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yesterday i died, tomorrow's bleeding

Chapter Text

Izuku ducked under the grasping fingers that swiped at him.

His mind blurred as he tracked his enemy, watching those hands, never letting his focus drift from them, categorising every twitch they made.

One touch, he knew. One touch, and it was over.

He dodged again, his boots scrapping against the torn concrete and sending small shards skittering. The villain went for him again and Izuku used the moment – off-balance, weight shifted too far to the right, chest open – to pivot, his foot coming up and slamming into the man’s unprotected side, One For All crackling over the limb and sending his enemy flying backwards.

He paused then, breath stuttering in his throat as he blinked rapidly. He disengaged his mask, the metal crawling down to the collar of his jumpsuit, and he spat out a mouthful of blood. The wound on his side burned like fire, and he absently pressed his gloved hand against the gash to stem the flow. He wiped at his forehead with the other, smearing the thin red trickle from the cut above his eyebrow across to his temple.

His arms were numb, and he could feel the familiar tremors of exhaustion running through him.

Izuku cast his gaze around over the destroyed city block, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of his friends.

It had been ages since he had heard the comforting schink of Todoroki’s ice, or felt the rumbles of Bakugo’s explosions, and the sharp pang of loneliness was only just beaten by his overwhelming desire to collapse where he stood.

He had been on his feet since late yesterday, fighting more than he wasn’t, and the consequences were finally catching up to him.

The attacks had come out of nowhere. Waves of petty criminals and villains had simply poured out into the streets, wreaking havoc through the city and spreading panic to the civilians.

Izuku had answered the call the moment a state of emergency had been declared, diving headfirst into the thick of it and hardly daring to take a break. He was one of their heaviest hitters, and people were counting on him to hold the line while they evacuated the surrounding areas.

He bit his lip hard, struggling to keep a grip on his frustration.

The attacks so far had been strategic – too strategic to be anything but a massive coordinated movement. It was as much a confirmation as they could get.

There had been whispers for month that a new villain was rising through the ranks and gathering followers, but for so long there had been nothing tangible for them to go on.

Aizawa had been running himself into the ground trying to chase leads, and Izuku had taken to splitting his time between his normal duties and lending a helping hand to his old sensei. The threat of a new League of Villains was more than enough to get their joint attention. Neither of them wanted a repeat of the sheer chaos Tomura had rained down on them.

Every spare moment the two of them had was put to trying to get ahead of their unknown enemies, but even with the network of underground heroes at their disposal, they found little.

He clenched his fists, willing the trembling to stop as he saw his opponent stumble upright from the crater his rough landing had made. He was running on empty by this point, stretched in too many directions and wrung out. He had to finish this quickly and get to a safe zone to recover. As much as it chafed to admit, he was no use to anyone in this condition, and he knew it.

Izuku watched the villain shake the rubble from his clothes, and he bared his teeth in a grin.

One punch at sixty percent should be enough, he calculated. This guy was strong – the fact that he was still standing even after the pounding Izuku had given him was testament to that – but Izuku had been keeping himself contained to forty percent and below to reduce the damage he caused the area.

But he could end this with just one hit. Put this guy down and make sure he stayed there before anyone else got hurt.

His eyes ran over the man across from him. Close-quarter combat is his speciality; his quirk is touch-based. Have to avoid being hit as I go in. The information flew through his mind.

The villain strolled closer, the lack of injury was equal parts insulting and dangerous. As he watched, the man let out a guttural noise, like stones grinding together, and Izuku grimaced when he realised it was laughter.

“You’re good,” the man praised, voice raised enough to be heard clearly. It was the first thing he had said since Izuku had appeared like a battering ram and started demolishing his group. “You’re very good. I’d expect nothing less from a top tenner like you.”

The full-face mask the man was wearing had one of its goggles shattered, with only a few orange shards clinging to the metal rim. Izuku stared into the single visible hazel eye and saw the hungry, mad glint there.

He shifted his stance as that eye raked over him, the weight of it feeling like nails clawing over his skin.

“You’re slower than I’d heard, though.” The villain mused with twisted delight. “Getting tired, little hero?” The man raised one of his pale hands and wiggled his fingers tauntingly. “Don’t worry, I can give you a nice, long, permanent break.”

“No thanks,” Izuku called back, re-activating his mouth guard so that the metal once again covered his lower face. He dropped his gaze to the man’s hands, eyes narrowing as his mind spun.

He knew little about this man’s quirk beyond that it required skin-on-skin contact, and that whoever he touched tended to disappear when he used it.

Izuku had already seen one of the man’s companions succumb to it when he had accidentally gotten between the two of them, and his bare arm had been skimmed by those deadly fingers.

One second, he had been there, then the next he was just gone.

Izuku was determined not to join him.

The villain cocked his head to the side, the angle looking vaguely discerning with the mask’s creases. “You’re a curious one,” he commented idly, “I can see that brain racing behind your pretty eyes.”

The man took a few more steps forward, his hands closing and spreading like he was stretching the muscles. “They told me you were smart, too. Smarter than most think. Said you can figure out how quirks work in just a few minutes.”

That was flattering, Izuku thought briefly as he watched the man stalk closer. It was true that he had a knack for quirk analysis, and he had gained a bit of a reputation over the years of discovering his opponents’ weaknesses swiftly.

But he had to see a quirk - had to have time to think and debate and evaluate - to truly figure it out. And this was the first time he’d had a chance to really stop and study this man in particular.

The villain sidled closer, the type of reckless energy to his steps that spoke of unending confidence. “Well, hero? Do you know yet? Or did you just want me to tell you?” Even with his face obscured, Izuku knew that he was smiling. “My quirk is called Exile, and whatever I touch goes away and never comes back.”

Well, Izuku thought, definitely need to end this now. He channelled One For All into his legs, preparing to launch himself as his opponent kept talking.

“I don’t even know where they go, no one’s ever been able to tell me.” He laughed again, the sound ripped from his throat like a weapon. “Still think anyone can be a hero, Deku?” There was a brittle anger to the question.

“I saw that interview you gave last year. God, you’re so naive it hurts to look at you. Now stay still, little hero. I’m about to raise my cred with the others.”

Izuku didn’t give the other a chance to try anything. He leapt towards him, the ground behind him shattering under the force of his jump.

The distance between them vanished within a second, and Izuku raised his fist in preparation. He tracked the way the villain’s eyes widened as he seemed to appear right before him.

The man’s arms raised, one curling to protect his head. The move was sluggish to Izuku at this speed, and he felt the bite of victory in his chest as his hand closed in on the other. His gloved knuckles connected against his opponent’s arm just as something brushed the ripped fabric of his stomach.

Izuku blinked, and everything was different.

The man disappeared from in front of him, and Izuku landed on ground that was smooth and whole. He skidded to a stop, his power still primed as he spun around, trying to figure out where the other had gone.

He paused a moment later, eyes widening as he took in the USJ facility. His mind stuttered to a halt, but before he could even process what had happened, the ground shook.

Izuku turned back around, facing the Flood Zone and watching as the boat on the water exploded. The shockwave rippled over the water and would have sent him flying if he hadn’t braced himself.

“What the hell?” He muttered, taking in the destruction numbly. Two figures caught his attention, high in the air but rapidly falling back to the water’s surface.

Without hesitation, One For All burst through him and he was airborne. He reached the two, securing one arm around the girl’s waist and using their momentum to change their trajectory so that they landed on the shoreline.

He bent his knees and grunted as he hit the concrete, dropping the two safely behind him as he swung back to face the figure that shot out of the water after them.

Izuku’s arm came up and he slammed his fist into the villain’s face with enough power to send him careening back the way he had come. The man’s body – dorsal fin on the upper back and gills on his neck, better suited for submerged environments, potential breathing problems above water – skipped along the surface bonelessly, creating a wild wave that knocked the other villains back too.

He turned to face the two had he rescued, question poised on the tup of his tongue, only to choke when he finally saw them clearly. “Tsuyu?” He asked incredulously, stepping back in surprise as the girl – girl, not woman, too young, no scar on her left cheek – blinked up at him.

“Oh my god, who are you?” Izuku glanced down to see Mineta staring at him. The pit in his stomach deepened at the sight of the crying, hysterical boy.

“I –” Izuku stopped, instincts long honed blaring at him. He dropped, hands automatically pushing the other two to the floor as a jet of water sailed over their heads. “Stay here.” He ordered, putting aside his utter confusion to focus on the number of bodies emerging from the water.

He readied himself, adrenaline flooding him as his eyes jumped between the seven villains creeping closer. He couldn’t waste any time. He was tired, and tired meant mistakes. All it would take is a single lapse in his attention and one of them could slip past him –

Izuku pursed his lips in focus as he spread his arms wide before bringing them together sharply in a clap. The ear-splitting crack he created was accompanied by a sudden burst of wind, and he watched with grim satisfaction as every single one of them got blasted away.

“Are you two okay?” He asked, turning back to face them. He didn’t understand what was happening exactly, but whatever that villain had done to him, Izuku silently vowed to reverse it.

Mineta’s eyes were still teary, and his skin was pale, but Tsuyu nodded slowly. Izuku sighed deeply, “Okay, good. That’s good.” His eyes drifted past them, up to the central plaza as his thoughts scrambled to assemble themselves.

This…it looks like the attack on the USJ. But this was years ago. So, what’s going on? Is it a memory? A hallucination? But that can’t be it. The guy from before, he said his quirk sends people away, but that he didn’t know where –

Izuku froze as his gaze locked on something in the distance. He moved without thought, shoving through Tsuyu and Mineta like they weren’t even there as he pushed himself forward.

He watched as Aizawa’s head swivelled, saw the Nomu’s arm raise, its gigantic hand reaching down –

Izuku slammed into Aizawa’s side, arms wrapping around the man’s middle as he shoved them out of the way just as the Nomu’s hand crashed into the ground where they had been.

The two of them rolled along the floor, Izuku’s grip slipping enough that Aizawa and he separated as they came to a slow stop.

He groaned softly, propping himself up on his elbow and wincing at the jolts of pain stabbing through him. Izuku’s head lolled to the side to see Aizawa picking himself up carefully, his face blank, if a touch paler than normal.

“You okay, sensei?” He croaked, shifting into a crouch and hunching over as his side screamed. He hissed through his teeth, but kept his focus pinned on the Nomu. The man beside him was silent.

“Sensei?” He asked, before the desperation searing through him made him burst. “Aizawa.”

Was I too slow? Is he hurt? Oh God, his head –

“I’m fine.” Aizawa bit out, sounding pissed about the fact. Izuku’s vision whited out as relief washed through him. “Who the hell are you?”

And just like that, the flush over his success left him. Izuku frowned, looking at his old sensei, a split-second glance that cost him.

The shadow fell over him and Izuku could only raise his arms in a block as the Nomu’s hand smacked into him. He flew backwards, scrapping along the ground and crying out when he felt something snap.

He lay there, coughing roughly as the dust settled around him and his battered body shuddered. He squinted up at the ceiling as he waited for feeling to return to his limbs.

Come on, he thought viciously, get up. They have no idea what they’re up against.

Izuku gingerly rolled onto his side, shifting his legs under him. The Nomu hadn’t come after him yet, which didn’t bode well for the others. He might not know what was going on right now, but Izuku did know that there was no way he was going to sit back and watch things play out like last time.

Not again.

