Quirk. She must've come to the same conclusion Takako had about his knee-jerk reaction after learning what those hands could do.

 

“He punched me after that, so I thought I’d made him mad and promised I’d leave him alone,”

 

I don’t want to be alone again

 

The recent memory surprised her, and Takako looked over to Tomura with a new understanding bubbling in her chest. “But he stopped me and said he wanted friends, so I started hanging out with him at recess.”

 

“Any particular reason why?”

 

Takako shrugged. “I think at first I was curious. I wanted to know why the other kids hated him so much. When I figured out he was just a normal kid with a Quirk, I tried to…” Takako trailed off, biting her lip. “Nevermind.”

 

They sat in silence, Dr. Kido patiently waiting for Takako to continue and Tomura continuing to not speak.

 

“It’s dumb.” Takako sighed. “But I thought if I could get the other kids to play with him, they’d see what I saw. I was young and naive, I guess.” She let out another long breath and propped her cheek on her hand. “I shouldn’t have been surprised when my friends demanded that I choose between them and Tenko. I cried, but I chose Tenko.”

 

Tomura’s head swiveled, turning wide eyes on her. She hadn’t mentioned this when it had occurred all those years ago.

 

“Why?” Dr. Kido echoed what Tomura was probably thinking, her pen poised over the paper.

 

“Because Tenko would never have asked me that,” Takako muttered. “He always listened to me. Plus,” she added, elbowing Tomura. “He would’ve been all by himself again, pulling weeds out of the earth like a weirdo.”

 

Tomura scowled and flashed another middle finger in her direction, and Takako laughed.

 

“What would you talk about?” Dr. Kido continued.

 

Takako hummed out an answer or two, listing a couple common themes.

 

“Never heroes?”

 

Tomura rolled out a no.

 

“Tenko didn’t care for them, much. Probably because the kids always made him the villain. Probably some other reasons he never told me about.” Takako explained. “And I didn’t like how the other kids played the hero game.” Kido gave her an expectant look, and Takako sighed heavily before elaborating further. “I didn’t like that they would call themselves heroes and beat up some defenseless kid for fun.”

 

More silence, then,

 

“It just reminded me of how things were before I got there.”

 

Dr. Kido wrote something down. Takako reigned in her wild thoughts.

 

“You mentioned you wanted to talk about your father,” Kido remembered. When Takako tensed, clearly putting up defenses, the doctor raised her hands in a quiet surrender. “If it’s all in the past, it’s okay to leave it there. Don’t worry about putting yourself through that if it’s not something that affects your present life.”

 

Takako stared at the walls she’d constructed, defenses thrown up as soon as the mere suggestion of her father hit the discussion table.

 

“It does, I think.”

 

It had been dark in this shelter for years.

 

When Dr. Kido asked her to elaborate, the walls closed in tighter, preparing for an attack. What had once been a shelter better served to suffocate her, nowadays. Despite the protection, despite the security, she knew it was time for a change.

 

“I still react to things as if they’re him. And I still… I still hate every part of me that’s like him. I can’t let go.” Takako whispered, squishing her cheek with the heel of her hand.

 

Light peeked through the cracks in her defenses, vulnerability threatening to shatter her.

 

“What was he like?”

 

Hit. More light spilled through.

 

“He was polite, kind of a mumbler,” Takako pulled from young memories, squinting. “I don't remember that very well, though. Most of the time when I saw him, he was either angry or unresponsive.”

 

“I read on your school nurse's report that your father experienced episodes like the one that occurred after your meeting with Toga.” Dr. Kido informed her.

 

Takako nodded. “He would stumble in late at night and sit down, wouldn't even close the door. He'd stare off into space for days on end sometimes.”

 

“Did anyone else take care of you? Your mom? A maid?”

 

Hit. Takako winced.

 

“My mom died when I was born.” She stated flatly. “It was just me and my father.”

 

“You lived on your own for all that time?” Dr. Kido repeated, astounded.

 

Hit. It was beginning to get bright despite the still standing walls. Takako nodded to confirm.

 

“We were fine for a long time.” Takako whispered. “He did his best, I think. I didn't know anything was missing from my home life until grade school, and when I came home and asked him if I had a mom, he just…”

 

She tried to block out the light, avoiding the vulnerability.

 

“That was the beginning of it, I think. That's what I remember, at least.” She glossed over those parts, clenching her jaw firmly shut. Her defenses wobbled, severely damaged, but they held.

 

“The beginning of…” Dr. Kido trailed off, urging her to respond. 

 

Real men keep moving forwards.

 

It's no good if you give and give and never receive… right?

 

“It started with shouting.” Takako answered, suddenly feeling very small. “He got more and more belligerent, so I rebelled and pushed back, upset that things had changed. Then it was little things, like throwing plates, or pushing me, or throwing away my toys.” Takako fiddled with her fingers, teeth on edge. “Everything was a fight, I was always wrong and disrespectful. The little things turned into this weird emotional manipulation game, where he'd twist things back on me. Eventually, it was… real. And I started bruising and breaking. That's when they took me away.”

 

Things were bright in her protective shelter, but the walls remained standing. Her voice stayed flat, her eyes trained on the table.

 

“And you feel like that experience has followed you?” When Takako’s nod was curt, Dr. Kido spread her hands in a placating gesture. “That’s perfectly normal, Hiyashi. We can’t just forget these things. Let’s see what we can do.”

 

Takako took a breath, closing her eyes. “I’m not terribly flighty or anything. I don’t flinch when people reach for me, or cower away when people raise their voices. It’s a very specific brand of anger that will get my heart racing, that my brain starts sending out signals to run away.”

 

Bakugou’s shouts echoed in her head, pupils narrowed to fine points promising to rain destruction upon her prone form.

 

Stop it, she chided. You’re not defenseless, and Bakugou is not going to hurt you.

 

“It really bothers me that I flinch away from my friends.” Takako whispered. “Especially the friends I’ve made at UA. These people really mean to be heroes for the sake of helping people, not just for the image or the money. I feel like the shittiest friend when I run away from people like that.”

 

“Do they know why you do?”

 

Takako tilted her head back and forth, mouth twisting. “Kind of. Anyone I’ve explained it to only knows that someone used to push me around. I don’t tell them who.”

 

“Do you think it will change their opinions of you?”

 

Takako shrugged. “I always think it will, but it hasn’t so far.”

 

“Do you trust your friends?”

 

Takako couldn’t help but feel the weight of Tomura’s gaze on her. “Yes.”

 

“I’m sure if they’re worthy of your trust, Hiyashi, that they’d understand your reactions if you fully explained them. It’s okay to exercise some sense of discretion, but the more support you have, the better, right?” Dr. Kido hummed, voice smoothing over Takako’s rising anxiety.

 

Takako thought back to reluctantly explaining why she’d been crying in a bathroom to Midoriya. He hadn’t treated her any differently afterwards, and neither had Uraraka. They hadn’t treated her like she was fragile, hadn’t looked upon her with pity. Honestly, thinking back to the time she’d cowered away from Bakugou after confronting him about his badly hidden crush, Midoriya had protected her in a way he wouldn’t have known she needed if he hadn’t had that information provided to him earlier.

 

Though she feared the absence of her protective walls, maybe what laid on the other side of them wasn’t as terrifying as she’d thought.

 

“You’re probably right,” Takako admitted.

 

“So even when you’re vulnerable with someone, you still leave out the part about your abuser being your father.” Dr. Kido recalled- and Takako winced a little at her bluntness. “Why do you think that is?”

 

Takako ducked her head, running through the list she’d compiled over the years.

 

They sat in a tense silence while she debated how she should explain, the tension buzzing over her skin almost drowning out the gears clicking in her mind.

 

“When they find out it was my father… they always want to know about my mom, next.” Takako began. “And I have to tell them I never knew her. I have to remember that I never found a single photo in my own house, that I have nothing to remember her by, that she might as well have never existed. I have to remember that it’s my fault she’s gone, that it’s my fault my father had to raise me alone, that it’s my fault he turned out the way he did,” Takako rambled on, defenses crumbling as the confessions poured from her.

 

“Hiyashi, that’s not true,” Dr. Kido set her pen down, attention fully on Takako.

 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s not true,” Takako blurted, lurching forwards.

 

Two pairs of eyes stared at her. If the guards were listening in, there could be four pairs of eyes on her.

 

She was open, exposed, defenses nearly completely blown away. She braced herself on the table to keep from collapsing into herself, trying not to hide, trying to keep up the image- 

 

The image that everything was alright. She was over it. It's all in the past.

 

“That’s what he taught me. That’s all I know. ” Takako hissed, blinking rapidly to hold back the burn of tears against her eyelids.

 

Normally she didn’t hide her tears, but this pain was one she didn’t like to admit to being affected by.

 

“He manipulated everything. Everything was my fault, everything went his way, everyone did what he wanted. In the end, he kept his hero license because when they finally caught him, the media never got a hold of the final court decision. He erased me just like he erased my mom.” She curled her hands into fists, desperately holding onto the last of her protection.

 

“You were just a child, Hiyashi,” Dr. Kido soothed her- as if Takako hadn’t already tried to convince herself that years ago. Surely, it couldn’t have been her fault- she wasn’t even conscious of her own actions then.

 

But whatever Takako said was wrong. She was always wrong. It was always her fault.

 

That's why she sat there with Dr. Kido (and Tomura), that's why she'd agreed to this meeting. She still believed the things he said to her, she still thought the way he made her think, she still reacted to things in the way he made her react in the past.

 

All of this, it's not in the past.

 

“There’s a reason why you have to be a certain age to be tried in court,” Dr. Kido reminded her. “Your brain is still developing. At that age, it wouldn’t even be capable of anything more complex than basic functioning. Whatever happened in your family, the responsibility cannot lie on your shoulders, Hiyashi.”

 

Takako let out a breath. Dr. Kido’s reassurance meant more than she knew. “Okay.”

 

It wasn’t going to fix everything right now, but this was the first time anyone had been on her side.

 

No one had gotten in close enough to know there was a side to take.

 

“Do you still fear your father?”

 

Hit. A blow to already marginal defenses.

 

“He’s dead.” Takako intoned blankly, finally managing to look up from her hands. She settled back, sitting up straight again, and watched Dr. Kido take note of her expression. “I saw it on the news.”

 

“Did it upset you?”

 

This hit was smaller. It still hurt, but she’d had time to think about this one.

 

“Yeah.” Takako admitted. “He wasn’t always abusive. He… he cared about me, despite everything he did. It made it harder to be excited about his death.”

 

She watched Tomura’s fists clench out of the corner of her eye.

 

“But that didn’t stop him from following me around.” Takako pushed on, determined to air out the full extent of her fears, despite the toll it would take on her. “I’m still afraid.”

 

It's not in the past.

 

She couldn’t get the next words out, not even when Dr. Kido prompted her with, “Of what?”

 

She had mere crumbles of her previous defenses left over, her usual shelter from the storm blown away in the oncoming winds.

 

She watched the last of them blow away with her final confession.

 

“I’m… I’m afraid of becoming him.” Takako whispered. Tomura’s double handed no didn’t register- she was too busy wiping away the first tear that had fallen, trying to keep her breathing even and deep despite the closing of her throat.

 

“What makes you think that?” Dr. Kido’s question wasn’t obligatory prodding this time, but a startled demand.

 

“I- I-” Takako choked around the words, pressing the heel of her hand into one eye. She took her glasses off, the lenses already fogged from the threat of rain. “I’m just like him.” She gasped- and Tomura’s insistent no finally reached her ears. “I am!” She screeched in return- and Tomura recoiled.

 

That sent a spear of searing regret through her chest. Instead of slicing clean through her, the point buried in her earlier assumption, chaining her to her inevitable fate to follow in her father’s footsteps.

 

“I am,” she echoed her last outburst, slumping into herself. “I’ve got this stupid Quirk- his Quirk- that lets me invade other people’s most protected thoughts. No one wants you to know what they want- unless- unless they’re asking for something." Takako stammered, staring at her hands like they'd been the ones to physically pull these things from people.

 

It felt like it, sometimes. All it took was bumping shoulders to pull someone's drive behind their actions, shaking hands with someone was enough to know their intentions- even passing someone in the hallway could be enough reveal their secret crush.

 

Sometimes Takako felt like a walking disaster. Humiliation lurked behind every corner, ready to knock her out with any possible combination of trauma and lust and insecurities.

 

"But then- but then I-" Takako choked around her words, swiping tears off of her cheeks before they could fall onto the table. "I pull people’s futures, their goals, their crushes, their secrets out of them like it’s nothing.” Takako bit her lip, tearing into it, and winced at the fresh sparkle of tears at the corners of her eyes. “And I use them. I manipulate people because I know what they want- goddamnit, what kind of hero am I?”

 

“A smart one.” Dr. Kido insisted, and the sharp statement snaps Takako’s gaze up to hers. “You see into people’s best and worst intentions andstill treat them with respect. I see you do it every time you come here.”

 

Takako pressed both of her hands to her face. “I don’t want to be my father. I don’t want to.”

 

Suddenly, she understood why Tomura hid beneath messy hair. It was too bright here, now that her defenses were gone. There were too many things exposed, too much on display for eyes to see.

 

“You won’t be, Takako. You’ve already proved to us that you won’t.” Dr. Kido sounded unusually soft, but the statement hit Takako harder than it should’ve.

 

She broke.

 

It was less violent this time. The last time she’d cried in this room, she’d cried so hard she’d screamed. Now all that escaped her were little hitches of breath and a pitiful sniffle or two.

 

She heard Dr. Kido shuffling around- probably getting up to move- so when a warm pressure landed lightly at the small of her back, she assumed it was the doctor’s comforting touch.

 

“Would you like a tissue, Hiyashi?”

 

When Dr. Kido’s voice came to her from the other side of the table and not right next to her like she’d assumed it would, Takako hummed in confusion. With a slow lift of her head, she found the doctor across from her, offering a tissue. Takako took it and pressed it to her face, then turned to follow the arm that extended from her back.

 

Tomura wouldn’t look at her. She couldn’t really see his face without her glasses, so it didn’t matter much anyways.

 

Five points of warmth, four fingers and a palm, seeped into her skin.

 

If the hand wasn't enough, the quiet murmurings of protect and comfort coming off of his desires was. The protect was clearly an anger driven sentiment- a particular detail she could only pick up because they were in contact- and the comfort was much smaller, much more hesitant. The fact that he worried about her at all was enough to send a surge of warmth through her chest.

 

Her breathing evened out. After another minute, the tight fist of hysteria around her throat eased up, signaling that she could probably talk without choking on her own words.

 

“So, Hiyashi,” Dr. Kido only moved on after Takako stopped reaching for tissues. “Let’s talk solutions.”

 

Takako liked this about Dr. Kido. She listened thoroughly to the problem at hand, then made sure that the problem was not only being heard, but being solved. She never left things at a sympathetic no or a comforting pat on the back.

 

While they discussed next steps and self-care, Tomura’s hand never left her back. At one point, it slid higher, but it quickly returned to its original spot- as if he’d thought about rubbing her back but stopped himself just in time.

 

His hand only retreated when Dr. Kido stood to leave, session over, the doctor inviting Takako to walk back with her.

 

Takako gathered her stuff, certain that she’d spent more time in this cell than ever before and that security was surely getting antsy about her extended stay. As she settled her glasses back on her face, Dr. Kido addressed Tomura, asking him something about their next appointment. Takako was pleased to see his fingers roll out a response, and the doctor’s question reminded her…

 

“Do you want me to come back?”

 

It was a formality, now, because she didn't have any reason to believe that he didn't want her to return. She kept asking out of respect, because, no matter what, he deserved the option to choose. 

 

Tomura still wouldn’t look at her, but he said yes anyways.

 

Takako smiled- mostly to herself, since no one was looking. Looking at Tomura, his hands resting on the table, legs folded underneath him, she was suddenly hit with a wave of gratitude.

 

“Tenko,” she lowered her voice, speaking so only Tomura could hear her. Dr. Kido was busy chatting with the guards anyways. “Would you mind if I hugged you?”

 

The villain’s head whipped towards her, disrupting the carefully situated blue-gray strands as he reacted to her request. For a moment, he merely stared at her, scarlet eyes wide and bright with surprise, cheeks pink in the sliver of skin she could see as a result of his disarray.

 

His eyes darted behind her, eyebrows furrowing while he looked at the guards, but he tapped out a quiet yes nonetheless.

 

“Hey,” Takako spoke up to address her superiors, understanding Tomura’s concern. “Am I allowed to hug him?”

 

The pink in Tomura’s cheeks deepened to a bright red, and he glared at Takako in betrayal from beneath his bangs.

 

The conversation being held by the door stopped immediately, shock ringing through the air, but it didn’t take long for Takako to get an answer.

 

“You literally carried him across the room today.” The younger guard reminded her- and when Dr. Kido turned to her in surprise, it was Takako’s turn to blush. “As long as he’s not gonna strangle you over it, sure.”

 

“Tenko, are you going to strangle me if I hug you?” Takako gasped, faking offense. Tomura huffed, the puff of air blowing his bangs away from his face enough to show the full twist of (intensely) chapped lips.

 

“Already tried that.” He muttered- much too low for anyone but her to hear. “Didn’t go very well.”

 

Takako choked on a laugh, the jest taking her off guard. When she caught another glimpse of the red in his cheeks, she pitched forwards without a second thought. He flinched- which she should’ve expected, since she’d thrown herself on him- but he didn’t push her away.

 

“Thank you, Tenko,” she whispered into his collarbone, wrapping careful arms around his skinny frame. “I appreciate how much you helped me today. More than you know.”

 

What she wasn’t expecting was the arm that slowly looped around her waist, four fingers and a palm pressing into her hip.

 

“And I’m proud of how well you did today,” Takako added, remembering how well he’d responded to her praise at their last meeting. “Even if you were really rude. It’s something, at least.”

 

Tomura shuddered underneath her, the smallest shivers running down his spine. Takako looked up, surprised, and Tomura grumbled at her sudden movement. He smushed her face under his palm as retribution, blocking her view of his reddened face.

 

“Rude, Tenko,” she complained- but she sounded kinda funny with her nose squished against his hand. She couldn’t help but laugh at herself. “Ah, look,” she dragged his hand further down her face, planting his fingertips on her forehead and peeking out at him between his fingers. “I’m you.”

 

The guards got the joke immediately, and they startled Takako by roaring with laughter. Even Dr. Kido smiled, though she hid it behind her hand.

 

Tomura just stared at her for a second, expression blank while she looked up at him through his fingers. For a moment, she thought he actually didn’t understand, but then his lips pulled up at one corner in a tiny version of that villainous grin from earlier.

 

“C’mon, Hiyashi. Let’s get you home.” Dr. Kido called to Takako before she turned back to the giggling guards.

 

Takako grinned, turning her attention to Tomura again. Before she could pull away, he slid his fingertips from her forehead to her jaw, cupping her cheek in his hand.

 

“Dabi’s right.” He mused- though the words looked like they tasted sour in his mouth. “You’re much cuter than I am.”

 

Takako’s eyes blew wide, shocked beyond belief. When her face warmed, cheeks undoubtedly turning pink again, Tomura’s tiny grin widened.

 

Despite how sinister the smile was, Tomura looked… dare she say… smug.

 

Did he… did he know?

 

Takako scrambled to collect herself, picking up her bag and stumbling to her feet. “I’ll see you soon, Tenko!”

 

She’d never felt her face so hot before, and she hid it behind her hands while the guards went through security measures for her and Dr. Kido’s exit.

 

“Oh, Hiyashi,” the younger guard sang, handing her bag back. “What’s got you so red?”

 

Takako hissed at them, shouldering her bag and ducking back behind her fingers.

 

“Really, Hiyashi, what’s got you so worked up?” Dr. Kido inquired- genuinely curious.

 

Takako sighed, glaring at the guards while they tried to contain their laughter. “Tomura said I was cute.” She mumbled in explanation, walking ahead quickly.

 

“He spoke to you?” Dr. Kido echoed. “Just now?”

 

“Yeah,” Takako admitted, still avoiding facing her entourage. “He’s been talking in bits and pieces since I came in today.”

 

“Huh.” Dr. Kido hummed. “He’s made quite a few steps in the right direction today.”

 

“He’s certainly stepping to Hiyashi,” the younger guard teased.

 

If Takako had any hope for her blush leaving before heading back to the UA dorms, they were crushed when Dr. Kido laughed alongside the guards at the quip.

 

---

 

Now that Tomura was talking- though only to Takako- things were a little different.

 

Instead of filling an entire slot of time with her own voice, Takako found she could drag vocal responses out of Tomura alongside the tapping of his fingers as a reply.

 

He stuck to short phrases and rarely made complex sentences, but it drastically changed their conversations. Takako had caught glimpses of his personality in all these weeks before, but now she felt like she was finally getting to know him.

 

He wasn’t Tenko anymore. She knew that. She’d assumed that, before she’d even heard his crazed laughter, before she’d ever seen the intense gleam in his eyes.

 

She wanted to get to know Tomura. Now, more than ever before, she was discovering what kind of person her childhood friend had become.

 

Even though he’d started speaking again, he was a generally quiet person. Takako had already known this.

 

She didn’t know that he’d developed a pretty foul mouth- though she should’ve expected it. He was pretty creative with insults too, which he liked to use whenever she’d mention someone he didn’t like- the list of which was not at all short.

 

It had become an odd kind of call and response in their conversations.

 

For example:

 

“Okay, ignoring that, math really isn’t that bad,” Takako had been insisting. “Yanagi is surprisingly good at it- I heard that she’s even better than Bakugou, which really pisses him off.”

 

Tomura only huffed, rolling his eyes. “Spiky ass piece of dandruff.”

 

Takako had stopped in her tracks, hand flying up to cover her mouth- which had dropped open in shock.

 

Perhaps Tomura wouldn’t have turned it into a habit if the insults didn’t make Takako laugh so much.

 

Now that he would occasionally respond aloud, Takako had also noticed that… some of Tomura’s answers were kind of… weird.

 

Most of the time, it was his blunt way of referencing breaking the law that caught Takako off guard, as if he didn’t know (or didn’t care) that his suggestion was dangerous or illegal. Like when Takako had been talking about how the school plastered flyers for events over every available surface, and Tomura had simply muttered, “burn them,” as a solution.

 

Less often, it was just something not quite right, something vaguely sinister.

 

Like the day Tomura had simply answered, “spoon-fed,” to Takako’s question about how he’d come to hate heroes.

 

Or when he’d mumbled, “I doubt you truly know what death smells like.”

 

The immoral answers barely phased her- she mostly responded with a slow, “...no? I can’t?”

 

The odd answers made her stumble, forced her to collect herself before she kept going. Tomura always noticed when she did this, always looked guarded- as if he hadn’t known that was something weird to say.

 

The good outweighed the bad, though. He was eating regularly and could walk on his own, and occasionally answered the guards with taps of his hands. Dr. Kido still faced a blank wall in one on ones, but if Takako was there, she could usually drag a few answers from him.

 

Don’t get the wrong idea, Tomura was far from rehabilitated. He’d simply returned to functioning like a living being instead of waiting to die.

 

Takako unlocked bits and pieces of him as she went. She was astounded by each new realization she came to, holding every new bit of information as close to her heart as possible.

 

That first joint meeting with Dr. Kido may have been the start of Tomura truly opening up, but that session had served to unlock something in Takako too. Despite her breakdown and the teasing afterwards, she’d come out of that discussion with some much needed reassurance and a different view on things.

 

She’d been given homework.

 

And heaven knows that if Takako wanted something done, she got it done.

Chapter Text

Which was how she found Katsuki Bakugou on a weekend and convinced him to sit still for a couple minutes.

 

It took a lot of arguing. Takako had been near tears of frustration when Bakugou had finally sighed and relented, the blond threatening her with a slow death if she wasn’t worth his time.

 

“I was just gonna ask you about Midoriya, jeez,” Takako huffed- even though that was a lie. She couldn't open with the topic she'd planned on talking to him about while he had an attitude like this.

 

He sprawled out over the bench he’d collapsed on- not leaving any room for Takako to sit- so she’d vaulted herself onto the concrete pillar nearby, perching on the top while they talked.

 

“Why do you need to stick your nose in everything?” Bakugou demanded, crossing his arms over his chest. “Nosy bitch,” he muttered under his breath.

 

At this point, Takako was used to the name calling. “You literally asked me to check in on him so you don’t have to wallow in misery.”

 

“I didn’t ask you anything!” Bakugou hissed. “You put your giant nose in my business!”

 

Takako pressed a hand to her nose, faking offense. “You bullied my friends because you can’t handle your feelings about Midoriya!”

 

“I’d bully those extras whether I was- was- you know what, it doesn’t matter!” Bakugou growled, taking a swing at her. It’s half-hearted, she barely has to lean to dodge it.

 

“Speaking of bullying,” Takako eased in- proud of how quickly she’d roped the conversation back in. “That walk back was what I needed to check in with him.” She nods her head in a slight thanks, acknowledging Bakugou’s part in allowing that moment to occur. “I feel kinda bad for rummaging around in his feelings without his permission, but-”

 

“He knows what your Quirk is.” Bakugou cut her off. “If he was worried about it, he wouldn’t have walked with you.”

 

Takako shrugged, smiling sheepishly. “I have a long history of upsetting people by knowing things I’m not supposed to know.” She explained

 

“You don’t have to tell me,” Bakugou muttered, flashing a scowl at her.

 

“Anyways,” Takako moved on, scratching the back of her neck. “We touched on how you used to treat Midoriya. I can’t believe you thought he was pitying you- don’t you get tired from dragging that massive ego around all the time?” She teased- unable to resist poking at Bakugou’s temper. “That’s why your biceps are so unnaturally defined,” she laughed, and the scowl on the blond’s face flickered between annoyed and pleased, clearly conflicted on how to respond to her teasing. “Despite all of your miscommunications, Midoriya… he...”

 

She couldn’t see Bakugou’s face- he’d purposefully looked away from her- but his shoulders were tense with anticipation, waiting for the final verdict.

 

“Let me put it like this. Right now, your relationship isn’t skewed in any positive or negative way. At most, you’re rivals.” Takako changed tracks, trying to collect her thoughts. “I can’t tell you exactly what he wants, but he wouldn’t mind it progressing in a positive way.”

 

“What the fuck does that mean,” Bakugou still didn’t turn towards her, something sharp in his demanding tone. “Does he hate me or not?”

 

“Bakugou,” Takako sighed, tossing her thoughts from one hand to the other. “In the past, you gave Midoriya every reason to hate you. Clearly, he does not.”

 

“Clearly?” Bakugou muttered, miffed, but Takako ignored him.

 

“Here’s the thing. What reason have you given him now, currently, presently,” Takako emphasized, insistently tapping the concrete beneath her. “To make him think that you like him?”

 

Bakugou recoiled immediately- and Takako should’ve known he’d take that the wrong way.

 

“I’m not gonna- gonna- confess to him or something-” the blond spluttered, hands shaking as they curled into fists. “I don’t play that shitty feelings game like you do, megane,” he snapped, shooting her a burning red glare.

 

“I didn’t say you had to tell him how you feel,” Takako cut in, trying not to raise her voice. “But, like- if someone constantly threatened your death and shouted at you and-”

 

“This is not supposed to be a lecture about my flaws!” Bakugou shouted, standing abruptly.

 

Shit. Takako backtracked, scrambling for purchase. She’d hit a sensitive spot. It was hard to tell with Bakugou, because if his ego wasn’t hiding his insecurities, his aggression was.

 

“I didn’t say they were flaws,” she spoke softly, in sharp contrast to his outburst. His shoulders hiked up, the mistake he’d made registering in his mind all at once. Takako rushed to speak before he could push her away. “That’s just how you interact with people. That’s how you communicate- for better or for worse. I’m only asking you to step out of your shoes and into someone else’s for like… one question.”

 

The tension drained from his shoulders- and Takako internally relaxed, inner alarm bells quieting. Despite knowing Bakugou wasn’t going to purposefully hurt her, she still read some of his body language as warning signs, picking up on tells that had often meant danger when she was little.

 

“If someone transferred into your class and only responded to you with curses and aggression, would you think they liked you?” Takako rephrased the question. “Not, would you care, not, would you be their friend, not, would you want to date them,” she clarified, “Would you think that they liked you as a person?”

 

The shake of Bakugou’s head was very tiny. Very, very tiny. He tried to disguise it as he slid back onto the bench he’d previously occupied, but Takako had a keen eye for body language.

 

“Now you’re going to tell me I need to be nice and shit,” Bakugou grumbled, crossing his arms tightly over his body, defenses beginning to draw up.

 

“Eh? But Bakugou, that’s not like you at all!” Takako feigned surprise, and Bakugou frowned in her direction, unimpressed.

 

“Don’t play at being an airhead. It doesn’t suit you.”

 

Takako couldn’t help but blush, caught off guard, and she looked away before she continued. “I think it would be weird for Midoriya if you were to suddenly be nice and open and caring. It’d be just as weird for him as it was for you to act that way in the first place.”

 

Bakugou hummed, thinking this over. “You know,” he mused, tone lifting in agreement, “He’d probably think I was making fun of him.”

 

“Because that’s not how you communicate.” Takako reiterated. “For better or for worse.”

 

“So…”

 

Bakugou stopped the question before it came out, always averse to asking for help, but Takako could guess at what he wanted to ask. What do I do?

 

“Well, you’ve got friends, don’t you?” Takako lilted, aiming a sharp smile at him when he glared at her in return for the prod. “Kirishima knows you don’t hate him- hell, even I know you don’t really mean it when you threaten to kill me,”

 

“It becomes truer with every passing day,” Bakugou sighed- and Takako hadn’t taken him as someone that would ever speak in a wistful tone like that, joking or not.

 

“Out of all of us, Midoriya must know how to read you,” Takako ignored the comment, picking up where she’d left off, “So just… show him that you wanna be around him. Don’t do what the people in the movies do, or what the advice journal says,” she listed, “Just do what you would do. You don’t have to make it obvious- Midoriya’s a smart guy. And when it comes to you,”

 

She purposefully trailed off, hiding the smile that threatened to give her away when Bakugou’s head popped up in interest.

 

“Well, he’s always gone the extra mile for you, hasn’t he?”

 

Bakugou spluttered, trying to refute her claim- as if it was untrue, somehow.

 

“And another thing,” Takako spoke up over his loud denial- stopping him in his tracks. “I need to… apologize.” Takako began.

 

Bakugou bristled. Takako prepared herself for the worst.

 

“For what reason,” Bakugou began, words coming out very slowly from him, “do you think I need an apology from you.”

 

Quiet and polite Bakugou was the most dangerous Bakugou. Takako needed to choose her next few steps wisely.

 

“It’s for me.” Takako admitted. This didn’t seem to placate Bakugou in any way. “I mean, it could be for your benefit as well, since you definitely have feelings other than anger and pride in there,” she added, poking the side of his head.

 

Bakugou swatted at her, snarling, and Takako rolled her eyes. “Get to the point already.” The blond demanded, crossing his arms over his chest after he took his attention off of her.

 

“I… I’m sorry for the way I’ve been treating you.” Takako finally managed, looking out over the school grounds. “It’s not that you can’t handle it or anything,” she clarified before he could get himself all worked up over being seen as weak in some way. “You just don’t deserve it.”

 

“Eh?” Bakugou huffed, expression somewhere between suspicious and surprised.

 

“I’m sure you’re used to people flinching away from you- probably gives you a big ol’ power trip boner,” she mused, ducking out of the way of a punch. “But I’m not afraid of you, Bakugou.”

 

The blond in question let out a harrumph. “You should be.”

 

Takako laughed. “Now you’re the one who sounds like Shigaraki.” She teased, shaking her head.

 

Bakugou didn’t reply to the comparison, merely stared off over the campus grounds like she had been a moment before.

 

Especially for someone aiming to be a hero, how often had he heard murmurs of disapproval concerning his behavior? She wondered if the way people reacted ever got to him.

 

With the way he handled emotions, she doubted anyone would ever be able to tell.

 

When Bakugou cleared his throat, Takako tore her eyes from the ground, refocusing on the conversation at hand.

 

“You shouldn’t be afraid of your old man, either.” He finally said, tone suspiciously even, devoid of any teasing or malice. “You know that he… you know he’s dead, right?”

 

Was Bakugou trying to… comfort her?

 

Despite her surprise, Takako nodded in response. “Saw it on the news.”

 

Bakugou didn’t reply, just squinted out at the sun.

 

She was about to get up and leave, but Bakugou broke the silence once again.

 

“I’m used to people flinching away from me.” He echoed her earlier statement. “I’ll usually get extra grief if whoever I spooked was flighty because they’d been through shit already.” He admitted- but he didn’t sound upset by it.

 

The next statement took a while for him to form. Takako just waited in silence.

 

“You’re not… like them. They’re scared of their own shadow, they jump at every loud noise and close call.” Bakugou let out a breath- quietly, not something Takako was supposed to pick up on. “Usually I can read people. You… you surprised me.”

 

The way he said surprised sounded like he actually meant tricked, as if Takako had been purposefully hiding her trauma from him. It was true, in a way. Additionally, she wondered if Bakugou knew about Todoroki’s home life. The two boys were classmates, rivals even, but Takako certainly hadn’t been able to gather that particular detail about the half and half boy until she’d physically taken it from him.

 

“Don’t get the wrong fucking idea,” he piped up suddenly, turning eyes full of rage in her direction. “I’m not sorry for how I acted, and I’m not sorry for you .”

 

“Good.” Takako huffed- and this kinda stunned Bakugou into silence again. “I don’t need to be treated with care. I’m not going to shatter. Haven’t yet.”

 

This pulled a wry smile out of the spiky haired blond on the bench below her, and he turned his gaze back to the horizon.

 

“You came pretty fucking close, out there with scarface and crusty.” Bakugou tried to frame it as a jab, but Takako was close enough to hear the underlying echo.

 

I don’t want to watch anyone die

 

I don’t want to watch my friends die

 

I don’t want my friends to die

 

“It was just a few ribs.” She waved him off. “And my wrist. And my-”

 

“Oh my god- stop, I get it, you’re such a badass,” Bakugou grumbled, rearranging his limbs in preparation to stand.

 

“I mean, did you stab Dabi in the chest?” Takako fired back, her grin wide.

 

“I’ll settle for the accomplishment of fucking your boyfriend’s face up.” Bakugou muttered as he stood up- and it’s meant to be a joke, but the sentiment was real and Takako could feel it.

 

When Takako fell quiet, the absence of a response hanging heavy in the air, Bakugou turned a glare in her direction.

 

“I’m not sorry for that either.” He insisted, and his tone is sharp, curt. He’s not asking for an argument or a reprimand. “I’d do it again, if I had to.”

 

“I would too.” Takako whispered.

 

She didn’t like to think about Midoriya crumbling under Tomura’s five fingered grip, but the image came back to her unannounced at the least convenient times.

 

“Is he mad about it?”

 

Takako looked up, eyebrows raised. “You breaking his face, or the fact that we crushed his plans for the future and threw him in jail?”

 

She took Bakguou’s shrug as a generic yes.

 

“Furious.” She admitted- and Bakugou’s mouth curled up in a victorious smirk.

 

“Good. Tell him he can go fuck himself.”

 

“I will not!” Takako screeched. She tried to tell herself it was anger and not embarrassment that had a flush rising to her cheeks.

 

“Oh,” Bakugou hummed, raising an eyebrow. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

 

Bakugou!” Takako complained, hiding her face behind her hands.

 

“Nasty bitch,” Bakugou chuckled, shaking his head. “I changed my mind. Tell him when his dusty ass gets out of prison, he can come find me and I promise to fuck up his ugly face some more.”

 

“I’m not gonna tell him that,” Takako muttered from behind her hands. “I’d lose him to the most creative stream of curses yet.”

 

Bakugou had looked like he was about to leave, but her last comment made him pause. “He’s talking now?”

 

Takako nodded. “Mostly to curse out the people I tell him stories about. I’ve gotten some… interesting combinations.”

 

Bakugou’s eye twitched. “The fucker say anything about me? I’ll fucking kill him-”

 

“My favorite so far is ‘broccoli bitch’ for Midoriya,” she interrupted him- and that choked a laugh out of the blond before he could stop himself. “But I think ‘low-level dickhead who wouldn’t know a brush if it bit him’ was my favorite for you. Lengthy, but gold. Followed closely by,”

 

She didn’t get to tell him her second favorite, because he was shouting and raving about the ‘low-level’ insult, daring Tomura to try him on face to face again.

 

“And fuck you, I brush my hair every damn day, wiggle hair lookin’ ass-

 

Takako was gone to hysterical laughter in a heartbeat, sliding helplessly off of the concrete pillar she’d been slumped against after the initial explosions toppled her from her perch.

 

Her classmates give her a couple strange looks when she was smushed against the main doors of their dorm, Bakugou twitching with rage while he held her there by her collar and demanded at the top of his lungs that someone take responsibility for her.

 

She was still laughing when Reiko opened the door for her- not that Reiko responded to her laughter, or anything else, for that matter- and Tetsutetsu immediately demanded to know why Bakugou had been dragging her around. She promised her classmates that Bakugou hadn’t been bullying her, told them she’d sought him out to apologize for something she’d done to him.

 

Most of them are astounded that Takako needed to apologize to Bakugou, but the few that know her well just nod, glad that she’d accomplished what she’d set out to do.

 

Takako didn’t have a lot of close friends. When your Quirk lets you dig around in people’s intentions and desires, you tend to be a little… picky.

 

Like Class A, Class B held a wide range of people with an even wider range of Quirks and personalities, so Takako had options to choose from when she'd first arrived. She guessed it was because UA was such a popular school that it drew people from all over- unlike her old school, which had mostly held the people that had lived in that sector all their lives.

 

She liked most everybody in her class. Even Monoma, despite his moments with Class A.

 

There were just some people she knew she wouldn’t be able to confide in. Tetsutetsu and Tsuburaba meant well, but they were kinda loose with their words, a little too blunt and honest. People like Monoma and Shiozaki also meant well, but they saw things in such black and white terms that Takako had a hard time talking about anything but school work with them. Yanagi barely reacted to anything, and Tsunotori literally didn’t understand half of what was said to her in the first place, so Takako hadn’t bothered with the trouble.

 

The girls in her class had formed a group before she even transferred in, and had graciously taken her in when she’d first stumbled into UA. Among them, Takako divulged little things about herself- unimportant things, things that girls tended to discuss, like crushes and clothes and video games and food and hero training.

 

They knew Takako’s favorite candy was always the orange flavored ones, and that (despite her size) she could eat.

 

They knew Takako didn’t like contacts and preferred to wear her glasses, and they knew that she’d grumbled and groaned the whole way to the support item workshop when her glasses had shattered for the tenth time out on the practice field while they tested hero costumes.

 

They knew what kind of hero she wanted to be. They knew about her internship.

 

Most people knew that Takako had once known the villain that attacked UA. Fewer people knew that she’d been in the middle of the final fight between that villain and the top two students of Class A. That information mostly circled around the faculty, staff, and Class A and B. Even fewer people knew that she visited imprisoned criminals for her internship, and only the people she truly trusted knew that she visited the criminals that had attacked UA.

 

(Security might be tight, but gossip knew no bounds.)

 

Of the girls in her class, Kendo, Komori, and Kodai were her closest confidants. Of the guys, she trusted (and enjoyed being around) Honenuki and Kaibara the most.

 

Outside of her class, Bakugou and Midoriya knew a lot about her and had been through some shit with her, but they were both in another league, one far above her, so she didn’t feel very close with them. Plus, with how popular they were- and how little she stood out- she didn’t feel like she could even get close. Shinsou, though, she found herself spending more time with than she’d expected, and definitely considered him close.

