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Streetwise Hercules

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“—ss. Boss.” a voice called, raised in pitch but not in volume, jerking Toshinori from his hazy, tired thoughts.

He blinked slowly. His gaze shifted to peer across the large mahogany dining table where Aizawa leveled his own tired eyes at him. His eyes were not the only pair trained on the large man at the head of the table, and Toshinori noticed this as he risked a glance around at his comrades.

“What’s wrong, Boss?” his dark eyes narrowed as they darted over Toshinori’s figure, searching for blood, for injuries no one might have noticed, yet finding none.

Toshinori let out a deep sigh. “Nothing, my friend. I am just tired.” he said. The others shifted in their seats. Toshinori tracked the movements with his eyes. He would never understand why they always shifted in discomfort when he admitted to weakness or fatigue. By now they had all seen him bleed, rage, and mourn. By now they should have stopped regarding him as something not-entirely-human, but by the look in their eyes, it was still something they had not given up. He sighed again and stood, pushing back his chair and stepping away from the table. “Sleep well, all of you. I will have my phone if you need me.”

With that his long legs carried him from the dining hall, out to the entrance hall and then up the winding staircase to his room on the third floor. He grabbed his wallet, phone, and keys, pulled a cap over his head, shrugged on a jacket over his broad shoulders in the gloom of the unlit room, and silently descended back down the stairs and out the door, locking it behind him. He could feel eyes on him as he made his way up the long driveway and through the gates that barred the property from the outside. He ignored them, pulled his cap a bit further down his face in the light rain, and began his jog to refuge.

The long empty road that held their mansion at the end of it was hidden at the corner of another long road. This one contained other large houses, the inhabitants of which were either almost always occupied elsewhere or knew the rest of the neighborhood liked to keep to themselves. Past this street were a few criss-crossing others, and finally the city’s roads puddled underneath Toshinori’s feet. His silent gait carried him swiftly through dim alleys, away from busy intersections and the flashing lights of police cars, through district after district, street after street, before finally slowing at the sight of small apartment complex.

The building stood five floors tall. It had no elevator or concierge, nor did it gleam like the dozens of others Toshinori had passed on the journey there. The entrances to the suites were on the outside of the building, accessed through either set of stairs at opposite ends of building. He sent a routine glance around him, watching the shifting shadows for signs of anyone lurking within them. When he found none, he moved towards the far staircase. He’d taken the closer side the last time he had been here and the fire escape ladder the time before that. He reached his door on the third floor and glanced to the right and then the left at the others. The doors looked undisturbed.

He unlocked his own door, heaving another tired sigh as he flicked the lock and deadbolt, kicked off his shoes, searched his apartment for anything out of the ordinary, pulled off his clothing when he found nothing amiss, placed his things on his bedside table, and crawled underneath his covers.

 

Toshinori startles awake, pulling the gun from underneath his pillow and spinning around. It takes him a moment to realize the loud banging and yelling was coming from outside and there was, in fact, no one in his bedroom. He threw on his shirt and darted towards his door, glancing out of the peephole. A shadow shifted on the ground in front of his door. The person stood in front of his neighbor’s door, the one directly beside his. He unlocked and jerked his open, stepping partially out as his left hand kept his gun hidden within the shadows of his entryway.

The man who pounded against the door reeked of alcohol and the cloying scent of cheap cologne. He was yelling someone’s name but the name, which Toshinori could barely make out through his slurs, was not that of his neighbor.

“Sir.” Toshinori’s voice cut through the chilled air, loud enough that the man stumbled around to face him.

“What!” he snapped, casting a glare up at him. Toshinori narrowed his eyes at him and straightened to his full height, watching as the other smaller, fatter man’s eyes widened at him.

“You’ve got the wrong place. The person you’re looking for doesn’t live here.” he said slowly, as clear as possible so the man wouldn’t misunderstand.

The drunk tried to regain his composure. “What the fuck do you know— ”

“If you insist on making noise,” Toshinori’s voice dropped an octave, “I’ll call the police.”

A moment flickered by in tense silence. Toshinori heard a door’s lock click. He couldn’t tell if it clicked open or closed. The man must have heard it as well because he chanced a glance around, shot Toshinori a weak glare, and stumbled over to the stairs closest to him, away from Toshinori. Soon he had disappeared into the gloom, and Toshinori grunted and was about to turn back into his suite when the door beside him, the one the man had been pounding on, swung open. His neighbor gave him a wide-eyed look before sweeping his dark eyes over to the empty landing.

“Thanks, Mr. Yagi.” he said. Behind him, Toshinori saw the shadows shift and a hand reach out to grasp the man’s. He knew why the couple had hidden inside the suite rather than engage with the drunk. It was safer inside, and they hadn’t known if the man was carrying anything that would have injured them if he knew someone was inside. Toshinori flashed the man a wide white grin.