He shoved himself to his feet, swaying unsteadily as his body adjusted to the sudden upright position. He shook his head, scanning the area swiftly.

Aizawa was facing down the Nomu to his right, the man wisely keeping out of its range for now. He breathed a short sigh of relief at that. The memory of Aizawa’s head being crushed beneath its grip still haunted him even after all this time.

His eyes moved on, searching for the only one that really mattered.

Even though he knew what he would see, Izuku still felt like the air had been punched from his lungs at the sight of Tomura.

It had been over a year since he had last seen the man. Over a year since they had gone against each other, since Izuku had beaten him. The skin of his shoulder itched at the phantom sensation of Tomura’s fingers curling around the point and laughing while Izuku’s flesh disintegrated.

They had almost killed each other the last time they had fought, and the idea of going through that again filled him with nothing but dread.

But, he thought, clenching his fist tightly, I don’t need to beat him. I just need to make him leave. His eyes shot to Aizawa, to the stairs leading to the entrance, where All Might would eventually appear.

I have to buy Aizawa time. He can’t beat the Nomu, and All Might will be at his limit before he even gets here. I can do this.

He widened his stance, calculated the distance between them, took two running steps, then jumped into the air.

Tomura’s head snapped to face him, the hints of his red eyes piercing him even as the Nomu threw itself between them.

Izuku wasted no time after his punch connected. He dropped to the ground, catching himself with his hands and slamming his legs up into the Nomu’s gut. One For All at seventy percent was barely enough to push it back a step, but it was enough to unbalance it. Izuku ducked under the wild swing of its arm and punched it again, and again, and again.

Each hit gained more power, to eighty, to ninety, to one hundred and beyond, until finally his last hit sent the Nomu soaring through the air and into the roof of the USJ.

He stopped then, the energy around him snapping frantically, licking at his skin and sending the pain racketing up another notch. He gasped, legs giving out from under him as his body finally started to crash.

Izuku coughed harshly, blood escaping the corner of his mouth, getting caught against his mask and threatening to choke him. He kept himself up with one hand, locking his elbow to stop the limb from folding like a house of cards under his weight.

“Well. That was unexpected.”

Izuku closed his eyes, shivering as the voice trailed up his spine. It had been so long since he had heard it – but God it was still the same as in his nightmares. The traces of rage in it rang through his ears like gongs.

“A Pro? I don’t think I recognise you, though.” There were footsteps, and Izuku grunted as a kick flipped him onto his back. Tomura stared down at him, the hand covering his face hid most of his expression, but Izuku could see in his eyes that beneath the black anger was a keen interest. “You look a little young to be playing the hero game.”

One of Tomura’s shoes came to rest on Izuku’s chest, with just enough weight behind it that it made breathing evenly impossible. “And you screwed up my plan.” The pressure increased. “I don’t like it when people screw up my plans.”

“Should be in a different profession then.” Izuku growled, and he almost didn’t recognise his own voice. One of his hands gripped the other’s ankle, digging his fingers in as a threat.

He might be utterly spent, but he was sure he could summon enough to break the thin bones if he needed to. “Spoken like true hero.” Tomura stepped back, slipping from Izuku’s hold with a humiliating lack of effort. He squatted down, looming over Izuku and staring like he was a bug.

“Cool quirk though,” he continued smoothly, his deadly hands hanging from over his knees. “Reminds me a little of All Might’s. Funny, huh?”

“Funny enough to beat your Nomu.” Izuku said, laying still for all that he wanted to squirm out from under the man. His lips pulled back into a mocking smile, the skin around his eyes creasing so it was obvious even with his mask. “So much for your ‘Anti-Symbol of Peace’, huh?”

Tomura’s fingers twitched with violent intent, before falling limp once again. “Now, how could you know that, hmm? I don’t think I told anyone that just yet.” The man’s head tilted in consideration and Izuku swallowed thickly at how clinical the move was. “Are you cheating, hero? Breaking the rules somehow by knowing things you shouldn’t? How’s that fair?” The last word was thrown out like a challenge.

“Life’s not fair.” Izuku spat, glaring up at the man. It was a fact he had known since he was just four years old. A fact he’d lived his whole life with, had suffered under and accepted the more he grew. Life would never be fair, because life was cruel and horrible and bad things happened all the time.

But it could also be good. And so long as there was even a scrap of goodness still in the world, Izuku would never let himself give up.

Tomura tsked, his hand creeping over his mask and clamping down, keeping only one of his fingers raised as he jerked Izuku’s head up off the ground.

“Who are you?” Tomura demanded. “Some underground hero? You’re not a student, that’s for sure.” He dragged their faces closer. “You beat my Nomu without a problem. It could have killed All Might, and you batted it through the ceiling like it was nothing. So, who are you?”

Izuku snarled. “I’m the one who’s going to beat you.”

“Beat me?” Tomura hissed, sounding equally annoyed and amused. “And how do you figure that, you little brat?”

Izuku laughed, the noise catching in his throat. He hated this. Hated everything about this man. Hated what Tomura did to him just with his presence. How he so effortlessly brought something dark and feral inside Izuku to the surface.

“Easy,” Izuku spat, getting right in the other’s face, heedless of the danger he was courting, “because I’ve done it before.”

Tomura’s tightened his grip on Izuku’s mask, but that damning fifth finger never descended. “What?” He breathed out.

Something snaked around Tomura’s chest, flinging him away from Izuku like a doll. In the same moment, Izuku’s arm was wrapped in fabric and he was yanked along the ground until he came to a stop by Aizawa’s side.

“You alright?” His old sensei asked, eyes pinned to Tomura as the other stumbled to his feet.

“Yeah, I’m good.” Izuku murmured. “Thanks for the save. He was probably about to dust me.” He barely had enough energy to stand, but he stubbornly pushed himself up enough to catch sight of Tomura and Kurogiri – the latter only just manifesting behind his master.

“Kurogiri – the mist guy – try and keep his quirk erased. He’s their exit point. If we can keep them here until the pros arrive, we could stop them.” Izuku rattled off. “The metal collar, it’s the only part of him you can touch. The rest of him is incorporeal.”

“And the other one?” Aizawa asked, hands tense around his capture weapon.

“Decaying quirk, which you already know. All five fingers need to have contact for it to work. He’s –” Izuku swallowed thickly, “dangerous, so don’t underestimate him. Fast. Stronger than he looks. And smart.” He took a steadying breath. “If you can knock the hand on his face off – I don’t know, it freaks him out. He’ll get more violent, but sloppy. Just don’t let him touch you.”

Aizawa grunted in acknowledgement. His eyes were glowing and pinned to Kurogiri. Izuku clenched his jaw and forced himself to stand with his sensei.

“Stay down,” Aizawa ordered. “You’re too injured.”

“You’ll need my help.” Izuku said. “You can’t handle both of them at the same time. And don’t worry about me. I can handle a little pain.”

“You’re not authorised.” Aizawa snapped. “Stay out of this.”

Izuku scowled, knowing that technically his old sensei was right. Wherever he was right now, to them he wasn’t an official hero. But Izuku also knew the consequences that could come from him not acting, and he would accept whatever punishment the next few minutes would dole out for him if it meant everyone made it out alive.

“If you want me down, you’ll have to put me there yourself. And you really can’t afford to fight three of us.”

Aizawa’s mouth thinned into a pale line, but he didn’t say anything else. Izuku took the silence as a victory and slid into a simple stance. Tomura and Kurogiri stood across from them, watching the two of them intently.

Izuku could see the way Tomura scratched at his neck and grimaced. He couldn’t hear from this distance, but he was sure Tomura was speaking.

Kurogiri hung closer to his ward, and whatever he said, it seemed to calm the other down significantly.

“Fine.” Tomura snapped, head facing them. “I was hoping to beat the boss this time but looks like we jumped the gun a little. That’s okay, though. We’ll just have a redo. But you.”

Izuku glared as Tomura gestured at him. “You and I will have to play again later. Kurogiri.”

“I don’t think so.” Aizawa said, stepping forward, eyes still blazing. “You aren’t going anywhere.”

Tomura laughed, a soft, reedy sound. “I think we are.” He sneered. At his words, everything seemed to happen at once.

The entrance to the USJ facility exploded. Izuku, rocked by the explosion, half-turned in time to catch sight of a metallic glint. He shoved Aizawa to the side, grunting as the knife dug deep into his shoulder. He hit the floor. Kurogiri’s warp gate opened, and the two villains disappeared.

“Shit.” Izuku muttered, listening distantly as Aizawa knocked out whoever had thrown the dagger. He pressed his hand down around the blade, watching with annoyance as the green of his uniform quickly became soaked with blood.

Aizawa reappeared by his side, kneeling as he assessed the wound. “I’m fine.” Izuku assured.

“Shut up.” Aizawa said, moving Izuku’s hand and replacing it with his own. “That was a stupid thing to do.”

Izuku huffed a chuckle. “You’re welcome.” He blinked slowly, starting up at the man and wincing as his vision swam. “‘mkay, ‘zawa.” He slurred as he struggled to remain conscious.

There was a ringing in his ears, and the sounds of multiple voices began to overlap until they all mixed together.

Izuku closed his eyes, his head slipping to the side as he finally gave into his exhaustion.

-

Shouta sat at the desk, his fingers tapping the point of the card in his hand against the wood. He stared hard at the computer screen, eyes reading through the information there again, but not really absorbing it.

He glanced at the card, taking in the smiling picture emblazoned on its glossy surface, before glancing back at the computer.

The furrow between his eyebrows deepened.

This didn’t make any sense, and Shouta hated things that didn’t make sense.

He sighed deeply, rubbing at his eyes and internally scolding himself for leaving his eyedrops back in his office. He sat there, hand folded carefully over his eyes as he let his mind whirl.

Young.

That had been the first thing he had thought when he had seen who had tackled him out of the way of that thing’s attack. Painfully young – barely more than a student. A child.

And yet he had managed to fling something created to kill All Might through the goddamn roof.

He recalled the tattered green and black suit, the blood marring that freckled face and the way his features had, for a brief moment, twisted into something ugly and dark when he was pinned by that villain.

Shouta dragged his hand down his face to perch his chin there. He looked back at the card, tilting it enough that he could see the face on it without moving his head.

Name: Midoriya Izuku

And just underneath –

Hero Name: DEKU

His mouth pinched in confusion.

It wasn’t necessarily the existence of the card itself that had his thought tied in knots – Shouta, despite his best efforts, did not, in fact, know every hero out there. No, it was more to do with the year the card had been issued in.

2221.

Three years from now.

He brought the card closer, staring at the young face grinning back at him.

All his tests so far had showed the card to be genuine in make and design. Even the stripe on the back held the correct codes in it that allowed access to certain areas of U.A.

It was extraordinarily hard to fake a hero license, due to the digital code embedded in them. And if someone had managed to counterfeit one, Shouta didn’t think they would be stupid enough to get something as basic as the year wrong.

He sighed again.

And then there was the report. He looked back to the computer.

While Recovery Girl and her assistants had been working to heal the young man, Shouta had taken a sample of his blood and run it through the database, hoping to get a hit.

He just hadn’t expected to get a hit like this.

Shouta brushed the strands of his hair that had escaped his bun out of his face. He closed the police file and logged out, tapping the card once more against the desk before he hauled himself to his feet.

It was well past midnight and Shouta knew from experience that there was no way he would be sleeping now. Not with this new mess dumped on his lap.