 

Despite what the popularity of ‘K’ names would suggest, the underlying theme of Takako’s closest friends tended to be a quiet- or at least level headed- personality. She didn’t like to fight to be heard and didn’t always need a running conversation. The friends that weren’t necessarily quiet, like Kendo and Honenuki, were very down to earth people, people she could have a discussion with about something they didn’t agree on without fear of being shouted at or attacked.

 

Like now, in their little circle of Takako, Kendo, Komori, and Kodai, when she didn’t feel hesitant telling stories about the criminals she’d spoken to. Oftentimes, she told these stories to make her friends laugh. Komori- despite her shy nature- always laughed at Tomura’s creative curses- especially when Takako told her about how he’d referred to someone as an overgrown mushroom. Kendo didn’t think Dabi’s pet names were appropriate- actually, she seemed sort of offended by them- but any reference to Takako being called ‘princess’ or ‘little hero’ always pulled a smile from Kodai’s ever impassive expression.

 

She felt at home among these girls- her tongue perhaps a little looser than in her actual home, since she censored her tales of hero work so as to not scare the bejeezus out of her mild-mannered parents.

 

It didn’t take long after the crowd had thinned to Kendo, Komori, and Kodai for Takako to launch into her newest adventure with Tomura. Their latest meeting had been a little difficult to navigate, mostly because Takako had started the meeting upset with Tomura for scratching himself until he bled- though this was merely a couple scrapes, not anything major like his first episode. Tomura had ridden the waves of her exasperation and distress, resulting in more middle fingers as an answer than she usually received.

 

“At least it’s not like it was when we were younger,” Takako relented, shrugging. “He’d throw dirt at me if I bugged him too much.”

 

Kendo giggled at this. Kodai did not, but Kodai didn’t really laugh at anything.

 

Komori however…

 

As soon as Takako caught the wavy line of Komori’s wide mouth- it was all she had to go off of, what with the bangs covering most of her face- she wondered if she’d made a mistake.

 

“I wonder sometimes, Hiyashi… why do you want to be around him?” Komori’s question came out slowly, driven by confusion. “Why would you want to keep going back to someone like him?”

 

Takako straightened. “Someone like him?” She echoed. Her voice was ice cold, filled with freezing intent.

 

Kodai noticed, exchanging a glance with Kendo before raising an eyebrow at Takako.

 

Komori kind of shrunk back, but she kept going anyways. “Well… Like… Someone that you don’t agree with... someone that hurt people, and broke the law- and sometimes even hurts you,”

 

“Like a villain?” Takako filled in, unusually tense.

 

“Well, yeah, Takako. He’s in prison.” Kendo bluntly reminded her.

 

“I mean-” Komori squeaked, looking away even though Takako couldn’t see her eyes. “I know we’re not supposed to talk about this, but-” she glanced around furtively, like someone was listening in. “Didn’t he come this close to feeding Midoriya to the shrooms?”

 

This was Komori’s way of referencing death in a way she best understood it, explained in terms of the saprophytes she loved so dearly.

 

(Shishida, Class B’s resident intellect, had been severely reprimanded after calling mushrooms ‘detritivores’ once. Apparently, despite eating dead organic matter, to be considered under the suffix ‘-vore’ you needed a mouth, so now everyone in Class B knew that mushrooms were saprophytes.)

 

Komori held her fingers up, showing Takako the gap between them. This close to killing Midoriya Izuku.

 

As if Takako hadn’t held that distance in her own hands. As if Takako hadn’t pushed her body to the limits of its abilities to widen that gap.

 

“Yeah,” was all Takako could bring herself to answer with, trying to keep her shoulders straight.

 

Komori winced, the corners of her mouth falling into a frown. “You’re not afraid he’s gonna… gonna… you know...”

 

“Kill me?” Takako sighed, looking away. “Not as much nowadays, but in the beginning sometimes…”

 

“You’re really not helping your case, Hiyashi,” Kodai informed her.

 

“I know that,” Takako felt like squawking like a disturbed bird, but all she could manage was a nod of agreement.

 

Takako and Kodai were often asked if they were related somehow. Kodai couldn’t see the resemblance, especially with how much their personalities differed, but Takako could guess why people would ask. The two of them stood at about the same height, and they wore their hair in the same style- thick, straight, shoulder length, blunt edges, with bangs cut straight across just above their eyebrows. Though Kodai’s hair was black and Takako’s was brown- and Takako envied those blue eyes with 20/20 vision- neither of them had chosen to smile in their hero license pictures. 

 

“Are you sure you’re not putting on your blinders because you knew him when you were little?” Kendo spoke up next- and despite how the question ruffled up the worst parts of her, Takako knew the interrogation was out of concern.

 

Her friends didn’t want to see her hurt. They already knew what it was like to come close to losing her.

 

She tried not to worry them, tried not to put the responsibility of her life on somebody else’s shoulders, but she just didn’t see things like they did.

 

“The villains I sit down and talk to…” Takako trailed off, biting at her lip. “I don’t see them as villains. If I walked in there with a predetermined label, I erase their voice. I throw away everything they’ve gone through to get to that point, I negate their feelings and traumas and accomplishments as human beings as soon as I assume that all villains do that.

 

Her friends have heard this speech before.

 

“That’s really kind of you, Hiyashi,” Komori agreed, a small smile on her wide mouth. “I think we’re just afraid that because of that mindset, someone’s going to hurt you. Some people take advantage of that kinda thing, you know?” She hummed nervously, lacing her fingers together as if to plead with her friend.

 

Takako leans her cheek on her knee, pouting. “I try not to think about that.” She admitted quietly. “I don’t like to see the worst in people.”

 

“What a hero,” Kodai noted, giving her a small round of applause. “To see the best in everyone, even those you must fight against.”

 

“Anyone can point out the dirtiest parts of someone,” Takako mumbled, pushing her glasses up from where they’d slid down. “I want to be the one that finds the gold.”

 

---

 

“I heard you talking with the girls earlier.”

 

Takako stopped in her tracks, spinning on her heel to face the source of the sound. She’d been on her way to the washing machines to put a load of clothes in to run before she sat down and finished her homework that evening.

 

“Kaibara!” She exclaimed, laundry forgotten. Kaibara Sen didn’t talk much, and he rarely sought Takako out for conversation, so when he made a move to interact with her, Takako always jumped at the opportunity. “Did you overhear the part about the plan to prank Monoma, or the part where we argued about my internship?”

 

Kaibara kind of narrowed his eyes at her, vaguely suspicious, but clearly decided he had better things to worry about than whatever they were planning to do to Monoma. “The internship.” He clarified.

 

“Alright,” Takako hummed- she wondered if she was in for another lecture. “What’s up?”

 

Kaibara didn’t move for a moment, just put his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall.

 

He always looked effortlessly cool, hands in his pockets, slouched, looking relaxed and detached like nothing ever worried him. Takako had envied his demeanor until she’d sparred with him and unlocked a flood of anxiety after he punched her in the gut. What a way to prompt her Quirk. Takako just loved proximity in all its forms.

 

“They didn’t sound too excited about the work you’ve been doing.” Was all he said after a long pause. Takako sighed.

 

“I don’t think it’s that,” Takako refuted his observation. “It’s more like… I’m very optimistic, and they’re worried someone will take advantage of my kindness.”

 

Kaibara considered this, nodding slowly. “That’s valid.”

 

Takako agreed.

 

They stood in some more silence. Takako didn’t move- it was clear Kaibara was still processing his thoughts, getting ready to speak them in a moment.

 

“I don’t think they should be lecturing you.” He finally decided, voice dropping to a quieter level. “Heroes have to take risks sometimes. All Might wouldn’t have saved as many people if he hadn’t.”

 

Takako smiled widely, pleased, and Kaibara looked away, a blush beginning to stain his cheeks.

 

“You’re right, Kaibara,” Takako managed to stay put, despite the urge to hug Kaibara that pulled at her body. “Thanks!”

 

“No problem.” He muttered shyly, still avoiding her eyes.

 

Takako got the feeling that Kaibara’s quiet demeanor wasn’t the only thing that kept his mouth shut. He always got flustered like this around the girls in their class.

 

She changed the topic, asking him about his training, but his short response told her that the conversation was officially over. Kaibara meandered back down the hallway after Takako waved goodbye, and she made her way to the laundry room with a smile on her face.

 

It was only on the way back that something Kaibara said stuck out to her.

 

“Heroes have to take risks sometimes. All Might wouldn’t have saved as many people if he hadn’t.”

 

She’d moved past the statement without a second thought, but now, after she'd had time to think about it, it nagged at her. It reminded her of the interactions she’d had with the number one hero, despite how few and far between those were.

 

Despite heroes and villains and the threat of society as they knew it falling to its knees, Takako could usually push aside her thoughts and just get things done. Apparently, it was not one of those nights.

 

She’d thought that a good night’s sleep would clear her mind, but she’d dreamed of kids that called themselves heroes and Tenko’s face smudged with dirt. She’d woken up slowly, so slowly, even though dreams of the past like that usually had her heart racing in her chest.

 

Her day went slowly too, everything dragging along like there were weights attached to the hands of the clock. She wasn’t tired in the least, but she struggled through her classes that day, her brain moving just slow enough to be one step behind at all times, too busy thinking about something else.

 

Her friends noticed, Kendo even made her get her temperature checked at the nurse's office. Recovery Girl had been a little concerned about the mental soup she described trudging through, but Takako assured them she was fine.

 

It didn’t have anything to do with her Quirk, she was sure. This was just… concentration.

 

For a moment, she thought she had it under control. She’d done pretty well in English later that day, answered a few questions with minimal hesitation- but Present Mic caught her before she left the classroom for lunch.

 

“Hey, hey hey, Hiyashi!”

 

He was just a little too loud for Takako to consider him her favorite teacher, but his optimism and general fun attitude made her smile.

 

“Yessir?” Takako stopped before she blocked the door, moving out of the way to let other kids pass by. She still wasn’t sure if she should call him ‘Present Mic’ or ‘Professor Yamada’ or ‘Professor Mic’ or what.

 

“Everything A-Okay?” Their English teacher asked- still in teaching mode, meaning that his voice echoed from the sheer volume of it despite the emptying classroom. 

 

“Uh,” Takako hummed, hesitating a little bit as the last of her classmates streamed out. “Yeah.”

 

“That’s not convincing at all!” Present Mic complained, motioning for her to take a seat at the desk across from his. “What’s on your mind? You seemed far away in class today.” He noted, and Takako smiled sheepishly as she set her bag back down. “Don’t tell me- I’m losing my edge!”

 

“No, professor,” Takako couldn’t help but laugh, always amused by Mic’s antics. “It’s not your teaching. I’m just… there’s just something on my mind.”

 

For once, the professor didn’t speak. He merely spread his arms, inviting her to spill.

 

“It’s silly, I think,” she admitted, “But I have a lot of questions for All Might.”

 

Yamada’s eyebrows raised high above his sunglasses- that Takako didn’t really see the need for him to wear inside. Who knows why he’d included them as a part of his hero uniform.

 

“Yo, are you a big fan?” His voice lifted, his excitement raising his volume, and he apologized when Takako winced away. “I know a lot of kids around here are inspired by him- makes me jealous!”

 

“I’m not, really,” Takako admitted, and Present Mic gave her a curious look that had her stumbling to explain. “It’s not that I don’t admire him! He’s done a lot of great work- he’s a really good guy!” She rushed out her words, waving her hands in front of her. “He’s just not my inspiration or anything.”

 

Present Mic nodded, which lifted the worry from Takako’s shoulders.

 

“Is something wrong, Hiyashi?”

 

...and apparently placed that worry on his own.

 

It was easy to see how he’d come to that conclusion. When Takako, unusually distracted in her studies, admitted to wanting to speak to the number one rescue hero, it was easy to assume she was in some kind of trouble. In need of… well… rescue.

 

“Professor,” Takako began slowly, “You’re on staff, right? Weren’t you one of the ones that had to approve my internship?”

 

Yamada squinted at her for a moment, running through details, then confirmed her suspicions with a very concise nod. “Are you in trouble?” He reiterated- his concern clearly rising.

 

“No,” Takako assured him- and the tension around him dissipated, bringing back the jolly Present Mic they all knew. “I’m okay.”

 

“If this is about your work at your internship,” Present Mic continued- and apparently that serious aura wasn’t completely gone from him, “You should speak with the principal immediately.”

 

Takako shook her head, exasperated. “Nothing’s wrong at work!” She insisted. “There’s just some… some things I don’t understand, and I think All Might would know. I could be wrong, and- and- I don’t want to waste his time or anything,” she added quickly, “Especially since-”

 

“Hiyashi,” Present Mic interrupted her, “It’s chill. Promise.”

 

Despite how loud and bubbly Professor Yamada was, he was also weirdly good at comforting people.

 

(Maybe it didn't work for everyone. Maybe he was just good at comforting Takako. It didn't matter.)

 

“Do you think that… if I went to the principal’s, he’d be able to answer me?” Takako asked slowly.

 

“Not sure, kid,” Yamada answered honestly with an exaggerated shrug. “But it’s worth a shot! Good luck, Hiyashi! Feel better before my next class- I’m counting on you!”

 

Takako smiled and shook her head, trying to hide her eye roll while she stood up from her seat. “Of course, professor. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She assured him before she left. “Thank you.”

 

Present Mic called a goodbye that echoed down the hallway after her, and Takako couldn’t help but laugh.

 

---

 

She had to psych herself up to go to the principal’s office.

 

She wasn’t afraid of the principal- even at his weirdest he was still small and cute, and he’d been plenty warm and inviting to Takako enough to soothe any anxieties she had about dropping by without an appointment.

 

She just had this weird anxiety about getting in the way. Principal Nedzu had better things to do than listen to Takako- especially when her questions weren’t grounded on any real evidence. All Might had better things to do than be interrogated by a child- if Nedzu even determined her concerns worthwhile in the first place.

 

Even if they had nothing to do, Takako didn’t feel… important. She didn’t stand out in any way, physically, mentally, or even aesthetically. Her Quirk wasn’t flashy- not to mention useful in any way on the battlefield, which was what mattered most around here- and she didn’t want to be a hero in the same way her peers wanted to be a hero.

 

So when she’d knocked on the door to Nedzu’s office, received a muted invitation in, and found Eraser Head and Midnight inside, she’d turned on her heel and excused herself back outside.

 

“Hiyashi, come back,” Nedzu called after her. “The faculty meeting doesn’t start for another ten minutes or so. I have time.”

 

Takako peeked back inside, still hesitant, and the principal pointed to an open seat in front of his desk.

 

“Good afternoon,” she greeted politely as she stepped inside. “Professor Aizawa, Miss. Midnight,” she turned to each of them individually.

 

“Oh please!” Midnight waved a hand, blushing coyly. “So formal!”

 

Takako wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so she just sat down in front of the principal.

 

“What brings you in?” Nedzu spoke up after he took a sip of tea. “I hope you’re doing well,” he trailed off, inviting Takako to fill in the blanks.

 

“I’m good!” Takako assured him. “I’ve just got a lot on my mind- apparently enough to be noticed by Present Mic,” and if she wasn’t mistaken, that was a smile Aizawa just hid behind his scarves, “So I figured I should ask some questions, see if I can clear my head.” She explained, and Nedzu nodded along, agreeing.

 

“Go on ahead, Hiyashi.”

 

“I was just wondering,” she began, sifting through her thoughts as she spoke, “Did All Might have anything to do with me getting this internship?”

 

The office went oddly quiet after her question.

 

“What do you mean?” The principal prompted, clasping his hands- paws?- together.

 

“Well, last night, I was thinking about all the people All Might has saved,” she began to outline her train of thought, trying to explain as best as she could. “Sometimes it gets me down, because I could never be a hero like that- I don’t even want to be a hero like that,” she admitted- and made sure to look only at the floor to avoid all of these pro-hero gazes. “But one of my friends got me thinking, there’s more than one way to save people. And with how concerned All Might seemed about Shigaraki, and what he knows about my past with him, I just wondered…” she trailed off, scratching the back of her neck in slight embarrassment. “If I needed to thank him or something.”

 

When Takako chanced a glance back up, Nedzu smiled at her.

 

“You’re quite right in believing that there is more than one way to save someone. Everyone must work differently within their own circumstances- no two heroes help out in the same way.” The principal agreed. “However, the internship you currently work under is all of your own doing. I, personally, am very impressed that you managed to make a personal endeavor into a professional work experience. That takes a maturity we don’t often see in students at this age.” He admitted.

 

Takako nodded, both thanking him for the praise and agreeing, but something still nagged at her.

 

“What do you mean by ‘all of my own doing,’” Takako asked slowly, confused. “I didn’t really do anything but accept when Dr. Kido asked me to come back.”

 

“Yes, but you reached out in the first place, to visit Shigaraki, did you not?” The principal raised an eyebrow at her over his cup of tea.

 

“No?” Takako squeaked.

 

She suspected if the principal wasn’t… well, the principal, he would have spit out his tea. The look on Midnight’s face told her that she would have.

 

“I didn’t know who to ask,” Takako admitted. “And, at the very beginning, Midoriya told me that Shigaraki was too violent and out of hand for me to see him at all, so I kind of… gave up.” She admitted quietly. “I figured he didn’t want to see me anyways.”

 

“Then,” Aizawa was the one to speak up, that time, and Takako hesitated to look over to the professor. “ How did you end up visiting him?”

 

“I got invited?” Takako hazarded. It didn’t sound like the right answer, even though it was the truth. “They had all the paperwork from the school done beforehand, so as soon as I passed the security checks and got a lecture on what I wasn’t allowed to do, they walked me inside.”

 

“And you just… went with them,” Aizawa repeated, his dull monotone sounding suspiciously unimpressed.

 

“Into a dangerous, violent criminal’s cell?” Midnight agreed, finishing his sentence.

 

Takako quickly turned red, color splashing across her cheeks. “They showed me all the paperwork- I’ve seen it before! They kept saying the school had it handled, that somebody already cleared it-”

 

The looks that the professors exchanged with each other stopped Takako in her tracks. She took a deep breath before continuing.

 

“And Shigaraki wasn’t violent, then.” Takako whispered underneath the weight of the faulty’s gaze. “He’d completely shut down. They called me in as a last resort because they couldn’t do anything but watch him die.”

 

As she finished her sentence, she noticed that she was shaking uncontrollably.

 

They all sat in silence for a couple more moments while Nedzu turned to the computer monitor next to him and tapped something out on the keys. He picked up his tea to take a sip- and Takako wondered if it was to hide the scrunch of his eyebrows that pulled together in what looked like concern.

 

“Hiyashi,” the principal picked up the conversation again, setting his teacup down for good. “In no way do I want you to regret what you’ve accomplished.”

 

“I don’t.” Takako assured him firmly, despite the way her teeth chattered when she closed her mouth.

 

“I’m glad you came to speak with me,” he nodded slowly, looking over to the professors listening in- and Takako got the feeling that me really meant us. “And I want you to know that your visitation, background check, and internship paperwork was indeed cleared by the school. You have our full support in your endeavors as long as you stay unharmed.”

 

Takako nodded slowly, swallowing around the lump in her throat.

 

If something went wrong- if someone reacted without thinking, if Takako pushed the wrong buttons, if one of the villains she met with got their hands on her…

 

It was over. It would all be over.

 

“Thank you, Principal Nedzu,” Takako bowed a little in her seat, trying to stay as respectful as possible. “If I might ask… who cleared my initial visitation?”

 

Nedzu frowned at the computer but answered her nonetheless. “Why, Mr. All Might himself.”

 

“Of course he did,” Aizawa grumbled, gripping the arms of his chair.

 

“Oh, well, I guess I’ll have to thank him after all,” Takako mused, mostly to herself- but when she looked up, Aizawa, Kayama, and Nedzu were all exchanging glances as if they were having some kind of secret conversation. “Is something wrong?”

 

“Hiyashi,” Nedzu began slowly, “You remember how I commended you on turning a personal endeavor into a professional experience?”

 

Takako nodded.

 

“Sometimes, heroes have to put aside their personal life in order to best handle a situation.” He explained, and Takako nodded, fully aware of this. “That’s a lot of the reason why heroes adopt aliases, in order to keep their personal identity out of their work.” He added- and this struck Takako as something she’d never considered before. “All Might is a very accomplished hero, and has a very benevolent nature- giving just for the sake of giving, saving people no matter their origins.”

 

“He’s never been very good at keeping personal matters out of work.” Aizawa cut in, looking as bored as ever.

 

“It rarely puts people in harm’s way other than himself, so it’s never been a big deal,” Midnight agreed, “But nowadays…”

 

Takako understood the concern. All Might couldn’t fight like he used to be able to. They’d all seen him on TV in that infamous battle, body emaciated save one arm or leg that he poured the remains of his strength into.

 

Whatever the pro hero’s Quirk was, it seemed he’d managed to run it dry. For good.

 

And if he put himself in harm’s way in such a weakened state, emotions skewing his actions, his rationale compromised by personal attachment… Well, All Might wasn’t actually the number one hero anymore, but he definitely still remained the nation’s Symbol of Peace.

 

“Yes, I understand. But… what does that have to do with…” Takako trailed off, her own question unnecessary as the realization came crashing down on her. “Y-you think he’s compromising himself… for Shigaraki?” She asked weakly, her shaking returning in full force.

 

Everything about that realization made her sad.

 

Tomura hated All Might.

 

Hated him with a passion so strong, he’d torn down society’s view of heroes in order to knock him off of his pedestal.

 

Hated him so much that he’d gone after All Might’s students, arguably after the kid he most closely mentored, just to hurt him.

 

Hated him, hated him, hated him-

 

And All Might wanted to save him?

 

Don’t get the wrong idea- Takako wanted the best for Tomura too, and she appreciated All Might’s dedication to someone deemed unworthy of saving, but…

 

Had he ever come face to face with Tomura?

 

Had he ever taken all of his optimism and benevolent concern, hoping for the best and praying that a piece of his mentor wasn’t lost forever… only to come face to face with that burning hate?

 

Takako was too empathetic to avoid that driving deep within her.

 

“As a faculty, we’ve tried to keep our noses out of Shigaraki’s trial and consequent imprisonment.” Nedzu’s calming voice ripped her out of it, and she jolted in her seat. Aizawa eyed her, raising an eyebrow, but Takako was busy listening to the principal. “But Toshinori is a grown man. We don’t pretend to control his decisions.”

 

“We can condemn them, however,” Aizawa grumbled, looking away when Takako turned to face him at the sound of his voice.

 

“We can discuss this later, in our faculty meeting,” Midnight spoke up, stressing certain words with a pointed look over at Takako. “Where we don’t have to involve our students.”

 

“Right,” Takako warbled nervously, standing up too quickly. She’d overstayed her welcome. “I should go,” she stumbled around the chair, tripping on one of its legs. Aizawa grumbled as he made a move to stand up and get the door.

 

“No, no,” Midnight shooed Eraserhead back into a sitting position, and she gracefully maneuvered out from behind the table she sat at and took Takako’s arm. “Here, darling, I’ll walk you out.”

 

Wordlessly, Takako let the pro-hero steady her and open the door. Midnight didn’t let go of her until the door closed behind them, leaving them out in the hallway.

 

“Listen here, girlie,” Midnight hummed soothingly, rubbing Takako’s cheek with her thumb. “Don’t worry about All Might. He’s a big boy, he can handle himself.”

 

Though the words were a little childish, they were meant to be placating.

 

“I think the fact that you willingly sit down and chat with imprisoned villains makes you braver than a lot of heroes I know- including me,” Midnight admitted, and Takako had enough modesty about her frazzled state to blush. “So don’t worry about your internship either. Aizawa’s just a big ol’ grumpy dad that cares too much about his students.”

 

Takako couldn’t help but smile at the sentiment, despite the tears prickling at her eyes. “I kinda get that from him.” She admitted. “It’s cool that he cares so much about Class A.”

 

“Class A...?” Midnight echoed. “I meant like-”

 

Takako tried not to laugh derisively- actually she tried not to laugh at all, but the sound escaped her nonetheless. Midnight’s eyebrows raised, and Takako looked away.

 

“I know what you meant.” Takako sighed. “But I think Aizawa would disagree.”

 

“About what?” Aizawa drawled passively as he stepped out of the principal’s office.

 

Takako froze, shoulders hiking up at the sound of the sleepy professor’s voice. She let out a very high, nervous laugh and bolted, unwilling to give the professor any more reason to dislike her.

 

The two teachers watched her go, Midnight with marginal surprise, Aizawa with disinterest.

 

“Good thing she made that quick,” Aizawa grumbled. “I have to pee.”

 

Midnight snorted, shaking her head. “Sexy.” She remarked to his back as he wandered away.

Chapter Text

Despite the measures they’d taken to insulate him from the outside world, Tomura could still tell when it was raining. He knew from living in many different types of buildings that the chattering cacophony of water didn’t require a room with exterior walls to be heard. You could be in the middle of the third floor of a five story building in a room with no windows and still hear the rain pouring down, still feel the thunder rattle the floors.

 

Or maybe he’d only lived in cheap condominiums and run down bars his whole life.

 

Nonetheless, he heard the low roar before he knew what it was.

 

Blithely, he wondered if the air conditioning units would filter out the smell of newly disturbed earth.

 

Equally as uselessly, he wondered if this odd warmth in his chest had a name. He wondered if it would go away.

 

Did it function like a fire? Would neglect blow it out? If he took it out in the rain, would he lose it?

 

At first, he’d thought it was something Takako had forced out of him, something she’d forcefully implanted in him without his permission. He’d thought that somehow she’d ripped it from him, like the shivers she pulled from him with little praises, like the groans that tumbled from his throat when she… she’d pulled on his hair.

 

(Goddammit- he did not want to think about that-)

 

It was becoming more and more clear that Takako wasn’t forcing him to feel anything, just like she never forced him to do anything. Whatever Takako was doing, whatever he was feeling, it was… it was coming from him.

 

That was relaxing, in some ways. He’d rather… not be controlled.

 

In other ways, it was nerve wracking. He’d been ignoring the warmer sides of him for… for… as long as he could remember. It had always benefited him to have a cold indifference to everything, to keep it at arm’s length- lest he let something close and end up disintegrating it with his own hands.

 

“What's the point of living if you don't chase what makes you happy?”

 

Honestly, what made him happy?

 

His immediate answer was destroying All Might, but that one felt programmed, like an answer he would give if somebody he didn’t particularly trust asked him what he really wanted out of life. It was certainly true, but it didn't feel like his only answer.

 

The list of people he trusted could be counted on three of his destructive fingers, and two of them were in high security prisons.

 

The other one… was obviously Takako, as much as he hated to admit it. His amount of trust in her was significantly smaller than Kurogiri or Sensei mostly because she was such an honest person, and she had so much faith in the people he hated the most, of which she would be running her honest mouth around. But he obviously trusted her, since she could touch him without getting her fingers bitten off.

 

(He’d been this close to taking some unfortunate medic’s fingers off while he was still healing. This close.)

 

If Takako asked him what made him happy, what would he answer with?

 

He doubted she’d be satisfied with an answer like smoke, dust, and burning rubber. He’d have to explain that it was the particular combination of smells that always lingered in the air after a building crumbled from the press of all five of his fingers at its foundations. That smell always accompanied a sense of victory- and a bubbling contempt, perhaps- that served to keep him afloat in some of his darker nights.

 

And though Takako never judged him, sometimes his answers would catch her off guard. She’d stumble over her next sentence, confusion pulling her brows together behind her glasses, and Tomura would have to figure out what part of that particular sentence wasn’t normal.

 

Hmm.

 

He liked fast food, but it didn’t really make him happy.

 

Takako knew this about him- they’d been discussing tastes, because Tomura hadn’t eaten the food on the tray presented to him, and she had noticed.

 

He’d been content to answer her questions, rolling out yeses and nos while she thoroughly quizzed him on what kind of food he liked. Tomura didn’t mind answering her questions- her confession played on repeat in his head at the most inconvenient of times, reminding him just how innocent Takako’s true intentions were.

 

“My best friend grew up without me, and I don’t want to lose him before I get to know him again.”

 

Plus, when she asked him questions, she’d often give him her answer in return, so in a way… Takako was returning the favor.

 

Giving away the fact that he didn’t really like condiments on his sandwiches wasn’t incredibly important to Tomura. It wasn’t a very heavily guarded secret.

 

Better than that was knowing that Takako still wouldn’t eat her sandwiches if they didn’t have the crusts cut off. She’d blushed and grumbled as she’d admitted it, sheepishly scratching at the back of her neck, and Tomura had nearly smiled in return.

 

Was that happiness?

 

Was that what the warmth in his chest truly was? Happiness?

 

Did Takako make him happy?

 

As soon as he had the thought, he knew the answer was yes.

 

He tried to deny it, tried to push it away- as if enjoying being around Takako was somehow worse than enjoying a burger for his image as a villain. Like he’d somehow be less of a heartless murderer if he admitted to anticipating Takako’s return, or to doing specific things to get her to smile, or-

 

Is it really beneath you to love?”

 

Those words always stopped him in his tracks. He always balked at the thought.

 

Certainly, he’d always thought himself above mundane things like high school crushes and flirting (or in Dabi’s case, adult magazines and novels that he’d shove under Tomura’s door whenever he had the chance). It was something that the general masses devoted their time to, something that people made movies on where the hero sacrificed themselves for their true love.

 

Was that what love was? Valuing someone else’s life over yours?

 

Anyone could die. Tomura knew this well. Dying for someone was probably the most useless thing Tomura could think of to do with his life. If you die to protect someone from danger, how will you know if you’ve died in vain or not? You don’t stay around long enough to see the final result, nor do you ensure that person’s safety by dying since you’re not around to protect them from there on out. And what a shitty way to show someone you loved them. If they loved you back, then you end up hurting them even more by dying. If they didn’t, then what was the point of dying in the first place?

 

He’d seen plenty of people- stupid people, in his opinion- throw themselves in the path of danger to protect someone they loved. Even Takako had nearly fried her brain to stop Tomura from killing Midoriya.

 

The memory made his eye twitch, but not in his usual fury.

 

Takako valued Midoriya’s life over hers.

 

Isn’t that what her actions meant? By stopping Tomura, by putting herself in harm’s way both by overstepping her bounds and just being in Tomura’s general vicinity…

 

Did Takako… love Midoriya?

 

“People keep thinking I'm trying to confess to them,”

 

His vision edged red, bile burning the back of his throat.

 

Tomura much preferred this feeling over the other one. This was more familiar, where disgust and contempt fueled his urge to rage and destroy.

 

Why would you die for someone to show them your love when you could kill for them?

 

Takako walked into his cell almost as soon as he had that thought, and by the way she stopped in her tracks, he wondered how clearly she could read his desires from all the way over there. He wondered what shape his desires took form in, wondered how they came across to her when she read him.

 

Did it sound like, I want to kill someone? Or did she physically feel his murderous intentions?

 

Or had he been passionate enough for her to hear the underlying intent?

 

I don’t want to share

 

I want Takako for myself

 

“Tenko!” Takako called to him, chipper despite whatever she’d heard upon walking in. “Can you hear the rain outside?”

 

He took a deep breath, evened out his breathing. He’s much better at this than he used to be, he doesn’t lose his temper as often either.

 

He rolled a yes in response while she skipped over to the table where he sat.

 

“I can’t remember, do you like the rain?” She asked next- and he noticed her hair was wet, noticed that bits of her bangs were clumping together in straggly bits. When he rolled out an honest no with both of his hands, she brought a hand to her mouth to accompany her dramatic gasp. “Tenko! How could you not- I love the rain!”

 

He set a glare on her that he meant to mean why, but he’s pretty sure she just took it as more of his hatred for rain. It served to elicit the same end result nonetheless.

 

“I like the way little rivers form on the concrete, where the water finds dips and valleys on a surface we previously perceived as flat,” Takako had that tone of hers again, the one she got when she waxed on about something mundane. “I like the sound of it on windows and walls and roofs. I like to feel the thunder shake me. I like being inside and feeling like I’m in the middle of the storm, and I like being outside, clothes drenched and my glasses useless,” she paused to take a breath, remembered to clean her glasses of the little specks of water there, and concluded with, “I like how quiet it is outside when there’s nobody there.”

 

They sit in that statement for a moment, letting it soak in.

 

The moment was broken by a vicious thunderclap, one that shook the building despite the insulation that muffled it.

 

Tomura flinched despite himself, and when Takako’s eyes lit up with concern, he knew he’d been figured out.

 

“Tennchan,” Takako called to him softly- and he bristled immediately at her tone. “Are you afraid of-”

 

He cut her off with a vengeful no, nearly slamming his hands into the table to drown her out.

 

Takako sat very still after his outburst, blinking at him like he’d hit her. He supposed her surprise was warranted- it was just rain, and she’d only been concerned for him.

 

Still.

 

“Tell me, Tennchan,” she said instead, leaning her cheek on her knuckles. “Why don’t you like storms?”

 

The full truth was a very difficult answer. It was one that he wasn’t sure he could handle addressing, now or ever again.

 

Less of the truth was easier, so that’s what he settled on.

 

“Water doesn’t decay.” He answered after a beat.

 

His voice ranged from raspy to fairly normal, depending on how much he drank and how long it took for Takako to come back. Today it sounded okay, if not a little gravelly.

 

Takako mulled this over for a little bit, intrigued, and when she looked back up at him, Tomura knew he was in for a slew of questions.

 

“Does your Quirk not work on water?”

 

No.

 

“Can you still dissolve things underwater?”

 

Yes. She doesn’t have to know that it’s ten times more difficult that way.

 

“Can you still dissolve things when your hands are wet?”

 

Yes.

 

“Is it harder?”

 

Marginally. He tapped out a smaller yes and hoped she understood.

 

“Did you have to work in the rain a lot?”

 

He answered yes despite his hesitation to talk about his very illegal past. Takako would just bring it up like it was no big deal. Tomura was never sure if it was because she wanted to know as much about him as possible for her own sake or for someone else’s.

 

Takako hummed over this, and for a moment he thought she was satisfied, but the sharp gaze that glinted out from behind her glasses when she turned to look at him told him this was far from over.

 

“Do you hate the snow, too?”

 

Yes. This was for different reasons than the first, though.

 

“I don’t like the snow,” Takako agreed. “It’s pretty, but I don’t like being cold.”

 

Tomura tried to ignore the image of tiny Takako bundled up in a too big sweater and a scarf, cheeks rosy from the cold, glasses fogged from her own breath condensing against the lenses.

 

“Do you hate the cold?”

 

Yes.

 

“You could keep me warm!” Takako chirped. The sentiment came out of nowhere, and it seemed to surprise Takako as much as it surprised Tomura. “Oh, I forget sometimes, that you’re not super conducive to touch.” She remembered sheepishly, her cheeks flushing the same exact color he’d imagined only moments ago. “I guess a better idea would be that we could stay warm together,” she offered instead.

 

Even though Tomura didn’t mind the first idea at all, he still tapped out a yes in response to her revision. Takako lit up.

 

She chattered on for a moment, telling him about the fireplace at her house, how warm it makes the living room in the winter- and he noticed once again that she still didn’t mention specifics about her adoptive parents. Tomura could only assume it was something about outside information getting in, or security to protect Takako’s home life. He’d wondered more than once if she was just afraid to tell him about them, but he figured it was more likely the other way around.

 

When the thunder rattled the room again, Tomura couldn’t help but flinch back, his nails curling into his palms.

 

As the panic flickered in his chest, threatening to freeze over the pleasant warmth that had settled there, Tomura realized that- until the thunderclap brought it back- he’d forgotten that he was stressed. Takako had been so animated, so excited to discuss cold versus warm and fireplaces versus space heaters that… he’d forgotten about the storm.

 

When Takako’s bright smile flickered, catching on his clenched fists, she pushed forwards, diving into another discussion of weather and what Tomura preferred- and had Tomura ever been to a waterpark because Takako wanted to know.

 

It hit him suddenly, his next realization.

 

Takako was trying to distract him.

 

Every time the storm would press into his senses, every time the thunder rattled the room, Takako found something else that she was very very interested in hearing Tomura’s opinion on.

 

Maybe, maybe, at this rate, she’d talk him through the storm.

 

“And even though she’d already fallen, like, thirty times, she got back out on the ice!” Takako laughed- something cute and small behind her hand- and Tomura settled a little more firmly into the warmth pooling in his chest. “Have you ever gone ice skating, Tenko?”

 

As the heat dripped down his arms, settling in his fingers, Tomura rolled out a negative with both hands.

 

“Too bad! I’m not bad at it- I could teach you,” Takako offered, and he tried not to smile at her unrelenting optimism.

 

As if he was ever going to get out of here, ever be allowed on his own.

 

“Thought I was too heavy,” Tomura remembered aloud, snickering when her mouth dropped open, hands immediately waving in a denial.

 

“Not- I didn’t say too heavy,” Takako stammered- and god he loved it when she got like this. She wasn’t truly worried, simply flustered, and it sent her into the cutest little flurry of apologies and explanations. He liked that he could pull this reaction from her- she always teased him about being so responsive to taunts and jests, so at least he had something to bite back with.

 

And then the world ended.

 

Despite the security of the walls around them, the next thunderclap tore through the room louder than any of the others, rattling the walls, the tables, Tomura’s very bones-

 

Takako's insistent questioning wasn't enough, this time. Tomura's ears were ringing, voices swimming through his head in a frightening jumble of noise.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, the power went out.

 

For a moment, drenched in darkness, shaking from the force of the heavens splitting open, Tomura was thrown into his worst nightmare.

 

The warmth evacuated his body, cold fear flooding his system in its place. He jerked back, toppling himself from his seated position back onto his forearms.

 

“Tenko?” Takako called softly as the lights flickered back on. She peered over the table, seeking him out, and- and he couldn’t help it, really- he flinched away from her, turning onto his side. He tried to push himself back up, but all he could do was curl his shaking hands into tight fists where they pressed into the floor.

 

Takako moved around the edge of the table, coming completely into Tomura’s line of vision. Her eyebrows were doing that thing that said she was worried about him, and she had her hands curled against her chest like she was holding herself back.

 

When he didn’t respond, she shuffled forwards, one of her hands uncurling as if she were going to reach out to him.

 

No- no, no no no nononono-

 

He couldn’t- he couldn’t unfurl his fingers- his arms shook so bad he couldn’t- couldn’t move to tell her no, no, no please no-

 

“Tennchan, are you… are you okay?” She breathed, keeping very very quiet, thank god- because he’s not sure he can handle anything louder than this- anything like the thunder- anything like a shout-

 

He couldn’t answer her.

 

“I- I’m going to sit down next to you,” she informed him before she started her descent, telling him exactly why she was moving, exactly why she was coming closer. “I’m not going to touch you,” she added as she settled down. “Not unless you want me to,”

 

No,

 

Tomura couldn’t make his hands move, so he had to force it from his mouth. He hated the way she recoiled, hated the way her surprise looked more like hurt than anything else, but she couldn’t come any closer- she couldn’t touch him-

 

Thunder rumbled its way back into Tomura’s bones, and his instinctive flinch sent his forehead into the floor. It was useless to hold himself up- his arms were shaking too hard to support his own weight.

 

“Tenko,”

 

Tenko, it’s just a storm,

 

Tomura’s gasp was high and sharp- the air cut through his lungs like a knife-

 

There’s nothing to be afraid of. Come here,

 

When he looked up again, the guards were hovering on either side of Takako, keeping eyes trained on him while he quivered on the ground.

 

No, ” Tomura insisted again- and he managed enough control over his body to punch his answer into the floor with a shaking fist.