“No problem. Get some sleep now, yeah?” he said. The man nodded, shot him another grateful smile, and slipped back into the safety of his home. With the man back inside, there was no one to block his sight of his other neighbor, who he hadn’t noticed until then.

The young man’s curly hair was disheveled, the dark green locks sticking up in every which direction while one side of it was pressed flat to his skull, likely because he was sleeping on it. He was wearing a threadbare t-shirt and sweatpants and Toshinori saw his bare toes wiggle in the cold air from the corner of his eye. His eyes were surprising sharp and lucid, despite how obvious it was that he had just been sleeping. And that vibrant green gaze was fixed on him. Toshinori’s mind blanked for a moment and he simply stared.

“Mr. Yagi.” the young man’s mouth curled up softly. “Good to see you’re back.”

“Yeah.” Toshinori said, still staring.

“When did you get back?” Midoriya Izuku leaned against his doorway, crossing his arms over his chest. The light from the corridor, which usually looked unflattering on most, softened his features with its shadows, which Toshinori thought was ridiculous because the man looked soft enough as it was.

“Last night.” Toshinori replied, taking care to keep his voice from traveling too far so their neighbors could get some proper rest.

“Ah.” Midoriya nodded before his smile was split by a yawn. Toshinori clenched his jaw to stop his own. He gave Toshinori a bashful look and peeled away from his doorframe. “I’d better get to bed then. Hopefully I’ll see you around?”

“I should be here for a while,” his hand raised in a small wave in response to the one that Midoriya gave. “Good night.”

“Good night.” He said, and the door clicked shut.

Toshinori stepped back into his own apartment, shut the door and flipped his lock, and sighed again. His free hand rubbed his face as he padded back over to his bed and laid back down, tucking the unused glock back into place. When he woke in the morning, he vaguely remembered a dream where he gazed at green-tinged stars in an infinite night sky.

—————

Toshinori dragged in a breath as he stepped onto the stairs. He was rolling his shoulders back, stretching out his rapidly cooling muscles after his long run, when he heard someone call down to him. He stilled at the second floor landing and glanced up the stairs. Familiar red sneakers caught his gaze as it traveled, up toned jean-clad legs and up a long sleeve white shirt with “Shirt” written on it, and stopped at a smiling freckled face.

“Mr. Midoriya,” said Toshinori, glancing at the other people with Izuku as then stopped at the landing.

The one who drew his eye first was a tall spikey-haired blond with a fiery look in his crimson eyes. His posture was unwelcoming, his glare sharp, his hands curled to fists within the confines of his pockets. His muscular arms were bare despite the slight chill in the air and his shoulders were tense beneath the black fabric of his shirt. He was a bit taller than Izuku, but not as tall as the other man who stood on Izuku’s opposite side.

This one wore glasses, had nice posture, and dressed weather appropriate as well. His hair was neatly trimmed but, despite the schoolboy look to him, the breadth of his defined shoulders betrayed the small lining of muscle he carried. Beside him was a petite woman with soft features and light brown hair, cut into a long bob around her head. She was shorter than Izuku and wore a pale pink and black outfit.

Toshinori noted all this with a single glance as Izuku said with an excited voice, “Mr. Yagi! How are you? Have you met my friends?”

“I’m well. Thank you. And I don’t believe I have.” Toshinori said, smiling as he cast an now-obvious glance over the group.

“Oh! Well, this is Kacch—” he started, turning towards the blond only to receive a scalding glare. “Uh, I mean Katsuki. We’ve been friends since we were kids! He’s really smart and athletic and he has a bit of a temper but he’s not a bad guy and—”

“Deku, fucking chill.” the blond — Katsuki — cut in, making Izuku’s mouth click shut as his cheeks colored. Toshinori chuckled and reached out his hand. Katsuki jerked his own hand from his pocket and clasped it with his, squeezing with more force than necessary but not more than Toshinori expected him to give. The older man thought he saw something familiar in that red gaze of his.

“Nice to meet you, Katsuki.” Toshinori squeezed back to a polite degree and pulled away, ignoring the critical way the younger man was looking him over.

“And this is Tenya,” Izuku motioned to glasses-sporting man, who gave Toshinori a “nice to meet you sir” and a firm handshake, and then said, “and that’s Ochaco.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Yagi.” Ochaco smiled warmly up at him and shook his hand.

“And you, Ochaco,” Toshinori replied, noticing her smile change into a grin.

“You just come back from a run?” she asked, casting a glance over him.

“No shit.” Katsuki muttered, sending her a mild glare. She ignored him.

“I did.” Toshinori reached back to wipe the back of his neck with his shirt collar. “Do you run?”

“Oh no,” she let out a chuckle as she shook her head, “Running’s not for me. But Izuku runs a lot, right Izuku?”

Izuku let out a squeak and Toshinori felt a surge of bemusement as the green curls in front of him ruffled slightly as the younger man shook his head at his obvious inattention. “Sorry, what did you say Ochaco?”

“You run, right?”