So instead of heading to his office, he turned right and made his way down the hall. He stuffed his hands into his pockets as he walked unhurriedly.

He stopped when he came to the right door and opened it without giving himself time to rethink.

The young man laying on the bed was still out cold, so Shouta helped himself to the seat directly to the right. The glow of the lamp on the bedside table cast the other’s face into sharp relief.

He slouched in his chair, staring hard at the restrained figure. He took in everything from the smattering of freckles on each cheek, to the fluffy green hair, to the pale pallor of his skin.

He didn’t recognise him.

Shouta remembered all of his students, even the ones he had to let go – especially the ones he let go – and he didn’t know this face.

“You okay, sensei?”

He had asked him, the title falling from his lips with a familiarity that was concerning considering Shouta didn’t know him. And with the police report added on top of this, Shouta just knew that something was very wrong.

He squinted at the sleeping body, trying to understand the puzzle that was sitting right in front of him. He had a million other things he should be doing right now. Following leads. Dealing with the fallout of the attack. Updating security. Actually getting more than four hours of sleep for once.

But.

“Aizawa.”

None of that would explain how a dead kid knew his name. Or was alive, for that matter.

He shifted in his seat, hating the budding impatience he felt.

The boy let out a soft noise, his head twitching in Shouta’s direction. At once, his full attention snapped to the other. He was waking up.

Those eyes – green, vibrant, burning green – opened into slits, but they squeezed shut a moment later. Shouta watched as he tucked his face away from the light and cursed lowly. He saw how those hands pulled weakly at the restraints, still too out of it to understand where he was.

Shouta reached over and clicked the lamp off, plunging the room into relative darkness. The moonlight still allowed him to catch the way the boy’s entire form tensed. How his eyes snapped open and alert, for all that he was still suffering from the backlash of Recovery Girl’s quirk.

Those hazy green eyes locked onto him with surprising accuracy, but the moment they did the tension in the boy disappeared. It wasn’t the first time Shouta had seen someone react like that to a hero’s presence, but it was intriguing how readily he seemed to reassure this kid.

“Thanks for the save.”

Then again, maybe it wasn’t totally surprising.

The kid’s head dropped back into his pillow as he sighed deeply. “I should put a bell on you.” He groused, but it was said with a warm fondness that had Shouta blinking. He tilted his head curiously. The kid was clearly still coming to. He hummed to him, deciding to play along for as long as he could.

“You’d have to catch me first.” He said, watching with no small amount of interest as the boy’s mouth twitched into a little smile.

“I could do it,” he declared tiredly, “I’m faster than you, sensei.” He smacked his lips together and frowned. The fog was beginning to recede from his eyes. “I feel weird.”

Shouta hummed. “You were just healed. Your wounds were extensive, so you’ll be out of it for a while.”

The other made a vague noise of acknowledgement. “Makes sense. What time is it?”

Shouta glanced at the clock on the wall. “Almost two in the morning.”

“Don’t you ever sleep?” Teasing. The kid was teasing him.

“Not when I have a job to do.”

The kid frowned lightly, rotating his wrists in the restraints like he had only just noticed them. “Why can’t I move?”

“It’s to stop you from aggravating your wounds.” He said plainly, and it wasn’t exactly a lie. There was just the added benefit that it kept the other from escaping too quickly.

Another airy sound, this one closer to a laugh. “You don’t trust me, sensei?” The kid asked, for a moment making Shouta think he’d somehow given himself away. But no, the kid was still groggy.

Shouta narrowed his eyes thoughtfully, taking a risk. “You have a track record, Midoriya.”

There was no clear reaction to the name, no twitch of suspicion or confusion. Either the name really was his, or he was trained enough to not show such an obvious sign.

Midoriya laughed again, and his throat must have been too dry because he coughed straight after. Shouta poured him a glass of water and slowly leaned closer, holding the glass to his lips.

In a show of complete trust, the kid let him guide him easily. He sipped at the water, eyes closing in relief. “Thanks.” He whispered when Shouta took the glass away and put it back on the table. “So, not that I don’t appreciate it, but why are you here, sensei?”

Midoriya was still blinking tiredly, but Shouta could tell he was coming around faster than he had thought. If he wanted answers, he had to act quickly, or this entire conversation could go south when the kid realised he wasn’t talking to who he thought he was.

“I wanted to know what happened to you.”

Midoriya's nose scrunched up in a way that reminded Shouta of a bunny. He frowned at the comparison. “I don’t know. I was just fighting this guy -”

He stopped suddenly. Shouta waited as patiently as he could.

Midoriya blinked hard, staring up at him with a little twist to his lips. The cloudy look in his eyes was gone, replaced by something too aware. “You’re not Aizawa.” He said in a tone that left no room for doubt.

Shouta leaned back, his arms crossing with slight disappointment at how fast the kid had recovered - before he could even begin asking questions. “I am, actually.”

Midoriya’s eyes darted inexplicably to below his right eye. “You’re not my Aizawa.” He clarified.

Shouta inclined his head in a brief nod, though he took note of the possessive tone. “No. I don’t think I am.” He agreed evenly.

They stared at each other for a few, long moments, before some odd emotion crossed over Midoriya’s face. He looked achingly young like this, and Shouta felt sympathy grow in his chest despite himself.

Midoriya looked to the ceiling, and even with the quiet sorrow etched over his face, his eyes remained dry. Shouta gave the kid some time to compose himself.

After almost a minute, Midoriya inhaled deeply, his face setting into something determined as he turned back to stare at Shouta. “I think...I might be in trouble, Eraserhead.”

Eraserhead.

Not sensei. Not Aizawa. There was no trace of the previous friendliness. Midoriya's voice was calm, collected, and his eyes were steely. This was someone asking for help from a hero, not whatever Midoriya seemed to think they were. It was also a line in the sand, he knew. The kid was rattled right now, and was clearly trying to put some distance between them to regain some control of the situation.

“Tell me.” He ordered.

And, haltingly, quietly, Midoriya did.

-

Izuku peered up at his sensei anxiously, waiting for him to speak.

He hadn’t told the man everything – didn’t even know how to begin explaining the absolute mess their lives had become – but he’d said more than enough to at least build some credibility.

At least, he hoped.

Aizawa’s blank stare was not inducing much confidence.

Izuku turned his head away. “Look. I know it doesn’t make any sense – I barely understand any of this myself, but if there’s even a chance that I’m telling the truth…”

Aizawa didn’t so much sigh as he did slump in place. He palmed at his face in a rare show of vulnerability, and Izuku felt the first hint of hope bloom in his chest. “You believe me?”

Aizawa’s mouth turned downwards. “Normally, no.” He said, “But there’s a little too much going on with you that I can’t help but to consider it.” The man held something up to the light, and Izuku’s eyebrows rose.

“My hero license.” Aizawa nodded stiffly.

“The issue date is 2221. We’re in 2218, right now. It’s a legitimate card, as far as I can tell, so that helps your case.” The man’s eyes narrowed. “Plus, there’s the matter of, well, you.”

Izuku frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know you.” Aizawa said bluntly. “You said you were my student, once, wherever you came from – that you were a part of my current class, but I’d never seen you before you showed up at the USJ.”

Izuku had already figured as much, given Aizawa’s lack of recognition when they were fighting the Nomu. “That explains why Tsuyu and Mineta didn’t recognise me.” Izuku said slowly. “So…what? This isn’t right. If this is the past or whatever, then I should be here. Or, there. I should have been in the Flood Zone with the others.”

His gaze shot back to his sensei just in time to catch the strange ripple of emotion there before it was smothered. “You know something.”

Aizawa’s jaw clenched. Slowly, he reached out and undid the restraints' clasps. Izuku watched uneasily as each strap was loosened. He sat up carefully, swinging his legs to the side so that he was facing Aizawa fully. His body still ached, but he was familiar with the affects of Recovery Girl’s quirk by now, and whatever lingering lethargy there was, it was barely noticeable.

“Aizawa. What’s going on?”

His sensei sighed harshly. “There was a Izuku Midoriya. However, he was never a student of U.A.”

Izuku nodded slowly, but his mind sunk its teeth into the one word that made his heart turn cold. “Was?” He asked.

Aizawa’s face was made of stone. “He died last year.”

Izuku stopped breathing. His fingers dug into the sheets beneath him as his eyes dropped to his knees. His mind was silent, unable to connect the words with the implications.

Dead.

Dead.

He was –

And all of a sudden, Izuku’s thoughts exploded into action, burning through him like wildfire.

He’s dead, he never got One For All. All Might never made him his successor. His friends, they’d never had the chance to be friends. His mother –

A hand landed on his shoulder, grounding him against the torrent in his head. He numbly looked up at Aizawa, taking in the barely concealed concern there.

“How?” He rasped.

The man clearly took a moment to consider whether he should say anything, but he must have seen something on Izuku’s face, because he answered. “There was an attack. A villain with a sludge-like quirk tried to use him as leverage during his escape from a crime scene. You – he – didn’t survive.”

Chapter Text

“Are you alright?”

Izuku scrubbed his hands over his face, taking a moment to dig his fingertips into his closed eyes, as if that could somehow drive away the brewing storm of emotions inside him.

He slowly let his hands drop away to lay limp in his lap. He stared at Aizawa bleakly, teeth sinking into his bottom lip. “Honestly? No. I’m not. You’re telling me that I – or some version of me died and now I’m here and…” His fingers convulsed, twisting uncertainly. His gaze flicked away from those piercing dark eyes. “This is all wrong.” He whispered.

Izuku was infinitely glad that Aizawa had released the restraints now, because the desire to move was growing steadily stronger with each passing second. He had always been a restless person and being confined never failed to make that burning energy inside him flare to life.

He leaned forward, thoughts running rampant, condensing and collapsing over each other into one gigantic mess. The disbelief was still clinging to the edges of his mind like a stubborn limpet, some part of him still rejecting the very notion.

Because he remembered that day.

He remembered the villain Aizawa was talking about. How the thick slime had run over his skin, how it had covered his face, how it had slipped over his eyes and down his throat until he couldn’t breathe –

And he remembered being saved.

He remembered the fear on Bakugo’s face, the glimmer of almost-tears caught around the rims of his eyes, and how his hands had clawed at the thick substance uselessly.

He remembered the heat of the pavement under his knees and the sheer, crushing relief at his hero’s words.

Each moment was forever burned into his memory – because it was the day that changed everything. It was when he, some small, quirkless little kid, had been chosen as the ninth holder of One For All. It was the day that had rewritten his entire existence into something more.

And apparently it hadn’t happened at all.

He reached up and curled his hand over his mouth as his thoughts spun on.

“But why? If this is really the past,” Izuku muttered to himself, eyes darting rapidly before him as he tried to find the connections, “then everything should still be the same up until the USJ attack. I wasn’t here to influence events before that point. I – my younger self – he should be here. He should still be –”

Alive.

The unspoken word sat heavy on the back of his tongue, but Izuku couldn’t quite bring himself to voice it. He had always known how lucky he had been to survive that villain not just once, but twice. But it had never been more than a fleeting thought, constantly overshadowed by the glorious revelation that he could be a hero.

Izuku’s hand moved up to run through his hair, dragging his limp fringe back from his eyes. He frowned, words dropping into a soft mumble. “Something else is going on here.” He looked up sharply at Aizawa, eyes manic. “Is there a file, or something? Maybe I can figure out what happened. You…” he paused, hesitation and desperation shining through, “you’re absolutely sure, right?”