 

I’ll hold you until the storm passes, Tenko,

 

“Get away from me,” it was quiet at first, sounded more like a plea than a demand.

 

His mind raced, processing old and new images, past and present sound.

 

“Can I… Can I help?” Takako hazarded.

 

Tomura couldn’t answer- he couldn’t- reach out, little hands, hands that belong to Tenko, not Tomura-

 

Hands that don’t fear- hands that let strong arms pick Tenko up- hands that don’t push father away- hands that hold tight- hands that link little arms around father’s neck-

 

It’s just a storm, Tenko,

 

“Tenko,”

 

Hands that don’t know- they don’t know- when five fingers settle down- when father crumbles beneath hands that don’t know-

 

No- no, no,” was all Tomura could get out.

 

It’s hissed between his teeth, forced from his lungs- forced- torn- the breath from his lungs- he’s screaming- is he screaming? Is father screaming?

 

“Get away! Get away from me!” Tomura screamed it this time- he’s been trying to force it from his throat but it wouldn’t come out- caught in his throat like-

 

throat, caught in his throat, scratch at his neck, tear out his throat,

 

father’s throat is red- raw- crumbled- gone- where there should be arteries- muscle- tendons, there’s only blood and dust- dust and decay- reduced to dust-

 

Tenko doesn’t know what his hands can do

 

His hands try to save father, but his hands aren’t meant for saving

 

When more of father's body crumbles under his touch, the thunder isn't enough to drown out his screams

 

Get away, ” he’s pleading, he’s shouting, anything. Was his voice raw from disuse or from the hysteria that clenched around his throat?

 

Get away- get away- please- he tries to tell his mother, tries to warn her, but she’s scared too and then- the power's out, it's hard to see, hard to tell where five fingers are landing- before he knows it, his mother is a pile of dust

 

At least father’s body still lies there, lifeless but intact

 

mother scatters when the howling wind knocks the window open

 

Tenko screams like the wind does as it races through his house- like his blood does as it races through his body-

 

The thunder wasn’t loud, but he knew it was there, and that was enough.

 

Storms didn’t always do this to him. He’d thought that he’d gotten better about it.

 

But now that he’s lying on the floor, shaking, hands shaking,

 

His hands- he can’t- he can’t touch- can’t touch-

 

He keeps messing up- he stumbles over the palm sized hole in the floor- stares into two craters when he catches himself against the wall-

 

They find him in a pit where he’d passed out, hands falling limply against the ground- because in his sleep he has forgotten that he can’t touch can’t touch- too close- don’t touch-

 

he screams when they get too close- keep your hands away-

 

Blearily, he realized that the guards and Takako had backed up, that they’re standing by the door, like Takako was getting ready to leave.

 

She needed to get away- get away from him, from the destruction that he was sure to inflict-

 

This was it, this was the end. Didn't Takako only come back because he wanted her to? Hadn't he told her to get away- to leave? 

 

But god, as soon he thought she was about to leave, it was all too clear what he truly wanted- he wanted - he wants-

 

The other kids tease him for crying so much

 

They don’t know what he’s been through- don’t know what he’s done, only what he can do- with those hands- those hands-

 

When she grabs his hands, he- everything short circuits- she- she- his hands- his hands-

 

I don't want to make a mistake- not again- left alone again

 

“You've gotta know how to touch things without…”

 

He hadn’t needed to- he didn’t- his hands, they didn’t, not until-

 

Tomura curled into himself, burying his hands- those hands - in his own hair, where they couldn’t- couldn’t-

 

It's over- it was finally over. The memories didn't echo in his ears anymore, the flashes of old mistakes, of what he'd done, what he could do- they weren't as pressing, didn't crush his chest under their weight, knock the breath from his lungs-

 

Still wheezing, momentarily knocked out of orbit, Tomura barely registered Takako's presence settle at the table across from him again.

 

Maybe he’d loosened his grip on his desires, maybe something had leaked out, maybe she’d caught it,

 

Or maybe she just… wasn’t going to leave him. Even if he told her to.

 

He tried to catch his breath. She waited.

 

It took him a long time to collect himself, but Takako waited for him.

 

It took him a long time to push himself off the floor and settle at the table again. With a breath that got caught in his throat, he covered his face with both hands, propped his body up with his elbows.

 

It took him a long time to finally look up, finally face the judgment that awaited him after his breakdown.

 

Takako only waited, brown eyes unusually dark behind those glasses, but her expression otherwise blank.

 

Did she fear him at all? Did she ever wonder what would happen if he slipped? If he closed all five fingers around her on purpose? On accident? At all?

 

Shouldn’t she cower away from him? How many times has he lashed out? How many times have his fingers closed around her wrist, her arm, her throat-

 

He reached out on impulse, proving a point to himself.

 

Takako watched his fingers skate across the table, reaching for her, but she didn’t move.

 

Tomura wondered if she didn’t cower away from his sudden approach because she believed he wouldn’t hurt her, or because she knew he couldn’t reach all the way across the table without leaning much further forwards.

 

For the first time in the past three months, Takako didn’t ask before she reached for him.

 

For the first time in three months, Tomura didn’t flinch away when her fingers pressed into his.

 

He’s tired. He’s too tired.

 

tired of running of keeping away of holding one finger up of only being able to hold himself

 

Until the guards called time, Tomura’s fingers stay interlaced with Takako’s.

 

She slipped away slowly, like she didn't want to leave yet. Tomura knew it wasn't her choice when she got to come and go.

 

It wasn’t until Takako was long gone from his sights that Tomura came to a new conclusion.

 

Surely, if the act of loving was to put another’s life above your own, then dying for someone was the most useless way to express that.

 

Tomura had always known that killing for somebody was much easier and much more effective.

 

He didn’t know how he hadn’t noticed it before, but Takako had shown him another way- shown him an option that he didn’t know he had.

 

She’d shown him, over and over, that every action could be taken with purpose, every move made with intent, every thought serving to keep in mind, to be attentive...


Tomura had never considered that you could live for someone.

 

Chapter Text

All in all, Takako was in a good mood.

 

It was raining again, which meant her glasses were a little fogged from the humidity, but it put a spring in her step- especially when she went out of her way to jump in the puddles on the sidewalk.

 

Dr. Kido had called that day, so Takako found herself going through lengthy security measures despite her damp clothes.

 

She also felt particularly cute today, just simmering in one of those moods that lifted her spirits even higher.

 

So when she’d stepped into Tomura’s cell and immediately been hit with… something, she was taken a little off guard. Whatever rush of desires she’d just picked up from Tomura was even more of a jumbled mess than usual- and despite being on the other side of the room, they came through loud and clear.

 

Okay, they weren't super clear, especially given their physical distance and the murmurings of the guards’ desires on either side of her that were not helping her concentrate. It came through as a mix of concepts, things she didn’t have time to sit down and pick apart.

 

As soon as Tomura’s head whipped up to bring his eyes to hers, Takako's radar went quiet, going back to only picking up the white noise of the guards.

 

She was left with a vague sense of animosity and a very insistent mine mine mineminemine-

 

The look in his eyes was… weird. As intense as most of his gazes were, this one seemed to burn into her instead of through her, and he looked a little… frazzled. A little frayed at the edges.

 

Something was up.

 

“Tenko!” She called nonetheless, smiling in greeting. “Can you hear the rain outside?”

 

It had picked up speed while she’d gone through security, ramping up from the light sprinkling she’d walked through into a downpour that roared against the walls despite their insulation.

 

As she settled down across the table from him, she watched his shoulders rise and fall, some of the intensity in his gaze dying down as he took a deep breath. The yes he rolled in the table didn’t seem angry or impatient, so Takako let a little of her hesitation go.

 

“I can’t remember, do you like the rain?” She asked next. When he rolled out an honest no with both of his hands, she gasped dramatically, daring to push some of his buttons. “Tenko! How could you not - I love the rain!”

 

He slouched, glaring at her from under his bangs. This usually meant that he was pouting.

 

Takako tried not to poke more fun at him than necessary, choosing instead to explain her love of the rain, the way a storm made her feel safe. She still couldn't help but feel like there was something in the air, the mood charged not unlike the air before a storm, thick with electrical energy.

 

The room stayed quiet after she confessed to liking the absence of people in a downpour, and in the silence she was able to pick up on the rumble of thunder somewhere nearby.

 

That’s funny. She didn’t remember the weather report mentioning thunderstorms. Just rain. But, then again, those clouds had been tall and dark- and Takako certainly knew her way around a storm. If she couldn’t see it in the sky, she could feel it in her bones.

 

The silence made it just a little easier to pick up on the way Tomura rocked backwards as soon as he registered the thunder as well.

 

“Tennchan,” she began slowly, and when he tensed in anticipation, she wondered if this was the tension she’d picked up on when she first walked in. “Are you afraid of-”

 

No.

 

He all but punched the table to stop her from asking, the response serving more to interrupt her than to answer. She supposed it was warranted- she didn’t like discussing her fears either- but the aggression still caught her by surprise.

 

She needed to choose her next question carefully.

 

“Tell me, Tennchan,” she opened with the nickname, hoping it would soften the blow. “Why don’t you like storms?”

 

She worried that this was too much, that he’d shut down in response to her careful prodding.

 

When he didn’t immediately grumble and glare at her, she counted her actions as successful.

 

Tomura clearly thought over the question, eyes drifting away from hers to contemplate. Takako knew that if she asked him open ended questions like this, he’d either answer with words or with hands. A roll of fingers into the table meant she needed to move on, pick another topic, but an answer gave her permission to keep asking questions.

 

If something was wrong, she hoped Tomura would tell her before it got out of hand.

 

He decided to answer with, “Water doesn’t decay,” and though the response was a definite success, Takako was a little more excited that he didn’t sound like that much of a dying man that day. That answer opened up a sudden slew of curiosities, and suddenly Takako had to know.

 

They used to talk about his Quirk all the time, discussing the ins and outs, what he could and could not do. Even as young as she’d been, Takako had always gotten the feeling that Tomura didn’t really like his Quirk, so discussing the intricate details of it seemed to calm him down, seemed to drain a little of the anxiety over the mystery of what he held within his hands.

 

“Does your Quirk not work on water?”

 

No.

 

“Can you still dissolve things underwater?”

 

Yes. Takako wondered if he was lying to her. Maybe if his desires were a little more open, she could check on that.

 

“Can you still dissolve things when your hands are wet?”

 

Yes.

 

“Is it harder?” She checked this time, adding a clarifier to sate her earlier curiosity.

 

He tapped out a yes, but it’s much quieter than the others. It must not be a huge inhibitor- probably more annoying than anything else- which spurred her next question.

 

“Did you have to work in the rain a lot?”

 

Yes.

 

Takako hummed over this, trying to imagine Tomura in the rain. She knew what his hair looked like heavy with water, so the image was a little believable- Tomura, drenched and annoyed, trying and failing to crumble something into dust.

 

She really couldn’t comprehend why he hated the rain so much. It seemed that at worst, the rain was a minor annoyance to him, a hindrance to his Quirk, perhaps the source of a head cold or two.

 

Hmm.

 

She turned to look at him with a new question on her tongue, and the exasperated look on his face was priceless. “Do you hate the snow, too?” She ventured.

 

Something in his posture relaxed as if he’d been expecting something much worse. His responding yes seemed normal enough- Takako couldn’t figure out where the alarm bells were coming from.

 

“I don’t like the snow,” she agreed. “It’s pretty, but I don’t like being cold.” She admitted, wrinkling her nose. Tomura looked away for a moment, cheeks turning the slightest shade of pink that Takako barely had time to register before the next question came out of her mouth. “Do you hate the cold?”

 

His responding yes sent Takako’s brain off into thought, considering why this might be. Personally, Takako had trouble retaining body heat since she was so little, even despite the muscle she’d been building over the past couple of years.

 

“You could keep me warm!” Takako chirped- and immediately wished she’d kept her mouth shut.

 

That was embarrassingly sentimental. She didn’t want to make Tomura uncomfortable with even the prospect of being in contact- and Tomura didn’t need to know that maybe maybe maybe she was coming back for more than professional obligation.

 

To her surprise, Tomura didn’t immediately deny her offer. Takako apologized anyways.

 

“I forget sometimes, that you’re not super conducive to touch.” She managed- and dammit,was she blushing again??? “I guess a better idea would be that we could stay warm together.”

 

Tomura’s responding yes sent her into a flurry of excitement- and she tried to hide how pleased she was by starting to talk about the fireplace at her house in detail. It was large and bricked in, which meant that Takako could sit on the lip of it and feel the warmth seep into her bones from the fire in front and the brick underneath.

 

She’s this close to finally bringing up her adoptive parents when another crash of thunder rattled the room- and apparently Tomura as well. The noise rocked him back the slightest of bits, and if she’d missed the flinch, she definitely noticed his nails curling into his palms.

 

“Hey, Tenko,” she said quickly- and the eyes that had screwed shut slowly cracked open, red darker than she’d ever seen it spilling out from beneath heavy lids. “If you hate the cold, then you like summertime, right? Or at least spring?”

 

The yes he answered with wasn’t specific to either season, but Takako pushed forwards before she could lose him to another reverberation.

 

“Yeah?” Takako hummed, sending him the softest smile she could muster. “Can you swim?”

 

His answer spurred her into more questions- they talked about waterparks at some point, and Takako had to bite back a laugh when the image of Tomura wearing swimmies and an inner tube popped into her head.

 

Every time she would remember it was raining, every time the roar of water or the rumble of thunder registered in her ears, Takako tightened her grip on Tomura’s attention. She refused to let him slip out of her grasp.

 

“You know, I had kinda assumed that everyone in my class was naturally athletic, but they proved me wrong last time we took a class outing.” Takako found a new topic pretty easily, telling stories about her classmates even though Tomura didn’t like to be reminded that UA still existed. “We all went ice skating and it turns out I’m pretty good! I was one of the only ones that hadn’t skated before that wasn’t falling all over the place.”

 

Tomura looked conflicted, like he was caught between one thing and another. Takako had barely wondered what he was thinking on before she caught wind of-

 

I want to bring UA to its knees

 

Followed closely by: I want to see Takako skate

 

Takako stumbled over her next sentence, but Tomura didn’t seem to notice, content to curse out her classmates one by one as she mentioned them in her story.

 

Was Tomura… unguarded? She wasn’t trying to listen to his desires, but they floated over to her anyways.

 

“And even though she’d already fallen, like, thirty times, she got back out on the ice!” Takako couldn’t help but laugh despite her surprise, glee rising in her chest from the story and her situation. “Have you ever gone ice skating, Tenko?”

 

As she’d expected, he hadn’t.

 

“Too bad!” Takako chirped. “I’m not bad at it- I could teach you,” she offered- and nearly got the wind knocked out of her when his desires immediately reflected just how much he wouldn’t mind that.

 

She was kind of taken aback by the very weak I want to get out of here that floated over to her as well- not because she wasn’t expecting it, but because she hadn’t heard anything of the sort from him yet.

 

“Thought I was too heavy,” she nearly missed Tomura mumbling under his breath. Takako’s mouth fell open, surprised that he’d turn that around on her, and he dared to snicker at her distress when she desperately tried to excuse herself.

 

“Not- I didn’t say too heavy,” Takako stammered- and the more she fumbled, the more smug Tomura got. Takako had grown used to the way his lips seemed to only know how to smile in a scary way. She’d rather he’d have a scary smile than no smile at all.

 

And then, the world ended.

 

She’d been trying so hard to distract him from the distant rumblings of thunder, but the next resounding boom that rumbled through the building couldn’t be ignored.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, the power went out.

 

For a moment, drenched in darkness, Takako lost sight of Tomura.

 

“Tenko?” She called for him as the lights flickered back on. He must’ve… she peered over the table to confirm her suspicions and found Tomura on his back, halfway held up on his forearms. His hair was scattered, tossed to one side, and she had only just caught a glimpse of the dry patches around his eyes before he flinched away and curled onto his side.

 

It was the weirdest thing, being able to openly read him once again. Not a single whisper of I don’t want anyone to see me registered on her radar when he turned away from her searching gaze. She watched him try to push himself back up (I want to get up, I don’t want to be exposed), but all he managed to do was curl his hands into tight fists where they pressed into the floor.

 

Takako carefully moved around the edge of the table, bringing Tomura into her direct line of sight. He watched her approach, but he didn’t say anything, didn’t move.

 

When he didn’t respond (his desires also oddly silent), she shuffled forwards, daring to reach for him- slowly, purposefully, so he knew what was coming and what she was doing and had time to-

 

No- no, no no no nononono-

 

do not want, do not want, do not- no

 

“Tennchan,” she breathed, taken aback by the intensity of which he did not want her to reach for him. “Are you… are you okay?” She kept her voice quiet- because every time the thunder rolled back in Tomura flinched, and every heavy footstep the guards’ boots made as they approached seemed to echo in Tomura’s careful breaths.

 

He still didn’t answer her, not with his voice and not with his hands.

 

“I- I’m going to sit down next to you,” she informed him- because she didn’t know what else to do. “I’m not going to touch you,” she made sure he knew, and his eyes darted to hers as she settled down. “Not unless you want me to,”

 

No,” he immediately ground out- and it was the first time Takako had ever heard him speak the word instead of tapping it. It startled her, how insistent- how desperate his tone was, and she sunk a little, losing some of her resolve.

 

Takako’s not stupid. She’d known as soon as Tomura first jumped that storms put him on edge for some reason beyond being startled by the thunder. The walls were too insulated for the noise to be too loud, and Tomura would jump whether he heard it or not, the mere vibrations enough to startle him.

 

don’t touch me don’t touch me don’t want don’t want you to touch me

 

The next bout of thunder interrupted Tomura’s desires- as if Takako were listening to them on a telephone with a bad connection- and his responding flinch sent his forehead into the floor with a quiet thud.

 

God- he really was shaking, his arms curled tight into his body, fingers white knuckled around thin air while his fists pressed into the floor.

 

“Hiyashi,” one of the guards whispered- thankfully picking up on the intensity of the situation. “We’re familiar with these episodes. Haven’t seen one since he stopped talking- and we haven’t seen it get any worse than this.” They punctually informed her, getting the information to her as quickly and as quietly as they could. “But if this escalates, we’re taking you out of here.”

 

Takako nodded to let them know she understood. Their desires murmured in the background, whispering protect protect protect while she turned back to face Tomura.

 

“Tenko,” she tried again, still quiet, still soft.

 

She knew immediately that she’d made a mistake. The shudder that shook Tomura screwed his eyes shut and tore a gasp like she’d never heard from him. When he looked up again, Tomura managed a vehement “No,” driving his answer into the floor with a shaking fist for emphasis.

 

Don’t want the eyes don’t look don’t want don’t want

 

“Get away from me,”

 

She nearly missed the sound. The way his voice cracked nearly shattered her.

 

“Can I… Can I help?” Takako tried, keeping her hands securely pressed to her chest- for fear they’d reach out without her permission.

 

It’s sudden, the rush of desires that flooded her next. She could barely comprehend what was rushing past her, could barely focus on one before the next overtook it.

 

Can’t- don’t want- don’t want to remember-

 

I want to forget I want to forget I want to forget

 

I don’t want to see- hear- don’t want to feel that again

 

“Tenko,”

 

It’s all she could manage to get out beneath the barrage, completely at a loss to what was going on.

 

I don’t want to lose- not father- don’t go- don’t want to be the reason-

 

No- no, no,” Tomura hissed, fists weakly beating into the floor on either side of him.

 

Can’t breathe- want to breathe- want to scream- don’t want to lose father again-

 

Don’t want to be the reason- don’t want to watch him die- don’t want, don’t want, don’t-

 

“Get away! Get away from me!” Tomura screamed it this time- and the guards on either side of her grab Takako by her arms, prepared to evacuate if Tomura were to lunge for her.

 

Tomura lost himself in some kind of loop, somewhere between pleading and demanding. All Takako could do was watch him, frozen to the spot while he chanted, “get away, get away-”

 

Want to itch- scratch- tear- want to tear out my throat- want to end it- want to-

 

Want to help father- want to stop the bleeding- don’t want to be the one- don’t want- my fault my fault my fault-

 

Get away, ” Tomura was a broken record, his voice occasionally cutting into the desperation flooding Takako's senses.

 

Get away- get away- please- have to tell mother, have to warn her

 

I don’t want to be scared

 

I don't want hands that kill

 

I want father back

 

I want mother back

 

Another clap of thunder wracked through Tomura’s body- and it was a good thing the guards were holding her back, because when he screamed, she couldn’t help but lurch forwards in a blind attempt to help- comfort- anything.

 

Anything to stop the way he quivered, anything to stop the anguish in his expression, anything to stop the record on repeat, “get away, get away,”

 

Get away, get away- can’t touch- don’t touch- don’t want to mess up- don’t want to destroy-

 

Don’t want to leave father- mother- don’t want to make it any worse- don’t get too close, I don’t want to hurt you- don’t want to hurt-

 

The worst noise tore from Takako’s throat- it’s somewhere between a scream and a sob, and she didn’t like it at all. As soon as the guards heard it, they picked Takako up against her will, removing her from Tomura’s side.

 

It tore at her heart to watch him relax, body subconsciously relieved at the loss of proximity.

 

She was almost all the way through the security checks that would allow her to leave, Tomura’s desires a low chant of get away get away leave me before I hurt you leave me please please, when one of the guards stopped in their tracks.

 

Takako followed his gaze, and, through the tears blurring her vision, saw what the guard had frozen at the sight of.

 

Tomura was propped up on one arm, hair in just enough of a disarray to expose half of his face- and oh god- were those tears? was he crying?

 

When don’t leave don’t leave please god don’t leave me washed over her in a rush- followed quickly by don’t let me hurt you, all I can do is hurt you, please I want- I want you- I want you to stay- Takako took her bag out of the guard’s hands.

 

“Hiyashi,” the older guard murmured, tone warning her to think carefully about her next actions. The younger guard still watched Tomura, frozen in shock. When their counterpart started corralling Takako back towards the exit in order to finish up, the younger guard hit them.

 

The older guard looked like they had half a mind to just deck the younger, eyebrow twitching in the biggest loss of patience Takako had ever seen from them. The younger guard just pointed.

 

Tomura’s face was no longer visible, head hung, hair falling like a curtain over his face, but one arm- one shaking hand- reached out- reached out ( for Takako?)

 

I don't want to make a mistake- not again- left alone again

 

Almost as soon as the older guard looked over to him, Tomura buried his hands in his hair and curled into a ball, shoulders going slack like his resistance had been forcibly removed from him.

 

Maybe they’ve seen this particular episode from Tomura so many times that they knew it was over, knew that the storm had finally passed.

 

Maybe Tomura’s desperation had been so potent that they’d felt it even without Takako’s Quirk.

 

Whatever it was, the guards didn’t say anything when Takako walked away from them.

 

Tomura didn’t move when Takako walked towards him. She knew he had to at least hear her footsteps reverberate where his ear pressed into the ground. He knew she was returning.

 

He visibly tried to catch his breath, wheezing where he laid prone on the ground.

 

It took him a long time to collect himself, but Takako waited for him.

 

It took him a long time to push himself off the floor and settle at the table again. He brought his hands up to the top of the table where they usually sat, but instead of laying them flat like he did when he was prepared to answer, he covered his face with both hands. Tomura leaned his body weight on his elbows, shoulders sagging like something heavy pressed upon them.

 

She can't… tell if he's still crying or not.

 

He's quiet.

 

It's so quiet.

 

It took him a long time to finally look up. He looked up through his fingers, scarlet eyes barely able to hold her gaze.

 

All Takako wanted to do was say something- anything-

 

She's too busy trying to make out the contours of his face beneath his bangs, too busy trying to see if she wasn't being tricked- were there really tears?

 

Tomura was a low murmur of don't want to be alone, don't want to lose you, don't leave me alone, don't want to be alone,

 

Takako waited.

 

Tomura tensed, fingers curling tighter against his face, shoulders hiking up.

 

She was about to risk it, about to speak, when Tomura's desires switched tracks.

 

want to destroy, want to be feared, want to watch the world crumble, let my hands do what they're meant to,

 

Tomura's gaze flickered, jerking away from her, shoulders slumping all of a sudden.

 

don't want you to fear me

 

want to understand, why don't you fear me- why don't you run away-

 

Tomura jerked, lurching forwards. Almost faster than she could track, he reached for her, one hand leaving his face to strain in her direction. Takako watched his fingers skate across the table, reaching for her, but she didn’t move.

 

She knew he couldn't reach her, but even if he could…

 

don't run- don't leave me- don't-

 

Takako, she… she couldn't stop herself.

 

He's hurting, he's vulnerable- she's been dying to comfort him- and he's pleading, he's pleading with her-

 

For the first time in the past three months, Takako didn’t ask before she reached for him.

 

She was fully expecting this to be the end. This had to be the worst decision of her life, reaching for him after he'd broken down like that, not even asking before reaching out,

 

But-

 

For the first time in three months, Tomura didn’t flinch away when her fingers pressed into his.

 

Takako did her best not to sob when he laced his fingers into hers- and she couldn't bring herself to complain when he squeezed hard enough to bend her fingers just a little too far back.

 

Tomura's entire body sagged, held up by one shaking arm while he gripped Takako's hand in his.

 

tired of running of keeping away of holding one finger up of only being able to hold myself

 

Until the guards called time, Tomura’s fingers stayed interlaced with Takako’s.

 

Despite the announcement, he didn't let go.

 

Takako had to shake him out of it- and after a couple seconds of running her free hand over his white knuckles, his grip loosened.

 

It's just loose enough that she felt bad for slipping away, but she couldn't stay here forever, and the guards would take her by force if she tried.

 

As the guards checked her bag, ran through security measures, Takako tried to pull herself together. The guards were going to ask her if she was okay, and she was not going to convince them when her chest felt as hollow as it did.

 

“Hiyashi,”

 

Shit- she wasn't expecting it to be so soon-

 

“I'm fine.

 

And honestly, that was worse than if she'd stayed silent.

 

The hallway had been silent before she spoke, but now it was uncomfortably silent.

 

“Hiyashi, you're hurt.”

 

Takako vaguely knew that. She could feel her hand throbbing.

 

“I'm fine.” She repeated- but there was less of a bite to it this time.

 

The guards didn't push it. They tell Dr. Kido, though, and the guards and her exchange a few words concerning Tomura's breakdown- which apparently was a common occurrence around here. After they're done, Takako had to explain why her hand was bruised.

 

Dr. Kido didn't let her leave without an ice pack and a couple words of professional concern.

 

“You tend to shut down like this when you're overwhelmed,” she noted, gently pushing Takako's bangs back from her face.

 

The gesture felt familiar, like something her mother would do. (Her adoptive mother. She didn't like to think about how she'd never felt her real mother's touch.)

 

“Not every problem is yours to solve. Take care of yourself, Hiyashi.” Those were the only words of advice Dr. Kido offered before Takako was cleared to leave and return to UA.

Chapter Text

The usual background noise of other people's desires seemed to tug on Takako's already frayed nerves. What was usually a low murmur of fleeting thoughts or passing flashes served more as a soundtrack of unbearable noise, bumping and shoving up against Takako's senses.

 

Days like these reminded Takako of how much she hated Heart's Desire.

 

If serving as a constant reminder that she truly was Nightmare’s daughter wasn't enough, she couldn't turn it off. She could block it out, but that required constant concentration, and it wouldn't work if someone came too close.

 

Not to mention, in addition to being able to read all of these not entirely positive desires, she couldn't do anything about them. She could only listen- and consequently feel guilty for listening.

 

She hadn't yet mastered the most important part of being a therapist. Listen and work through someone else's problems, but don't carry them with you. Don't let them drag you down.

 

Not every problem is yours to solve.

 

It wasn't just Tomura that weighed on her.

 

Bakugou, Midoriya, Todoroki, her friends, her classmates- even the people she bumped into in the hallway and gleaned secrets from by accident…

 

They were all problems Takako couldn't solve. None of these were Takako's problem.

 

Her legs moved without her, taking her where she knew Shinsou would be at this time in the afternoon. Her brain caught up a few seconds later, realizing what path her feet were taking her down and wondering if this was really a good idea.

 

When Shinsou caught sight of her, he waved a greeting, but the instructor he was training with didn't stop dishing out attacks.

 

Usually, Takako would wait until they were done, but her feet kept moving anyways.

 

Shinsou grunted as he failed to evade another of Aizawa's scarves, but the blow landed softer than he was expecting. When he looked up in surprise, he's even more surprised to see Takako standing about three feet away from Aizawa, head tilted back to look up into the professor's eyes.

 

“Hiyashi, what's going on?” Shinsou called as he jogged to her. Training had clearly been put on hold, which was unusual for Aizawa- and Shinsou didn't like the look in Takako's eyes while she stared up at the pro hero in charge of training him.

 

When Takako ignored him completely, Shinsou knew something was wrong.

 

“Professor,” her voice sounded wrong , but it was all Takako could manage. “I'm about to ask something of you that's pretty selfish of me. I promise, tried to think of someone else that could help, but-”

 

“Hiyashi,” Aizawa sounded bored already, and the hollow feeling in Takako's chest seized. “What is it.”

 

Takako swallowed hard, but she didn't look away from the professor's (oddly unblinking) stare.

 

“Would you please erase my Quirk,” she rushed out her request, afraid she'd be denied before asking it, “For as long as you can manage?”

 

One of Aizawa's eyebrows raised, and Takako's shoulders slumped when he turned away. She was pleasantly surprised when he dug around in his pocket and fished out a bottle of eyedrops, sending the solution into each of his eyes with a couple startled blinks.

 

Takako held her breath until the professor turned back towards her, and it only left her when he pulled his goggles over his eyes, his hair lifting off his shoulders in an invisible wind.

 

Everything went quiet.

 

Neither of the two men were expecting her legs to crumple under her weight, so nobody caught Takako when her knees hit the ground.

 

“Hiyashi!” Shinsou shouted, kneeling next to her- and he definitely wasn't expecting the hand she planted over his mouth.

 

“Quiet.” Takako whispered. “It's finally quiet.”

 

To Aizawa's credit, he didn't falter even when the wind picked up for a moment. The post-storm cold front sent a chill through the students’ bodies, and Takako's hand slipped from Shinsou's face.

 

“Sorry.” She whispered to the ground. It's aimed at both of her onlookers. “I'm just tired of hearing things I have to keep secret. I'm tired of carrying hurt that isn't mine- and I'm tired of not being able to do anything about it.”

 

Shinsou tried to reassure her- and she wanted to believe him. She did.

 

“What am I supposed to do,” Takako demanded, barely audible, “To tear down a fortress of terror and hatred, built up over years and years, when all I have are these tiny hands?”

 

She did have tiny hands. Her fingers were short and thin, not at all graceful in appearance- more like stubby and childish. Even Kendo's regular sized hand dwarfed Takako's.

 

When she held them out in front of her, the bruising on her left hand was obvious. She's pretty sure they understood what happened even though she hadn't mentioned it.

 

“You do whatever you can.”

 

Aizawa's input surprised her. Takako pressed her hands over her face instead of looking up at him.

 

“By yourself, with only your hands, nothing will go quickly. The progress you make will look insignificant in the bigger picture of things.” The professor continued. Takako nodded. She knew this. She'd seen this. “But you're making progress, aren't you?”

 

Takako nodded again, but it was much smaller that time.

 

“So you keep going. It might take years until you make a difference, maybe centuries until you finally tear down the last brick,” Aizawa listed. “Eventually those tiny hands will amount to something.”

 

Takako's not really sure if it's the reassurance that everything she's doing truly mattered or the fact that Aizawa pretty much admitted to having some kind of faith in her that pushed her over the edge.

 

Nonetheless, she wasn't numb anymore, and it was pretty embarrassing to be crying in front of a professor that didn't even teach her.

 

Aizawa apologized when he finally had to give in- apologized, to Takako- but Takako wouldn't let him keep going. She's not his responsibility in the first place, and she'd interrupted their training for a pointless, selfish request. She barely deserved the first couple minutes of silence.

 

She didn't feel like she deserved the hug that Shinsou graced her with (he's not a very touchy person) but it lifted her spirits more than she thought it would. Especially since the desires she couldn't help but read from him were so uplifting and wholesome. Some of them were aimed at comforting her, but others were admiration filled, desires to be a hero echoing off of the way he looked up to Aizawa.

 

She took advantage of the kindness, sinking into the comfort of a friend for a little longer than necessary (she's a monster, she knows), but Shinsou didn't mention it. Aizawa looked a little uncomfortable, but he didn't comment on it either.

 

These little hands of hers… she was going to do whatever she could until she got a hold of the tools she currently lacked.

 

---

 

Takako didn’t often come to school grumpy, but she was encountering a lot of firsts this year.

 

When she’d finally stumbled back into the dorms, her classmates in Class B had freaked out about the distinctly finger shaped splotches of purple on her hand. Later on that night, she had to explain to her friends what really happened, then broke down again because goddammit she was tired and overwhelmed.

 

She’d woken up with a headache- probably from too much crying- and nearly got back in bed after Monoma had started the morning with a speech about Class A’s inevitable fall to Class B. She was just… not in the mood.

 

Komori caught her before she could trudge back to her room, and something about the smaller girl’s wide smile convinced Takako to go through with the day.

 

Her friends must have come to some kind of agreement after Takako had gone to bed early. Every time something rubbed her the wrong way, someone was always there to soften the blow.

 

Kendo was extra on top of Monoma’s rants that day, and Honenuki kept running errands for her (probably so she wouldn’t have to spend too much time in the crowded hallways). Takako was on a near constant loop of thank you and you really don’t have to do this, but she couldn’t deny that every time the low roar of other people’s desires got too loud, Komori’s fun facts about mushrooms distracted her from getting too worked up about it.

 

(To be completely honest, it was really cool to watch Komori grow all sorts of crazy mushrooms in the palm of her hand, the smaller girl poking at the decomposers and pointing out the cool things about them with her usual wide smile.)

 

What Takako really wasn’t expecting was to be swarmed by Class A at lunch. Faces she was familiar with- dared to call her friends- mixed with faces she’d seen around, faces she’d run into once or twice.

 

“Hiyashi! Did you sleep well last night?” Kirishima asked, ruffling her hair when he made it to her side first.

 

“What’d you bring for lunch? You wanna trade for my gummies?” Kaminari- the blond one that she’d only met in the context of people assuming she was going to confess- piped up, peering over Kirishima’s shoulder to peek into her lunchbox. (The school cafeteria was plenty good, but sometimes she just needed a regular ol’ sandwich.)

 

“Oh! Do you need to visit the nurse’s office?” Uraraka’s concern broke through the crowd, and suddenly there were pink padded fingers holding her bruised hand.

 

Takako didn’t reply to anyone- she only stared at the crowd of people around her, blinking owlishly behind thick framed glasses.

 

“We’re just worried about Hiyashi,” Midoriya- Midoriya Izuku!!!- called out, standing on his tiptoes to look over Monoma’s shoulder. The blonde had planted himself firmly in front of Midoriya and- and holy shit, Bakugou Katsuki- blocking them from approaching Takako.

 

“That’s great.” Monoma huffed, not moving. “We all are.”

 

“Hiyashi’s a big girl.” Kodai spoke up from her seat next to her- brushing Kaminari’s elbow out of her hair with what could be annoyance (who could ever tell, honestly).

 

Takako was still confused, searching the crowd for answers, her sandwich half-eaten in her hands. When she caught a glimpse of purple hair behind Midoriya and Bakugou, things began to make a little more sense.

 

“Shinsou,” Takako called, taking a bite of her sandwich. The crowd around her parted to reveal the boy in question, and Takako lifted an eyebrow while she chewed. Shinsou stepped past Monoma, face set in a very specific brand of bored that Takako knew by now was an act. Takako swallowed her latest bite, and Kirishima’s arm slipped off of her shoulder when she turned to face him.

 

She debated what to say, debated whether or not she should try and be understanding, pissed, or grateful.

 

“I’m sorry,” Shinsou beat her to it, and the hand that disappeared into his mess of purple hair gave away how nervous he was. “You kinda scared me yesterday. Midoriya weaseled it out of me.”

 

“Weaseled,” Takako echoed, gaze drifting over to Midoriya. Midoriya looked like he was going to try to apologize, but Bakugou smacked him upside the back of his head before he could get it out. “It’s fine.” She assured no one in particular. “We all have bad days. I appreciate the concern.”

 

Takako took a deep breath, shaking off her grumpiness for a moment. “Thanks for being such great friends!” She chirped, smiling genuinely in everyone’s direction. “Today’s been going much better than I thought it would!”

 

The tension immediately left the crowd around her, and for the rest of the lunch period, most of Class A and B mingled without incident- excluding Monoma’s general attitude. With her mind successfully cleared and her spirits lifted, the white noise surrounding her didn’t grate on her nerves so much.

 

She finished her sandwich right as Tetsutetsu and Kirishima started tag teaming a story about one of the times they’d snuck out together, but she didn’t get to listen in. Her attention was snagged by someone tugging on her collar. When she didn’t turn around fast enough, she was suddenly standing on her feet, jerked off of her seat by the hand on her shirt.

 

Thankfully, the grip on her shirt loosened before anyone could get upset about it, and Takako wasn’t entirely surprised when she turned around and found herself facing Bakugou.

 

“You wanna get upset in here or outside?” He asked- and it sounded like a threat, but Takako knew better.

 

“Depends on what it’s about,” Takako admitted, sorting through the possibilities in her head.

 

“It’s about crusty.”

 

Bakugou wasn’t one to lower his voice, so Midoriya’s head swiveled in their direction as soon as he heard the nickname.

 

“Outside it is, then,” Takako huffed, following Bakugou’s heavy steps. The way he stormed through the lunchroom parted a path through crowds before he even hit them, and Takako wondered if he was angry or just impatient.

 

When they hit a less crowded section of hallway, Bakugou was none too pleased to find more tagalongs than just Takako to the impromptu meeting.

 

“What the fuck do you want,” he demanded, squinting collectively at Shinsou and Kodai- not to mention Midoriya, who was the only one that didn’t stop in his tracks when Bakugou turned around. “I’m not gonna hurt her.”

 

“Not that I don’t have complete and total faith in that statement,” Shinsou droned, stepping up to stand beside Takako. Was he protecting her? “But I’m gonna stick around anyways.”

 

Kodai joined Shinsou on Takako’s other side, and though both girls were only a couple inches above five feet, at least Shinsou could tower over Bakugou if need be.

 

Bakugou’s eye twitched, clearly irritated about being ganged up on. “Excuse you,” he hissed, “I’m trying to be a good person.

 

“That’s dangerous,” Takako muttered in unison with Shinsou, and Bakugou growled when the two grinned at each other. She knew she liked Shinsou for a reason.

 

“Look,” Bakugou huffed, cutting right into the thick of it. “If crusty hurts you again, I’m coming with you to beat the shit out of him. ” He insisted, getting up in Takako’s face despite her two bodyguards.

 

Takako blinked, surprised. It took her brain a moment to process the threat for what it really was- concern, Bakugou Katsuki was concerned for her. Her bodyguards backed off, and Takako got the sinking feeling that they were on Bakugou’s side for this matter.

 

“He didn’t mean to, I don’t think,” Takako hummed, mostly unconcerned. “It was a bad day.”

 

Bakugou had her sleeve in between his fingers in an instant, flipping her wrist up in front of her own face. “He didn’t mean to?” He repeated carefully, making sure she heard every word, the dark bruises on her hand on full display.

 

“He’s stronger than he looks,” Takako mumbled. “I knew that, though. You did too.”

 

“That’s not the point, megane,” Bakugou huffed, dropping her arm. “You’re close enough for him to hurt, aren’t you? How come he can get his dusty hands on you?”