“Uh, yeah. Every day, if I can, but I haven’t been able to that much recently because classes and work—” His jaws clicked shut this time on their own, muting the rest of his ramblings. Toshinori distantly thought that the rambling was quite endearing. He brushed the odd thought away before it could settle.

“You said you’re free, uh, Thursday mornings this term, right?” Ochaco said after a moment of thought.

“Yeah.” Izuku’s eyes widened a bit as he turned them back to regard Toshinori. “Mr. Yagi, how often do you run?”

“Every day, if I have the time.” Toshinori replied.

“Oh, in that case, would you maybe want to run with me on Thursday mornings?” His voice was tentative, and the blush had returned to the peaks of his cheeks.

Toshinori smiled, watching Izuku ease slightly from the simple action. “I’d be happy to run with you, Mr. Midoriya.”

“Great! And, um, Mr. Midoriya is a little… um, it’s alright if you call me Izuku.”

“Then I will.” he glanced around at the others. “Feel free to call me Toshinori as well.”

“Well, nice to meet you sunflowerman. We gotta go.” Katsuki huffed, brushing by Toshinori to go down the stairs. Ochaco rolled her eyes after the tense blond and cast her gaze back up to Toshinori.

“Don’t mind him. He’s just… prickly. At everyone. Even us. And Tenya and I have known him since high school.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said as he stepped to the side so the two of them could pass him easily. They sent back a small wave as they disappeared down the stairs. His gaze once again shifted to Izuku and blinked in surprise when his eyes met green ones in turn. They sparkled like gems in the warm afternoon light and neither of them spoke for what could have been a just long moment but was most likely a few minutes because Katsuki’s voice erupted from somewhere below them, yelling something colorful that threatened bodily harm onto Izuku. Izuku snapped out of his daze and laughed lightly.

“Right. Uh… Sorry, I’d better get going. Next time we see each other we’ll talk more!” said Izuku, darting past him down the stairs. Toshinori turned to watch his green curls glint in the sun as they disappeared from view with a musical “Bye Toshi!”

He blinked again and slowly turned back around. He didn’t let himself consider how long it had been since someone had called him Toshi until he was well within the safety of his apartment and even then his musings were interrupted by the shrill ringing of his cell phone.

“Hello?” Toshinori said.

“Boss!” Hizashi Yamada’s voice blasted into his ear. Toshinori tensed up, immediately moving into bedroom and tossing the phone, now on speaker, onto the bed as he pulled off his sweaty clothes. Not that it was terribly necessary; Yamada’s voice tended to be louder than normal standards even when he wasn’t yelling. “We’ve got information of a deal going down with the League in three hours. Word is Tomura Shigaraki might be there.” There was a pause. Someone in the background yelled something. Toshinori pulled on his jacket and picked up the phone again, turning off the speaker. “We’ve notified the whole family, and everyone who’s available is coming. Nezu’s supplies came in a few days after you left. How soon can you get here? Shota’s the one who got the tip so he’ll explain once everyone gathers.”

Toshinori slipped on his shoes in his entranceway. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” He pocketed the phone and stepped out of his apartment, locking it quickly before spinning around and bounding down the stairs and down the street, trying not to grind his teeth as he ran.

The League was an up-and-coming criminal family that was beginning to rival their own vigilante family in size, despite the fact that they were newly formed. In the few years that they had been active, they had managed to cause almost as much crime as Toshinori’s family had stopped. Their actions were malicious, their intentions sinister. Their hits were planned well in advance and always mysteriously funded. There was someone running them behind the scenes, and Toshinori’s experience with the group told him that this, and the fact that the criminal group had not self-destructed despite their unsavory members, was all the work of a certain criminal. The same criminal that had pillaged their country’s good people for years. The same criminal that had haunted Toshinori’s old mentor’s city and eventually taken her life. The same criminal that Toshinori had thought he had crippled years ago, at great cost.

The scar in his side ached as he ran through his city towards the estate. Tomura Shigaraki was the grandson of his mentor, taken under his grandmother’s murderer’s wing and raised to be a criminal himself.

Aizawa had started to gather information about a new plot the League was in the middle of. His old teaching colleagues had began mentioning, since a year ago, of escalating crime among students. Youths were leaving high school before graduating, getting into drugs or crime instead of honestly making a living for themselves. Toshinori and the others suspected the League was somehow influencing this shift, giving the pattern and spread of the epidemic, but had yet to find any proof.

“Boss.” Aizawa greeted him as Toshinori entered the conference room. He was standing at the head of the table, surrounded by other members of their family as well as scattered sheets of paper littered with information. Toshinori shrugged off his jacket, noticing how the room had quieted the minute he stepped in, and accepted the body armor Nezu handed him with a nod of thanks. The material was bulletproof and barely weighed a thing, though it did bulk up his silhouette.

“Let’s hear what you’ve got.” he said, flashing them his signature smile, this one tinged with a hunger his neighbors would never understand.