His sensei looked back at him calmly, if with a touch of sympathy in his gaze. “I read the autopsy report.”

Izuku’s eyes fluttered closed and he strangled back the whine building in his chest. He pushed himself to his feet, finally giving into the pulse under his skin.

Aizawa crossed his arms, watching Izuku with hooded eyes and the same patient expression he had mastered over years of teaching rambunctious teenagers.

A distant part of him – the one he could never shut off, the one that ran the constant stream of information through his head, the one that had saved his life more than once – knew what Aizawa was doing. He had spent too much time with the man, completing missions and cases, learning whatever techniques he could, to be fooled by something this simple.

Izuku knew how frightening Aizawa’s mind was, knew the inner workings of that dangerous labyrinth as well as he knew his own.

Letting Izuku go loose, giving him the ability to move, to have that illusion of freedom, all the while throwing unsettling information at him. It was to unbalance him, Aizawa’s own little attempt to pump him for more clues without Izuku catching on.

A solid strategy, and one Izuku himself had employed many times himself. But it worked best against civilians and unstable, distraught villains. And neither of those categories applied to Izuku.

But even knowing this didn’t change how he clung to the thin show of trust. It wasn’t fair, in a lot of ways. This wasn’t his Aizawa. This man didn’t have the same iron clad faith in Izuku that Izuku had in him. All the two men shared was their face, and it hurt like a knife between the ribs to be stared at like a stranger by someone he valued and believed in and trusted.

It felt like a rope he hadn’t known was holding him up had been cut, and now he was falling.

Izuku stopped pacing, eyes zeroing in on the darkened window and staring outside to distract himself. He could make out the headlights of cars as they zoomed past, the skyline illuminated by the city lights. The grounds before him were swathed in shadows, but he recognised the walls, and the garden easily enough.

Of course, they had brought him to U.A.

It was one of the most secure facilities in Japan, equipped with state-of-the-art security systems and a barrier that was almost impossible to penetrate. Plus, on any given day, the academy was teeming with heroes. Even at such an hour there would be any number of teachers living on the campus, fully prepared to respond to an attack.

Izuku pressed against the window, scanning. It hurt to look at, because it wasn’t his in the same way Aizawa wasn’t. Izuku closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the cool glass.

He needed to calm down. He was an emotional mess on the best of days, but losing his hard-won control right now was not an option. He had to think, had to figure this out, weigh his choices and decide his next move. He had to get Aizawa on his side – properly, not this push and pull thing happening between them right now.

Izuku tapped his head against the glass once before sighing, clenching his fists in determination, and turning around. He leaned back against the window and stared at his not-sensei pensively.

“What’s going to happen to me now?” He asked stiffly, addressing the most pressing issue. “You don’t trust me. Not enough to let me go free and unsupervised.”

The easiest way to get through this would be to cooperate. Answer what he could, be as truthful as possible, and try not to screw anything up worse than he already had. His gaze dipped to the unmarked area of skin under Aizawa’s eye.

If the man was bothered by being called out, or the intense scrutiny, he didn’t show it. “You’re right.” He said instead, brutally honest. “There are a lot of anomalies around you, and you’re definitely convincing – but so are a lot of liars. I need something more concrete that I can base my assumptions on. You’ve told me plenty, but I need a second opinion.”

Izuku nodded thoughtfully. It was only logical, after all. Aizawa couldn’t be the total authority on this situation. His rank as a Pro Hero certainly gave him a lot of power, but this was too big to be handled by just one man. There was always going to be more people involved.

“You’re thinking about Naomasa, aren’t you?” He asked, already knowing the answer.

Aizawa blinked languidly. “You’re familiar with him.” It was less a question and more an observation. Izuku shrugged in response.

“We’ve worked together before. The three of us –” he stopped, unsure if the information would be welcomed. But Aizawa nodded at him. “The three of us had a habit of consulting each other on cases. You two would often call me in if things got a little dicey.” He smiled softly to himself, a little bitter, a little fond at the memory of some of their escapades. “You used to call me the ‘sledgehammer’. Said I was as subtle as one, and did twice as much damage.”

He huffed a chuckle as he brushed some of his hair out of his eyes again. Aizawa remained quiet, though his expression pulled into something odd at Izuku’s reminiscing.

“Sorry.” Izuku said, biting his lip lightly. “I know this must be weird for you, talking to someone who knows you so well, when you don’t have a clue who I am.”

Aizawa tilted his head, “I imagine this is worse for you.” He said gently – or as gentle as a man like him could be.

Izuku chuckled wetly, rubbing at his face and hating the sting in his eyes. “You have no idea.” He replied tiredly, eyes blinking slowly, feeling wrung out. “I was supposed to have dinner with my mum.”

-

Shouta felt the knot in his chest grow tighter at the whispered confession. There was a very real sense of loss in Midoriya’s voice, an aged kind of resignation, like he was used to being screwed over by the universe at this point.

It was painful to see on someone so young. To see the bleak acceptance in those green eyes, the slight downwards twist to his lips.

He cleared his throat to break the tension that had dropped between them. He pushed himself to his feet, carefully masking whatever flicker of compassion was starting to gnaw at his gut.

Interrogate and verify, first. Plan and assist, second.

“I’ll get in contact with Tsukauchi in the morning and see when he’s available to question you. For now, I think you need some rest.” As he said the words, Midoriya swayed on his feet, his eyes growing distant and clouded.

The boy nodded, carefully picking his way back over to the bed. He practically collapsed onto it, and Shouta watched as the other flopped around gracelessly. It was a far cry from the nimble movements he had seen him perform, but he supposed after their talk it could be expected.

Midoriya settled into the bed and looked up at Shouta silently as he bent to reattach his restraints.

The kid had already pointed out Aizawa’s lack of trust, and he hadn’t bothered denying it; but he couldn’t help but hate himself a little as he redid the straps.

Midoriya’s expression was guileless and open as he stared up at him. Like there was nothing Aizawa could ask that he wouldn’t agree to. Christ.

He stood over Midoriya for a moment, just staring down at the kid and taking him in. Midoriya sat through the examination without a hint of discomfort. He looked like he was used to being stared at – used to the specific weight of Shouta’s gaze. He remembered the look on Midoriya’s face when he spoke of working on cases together.

There was a strange feeling prickling in his chest. Some faint realisation that if this kid was telling the truth, then in another time and place, he would have been his student. Shouta would have taught him, would have seen him grow from a little first-year into a proud Pro Hero. That he would have seen something in him, enough to rely on the other to assist with his work.

That some version of him had trusted and liked this kid enough to let him get that close.

The air felt uncomfortable, and the cold spark in his gut that told him Midoriya wasn’t a threat grumbled in disappointment as he stepped away from the bed.

He wanted, inexplicably, to apologise to the kid, and Shouta almost scowled at the irrational thought. “I’ll be back tomorrow. Try to get some sleep.”

Midoriya’s lips twitched with wry, subdued amusement. “I will if you will.” The knowing lilt in his voice should have annoyed Shouta – having some stranger be able to read and understand him so well should make him itch – yet all he could do was shake his head and try not to roll his eyes at the comment.

“‘Night, Aizawa.” Midoriya called as he walked to the door. Shouta hesitated on the threshold, glancing back to see that the kid’s eyes were already drifting closed. There were still lines across his forehead, and the skin around his mouth was tight. He wasn’t going to have a restful sleep.

Shouta closed the door and stood there, mind buzzing away with all that he had learned tonight. He closed his irritated eyes, sighing through his nose.

He definitely hadn’t expected any of that. There was so much to unpack from Midoriya’s story, so many things he had to cross-check and process and confirm before he could even make his first step.

He remembered the quiet sorrow etched onto Midoriya’s face.

“Fuck.”

Why was it always the innocent ones? Why were the ones with the brightest eyes always the ones getting run down the most?

He scoffed, scratching at his chin, and started to make his way back to his office. The lights in the halls were dulled, since no one sane was ever up at this hour.

Shouta knew Nezu probably was, but the principal always got this vague air of disapproval whenever Shouta showed up at his office at an ungodly hour to report something. He would just have to wait until a more reasonable time to go and tell him what Midoriya had revealed. No doubt Nezu would want to be included for Tsukauchi’s interrogation.

Shouta opened the door to the communal office and paused just in the doorway. He blinked at the figure sitting at his desk. “Hizashi.” He growled when he saw the other’s hands hovering over his computer’s keyboard. “What have I told you about touching my things?” He closed the door with a flick of his wrist.

He wasn’t even surprised to see the other was awake. He had known Hizashi had been on patrol tonight and judging from the fact that he was still in his costume, the other had only just returned.

HIzashi didn’t even bother looking up from the computer screen, but his lips quirked into his signature grin. “Not to?” He offered, like they both couldn’t recall the lectures. “Oh, come on, Shouta. You can’t really blame me. It was just sitting here.”

“I distinctly remember closing my files and logging out.” He said as he drew closer. He rounded the desk and looked at the screen. The police report he had been reading before was splashed across the window, along with a number of news articles about the attack that had claimed Midoriya’s life just a year ago. “Why are you snooping?”

Hizashi leaned back in the chair, his arms crossed. “Because you never tell me anything if I don’t.” He cocked his head to the side, his glasses sliding down his nose enough to catch Shouta’s eye and reflecting the glare of the computer screen. “Is this what I think it is?”

Shouta looked back at the computer in feigned disinterest. “Looks like an old villain attack.”

Hizashi frowned at him. “You know what I mean. That kid that helped you at the USJ, I didn’t get a good look at him, but he had green hair, didn’t he?” Hizashi gestured at the picture of Midoriya Izuku in his middle school uniform, smiling out at them awkwardly. “Is this him?”

“No.” Shouta answered honestly, propping his hip against the edge of the desk and staring at the screen.

“Come on, Shouta, don’t try to lie about this.”

“I’m not lying.” He said, “This kid isn’t the same one that helped me.”

Hizashi drummed his fingers on the desk, a frown sitting over his face as he squinted up at Shouta in confusion. “Care to explain?”

Shouta sighed again, louder and sounding more annoyed than he actually was. “I’m still figuring it out myself, but here.” He held out Midoriya’s card and watched with interest as his friend plucked it from his fingers and studied it critically.

After a few moments, Hizashi looked at him. “I’m still confused, are we…is this a trick or something?” He brought the license up and held it close to the school picture of Midoriya.

“I wish it were.” Shouta muttered. “I’ve checked it, and it’s valid. Ignoring the fact that there’s no file for him on our systems, and the incorrect date, I wouldn’t know the difference.”

Hizashi handed the card back, still frowning. “What are you going to do then? If this is some time-related quirk, then we have a serious problem.” Hizashi brushed a loose strand of hair back absently.

“I’m calling Tsukauchi in to talk to him. If everything checks out, we’ll see.”

Shouta pinched the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes again as the pain flared up once more.

“That’s a good idea. Here.” Hizashi pressed the bottle of drops into his hand. Shouta mumbled a thanks and quickly set to fixing his dried eyes. As he did, Hizashi hummed quietly to himself.

“We’ll need to be careful with him, if he really is from the future, or,” Hizashi glanced at the computer meaningfully, “wherever it is he’s from. He’s obviously got a strong quirk.”