 

Takako squinted up at the blond, confused. What exactly did he mean?

 

“This fucker has killed people,” Bakugou reminded her, poking a harsh finger into her chest. “And he has enough freedom to be able to get his hands on you?” He clarified. “You don’t seriously think that because you used to know him that he wouldn’t kill you too?”

 

It only took an instant for Takako’s face to twist up, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Midoriya’s eyebrows raise in surprise.

 

“First of all,” Takako stepped forwards, out of the reach of her bodyguards. “Way to underestimate a high security prison. Second, the only reason he’s not constantly handcuffed to a chair is because the only way I’ve been able to get him to respond is with his hands.” She took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment, then met Bakugou’s burning gaze again. “And finally, yes, I’m sure he would kill me if he could. You don’t think I'd be able to read that?”

 

Bakugou scowled, somewhere between unimpressed and enraged. “And you let him get close to you anyways? ” He demanded. “I know you’ve got a good head on your shoulders, megane. I didn’t take you for the type to let your heart get in the way.”

 

“Kacchan,” Midoriya began, but Bakugou snapped out some mix of curses in his direction and shut him right up.

 

“What you’re saying to me,” Takako returned, keeping her voice slow. “Is that my actions are too influenced by my feelings? That my heart is in the way of my rationale?” She emphasized, tone rising with every word.

 

While yelling at Bakugou wasn’t the best plan of action… Takako had started the day grumpy.

 

You are telling me that I shouldn’t overlook violence,” Takako bit out, “That I should be wary of someone who hurts me without meaning to?” She cut her gaze to where Midoriya stood behind Bakugou, making sure Bakugou read the full intention of her words.

 

Midoriya and Shinsou looked confused, (Kodai was her usual level of expressionless), but Bakugou’s eyes narrowed immediately.

 

“Bitch, I hope you’re not saying what I think you’re saying,” he hissed, grabbing her by the collar and shoving her back against the wall.

 

Takako, to her credit, didn’t even flinch. “I appreciate the concern, Bakugou. ” She glared at him, refusing to back down. “But I’m going to need a better reason than that from you.”

 

“How ‘bout,” Bakugou growled, leaned in entirely too close to her, “The fact that he’s a fucking criminal, and I’m the best hero in my class.”

 

“I can’t tell the difference, sometimes,” Takako replied, quietly, very very quietly. “Especially when I meet people like you.”

 

Things kinda went downhill from there.

 

Bakugou was probably actually angry, but he wasn’t planning to fight Takako. It didn’t take much effort to separate the two because the blond didn’t actually mean it, but when Takako ducked out of Shinsou’s grip and went after Bakugou, things got a little more complicated.

 

They ended up in the principal’s office, Bakugou and Takako still snarling at each other, Aizawa on one side and Kan on the other.

 

Kan was an intimidating man, what with the broad shoulders and the sharp teeth (his hero name was Vlad, for heaven’s sake), and Aizawa wasn’t someone to scoff at either, but both students refused to let up.

 

“Students, please,” Nedzu raised both hands (paws?), in an attempt to regain control of the situation. “What on earth has you both so upset?”

 

Both of them started shouting at the same time, and Aizawa rolled his eyes before barking out a harsh quiet! that brought the room to silence.

 

“Fine.” Nedzu sighed, barely audible. “Bakugou, I’m told you started this.”

 

“I guess so,” the student huffed in response. “I heard that glasses got hurt at her job. I connected the dots, figured it was that dry skinned bastard that did it. Tried to show some friendly concern and got attacked about it.”

 

“Hiyashi?” The principal turned to the smaller girl, waiting patiently.

 

“Putting aside the fact that he nearly choked me to get my attention in the first place,” Takako glared over at Bakugou, who crossed his arms and refused to meet her eyes. “His friendly concern consisted of threatening said ‘dry skinned bastard’ when he knows nothing about him. Not to mention, when I referenced something Bakugou doesn’t like to talk about- referenced, mind you,” she insisted, still glaring holes into Bakugou, “I was unceremoniously pinned against the wall.”

 

“I wasn’t going to hurt you!” Bakugou insisted.

 

“You certainly want to now,” Takako muttered- and Aizawa had to restrain Bakugou from getting out of his seat.

 

After the chaos died down, Nedzu took a long sip of his tea. When he resurfaced, he looked kind of… tired. “I find this hard to believe, but I’m told that Hiyashi was the one to truly start the fight.”

 

“Yeah,” Bakugou and Takako answered in unison, and Bakugou’s snarl only died a little in the wake of his own surprise.

 

“I went after him.” Takako continued, not bothering to lie. “It’s been a bad day.”

 

“I see.” Nedzu echoed, taking another sip of tea.

Chapter Text

Luckily, by the time Dr. Kido called her in again, Takako’s out of school suspension had ended.

 

In the wake of such an event, Takako almost turned the doctor's request down, afraid that her emotions were still too out of whack to be of any use in a room with any level of belligerent criminal. Ultimately, she shook herself out of the self-doubt and tried to have some confidence in herself.

 

She was actually kind of relieved to find out she would be sitting in with Dabi that day.

 

(She highly doubted that Dr. Kido would ever let her back in a room with Toga, but Takako had lingering irrational fears.)

 

“Look who it is,” Dabi drawled as soon as she walked in. “Come back to save me, little hero?”

 

Takako couldn’t help but smile, shaking her head while she dropped her bag by the chair she’d be sitting in. “I didn’t know you needed saving, Dabi,” she returned calmly, settling in her chair. “Would you trust me to do that?”

 

“Fuck no,” Dabi laughed, equally as amused. “But it’s nice to talk to someone that doesn’t have a stick up their ass.”

 

“Thanks, I think,” Takako hummed, lacing her fingers together. “I’m glad you think so.”

 

Dabi latched onto that immediately- damn, she shouldn’t have said anything- and he smiled widely, all teeth, at her. “Who on earth could possibly disagree?” He asked, faux sugar in his voice.

 

Takako sighed. “I shouldn’t talk about it.”

 

“Classified?” Dabi hummed, leaning in, all the more interested.

 

“Not really,” Takako admitted. “I just need to let it go.”

 

Princess, ” Dabi gasped, blue eyes glinting with glee. “Did you get in a fight?

 

Damn. Dabi was smarter than she gave him credit for. Takako sighed once again, defeated. “Yeah. Not for training this time.”

 

Dabi couldn’t keep the stupid grin off of his face.

 

“I was having a bad day.” She began bluntly. “And while I can usually manage to get along with him, you could probably see why Bakugou and I kinda clash.”

 

“Mm,” Dabi agreed, the black spikes of his hair bobbing with his nod of agreement. “Explodo boy.” He clarified, and Takako nodded in a near mirror of Dabi’s. “Prideful bastard. Strong-willed. Talks with his fists.” He scoffed once, the wrinkle in between his eyebrows telling her that Bakugou kinda bothered him. “Reminds me of my old man.” He muttered as an afterthought, blue eyes glinting in her direction, clearly wondering if she’d take the bait.

 

Takako was surprised that the topic had come up so quickly. She’d be down to talk about it if he really meant it, but his desires concerning the topic of his father are no different than usual.

 

She’d had a different topic in mind anyways.

 

When she didn’t run with it, Dabi only lifted an eyebrow before continuing. “Did you get a few good hits in?”

 

“Not really. I got pulled away before anything serious could happen.” She admitted. “Got suspended for it anyways.”

 

All Dabi replied with was, “Oh?”

 

Takako thought it was kinda funny that everyone she’d told the story to assumed that Bakugou started the physical fight.

 

“Well, I did go after him,” and she had to hold back a snicker at the way Dabi lit up in delight, “So I had to share the punishment. We’re not really on speaking terms right now.”

 

Not that Takako was really affected by not speaking to Bakugou, since she didn’t see him much in the first place, but it kind of made her sad that she’d managed to screw up a friendship with someone so picky about relationships in the first place. It was like she’d finally proven herself to him, they’d finally found a balance, and then she’d pushed it too far and toppled it over.

 

“Wow, little hero,” Dabi whistled, impressed. “What’d he say to get you so riled up?”

 

Takako couldn’t help the sheepish laugh that escaped her, and her accompanying tick of scratching at the back of her neck in embarrassment followed quickly behind. “It was something along the lines of ‘don’t trust a criminal not to hurt you,’ and I had to respectfully disagree.”

 

“Oh, princess, you think I wouldn’t hurt you?” The grin on Dabi’s face pulled into something more akin to a smirk, and Takako rolled her eyes.

 

“You would.” She corrected him. “I’m not sure yet if you would because you could or because you had to, but hopefully it never comes to that.”

 

Dabi’s smirk never faltered, but for a moment a familiar sentiment surged above the rest of his desires.

 

I want to get out I want to get out I want to get out

 

“Anyways,” Takako pulled herself back in, dragging the conversation with her. “Bakugou seems to think that I should base my trust that he’s not going to hurt me solely in the fact that he calls himself a hero, and that I shouldn’t have any faith in you solely because you’ve been labeled a villain.”

 

“There you go with your weird fear of labels again,” Dabi mused, tilting his head to one side. “Which hero hurt you, baby girl?”

 

Takako wrinkled her nose at this new pet name- another thing she shouldn’t have done, because the little smirk on his face told her she hadn’t heard the last of that one.

 

“I think you know.” Takako decided. “Or have you not noticed our matching daddy issues?”

 

Dabi was in the middle of sneering at the term daddy issues when something clicked behind his eyes, and he turned a surprisingly sober look on the little hero across the table from him. “You’ve got that ‘worst fears’ hero waiting for you at home?” He ventured, something oddly clouded in those usually bright blue eyes.

 

Takako couldn’t help the laugh that escaped her- it was more like a sarcastic bark, but it would do.

 

“Nightmare, yeah, that’s him,” she confirmed, “But I don’t live with him anymore. He got caught when I was little, and he’s dead now.”

 

“Hmm.” Was all Dabi responded with for a couple moments. Then, “Nightmare, huh? That custody case that sent investigators into other heroes’ homes, just in case?”

 

Takako thought that was kind of a weird thing to get hung up on, but when oddly familiar blue eyes drift back over to her, she came to a sickening sort of realization.

 

She’d had her suspicions before, but she was pretty certain now.

 

“That’s the one.” She confirmed, and Dabi nodded thoughtfully to himself. “You remember the kid I was telling you about, the one I’d only ever heard stories of, with all the cold rage?”

 

Dabi only nodded in response, confused as to where this was going.

 

“I got to talk to him in person the other day. We talked about Quirks and training and school and families and…” she trailed off, realizing that Dabi was tuning out. “And as it turned out, our home lives weren’t so different. His dad kinda sucked too.”

 

“Yeah?” Dabi yawned- clearly uninterested.

 

“When he heard my dad was Nightmare, he told me about the investigations afterwards- I had no idea,” she admitted, and that kinda caught his interest, but not really. “He said even though they didn’t find anything, his dad kinda let up on him and his family after that, so he was grateful to me, in a way,”

 

Now she had his attention, and that only further confirmed her earlier suspicions.

 

“I didn’t have anyone to protect- it was just me in there.” Takako continued as nonchalantly as possible, trying not to look too invested in his response. “It made me wonder… do you have any siblings, Dabi?”

 

His reaction was a mix of things she was and wasn’t expecting.

 

The first thing she picked up on was a lot of fear- like a surprising amount- and his blue eyes were swimming in it for a moment before he got a hold of himself and twisted his expression into a carefully guarded sneer.

 

“What, you think you found my long lost brother, or something?” He demanded- and if he wasn’t cuffed to his chair, his arms would be crossed over his chest, she was sure of it.

 

Takako purposefully played innocent, because this was clearly a touchy subject and she didn’t want him shutting down on her. “I didn’t say that.” She calmly insisted. “Unless you’re seeing some similarities between your situations that I don’t,” she left it open for him to confirm or deny, and as she expected, he merely huffed and looked away. “I was just wondering if you have family. Someone you want to protect- or used to,”

 

She wasn’t certain that she’d convinced him, but a little of the resistance left his shoulders.

 

“What does it matter to you, little hero?” He asked- and he sounded kind of tired.

 

(It was going around, she thought. It’s just that kind of week.)

 

“I don’t have any siblings,” she admitted. “I don’t know what it’s like.”

 

“They’re fucking annoying.” Dabi bit out- seemingly before he could stop himself. “They get on your nerves, know how to pull out the worst side of you.”

 

Takako’s trying to come up with a response to this, but Dabi let out a long sigh and slid his gaze somewhere far away, beyond her, beyond the guards, beyond the walls of his square cell.

 

“But they know you better than anyone, and for some godforsaken reason they’ve always got your back.” He ended with- and Takako really didn’t like how dull his eyes had gone.

 

There was also a very quiet, want things to go back to how they were, that echoed amidst the usual mumblings that she heard around Dabi.

 

Before she could add anything, Dabi cut her off again, suddenly focusing back in on her. “At least, that’s what I’ve heard. Apparently, Toga had some pretty wild siblings.”

 

Takako didn’t think she should push the topic any farther than she already had. Dabi had contributed enough today.

 

“Did you guys talk about home a lot?” She switched subjects, diving into Dabi’s time with the League of Villains. The burner rolled his eyes.

 

We didn’t talk about much else than organized crime. Toga ran her mouth about anything .” He grumbled. “Pretty girl, but she talks too much.”

 

“You don’t mind the stabbing?” Takako wondered, curious. “That was kinda my main concern.”

 

Dabi rolled his eyes again, and Takako couldn’t help but smile. “Don’t get me started.”

 

---

 

The next time she saw Tomura, her visit was unusually short.

 

She hadn’t brought up last visit’s episode, because she got the distinct feeling that Tomura did not want to talk about it, and bugging him probably wouldn’t set a very good mood for the rest of her time there. It also still kinda made her sad to think back on it, and if he were to- for some reason- agree to talk about it, Takako wasn’t sure she wanted to feel all of that from him all over again.

 

She’d settled instead on talking about their Quirks. The topic was surprisingly easy to navigate with him, and he would usually answer any questions she didn’t already have the answer to. It was probably second nature- they’d talked a lot about how to navigate his Quirk as kids. Of course, nowadays, Takako had a Quirk to talk about too, and she’d been dying to… well, brag about it, to be completely honest.

 

Tomura wasn’t quite as readable as he’d been at their last visit, but he couldn’t hide the desires that rolled across the table to her when Takako offered to talk about her Quirk.

 

They discussed for a moment- as much as you could discuss with someone mostly limited to yes and no- the ins and outs of Heart’s Desire. Takako had noticed- especially after her visit with Toga- that being in a separate room would block someone out. She’d thought it was visual, that she had to be seeing the person she was reading, but then she’d run across Hagakure and that theory had been blown to bits.

 

“It’s probably another proximity thing,” Takako concluded. “I guess a physical wall is enough to stop me, even if someone’s just on the other side.” She hummed to herself for a moment, and Tomura watched her while she thought over it. “Maybe seeing someone is the trigger? But then- how’d I read Hagakure?” She demanded, defeated.

 

Tomura shrugged, completely unhelpfully, and Takako was about to launch into another theory when he suddenly froze.

 

“What?” Takako warbled, confused.

 

Scarlet eyes stayed fixed on one thing in particular, wide with something like… something like fear?

 

Takako looked down, trying to find what he was so worried about, and her heart skipped a beat when she caught sight of her left hand.

 

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” she promised, “They’re in the middle of healing right now, so they’re more spread out and splotchy. I’ve got all kinds of colors, right now,” she inspected her knuckles, looking over the reds, yellows, and greens of the healing bruises. “I think it looks pretty cool.”

 

His insistent no got his point across pretty clearly.

 

“I really don’t mind.” Takako assured him. She could see his teeth this time when he scowled, and she rolled her eyes. “You don’t scare me, Tenko. Not even when you’re being weird.”

 

His head whipped up, scarlet eyes boring into hers, and she merely raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?” She challenged right back, unimpressed. “Should I be?”

 

The yes she received didn’t surprise her.

 

“And that would benefit you, how?” She demanded. “You’d be happier if I flinched away from you? If you scared me away and were left with an empty cell and Dr. Kido?”

 

His scowl sharpened, lip lifting a little higher to bare his teeth at her. She would’ve kept pressing him if she didn’t notice his shoulders sink a little, if she hadn’t heard the very quiet don’t want you to leave whispered barely loud enough for her to pick up on.

 

“Sorry,” she stopped herself before she could keep going, brushing away the sharp comments building up on her tongue. “I’m being manipulative again. Forget about it.” She insisted, looking away, her fingers curling into her palms. He backed off- completely out of surprise- the scowl left half formed on his face.

 

They sat in silence for a while, at least until Takako shook herself out of it and looked back up, a smile pulling at her lips.

 

“Hey,” she ventured softly, “Show me your face, Tenko. Are you really angry?”

 

Tomura ducked away from the request, refusing. Takako wondered if he remembered how often she’d bug him when they were kids in an attempt to get him to open up about things.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tomura angry,” she noted, and she didn’t know if his immediate double handed tap was in rebuke of the name or her statement. “Does angry Tomura look like angry Tenko?”

 

“Probably,” Tomura muttered. “Still have his temper.”

 

“Yeah?” Takako grinned, intrigued. “I never saw much of that, you know,”

 

“Didn’t need to.” He huffed nearly unintelligibly. One of his hands disappeared into his hair, running through his bangs to readjust them over his face.

 

She was about to tease him about the few instances she’d actually seen him get angry when the guards’ radios crackled to life. A moment later, the guards called time, startling Takako, and when she’d asked if everything was okay, they’d been pretty convincing in assuring her that everything was fine.

 

Tomura was not happy. His agreement to see her again should she come back came faster than she’d ever heard it.

 

Despite the guards’ sincerity, Takako couldn’t help but feel like something was wrong- especially when they finished checking her bag in record time, and almost rushed her to the next security checkpoint down the hall.

 

“Seriously,” Takako piped up as she stepped through that (possibly) metal detector, “Is everything alright? Do I need to be concerned?”

 

“Everything is fine.” The older guard assured her. “You’re perfectly safe. The sector nearby us is under alert, so protocol has us clearing this area just in case.”

 

Takako pouted, but she understood. There wasn’t much she could do about it, and she wasn’t going to complain about going out of her way to stay safe.

 

She hadn’t thought much of the incident, and the next time she’d returned- to visit Kurogiri, this time- nothing had changed, so she assumed that everything was handled.

 

Looking back on it, even if she had been suspicious of everything that went down that day, it probably wouldn’t have changed what happened in the end.

 

---

 

Part of what lulled her into complacency was probably the surprise meeting with All Might.

 

Either the pro hero didn’t know how much the students in this school admired him, or he just had really really bad timing. He’d chosen to request an audience with Takako in the most crowded hallway, popping out from an adjoining corridor and disappearing nearly as quickly, leaving Takako to deal with the resulting swarm of jealous and awestruck students.

 

Takako tried not to talk about All Might with the other students here. This was his Alma Mater, so it drew a lot of his biggest fans, and Takako… really wasn’t one of them.

 

She didn’t hate him, not like Tomura did. All Might wasn’t the face of her childhood bullies, so she had that going for her.

 

She liked him enough, though. Especially now that she knew him from vague personal experience. All Might just wasn’t the sole drive for her desire to be a hero. Not like Midoriya- who she vaguely worried for sometimes when it came to the intensity of his obsession.

 

“All Might?” She called, trying to follow the path he’d disappeared down. Eventually, she found him tucked into an office that she passed by twice before she finally noticed it. Probably a precaution to hide from some of the more overzealous students.

 

“Young Hiyashi! Come in!” The now familiar skeletal figure waved her into a seat. She complied, settling in and looking up expectantly.

 

When the Symbol of Peace bowed - deeply, mind you, a full 90° angle, no half-assed 45°- Takako couldn’t help but jump a little, surprised. “I offer my most sincere apologies, Young Hiyashi.”

 

“Uh,” Takako floundered, taken aback. “I… accept them? May I ask why you’re apologizing?”

 

All Might returned to a regular standing position and fiddled with the loose ends of his sleeves. “I’m afraid I’ve put you in harm’s way without your permission.”

 

Takako’s jaw dropped as soon as she realized what he was talking about. “What- wait, with Tomura? Shigaraki?” When All Might nodded, Takako crossed her arms over her chest in protest. “Nothing’s happened.

 

“I have quite a few incident reports,” All Might muttered back- and she daresay he was arguing with her. “One from your first visit, another where he knocked you onto the table, and this one says that he pinned you to the ground- not to mention that bruise on your hand,” he listed, and Takako had to restrain herself from rolling her eyes.

 

“Those are all my fault.” Takako insisted. “I got in his space without asking.”

 

“Sure, Hiyashi,” All Might agreed, “But his response was still violence. He chose to respond by hurting you.”

 

Takako sighed, deflating. “Yeah. Okay.” She mumbled, sinking into the chair she sat in. “So is this it? Am I not allowed to visit him anymore?”

 

“What?” The skinny hero echoed, surprised. “No? That’s not my decision to make.”

 

Takako chanced a glance up at him- fully aware that her attitude was bordering on disrespectful. “But it was your decision to get me in there, wasn’t it?”

 

All Might looked away. “...yes. That’s what I’m trying to apologize for.”

 

“I don’t mind.” Takako admitted, avoiding his eyes even though he wasn’t looking at her. “Honestly, I can see why you did it, and I’m glad you did.”

 

All Might sat down slowly.

 

“The professors are all worried about your personal attachment getting in the way of your work,” Takako replied- though she doubted he didn’t already know this. “I can’t believe they’re not worried about mine.

 

All Might laughed, but it didn’t sound like his pro hero signature. “If anything, your personal attachment is probably helping your case. From what I’m reading, Shigaraki is really benefiting from your visits.”

 

Takako nodded once, hoping it looked like acknowledgment or agreement or something. For a moment, the room was quiet, waiting for Takako’s reply.

 

“Did you ever visit him, All Might?” Takako hesitated to ask, knowing she wouldn’t like the answer.

 

All Might merely nodded, but he didn’t look upset. “As I expected, he was pretty angry. Shouted until I left.”

 

Takako’s eyes widened. “Did you visit him before he shut down?” When All Might confirmed with a nod, Takako sunk further into her seat. “I can’t imagine,” she whispered, looking away again, “What it would feel like to want to help him as badly as you and I do, only to be turned away by murderous rage and hatred.”

 

“Oh, Young Hiyashi, don’t worry about me. I’ve faced worse.” He assured her, his smile no less bright than it usually was, sunken cheeks and all.

 

“All Might,” Takako blurted, her thoughts scattering. “Would you be... “ she tossed that aside, unable to get the sentiment out, “What would happen if Tomura never… if he…”

 

She couldn’t say it, couldn’t admit the worst.

 

What if Tomura never stopped? What if he’s too far gone?

 

“Do you think that’s true?” All Might asked her, voice very quiet.

 

Takako tried not to listen in on his desires. She’d made that mistake before.

 

He didn’t sound scared, didn’t sound nervous. It sounded like he just wanted her opinion on the matter, and it made answering a little easier.

 

“I think… I think he’s only human.” Takako finally managed. “I can’t say I know exactly what’s going on in his head- he surprises me sometimes. But most of the time, he’s still Tenko. He’s still Tenko just like I’m still Takako.” She decided. “And Tenko… nobody ever expected Tenko to be a hero. He couldn’t… he can’t control his Quirk, he just has to be really careful with it. Every mistake is deadly. Every mistake is permanent. Everyone holds that against him- even he does.”

 

“I can only imagine what that does to a person.” All Might echoed.

 

“Yeah.” Takako snorted, shaking her head. “Plus, there’s that All For One guy,” she remembered. “I can still see bits of Tenko in Tomura- even he’ll admit that. The new parts of him, even the old parts, they were all grown on purpose. I’m sure All For One was to Tomura what the UA teachers are to us. We aren’t 100% heroes from the start. We need outside guidance, something to direct and focus our aims.”

 

“For better or for worse.” All Might agreed- and Takako knew he understood what she was getting at. He’d probably come to the same realization at some point.

 

“I mean, if a villain had gotten a hold of me that young, I’d probably be in the same boat.” Takako admitted.

 

“Oh, I don’t know, Hiyashi,” the pro hero disagreed, shaking his head. “Someone with a drive to protect like you have, a drive to save,”

 

“I’m not the only one with a protective streak,” Takako hummed, mostly to herself. “Tomura’s just a little different.”

 

All Might smiled. “I take it things are good, with you two.”

 

Takako couldn’t help the blush that rose to her cheeks. “Yeah! We talk more often now, and he’ll respond to the doctor and the guards. He’s eating- and he smiles! It’s kinda scary, but it’s still a smile!” She exclaimed, showing a smile of her own.

 

“That’s good.” All Might agreed. “I think a smile is very important.”


Chapter Text

There was really nothing that tipped her off to it.

 

Every visit with the League of Villains leading up to it had been normal. Actually, every meeting leading up to it had been good.

 

She’d had a discussion about the ethics of a hero based society with Kurogiri- and if Takako had thought Midnight could ramble on for hours, she had another thing coming with the warp gate. On the other hand, Dabi had been surprisingly laid back, content to push at her buttons every five minutes or so instead of at every possible opportunity. Even Tomura was in a better mood than usual in the visits leading up to it. They’d even had another joint meeting with Dr. Kido, and Tomura had only flipped the doctor off once.

 

So when she got the summons from Dr. Kido, she was excited to return. It had been a good week at school, save the usual homework, and she had a fun story to tell that would work for whoever she ended up seeing.

 

She’d gone through security like normal, passed all the security checks, gotten her assignment from Dr. Kido- she’d be visiting Tomura today- and was directed to the corresponding cell.

 

The guards assigned to Tomura’s cell met her in their usual spot, and Takako waved to them as she approached.

 

That was when she first caught wind that something was amiss.

 

The closer she got to the guards, the louder their desires got. This wasn’t unusual, given her Quirk was proximity based, but it certainly wasn’t the usual low murmur.

 

As she waited for the guards to unlock the doors, she found it kind of strange that want to get inside was the loudest desire on her radar, and she shook her head in one sharp motion in an attempt to clear it.

 

It was only as she passed through the door, one guard on either side of her, as usual, that it finally struck her.

 

Get out wanna get out wanna tear this place apart rip tear blood blood want to see blood

 

Still halfway through the door, Takako whirled to face the older guard, eyes wide with fear.

 

“Hiyashi?” The younger guard piped up from behind her. “I need you to move out of the way of the doors,”

 

“Yes, Hiyashi, please,” the older guard agreed, but Takako didn’t move.

 

Wanna tear you apart wanna get out get out get out

 

“How- how are you doing that?” She whispered, frozen in place. She knew it wasn’t the guard’s Quirk, only her own fear. “With that- the same voice, even,”

 

The older guard only smiled, placing a strong hand on her shoulder and pushing her the last two steps into the threshold.

 

“I can’t believe you saw through that so quickly,” came a familiar voice from behind her- and nononono this was bad, “Impressive, little hero.”

 

The solid thunk of the door closing seemed to echo in her ears.

 

Takako whipped around just in time to dodge a reaching hand and barely missed getting caught in Dabi’s grip for one more time in her life. Thankfully, the younger guard was on top of Dabi in an instant, taking his attention off of Takako.

 

It suddenly struck her, while she watched Dabi struggle with the guard. His desires read loud and clear- just like they had been in the past few visits leading up to this: I want to get out I want to get out I want to get out!

 

Was this a prison break? How long had this been in the works?

 

Takako shook herself out of it. Present tense, she reminded herself. Best not to get caught up in the details.

 

Now all she had to worry about was Toga- at least, that’s who she assumed was within the older guard’s body, since she was the only person Takako had ever encountered with desires that loud and overwhelming.

 

Except that the guard had… disappeared?

 

Obviously, Toga was still in the room somewhere. The door was closed and her desires hadn’t stopped shouting, so she couldn’t have left.

 

Takako whipped back around, searching for Toga- the guard- whoever.

 

“All it takes is a second,” came the older guard’s voice from behind her. “All you have to do is take your attention off of me for a second.” The voice that usually calmed her, usually supported her, now had her spinning around in fear.

 

But there was nothing there.

 

Takako tried to calm down, tried not to hyperventilate- even though the grunts of the struggle behind her were kinda freaking her out. If she could just calm down, just focus for a second-

 

There,

 

Takako spun on her toes for what felt like the millionth time since the door had closed, her arms flying up to block whatever strike was coming her way. She could only grunt when the older guard collided with her- they were much heavier, held much more bulk in their frame- and she couldn’t help but flinch away when the guard laughed in her face.

 

Toga had the right face, the right eyes, the right mouth to look exactly like the older guard, but everything about their expression was wrong. Plus, the dizzying chant of wanna get out, gotta move, wanna stab wanna suck wanna see some blood, blood blood blood, was beginning to be a little too much while they stood this close together.

 

If sitting across the table from Toga had been too much in a little under ten minutes, Takako wasn’t sure how long it would take to reach the end of her rope while they stood toe to toe.

 

“Stay still now, girlie.” The sentiment sounded weird coming from the older guard’s mouth, paired with the vaguely menacing command.

 

Takako had to move- she had to get away, had to- before-

 

The older guard cackled, arm swinging in a wide arc- and oh god, that was a knife -

 

Takako ducked, and Toga buried the knife in the wall behind her.

 

“Not used to this body,” Toga muttered, shaking off the miss and drawing another knife, keeping Takako caged into one spot. “Stay still. I don't have enough time to play.”

 

Want to get this done, want blood, gotta move on, wanna get out get out get out get out get-

 

Takako tried- she tried to move out of the way, but everything was starting to spin, and all she could hear was bloodlust and escape. The glint of the knife under the harsh fluorescent lights barely registered, sending a weak jolt of fear through her body.

 

She had enough sense to cower away, to close her eyes in anticipation- but the slice of pain never came.

 

Blearily, she opened her eyes to see the knife stopped halfway to her. She squinted as she searched the guard's arm, trying to spot what was holding them back.

 

Everything was starting to slide out of focus.

 

But there- there- were those fingers?

 

She didn't have time to compute before she was ripped out from underneath Toga’s disguise and tossed aside. She stumbled back, too out of it to catch herself, and crashed into another body.

 

Dabi- her brain cried out, already panicking- it's Dabi it's Dabi you're going to die-

 

“Aw, Shigaraki-kuuun,”

 

Okay, that's it, she was definitely hallucinating now. Did she just hear the older guard add -kun to the end of Tomura's name?

 

“You're no fun!!” Toga whined. She complained about something else, but the guard's voice just came out as a garbled mess, going in one of Takako's ears and out the other.

 

This is it, she realized. You're going back into that numbness from before.

 

She was in full fight or flight mode, adrenaline pumping, her heart racing. She knew that if she could see straight she'd be choosing fight, but everything was just a little too out of focus, the sounds not quite coming in clearly.

 

No matter. She was training to be a hero. She could do this.

 

She could do this.

 

Shaking her head once to clear it, she managed to get a few steady steps in before the world tilted, but it didn't stop her. She had her hand on the knife- that's all she needed, just a turn, a twist.

 

Using her smaller body to take advantage of the older guard's weak points, Takako wrangled the knife from Toga, and-

 

Got pulled back by a tug on her shirt.

 

The knife fell from her hand, and it clattered loudly on the floor while Takako stumbled backwards into the body she'd leaned against before.

 

“Tacchan,”

 

Oh -

 

Takako looked up quickly, and though her vision swam- she'd know that hair- those eyes- anywhere.

 

She must be leaning against Tomura.

 

“I need you to sit down.”

 

Huh?

 

“Come here,” a hand pressed into her back, took her hand and led her forwards. “And sit down.”

 

The hand that pushed on her shoulder was enough to convince her knees to buckle, and she sat down hard onto… the table? Was that it?

 

“Aw, princess,” a hand ruffled her hair- was it the same one, or a different set? “You look dazed. Did Toga hit you too hard?”

 

“It's her Quirk. Toga’s too loud.” That was Tomura's voice, wasn't it? “And get your hands off of her-”

 

The hand in her hair left quickly, as if it had been forcibly removed.

 

Takako tried to focus on blocking Toga out. The less she could hear her, the more she could focus on what was happening.

 

“Here,” a glint of metal flashed in the corner of her eye, and she flinched away from it before she knew what it was. “Hey, hey,” somebody tried to console her, and she was pretty sure that was Dabi’s voice nearby, “It's just keys, baby girl.”

 

“Would you shut the fuck up? I'm trying to concentrate, over here,” Tomura- that had to be Tomura- grumbled from beside her, and the clink of metal caught her attention.

 

“Tenko,” Takako called, reaching out in the direction of his voice. “What’s going on?”

 

Tomura’s answer came in the form of taking Takako’s hand in his. For a moment, she floundered, but she didn’t need her vision to feel that Tomura wasn’t wearing the gloves anymore.

 

“After we get you out, we're headed over to Kurogiri!” Toga announced. “Let’s hurry!”

 

Takako’s vision came back into focus right as pain lanced through her chest, and she realized that things were definitely not going to go her way right around the moment that blood pooled in the back of her throat.

 

---

 

Tomura guessed that something was wrong when Takako didn’t make it all the way inside the room.

 

Stood there, frozen in place, he wondered if the guards had used their Quirks on her. The only reason that would happen would be if Takako posed some kind of security threat. Considering the amount of people that didn’t like him, it was probably very possible that someone tried to use her to get close to Tomura.

 

He didn’t like that idea. The thought of someone using Takako, putting her in harm’s way when they really meant to hurt Tomura… it made his fingers twitch, made him itch to turn someone to dust.

 

Takako seemed to be stuck staring up at one of the guards until they took her by the shoulder and moved her to the side, out of the way of the door that needed to close.

 

Tomura knew something was wrong when Dabi waltzed right in behind her, the door sliding shut with a solid thunk.

 

He was on his feet in a second when Dabi reached for her, felt his teeth already pressing into an angry line, but the guards sprung into action before he could. One of them, the heavier one, the one that had pushed Takako, laughed (?) and ducked out of Takako’s line of sight. Takako, busy thinking she was about to be attacked by Dabi, narrowly evaded Dabi’s swing, and the taller, skinnier guard tackled the burner from behind.

 

What a mess.

 

Tomura assumed that the guard that wasn’t attacking Dabi was probably Toga. What with the way the usually laid back guard was smiling like a maniac, their eyes a little too wide, it wasn’t hard to guess who was within the disguise.

 

If his two ‘rescuers’ had closed the door, it meant they needed something more than just Tomura from this room. Tomura was guessing, by the way Dabi had the smaller guard in a chokehold, that they wanted something of theirs to pass security.

 

When Toga drew a knife on Takako, Tomura came to another conclusion. Unless Takako was meant to be collateral damage, Toga planned to use her as another disguise.

 

Because he was never certain with Toga, he stepped in to stop her from stabbing Takako, closing only four fingers around the larger guard’s forearm. Takako’s eyes followed the movement, but the difficulty she had tracking him gave him pause. He had to think for a moment, sift through their conversations, until he remembered her telling him about her visit with Toga and the near coma that had followed.

 

Toga probably didn’t know about that. Dabi likely didn’t either, unless Takako told him. But Tomura did.

 

He wasn’t surprised when Takako tripped over her own feet while he dragged her out from underneath Toga in the guard’s body.

 

He was surprised when she whimpered upon crashing into him- and he immediately panicked. Had he really pulled that hard? Had he dropped a fifth finger on accident? A quick glance down at Takako only found brown eyes staring off into nothing.

 

“Aw, Shigaraki-kuuuun,” Toga whined- and Tomura hadn’t known that he was going to miss a single thing about his months of isolation, but not hearing Toga’s voice was apparently one of them. Well, it wasn’t her voice. It was the guard’s- but he’d recognize that whine no matter how much she distorted it. “You’re no fun!! At least let me stab her a little bit- we’re friends, right, Takako?”

 

Takako didn’t reply- and maybe Tomura was too busy being a little upset at the use of her given name, but he completely missed the way her gaze sharpened. She was out of his reach before he could stop her, and, to his surprise, took the knife from Toga with only a little bit of wrangling.

 

“What a fighter,” Dabi mused- as if he didn’t already know this.

 

Tomura ignored the impressed note to Dabi’s voice and grabbed Takako by the back of her shirt to pull her back to his chest.

 

( Where she belongs, his mind whispered to him.)

 

“Tacchan,” Tomura called to her, hoping she could still hear him. By the way her head whipped up towards the sound of his voice, he guessed the answer to that was yes. “I need you to sit down.”

 

This was not going to be easy. He was not going to like this.

 

Takako- bless her- made the most precious sound of confusion and blinked up at him with wide brown eyes.

 

“Come here,” he placed a gentle hand on her back, took her hand with the other, and led her forwards. “And sit down.”

 

She still looked lost. Tomura sighed, wishing she’d make this easier on him and be a little less adorable. He had to push on her shoulder to remind her to sit, and her legs pretty much gave out underneath her in response, plopping Takako down onto the table.

 

Dabi looked too interested in Takako’s face. “Aw, princess,” and if the pet name wasn’t enough, Tomura had to watch him ruffle her hair- “You look dazed. Did Toga hit you too hard?”

 

Tomura scoffed, already intensely annoyed with the burner. “It's her Quirk. Toga’s too loud.” When Dabi turned a look of confusion at him, Tomura sighed in exasperation. “And get your hands off of her.” He demanded, pushing Dabi’s hand off of Takako’s head.

 

He didn’t like the way her eyelids drooped, as if Dabi’s touch was comforting in some way.

 

“Rude,” Dabi huffed, turning away to dig around in his pockets. “Here, brought these for you.”

 

Tomura almost dropped the hand that Dabi threw at him, and he stared down at Father in disbelief.

 

“You’re welcome, freak,” Dabi insisted, but Tomura only glared at him while he situated the familiar press of fingers over his face.

 

Goddamn. There goes about fifty percent of the anxiety that’s been weighing him down for the past couple of months.

 

Tomura nearly got hit by the thing Dabi threw next, but the glint of metal flying through the air caught his attention just in time. Takako visibly flinched away from the projectile- she probably thought it was another knife, what with how well he assumed she could see.

 

“Hey, hey,” and goddammit, would somebody please get Dabi off of Takako? “It's just keys, baby girl.”

 

Tomura’s hands slipped upon hearing the sentiment, completely missing the latch of his gloves in a wild jangle of noise. Dabi’s grin was irritating.

 

He’d found another button of Tomura’s to push.

 

(There was no button! Tomura did not care! He didn't!)

 

“Would you shut the fuck up? I'm trying to concentrate, over here,” Tomura grumbled, trying not to sound as pissed as he actually was.

 

“Tenko,” Takako sounded far away even though she was right next to him. Tomura shuffled the gloves off as quickly as he could- trying not to look desperate while Dabi was watching him. “What’s going on?” She queried as she reached out (for him?), eyes hazy and dark.

 

Tomura wasn’t sure if she wanted to know what was going on with the keys or just going on in general, so he answered her in a way he’d perfected over the last few months.

 

Silently.

 

He took her outstretched hand in his.

 

Her fingers closed around his as soon as he took them- he marveled at how immediately she trusted these hands- and despite needing to be much more careful, feeling her skin against his was worth removing the gloves.

 

“Alrighty, Shigaraki-kun!” Toga announced- gray slime flying as she slipped out of the guard disguise. “After we get you out, we're headed over to Kurogiri! Let’s hurry!”

 

Kurogiri was their ticket out of here. They needed to act fast, get their shit together before they were noticed. (They probably already had been noticed, so all the reason more to get the show on the road.)

 

But from the way Toga was smiling at Takako, flipping a blade in her hands, Tomura knew what had to be done.

