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“If you could run away from all your problems, would you?”


Most 7-year-olds would tell you that the world is a pretty great place to live. It's not perfect, sure, but it has a lot going for it! The world has sunshine on your skin, candy in your mouth, friends by your side. The world has parents who welcome you home, ask you about school, feed you dinner, then give you a hug and kiss goodnight. The world has 7-year-olds with big dreams who grow up and become amazing heroes for future 7-year-olds to admire.

Deku is not one of those 7-year-olds.

If you asked him, he might say the world is great for all those other kids, but not for him. For kids like him, all the good is covered up and blocked by all the terrible, like a beautiful shoreline obscured by piles of garbage. Every time you think you see something nice, you look slightly to the side and all there is is miles and miles of ugliness.

He turned away from the Dagobah beach park and continued his walk home. He really should stop philosophizing like this.

Deku trudged through the streets automatically – left, left, straight, right – as his body followed a path it knew instinctively and left his mind to continue it's musings. Why was he going home? How was the route so ingrained in his muscles he couldn't possibly stray from it? Should he even call that place home if it doesn't feel like one? That last thought lingered in his mind as he snapped back to reality. His feet had stopped in front of the apartment door. A deep breath in, a deep breath out; he grabbed the string around his neck and slowly pulled the key from it's resting place against his chest. He steeled his nerves. He's not home yet, he thought, won't be home for another few hours at least. Not like it makes much difference whether he's here or not. The key slid into the lock, and with one twist to the right the door opened.

Empty. Silence was the only greeting he received as he stepped into the dark apartment and removed his shoes. Instead of leaving them in the entryway, he picked them up and tip-toed to his room. His steps were silent as always, and not even the darkness could impede him as he made his way with practiced ease. The shoes were laid in the closet while his black backpack was emptied before being set next to the shoes; if there was one thing he had learned in the last two years, it was the less evidence you leave of your existence, the better. Who knew what his fa- Hisashi would do if he was reminded of Deku's presence. This way, he'd be more likely to just ignore him, or even better, forget him. Now if only I could get Kacchan to forget me... He found a clear spot in the cluttered room and sat on the floor to do his homework with the contents of his bag next to him - his schoolbooks, a pencil that was left in the classroom last month, a beat-up notebook he bought on sale last year, a small flashlight he'd found in a drawer downstairs, and a sandwich he swiped from the cafeteria when no one was looking. He leaned to the side where his mother's stuff was stacked high on metal shelves, and moved a vase and some old books off a plain cardboard box. Opening the lid, he pulled out an armful of dusty clothes and eyed his stash before adding the plastic-wrapped sandwich. He was still doing okay on snacks, but running low on meals; he'd have to hit the cafeteria harder tomorrow. Or maybe he could go to that one convenience store down the road, the one without any cameras and a few blind corners where he would be unseen from the register.

He used to not like stealing. It used to scare him and make him feel bad. But stores and other people have a lot of stuff - they'll be fine if a little bit goes missing, and probably won't even notice. It's better than stealing from Hisashi.

Once the box was put away and everything replaced on top, Deku began on his homework in the dark room. His night vision had improved drastically over the last two years, and he could use the flashlight if he really needed it. The light in the room hadn't been turned on since Hisashi moved all of Inko's stuff into what used to be his bedroom, declaring he never wanted to see any of it ever again (while Deku was in the room, of course), and if he did he would burn it to ash.

His old nameplate was still in here somewhere, with All Might's colors and signature hair and Deku written on it (or did it say Izuku? He couldn't remember. Only his mom ever called him that).

Afternoon turned to evening and evening to night before Hisashi returned. The front door had been slammed shut and footsteps echoed down the hall, making Deku wince with their volume. He doesn't have to hide from anyone, his brain supplied, so he doesn't care how loud he is. Deku liked the quiet, as quiet meant safe, so he made sure to always be as quiet as possible. When the footsteps neared the door of the room, he held his breath. If Hisashi were to come in the room (he only ever did when he'd been drinking), there would be no evidence Deku had ever been there. All his things had been put in the closet, and Deku himself was well hidden under what used to be his bed. He supposed it still kind of was, seeing as he slept under it now instead of on it. Sleeping on it would make him easier to see, so everything that had been under the bed he had moved on top; now the hero-themed sheets hid him and his old stuff joined his mother's out in the open. Better all that get burned to ash than him. Hisashi's feet thankfully didn't stop, and instead continued on, allowing Deku to slowly, softly exhale. Seems tonight he was in the clear! He pulled his blanket over himself and fell asleep, dreaming of a kind woman with dark green hair and eyes much like his own, a smile on her face. He dreamed of a red-eyed blond who was his friend, laughing as he declared that they would play heroes and rescue the civilians while beating up the bad guys.

Deku got to play the hero.