“I’ll keep an eye on him.” Shouta said, slipping his drops into his pocket and reaching over to sign out of his computer again. “If he does anything suspicious or dangerous there are plenty of places we could put him where he couldn’t hurt anyone.”

“You think it’ll come to that?”

Hizashi stood, pushing the chair in and heading to the door with Shouta.

The question niggled at him, and Shouta contemplated his answer. There was a significant part of him that wanted to say no, that Midoriya wasn’t a threat to them, that his actions at the USJ had certainly pushed him firmly out of the enemy slot. But his more logical side knew that ‘not an enemy’ was hardly the same as ‘ally’.

Midoriya had saved some of his students. He had stepped between Shouta and that abomination. He had even taken a hit for Shouta without a second of hesitation.

But he was still an unknown in this whole situation. And until Shouta had something more tangible than his gut instinct backing him, he would reserve his judgement.

“I don’t know.” He finally answered.

I hope not.

-

Izuku walked placidly behind Aizawa, his eyes darting around the empty hallway in interest. He had rarely ever ventured onto the upper levels of U.A., even after he had graduated. He knew this was where most of the security rooms were, as well as a number of research facilities and laboratories.

It was also where most of the secure information was stored – like student files, their names and quirks and addresses, as well as those of the teachers.

He had only ever been here with Aizawa before, whenever Izuku needed access to his old sensei’s resources or old cases; and he found it kind of ironic that even now, in this horrid mess, Aizawa was still the one leading him through the labyrinthian halls.

Not my Aizawa, he reminded himself, and the spark of amusement spluttered and died in his chest.

His jaw clenched.

They came to a stop before a door, the lock giving a merry chirp as Aizawa waved his key card against it. The man stood aside, and Izuku slowly moved forward and into the room at the silent request.

“Wait in here.” Aizawa told him from where he stood by the door, one hand resting lightly on the wall. “He’ll be up shortly.”

Izuku glanced back at him briefly, nodding in understanding as he slipped further into the room. The door closed softly behind him. His gaze roamed the room swiftly, taking it in with half-lidded eyes.

It wasn’t anything like the interrogation rooms he was familiar with. He bypassed the table completely, ignoring the plush leather chairs, instead heading towards the opposite side of the room.

The entire wall was made of floor-to-ceiling windows, giving him an unrestricted view of the grounds of U.A.

It was still early, the sun only just beginning to peak over the buildings and saturate the world. His gaze drifted up to scour over the cityscape curiously, his mind automatically taking in and noting the differences.

It still looked much the same as he was used to, though there were a few skyscrapers missing, the space where they should be – would be, eventually, maybe – revealing nothing but the bright blue of the sky.

He absently fiddled with the cuff around his wrist, twisting it around with a light frown. He looked down at it, scratching at the skin gently.

It was odd, wearing a quirk-suppressant. He didn’t feel weakened, nor did he feel nauseated as some reported they did. He tried to call upon One For All, watching for the tell-tale crackle of lightning – only there was nothing.

“Huh.” He mused, opening and closing his fist before eventually crossing his arms and sighing. He wasn’t particularly bothered that Aizawa had insisted on the cuff, knew that it was standard procedure when dealing with non-mutant quirks, but it still chafed in some small way.

Izuku shook his head as he drove those thoughts from his mind.

A part of him had been hoping that when he woke up, all of this would be nothing more than a dream. That he would open his eyes and be back in his own time, surrounded by his friends. To have Bakugo punch him for doing something as reckless as getting caught by a dangerous quirk. To have Iida and Uraraka fret over him.

To have Todoroki reach out and grasp his shoulder, checking on him in his own quiet way.

But it hadn’t happened.

He’d woken exactly where he’d fallen asleep, restrained and confused and so incredibly close to crying in frustration.

Another beep from the door had him turning around, and Izuku smiled automatically when Naomasa entered, a greeting bubbling at the back of his throat before he swallowed it back at the last moment.

Because while the face was familiar, everything else was not.

There was no warmth in Naomasa’s eyes, merely cool apathy and perhaps a glint of intrigue. No recognition. No kindness.

Izuku’s smile fell.

Naomasa studied him from the doorway for a moment before coming forward. The door slid shut the second he cleared it; the nearly inaudible hiss of the lock engaging was almost completely covered by his words. “I’m Detective Tsukauchi. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He held out his hand politely.

Izuku gripped the other’s hand, shaking it firmly and forcing his smile back into place. “Midoriya. Izuku. It’s – ah, good to meet you too.”

If Naomasa found his reception lacklustre, he didn’t show it. Instead he gestured to the large table. “Might we perhaps sit for this? It’ll be more comfortable, I’m sure.”

Izuku nodded, moving to take the closest seat. Naomasa rounded the table and sat across from him. He busied himself for a few moments, taking his notepad out and flipping to a fresh page, pulling his pen out and clicking it. Izuku had never understood the man’s insistence on using such outdated equipment, but the sight of that familiar worn notebook soothed the ball of anxiety that had been building in his breast.

He laid his hands atop the table, keeping them in plain view. While Naomasa prepared himself he quickly scanned the room again, eyes easily finding a few of the cameras, knowing that Aizawa and a few others were likely on the other end of them, watching everything.

He swallowed, worried though he knew he had no reason to be.

Naomasa glanced up at him suddenly, mouth quirking into a small, friendly smile. “Nervous?” He asked, eyes like steel.

“I’ve never been on this side of you before.” He admitted, shrugging. Naomasa didn’t overtly react to the comment, so Izuku figured Aizawa had already briefed him on some of his suspicions.

“This is only a standard questioning,” Naomasa assured him, “we just want to understand who you are and what happened to you.”

Izuku nodded slowly. He knew the general layout for these types of interrogations, had even conducted a few himself. He’d just never been subjected to one before. It was going to be enlightening, he was sure.

“We’ll start simple. What’s your name?”

“Midoriya Izuku.”

Naomasa made a note on his pad. “And your age?”

“Nineteen.”

The other man looked up at him, head tilted. “And your quirk?”

Izuku hesitated. Naomasa’s attention hooked into him at the slight hesitation. “Ah, it’s kind of hard to explain.” Izuku eventually said, choosing his words carefully. He knew Naomasa knew about One For All, but he had no way of knowing who was watching this, and the last thing he wanted to do was reveal such a heavily guarded secret.

“I’m sure you can manage.”

Despite everything, Izuku has to smother back a smile at the light, biting tone hidden beneath the congenial words.

“My quirk’s listed as ‘Super-Strength’.” He said, leaning back in his chair and staring at the man. He watched as Naomasa’s pen scratched across the paper. “I was All Might’s apprentice.” He added casually, and immediately Naomasa paused.

The man’s eyes rose to meet his, a question lurking in them. “His apprentice?”

Izuku smiled, and his finger tapped against the table surface in steady beats. Naomasa’s gaze dropped to watch it. Izuku stopped, then slowly repeated the same pattern.

Understanding bloomed to life on the man’s face, though it was quickly wiped. “Interesting. What’s your favourite number?”

Izuku’s mouth twitched. “I’ve always been partial to nine, myself. It feels lucky.”

Naomasa sat back, staring at him intently. He tapped his pen against his notepad, eyes narrowed as he chewed over what Izuku had revealed. Almost an entire minute passed in silence before the other man spoke.

“Tell me how you ended up in the USJ facility.”

Izuku breathed steadily through his nose. “I got the call around midday yesterday, well, the day before, I guess now. It was a coordinated attack, a mix of petty criminals and a group of high-class villains that Aizawa and I had been tracking for weeks. They just descended on the city, a widespread attack aiming at just generating pure chaos. I set out by myself but eventually joined up with a few of my former classmates. We were tasked with thinning the herd and holding the line long enough for backup and evacuation.”

Izuku paused, giving Naomasa time to finish his quick notes. “We fought all through the night and well into the next day. I was separated from the others and got ambushed by a group of villains. They weren’t much of an issue.” Naomasa didn’t even seem to doubt his statement. He merely nodded along.

“I managed to subdue most of them, but there was one…” Izuku’s gaze drifted to the side, thoughtfully, remembering the man that had done this to him. “He had a touch-based quirk, skin on skin contact required for it to activate. He called it Exile, he told me that anything he touched just disappeared. He didn’t know where, didn’t even know if they survived the trip. I tried to stop him, but I was too slow, I’d exhausted myself.”

Izuku blinked, returning his focus to Naomasa. “He got me.”

Naomasa carefully placed his pen on the table, folding his hands together and giving Izuku his undivided attention.

Izuku’s next breath was almost punched out of him. “I blinked and I was at the USJ, out on the edge of the Flood Zone. I was confused at first, I thought I was in some sort of illusion, or maybe a memory. Everything was happening as I remembered it, but when I rescued Tsuyu and Mineta, I knew something was wrong because I wasn’t with them.”

“You were in the Flood Zone with them originally?” Naomasa asked, and Izuku nodded. The other didn’t sound like he didn’t believe Izuku, but he knew first-hand how good of an actor Naomasa was.

“When we were separated, the three of us were teleported there. We managed to get ourselves out, of course. But the fact that I was missing made it obvious that something was wrong.” Here, Izuku’s face scrunched up briefly, because now he knew exactly why his younger self was nowhere to be seen.

“What happened next?”

Izuku picked at his fingers, suddenly uncomfortable. “I saw Aizawa-sensei about to be hit. I didn’t want to –” he stopped, frustrated, “I didn’t…I still remember seeing that Nomu grab him. I still remember the way it – and the blood –” he closed his eyes and sighed harshly. “I didn’t want any of that to happen again. I didn’t want him to have to go through that, not if I could stop it. So I did.”

He looked up then to pierce Naomasa with his gaze, jaw set in determination. “Then I pelted the Nomu through the roof and Aizawa saved me from Shigaraki. The villains escaped and the heroes arrived, and I blacked out.” His words had grown more clipped the longer he spoke but talking about this just brought back all the horrible memories that day had given him the first time around.

None of them had come out of the USJ attack the same, but Izuku in particular had had the affects cling to him like shadows for years. It had been the first glimpse he had gotten of Tomura, and it was the first time he had seen a hero – someone he admired, someone he had thought of as indestructible, no matter how naïve that was – suffer such graphic injuries.

It had been the wake-up call he had never known he needed. And he still hated the price Aizawa had had to pay for it to happen. Every time Izuku looked at that scar under his old sensei’s eye it made his gut churn with guilt and the bitter sting of failure.

“I see.” Naomasa said after a long moment, with a tone that implied he really didn’t. Izuku almost laughed.

The other man shifted in his seat. There was another beat of silence, before he spoke. “You’re aware that Midoriya Izuku is dead, correct?”

It wasn’t said cruelly, but Izuku still winced at the bluntness. He hunched over slightly. “Yeah.”

“And yet here you are.”

-

Naomasa had known his day would be odd from the moment he had received the email notification from Eraserhead early this morning. He’d only had that confirmed when he had actually read the email itself.

Being on the force for so long, having close relationships with a number of Pro Heroes – and one particular underground hero – had given him the ability to remain rather unruffled by whatever ridiculous situations they managed to bring to his attention. But this one took the cake entirely.

Because time travel? He could handle that. Time-quirks were rare but not undocumented.

The appearance of a young man that was supposedly dead, years older than he should be and totting around a hero license? Well, more outside his comfort zone, but not too unbelievable.

The fact that this young man was also apparently Yagi’s apprentice, having already assumed the powers of One For All? Mildly more concerning, considering he had already been introduced to All Might’s successor, and Togata Mirio was vastly different from the boy sitting across from him.