 

“You’re going to use Takako.” Tomura stated aloud, waiting for a confirmation from anyone who would give it.

 

Dabi nodded, eyeing Tomura closely. “Don’t get your panties in a twist. Toga just needs enough to get us out of here.”

 

Tomura nodded. He understood.

 

He didn’t like it.

 

He didn’t like it at all.

 

But he understood.

 

Free of restraints and overbearing guards, Tomura acted unhindered, uninhibited. He ran his free hand through Takako’s hair, letting the thick strands slip between his fingers.

 

For a moment, Takako relaxed, calmed by his touch. It made him feel a little better about the way her clouded eyes cleared as soon as Toga cut clean into her chest, fear and pain sharpening her gaze in an instant.

 

He didn’t have to bear her gaze for long. She doubled over almost immediately, coughing out a wet, gross sound that he didn’t think he liked the sound of.

 

Tomura definitely didn’t like the way Toga picked Takako’s head up by a handful of her hair, and he definitely didn’t like the way she licked the rivulets of blood seeping from the corners of Takako’s mouth.

 

Toga made a weird noise- something Tomura was not going to classify as a moan, because he would not be able to stop himself from ripping her throat out if it was. The blonde licked her lips, grinning widely, and- goddamnit!- dove back in before Tomura could stop her. He nearly dug all five of his fingers into Toga’s hair- she deserved it for sealing her mouth over Takako’s like that- and when he yanked her back by one messy bun, her tongue fell from Takako’s mouth to drip blood all over the floor.

 

Obscene, the lot of them. Tomura was going to have to take a closer look at his coworkers after he got out of here.

 

“Tennchan?” Takako whispered, squeezing his hand. “Wh-what just-”

 

“Just Toga.” He grunted, words clipped with discontent. “Dabi, this needs cauterizing.”

 

“Uh, yeah… about that,” the burner hummed, avoiding Tomura’s glare while Toga transformed. “Whatever stuff they’ve been drenching me in… ah, I can’t…”

 

“You’re useless,” Tomura realized. “Why the fuck did you choose to break out now if you’re useless?

 

“It usually wears off by now,” Dabi argued, “But they switched up the schedule and doused me yesterday. Today was our best shot.”

 

They didn’t need to discuss the ins and outs. They just needed to get moving.

 

“Fine.” Tomura sighed. The way Toga was admiring Takako’s body while she pranced around in it was making Tomura uncomfortable. “What’s next.”

 

Dabi outlined the plan, and Toga cut in for some necessary measures to top it all off.

 

“So once we grab Kurogiri, we can warp to wherever the big guy is- you know, All For Once or whatever the media called him,” Toga continued, listing on her fingers.

 

Sensei, Tomura realized. They could regain Sensei in the midst of this chaos if they did this right-

 

“You mean-” the guard on the floor, the smaller one that was slowly regaining consciousness after being choked out by Dabi, coughed, catching their attention. “That All For One guy that All Might defeated on national television?”

 

Tomura’s eye twitched, but Toga chirped a bright, “Yeah!” in response.

 

The guard looked smug.

 

They had no right to look smug, bruised around the neck, laid out prone on the ground while-

 

“That dude’s dead.

 

Tomura’s attention snapped to the guard on the floor. “ What did you say?” He demanded, taking a menacing step towards them.

 

He let go of Takako's hand.

 

The guard didn’t look scared enough, so Tomura took another step. It didn’t stop the guard from repeating themselves.

 

“All For One is dead. I saw it on the news. Respiratory failure.” They coughed out, sentences getting shorter and shorter the closer Tomura drew to them.

 

Sensei-

 

That sounded horrifyingly plausible.

 

Tomura picked them up by their throat. Kicking and choking, too weak to fight back, Tomura pressed them against the door, letting their feet swing above the ground.

 

What did you say?” He repeated, voice hissing through his teeth.

 

“All For One is dead.” The guard insisted.

 

Tomura fell under a haze of red.

 

For a moment, there was nothing. Nothing but fear and rage.

 

When he came to, the guard was little but a pile of dust at his feet, and Tomura's Quirk had eaten through half of the door, cracks spreading and debris falling from where all five of his fingers spread out against the surface.

 

Tomura took a deep breath. "Let's get moving."

Chapter Text

With the door now gaping open and no guard to stop them, they had a clear path to escape.

 

“Thanks, Shigaraki-kun!” Toga cheered- and oh boy was it weird to hear that from Takako’s mouth. She flounced past him without another word, leaving Dabi to trail behind her.

 

“Are you coming?” The burner queried.

 

“Of course I’m coming. Why wouldn’t I-” Tomura paused, the words caught in his throat as soon as annoyingly knowing blue eyes flicked over to the girl bleeding on the table nearby.

 

He couldn’t help but look.

 

“Shit.” Dabi blandly noted. “I thought you had her played, what with the way she talked about you. But it’s the other way around, huh?” Dabi shook his head, combing through the black spikes with one hand. “Didn’t see that coming.”

 

What with the way she talked about you

 

She talked about you

 

She talked about you in a specific way that Dabi picked up on

 

“Who do you think I am, dumbass,” Tomura demanded, immediately on the defense. “It’s not like I’m- I’m not-”

 

“What, mophead?” Dabi hummed, egging him on. “You’re not in love with her?”

 

Tomura’s entire world stopped.

 

Fuck.

 

Was that- was the warmth in his chest- all along, was it-

 

A quiet, “Tennchan,” broke into his frenzied thoughts before they could carry him off too far.

 

Takako sounded tired, and when Tomura turned to face her, he found her on her feet.

 

With Toga gone, she must have been thinking much more clearly. Her footsteps were steady despite the blood that stained her shirt. She had that look in her eyes, the determined one that she got when things needed to get done.

 

“I’m getting out of here.” Tomura announced- though he wasn’t sure who the announcement was aimed at.

 

“I figured as much,” Takako replied, clearly more coherent than he’d originally thought. “I can’t hold that against you, really. I wouldn’t want to be here either.”

 

“You’re weird, little hero.” Dabi noted. Takako didn’t acknowledge him. She kept her eyes on Tomura.

 

“I thought about trying to guilt you into staying,” Takako admitted sheepishly- and she winced when she reached to scratch the back of her neck and disturbed the hole gouged in her chest instead. “But I figured you’d just get mad and nothing I could say would convince you anyways.”

 

“You think too lowly of yourself.” Dabi muttered- and Tomura almost hit him. Takako ignored the burner again (thank god).

 

“I’m kinda sad that we didn’t get to completely catch up. But, that’s just what I wanted.” She mumbled mostly to herself, but he caught it anyways. “Promise me, Tenko,” she spoke up, looking up at him with the saddest expression- brown eyes watery with unshed tears, a wobbly smile on her lips like she was trying to convince him that everything was alright.

 

“Promise me you’ll chase what makes you happy?” She pleaded, stretching her arm to extend her hand in his direction.

 

For a moment, Tomura just stared at her hand, taking in little fingers that were bloodied from pressing into the wound on her chest.

 

His mind whirled, running through options, end game situations, worst case scenarios.

 

He didn’t know what he’d done to deserve this- this- this warmth, this feeling in his chest, this tingling in his fingers-

 

He couldn’t figure out what Takako wanted from him.

 

And then, looking at her standing there in front of him- so determined to do the best for him, determined to see him off on a good note (because she hasn’t gotten to yet), little hands shaking while they waited for his goodbye, wide eyes holding back the tears so he wouldn't change his mind-

 

He realized she wasn’t asking him to figure out what she wanted.

 

Now, Tomura was no stranger to taking what he wanted. When Sensei took him in, life had become a free for all. If Tomura wanted something, he took it.

 

All this blather from the heroes in training about Sensei manipulating him- whatever. Tomura had never liked All Might. Tomura had never liked the way society was run. He'd always been the outcast, hated for something he couldn't control. Sensei might’ve directed Tomura’s passions, but he didn’t create them.

 

These things that he chased, they were big picture goals.

 

He'd never given much thought to the little things- always passed them off as a distraction for the masses, bread and circus to keep people happy.

 

Takako didn't want to placate him. She didn't want to distract him from the big picture.

 

What's the point in living if you don't chase what makes you happy?”

 

Takako wanted him to live.

 

He knew then, if only tentatively, what he wanted.

 

Tomura grabbed her hand and ran.

 

---

 

Of all the things Takako was expecting after being stabbed, someone's tongue in her mouth was not one of them.

 

By the time everything slid back into focus in front of her, Toga (in whatever body she currently inhabited) was gone, and Tomura and Dabi stood by the remains of the door to the cell.

 

From the way Tomura's shoulders heaved, the way he leaned heavily against the slowly crumbling wall, Takako guessed that something had set him off.

 

She didn't really want to know what it was.

 

At that moment, she just needed to get up.

 

To her surprise, her legs held up underneath her when she put her weight on them. She had thought that they wouldn't, since she kept coughing up blood, but the flow had stemmed since the initial incision. She was only coughing flecks into her elbow, now.

 

(Takako knew Toga was smart, but she didn't know she was this smart. She must have a really good grasp on human anatomy to know how to do… whatever she'd done to Takako.)

 

Tomura looked- well, she couldn't tell, exactly. When had he gotten a hold of that hand again?

 

She had to base her appraisal of the situation on  Dabi’s eternally unimpressed expression- and since she didn't know the nuances of Dabi nearly as well as she knew Tenko, she figured this was the end and that she should treat it as such.

 

Which meant that she called Tomura's name- his real name, damn it, the one she knew him by- as steadily as she could, trying her best not to sound shaken.

 

If he was going to leave, so be it.

 

But goddamnit, they were not going to part ways without saying goodbye this time.

 

They'd had too many abrupt endings.

 

Tenko disappearing on her when they were kids, Tomura's imprisonment after their brief reunion, all the times they'd never been sure if Takako would return for another visit, and now… no. This time, for sure, she would at least get a word in before he had to go.

 

“I’m kinda sad that we didn’t get to completely catch up.” Takako let the confession slip before she could stop herself- and hadn't she just told him she wasn't going to try and guilt him to stay? “But, that’s just what I wanted.” She added hastily, amending her earlier statement.

 

All she wanted from Tomura was to get to know him again.

 

If there was nothing in there but hate and destruction, okay. She could report back to UA or Dr. Kido or whoever wanted to know. As long as he would keep seeing her, Takako would always come back.

 

Now, looking up at him and knowing there would be nothing to come back to, she tried not to break down in tears. She wouldn't be able to speak if she did- and she'd just said she wasn't going to guilt him into staying.

 

“Promise me, Tenko,” because it mattered to her, it mattered, “Promise me you'll chase what makes you happy?”

 

Takako stuck out her hand and hoped he wouldn't mind the blood if he chose to take it.

 

Why did it always come to this?

 

Takako always waited, one hand outstretched. She waited as a kid, she waited as a hero, she waited as an interning therapist, and she waited now.

 

And for what?

 

As Tomura fiddled with his fingers, hands bare of the gloves that restrained his Quirk, Takako knew he could easily reach out and kill her if he felt like it.

 

You think because you used to know each other that he wouldn't kill you too?”

 

She'd really like to think the answer was no, but she didn't truly know.

 

God, she really was a sap, standing there, waiting for him to promise her he'd be happy. Whether he said goodbye or not, when he walked away from her, it was going to hurt. It would hurt so badly. But she knew that life within a cage was no life at all.

 

When the gears stopped clicking in Tomura's head, she caught a glimpse of something new in his eyes. She couldn't classify it exactly- it might have been realization, but it might very well have been some kind of crazed glee.

 

The hurried way in which he reached for her hand didn't surprise her- he had places to be, needed to get this over with- and she's grateful that only four fingers made contact with her skin.

 

This was it.

 

Tomura would make a hurried promise to satisfy Takako's pointless request, rush off, and that would be the last she'd see of him. Probably ever.

 

She tried really really hard not to think back on all the things she'd learned about him, about all the new habits and ticks she'd noticed, all the things she had left to discover. If she cried, she'd be going back on her word not to guilt him.

 

Tomura didn't say anything about the tears in her eyes, though.

 

Actually, he didn’t say anything at all.

 

Still holding her hand tight within his, he just turned around and ran.

 

And honestly, since Tomura was a solid head taller than her and definitely stronger, paired with the fact that she's beyond stunned, it's no wonder she stumbled over the first few… five… okay, like, fifteen steps. Still tripping over her own feet, Takako was suddenly incredibly grateful that she’d extended the arm on the opposite side of the wound in her chest.

 

To her surprise, Dabi didn’t argue. He just jogged beside Tomura, directing him down the hallways with pointing fingers and head nods.

 

For a moment, Takako was really caught up in how cool they looked, working silently, faces serious- but then she remembered what kind of situation she was in.

 

“Tenko-” she was hesitant to speak up and break the silence, but she kinda felt like she was being kidnapped, so she had to say something. When he didn’t slow down or answer, Takako tried again. “Tenko, what exactly-”

 

It was at that moment that Dabi signaled something to Tomura, and the two of them ducked into a corridor and dragged Takako along with them.

 

“Tenko!” Takako hissed, tired of being ignored. Dabi shot her a look, one that would normally shut her up, but she wasn’t trying to get Dabi’s attention. “What-”

 

“Tacchan,” Tomura cut her off, tone suspiciously even. “I’m only going to say this politely once.”

 

Dabi lifted an eyebrow, impressed.

 

“Please shut up and let me do my job.” Tomura finished, turning to glare at her through the gaps in the fingers over his face. Takako frowned and opened her mouth to argue, but the press of a thumb to her lip stopped her words in her throat. “I don’t want to get coarse with you, but I will.”

 

“At least you got a please,” Dabi muttered under his breath. “I never get a please.” He complained, frowning at Tomura. Tomura returned his hand to his side, removing it from Takako’s mouth. “I didn’t even know please was in your vocabulary,”

 

“Dabi, kindly shut the fuck up,” Tomura growled through gritted teeth. “I’m thinking.”

 

Takako and Dabi stood in silence, watching Tomura inspect the key card he’d gotten his hands on at some point. He flipped it over- and over and over and over- and slid two fingers along the edges of it, his eyebrows furrowing.

 

“Gotta give it to him,” Dabi murmured- aiming the comment at Takako- “He might be rude, but your boyfriend’s pretty smart. His brain makes up for what his mouth lacks.”

 

Takako tried not to blush. Boyfriend?! On what level did it look like they were dating?! Tomura had barely shown any interest beyond her returning as a friend- what made Dabi think-

 

“It’s magnetic. Like I thought.” Tomura spoke up, satisfied with his inspection of the card. “Where’s the first checkpoint?”

 

“Up ahead,” Dabi jerked his head in the general direction of around the corner, and Tomura nodded.

 

He didn’t say anything else before grabbing Takako’s wrist, but Takako wasn’t satisfied.

 

“Hey!” She yelped, digging in her heels to keep him from dragging her off again. Not that she’d be able to stop him, but the effort got his attention. “Am I supposed to be complicit in all of this? I didn’t sign up for this, you know. If you get caught, I’m going down for aiding and abetting!”

 

“Oh, well if that’s your only concern,” Dabi grinned- and oh boy, Takako knew that look well-

 

She yelped when he twisted her free hand behind her back- and dammit, that was the wounded side! Dabi pushed her forwards, out into the hallway, and Tomura sighed.

 

“What?” Dabi demanded, jostling her loose from Tomura’s hold. “If you want her to come with us so bad, and she doesn’t wanna help us escape, the solution is clearly that we take a hostage.”

 

“That’s literally the last thing on my list of solutions,” Takako muttered, wincing when Dabi squeezed her wrist just a little too tight. “And can you lay off? I’m bleeding, over here.”

 

“What happened to your manners, princess?” Dabi hummed, leaning his chin on her shoulder. “You spend too much time with handyman, here?”

 

Said man with hand was busy messing with the control panel of the first checkpoint, squinting and cursing when he swiped the card and received an error message.

 

Excuse me for being grumpy when there’s a hole in my chest and blood in my throat,” Takako grumbled as Tomura waved them through. Dabi led her forwards into the checkpoint, and no alarms went off. “Would you please ease up on my arm?”

 

Dabi had the nerve to cackle. “Sure thing, baby girl.”

 

Takako couldn’t help but notice the way Tomura immediately tensed, and when he dropped the keycard after slipping through the checkpoint, his grumbled curses sounded like they were escaping through gritted teeth.

 

Was that… about the pet name? Was Tomura… flustered? Jealous?

 

Maybe she was wrong. Maybe Tomura was interested.

 

Shitshitshitshitshit that was so many levels of bad and good and embarrassing and oh boy ohboy ohboyohboy-

 

His desires were tightly sealed away, silent even when he’d grabbed her hand.

 

What was he hiding from her?

 

“Hey!”

 

“Oh, fuck- ” Dabi twisted Takako in the opposite direction of the shout, and Takako gasped as a fresh wave of pain sliced through her chest. Tomura was beside them in an instant, keeping pace with Dabi without a problem.

 

Come to think of it, Tomura was a lot faster than he let on, too.

 

“Dabi. Distract them.” Tomura instructed, gesturing vaguely back at the guards that were now chasing them. “Takako can’t keep this pace.”

 

“What- can too! I train harder than this every day!” Takako argued. Tomura rolled his eyes at her.

 

“You’re coughing up blood. If Toga didn’t nick your windpipe or esophagus, then she hit your lung. Whether you run every morning or not, your stamina is compromised.” Tomura informed her, rather bluntly.

 

Or, we could just eliminate the dead weight and move on.” Dabi offered. “But, whatever you say, boss.” He relented, and shoved Takako towards Tomura as he veered off track.

 

The guards followed him- almost like Tomura had predicted they would, or something.

 

“He’s right, you know-”

 

“Takako,” Tomura cut her off, voice low and threatening while the hallway behind them flickered with blue light. “I’m thinking.

 

The hallway Dabi had run down suddenly exploded in a flash of blue, and Takako stuttered to a halt, startled.

 

Flames licked at the walls, eating away at the ceiling tiles in a steady outward wave.

 

Dabi stepped out of the hallway with flaming hands and a maniacal grin, smoke pouring from his mouth. “Anyone else?” He asked the burning hallway- and Takako nearly retched.

 

How many would die on their way out, whether she went with them or not?

 

The sprinklers turned on, but there wasn’t enough water to stop the spread of blue flame.

 

“Tenko- I don’t think-” Takako choked on her words- but not because of the steadily thickening smoke.

 

Of course, before she could say anything else, she got cut off again- though not by Tomura this time.

 

It’s not just the wailing fire alarm, but a familiar, wanna stab want blood wanna get out get out get out get blood lick taste blood

 

Tomura turned around when Takako pressed her hand to her head, squeezing her eyes shut. He didn’t have to ask her what was wrong, because, in the next instant, Takako herself pranced down the hallway.

 

“I like being Takako!” Toga chirped. “The guards wave at me and say hello!”

 

Takako had always wondered what it’d be like to see herself from another pair of eyes, but she wished it didn’t have to be these circumstances. She needed a haircut, it seemed, because she and Toga kept brushing her bangs out of her eyes.

 

“Hi, Takako! I’m Takako, nice to see you again!” Toga ran up to Takako and shook her hand- specifically the one connected to the wound she’d made. Takako was sure because she could read it pouring off of her (I want blood want to see blood want more blood). “They moved Kurogiri to another cell! I’m on the lookout for some kind of activity log, but I haven’t found one yet.” Toga announced, stepping away from Takako.

 

“Keep looking.” Tomura didn’t turn towards Toga, but it was obvious who he was speaking to. “Dabi, scope out our escape route. I’ll be right behind you.” Tomura instructed. He looked bored- as if the hallway behind them wasn’t on fire and Takako wasn’t getting dizzy and coughing up blood again.

 

“On it!” Toga saluted, sprinting off in the blink of an eye. Dabi squinted at Tomura, less eager to leave.

 

“Convenient.” Dabi noted as he passed- his pace much slower. “You takin’ good care of her?” Dabi didn’t even speed up when Tomura growled and took a menacing step in his direction, completely unmoved.

 

When Dabi finally turned a corner, Tomura let out a quiet sigh and turned around to face Takako again.

 

“Let’s go,” Tomura tilted his head in the direction Dabi had gone, lifting one hand out for her to take.

 

“Tenko,” Takako whispered, wiping the blood from her mouth. She only stared at his outstretched hand, rooted in place. “Why do you want me to come with you?”

 

Tomura let out another sigh, and his hand fell back to his side. “We’ve gotta discuss this now?” He demanded. “C’mon. The smoke’s thickening.”

 

He was right. Takako was starting to wheeze.

 

She took a couple steps towards him but stopped again. “Why now? Why not later?”

 

Tomura reached out and got a fistful of her shirt to tug her forwards, away from the steadily advancing blue flames. “I don’t have time for this.”

 

“I want to know!” Takako insisted, digging in her heels again, refusing to move.

 

Tomura’s eyebrow twitched.

 

“We are standing in a hallway that is on fire while I am breaking out of a high security prison. I don’t have time for this.” Tomura repeated, walking away again.

 

Takako frowned, bit back a frustrated scream, and reversed his footsteps back to where they’d previously stood.

 

Make time!” Takako insisted- she was mad now. She didn’t like being ignored. “I’d like to know why I’m being kidnapped! Why are you dragging me around without asking me?”

 

“Because, Tacchan,” Tomura spoke very slowly, stared straight ahead, not at her. “If I ask you, you’ll say no.”

 

Okay, that was kind of unexpected.

 

“So if you don’t ask, you don’t have to think about it?” Takako asked next- much softer this time.

 

Think about it,” Tomura echoed, equally as quietly. “All I ever do is think.”

 

When Takako coughed into her sleeve, Tomura tightened his grip on her shirt and pulled her forwards, walking away from the smoke and flames.

 

“Tacchan,” he called to her, tugging her closer while they walked. “How am I supposed to chase what makes me happy?”

 

Takako almost stopped again, stunned.

 

“How?” He repeated, as if he wasn’t talking to anyone in particular. “I can’t ever catch up to it. I can’t be in the same place as it. I can’t even hold it in my hands, or else-”

 

He stopped talking. Takako knew what came next.

 

Or else it will crumble. Fall apart. Turn to dust. Decay.

 

“It’d be like uprooting a flower and planting it in the desert.” He grumbled. “It’s me. I’m the desert. Even if its death wasn’t by my hands, it will be my home, the people I work with, the people that surround me, the people that hate me,” he listed, the bit of his jaw she could see through his hair tense and clenched.

 

“If you’re a desert, it’s because you’ve never been watered.” Takako mumbled. Saying that alone was too cryptic to help the situation, so she added, “You scoff at love and happiness like they’re poisonous when really, without them, you’re just drying out.”

 

“Don’t tell me you think my skin is dry because no one ever loved me, Takako,” there was a bite to his voice, something on edge about it- Takako knew she’d hit a nerve.

 

“That’s not true.” Takako whispered- and he scoffed at her.

 

“Tell me, Takako,” and she didn’t like the way he said her name, like he was trying to be condescending to her. “What do I gain by chasing something that’s running away from me?” He demanded- and he stopped walking, spinning on his heel to face her, fist still clenched in her shirt.

 

Stunned, she raised a hand to steady herself and pressed her palm into his chest.

 

I want

 

Takako blinked, surprised at the sudden burst of desire, and Tomura looked down at the hand on his chest.

 

“How am I supposed to chase what makes me happy when I’m nothing but bad in return?”

 

I want

 

“Why should I chase what I want,” he asked, voice hollow and empty, scarlet eyes burning holes into her from behind that hand. “When what I want doesn’t want me in return?”

 

Takako frowned, and her other hand was rising before the jolt of pain could stop her, joining its twin on Tomura’s chest.

 

I want

 

I want

 

“This would be an easier question to answer if I knew what you wanted.” Takako murmured- and she doubted the fire alarm was enough to drown out her words. “You’d think, of all the people, that I’d know what you wanted.” She laughed gently, shaking her head.

 

Tomura was quiet for a moment, then, “Would you like to know?”

 

I want I want I want I want

 

Suddenly, another alarm blared to life, somehow overtaking the fire alarm.

 

All sections on high alert. Code black. Repeat, all sections…”

 

“Shit.” Was all Tomura had time to say before the ceiling moved.

 

Waitwaitwait, the ceiling?

 

Tomura jumped back, dragging Takako with him, but whatever was falling from the ceiling knocked his hand from her shirt when it crashed into his arm.

 

It was… a wall?

 

It was see-through, but it looked solid- probably bulletproof glass or something.

 

However, it meant Takako was stuck on the side of the steadily advancing fire, and her airflow was cut off. She was trapped.

 

If only she was any good at reversing inanimate objects back in time- then they wouldn’t have this problem. If she could see the person that had, say, pressed the button to drop the gate, she could run them- and subsequently the gate- back in time (like she did with Toga and her knives).

 

Unfortunately, she was, once again, useless.

 

“Tenko, just,” Takako pointed aggressively in the opposite direction, in case he couldn’t hear her. “Just go!”

 

With his eyes as wide as they were behind the fingers over his face, Takako should’ve known he was going to do something crazy.

 

He slammed both of his hands into the glass- and even though the wall was thick and the sound was muffled, Takako still stumbled back. The heat reminded her why she was not going in that direction, so she quickly corrected herself.

 

The glass cracked under the force of his blow- and Takako had known he was stronger than he looked, but damn! As soon as all five of his fingers landed on the glass, it began crumbling, spreading the cracks wider until they reached Takako’s side and started falling away, creating an opening in the wall.

 

But of course, this was a high security prison. Falling walls weren’t the only things they had to keep prisoners in.

 

“Over here!” A voice Takako knew wasn’t Dabi’s or Toga’s- or hers, for that matter, since Toga was in her body- echoed down the hallway behind her.

 

Takako was pretty sure Tomura heard them, because he pressed harder against the glass, leaning into it. When the shards cut into his palms, his only reaction was furrowed eyebrows, not even bothering to watch the blood drip down the glass.

 

“Tenko, stop-” Takako pleaded, pressing her hands to the glass. “You’re hurting yourself- and the guards aren’t after me. Why don’t you just leave me-

 

“Because!” Tomura shouted, eyes ablaze behind the mask of fingers.

 

I want

 

She only noticed that the glass had cut into her hands when her blood joined Tomura's in a race to the floor.

 

“Leave me behind, Tenko.” Takako pleaded, giving him a wobbly smile after a glance over her shoulder showed how close the guards were. “Leave me and chase what makes you happy.”

 

If there hadn't been a hand over his face, she would've seen the way his face twisted up in near agony before he told her the truth.

 

You’re what I’m chasing!

 

I want

 

I want I want I want

 

I want Takako

Chapter Text

Takako forgot to move when the glass finally crumbled under her hands, and she stumbled forwards when Tomura stuck his arm through and grabbed her by the shirt to tug her through the gap he’d created.

 

The guards that had caught sight of them coughed through the smoke and flames, and Takako flinched when they slammed into the broken glass, sending more shards scattering as they beat down the broken barrier.

 

Her cheek might be bleeding. She wasn’t sure. She wasn’t really focused on that.

 

When they ducked into a stairwell, Takako’s feet stopped moving on their own. Tomura immediately growled and yanked her forwards, but she barely reacted, looping him back in time to stand beside her again.

 

“I’m right here.” Takako finally managed through the repeat of I want Takako I want Takako that sounded so practiced and known that she didn’t know how she’d missed it in the first place.

 

“What?” Tomura demanded, too busy trying to evade the guards to listen to her.

 

“I said,” Takako repeated calmly. “If you’re chasing me, I’m right here.”

 

Tomura’s frantic movements slowed, and he turned to her with an obvious question in his gaze.

 

“Then come with me.” Tomura offered, his voice oddly low.

 

“Tenko, you’re not listening. I said,” Takako repeated, insistent. “I’m here. If you’re going to chase me, this is where I am.”

 

Here at UA. Here in this high security prison, here with Dr. Kido, here talking to these criminals.

 

Here, becoming a hero.

 

Something clicked in his eyes, and Takako didn’t like the way his gaze went cold.

 

“I see.” Was all he said before he let go of her shirt and turned around, taking the stairs at a steady pace.

 

Takako had to jog to catch up to him. “Wait,” she pleaded, grabbing a hold of his sleeve- because she’s still not sure if she has permission to touch him, not yet. “I don’t think you’re hearing me,”

 

Tomura ripped his hand away.

 

There was no fear in his eyes when he turned to look at her over his shoulder. There was only freezing emptiness, and it stopped her in her tracks.

 

“No, Tacchan,” he murmured. “I think I am.”

 

Takako could only stare up at him, fear that was nearly as cold as the look in his eyes settling heavy in her stomach.

 

“I don’t understand you sometimes.” She sighed, keeping pace with him while he scurried down more stairs. “First, you drag me around without asking because you’re afraid I’ll say no, then you tell me I make you happy and turn around and leave like nothing ever happened.”

 

Tomura’s only response was a short grunt. Takako wasn’t satisfied.

 

“Eh, Tenko?” She prodded, bumping into his side. “What’s the matter?”

 

Tomura pushed her away, but Takako wasn’t having any of that. She pushed him back, sending him veering off to one side.

 

“You’ve got my attention. Tell me what’s wrong.” Takako insisted when they stopped on the ground level. “Tell me why you’re afraid to chase me.”

 

Tomura sent her a scandalized look before he grabbed her shirt and directed her into a skinnier hallway. There was some kind of body scanner here, but Tomura didn’t even blink at the obstacle. He was jumping before Takako knew what was going on, and by the time she’d gone through the machine, Tomura had hauled himself up over it and jumped down on the other side.

 

“I’m not afraid.” He finally snapped after yanking her in another direction.

 

I don’t want to be afraid

 

Takako hummed. “Sure. Okay. Then why won’t you?” She asked. “Is it because I want to be a hero?” He shook his head, so she moved past that one. “Alright, then… am I just a waste of time? Some frivolous endeavor that you don’t have time for?”

 

“Why,” Tomura spoke slowly, deliberately, “Would I try and take you with me if you were a waste of time?”

 

“Good point.” Takako noted. “Not that, then.”

 

She was used to weaseling answers out of Tomura, whether he spoke or not. She’d get to the bottom of it eventually, given enough time.

 

“I don’t get it.” Takako sighed, grabbing his sleeve. “Why take me without my consent?”

 

“Why do you think, Takako?” Tomura hissed, clearly irritated while he tried to shake her off. “I was supposed to assume that you would go quietly with the nation’s most wanted villains? That you would just leave all your friends and family to drop off the radar with someone you barely know?”

 

“I spent a lot of time getting to know you, Tenko.” Takako corrected. Tomura merely tossed his head, still upset.

 

“Besides,” Tomura huffed, ignoring her. “What’s the point in chasing what I want when you… don’t.”

 

Because she was still holding his sleeve, Tomura stuttered to a halt around the same time Takako did.

 

“Why do you stop moving when things surprise you,” Tomura demanded under his breath, tugging her along. “That’s going to get you killed.”

 

Takako was running the past couple of minutes on loop in her head, trying to put the pieces together.

 

How am I supposed to chase what makes me happy?

 

Why chase what I want, when what I want doesn’t want me in return?

 

You’re what I’m chasing!

 

What’s the point when you… don’t.

 

“When I don’t?” Takako echoed, ignoring that comment. Tomura didn’t answer her vague question. “When I don’t what?

 

“I’m not discussing this with you right now.” Tomura informed her. “We are approximately five minutes away from being outside, where- if Dabi and Toga aren’t complete failures- Kurogiri will be waiting for us.”

 

I want Takako.

 

I want to get out

 

I want to get out with Takako

 

I want Takako to want me back

 

“Did you just-” Takako suddenly gasped, gaze snapping up to the hand over his face. “Did you just assume that I don’t want you?

 

Tomura tensed, called out, but didn’t answer her.

 

“Did I just come visit you for months on end, talk to you for hours and hours, and take care of you so you could assume that I don’t want you?” Takako repeated, tugging on his sleeve insistently, demanding answers.

 

Tomura grumbled something about internships and professionalism, and Takako smacked him in the shoulder.

 

“I washed your goddamn hair, Tenko.” She reminded him- and if she wasn’t wrong, that was the faintest flush of pink on the skin she could see underneath the hand. “You asked me if I’d take care of anyone else like I take care of you, and I couldn’t answer you. I thought you’d seen right through me.”

 

Though they were still running, Tomura calmly removed the hand from his face and deposited it in his sweatshirt pocket. “I try not to read too deep into things.”

 

“Well, you missed everything, apparently,” Takako grumbled- and she was embarrassed to be admitting this, but if Tomura had all the wrong information then she clearly had a job to do. “So look a little closer.”

 

She was not expecting Tomura to turn on his heel and cage her against the wall, his fingers curled into a shaking fist, the sharp line of his arm pressed into her collarbones. She scrabbled for purchase, one of her hands pressing back into the wall, the other gripping his sweatshirt.

 

Don’t get my hopes up.” He hissed while he hunched over to glare directly into her eyes in the boldest move she’d ever seen from him. “Don’t you dare lie to me.”

 

She had to crane her neck back to look at him- he was tall, and her height wasn’t helping make up for the difference.

 

“Lie to you, Tennchan?” Takako echoed, reaching up to brush his hair behind his ear. “Are you threatening me? You know I’m not afraid of you.” She reminded him, frowning when he shook his head to return his bangs to their original place, hiding his face from her again. “Don’t hide from me.” She pleaded, pushing his bangs back again.

 

He didn’t back down under her gaze, letting her see everything- the patches around his eyes, his crooked nose, the jagged, cracked line of his mouth.

 

Takako traced the scar that cut clean through his lips, holding his jaw with little fingers.

 

“I want you too, Tenko.” She breathed into their shared space. “Can’t believe you haven’t noticed.”

 

“Then come with me.” The tone of his voice made her think he was pleading, but Tomura didn’t plead.

 

“I can’t.” Takako sighed. “I have a life too, you know? That’s what I keep saying. If you really want me, you’ll chase me where I am.”

 

“I could turn that around on you,” Tomura grumbled, scarlet eyes dropping to the floor. “Say the same for you.”

 

“Yeah?” Takako laughed. “Well, unfortunately, you’re here too. Captive or not, you’re supposed to be getting help. Here.”

 

“Help.” Tomura scoffed under his breath. “Whatever. You just want to stay here. With your heroes, and your friends, and…” he mumbled something else, something inaudible. The speed at which he flushed red was impressive.

 

“With what? What else?” She demanded, pinching his cheek. The blush on his cheeks turned the scowl on his face into something more embarrassed looking than threatening.

 

“With… with the polka dot face brat. Fuckin’...” he trailed off, squinting at the ground. “Green bean.”

 

Broccoli bitch echoed in her head, and her startled gasp of “ Midoriya? ” garnered an irritated nod from Tomura. “You think I- with Midoriya?

 

“You saved his life, didn’t you?” Tomura burst out- and she flinched away from the sudden volume, shaking under his hold. “Nearly killed yourself keeping me from getting rid of the bastard, right? People don’t just do that, Takako,” he insisted, dragging his teeth over his lip in a gesture that looked more nervous than angry.

 

Heroes do that.” Takako caught his attention, dragging his eyes back to hers at how sharp her words cut through the air between them. “It’s called being selfless. That’s what makes a hero, isn’t it? When you put aside what you want for someone else?”

 

She couldn’t tell if Tomura was stunned or still angry, so she pushed forwards.

 

“Isn’t that why there’s a difference between a villain and a vigilante?” She continued. “Because the vigilante might be acting illegally, but it’s for the sake of other people?”

 

Tomura wouldn’t answer her.

 

“That’s what I’m asking you to do, isn’t it?” She pressed on, anxiety pulling at her heart. “To act selflessly for once? To do something for someone else instead of your own selfish desires?”

 

She was pressing buttons. Dangerous buttons.

 

Tomura leaned harder against her, his fist pressing into the wound on her chest. She gasped, but he didn’t move back. She deserved it.

 

“Why,” his words hissed through his teeth, eyes a dark maroon while they bored holes in her. “Why would you want something like me.

 

Takako only smiled up at him, her chest still throbbing with pain.

 

“Because I know you can do it.” She whispered, letting go of his jaw. When her hand slid past his neck to grip the collar of his shirt, she noticed him shudder in surprise. “Plus, I’ve had a lot of time to think about you, and I can’t seem to convince myself that I don’t.”

 

“That you don’t…” Tomura trailed off, the resistance in his body seeping out of him. Takako was grateful for the relief of pressure over her wound.

 

She answered instead by tugging him forwards by his collar and leaning in to meet him halfway.

 

“Want you,” was what she ended up whispering against cracked lips.

 

Initially, she figured he was pretty surprised. When he didn’t react- just stood there, still as a statue, red eyes wide- it made her second guess herself. The surprise must have worn off when she leaned away, because he chased her, following her backwards motion to push her back into the wall. He was suddenly pressing his mouth to hers in a frenzy- she tried to keep up, she did- and she wasn’t expecting the hand that wrapped around hers, tugging her fist free of his collar.

 

Slowly, in stark contrast to the fervor in which he was reciprocating her kisses, he laced his fingers into hers and pressed their entwined hands into the wall beside her head.

 

(Just in case, she kept Reversal on standby, waiting to lift the fifth finger off of her skin, should it ever fall. Thankfully, he pressed his index finger into the wall.)

 

Holding her hand as gently as he was, she knew Tomura’s hands were capable of more than just hate and destruction.

 

He could be as afraid of his hands as he wanted. Takako had always loved them.

 

This was… this was nice.

 

What with Tomura’s body warm against hers, his hand wrapped in hers, and the gentle way he kept returning her kisses, she felt… nice.

 

(She felt wanted, she felt loved-)

 

Add to that the insistent murmur of want Takako want Takako want to hold kiss love Takako pressing into her senses, she could almost forget that they were kinda in the process of escaping a high security prison.

 

Oh. Right, maybe they should-

 

A loud crash answered her sudden anxieties, and Tomura tore himself away from her- though he kept her pressed against the wall while his eyes searched the corridor for the source of the noise. He pulled the hand from his pocket and readjusted it over his face, settling back into Villain Tomura instead of Slightly Desperate And Touch Starved Tomura.

 

Takako felt something funny tingle in her hand, and when she tried to lift it from the wall to check on the sensation, it didn’t move.

 

“Um,” Takako spoke up, struggling with her stuck hand.

 

“Back away from the girl,” came from down the hall- and Tomura’s head whipped towards the noise.

 

They were coming from a direction that hid their entwined hands from sight, so Takako doubted the oncoming guards saw anything other than Tomura pinning her to a wall while standing dangerously close to her face, probably looking very menacing. She tried not to be disappointed when Tomura let go of her hand.

 

“Hiyashi, don’t panic,” another guard that she vaguely recognized called to her. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah,” Takako assured them. “He hasn’t hurt me.”

 

“Yet,” Tomura made sure the guards heard his addition, glaring at them from between the fingers of the hand over his face.

 

“If you will calmly step away from the girl,”

 

Tomura scoffed, cutting the approaching guard’s proposition off. “I’m taking her with me.”

 

“We will not allow you to leave with any hostages.” Another guard, this one bulkier, less human looking, informed him.

 

Tomura laughed again in what certainly sounded like a dismissal- only Takako heard the whispered, “Yeah. Hostage,” that he echoed back.

 

“Shigaraki, I’m going to ask you one more time. Step away from Hiyashi.”

 

Tomura stepped back, alright. But it wasn’t to leave Takako- no, he only leaned over to touch the column in the middle of the hallway, grinning widely while the structure crumbled under his five fingered touch. Cracks spiderwebbed out from where his finger pressed into the plaster (or was it stone? Takako couldn’t tell), and the column must have been load bearing, because the ceiling immediately caved, bringing down the bricks and pipes and wires of the floor above them.