All three at once though?

Aizawa owed him a goddamn drink for dragging him into this.

He finished his questioning, his quirk a constant feedback in his head, telling him that while the story was outlandish, not one word that had fallen from Midoriya’s mouth had been a lie.

He could already feel a headache forming.

“Thank you for your cooperation, Midoriya.” He stood, closing his notepad and slipping it back into his pocket. As he straightened, he took one last opportunity to look at the young man. He stared at the tousled green hair, the sharp glint of intelligence in those eyes, the corded muscles and freckles. “Someone will be along to collect you shortly.”

Midoriya looked up at him and nodded slowly, slouching a little in his place. He seemed tired all of a sudden, and as Naomasa watched, years seemed to drop from Midoriya’s face, making him look far younger than he actually was.

Stomach twisting unpleasantly, he made for the door.

Aizawa was waiting for him on the other side, arms crossed and expression tight. “Well?” The man prompted after the door was shut.

Naomasa rubbed at his face. “I need to write my report, Aizawa. You know –”

“I don’t care about your report right now. I want to know your initial thoughts.”

Naomasa barely refrained from rolling his eyes at the impatience. He had been dealing with Aizawa for a long time, and the gruff attitude had long lost its affect. Still, he knew how tenacious the other was, and the last thing he wanted was to be hounded after by someone like Aizawa.

He started walking towards the elevator, the other peeling away from the wall to follow. He only started talking when they reached the end of the long hallway.

“My 'initial thoughts' are that he’s telling the truth. I didn’t get a hint of deception from him that entire time.” He hit the button for the elevator, slipping his hands into his pockets. “As strange as this is, I think we have to accept that, as far as any of us know, Midoriya is who he claims to be.”

Aizawa was frowning when they entered the elevator, eyes unfocussed as he thought to himself. Naomasa enjoyed the lull, knowing it wouldn’t last.

“So, time-travel?”

He sighed.

“I’m not too sure. He arrived almost a year after his younger self had been murdered. If he really was from the future – well, it doesn’t make much sense. By all accounts, he shouldn’t exist.”

Aizawa hummed. “Unless it’s not time we’re dealing with here.” He mused to himself.

Naomasa closed his eyes. He held up a hand, stopping the other from voicing what they were both thinking. “Please, just wait until I’ve had another cup of coffee before you start this. I’m still trying to understand it myself.”

The other huffed, but he kindly refrained from speaking as the elevator brought them to the correct floor. Naomasa knew that Nezu would be waiting for him in the monitor room, and with any luck, Yagi would be there as well.

They stepped onto the floor and moved down the hallway, one in front of the other.

“What did you think of him?” Naomasa asked, gaze pinned to the back of Aizawa’s head.

The other was quiet for a moment. “I think he’s dangerous.” The man said, voice surprisingly light for such a confession. “I think he saved two of my students from being killed. I think I saw him take down something strong enough to supposedly give All Might trouble. I think I saw him get in the face of a man with a decaying quirk without a hint of fear. I think he’s a reckless idiot that’ll get himself killed if he’s not careful.”

Naomasa, despite himself, felt a small smile creep onto his face. They came up to the door that would take them to Nezu.

“I liked him too.”

Aizawa’s back tensed, and he shot an acidic look over his shoulder.

Naomasa raised an eyebrow, daring the man to refute his implication. It always brought him great joy, seeing Aizawa struggle to talk his way through a conversation between them.

After all, he’d either get caught in his lie, or cancel Naomasa’s quirk – which was basically the same thing.

“Shut up.”

Aizawa turned back to open the door.

Naomasa didn’t bother hiding his chuckle as he followed.

Chapter Text

Shouta could already tell that this wasn’t going to be an enjoyable discussion.

He made one quick skim of the room, taking in the grim and uncomfortable expressions on everyone – except Nezu who, like always, seemed both pensive and almost manically amused – and promptly collapsed into the first available seat. He groaned quietly, closing his eyes and slumping in his chair, mentally preparing himself for the torture he was about to endure.

He could already feel the migraine forming. Though maybe that was just a by-product of the presence of the hulking man standing in the corner of the room.

There was a soft clink, and he cracked his eyes open enough to see the teacup that had been delicately placed before him. He didn’t reach for it, didn’t particularly want it, but the gesture was nice all the same.

His gaze drifted to the few screens embedded on the opposite wall, immediately focussing on the one visible figure.

Midoriya looked even smaller on the monitor, and the nondescript clothes he wore, at least one size too big, did nothing but emphasis the fact. The kid wasn’t particularly tall, and for all his muscles, he also wasn’t large. Sitting with his elbows propped up on the table, his shoulders hunched forward and his eyes drooping low, he just looked like an exhausted teenager.

He had put up a good front during his interrogation, but now that he was alone, he wasn’t even trying. He knew there were cameras on him – Shouta had seen the way he had assessed the room the moment he had stepped inside – but he just didn’t seem to care about appearances unless someone was in front of him.

“Well?” An all too familiar, and entirely unwelcome voice broke him out of his observation. Shouta’s lips curled in distaste before he wrangled that reaction back under control. "What did you find, Naomasa? Was, was the boy – telling the truth?” The question was a bumbled mess, and Shouta moved his hand to block his eyes for a moment so that he could roll them without anyone seeing.

Hizashi shot him a quick, conspiratorial grin from the seat beside him, but otherwise kept his attention dutifully on the detective as he started to answer.

“My report –”

“Will be of great help, but perhaps a brief overview now will help us to handle this situation more effectively.” Nezu cut in smoothly, offering a kindly smile. It soothed the prickle of annoyance that Tsukauchi was undoubtedly feeling. Shouta dropped his hand to cup his chin and flicked his eyes to the detective as well.

He watched the man nod, then clear his throat in preparation. “As I informed Aizawa on our way here,” he began, gesturing vaguely at Shouta, “I detected no traces of deception from Midoriya. As far-fetched as his story seems, it is true.”

Shouta waited, then bit back a sigh when All Might spoke once again. “E-everything? Including…”

Tsukauchi nodded, his attention pinned on the other man. “Yes.”

Shouta narrowed his eyes at that, darting a look between the two suspiciously. He supposed it could have to do with Midoriya’s claim of being All Might’s apprentice; but the haunted expression on the blond’s face seemed too strong a reaction. It might have been a surprising revelation, but surely not enough to warrant a look like that.

The quiet sorrow on the man’s face was too personal, and Shouta felt a thought begin to roll around in his mind.

Did he know Midoriya?

He tried to recall all the information he had managed to gather about the boy, about the circumstances of his death – but the reports had been heavily redacted due to him being a minor. He would have to request to get his hands on the official reports soon. If All Might was somehow connected to Midoriya, beyond what the kid claimed, then that might cause a problem.

He cut that thought off for now. He had very little desire to deal with All Might’s personal business, to deal with the man period, but he would keep the potential connection in mind.

“Are we sure the kid doesn’t just think he’s telling the truth?” Nemuri asked, tapping her nails on the arm of her chair in agitation. She was frowning, her eyes on the monitors.

“Maybe he’s been affected by something, something that makes him believe he’s…from the future?” Her tone turned appropriately cynical towards the end. “Or maybe he’s just insane? I mean, that sounds more probably then time-travel, right?”

She glanced at Shouta, but he refrained from commenting. He would have agreed with her, if he hadn’t already done some digging of his own. He had only shared the information of Midoriya being well and truly dead with Nezu, Tsukauchi and Hizashi, though the latter had found it out by rooting through Shouta’s files.

Tsukauchi looked at him too, before sending an inquiring nod in Nezu’s direction. The principal hummed and took a sip of his tea. “That would be our most likely guess, if Midoriya Izuku had not been killed last year in a villain attack.”

“Wait, what?” Nemuri’s eyes widened.

Behind them, closer to the monitors, Shouta noted how stiff All Might had become.

“It’s true,” he said, still watching the blond, “I looked it up last night. He’s dead, but the DNA results came back positive. That kid is Midoriya.”

“A shape-shifting quirk, then,” Nemuri shot back, “they’re not unheard of.”

But Tsukauchi was shaking his head before Shouta could say anything. “Shape-shifting quirks are dependant on having something to copy off of. If he,” he pointed at the screen, and Midoriya, “was transformed into Midoriya Izuku, then he would need a source of some kind to draw from. From what I understand, he had nothing like that on him when you brought him here. Also, losing consciousness should have caused him to revert; or simply the amount of time he’s been here. He wouldn’t be able to maintain it indefinitely, he’d exhaust himself, and he hasn’t shown any signs of altering.”

“Besides,” Shouta interjected, tone just shy of derisive, “why transform into a dead kid? What possible purpose would that serve? Why age himself up? Midoriya was fourteen when he was killed, yet he’s clearly several years older. It’d do nothing but lead him here, being interrogated and held under suspicion.”

Nemuri leaned back at his rebuttal, but the stubborn glint in her eyes didn’t disappear. Shouta felt his migraine start to throb. The silence stretched for a long minute, before Hizashi spoke up, tentative in a way he normally wasn’t. “So, it is time-travel?”

Shouta caught Tsukauchi’s eye. The detective frowned, tilting his head. Shouta shrugged. Tsukauchi shook his head.

“Not time-travel?” Hizashi hazarded, watching their wordless interaction with sharp eyes.

“We don’t believe so.” Tsukauchi eventually said, heaving a sigh and pinching the bridge of his nose. He looked very reluctant to broach the topic. “There’s – look, there’s not a lot of research revolving around time-based quirks. They exist, but most are contained to a small range; like having the ability to rewind several minutes into the past. The longest example I’ve ever heard was of a man in Europe going back an entire day, and the effort almost killed him.”

He paused long enough for that to sink in. “From what we’ve learned, and from our own observations, Midoriya is from about three years in the future. No quirk I have ever heard of has that kind of power.” Helpfully, Shouta pulled out the license he had pulled from the kid and flicked it over to Nemuri. The woman pursed her lips and studied the card intently.

All Might crept closer, gazing over her shoulder. The look on his face grew worse, and he swiftly retreated back towards the monitors.

Nemuri sighed, handing the license to Hizashi, who returned it to Shouta. “So, how is it not time-travel, then?” She demanded.

Shouta pocketed the card, gaze locked back on Tsukauchi. He had been dancing around their biggest piece of evidence, and Shouta decided to have mercy on the man when his expression tightened.

“It’s not time-travel because if Midoriya were from the future, from our future, then he technically shouldn’t exist.” There was the first stirrings of confusion and frustration on the others’ faces, and he continued before they interrupted. “His present self is dead. Kind of hard to be alive in the future if he died in the past.”

“Well then where is he from?” Nemuri snapped, throwing her arms up and glaring at Shouta as if this were all his fault. “You already ruled out an imposter, and now you’re saying time-travel isn’t the answer. So, what is it?”

“An alternate universe.”

The soft mutter cut off whatever reply Shouta was about to give, and as one, they looked at All Might. The blond was facing the screens, one of his hands hovering over the image of Midoriya. His fingers, Shouta realised, were trembling lightly.

“That’s what you were going to say, yes, Aizawa?”

Shouta pursed his lips, “That’s my current theory.” He confirmed, and All Might nodded robotically.

“No. No way.” Nemuri said, shaking her head and cutting one of her hands through the air. “I draw the line at alternate dimensions. That’s impossible –”

“Ah, but that was said about quirks, was it not?” Nezu said, utterly calm in the wake of what was potentially a world-shattering concept. “Quirks and the abilities they grant were originally seen as fanciful things, the stuff of dreams and wishful thinking. And yet, we now live in a time where many are capable of what were once considered impossible things.” The principal’s eyes were sharp as he gazed at all of them, smile still in place.

“Who are we to deny the existence of something unprecedented? There are many quirks in the world, and if young Midoriya’s story is to be believed, the user that attacked him wasn’t even aware of the extent of his quirk; merely that whatever he touched vanished, never to be seen again. Perhaps we are not the first to receive an unfortunate victim of this quirk, or perhaps Midoriya is simply the first one we have come across.”

The implication of that was disturbing, and Shouta hated that he hadn’t immediately thought of that himself. The last thing they needed was more people like Midoriya dropping in out of nowhere. If that was indeed what had happened, there was every chance that it could happen again.

And there was no guarantee that the next person that quirk spat out would be as obliging as Midoriya.

Shouta looked around the room again, seeing as they all came to the same conclusion as him.

“This still begs the question of what to do.” Tsukauchi said, folding his hands into his lap and glancing at the monitors with a thoughtful frown. “There isn’t really a rule stating what to do with,” his eyes fluttered closed for a moment, “dimension-hopping Pro Heroes. We don’t even know if this is a permanent issue. He could be snapped back to his own world.”

Or he could be stuck here forever, Shouta thought with some sympathy. It was a depressing one, and he couldn’t begin to imagine what Midoriya might be feeling right now.

“I was supposed to have dinner with my mum.”

He squeezed his eyes shut, banishing the memory of that pained whisper.

“We have to watch him.” Shouta said, shifting forward, perching his elbows on his knees and linking his hands together. “We can’t afford to let him go running around without supervision. I –” he paused, searching for the words, “I don’t think that he’s a threat, per se. He intervened in a fight he didn’t need to. He defended my students when I couldn’t, protected them when he didn’t have to. And he saved me. Twice.”

Nemuri winced, and even Hizashi looked uncomfortable at the reminder. Shouta hadn’t held anything back when he had filled them in on the events of the attack. He had spared no detail, and all of them knew just how close he had come to being killed by that thing.

None of them liked thinking about it, least of all him, but it was an important point.

Tsukauchi nodded carefully, his expression neutral. “Round the clock surveillance would be the best idea, at least until we know for sure that he isn’t dangerous.”

Shouta refrained from scoffing at that, because there was no doubt in his mind about it. From the small glimpse he had gotten, the kid had a ridiculous amount of strength behind him, not to mention speed and technique. Plus, he was intelligent. Far more intelligent than his appearance suggested.

A strong opponent was bad. An intelligent opponent was worse. But those two traits wrapped in one body was by far the worst possible combination. He suspected that Midoriya would be absolutely brutal on the field.

He could see why some other version of him would be willing to work with the kid.

Tsukauchi continued, “I can have him taken to a secure facility outside of the city limits. With the suppressor on him he shouldn’t be too difficult to transfer.”

Curiously, or perhaps not, it was All Might that protested. Shouta knew the man had a bleeding heart, and despite how the idea made a small part of him twinged, he still knew it was the most logical plan to go with.

“Surely there’s no need for such drastic measures. The boy has been nothing but cooperative so far, and as Aizawa said, he did prove himself with the attack, defending the students as he did.”

That wasn’t quite what he had said, but Shouta didn’t bother pointing that out. It really wasn’t worth the effort.

“Then what would you suggest?” Tsukauchi asked, somehow making the question sound courteous, rather than sarcastic.

All Might faltered, but he rallied himself faster than Shouta had expected. “What about having him stay here? U.A. is just as, if not more secure than your facilities, and with so many Pro Heroes on campus, he would not be a danger.”

Nemuri turned in her seat, staring up at the blond, incredulous. “You want us to let an unknown entity stay where we teach children? Young, impressionable children, I should add. What if he is a threat? What if he’s somehow playing us all? Letting him stay here would put him in contact with our students, and that’s more than dangerous – it’s stupid.”

All Might twitched at the accusatory tone, but he held firm. “It would make sense. The school has state-of-the-art equipment, and there is not an inch of the campus that isn’t under surveillance. Plus, a more relaxed environment would give us a chance to better observe him and his intentions. And we have the necessary rooms to contain him should we have to.”

Shouta must have lost his mind, because that actually made some iota of sense. Normally, agreeing with All Might wasn’t something he did often, mainly due to their differing views on some of the core aspects of their work, but this time he had to admit that the man had a point.

And, if Midoriya were at U.A., it would give Shouta unlimited access to the kid, meaning he would get the chance to figure the other out at his leisure.

“It makes sense.” He said, taking a second to enjoy the disbelief that overcame all of their faces. He turned to Nezu, because if anyone would be the deciding factor, it was him. “Having Midoriya here also allows us to keep the circumstances of his arrival under control. If he were put into police custody, there’s a chance the story could get out. At least here we can contain everything.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw how Tsukauchi frowned at the suggestion of a leak in his department, but the man tellingly stayed quiet. There had been speculation for a while now that someone under his command was an informant, they just hadn’t managed to pin down who. Until then, it was safer for everyone if Midoriya was kept away from it all.

Nezu drained the last mouthful of his tea and set the cup down gently. “I see no problem with that plan. Detective?” He asked cheerfully, ignoring Nemuri’s noise of displeasure.

Tsukauchi sighed once more. “It’s not exactly standard procedure, but this isn’t a standard situation. I suppose it’s fine. Someone will need to be directly responsible for him though. To watch him and keep us appraised of any developments.”

“I will,” All Might offered, taking a step forward, but Shouta stopped him.

“No. You’ve got enough on your plate. This is your first year teaching a subject and you need to concentrate on that. You can’t afford to be distracted by something like this. Besides,” he stared the other down, his jaw clenching, “don’t you have a protégé to train?”

This time, All Might did flinch. Shouta didn’t apologise. He had made his opinion on All Might’s undisguised favouritism apparent from the first moment he became aware of the private tutelage Togata Mirio was receiving.

“I’ll watch him,” Shouta said after a moment, and All Might looked away. “I have an established rapport with Midoriya already. He seemed inclined to trust me, and if the need arises, I’m the most capable of subduing him – I’ve seen him in action.”

It also went without saying, that if Shouta was the one watching him, Midoriya would always have a suppressor around him, even if he ever happened to slip the one on his wrist.

“And what about your students?” Nemuri asked, “You have to have him with you at all times. You’re fine with him interacting with your class?”

Shouta nodded. He didn’t bother elaborating, didn’t tell them how he was sure that Midoriya wouldn’t hurt his students. He remembered the fond way the kid had spoken about his classmates when he first told Shouta who he was. He remembered the spark of honest-to-God love in the kid’s eyes that night, the casual way he named his students and their quirks and interests as evidence.

He didn’t feel like they would quite understand, if he tried to tell them.

“Very well, then.” Nezu said, clapping paws together. “Detective Tsukauchi, would this be acceptable?”

The man barely had the chance to agree before Nezu was jumping up from his seat. “Excellent! I would like to meet our traveller personally now that this has been resolved, but I have a very busy day ahead of me, so I suppose it will have to wait. Aizawa, would you please go collect your new charge and explain the situation to him? We’ll get the paperwork started, and have an access card made up, with restrictions of course.”

The principal hurried to the door, turning to smile at them all once more. “Have a good day, and please bring young Midoriya by my office this afternoon.”

Shouta let himself briefly marvel at Nezu’s ability to completely throw a room’s atmosphere askew, before he pushed himself to his feet.

He had an hour or so before he was due to homeroom, and he wanted to have everything in order before confronting the inevitable chaos his class unleashed on a daily basis. They had been buzzing with excitement and trepidation ever since the USJ attack, and the news of the unknown hero who’d jumped in and assisted with the fight had been circulating for the last two days.

They would probably go rabid when he brought Midoriya in, bursting with questions. He knew Asui Tsuyu and Minoru Mineta in particular had been asking him for information about Midoriya, not that that surprised him.

Before he brought the other in, he had to make sure Midoriya was on the same page as the rest of them, and that they had a solid backstory in place – because there was no way Shouta was introducing his students to someone who was, very likely, from an alternate version of their class.

He nodded farewell to the others, already heading for the door. Tsukauchi rose to accompany him. They got to the elevator before they were stopped.

Shouta tensed when he felt All Might’s large hand come down on his shoulder, but the other hero wisely retracted it. “My apologies, Aizawa. I merely wished to speak with you.”

Shouta looked at Tsukauchi, but the man was already politely stepping away, giving them the illusion of privacy.

Deciding to bite the bullet, he turned. “What?” He asked flatly.

All Might shifted, his smile becoming pinched. “I was hoping for an opportunity to speak with the – with Midoriya. I would like to confirm some of the things he claimed.”

Shouta narrowed his eyes. “You mean about him saying he was your apprentice.”

All Might’s eyes darted away from him, “Ah. Yes.”

“Why, looking to expand your collection?”

All Might’s smile dropped completely at his arctic tone, and Shouta tried to find any satisfaction at that. He couldn’t.

Looking to the side to hide the stab of guilt, he sighed. “Look, let me get everything sorted first. Once we have Midoriya’s story ironed out, and have all his paperwork approved, then I’ll let you at him. Can you wait that long?”

Surprised at the concession, All Might blinked down at him. “Y-yes, that’s absolutely fine. Thank you, Aizawa.”

He grunted, stuffing his hands in his pockets and turning to face the elevator. Tsukauchi pressed the button, doing a remarkable job of pretending he hadn’t heard their entire exchange.

They entered the lift, Shouta just barely keeping his relief hidden when All Might made no effort to join them. It was bad enough being in the same room as the man sometimes; being trapped in the confined space of the elevator would have made Shouta’s already frayed nerves snap.

The silence between Tsukauchi and him grew a little too pointed. Shouta’s frown deepened.

“Don’t say it.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything.” Tsukauchi denied.

Shouta huffed, “Don’t lie, you’re terrible at it.”

There was a pause, then –

“You were a little rude.”

“Oh my God,” Shouta muttered, rolling his eyes, “I’m always rude. It’s part of my charm.”

“You’re prickly, Aizawa, but you’re rarely that mean. Why don’t you like him?”

Tsukauchi was, Shouta knew, a friend of All Might’s. He didn’t know how close the two were, but if he were anyone else, that fact alone might have prompted him to be quiet.

As it was, he didn’t really care. “He irritates me.”

The other chuckled, eyes shooting to him as the doors opened. “That wasn’t the truth,” he said, his lips twitching.

“It wasn’t a lie, either.” Shouta replied, marching forward.

His relationship with All Might was complicated, and he had no intention of dredging up his issues with the man in front of Tsukauchi. He had not intention of doing that with anyone.

They reached the room Midoriya was waiting in. Shouta tapped his card against the lock and threw the door open. “Midoriya.” He said, harsher than he meant to.

Midoriya shot up from where he was slouched, expression startled. “Sensei!” The kid’s eyes, if possible, widened further. He hunched over, cheeks flushing, “I – I mean, Aizawa. Um, sorry, that was…reflex.”

Behind him, Tsukauchi choked back a laugh. Shouta, very professionally, didn’t kick the man.

“Get up, we’ve got things to do.”