 

The guards shouted and rushed forwards, Quirks ablaze, trying to clear the path to Tomura and his ‘hostage’, but something else crashed through the hallway, falling from the floor above them- something metal, something large- and suddenly Takako couldn’t hear their shouts anymore.

 

She doubted that they’d been crushed, they were too far away. Whatever had fallen through the ceiling- probably a security checkpoint- had blocked off the noise.

 

---

 

Tomura let out a sigh, crisis narrowly avoided, and turned back to Takako.

 

Takako.

 

Takako, who pushed and prodded at him until she got what she wanted, who never let up, who made him look at things differently, who showed him new ways to live life every time her smiling face lit up his world again.

 

Takako, who had kissed him, told him she wanted him-

 

“We’re going to revisit that,” he murmured, a promise in his voice while he brushed her hair from her face. “But we’re almost there.”

 

And when they got there- wherever there was- he was never going to stop kissing her.

 

It was her mistake, giving him permission like that. How was he going to be able to resist, knowing how soft her lips were under his, how cute she looked, relaxed and open for him (for him ), or how every time he pressed back into her warmth, she gasped like she hadn’t been expecting him to return-

 

“Right, about that-” Takako wiggled impatiently, tugging on her arm- and Tomura realized he’d missed something important.

 

“What happened?” He demanded, joining her in trying to separate her hand from the wall.

 

“A guard’s Quirk?” She guessed. “Dunno why they went for me. I guess I was the only one really touching the wall.”

 

“Hold still,” Tomura instructed, leaning over her again.

 

(He was not standing this close just because he could. It was definitely so that he could see her hand better.)

 

Carefully, he positioned all five of his fingers around her hand, ready to crumble the wall (and hopefully only the wall) away from her hand.

 

He nearly fucked up big time and touched her instead, because Takako went and pushed him away- hard, damn it, he didn’t know she could push that hard.

 

“Tenko- Tenko - watch out-” He registered her shouting at him, and he barely had time to backpedal before more of the ceiling caved in, bricks crashing down, kicking up dust where they landed precariously close to Takako’s feet.

 

Where he had just stood.

 

He looked up at the ceiling, searching, and frowned.

 

Sometimes when he went overboard with his Quirk, it continued to eat away at whatever he’d touched long after his fingers had left it. If he wasn’t completely in control of himself, his Quirk would take on a mind of his own and spread spread spread spread-

 

Like it was doing now, arcing over the ceiling and probably eating away at the structures underneath it.

 

He stepped towards Takako again, ready to resume his work, but got nicked in the temple by something- he didn’t have time to search the offending object out, he was kind of busy pressing his palm to his head and grimacing at the blood that came back with it.

 

He didn’t have time to take another step before the cracks above him finally connected, debris raining down over his head and Takako’s. It spilled a dangerous mix of live wires, bricks, and glass, and it inhibited his vision enough that he didn’t trust himself to lunge forwards to protect Takako and not end up disintegrating her too.

 

Wow. That would be his life- finally (kinda) confessing to his childhood friend (crush?) and finding out she returned those feelings, only to kill her with his own hands. He was going to do his best not to fuck this up.

 

The ceiling crackled above him, and Tomura looked up just in time to see a nice chunk of cement headed straight for him. He flinched back, raising his hand to hopefully disintegrate the thing before it hit him, but it never came.

 

When he opened his eyes in surprise, he found two things. One good, one bad.

 

Good: There was a very familiar portal open above his head, which meant Kurogiri was nearby. A quick glance to the open end of the hallway confirmed this, revealing the smoky man beside Dabi, Takako (so, probably Toga), and Twice.

 

Bad: Through the clearing dust, he could see Takako- and judging by the way she was slumped against the wall, something had hit her in the head.

 

Shit.

 

“Why didn’t you-” Tomura’s complaint cut off into a frustrated growl while he made his way over to Takako, wading through plaster dust and pieces of wall and floor. “Goddammit.” He muttered, peeling Takako’s hand from the crumbling wall.

 

There was a thick stream of blood running down the side of her face, and her lip had a nasty gash across it.

 

“I didn’t think she was important,” Kurogiri answered the question Tomura hadn’t asked.

 

“That was your first mistake,” Dabi grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. When Kurogiri turned a look on Dabi, the burner sighed dramatically. “Yeah, I thought the heart eyes from her were one-sided, but, as it turns out, Dry Bones has a heart buried in him. Somewhere.”

 

“Oh, boss!” Twice exclaimed, gleeful. “Is that your girlfriend? Not that I care, or anything,” he added thoughtfully. “But I really want to know!” Came the contradictory add-on shortly afterwards.

 

Tomura did not want an audience for this dilemma.

 

His choices were clear. He could either escape now while things were quiet and Kurogiri was here, or spend precious moments worrying about Takako and end up dragging what was now definitely dead weight along with him.

 

“Tennchan,”

 

His head spun towards the noise before he could finish calculating. Takako groaned, holding her head in one hand while she pushed herself into a sitting position.

 

“Something’s not… right.” Takako sounded hesitant, and he didn’t like the way her mouth twisted up when she noticed the blood on her hand. “Something’s wrong.”

Chapter Text

The ceiling rumbled menacingly, and Takako groaned along with it while she tried to push herself onto her feet.

 

Tomura began to step forwards, reaching for her to help her up, but Takako scrambled away, eyes wide behind her dirty glasses.

 

Was that… fear?

 

“Tenko,” Takako’s voice held a warning- and definitely fear, she was definitely afraid. “Something is wrong. You need to… to go,” she insisted.

 

Go?

 

Leave Takako? After all that she’s… after all that he’s…

 

“Go where?” Tomura demanded, kneeling next to her.

 

Kurogiri hauled out a long sigh, and Dabi patted him on the shoulder. “I know.” Dabi agreed. “I know.”

 

Tomura grit his teeth, immediately irritated, and he turned a glare over his shoulder. “Do we have an exit strategy?”

 

“So far, it was to warp back to where we were operating out of before,” Dabi spoke up. “Since Kurogiri doesn’t know exactly where we are right now.”

 

“Are you bringing the girl?” Kurogiri rumbled out, clearly annoyed.

 

“Tenko, I think-”

 

“Yes.” Tomura spoke up over Takako’s weak complaints.

 

“For any other reason than because she took care of you for the last couple months?” Kurogiri pressed on.

 

If anyone but Kurogiri had asked that of him, they’d be a pile of dust as soon as he could get his hands on them.

 

Because it was Kurogiri, he knew the comment wasn’t meant to be condescending. It wasn't aimed in a malicious way at Tomura's judgment, nor was it aimed at Takako's worth.

 

“Yes.” Tomura replied- and he couldn't help but dig his fingernails into his neck. “We don't have time to be arguing.” He added, mostly to get his coworkers off his back, but also to aim a pointed look at Takako.

 

Though… Now that he'd looked back over at her… Takako didn't look so good. She was breathing hard and propped up on the wall in a precariously upright position, still looking like something had spooked her.

 

While Twice and Toga buzzed excitedly in the background, Tomura nearly missed what Takako started mumbling.

 

“Coming, they're coming, they're coming, they're coming!”

 

It only occurred to him who exactly might be coming when the heavy beat of footsteps registered in his ears.

 

“Dabi, keep them back. Twice, back Dabi up.” Tomura handed out instructions- maybe scratched a little harder.

 

With all five fingers free, the scratch was so satisfying.

 

He stood precariously in between kneeling and standing since Takako didn't seem to want him to help her up, but he wasn't leaving without her.

 

As much as Kurogiri doubted his motives, Tomura had a plan. Takako wasn't much use now , what with the state she was in, but if he could get her out of here… she could be incredibly useful behind the scenes. Heart's Desire could easily root out a spy in their midst- and if honed properly, it could probably even check someone's loyalties.

 

It would be perfect, really. He wouldn't have to watch Takako risk her life out on the field, and she wouldn't even have to know she was working for him in the first place.

 

And, for once, he could just… be with her.

 

He could see her whenever he wanted (the answer was all the time), and no one would stop him from touching her. No guards worrying about him killing her, no doctors watching him with interest whenever they interacted, just… Takako.

 

Besides convincing Takako to stay with him, the hardest part was going to be lying low after they got out.

 

Forget the heroes and detectives that would come after him for running off with a UA student. Those goddamn students were going to come after him.

 

Honestly, they were worse than the professionals.

 

(He wondered if Deku would come after her. He'd kill him before he could blink if he did.)

 

Was it too much to ask to have Takako for himself? Would that really be too much?

 

Could he not just have this one, selfish thing?

 

“That’s what makes a hero, isn’t it? When you put aside what you want for someone else?”

 

Well, good thing he was a villain, because he'd never acted selflessly a day in his life. He didn't need to. He'd never had to.

 

He was going to take Takako with him. Selfish or not, that was what he was going to do.

 

“Toga, have you stabbed anybody in that disguise yet?” Tomura spoke up.

 

Toga paused in her tracks, hand at her waist while she watched Twice and multiple Dabis run around keeping the approaching guards at bay. “...No. Not yet.” She answered hesitantly, as if she’d get in trouble for some aspect of the statement.

 

“Good. Don’t.” Tomura commanded- ignoring the crestfallen look on Toga (who still looked like Takako)’s face. “Kurogiri, are you good to go?”

 

“As soon as we step outside.” Kurogiri answered.

 

Tomura paused, raising an eyebrow. “Not right here?” He clarified- ignoring the splat of noise one of Dabi’s clones made when they dissipated, ripped apart by some guard’s Quirk.

 

Kurogiri looked annoyed. “Unfortunately, the personnel of this institution includes an individual whose Quirk nullifies any sort of transportation that is not specifically through the main gates.” He explained- and now Tomura knew the warp gate was annoyed, because the angrier Kurogiri got, the more polite his diction became. “Unless we root out and eliminate this individual, my warp gates are ineffective until we leave the premises.”

 

Tomura scratched a little harder under his chin. “Convenient.” He muttered. “They really went to every length to keep us pinned down.”

 

“Tenko,” Takako’s voice drew him back to her - and something about the look in her eyes made him nervous. “Don’t scratch. You’ll hurt yourself.”

 

Caught, he lowered his hand from his neck, digging his nails into his palm instead. Satisfied, Takako leaned her head back against the wall behind her- just in time for something to go whizzing past Tomura’s face.

 

Something- something, he couldn’t really identify it, and in a world with Quirks like these, the projectile could’ve been anything- hit the wall Takako leaned against.

 

Tomura would’ve ignored this, would’ve let Dabi and Twice handle it, if the wall hadn’t started crumbling, cracks racing across the surface from the point at which it had been pierced.

 

He couldn’t tell if it was his Quirk still spreading or if the wall was just so weakened by his earlier destruction that it just gave up upon being further disturbed. Either way, it didn’t take long for it to collapse completely.

 

Honestly, he’d destroyed a lot of buildings. He’d been in them, outside of them, on top of them- you name it, he’d had the viewpoint of watching many a structure collapse.

 

He’d never seen anything quite like this before.

 

As if the trauma of the unidentified projectile was the final piece of the puzzle, a key that unlocked the bonus round, the cracks in the ceiling above them connected, reaching out towards each other as if they were long lost lovers reconnecting after years of separation.

 

(Ignore that metaphor. His head was still wrapped up in the press of her lips against his.)

 

Nothing threatened his immediate demise (thank god), but the trajectory of falling dust made it clear that his exit was about to be blocked if he didn’t get a move on. However, the source of the failing ceiling laid rooted in the crumbling of the wall Takako leaned against, which opened up the ceiling above her (probably concussed) form.

 

Yes, of course he rushed forwards to try and drag Takako out from under the threat, but stupid stupid Takako reversed his trajectory just enough that he landed back in his original spot, away from the danger on either end. He was getting really tired of this.

 

Thankfully, Kurogiri was just as involved in the dilemma as Tomura was, so it was a relief to see purple warp gates opening up under the crumbling ceiling, ready to catch the debris when it fell.

 

(Apparently the portals still worked, they just couldn’t send things outside. Damn.)

 

When the ceiling finally gave way- mere seconds after Tomura landed back in the middle of the chaos from where he’d first pushed off- the sheer amount of dust that accompanied the collapse obscured his vision for precious seconds.

 

He stepped forwards again, stubbornly searching for Takako in the haze, certain that Kurogiri’s portals had done their job.

 

“Tenko, don’t-” he heard her warn, “I told you,”

 

He squinted, trying to see through the dust.

 

(It was probably a combination of plaster bits and actual dust built up over the years, maybe some steam from broken pipes mixed in... Tomura knew too much about destroying buildings).

 

When the greyish haze finally cleared enough that he could catch sight of Takako, he stopped dead in his tracks.

 

“Something’s wrong.” She insisted, not for the first time. He could finally see why.

 

She kept… shuddering. It was as if she’d blink out of existence- for a period so short that he hadn’t noticed it until he’d really stopped and paid attention- duplicate, and then merge into one again.

 

Clearly, her Quirk was on the fritz.

 

“I’m not sure what will happen if you touch me,” she admitted- and now that he really listened, he voice sounded weird too. He’d noticed that before, that something was off about her tone, but he hadn’t realized it was because it would occasionally double in the middle of a sentence. “And I’ve already gotten in your way. I know you said I make you happy, but… as someone who can read your desires, I think... “

 

Takako trailed off as he got close enough for her to finally see. She looked away, unable to face him as she finished her sentence.

 

“I think you’d be happier being free.” She said it so quietly he almost missed it. “Being with me comes at the cost of your freedom- even if you take me with you.”

 

Tomura fought the urge to tear into the skin of his neck.

 

She might be right, but who was she to tell him what he wanted? He was Shigaraki fucking Tomura, the nation’s most wanted criminal. If he wanted to leave with her and be under constant scrutiny, that was his decision, dammit!

 

He didn’t get the chance to get mad at her, because a concerned call of his name had Tomura turning back to face Kurogiri.

 

“What… is this?” The misty figure asked, raising a metaphorical eyebrow at the scene in front of him.

 

Tomura looked up to see what he was so worried about, and his jaw dropped without his permission. If not for the hand over his face, he'd look like a gaping fool.

 

The debris from the ceiling- large blocks of steel and wood and cement that would’ve blocked his exit- just… hung in the air.

 

Almost like they were… suspended in time.

 

Slowly, Tomura turned back to Takako.

 

“Something isn’t right.” She repeated. “My Quirk doesn’t work on inanimate objects. I don’t know what to tell you.” She insisted, still shuddering in and out of existence at a rapid fire pace.

 

Kurogiri closed his warp gates, pretty certain they weren’t necessary anymore, and Tomura took a step towards Takako.

 

That turned out to be a mistake- though thankfully, only a small one.

 

The piece of debris he nudged while repeating his trek towards her- for probably the fourth time now- fell out of whatever hold it was in and clattered to the floor. He hissed when it bounced off of his shoe- thank god it was a small brick, or else he’d have broken toes to worry about.

 

“Oh,” Kurogiri noted as pieces nearby were also disturbed and consequently released from their hold. “We should take great caution to-”

 

It was at that precise moment that a large gust of wind rushed down the battered corridor.

 

He’d never know if somebody had a wind Quirk, or if a side effect of somebody’s Quirk disturbed the air enough to send that gust in their direction, or if Dabi’s flames had exploded from him so suddenly that the surrounding air had left in a rush. He’d never know what caused it.

 

For the rest of his life, the only information he would have of that moment would consist entirely of one image.

 

Takako, tired and bleeding, sitting in the remains of a decayed wall, looking up at him through lenses smudged with dirt and blood.

 

As the corridor collapsed behind him, all he would remember would be that one image of Takako, until- piece by piece, brick by brick- she disappeared completely under the falling rubble.

 

---

 

It was the lights that tipped her off

 

Usually a fluorescent white, they glowed an odd green

 

But nothing else was green

 

Tomura wasn't green

 

Tomura was soft blue and bright red and shone like an angel

 

Ethereal effervescent enraptured angelic

 

If the lights hadn't been a big enough tip, the odd chanting somewhere

 

Underneath unconscious subconsciously

 

For a moment it rose up from beneath her, reverberated through her, rattled her eardrums and all she could say was

 

They're coming they're coming they're coming they're coming

 

She felt weird

 

She felt wrong

 

Like she was here and there and not here but there and now but then and later

 

She felt wrong but she knew something was coming

 

Something more something big something

 

Tomura

 

Tomura Tomura Tomura

 

Tenko

 

He shone above her, red gray blue white, smudges of shadow interrupting his glow

 

Want to get out want to get out want to get out

 

Poor Tenko, pinned down like a butterfly

 

His pretty blue wings crushed by

 

Takako

 

By Takako

 

Takako the hero

 

Takako the student

 

Takako with no control over her own Quirk

 

Takako, just a dull brown

 

In the face of Tenko, beautiful blue Tenko

 

Tenko, who shouldn't be here in the dirt

 

Not with Takako

 

He belonged in the sky

 

Clear, blue skies

 

“Go, Tenko,”

 

She watched his wings flutter, excited as she lifted her hold on him, ready to fly again.

 

Quickly, go, before the door closes, before the net tangles and trips and ensnares, before the sky falls and traps you beneath it, go

 

She made sure he was out of the way of the falling sky

 

Pressed him back in time

 

Stalled him

 

Stalled time

 

She did what she could to make sure his path was clear

 

So Tenko and his beautiful blue could fly without her

 

It was when the lights dimmed that she knew it was over

 

When the lights faded she knew her time was up

 

Darkened disappeared blocked out blacked out

 

Time’s up

 

---

 

It was up to Tomura.

 

Move on and save himself, or stay here and save Takako.

 

He didn't have time to think about it.

 

His body moved without him.

 

The fact that he had to strain to move the brick and metal and debris with his bare hands made him… nervous. When he couldn't budge one piece and had to crumble it instead, he noticed he was hyperventilating.

 

His mind was blank, running one thing on repeat.

 

Save Takako

 

It only occurred to him after he caught sight of little fingers in the rubble, what the mantra in his head meant.

 

Tomura wanted to save Takako.

 

Furthermore, Tomura wanted to protect Takako.

 

He wanted to keep her from harm, keep her from ever needing to be saved ever again.

 

Tomura was a villain.

 

Villains don't… save people.

 

What was he… doing?

 

“It's called being selfless. That's what makes a hero, isn't it?”

 

Tomura was a villain. Villains don't save people.

 

“Isn't that what I’m asking you to do? To act selflessly for once? To do something for someone else instead of your own selfish desires?”

 

He shook his head, pressing five fingers into the next brick in the way.

 

He was a villain. The nation's most wanted villain.

 

He was doing this for him. He wanted Takako- wanted her for himself. He wasn't saving her for anything or anyone but himself- not for fame, not to make up for his crimes, not for her parents, not for her friends, definitely not for Midoriya-

 

“If you really want me, you’ll chase me where I am.”

 

He wanted Takako.

 

If he really wanted her…

 

If he really wanted her, if he really cared, he'd have to think about what Takako wanted too.

 

“That’s what I’m asking you to do, isn’t it? To act selflessly for once?”

 

What Takako wanted…

 

She wanted to be a hero, right?

 

Automatically, his instincts (honed by years of Sensei’s wisdom) shied away from that word.

 

But Tomura wasn't a blind follower. He could think for himself.

 

He knew that Takako didn't want to be just any hero. Takako knew what was wrong with society, she wasn't following hero propaganda on a blind quest to save people, nor was she saving people for the fame and money.

 

And- unlike Midoriya, it seemed- Takako wasn't perfect.

 

Takako was beautifully flawed. Though optimistic and friendly, she had a temper that rivaled his (given the right flame to her fuse), and hid a malicious manipulative streak that popped up at the strangest of times.

 

Individually, they each held heroes in a different light, but Takako wanted the same thing he did: to change the way society viewed heroes.

 

If he stayed here… if he chased Takako where she was instead of dragging her along with him… if, for once, he considered what she wanted instead of running on ego…

 

Would he still be able to achieve his goals?

 

Selflessness and selfishness… One For All and All For One…

 

Would Sensei approve?

 

That was a question he hadn't asked himself in a while, since he was operating independently as All For One’s successor and whatnot.

 

With his ultimate end goal, to tear down society and its reliance on heroes to protect the weaker links… Would staying with Takako achieve that? Would he still be able to reach that end if he endured years of doctors and lawyers and regular people sneering and cowering away from him?

 

What drew him to Takako? What made him chase after her like he did?

 

What made his heart stutter in his chest when he finally brushed the debris away from her face?

 

“Because I know you can do it.”

 

Tomura only knew how to destroy.

 

How did Takako know? How did she know for sure that these hands could build? That these hands could save?

 

That these hands- two fingers- would reach down to press against her carotid, would check for a pulse, would-

 

“Takako?”

 

Her name broke weakly from his lips, his hands shaking where they laid against her neck. Now that she was thoroughly unconscious, her blitzing Quirk seemed to have finally given out.

 

“...Tacchan?” He tried again, shaking her gently as he brushed away the last of the debris that pinned her. “Tacchan, answer me,”

 

It wasn’t just his hands that shook. His voice trembled too, and, pitched up in fear like it was, he heard Tenko’s voice in his ears.

 

“Tacchan… What would you do if I didn’t become a hero? If I became… you know… a villain?”

 

Takako’s voice echoed after it, from that particular memory.

 

“Well, I’d have to save you, wouldn’t I? That’s what heroes do!”

 

Stupid, stupid Takako had been prepared to save him from the start.

 

And Tomura? Well, he…

 

He was going to save Takako.

 

Villain or hero, selfish or selfless, he didn’t care.

 

He was going to save Takako.

 

---

 

Dr. Kido was not a woman who panicked.

 

Today, Dr. Kido was very very close to panicking.

 

On top of her patients breaking out, their guards all dead or missing, and the entire facility going into lockdown, Hiyashi was in the middle of all of this somewhere.

 

Hiyashi- her intern, her responsibility, her Hiyashi- was somewhere in the midst of villains and security guards while part of the building was on fire and the other part was collapsing.

 

She might not have a Quirk suitable for the front lines of a skirmish like these, but that wasn’t stopping her from patrolling the lines of security guards and policemen alike. Anyone that tried to say something about her presence shut right up after they came face to face with Dr. Kido’s determined glare.

 

Through the lines of personnel, she caught a glimpse of brown hair and glasses.

 

With her hopes sufficiently raised, she pushed through the crowd- give her a break, she was barely over five feet tall, she couldn’t see above this group of people- and only stopped behind the protective wall of front line soldiers.

 

(Soldiers. She didn’t like the word. Not in the context of her patients.)

 

As soon as she saw the look on Takako’s face, she figured that must be Toga.

 

Not to mention, Shigaraki was nowhere to be seen. She doubted Shigaraki would let Takako out of his sights in a situation like this, what with how protective of her he was within the safety of his cell.

 

She wondered where Shigaraki was.

 

There was a partially collapsed section of the building behind the main mayhem, blocking her view of what was happening in the hallway beyond.

 

Dabi was the first to go down. He got too cocky, and the guards dispersed just enough of his body doubles at once to be able to differentiate between the fakes and the real thing. He went down shouting and cursing, flames sputtering in his hands as soon as they managed to douse him with the flame retardant substance that had been keeping him under control for the past couple of months.

 

Twice was no easy target, but enough attacks from the crowd of guards surrounding him soon overwhelmed him. He was carted away not long after Dabi was, alternating between stoic silence and oddly comical threats as security relocated him. The nearest institution was currently on standby, waiting for the arrival of any recaptured criminals.

 

Toga almost tricked them. Playing off the fact that she still looked like Takako, she pleaded with security to just let her go home, please, she was so scared- and the crowd of security almost fell for it. They ushered her into a protective circle, turning their attention back to Kurogiri, and promised her she’d be out of this mess soon.

 

Luckily, Dr. Kido caught the eye of one of Toga’s old guards and summoned them to her side as she marched through the crowd. The guard had been reassigned after their mistake with Shigaraki and Hiyashi, and therefore wasn’t affected by Toga’s breakout (the other guards on duty were currently in critical condition) but could also restrain Toga if need be. She walked herself right up to the image of Takako, the guard by her side, and smiled at the guards surrounding her.

 

It only took a couple discerning questions to expose Toga as a fake, and she was dragged away kicking and screaming, hissing curses at Dr. Kido as the guards restrained her.

 

(Dr. Kido was really craving some salmon right now, and Takako would have at least been able to pick up her hunger from this distance)

 

Kurogiri wouldn’t let anyone (or anything) close to him, opening portals left and right while he played keep-away. But it was only a matter of time before they overwhelmed him- what with the seemingly never-ending sea of security personnel inhibiting his escape, slowly closing in on him- and he kept quiet when the guards finally restrained him.

 

All that was left was Shigaraki. (And Takako, but she didn’t have to be restrained. At least, Dr. Kido didn’t think she would have to be.)

 

The guards were a sea of concerned murmurs, discussing whether or not to bust down the collapsed portion and risk bringing more down, or wait for Shigaraki to make his own exit and continue the chase elsewhere. The murmurs rose to a concerning pitch, confusion and apprehension filling the crowd as the piles of brick and stone crumbled in front of them.

 

Shigaraki must be on the other side.

 

The guards waited. Their backup waited.

 

Dr. Kido waited.

 

When the first flash of tangled blue made it through the dust, the guards all readied their Quirks, preparing to take down a potentially violent villain.

 

Most of them had experienced Shigaraki’s rage in the first months he’d been here. It had taken a team of ten well-trained guards to hold him down so his wounds from the original fight could be treated.

 

Nobody was expecting what happened next.

 

Nobody could have foreseen Shigaraki Tomura coming out of the dust with Hiyashi Takako in his arms.

 

He walked out slowly, an obvious surrender, and his bloodshot eyes urgently scanned the crowd until they landed on Dr. Kido.

 

Dr. Kido was not a woman who panicked.

 

But when Shigaraki Tomura knelt in front of her, red eyes shining- with tears??

 

When Shigaraki Tomura spoke to her, when Shigaraki Tomura pleaded with her,

 

If there was ever a time that Dr. Kido panicked, it was after she finally registered what Shigaraki said to her.


Please,” was what came out from underneath the hand that obscured his face. “She’s not breathing.”

Chapter Text

Things around the house had been… weird, lately. Though Takako just started school, she wasn’t a baby. She knew something had changed.

 

Her dad had been coming home later at night than usual. It wasn’t that she wasn’t used to the late nights- she knew that he had important hero work to do, and that was fine with her- it was just that these days when he got home… it was like he wasn’t even there.

 

Not to mention, he’d been kind of angry, lately. Takako knew it was her fault, since he only got mad when she bothered him or asked the wrong question, but she didn’t know how to stop. She didn’t know what to stop doing, what to stop asking, when to stop bothering him.

 

But she couldn’t not bother him- especially now that he’d come home from hero work and just go to sleep.

 

She was hungry! Apples and juice boxes only did so much, and she even if she climbed up to the higher shelves in the fridge to get stuff for sandwiches, she wasn’t allowed to use the knives. Any condiments required something to spread them with, and she liked the crusts cut off of her sandwich.

 

At this point, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t allowed to use the knives- he wasn’t home enough to stop her from using them anyways. So, onto the counter she climbed, her ingredients all set up in front of her.

 

The knife block had a bunch of different kinds of knives in it. One was round on the end, one was really small, and one was really big.

 

She didn’t need a big knife for her sandwich, but she liked to pull it out and look at the blade anyways. If she held it right, she could see herself in one side. The other side had writing in it.

 

Kuromu and Miku

May you have happiness forever

 

Hmm. Well, she knew who Kuromu was. That was her dad’s first name. Who was Miku? If they were supposed to be happy together forever…

 

Takako looked around the empty kitchen, just in case.

 

Nope. Empty.

 

Whatever. She had a sandwich to make.

 

It was long after she finished her sandwich and cleaned up the evidence of her knife usage that the sound of footsteps in the front hall told her that her dad was home. She jumped up from where she’d been coloring, excited to tell him about her day, and ran to the living room.

 

“Daddy! Daddy, you’re home!” She cried as she skidded around the corner, her socked feet slipping on the hardwood.

 

She had a lot to tell him. Today at school, she had made plenty of new friends. One of them wanted her to come over to play, and she needed to ask him first.

 

The TV was on, images flickering on the screen to light up the room in bursts. She could see the silhouette of her dad sitting in his favorite chair, so she ran right up to him, ready to welcome him back.

 

Years later, she still didn’t like to think about it.

 

What she saw in that chair, the sight that met her young eyes… she could easily classify it as her worst nightmare.

 

Someone she loved, someone that had taken care of her, someone that she’d waited for so long… very very dead, very obviously dead. As young as she was, having never experienced death, she knew exactly what was happening as soon as she saw it.

 

Takako screamed, startled first, terrified second.

 

All she could do was run, little legs propelling her forwards, socks sliding on the slippery floors.

 

She needed to get to the telephone- the window, the door, anything - so she could call for help.

 

But the hallway in front of her stretched on forever, her steps weren’t taking her anywhere, and everything was really dark. Takako didn’t really like the dark, not without a nightlight, and the shadows seemed to creep towards her like they were living.

 

With everything getting increasingly spookier, her home distorted in a way she knew was wrong, Takako started crying. Something was wrong, obviously, but she didn’t know what to do to fix it.

 

And the person she’d go to for help was-

 

Was-

 

“Takako,”

 

Takako turned towards the call of her name with hope swelling in her chest. Her shoulders shook while she cried, and her sleeves were quickly getting gross from the number of times she’d wiped her face with them.

 

“Dad?” She called in return, searching the darkness for the familiar form of her father.

 

If the first nightmare wasn’t enough, the image of her very dead looking father walking out of the shadows would be.

 

Takako screamed, shaken, and turned back around, running again.

 

Just like before, the hallway just kept getting longer, and her steps seemed slower and slower, the call of her name getting louder and louder behind her.

 

She could only scream in terror, caught in between sobbing and shouting while her legs refused to carry her any farther away from the horror behind her.

 

That is, until something collided with her side.

 

Takako blinked, gasping, and the images disappeared.

 

Instead of out in the hallway- where she was sure she had run to- she was curled up on the ground at her father’s feet, still in the living room.

 

She clapped her hands over her eyes, refusing to look at the disaster in her dad’s easy chair. Her tears leaked out through her fingers, and her sobs echoed in the quiet house.

 

“Are you done?” Something nudged her again, and when she peered through her fingers, she found the sensation was coming from a shoe. Which was connected to a leg. Which was connected to-

 

“Daddy!” Takako shouted, still sobbing. She latched onto his (very alive) leg, reveling in his warmth- his very alive, very living warmth.

 

She didn’t see her father flinch away from the sound, nor did she feel him shudder when she grabbed his leg.

 

“You’re so loud.” Came grumbled from above her, and suddenly, she was being shaken off. “It’s late. Go to bed.”

 

Takako slid bonelessly onto the ground, still shaken. “Daddy, I thought- I thought I saw-”

 

“I know what you saw. It wasn’t real. Just go to bed.”

 

Takako sighed, wiping the tears from her eyes, and stood up.

 

The combination of the altitude change and the remnants of remembering what had happened had her head spinning, and when her stomach flipped- still aching from whatever had hit her earlier- all she could do was lean over and vomit.

 

Either her father didn’t hear it, or he ignored her.

 

Later, after she’d trudged back to her room and gotten ready for bed, Takako’s stomach growled.

 

Empty.

 

She sighed and rolled over, hoping that sleep would take the edge off.

 

---

 

On the playground, Takako tended to bounce between friend groups. As much as she liked playing heroes, that one group of kids played it every day, and she was tired of it.

 

Today she settled with a group of girls playing princesses. They were teaching Takako how to braid hair when the group of hero kids started making a ruckus over by the jungle gym.

 

“What’s going on?” Takako wondered, leaning over to see better.

 

“Dunno.” One girl hummed, unconcerned. “Those guys get up to trouble a lot. They’re always looking for a fight.”

 

“I used to play with them, but they wouldn’t let me play my way. I wanted to be called Sparkle Princess, and they wouldn’t do it.” Another girl complained, deftly turning pieces of hair in her hands into a seamless braid.

 

Takako shrugged, dismissing the group. She leaned in to watch the explanation, trying to commit the braiding process to memory, but the noise of the kids nearby grew to a fever pitch and caught her attention again.

 

“Seriously,” someone grumbled. “They could at least keep it down.”

 

“Wait, wait, wait,” Takako squinted, looking closer. “Is that- is that a kid? Are they-”

 

She was on her feet before anyone could stop her, and though the girls called after her, she didn’t stop in stomping over to the group of kids.

 

Closer now, she could see that they were crowded around something- someone, oh, she was about to get in a fight, she could feel it in her bones-

 

As she approached, they pressed into the one pinned on the ground, and a pained grunt told her that blows had landed. The one on the ground kicked out- she couldn’t tell if it was in retribution or reaction- and caught one of the smaller girls in the face.

 

The crowd’s murmurings rose in pitch, offense rising among them, and Takako caught wind of the phrase, “You’ll pay for that, villain.

 

Villain?

 

Through the crowd, she could see the kid curled up on the ground. He looked scared, and the other kids had his wrists pinned down, so he couldn’t protect himself.

 

Takako’s blood boiled, and the screech of “Hey!” that came out of her couldn’t have been stopped. “That’s not very hero-like!”

 

Everything stopped.

 

The other kids turned to look at her, surprise in their expressions.

 

“You rescued your sidekick, didn’t you?” Takako demanded, crossing her arms over her chest to hide how her hands shook now that she was the center of attention. She’d played with this group before. She knew how the game went. “You won already. A hero that hits someone when they're down is no hero at all! Heroes are supposed to save people!” She insisted.

 

“He hurt her! He deserves to be punished!” The kid in the center of it all insisted, gesturing first to the kid on the ground, then to the girl that had been kicked.

 

She was crying and holding her mouth, very upset over her split lip. Some of the other kids were rubbing her back and promising her that it would be okay.

 

The kid on the ground was bleeding too. Why wasn’t anyone telling him it was going to be okay?

 

Real heroes didn’t discriminate, and they certainly didn’t pretend to be a hero while it was convenient.

 

“Heroes save people.” Takako repeated.

 

For a moment, she and the ringleader had a staredown, each of them refusing to back down.

 

Then, as if finally registering what her words meant, the leader of the group’s gaze flicked back down to the kid that was being held down.

 

“C’mon guys.” He sighed. “Let the police take this villain to jail. We have more villains to defeat.”

 

The crowd of them trundled off, leaving the kid alone… for now.

 

Satisfied, Takako made sure the kid on the ground was okay before leaving with the rest of the kids, returning to her group from before.

 

“You’re really brave, Tacchan.” One of the girls noted, something like awe in her voice.

 

Takako just shrugged.

 

The kid from before, the one they’d called a villain, slipped from Takako’s mind. She was busy playing and learning and growing, and, until she wanted to play heroes again, she’d pretty much forgotten about him.

 

Of course, the next time she wanted to play heroes just had to be the time that they went after that kid from before. So she was stuck watching kids pretend to be heroes just so they could beat up some kid. Sure, roleplaying and storytelling were great and all, but when it revolved around some kid channeling his unresolved aggression towards whatever punching bag he could find, Takako was… less than interested.

 

Though, she was surprised that they chose the same kid.

 

Curious, she watched on. This kid… what had he done to deserve this? Did he just… let them walk all over him?

 

After further inspection, she found the answer was yes, he did let them walk all over him.

 

Although… when she’d been peeking over one of the taller kids’ shoulders, she’d met his eyes.

 

He glared at her. Stared her down like she was the worst villain, kinda spooked her a little bit.

 

She ducked back behind the taller kid with a squeak and stayed there until the other kids got tired of the game.

 

Takako hid from that kid after that.

 

He was probably right to glare at her. She had been playing the hero, and she had just… stood there. Very unherolike. Very. He probably hated her.

 

But Takako wasn’t like that. She wasn’t. She was a real hero, and she was going to prove that to him.

 

Someday. Maybe not now, because those angry red eyes still kinda scared her.

 

When she saw him trudging across the playground, fingers scratching relentlessly at his neck, she saw her chance and took it.

 

She was going to be his friend, dang it.

 

“Hey! Hey!” Takako called after him- but he didn’t stop walking, just kept scratching. “Don’t scratch yourself so hard. You’ll hurt yourself!”

 

He spun on his heel, and the sudden movement startled Takako. Especially paired with the glare, quick movements like that tended to… get on her bad side.

 

Not the angry side. The scared one. The side that still wasn’t recovered from the house she’d just left.

 

“Stop!” Takako insisted, frowning as he dug his fingernails deeper into his skin- as if to spite her, she thought. She smacked the back of his hand, trying to get her point across, but he just flinched away, backtracking away from her.

 

But he didn’t stop scratching. At this rate, he was going to bleed.

 

“You’ll hurt yourself!” He didn’t seem to be listening to her, but she kept trying. “Stop scratching!!”

 

She gave up on talking and grabbed his arm instead, pulling his hand away from his chin. Before she even had time to let go of him, he reeled back and-

 

Punched her.

 

Takako stepped back, holding her face.

 

She was sure that it was throbbing, but she couldn’t feel it.

 

For a moment, she just stood there, staring wide eyed into nothing.

 

The worst parts of the last few years flashed in front of her, spinning and whirling, turning her round and round in circles right there on the playground.

 

Of course he’d lashed out. It made total sense.

 

What had Takako been to him other than a bystander? Now she was an annoyance- an annoyance so irritating that only physical force could get through to her to just stop and leave him alone.

 

Was she doomed to ruin everything?

 

Would she always push people past their limits?

 

When would she learn how to stop? What would it take to get it through her head?

 

For as long as she’d been standing there, she’d thought he would have left. But when Takako looked back up, he was still there. She dropped her hand to her side, ignoring the pain the bloomed to life now that she was back in the present.

 

He looked away when she looked up. His message was very clear. Leave me alone.

 

“I’m sorry.” Takako managed, looking at the ground as well. “I haven't been very nice to you, have I? It's no wonder you don't want to be my friend.”

 

She turned around before he could say anything in response. She didn’t want any confirmation.

 

Man… he hit hard.

 

From behind her, she wasn’t expecting the startled cry of, “Wait- wait!

 

So, she waited. And when she turned around, there he was, scraggly blue hair hanging in hopeful eyes. Quickly, he dropped his gaze back to the ground, and his expression disappeared behind a haze of shadow.

 

“I… I don’t have any friends.” he admitted softly, wringing his hands together.

 

Takako squinted at him, the throb in her cheek reminding him of the past couple of moments.

 

“Do you want some?” She asked slowly.

 

Had she misread him? Was his refusal to make eye contact actually fear and not anger?

 

He only nodded, and Takako felt rage well up in her before she could stop it.

 

“So why’d you punch me?! ” She demanded, stomping once in the unfairness of it all.

 

Here she had come chasing after him in order to make friends, only to be punched and pushed away. Now he says he wants friends? That he doesn’t have any?

 

“You- you grabbed my hands,” the kid shrugged in explanation. “I could've hurt you.” He added in a whisper.

 

“Oh,” Takako didn’t know what that meant, but whatever. “I didn’t know. Sorry! I’ll do better next time.” She promised.

 

Okay. No more grabbing his hands without permission. She could do that.

 

“We’re friends now.” Takako told him, and he just kind of nodded, watching her with wide eyes. “What do you usually do? What kinda games do you play?”

 

“Oh…” he looked away again, and his hand raised like he was going to scratch at his neck, but he looked up at her and seemed to think better of it. “Nothing, really.”

 

“That’s okay!” Takako assured him. “Nothing is fine. Where should we go?”