Midoriya tripped as he scurried around the table, and Shouta stared because this was vastly different from the way the kid had been acting previously. He refrained from commenting though, sparing the other some humiliation, and just held the door open invitingly. “Come on, we have to get you up to date on a couple of things.”

The three of them returned to the elevator, and as they walked Midoriya regained some of his confidence. His steps grew surer, his back straightened, and his head was held higher. He walked between Shouta and Tsukauchi as if he had done it a thousand times before.

Which he might have, Shouta mused. Midoriya had said the three of them had worked together regularly, wherever he was from.

And in that moment, Shouta could see it.

-

Izuku looked between the two men across from him, trying not to let his panic show. “I’m sorry, what?”

“You’ll be staying here, at U.A., for a probationary period.” Naomasa explained patiently, “Just until we confirm that you don’t pose a threat to anyone.” There was a small, encouraging smile on his face that didn’t quite reach his eyes, but Izuku supposed he appreciated the effort. “Aizawa has offered to act as your supervisor during this time, so you’re expected to stay with him and do as he says.” The detective paused, shifting the file he was holding to his other hand.

“You will also have to wear the quirk-suppressant for the duration – security reasons.” He said with a shrug.

Izuku shook his head, “No, that’s fine, I understand. It’s just,” he squinted up at Aizawa, “aren’t you teaching 1-A? I would have thought, I mean, you have them to look after so why – is this even a good idea?” He finally got out, biting his lip.

“It was this or shipping you off to a prison,” Aizawa told him, blunt as ever, and Izuku didn’t bother holding back his grimace at that.

“Well, when you put it that way,” he muttered, glancing off to the side, “I’m just a little worried, I guess. 1-A…they are, were, my classmates. I don’t know if I should be around them too much. I don’t want to,” he gestured vaguely with his hands, like that could somehow encapsulate everything wrong with his situation, “mess anything up.”

“So long as you stick to the story we give you and you don’t mention anything about how you got here, you’ll be fine.”

“And what is my story, exactly?” Izuku asked, slightly apprehensive.

Here, Aizawa crossed his arms over his chest and traded a look with Naomasa. The detective waved a hand in permission.

“Right,” Aizawa leaned forward, “I’ve thought it over, and it’ll be easiest if we go with you being an underground hero. You’ve worked with me in the past, and I’ve asked you to join me at U.A. due to the recent attack, as an extra hand in case something else happens.”

Izuku mulled it over, frowning. “It would explain why no one knows who I am, even the other heroes that aren’t aware of what really happened to me.”

Aizawa nodded, “Precisely, and it’ll give us a convenient excuse for you knowing as much as you do.” He stopped, staring at Izuku intently, “You do realise we will be asking you for information regarding the League?”

Izuku hummed absently, eyes focussed out the window of the office they were in, “Would you like a written report, or just verbal ones? I can tell you who the current members are, what their quirks are, where their base is, and how to beat them.” He blinked, looking back at the two.

Naomasa looked a little surprised, but Aizawa was merely intrigued.

“Just like that?” Naomasa asked, sounding disbelieving.

Izuku’s frown deepened, “Of course. The League was responsible for a lot of destruction in my time. World.” He corrected, still uncomfortable with the idea. “If I can help prevent even one of their schemes, then I’m going to. They might seem disjointed now, but they find their feet soon, and when they do…” Izuku’s eyes darkened.

Aizawa and Naomasa shared another look.

“When they do, it’ll be hell. Tomura and I took out an entire district in our last fight. We – we lost a lot of people before I managed to stop him.” Izuku’s hands curled into fists. “If I can save even one of them, then of course I’m going to tell you whatever I can.”

The three of them sat in a stifled silence, waiting as Izuku regained his composure.

Eventually, Aizawa broke the darkened mood. “Anything you can give us will be useful,” he told him, voice soft, the way he sounded whenever Izuku had come to him before, on the verge of breaking and with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

“We’ll have to be careful though,” Naomasa said, “we don’t actually know how accurate your information will be here – there are already some discrepancies. And even if it is accurate, the more we change, the less likely we’ll be able to predict them.” He sighed, rubbing at his forehead. “I suppose for now just some information about who we’re dealing with would be beneficial. We can at least start preparing for who our enemies are.”

Aizawa nodded, and Izuku did as well after a beat. “I’ll write up everything I know about them and their quirks. I can also make a list of future members, if you want. Some don’t join until towards the end, but if you want to keep them under surveillance…?”

Naomasa smiled at the offer, more genuinely. “That’d be great.”

Izuku exhaled slowly, fiddling with his fingers. It was odd, working with Naomasa and Aizawa again, but without the warm camaraderie between them. It just reminded him how alone he was right now.

He was out of his depth here, and he knew it. He wanted, more than anything, to be able to go home. He wanted to see his mother, to have that dinner he promised her. He wanted to see his friends, to celebrate their latest win, to go out and drink and bask in their laughter and joy. He wanted to sit down across from his Aizawa and Naomasa, talking about whatever case demanded their collective attention.

There had to be a way for him to return, something he could do to get back to them. But the ruthlessly pragmatic side of him was already adjusted, already planning and calculating just how much he could help here – and Izuku wondered if that made him a bad person, to so easily accept that this might be irreversible.

He coughed, casting those thoughts aside for now. “So, what will I even be doing while I’m here?”

“Assisting.” Aizawa said.

“Assisting with what? Teaching?” He raised his eyebrows. “I’m not a teacher. I only graduated about a year ago.”

Aizawa inclined his head. “You won’t be there in an official capacity. We need a reason to have you with me, and it’ll work well with your cover. The most you’ll do is stand around, maybe hand out some papers, answer questions. I think you can handle that.”

Izuku couldn’t help but snort at that, “Thanks, Aizawa.” He said dryly. But his humour faded. “There might be a small problem, though.” He began, shifting awkwardly. The two of them stared at him. “One of your students might recognise me.”

Aizawa frowned, “Most of them saw you when we took you out of the USJ.”

Izuku winced, his worry growing sharply at that information. That’s not good, he thought, biting his lip again. “Bakugo Katsuki,” he said quietly, and Aizawa straightened at the name of his student, “if I died in this world, and if it’s the attack I think it was, then he would have been there.” He admitted, and Aizawa’s frown became thunderous.

Izuku leaned back but met the other’s gaze evenly. “Kacchan and I grew up together, we’ve known each other for years. If he sees me, he’ll recognise me right away, and your cover story won’t be worth anything then. I doubt he took my death here well, and seeing me will definitely set him off.”

And Izuku knew that that was the truth. Bakugo and he had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least, but Izuku knew his friend, and he knew seeing him die would have ruined Bakugo in the worst possible way. They hadn’t been close when they had been attacked back then, but Bakugo had confessed to him once – a few months after their graduation, during a quiet patrol – that seeing Izuku run at the sludge villain, watching his small, quirkless childhood friend clawing desperately to help him, had absolutely terrified Bakugo.

He had told him, with plenty of stops and starts to his story, that in that brief instant Bakugo had regretted everything and his fear for Izuku had outweighed his fear for himself.

If the same had happened here – but Izuku had died instead of being rescued by All Might, then Izuku knew Bakugo would have broken under the weight of his misplaced guilt.

If Bakugo hadn’t seen Izuku when he was whisked out of the USJ, if he hadn’t glimpsed his hair or his face, then maybe he could spare the other some pain. But if he had then Izuku knew he had to get on top of this before it grew out of hand. If he was going to be spending any significant amount of time with Aizawa and his class, Bakugo needed to be prepared.

“I think we should tell him.” He said.

“Absolutely not.” Naomasa snapped, “Your whole situation is a secret. Only a handful of people are aware of who you really are. We’re not going around telling first-year students something of this magnitude.”

“You don’t understand,” Izuku pressed, “Kacchan – he’ll pick me out instantly. If I walk into that classroom, and he has no prior warning, what do you think will happen?” He turned to Aizawa beseechingly. “He probably watched me die, he probably blames himself for it even if he’d never admit it, and if he sees me there won’t be a classroom anymore, because what little control he has over his emotions will go out the window.”

“We’ll give you a full-face mask,” Naomasa countered firmly.

“That won’t do anything,” Izuku said, “he’ll still figure it out. I’ll slip, I know I will. It’ll be hard enough pretending I don’t know anything about the rest of them – I won’t be able to do that with him. I’ll make a mistake and he’ll catch it because he’s too smart for his own good and then there will be nothing but explosions.”

Naomasa was unmoved.

Izuku looked to Aizawa, desperate. “Please, sensei. He’ll already be upset and confused and guilty, and I can’t hurt him like that. I can’t.”

The breath Aizawa released looked like it hurt, but he slowly nodded. “It might be for the best.”

“You can’t be serious!” Naomasa exclaimed, head swinging around to face him. “We just agreed that telling anyone about this would be a horrible idea – you said we had to contain any leaks, and now you want to tell everything to a student?”

Aizawa grunted, “Bakugo is one of the most volatile kids I’ve ever seen, Tsukauchi. If he was there and witnessed Midoriya’s death, do you really want to see what he’ll do if he finds this out on his own?”

“‘If’ he was there, ‘if’. We haven’t confirmed that yet.” Naomasa said.

“Well, call your department, see if they can tell us. You can find out, and if it’s true, we’ll find a way to break this to Bakugo a safe way.”

For a minute, it looked like Naomasa would refuse on principle, but he tugged his phone from his pocket and stood, walking off to the side and putting it to his ear with the air of a ruffled cat.

Izuku slumped in relief, “Thank you,” he murmured sincerely. “I know it’s not ideal, I know it’s a lot to ask, but if I can avoid making this whole thing worse for him, I have to. Though, if he saw me at the USJ, he’s probably already suspicious.” He huffed in amusement, “That’s Kacchan for you.”

“You’re close then, where you’re from?”

Izuku nodded, then shrugged. “We were best friends, but we grew apart when I didn’t – after some stuff. By the time we both got into U.A. we might as well have been strangers. It took a long time for us to get back to what we were, and even than it wasn’t really the same. We pushed each other, he saw me as someone he had to overcome, and I saw him as something to aspire to be like. I wouldn’t be half the hero I am today without him.”

He swallowed then, a sudden wave of sorrow coming over him. God, it hurt to talk about this, knowing there was a chance he might never see his friend again, not as he knew him.

“He’s kind of a dick.” Aizawa said blandly, and Izuku barked out a laugh, startled.

“He’ll mellow out eventually. And I don’t think you should speak about your students in that way, sensei.”

Aizawa shrugged, “You really don’t have any experience teaching if you think that we don’t say things like that all the time. The teacher’s lounge gets wild sometimes.”

Izuku smiled, ducking his head as a bubble of warmth grew in his chest at the easy back-and-forth. They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, until Naomasa ended his call and joined them with a morose expression.

“Well?” Aizawa asked, even though he must have already known the answer.

“We’ll have to do this gently,” Naomasa said, “preferably before the school day starts. If he gets overwhelmed we might have to contain him, but if he handles it relatively well we can send him home so he can process.”

Aizawa nodded.

“Kacchan always comes in early,” Izuku said, “so if you want this done, we might as well do it now.”

Neither of them looked enthusiastic about the idea, and Izuku couldn’t blame them.

He didn’t really want to do this either, but he’d rather break it to Bakugo on his own terms then wait until his friend discovered it himself and confronted him.

He just had to be smart about this.