 

He led her to the side of the building, where no one really played and the weeds grew higher than the grass. “I just kind of…” he gestured vaguely to the ground, and Takako plopped down beside him without complaint. He sent her a wary glance, like he didn’t really understand why she was acting the way she was.

 

“What's your name?” She wondered.

 

He turned his attention to the grass while he mumbled, “Shimura Tenko.”

 

Why did he look so sad?

 

“Oh cool! I like it!” Takako smiled widely while she did her best to be positive and tried to cheer him up. “I'm Takako! Hiyashi Takako!”

 

She extended her hand, waiting for him to shake- you know, as you do when you meet new people- but he just… stared at her.

 

“What's wrong?” Takako asked, letting her hand fall back to her side.

 

What had she done now? He said no grabbing without permission, so she was asking permission!

 

“I… I could hurt you.” Tenko finally admitted- and he hadn’t looked back up at her yet.

 

Oh?

 

Well, she’d been hurt before. It wasn’t anything she couldn’t take, she was sure.

 

“How?” Takako demanded- and when she leaned in, he leaned away. “Is it your Quirk?”

 

Tenko didn’t answer her, just held up a clump of grass. She noticed he kept one finger lifted in the air, and when she glanced up to follow the direction of his pointing finger she almost missed the last finger fall.

 

All five fingers gripped around the grass, and she watched each piece crumble in his fist.

 

“Wow!” Takako beamed, smiling even wider than before. So cool! “That's a powerful Quirk! You can make things… disappear?” She guessed, clarifying.

 

Tenko shook his head, blue hair falling further into his eyes. “Disintegrate.” He corrected her- but she didn’t know what that meant. He must’ve seen the confusion in her eyes, because he quickly added, “Dust.”

 

“Oh. Okay!” Takako nodded firmly, understanding. “You have to use all five fingers?”

 

He nodded, and her hope returned.

 

“Then we can definitely shake hands!” She declared, sticking hers back out to him. “Just don't use all of your fingers!”

 

Tenko shook his head. Her hand dropped again. Dang it.

 

“I don't want to make a mistake.” He whispered.

 

Oh, well…

 

She thought for a moment, wondering how that would work if he closed all five fingers on her skin.

 

Would it hurt? It must, judging from the way he avoided touching her. He must’ve hurt someone before.

 

At least he didn’t want to hurt her. That’s good.

 

“That's okay!” Takako assured him. She leaned back against the wall, watching the other kids play on the playground.

 

Why did the other kids call him a villain? Had he hurt a kid here?

 

“At least you have a Quirk.” She whispered. “Mine hasn't shown up yet.”

 

Takako wanted a Quirk, she really did. The kids that definitely didn’t have one weren’t treated very nicely on the playground. Takako had already had the x-ray, so she knew there was a Quirk in her somewhere.

 

But what… was it?

 

Would she inherit her father’s Quirk? Would she live in other people’s nightmares? Would she carry the weight of other people’s fears?

 

No one would want to play with her on the playground if she couldn’t control a Nightmare Quirk.

 

Maybe she’d get lucky and get something else. Maybe her dad’s dad or her dad’s mom had something cool, something not scary.

 

She still didn’t know anything about her mom. She didn’t know what her Quirk was, or if she’d even had one, she didn’t know what she looked like or what she liked to eat or what she did in her free time. She didn’t even know what her mom’s name was. (Maybe Miku. Maybe. Her dad had never confirmed or denied.)

 

“But that's okay, I can wait. In the meantime, I'm learning everything I can about other people's quirks!” Takako announced, smiling brightly at him.

 

Tenko only stared at her, his mouth twitching into a thin line.

 

Was that a smile? Or was it more annoyance?

 

Takako couldn’t tell. She was definitely going to have to get better at reading people.

 

---

 

Takako liked playing with Tenko. Things were just… simpler, with him.

 

They didn’t have to talk, and he was very cooperative. She rarely fought with him about what they were going to do- and it wasn’t all her deciding either. If he wanted to sit and mess with the grass, he said so, and they did.

 

She didn’t always play with Tenko, but she played with him enough that the other kids noticed.

 

Some of them tried to threaten her. They figured out soon enough that words weren’t stopping her, but even when they pushed her around, telling her not to play with Tenko anymore, she still wandered over to the lonely kid by the building.

 

“Takako, do you like him?” One of her friends asked, curious as to why she always played with the weirdo.

 

“Sure!” Takako replied without hesitation. “Tenko doesn’t talk a lot, but he’s really nice!”

 

“No, Takako, not like… not like a friend, ” another girl insisted. “Like… like…”

 

“Like your parents!” Another kid exclaimed, having found the answer. “Did they ever kiss? Mine fought and yelled a lot, but they still kissed.”

 

Takako stumbled, dropping the jump rope she’d been playing with. The cord tangled around her feet, and she skidded across the pavement.

 

After some crying and first aid, Takako wandered back out onto the playground with a big bandage taped to her knee. She was too sore to jump rope again, so she trundled over to where Tenko usually sat.

 

There he was, messing around with the weeds and the dirt. Takako appreciated his consistency.

 

He looked up in surprise when she plopped down next to him, but he got over it quickly and returned to what he’d been doing before without a word.

 

After a couple moments, he finally spoke. “I saw you fall.” He informed her.

 

“I’m okay.” Takako assured him. After a while of hanging out with him, she’d figured out that Tenko didn’t often outright say what he wanted to say. He mostly skimmed around it, leaving Takako to guess and fill in the blanks.

 

Tenko nodded once, satisfied. He didn’t say any more.

 

They sat in silence until Takako spoke up.

 

“Tenko,” she caught his attention with a slow roll of his name, her eyes fixed on the grass underneath her. “Kiichan was talking about his parents just now…”

 

“I don’t want to talk about that.” Tenko interrupted her. Takako nodded.

 

“I don’t either.” Takako whispered. “I was going to ask… if we could just leave that alone.”

 

Tenko nodded. They left it at that.

 

“Oh, Tenko, look!” She cried, spying movement on a blade of grass. “A ladybug!”

 

Tenko looked.

 

Takako got real close, counting the spots on its back. “Aren’t they supposed to be good luck?” She wondered aloud. “I think I heard something about the number of spots meaning something, but I can’t remember- oh!”

 

She jerked away with a shriek when it opened its wings and flew away.

 

“Are you scared of bugs, Tacchan?” Tenko hummed, looking up from his pile of weeds.

 

Takako caught her breath against the warm brick of the building, old visions spinning in front of her. Nightmares. Old memories of false images, of lots of bugs, of creepy crawly things, creeping and crawling on her and over her and-

 

“Yes.” Takako sighed, letting out the breath she’d been holding.

 

The ladybug landed on Tenko’s hand, crawling across his knuckles in a little streak of red.

 

“Don’t worry about them.” Tenko murmured, following the ladybug’s path. He flipped his hand when it crawled into his palm, and Takako watched alongside him as the little red bug skittered up his finger.

 

“I’ll protect you.”

Chapter Text

Everything was a blur.

 

The only thing Tomura could focus on was Takako.

 

He barely felt her weight in his arms, he barely felt the strain in his fingers from the weird position he’d put them in to ensure that Takako would stay intact. When he spoke, he barely heard the words come from his mouth, when Dr. Kido responded, he didn’t hear her answer.

 

When someone took hold of Takako, tugging her from his arms, Tomura snapped. He snatched her back, snarling at whoever dared touch Takako.

 

The guards didn’t like that very much.

 

The next couple moments were a whirlwind of movement, and Tomura’s tunnel vision only tuned back in when Takako’s weight left his arms completely.

 

He jerked forwards, lurching after her, but found his arms tied behind him. The more he struggled, the harder it got to move. Soon he was panting, exhaustion sapping the fight from his body, but he pushed forwards nonetheless, desperately trying to stay by Takako’s side.

 

“Takako- Takako!” He shouted, pulling hard at the guards’ restraints in an effort to follow, to protect-

 

She was- they were taking her, they were taking her from him-

 

“I swear to everything that is holy, if you take her out of my sight, I will bring this entire building down- I’ll tear every last one of you to pieces, and then, and then I’ll disintegrate you- after you’ve suffered-

 

“Shigaraki, please.”

 

His attention whipped to the voice- how dare someone sound so intensely unaffected by his very real threat-

 

“If you’re worried about her, you could always ask to come along.” Dr. Kido informed him, one eyebrow arched high to show him exactly how unimpressed she was.

 

Tomura paused, surprised.

 

They were just gonna… let him?

 

Still restrained, Tomura glared down at the doctor, willing her to give in to his demands without him having to actually voice his request.

 

“You need medical attention too.” Dr. Kido informed him. “What’s it gonna be?”

 

Tomura wished she could see his scowl, but the security of the hand over his face was too comforting to remove. “Take me with you.” He insisted in lieu of asking, refusing to bend.

 

Dr. Kido didn’t move, only crossed her arms and held his gaze. “Villains can ask nicely.”

 

What are you, he hissed internally, my mom? Or worse, Kurogiri?

 

He didn’t want to ask, much less ask nicely.

 

But… it was for Takako, wasn’t it?  

 

Things worked differently, here in Takako’s realm. All of this was new to him. If he had taken Takako back with him, she’d have to accommodate his way of living, wouldn’t she?

 

(The image of Takako threatening someone was easy to imagine, but it just made him laugh.)

 

(...was this what Takako felt when he tried to threaten her?)

 

“I want to go with Takako.” Tomura murmured, low enough that only Dr. Kido heard it. When she still didn’t budge, Tomura made sure she saw his eye roll before he grumbled, “Please,” as venomously as he could.

 

“Alright, let’s head out.” Dr. Kido raised her arm, motioning for the guards to drag Tomura behind her.

 

Bitch.

 

Tomura let the guards push him into a vehicle- let, mind you, he let them. It was only when they loaded Takako into the row of seats in front of him that he strained against the guards’ holds again.

 

(Someone’s Quirk had to be something along the lines of energy draining, because every time he expended energy, it seemed to leave him far faster than normal.)

 

The guards grumbled and groaned, but Tomura didn’t stop struggling until they let him rest his chin on the barrier of chairs, peeking over the edge to keep his eyes on Takako.

 

Had anyone done CPR? Were they just leaving her there? Was she breathing yet?

 

He’d felt her pulse flutter under his fingers, so… she was still alive, right? It was weak, he’d almost missed it, and it scared him half to death, but… it was still a pulse.

 

The other half (of his inevitable fear induced death) struck him when he’d picked her up. Takako had been… oddly still. It had taken him a moment to register what wasn’t moving, and once he realized she wasn’t breathing, well… things were a little blurry after that.

 

Things were still a little blurry, but he had eyes on Takako, so he wasn’t concerned about it.

 

“Why isn’t she breathing?” Tomura demanded, his voice cutting through the silent vehicle.

 

“She is breathing.” One of the guards grumbled.

 

“Well, she wasn’t.” Tomura shot back. “Why wasn’t she breathing?”

 

Dr. Kido turned around to face him from where she sat in the passenger seat. “Take a good look at her, Shigaraki. She probably went into shock.”

 

Tomura took a good look at her. The doctor was probably right. Takako was in really bad shape right now.

 

“Shigaraki,” a guard called to him after the car had settled down. “We’re going to have to remove that... that…” the guard trailed off, glancing once over his face. Tomura realized with a cold jolt of fear what exactly they wanted from him.

 

They wanted to take Father off of his face.

 

“On what grounds?” He shot back, unmoving from his perch.

 

The guards grumbled about protocol and evidence, but Tomura tuned them out, shaking his head in a clear no.

 

He would not be parted with Father. Not if he could help it.

 

(Last time, he’d woken up from unconsciousness without it.)

 

“Shigaraki, I understand you’re attached to that, but-”

 

“I won’t.” Tomura insisted.

 

The guards were tired of waiting. One of them reached over to tear Father from his face, but Tomura ducked away, avoiding the grabby hands.

 

Shigaraki,” they grumbled, annoyed and still grappling with him.

 

Nobody really noticed Takako until she was speaking at a normal volume, but by the time all eyes turned to her, she was shouting.

 

Don’t take it, don't take it, don’t take it, he doesn’t want you to take it!”

 

The vehicle went silent, and Takako fell to a mumble- don’t want you to take it, wanna keep it, don’t take it, don’t take it. Tomura assumed that must mean she was alive.

 

“Hmm.” Dr. Kido leaned back from the passenger seat and pressed her hands to Takako’s temples. Tomura growled as menacingly as he could, but he was still tangled in guards in an awkward position. “Let him have it, for now. We’ll deal with that later.” Dr. Kido instructed, ignoring him and returning back to her upright position without another word.

 

“What is it?” Tomura demanded while the guards resituated themselves. “What’s wrong with her?”

 

“She’s concussed.” Dr. Kido answered plainly.

 

“I could’ve told you that.” Tomura huffed, dissatisfied. “Why was she doing... that.

 

Takako had stopped talking- probably because his fear had eased, the threat eliminated.

 

“Hiyashi’s Quirk is almost entirely mental.” The doctor spoke loud enough for Tomura to hear while she answered his question. “It manifests almost entirely within the neurons and synapses of her brain. If she sustains any head trauma, it stands to reason that her Quirk would be affected.”

 

“Quirks.” Tomura corrected her, keeping his eyes on Takako.

 

God, she was so small. Especially curled up in the row of seats like that, held stable by strong hands (hands that weren’t his), glasses lost somewhere in the wreckage of the other institution… and lord that was a lot of blood. Not to mention, he could count at least four major fractures. Maybe more.

 

The fact that he could see the breaks, that his untrained eyes could point out the places in which her bones had been crushed...

 

Even if he hadn’t held her still body in his arms, it wasn’t hard to tell that Takako was in rough shape.

 

And to what end? For what reason?

 

Tomura had been the one to bring the building down over their heads. He was the reason she’d been hit, the reason she’d been buried in the first place. Ultimately, he was the one that got her in this mess, dragging her along on his prison break.

 

He could take it back to their first meeting, even. He’d needed someone else to defend him, and Takako had gotten hurt in the process of doing so. Even after they’d been separated, their initial friendship had dragged her out onto a battlefield, tangled her in a battle that didn’t concern her, twisted her up in Dabi’s unforgiving hold, put her in harm’s way all over again.

 

Takako, why? Why do you keep coming back?

 

“Ah, you’re correct. Heart’s Desire and Reversal. I forget about the second one.” Dr. Kido admitted, snapping him out of it.

 

“Reversal went haywire, too.” Tomura offered- not because he wanted Dr. Kido to know, but because Takako was still in danger and… he wasn’t dense enough to keep information like that from a medical professional. “She was in and out of place, like she was jumping back and forth in time.”

 

Dr. Kido hummed, mulling this over. “Something must have triggered the command to jump back in time without her permission.” She mused, thinking aloud. “Interesting.”

 

Tomura scowled, but nobody could see that. “It wasn’t just that.” He added softly. “She… she paused time, too. Stopped a bunch of ceiling from falling on her.”

 

Clearly, that caught the doctor’s attention, but she didn’t press into the new development. Questions were headed his way later, Tomura assumed. She had better pray he was in this cooperative of a mood when she decided to ask.

 

He wished he could push Takako’s hair out of her face. It didn’t look very comfortable stuck to her cheek like it was, glued in place by drying blood.

 

He continued surfing along thoughts like those until he was situated in a hospital bed next to Takako. It wasn’t a real hospital, merely the nearby institution's medical facilities, but it was the closest option and the most… Tomura-friendly.

 

He doubted he’d be welcome in a public hospital. Maybe he'd be less recognizable if he took off Father, but that wasn’t going to happen. So for now, the institution where they’d lock him up later would do.

 

Takako was in fucking critical condition, and the personnel at the new institution must have been made aware of that, because they had a gurney waiting outside when they arrived. After moments of fumbling and adjusting the limp girl, they rushed Takako off- and Tomura immediately lost the cool he’d been maintaining. While he struggled and shouted, straining to follow Takako, the guards (wasted time) argued with Dr. Kido about where to treat him.

 

They insisted that his injuries could be treated in a cell like any other criminal housed there. Bringing him to the hospital ward was unnecessary, they argued, and would be much less secure than a cell.

 

Dr. Kido considered the argument, looking between Tomura (who was already spitting death threats at the mention of separating him from Takako) and the guards (who were clearly ready to tie him down to a chair, lock the door behind them, and be done with it).

 

“Are you hurt, Shigaraki?” She asked him, ignoring his snarling and snapping. “Earlier, I noticed your hands were pretty beat up. You might need stitches.”

 

Tomura was about to deny it, refusing to admit weakness in the face of the enemy, but he caught the warning glimmer in the doctor’s eyes just in time.

 

If his wounds were major enough, she had to take him to the infirmary with Takako.

 

With an irritated sigh, he let them inspect his hands where they were cuffed behind his back- and tried not to think about how their eyes were trained on his ass. After a lot of thoughtful humming, some poking and prodding and adjusting, and a lot of hissing and growling from Tomura, Dr. Kido came to a conclusion.

 

“These need stitches.” She concluded. “And while that can be administered in a cell, the removal of the glass shards from your hands cannot. So let’s keep moving.”

 

Of course, after they finished tending to his (relatively minor) wounds, they’d handcuffed him to the hospital bed and forced more gloves on his hands. Bastards. Even with the bandages over his fresh stitches, even with the numbing solution the doctors had poured on his hands before yanking glass out of his skin, the gloves left a dull ache in his palms.

 

If he really wanted to, he could probably break out of the restraints. Something had to give, whether it was the little metal chain links of the handcuffs, the bed itself, or the bones in his hand. Tomura made sure they knew that.

 

In response to his threat, they cuffed his feet to the bed too.

 

Whatever.

 

Even if he was busy protecting Takako, he was still a villain.

 

And boy was he in full protect mode. It was a stretch to get Tomura to even look away from Takako- and don’t even get him started on when someone had stood in between them. The nerve.

 

He watched them stitch the wounds on her face, watched them close the gash on her temple and the line that cut through her lip.

 

That was the least of it.

 

Takako had been buried under that mess.

 

All the doctors could do at the moment was set the fractures- but Tomura had to watch them maneuver her bones back into place, had to watch her skin move as the pieces underneath were put back into place. He wouldn't look away- he couldn't.

 

It probably would've been worse if Takako wasn't out cold. If she'd been even semi-conscious, her cries of pain would've sent Tomura right over the edge. Even now, watching them maneuver her broken body back into something that resembled normalcy had his fingernails curled into his palms, his arms shaking in his restraints.

 

When they wanted to take Takako away for scans of some kind- xrays, ct scans, MRIs, who cared, all Tomura knew was that she’d have to be alone-

 

Dr. Kido had to talk him down. It took a lot of promises and compromises to keep him from snapping and snarling at the people trying to wheel Takako’s unconscious body away.

 

So there Tomura sat, handcuffed to a bed, alone in a room with three guards and Dr. Kido.


“Why aren’t you going with her?” Tomura demanded- and damn he wished he could cross his arms over his chest. “You’re the doctor, aren’t you?”

 

Dr. Kido looked up from where she was typing on a computer. “My assistants can handle a brain scan on their own.”

 

Tomura’s face twisted up in a scowl- despite the fact that no one could see it. “Isn’t that… what you do?

 

The doctor hid her smile behind the monitor of the computer. “We can’t print what I see with my Quirk.” She explained, as to the point as usual. “And you’re awfully vocal, lately.”

 

Tomura huffed out an annoyed sigh, and he really wished he could cross his arms- if not to be petulant and childish, then to at least try for condescending and cold.

 

“Why the sudden switch?” The doctor wondered. To her credit, the way that she phrased it in a conversational tone, as if she were just making small talk, made him a little less defensive.

 

He didn’t respond for a long time, somewhere between refusing to answer and thinking about one.

 

After another sigh, he mumbled, “No reason to be quiet anymore.”

 

Dr. Kido’s eyebrows raised in response, but she didn’t look up from the screen in front of her.

 

It took too long for them to roll Takako back in, and Tomura fell silent again, content to watch over Takako while she slept. Or, laid unconscious. Or something. Whatever.

 

The team of medical professionals all crowded around the computer screen with Dr. Kido, mumbling to each other in low, concerned tones. After a while of them looking back and forth from Takako to the screen, Tomura was getting annoyed.

 

Luckily, Dr. Kido must’ve noticed his uncomfortable shifting- it was hard not to hear the handcuffs clinking against the metal bits of the bed- because she got her assistants assigned to their individual tasks and rolled her chair over to his bedside.

 

She sat in between Takako and him, but she sat off to the side, making sure she didn’t plant herself in between them. Either she was very perceptive and very considerate, or Tomura had effectively gotten his point across. He’d take either option.

 

“Do you want the good or the bad news first?” The doctor asked, settling her clipboard on her lap. Tomura shrugged.

 

“Good news first, then.” Dr. Kido decided. “Mentally, Hiyashi’s okay.” She opened with- and some of the tension in his body left him. “The scan didn’t show any lasting damage to her brain, which confirmed the results of my own scans.”

 

Tomura let his gaze slide over to Takako, still unconscious but much cleaner than she’d been when they entered. Someone had sopped up the blood on her face, and she looked much less pale.

 

“Everything is operating correctly, but she’s not responding to any external stimuli.” Dr. Kido continued. “Sometimes with the brain, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

“You’re saying she might not wake up again,” Tomura clarified, his body oddly still after he’d processed her words.

 

Dr. Kido shrugged, but it wasn’t dismissing. If he was reading the look on her face correctly- even though Tomura was not good at reading people- it looked like she was… not disappointed, but… concerned?

 

Tomura wasn’t sure if he was okay with Dr. Kido being worried about Takako. On one hand, that was one more person dedicated to keeping her safe. On the other, it meant there was something to be concerned about- and he also wasn’t sure that he was ready to share Takako.

 

Ugh. This was exhausting. Life was much easier as a villain, not really caring about anyone but yourself and having the right to just… take.

 

He shook himself mentally, screeching. You are a villain! Snap out of it!

 

“That’s not the bad news.” The doctor continued, and she flipped through pages on her clipboard until the familiar black and white of an xray caught his eye. “The bad news is that she was crushed under a pile of cinderblock. As you may have noticed, Hiyashi isn’t built to sustain that much weight at once.”

 

If he hadn’t noticed.

 

Like he could forget that Takako was barely over five feet tall and in no way laden with muscle, probably only a hundred pounds at the least. Like he could forget that his own hands brought an entire floor down over her tiny, tiny frame.

 

Dr. Kido propped the clipboard up on her knee and flipped through xrays. Ghostly images of Takako’s skeleton revealed cracks and breaks and even shattered bones, little white flecks floating amongst the black abyss. Their stark contrast caught his eye like a beacon- another reminder that he did this.

 

The two of them- really three, counting Takako- sat in a heavy silence.

 

“I know the building collapsed because of your Quirk.” Dr. Kido broke into his thoughts. “So I’d like to hear it straight from you, Shigaraki. Did you bring the ceiling down over her on purpose?”

 

Tomura didn’t look away from Takako. “You tell me,” he shot back- and he hoped his voice had at least some venom in it. “You’re the shrink, aren’t you?”

 

Dr. Kido shook her head. “I asked you a question, Shigaraki.”

 

It was quiet for another moment before Tomura sighed. “I’m a villain. That’s what villains do.” His voice came out softer than he meant it to, but it was too late to change that. “If something stands in our way, we tear it down using whatever means necessary. Anything goes.”

 

He’d learned that a long, long time ago, and had usually been the better for it.

 

“I would appreciate it if you would answer my question.” Dr. Kido gathered up her clipboard, rearranging the papers while she addressed him.

 

“I did.” Tomura argued, breaking his watch over Takako to throw a glare in the doctor’s direction. “Didn’t I say that’s exactly what villains do? It doesn’t matter what it is- who it is. If it stands in my way, I’ll tear it down.”

 

Slowly, Dr. Kido nodded, sorting through the xrays of Takako’s broken body while she listened to him. “Like you tore apart the blocks crushing Takako? Or the wall standing between her and medical attention?”

 

“Shut the fuck up.” Tomura hissed, pulling at his restraints in a clear threat. The guards snapped to attention, ready to subdue him, but the doctor didn’t even look up. She was completely unfazed by his aggression, and looked even less impressed when he insisted, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

(That was a lie, because Dr. Kido had very clearly seen right through him.)

 

“You don’t have to lie to me, Shigaraki, but you can if you want.” Dr. Kido informed him, waving the guards off. “Whether you believe it or not, I have faith in you. It’s clear- to me, at least-” she amended, “That you don’t mean any harm to Takako. Personally, I’m not afraid to leave you in the same room as her- even in a room like this that can’t restrain you as well as a standard cell could.”

 

“Your mistake,” Tomura mumbled, eyes dark while he watched Takako’s chest rise and fall.

 

“Sure,” Dr. Kido agreed. “Look where that’s gotten me so far.” She swept her arm out to encompass the hospital ward, nodding pointedly at Takako (like he wasn’t already looking at her). “It’s clear that you would take the opportunity to harm anyone else. Forgive me for insinuating that your sympathy extended past Hiyashi.”

 

Tomura nodded sharply- and realized only after he’d moved that he’d confirmed more than just his wonky moral compass.

 

“I bring this all up to say this,” Dr. Kido concluded, finally looking up from her clipboard. “Once this incident gets out and processed- the whole breakout, not just Hiyashi,” she clarified, “People are going to want one thing from you and the others: to see you chained to a tiny cell and treated like an animal for the rest of your life.”

 

“Sounds charming.” Tomura sneered, baring his teeth beneath Father’s mask. “I have no idea what that would be like.”

 

“You don’t.” Dr. Kido agreed, completely unironically. “And you don’t want to know. You think you’re fucked up in the head now, see how long you can last sitting in the same chair in the same five by five foot cell, eating the same food, staring at the same wall, with no interruption-”

 

“I get it,” Tomura cut her off, hands curled into tight fists, gripping thin air between his fingers. There had to be something else. Something was driving this exposition. “What do you want from me?” He demanded.

 

“With or without your consent, I am in charge of your recovery.” Dr. Kido informed him. “If you land in a maximum security prison,”

 

Like Tartarus, was the unspoken example. The thought of Sensei’s holding cell brought back the rage he’d been trying to stifle, brought back the emotions he’d been trying to choke out and pretend like they didn’t exist.

 

“That will be the end of you. That would be my failure.” Dr. Kido determined, tone unusually ominous. “I am going to do whatever I can to keep you out of there- to keep you here, even if they up the security on you. For your sake, Shigaraki, I’m going to try and keep you by Takako’s side.”

 

Sure, Tomura huffed. Sure you are.

 

Clearly, she’d been expecting a response from him, whether serious or mocking, but she received none at all. He let her sit in the uncomfortable silence that followed.

 

It was only after she wheeled away, rolling her chair back to the desk with the computer to start entering data or something, that Tomura spoke again.

 

“Takako got upset with me for acting selfishly. That’s the difference between heroes and villains, according to her, the motives that drive your actions.” He studied Takako’s face for a minute, momentarily lost in the moments before she’d finally kissed him. “What do you think she would say if she knew the person she looked up to the most only saved people to maintain their reputation?”

 

Tomura couldn’t help the manic grin that pulled at his lips, and he took his eyes off of Takako for that comment. He wanted to see Dr. Kido’s reaction to his accusation, wanted to see her freeze at the ice in his tone.

 

Just like he’d denied her a response, the doctor denied him a reaction.

 

“I don’t remember ever calling myself a hero,” Dr. Kido mused, expression blank while she typed away, fingernails clicking against the keyboard. “But it’s nice to know that Hiyashi looks up to me.”

 

Tomura huffed, disappointed, and turned back to Takako with a posture Kurogiri would probably call sulking.

 

Where was he, anyways? Had he gotten out? Had he been recaptured?

 

“Speaking of heroes,” Dr. Kido interrupted his thoughts. “The next thing I have to do is contact UA. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not excited about the conversation I’m about to have.” She admitted, pressing her palm to her forehead with a sigh.

 

“They don’t already know?” Tomura hummed, eyebrows raised. Dr. Kido sighed, exasperated, and nodded.

 

“I’ve been putting it off, deferring their calls until I had Takako’s condition figured out.” The doctor grumbled under her breath, rolling her chair back in the direction of her computer. "Here goes nothing."

Chapter Text

“Hello? Yes, this is Dr. Kido, from the-” the doctor stopped talking mid-sentence, and her face fell from careful business professional into exasperation in less than a second. “I am quite aware- yes, and if you would give me a moment to fill you in,”

 

The irritated sigh that escaped her usually unruffled demeanor made Tomura snicker.

 

It was a bold move, he mused, to put off answering UA with information about one of their students. Especially in circumstances like these.

 

“It wasn’t on purpose, sir. It’s a matter of security. Yes, yes- I was getting to that.” Dr. Kido insisted. “Physically, she’s in rough shape. Part of the roof- well, ceiling, really, it was merely the next floor of the building- yes, sorry,” Dr. Kido apologized quickly, eyebrow ticking with irritation.

 

The doctor explained the circumstances of Takako’s injuries, and Tomura noticed that she didn’t mention his involvement at all.

 

“Do you want the full list? I’m warning you, it’s not pretty,” Dr. Kido hesitated, but the voice on the other end clearly urged her on. “Something hit her in the head, so she’s out cold right now until indefinitely. She sustained quite a few lacerations and bruises, but our real concern is the number of fractures we’re looking at. Whatever hit her in the head left a nasty laceration- yes, that means cut, and it’s already been stitched. More importantly,” Dr. Kido stressed, rolling her eyes. “The trauma to her head left a linear skull fracture- which is a blessing, honestly, those are the easiest to treat. Yes, her brain is just fine, there shouldn’t be any lasting damage to her cranial tissue.”

 

Tomura thought it was unnecessary to keep switching into medical terminology, especially considering that the person on the other end of the line needed clarification every couple of words. Maybe Dr. Kido was ruder than he’d originally guessed, which was completely possible.

 

“It looks like her left arm was trapped in between two pieces of debris, so she’s got too many breaks to count in her forearm and wrist. The other arm’s mostly okay, save a couple of hyperextensions in her fingers.” She continued, and Tomura eyed Takako’s left arm. The doctor was right, it looked pretty crushed.

 

He thought back to the first time he’d ever run across that Deku and remembered how badly the hero in training had mangled his arm in an attempt to use One For All to stop him. Honestly… Deku’s arm had looked much worse, what with all of his skin burnt to a crisp and his fingers flopping around like soggy french fries.

 

“She’s got a couple broken ribs. Luckily, they’re not shattered like her arm, or else we’d have internal bleeding to worry about.” Dr. Kido assured them. “Because of the way her legs were curled up underneath her, they mostly sustained hyperextended joints and tears to the tissue and muscle instead of any fractures.” Dr. Kido kept listing- and Tomura’s stomach kept flipping, threatening to upend. “What we’re most worried about are the cracked vertebrae- no, she’s not paralyzed. Not yet, anyways, that’s why we’re worried. The quicker those vertebrae heal, the less time the pieces have to shift and cut into spinal nerves and tissue.”

 

Tomura couldn’t stop the bile that rose to burn the back of his throat, and he only had time to lean over the edge of the bed before the meager contents of his stomach spilled onto the floor. As he flopped back onto the bed, his vision swimming, he barely heard the guards groaning and complaining.

 

“Yes, that was my next question. Would you mind sending her over? She also has the original files on Hiyashi’s brief coma from a couple months ago, and I’d like to see those.” He heard Dr. Kido say as the ringing in his ears died down. The doctor rolled her eyes again, but she listened closely to the voice on the other side. “Yes, please do. I’ll discuss the consequences of this event with the principal. Thank you.”

 

With the longest sigh Tomura had ever heard, Dr. Kido stood up from her chair and brushed off her coat. “Recovery Girl will be stopping by soon.”

 

“Are they taking Takako back to UA?” Tomura demanded with a pitiful croak, already tense and ready to fight despite the fact that his entire body felt useless.

 

“They can’t.” Dr. Kido stopped him before he could work himself up over it. “Hiyashi is as wrapped up in all of this as you are. The police have to finish their investigation. They’re in the process of taking statements from everyone involved, but they’ll be by with a few questions for you before the end of the day, I’m sure.”

 

Tomura couldn’t help the frown that pulled at his lips at the thought of talking to law enforcement officers.

 

“UA can’t have her back until she’s conscious enough to sit through an interrogation.” Dr. Kido continued, tone dismissive. “Even then, if the investigation is still open, the police will probably want her to stay here.”

 

“Why does Takako need to be kept under surveillance?” Tomura huffed, unimpressed. The police sure were dumb.

 

“Aside from the fact that Toga was running around in her body, doing illegal things on camera for all to see, Hiyashi’s an important witness. If not to keep her under surveillance, they’ll want her under some sort of protection.”

 

Tomura sighed, echoing the doctor’s earlier exasperation.

 

At this, Dr. Kido lifted a keen gaze to rest on him, a careful analysis in her eyes. “If you’re going to insist on staying by Hiyashi’s side, are you going to sit through all of her visitors? You won't be allowed to listen in on the mandatory, professional conversations, but will you throw a fit when UA students and staff get cleared to come through these doors?”

 

That was a good question.

 

Tomura didn’t want to be in the same room as Takako’s friends and teachers. He already hated most of them, and most of them hated him back. He’d tried to kill some of them, and the rest of them knew he wouldn’t hesitate to kill them too. The animosity in the room would be stifling.

 

Not to mention the distrust. Once they learned why Tomura was in the same room as Takako and not locked away in another cell, they’d turn looks on him. You? They’d ask, incredulous. You’re going to protect her? What do you want from Takako?

 

But was he going to leave Takako alone in a room of people he didn’t know and didn’t trust? Absolutely not.

 

“I’ve been through worse.” He decided aloud. “Just… just tell me who’s coming. I don’t like surprises.”

 

Dr. Kido looked impressed, and Tomura couldn’t figure out why. “That’s fair. I can do that.”

 

---

 

As promised, the police stopped by later in the day.

 

Tomura wasn’t magically cooperative now that he was looking out for Takako. He refused to answer most of the questions aimed at him, giving them little to no information on the breakout and his knowledge concerning it.

 

It was only when the conversation turned to Takako that he finally broke.

“It wasn’t Takako’s idea,” he grumbled, irritated. “Are you stupid?

 

The policemen muttered to each other, probably offended, but Tomura didn’t care. They tried to pursue that topic, theorizing about Takako’s involvement right in front of him, but Tomura wouldn’t be baited any further.

 

He only answered one more question.

 

“Takako’s injuries,” the lead policeman began, gesturing to the girl in the bed next to him. “How did she sustain those?”

 

Tomura only tilted his head, raising one eyebrow at the officer. “Me.” He said simply.

 

To the officer’s credit, he didn’t look very surprised. “Sure, Shigaraki. I’m asking for specifics, here.”

 

Tomura didn’t really want to give specifics, but it was related to Takako’s recovery.

 

“I took out a load bearing wall. The ceiling fell down to block the hallway, but it kept breaking down. Eventually brought the part over our heads down as well.” He kept his sentences short, making sure they knew he wasn’t really cooperating. Just for the moment.

 

“Right.” The man mumbled while he wrote down Tomura’s statement.

 

It didn’t take long after that for Recovery Girl to show up.

 

Tomura didn’t look at her, just kept his eyes on the wall in front of him, kept Takako in his peripherals.

 

Creepy old lady, still a nurse for teenagers, going around kissing children to ‘heal’ them, he grumbled in his head, hoping the little woman could feel the animosity rolling off of him in waves.

 

Four days in a row she came back, but Tomura never once looked at the wizened hero. Once she’d left the room, his attention would return to Takako as if pulled by a string, and he’d check over the injuries he could see, searching for which ones had been healed in that go round.

 

On her last visit, right before she left, Recovery Girl picked up her bag like she always did to signal her departure, but seemed to change her mind and put it back down.

 

“You and me, we’re complete opposites, aren’t we?” She spoke up, laughing her old lady laugh. “The power to accelerate healing and the power to accelerate decay... “

 

And what of it? Tomura demanded internally. Not externally. He didn’t want to strike up a conversation with Recovery Girl.

 

“Look at us, both here watching over the same girl!” She exclaimed brightly, picking up her bag again. “Crazy, how life brings us together in the weirdest places.” Recovery Girl shook her head, mumbling to herself now- like a senile old woman, which was exactly what Tomura thought she was.

 

She left him with that.

 

This time, when he looked back over at Takako, she looked alive again. The angry red cuts on her face had faded into shiny pink scars, and the bruising that had tinted her skin all sorts of shades of purple and yellow and green had all disappeared.

 

She looked like Takako again, not some broken shell of a girl.  

 

Inanely, he wondered if her glasses would be salvaged from the wreckage of the building he’d torn down.

 

---

 

For a moment, Tomura thought he was in the clear.

 

As per her earlier promise, Dr. Kido fought off security about his presence in the hospital (by Takako’s side) and not a cell. He’d gotten too comfortable, probably, which is why he didn’t see it coming.

 

“It” ended up being a very polite military coup of sorts. The security got tired of Dr. Kido silencing them with seniority and very politely informed her they were taking Tomura to his new cell that day since he was completely healed. In light of the ongoing investigation, they had said, Tomura should be under strict surveillance. It quickly became clear that Dr. Kido’s excuses weren’t holding up, so Tomura prepared himself for a fight.

 

As soon as the guards descended on him, Takako started mumbling.

 

He couldn’t really hear what she was saying, and she didn’t speak loud enough for him to decode the words until she was shouting.

 

“Don’t wanna leave her, don’t leave, don’t make me leave her-”

 

“Takako, shut up! ” Tomura hissed, his face burning red behind the disembodied hand that covered it. Quickly he pushed down his own raging emotions, locking them away, out of her reach.

 

Takako fell silent again.

 

The guards still stood around him, but they didn’t press in any closer. One of them looked over to Dr. Kido, and she crossed her arms over her chest as if to say I told you so.

 

No one bothered him after that- something about “observation” and “reactions from Takako” and a bunch of other words from Dr. Kido that convinced them. At least for now.

 

He was sure that they would’ve kept trying to take him away, would've kept bugging Dr. Kido for a real reason, if the other thing hadn’t happened.

 

Dr. Kido had mentioned something about Takako being in a coma before, so she wasn’t surprised when Takako started yelling in the middle of the night, but Tomura certainly was. Of course, Dr. Kido didn’t live at the institution, either, so she was paged in after the incident. Tomura had gone through it on his own.

 

He’d been fighting sleep- it’d been a long couple days, but he didn’t trust these guards, so he wasn’t about to close his eyes around them- and Takako had just started… going at it.

 

Out of nowhere, she was just… yelling.

 

It was all incoherent, and it was kind of freaking Tomura out- especially since the guards didn’t react at all, just kind of glanced over in their direction.

 

“Takako,” he tried calling to her, but she either didn’t hear him or didn’t care. If anything, she yelled louder.

 

“It’s no use,” one of the guards spoke up. “Said in her file that she tends to talk when she’s out cold like this, but she’s not really awake. Her mind is somewhere else.”

 

She can’t hear you, was what the guard was saying. Tomura took that as a challenge.

 

Takako,” he insisted, glaring at the guard to make sure they knew their authority was being ignored.

 

The guard huffed and turned away, ignoring him right back, but Takako rolled over- rolled away from Tomura- and continued shouting into the sheets.

 

It was the most movement he’d seen out of her yet.

 

It made the guards nervous, because even though Recovery Girl had mended Takako's broken body, she was still weak and prone to injuring herself all over again. She barely had the strength to lift the cast encasing her left arm, and the brace around her torso that protected her newly healed ribs and vertebrae creaked and groaned at the shift in position.

 

He was about to call to her again when he caught the muffled cry of, “daddy, no,” as it slipped into the quiet room, and his entire body went still.

 

Tomura had never heard Takako refer to her dad as anything other than “my father” or “Nightmare.” Never. Not now, not even as children.

 

Was she dreaming of… Nightmare?

 

He didn’t pursue that thought, his attention instead caught by the pained, “please,” that shot straight through his heart.

 

The guards didn’t even have time to react. They weren’t even on their feet before Tomura had ripped one hand free of the handcuffs and yanked Takako’s bed alongside his.

 

If she heard his quiet call of, “Tacchan,” over the ruckus of the guards throwing a fit, then it might’ve explained why she quieted as soon as he ran his palm over her shoulder, smoothing the tangled sheets down her side.

 

It's okay.

 

I won't let anything happen to you.

 

He didn’t get the chance to try his hand at comforting her again since the guards were already on him, yanking him away and separating their beds within seconds of him coming in contact with Takako’s shaking form.

 

Maybe things would’ve gone differently for him if Takako hadn’t started crying, then. She was just a little ball of tears, curled up under the hospital sheets, her hair a dark splash of contrast against the pristine hospital sheets.

 

“Look what you did,” Tomura intoned, looking up at the guard in charge of locking him into a new pair of handcuffs. “You made her cry.”

 

The guard scowled and snapped the restraint around Tomura’s wrist a little too tightly. Tomura just tsked under his breath, making sure they knew he was pissed.

 

When Dr. Kido finally showed up, eyes heavy with sleep, the guards filled her in on the entire incident. There were plenty of fingers pointed in Tomura’s direction, and if his hands were free Tomura would’ve flipped them off in return.

 

Dr. Kido trudged over to him, looking a lot less put together than usual. (Tomura couldn’t blame her, it was probably ass o’clock in the morning.)

 

“I find it hard to believe that you attacked Hiyashi, given your behavior over the past few days.” She opened with what was probably a restatement of the guards’ accounts, and Tomura scowled in return.

 

“Fuck them,” he immediately responded- and Dr. Kido glared at him, urging him to get to the point. “They just watched her while she tossed and turned and shouted. I did something.” He insisted. “It worked, too.” He grumbled, looking away.

 

“Oh?” Dr. Kido echoed, but it sounded more like a yawn. “How so?”

 

“She stopped freaking out.” Tomura grunted. He was about as happy as Dr. Kido was about having this conversation.

 

Dr. Kido paused mid-stretch. “How so?” She repeated, much more interested this time.

 

The hospital ward was silent in response. Tomura didn’t want to answer. He was done being interrogated.

 

“Well,” the doctor moved on, ignoring his refusal to cooperate. “You’ll be interested to know that the last time Hiyashi was in a coma, she occasionally had episodes like this.”

 

Tomura lifted an eyebrow. Dr. Kido continued.

 

“She would start talking, like she was having a conversation with someone. Sometimes she’d sit up, but that was the extent of her movement.” She informed him. “In the earlier stages of her unconsciousness, she wouldn’t respond to external stimuli at all- just like she’s been acting now. As the days went by, she started answering questions, but the answers were all wrong.”

 

What does that even mean, Tomura wondered, squinting at the short woman in front of him.

 

She must have read the confusion behind the anger in his eyes, because she explained that too. “Doctors will ask their patients questions to determine their level of consciousness, to make sure they’re actually lucid and intact. When asked where she was, or who she was talking to, Hiyashi’s answers didn’t line up with her actual situation.”

 

Okay… that made a little more sense. But not much.

 

“Eventually, though, as Hiyashi regained consciousness, her answers made much more sense. Instead of saying she was ‘in the tall weeds,’ or something along those lines, she could correctly identify that she was looking at a hospital.” Dr. Kido listed. Her gaze drifted over to Takako- who was still now, no longer crying or shouting.

 

In the tall weeds

 

Tomura hummed under his breath, memories of warm sun and dry earth and dirt under his fingernails all flooding to the forefront of his mind.

 

Had Takako dreamed of their old foster homes? Of the playground where all the kids converged? Of tall grass and warm brick and bullies and Tenko?

 

“At least, she didn’t respond at all until she was much closer to true consciousness.” Dr. Kido wrapped up her explanation, turning her attention back to Tomura. “But you’re saying that she not only responded to you, but also settled down?”

 

Tomura nodded once, sharply.

 

“Interesting.” The doctor had hummed, and she left it at that.

 

Needless to say, the next time Takako started mumbling, all eyes were on Tomura.

 

He didn’t really like that. Especially since it was in the middle of the day, when everything was bright and everyone was alert.

 

Luckily, the things he could make out of Takako’s unconscious ramblings weren’t distressing. If anything, they were just weird.

 

Obviously, Dr. Kido expected something out of him- but if everyone was going to look at him like that, he wasn’t going to step up to the plate unless it was an emergency. He wasn’t a trained monkey, so he wasn’t going to do tricks on command.

 

It was a couple hours later that Takako started up again.

 

“Eh, Ann-Marie, the sun’s nice out!”

 

Tomura arched an eyebrow in Takako’s direction, unimpressed. “There aren’t any windows in this room. What the hell are you on,” he demanded.

 

“Windows?” Takako echoed, voice airy and far away. “The sun’s right there, though,”

 

And she promptly fell silent, falling back under whatever haze she was in.

 

The worst of it was at night, apparently. After the next night suggested a pattern- Tomura didn’t break out that time, but he did manage to get Takako’s attention for a brief moment before she went back to screaming- Dr. Kido decided to stay after hours to check it out.

 

As per usual, somewhere in the middle of the night, Takako started grumbling and whining, tossing and turning in her bed.

 

“What’d you do to stop it?” Dr. Kido asked Tomura after Takako started yelling.

 

The answer was embarrassing, and Tomura was reluctant to admit it.

 

But… if she was going to let him do it again, you know, for science or whatever, then…

 

“I just… touched her.” He mumbled. “Said her name and ran my hand down her side.”

 

Thankfully, Dr. Kido wasn’t one to tease. “I’m surprised she calmed down after physical touch.” She admitted. “She’s obviously somewhere tumultuous right now,” the doctor nodded over to Takako, who had buried herself under the pillow. “So I would have guessed that touch would startle her.”

 

“Maybe it’s his voice.” One of the guards offered- pointedly not making eye contact with Tomura while they spoke about him.

 

Dr. Kido’s eyes lit up, and she turned to Tomura with a request already on her lips. “Will you speak to her again?”

 

Tomura huffed, ready to be difficult. “Only if you let me near her.”

 

What? Takako was warm and soft and small and he just wanted to hold her until she stopped shaking, and-

 

Oh lord, he was in deep.

 

“Done.” Dr. Kido agreed in an instant. The guards spluttered, unhappy with her promising things she hadn’t discussed with them, but with enough arguing, one of Tomura’s handcuffs got unlocked, and the beds got dragged to sit side by side again.

 

“Tacchan,” Tomura called to her softly- as softly as he could while everyone’s eyes were still on him. A middle finger brandished at no one in particular took a couple of the nosy gazes away. “Tacchan, where are you?”

 

She shuddered violently at the question, and Tomura was moving to press his hand into her shoulder before anyone could stop him.

 

But no one stopped him.

 

“I… I don’t know,” she whispered, fingers clutching the bedsheets in a death grip. “I’m scared.”

 

At least she stilled after he repeated his earlier attempt at comfort. The slide of his hand down and back up her side made the kick of his heart hurt a little less. It didn’t soften the blow of her sudden shout, however- which he reeled away from, retreating in an instant- and she curled into herself after the loss of contact, holding her stomach tightly.

 

“Please,” she whispered, as if all of her breath had been knocked right out of her. “Please stop, please,”

 

“What’s happening?” Dr. Kido wondered aloud, sat on the edge of her chair nearby.

 

Tomura didn’t need to answer. Takako clarified.

 

“No more, daddy, no more,”

 

Dr. Kido’s eyebrows shot high as she came to the same conclusion as Tomura. “She’s reliving past memories,” she realized. “Those cinderblocks must have knocked a few wires loose in Reversal- or, or,” the doctor hypothesized, mumbling alongside Takako. “The concussion knocked her controls out of whack, and she overshot herself trying to keep the ceiling from falling in on you two.”

 

“I’m scared, please,”

 

“The episodes occurred after she’d overextended Reversal the last time as well,” Dr. Kido remembered, and began scribbling furiously onto the clipboard of papers in her lap.

 

Tomura rolled his eyes. Doctors were useless. Once they got a hold of some scientific inquiry, they were lost to the world until they unraveled it.

 

He had better things to do than unravel the science behind Takako’s episodes. You know, things like stopping them.

 

“Tacchan,” he mumbled before reaching out again. He placed a hand on her side, mindful of the state she was in, and found her ribs rising and falling at a rapid rate. “Breathe.” He commanded- and to his surprise, she did.

 

Dr. Kido looked up from her clipboard when Takako sucked in air in a rush and let it out just as quickly.

 

“Good.” Tomura praised under his breath, feeling her lungs slow to a normal pace under his palm. He sighed, shoulders slumping, hoping that the crisis had been averted.

 

She fell silent for a moment, lying still in place until she finally called out a quiet, “Tenko?”

 

Tomura's head popped up, and he searched her face for any sign of consciousness. Aside from her scrunched up eyebrows, the only sign she was somewhat awake was the hand that grabbed his where it laid on her side.

 

“Tenko?” She called again, little fingers loose around his hand while she pulled it next to her face.

 

“Yeah,” he confirmed, squeezing her hand once in an echo of the way they used to communicate.

 

“This your hand?” She slurred, weakly tightening her grip on him. Tomura squeezed back in place of a verbal answer, and she seemed to get it. “I count five fingers. Am I dead?”

 

Tomura was stuck between wanting to laugh and wanting to crumple under the weight that settled over his chest.

 

“Tenko, come play,” she mumbled, nuzzling into his knuckles, voice heavy as if she were half-asleep. “It's nice out today.”

 

Fuck, she was so cute-

 

“We're inside.” Tomura corrected her. Takako shook her head, arguing with him even while semi-conscious. The movement brushed her lips across the back of his hand, and the warm puff of her breath sent tingles up and down his arm.

 

If he wasn't so cold with fear, he'd be alight with warmth right now.

 

“Hush, Tenko,” she reprimanded, sounding far away. “You just don't want to play with the other kids.”

 

The answer he wanted to give was and why should I? but that was a topic he didn't want to dive into, and he didn't want to entertain her fantasies.

 

He wanted her back in reality. Here. With Tomura, not Tenko.

 

Part of him wondered if she clung to those memories, if she wanted to stay with Tenko, not come back to Tomura.

 

While he mused over the contents of her dreams, Takako slipped out of reach again, falling quiet once more.

 

“Shigaraki,” Dr. Kido called for him, and he jolted, startled, because he'd forgotten she was watching. “I'd like to ask a favor of you.”

 

“No.” Tomura preempted her request. His hands were cold, but Takako was slowly warming them up.

 

“I'd like to keep you with Takako while she recovers.” The doctor continued as if he hadn't spoken. “It's clear that your presence is beneficial to her recovery. She's responding on a level that didn't show up until much later in her journey back to consciousness from the last time. I'd like to see if she'll wake up sooner with your voice anchoring her.”

 

Tomura hadn't been expecting that.

 

“You think my voice is going to wake her up?” Tomura shot back- trying to sound disbelieving instead of embarrassed.

 

“Maybe. We won't know until we try.” Kido admitted. “We do know, for sure, that your presence calms her down- and I'd like to see as little thrashing as possible while these injuries continued healing. But if you'd like to pass up this get out of jail free card...” she trailed off, raising an eyebrow.

 

Mmm. She was right. If he had a medical reason to stay by Takako's side, it would be harder to send him back to his cell while she was recovering.

 

“Fine.” Tomura cut out through gritted teeth.

 

He was desperately trying to convince them that he didn't care, that cooperating was a chore, but it was probably obvious that he just wanted to stay with Takako over anything else.

Chapter Text

Takako didn’t let go of Tomura's hand.

 

The guards wanted him chained to the bed again- for security reasons- and when they forcibly separated the two, Takako started crying again.

 

“Look what you did,” Tomura aimed an unimpressed stare at the guards locking him up. “You made her cry again.

 

Dr. Kido stepped in soon after that, and Takako's quiet hiccups faded into silence when her fingers found solace in Tomura's once more.

 

They soon discovered that Takako wouldn’t let go of Tomura’s hand.

 

This was good and bad for Tomura.

 

It meant that, occasionally, his other hand had to be free, because he couldn't eat with one hand chained to the bed and the other wrapped in Takako.

 

It meant that when he did anything, he had to function with only one hand free, which was annoying.

 

But it also meant that their beds couldn't be separated and that Tomura had constant access to Takako's peaceful, sleeping face.

 

You win some, you lose some.

 

It was after Dr. Kido had left on her lunch break, after the guards had unchained his free hand so he could eat, that he'd been running his fingers through her hair. His glove kept catching on the dark strands, but he liked the silky slide of chocolate brown in between his fingers too much to stop.

 

It was while he was doing that that Takako opened her eyes.

 

“Tenko?”

 

Familiar with her unconscious mumblings by now, Tomura nodded in a response she probably couldn't see, squeezing her hand once in confirmation.

 

“I'm gonna get a hold of some lotion.” She decided, squinting at him.

 

Tomura knew Takako was blind. He doubted she could make much out of his face besides big blocks of colors, if she was seeing him at all in the first place.

 

“Leave me alone.” Tomura muttered. “It's not worth it.”

 

“Don’ say that, Tenko,” she slurred, blinking slowly. “Just ‘cause you don't wanna take care of yourself doesn't mean you can't.”

 

Tomura just shook his head.

 

She didn't say anything else for a while, dark brown eyes staring somewhere beyond him. Her expression didn't change, even when her fingers tightened around his.

 

“Tenko, I wish-” she stopped, screeching to a halt, and her hand went white knuckled around his.

 

Tomura let more of her hair slip through his fingers, and her eyelids fluttered as if she was struggling to keep them open. He waited for her next words with a quiet patience.

 

“I know you don’t think about it, but I do.” Takako whispered, a frown pulling at the corners of her mouth.

 

“You don’t make any sense.” Tomura muttered.

 

Takako’s face squinched up, and she mumbled something that sounded a lot like, “Don’t make fun of me.” He wasn’t certain, though. Some of her words got jumbled on the way out, turning into an incoherent mess that Tomura didn’t always have the patience to untangle.

 

Louder this time, and much more coherently, Takako’s voice cut through the air. “Why won’t you take care of yourself?”

 

“‘Cause.” Tomura brushed her off, deflecting the argument they always managed to get into.

 

Takako tensed- and for a moment, Tomura eyed the intensity in the set of her shoulders with distaste. He knew this posture, even if she was mostly unconscious.

 

This was Takako getting ready for a fight.

 

Tomura braced himself, ready to deflect whatever attack came his way. He was used to this argument- she’d bugged him about properly taking care of himself when they were kids, and she picked up right where she had left off when she’d started visiting him in his old cell.

 

“I just want you to live, Tenko,” she sighed- and though she eased out a breath, the tension in her body didn’t drain away with it. “Live and be happy, not angry or sad or scared, Tenko- Tennchan-

 

She trailed off into mumbling for a moment, then came back with, “I don’t see you smile enough.”

 

Well.

 

Takako’s words hit him like a swift left hook, wiggling through his defenses into the places he hadn’t thought he’d need to defend.

 

She started mumbling again, just loud enough for him to hear.

 

“-you don’t ever smile, hiding behind stuff- not fair, Tenko, it’s not fair, what if I want to see you smile? Want too much- think too much. Shouldn’t think about it, I guess, but…”

 

Tomura could only stare at Takako, watching her semi-conscious form shake (with rage? with fear?). His hand was kinda going numb in her tight grip, and her eyes were still glazed and glassy, looking out somewhere beyond.

 

“-like your smile, Tennchan, think you’re cute when you smile,”

 

Tomura jolted out of his stupor, face flushing a hot pink in immediate embarrassment. She was still too quiet for anyone but him to hear, thank god, but something about the odd intensity of her stance told him she was ready to explode.

 

“Think a lot about you is cute- shouldn’t, I guess. Is it weird? Don’t answer that,” she rambled on, eyelids heavy while she blinked. “It’s stupid... I like you too much, probably. Like your smile and your face and your dumb hair- Tenko, ‘s not fair that you got pretty blue waves and I got regular old brown. Not fair. It’s dumb.” She insisted.

 

My hair?” Tomura echoed, frozen in place, unable to do anything but listen. “My hair’s gross.

 

Takako beat her fist against the bed- well, that’s probably what she was trying to do, but she couldn’t quite lift Tomura’s hand, so it looked more like a brief struggle than anything else.

 

“Will you shut up? Just- honestly, Tenko, shut the fuck up,” she insisted- but the command was dulled by the sleepy way her words came out. She sounded like she was half-asleep, or had just woken up.

 

Judging by the ever-present unfocused look in her eyes, she was still not completely conscious.

 

“Did I ask you? No,” Takako sighed- and if she were actually present, Tomura was sure she’d be rolling her eyes at him. “It doesn’t matter if your hair is pretty or gross, I just like it. I like your hair and I like your eyes and I like your hands and-”

 

“Takako,” Tomura complained, nervously glancing over to the guards. She couldn’t see him, nor did she care, and the girl kept babbling, dead to the world.

 

“It’s not fair, Tenko!” Her voice pitched up for a moment, but the sudden increase in volume didn’t phase the guards in the slightest. Thankfully, she dropped back down to her earlier level, because the string of words he deciphered next cranked his blush up from pink to bright red.

 

“Not fair, ‘s not fair,” she complained quietly, keeping it between them. “That you’re so cute and I’m so plain, not fair at all. I’ve just got so much-” she stressed the word with another weak lift of his hand, “And I don’t know what to do with it, Tenko- I like your lips and your neck and your long sleeves and- and your stupid red shoes,” she listed- and the heat in his face ramped up to boiling. She sounded angry, but in a petulant kind of way, as if she were throwing a fit.

 

“Tenko, all of it, I like all of you, so much- I- I-”

 

Waitwaitwait- shit- was she-

 

Was she crying?

 

“Tenko, I- I-” she stuttered, tears dripping down her face.

 

“Takako,” Tomura hushed her, reaching forwards with his free hand to brush the tears away. She couldn’t actually see him, so she flinched back when he made contact, but after he squeezed her hand in reassurance she settled down. Crying and stuttering words that didn’t make any sense, she let him hold her face, even sank into his touch- the fight finally leaving her system.

 

“Tennchan,” Takako breathed out, eyelids closing slowly and opening over unseeing eyes. “Is it just me? Do I just… feel way too much?”

 

He could argue for yes to that last question, but that wasn’t actually what she was asking.

 

all of you, I like all of you,

 

And you, Tomura? Do you feel the same? Do you feel at all?

 

Tomura opened his mouth, but he closed it in a snap when Takako’s eyes widened. He was completely caught off guard by what seemed like a preemptive reaction.

 

She blinked a couple times, rapidly, then Tomura watched the strangest thing he’d ever seen in his life (and he’d seen plenty of strange things).

 

Takako’s eyes, which had been unfocused in a way that had nothing to do with her nearsightedness, suddenly cleared. It was like there had been a sheet over the sun, and someone just yanked it off. He watched her eyes refocus, her pupils dilating and narrowing like a camera trying to focus in on a specific point, and she startled him with a sharp gasp.

 

“Tenko?” She hazarded, squinting at him. “Where are my- how are you-” she jumped from one thought to the other before the first finished, too many unanswered questions on her tongue. She finally settled on, “Am I dead?” as her top concern.

 

“No.” Tomura’s answer came quickly, the words rushing out of him.

 

He hadn’t realized he was holding his breath until he’d let it out.

 

“What the fuck,” she whispered, gazing up at him with incredulity in her gaze. “You’re sure?”

 

Tomura nodded, squeezing her hand once for further confirmation. She glanced down to the hand wrapped in hers in surprise, but she didn’t question it.

 

“Where are you right now, Hiyashi?” A guard nearby spoke up- asking the medical confirmation that Tomura hadn't gotten to yet. He glared at the security personnel, but they ignored him.

 

“Uh…” Takako looked around. “I'm gonna go with a hospital?”

 

“That your final answer?” Tomura mumbled, and the glare she sent his way told him she knew he was teasing her.

 

Satisfied, the guards contacted Dr. Kido to let her know about Takako's recent improvement. One of them made sure Tomura knew he only had five minutes left of his lunch break- reminding him that if he wanted to eat, he'd have to stop touching Takako.

 

Hmm. Guess he was going hungry.

 

“I thought… I thought I was watching my life on rewind.” Takako admitted, blinking incredulously at the scene around them. “Like those people that say their life flashed before their eyes,” she clarified. She tentatively squeezed his hand in her grip, as if she were testing whether or not he was a vision that would dissipate on contact.

 

Tomura didn’t move, mostly out of fear, and Takako took in their current situation.

 

They were both laying down, curled on their sides. Only the metal bed rail separated them. Tomura perched on top of the fence in order to reach over to her, and though the metal was uncomfortable against his ribcage, being able to hold Takako's cheek in one hand, her fingers entwined with the other, was worth it.

 

“Am I crying?” She asked next. Tomura nodded, brushing away another stray tear with his thumb. “Oh. Well, thank you, I guess.”

 

Tomura couldn’t even look at her, his face still burning red.

 

“What?” Takako demanded. “Did I say something?”

 

Oh boy. She didn't remember? She hasn't been aware of what she was saying?

 

Did that mean those words were true? Or just mindless babble from a dreaming girl?

 

“Quite a few things,” Tomura confirmed, rather miserably.

 

Now Tomura had to sit here with the knowledge of these things, whether true or false, while she knew nothing of it.

 

“Tenko,” Takako hummed, reaching out to him. Her arms were too short to reach his face, so she patted his shoulder instead. “Are you blushing?”

 

Tomura huffed, tilting his head so his hair fell over whatever skin she'd managed to catch a glimpse of. “No.”

 

“I don't believe you.” Takako informed him. “What'd I say?”

 

Tomura sunk further into himself, cheeks blazing with heat while his shoulders hiked up to his ears.

 

Look, he'd already gathered that Takako was attached to him. Obviously, if she kept coming back to see him after all the shit he put her through, there must’ve been something more than a promising internship drawing her back into his reach. But he’d assumed that the reason was something unimportant, like because they used to be friends or because she wanted to prove herself or because she wanted to fix him or-

 

Literally anything that wasn’t… this.

 

Really, he's not surprised that he ended up feeling like this towards Takako. It had been a long time coming.

 

He would never, not in a million years, have expected Takako to want him back.

 

What was there to want?

 

Physically, he was… not desirable, to say the least. Years of relentless teasing led to hiding under a mask, and whenever that mask was removed, the comments continued. If no one was brave enough to mention it, they still looked.  

 

Tomura knew. He knew what he looked like.

 

(It had been getting better after his Quirk was restrained for so many months. He could tell when he touched his face that the skin wasn’t as rough, that some of the lighter patches were clearing up. All of that was gone, now, after he’d removed the gloves and set to crumbling and decaying and-)

 

If his face wasn’t bad enough, there was the scarred skin of his neck, cratered and pitted from digging his nails into the same spots over and over again for years. Not to mention the way his ribs dipped inwards, or how he couldn’t quite gain enough muscle to cover up the ones that stuck out at the bottom. Even though he had an olive sort of skin tone, he’d been described as sickly pale on too many occasions, his color washed out in an unnatural sort of way.

 

Don’t get him started on his hair.

 

“Tenko, where’d you go?” Takako called to him- and he felt her nose press into his palm, felt the warmth of her breath through the bandages over his skin.

 

“Thinking.” He answered shortly, keeping his bangs in between her gaze and his.

 

Did he have any redeeming qualities to make up for the physical lack?

 

Well, that answer was clearly no.

 

He was ill-tempered and foul-mouthed, had all sorts of vulnerability and proximity issues- he wasn’t even smooth or confident (like Dabi, his brain supplied, and he kindly told it to shove it).

 

Hell, Tomura had blood on his hands. Well, more accurately, the dust of their decayed bodies, but still. What the fuck did Takako want to do with a murderer?

 

“Tennchan, what did I say? ” Takako demanded. “What’s got you so upset?”

 

“Nothing.” Tomura lied.

 

“I don’t believe you,” Takako struck down his weak lie without even blinking. “Let me see your face, Tenko. Are you really mad?”

 

“I’m not mad!” Tomura hissed- probably proving her point.

 

“Let me see your face!” She insisted. “Prove it!”

 

The guards whipped around in concern, suddenly at full attention. It probably wasn't Takako's demand that had caught their attention. No, it was probably the combination of Tomura’s responding growl and the rushed movement of his arm, which kinda made it seem like he was going to attack Takako.

 

But Tomura wasn't moving to attack Takako. All he did was shove Father into his hair, letting the stiff fingers push wavy blue up and out of his face, but it was enough. Spooked, the guards all activated their Quirks- and Tomura didn’t know (nor cared to find out) what all of their specialties were, but he really didn’t appreciate being rooted in place with his face exposed like this.

 

“I can’t see you. I don’t have my glasses on.” Takako reminded him. “You’re gonna have to come a little closer.”

 

“I can’t,” Tomura complained. “These dumbass guards won’t let me move.”

 

“He wasn’t going to hit me,” Takako called over her shoulder. “Promise.”

 

The guards all grumbled- a mix of how do you know and how are we supposed to know and it doesn’t matter, shouldn’t trust him anyways - while Tomura strained against their Quirks, testing their limits.

 

“I asked him to show me his face,” Takako continued. “He was just moving the hand.”

 

“He took the hand off?” One of the guards inspected Tomura, incredulous, and Tomura bared his teeth, looking away.

 

Takako,” he insisted, a frown pulling deep into the corners of his mouth.

 

“Oh! Oh, right-” Takako held her hands up, blocking any view of his face with a wall of fingers. “He’s shy.”

 

Takako!” Tomura complained, wiggling in the guards’ holds. It wasn’t full body paralysis, as made evident by his ability to speak. Maybe it was aimed at specific parts of his body, because even though his arms and torso were rigid, he could still move his legs.

 

“Oh my god,” one of the guards breathed out, incredulous. “He’s just a kid!”

 

Takako shot a look over her shoulder, unimpressed. “Yeah, man, he’s only a little bit older than me.”

 

“A little bit?” Tomura demanded. “I have like, two or three years on you.”

 

“Oho,” Takako shook her hands in the most sarcastic gesture he’d ever seen from her, a dark brown glare aimed in his direction. “Is that a whole adult I hear speaking?”

 

Tomura rolled his eyes. “You’re not funny.”

 

It was at that moment that the guards dropped their hold on him. He’d like to believe it was because he’d finally broken out of it, but it was more likely that Tomura was just 100 times less threatening when Takako was making fun of him.

 

“You are blushing!” Takako cried, a smile breaking out on her face. He’d pitched forwards over the rail when the guards released him without warning, so some of the color in his face must’ve come into focus.

 

God- he hadn’t realized how much he was going to miss that smile until it had almost been taken away from him.

 

She wiggled closer to him, trying to get a better look, and Tomura didn’t miss the flash of pain that crossed her face as she moved.

 

“What?” He demanded. “What’s wrong?”

 

Takako rolled her eyes, but there was still a smile on her face. “Don’t worry about it. My head hurts and I’m sore. Nothing major.” She assured him. “Now, come here and let me see your face.”

 

“Takako,” he complained, slinking away. She caught him before he got too far, yanking on his sleeve to force him to return. “Tacchan,” he tried to convince her to stop, but she wasn’t having it.

 

“I’m very blind right now.” She reminded him. “Come here.”

 

Knowing she wasn’t going to give it up until he gave in, Tomura scooted closer.

 

“Not enough!” Takako sang. “Can’t see you!”

 

“Are you still hallucinating?” Tomura demanded, scooting closer nonetheless. “You sound like a six year old.”

 

“I sound adorable, thank you very much,” Takako shot back, fake irritation in her voice. “I can tell your eyes are red, now, so we’re almost there,” she informed him, reaching up to press her finger between his brows. “Little closer,”

 

Tomura made sure his sigh was loud and exasperated, not overly joyous about the way the restraints holding his legs down were forcing him to twist and strain his joints in order to scoot just a little bit closer.

 

“Aha!” Takako chimed, her smile blinding at this distance. “You are blushing!”

 

“Gee, Takako, I can’t imagine why,” he droned, eyebrows raised in the most unimpressed expression he could manage.

 

“Here,” Takako offered- but he wasn’t sure what she was offering, exactly, “Let me help you with that.”

 

He wasn’t really expecting her to lean forwards, to close the six inches between them and press her lips to his.

 

Immediately, Tomura exploded with warmth, the feeling zipping from his mouth to his heart like a flame running down a fuse. It ignited whatever he had hidden in there, sending warm tingles out across his chest, into his arms, into his stomach-

 

“Shigaraki! Get out of Hiyashi’s bed!”

 

Tomura’s head whipped up and back down (to check) in surprise, and, indeed, he was halfway into Takako’s bed, the rail cutting into his hip. He scrambled back, yanking Father down over his bright red bright red face, trying to hide the stunned look in his eyes.

 

Takako- the little devil- giggled to herself and rolled back into the center of the bed, wincing a little at the movement.

 

“I can’t believe you,” Tomura mumbled, pressing his hands over the hand already over his face.

 

“We match now,” Takako ignored him, entirely unconcerned with his disbelief. Tomura peeked out between his fingers, confused, and Takako tapped her lips. “I can feel the dent. There’s a scar here, isn’t there?”

 

Tomura nodded, confirming, and only after she smiled did he realize what she meant. He pressed his fingertips to his own lips, over the line that cut through his lips.

 

Yet another mark to mar his face.

 

“You don’t like your scars?” Takako noted- and damn, after all this time of not having to guard himself around her, he’d forgotten that she could read his desires.

 

Tomura didn’t answer, just sunk into the bed.

 

“They’ll line up when we kiss.” She mused aloud, thoughtful.

 

Takako!” He complained, scandalized. She shot a devious smile in his direction, her expression changing from airy contemplation to teasing in an instant.

 

“You’re so cute.” She added- as if he wasn’t flustered enough. “Who knew that Shigaraki Tomura blushes like a maiden at the mere mention of kissing?”

 

Tomura rolled over, groaning into the pillow in frustration and turning his back on her. “Shut up.”

 

“Hiyashi!”

 

Takako turned, looking towards the door with as little movement as possible. “Oh! Dr. Kido!”

 

The two had a lot to talk about.

 

Still blushing like a fool, Tomura continued to hide, chin tucked against his chest even while the guards replaced the restraints around his hands.

 

Hands. Plural, because Takako had released the other one.

 

Doctor and patient talked about Takako’s injuries, discussed the effects of head trauma on her Quirk, and plenty of other things while Tomura was busy collecting himself.

 

“That reminds me,” Dr. Kido picked up off of something Takako mentioned, “Shigaraki described a new development in your Quirk. He said you froze the falling ceiling in midair?”

 

Takako rubbed her temples with her fingers, wincing while she thought. “Yeah, that was… weird. I haven’t been able to reverse inanimate objects yet. And I’m very very bad at freezing things in time.”

 

“That’s surprising,” the doctor mused, and when Takako squinted at her (out of confusion or just general blindness, Tomura couldn’t tell), the doctor squinted back. “What with your parents’ Quirks, I’d assume that would come easily.”

 

“What does that mean, exactly,” Takako ventured, “My parents’ Quirks?”

 

“Your mother,” Dr. Kido prompted- and the realization only lit up behind her eyes when the light died in Takako’s.

 

“I don’t know anything about my mother.” Takako admitted, looking away.

 

“Would you like to see the file I have on her?” Dr. Kido offered.

Chapter Text

After a meal and some painkillers, Takako stared down at the folder in her hands.

 

Hiyashi Miku.

 

Her mother.

 

If she'd looked, Takako could’ve found something, she was sure. But, she hadn’t.

 

She was too afraid.

 

There were too many possibilities.

 

Nightmare could’ve lied to her, told her that her mother’s death was her fault when it was really his- or, even worse, when it was no one’s at all, that she was out there somewhere, alive, living her best life without Takako.

 

She shook her head- wincing a little as the throb that hadn’t quite dulled yet rattled her brain.

 

She could do this.

 

She opened the folder.

 

She shut the folder.

 

“What?” Tomura demanded from the next bed over. It wasn’t so much a demand as a checking in of sorts, a call of concern, but he did his best to seem villainous at all times.

 

Takako let out a slow breath, staring at the closed folder.

 

“I’ve never seen my mom. Not even a picture.” She whispered.

 

Slowly, she opened the folder.

 

There she was.

 

Takako couldn’t stop the sudden rush of emotion, the regret and the pain and the wishful thinking and the loss, it all crashed down on her at once while she looked down at her mother’s smiling face.

 

“Wh- Tacchan, what happened?” Tomura leaned towards her, tone urgent.

 

Takako lifted the open folder, showing him the image sitting on the first page. “I… I look just like her!” She smiled- at least she tried to smile, tried to make Tomura think these were happy tears and nothing else.

 

Tomura looked between Takako and the picture, taking in what Takako knew were the same expressive brown eyes, the same smile, the same thick brown hair.

 

“You do.” He agreed- and there was something soft in his voice, something she didn’t usually hear. She would’ve stopped and looked closer, rummaged around inside him and dragged it out, but there were more pressing matters at hand.

 

“Her name was Miku,” Takako kept talking through the tears, wiping her face with her sleeve. “And she had a time control Quirk too. She called it Stasis. It could stop things in time.” Takako read aloud. “Says here that it worked best on inanimate objects, that the more developed the brain of the living being, the easier it was for them to break free.”

 

Takako mulled over the finer details of her mom’s Quirk through the blur of tears in her eyes, reading the little bullet points of information she’d accumulated over time. She was hoping to find more information on her Quirk when she turned the page, but instead she opened up a coroner’s report.

 

Her breath caught in her throat. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tomura’s head turn towards her, carefully masked concern glittering in scarlet eyes.

 

She skimmed the report, searching for one phrase in particular.

 

Cause of Death:

 

Complications during childbirth. Fatal hemorrhage, critical blood loss.

 

Takako’s breath left her in a rush, wheezing out of her tight throat.

 

For a moment, all she could do was push the folder farther down the bed and throw her arm over her face, hiding in the crook of her elbow. A nauseating mixture of guilt and relief washed through her system, and the tears streamed faster down her face, breath forced out of her lungs like a punch while she choked on her sobs.

 

Tomura was silent, hands curled into fists where they were restrained by his sides.

 

She knew he didn’t understand exactly, but…

 

If anyone knew what it was like to carry the weight of their parents’ deaths on their shoulders, it was Tomura.

 

“I guess- I guess it’s kind of a relief,” she admitted between gasps, trying to give Tomura some semblance of an idea as to what was going on. “I had a long time to think about what could’ve really happened to her, if Nightmare hadn’t been telling me the truth. It’s good that he didn’t kill her- o-or that she’s not out there somewhere, happy to live without me.” Takako choked on the confession, the admittance to what she’d always had a sinking feeling was the reality of her situation.

 

“No one that knows you would be happy without you.” Tomura mumbled- just barely loud enough for her to hear. Takako did her best to smile, but she kept her arm over her face.

 

“It’s a relief to know for sure.” Takako agreed. “But at the same time, it’s not. Because… it’s still true. Everything he told me was true.”

 

“Takako,” Tomura complained, probably frowning in disappointment.

 

“It’s still my fault.” She whispered. The sound was all air, her voice refusing to speak what she had never wanted to be true.

 

The ward was very quiet, save the sounds of Takako's shuddering breaths. She laid like that for a while, tears running down her temples (into her ears, yuck), arm thrown over her face.

 

“At least…” Tomura trailed off after breaking the silence, as if he already regretted the words that had left him.

 

Takako sniffled, the sound obnoxiously loud in the silent room.

 

“At least you can't remember it.”

 

I don't want to remember

 

With a pitiful hiccup, Takako rolled onto her side to peek over her arm at the villain cuffed to the bed next to her.

 

Tomura wouldn't look at her, kept his head ducked down, bangs falling over his eyes.

 

“Tenko… I think you should know this.” Takako began, suddenly very invested in inspecting the bandages on her fingers. “I, um… I know about your parents.”

 

“You don’t know anything about my parents.” Tomura returned almost immediately- which was not the reaction she was expecting at all. The tone of his voice wasn’t venomous, just very soft and subdued.

 

“That’s not what I’m saying,” Takako pleaded, hoping he would understand without her having to outright say it.

 

I know you killed your parents.

 

“Takako, I know you’re trying to be empathetic and relate to me, but you can’t.” Tomura flatly informed her. “You’re not me. You’re literally the opposite of me.”

 

“Well, that’s the point of empathy, dimwit,” Takako shot back. “That one person can look at another completely different person and understand what they’re going through, whether they’ve gone through the same experience or not.”

 

Tomura huffed. “I know what empathy is. You’re annoying.”

 

“Any other obvious things to state?” Takako snorted, unimpressed even when Tomura shot her a maroon glare. “You know, I understand that you cover up all of your other emotions with anger and general disrespect, but you still have those emotions. It’s not healthy to bottle them up.”

 

“You’re one to talk.” Tomura deflected her, refusing to rise to her remarks.

 

“Sure, except we’re not talking about me.” Takako shot back, refusing to let it go. “You don’t gotta change all of a sudden, Tenko. I’m just saying that it’s okay to be honest with yourself every once and awhile. As a start.”

 

With a toss of his head, body struggling against the restraints for a moment while he resituated himself, Tomura left her hanging, the room quiet in his wake.

 

“Why do you even try?” He sighed after a moment. “Even if you can… do… whatever you're trying to do,” Tomura sat completely still, refusing to look at her. “Is it even worth it?”

 

Immediately, Takako's mouth dropped open, surprise and disbelief making her words stutter from her mouth.

 

“Wh- what?” Takako demanded. “What kind of question is that?

 

“A fair one, I think,” Tomura mumbled.

 

“No!” Takako shot him down, wincing when she clenched too hard of a fist with her left hand. “Absolutely not!” She insisted, alight with outrage.

 

“Ah, Hiyashi,” Dr. Kido’s voice echoed through the room as she approached them. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

 

Takako sent one last glare over to Tomura, then picked up the file to return it to the doctor. “Yeah. It’s strange that the strongest parts of her Quirk are the weakest parts of mine.”

 

Dr. Kido looked between Takako and Tomura, taking note of their obvious argument, but she didn’t say anything about it. Earlier, she’d left the room to announce Takako’s newfound consciousness, notifying the police that she was stable enough to provide a statement, and clearing UA to send visitors.

 

“The police are on their way.” The doctor announced. “How are you feeling? Do you need any more painkillers before they arrive? New bandages?”

 

Takako tested her healing body, gingerly stretching her arms and back and taking note of which places cried out in protest.

 

“I think I’ll take you up on the painkillers,” Takako decided, frowning at her wrist.

 

Dr. Kido nodded and crossed the room to open a medicine cabinet, rooting around in it for what she needed.

 

In the back of her mind, Takako became aware of the faint desire for less pain. It was quiet, reserved- and while that didn’t fit Tomura’s usual demeanor, she’d recognize his presence on her radar no matter how gently his desires pressed against her.

 

“Oh, also, Dr. Kido,” Takako spoke up, catching her attention before she crossed the room again. “He’s not going to admit it, but Tomura needs some too.”

 

Dr. Kido nodded, but Tomura grumbled under his breath, clearly unhappy.

 

“I told you not to call me that.” He complained in a rush, even more muffled than usual.

 

“Oh- sorry,” Takako realized her mistake, staring wide eye