"Okay, first of all, this is something I've been dying to know," Izuku took a pen from his pocket and prepared himself to write some notes. "What is your quirk?"
"Have a guess. It's something to do with my hands," Shigaraki waved his fingers in the air and Izuku watched them carefully. "And it's not a very nice one."
"Super strength? No, you're too skinny. You can stretch your fingers? No, that's not bad. Oh, oh! You can make incredible shadow puppets! No, that's not it," Izuku was mumbling by now, and Shigaraki wished he had just told him instead of asking him to guess. "Is it some kind of choking thing? You can choke other people in seconds."
Shigaraki stared ahead of him for a moment, starting to wonder if this was a great idea at all.
"That's.. fucking dark. I could do that, but no you're wrong," he sighed. "My quirk is decay."
Izuku wrote that down without hesitation, before looking back up at him in confusion.
"Elaborate, please," he said, stumbling over his feet since he wasn't looking where he was going.
"Anything I touch with all of my fingers on one hand will disintegrate immediately. It has to be my entire hand though."
"Wow," Izuku was impressed, eyes shining. He may have been geeking out a bit too much now, considering that he was talking to a villain. "Is that really your quirk?"
"What, you think I'm lying?" Shigaraki turned to him with a hysterical look in his eyes, fingers twitching as he spoke. "Here, give me your hand, I'll fucking prove it to you."
Izuku stepped backwards, distancing himself from Shigaraki, out of pure fear, but he wrote the functions of the quirk down nonetheless.
"Sorry, I was just intrigued,"
"Great," Shigaraki rolled his eyes.
He watched the young boy scribble furiously into his notebook, shaking with a mix of fear and excitement. He looked at the pen he was holding, and suddenly got an idea.
"Give me your pen," Shigaraki said sternly, and when Izuku looked up slowly to see his daring smile, he hesitated a little.
"Okay," he passed it to him, and swore he saw a playful glint in the blue haired boy's eyes.
Shigaraki inspected the pen.
"I suspect you have more of these in your bag," he glanced at Izuku, who nodded silently, eyes wide with curiosity. "And this is just a boring old pen, right?"
"Yeah. I have an All Might pen in my bag, if you wanna see—"
Izuku froze when he noticed Shigaraki put his last finger on the pen, and he watched it disintegrate before his eyes.
"I— you— What did you do?"
"Used my quirk. I thought you might've wanted a close up example," he turned to see how Izuku's eyes were glazed over. "Don't you dare start fucking crying or I'll disintegrate your stupid head next."
Izuku gulped, lips quivering, but he didn't let a single tear drop and just got another pen from his bag.
"Pussy.. What's the next question?"
"Oh right. Do you have a costume?"
"A what now?"
"A costume, kinda like a hero," Izuku's heart raced when Shigaraki glared at him from the corner of his eye. "I mean like a villain! Surely you wear something to hide your identity."
"Well, yeah, I guess I do have one of those," Shigaraki shrugged.
"Really? What does it look like?"
Shigaraki looked at him, before sighing.
"Are you any good at drawing hands?"
"Uh, I'm not an artist, but I try to be as accurate as I can," Izuku smiled, not bothering to question him, even though he was confused as hell.
"Well, my costume has hands all over my body," he said like it was nothing, but when he saw Izuku's horrified face, he rolled his eyes. "I'm not gonna describe it to you right now, kid. You'll see it soon, don't worry."
"Fine.. I have another question," he paused, unsure how to continue. "How do you know so much about me?"
For a moment, it looked like Shigaraki wasn't even going to answer. Izuku thought maybe he didn't hear, but he was walking right next to him on an empty road. Of course he heard him.
But then Shigaraki sighed, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"I've been trying to find a smart kid for months, and you happened to just show up," he shrugged.
"That's not creepy at all," Izuku mumbled sarcastically under his breath.
"Shut your fucking mouth. I do not mean it in a weird way," he hissed back. "Your intelligence impressed me, and that's pretty difficult to do. Although, you've said some pretty stupid things to me already, so I'm beginning to doubt myself."
"But why? Anyone can be smart and have a quirk, but you'd rather know someone like me? You're supposed to think I'm useless."
"You don't seem to understand, kid," Shigaraki scratched his neck, but not hard enough to draw blood. "I don't want someone who relies on their quirk. I want someone who can get shit done without hassle."
"I don't understand. What is it that you want from me exactly?"
"I'm going to make you an offer," he said simply. "If you join me, I can make you understand that struggling to be a hero is not your only option in life."
"You're not making sense. How can I accept an offer that I don't understand?"
"Think about it, Izuku."
"Do you want me to become a villain just like you? Is that it?"
"Just about, yes."
"That's crazy. I already told you I want to be a hero," Izuku said, but Shigaraki didn't argue.
"I suppose someone has given you that false hope, huh?"
Izuku looked down sadly.
"Actually, no," he muttered. "No one has told me I can become a hero."
"Then what's making you so optimistic?"
"I don't know. I guess I'm just waiting for confirmation,"
"And several people telling you it's not possible is not enough for you to finally understand?"
"No," Izuku said without hesitation. "Why should that stop me?"
"You're only going to spiral down into a pit of despair," Shigaraki said with brutal honesty. "I mean, who are you waiting to tell you something that other people already have?"
"I don't know," he shrugged, putting away his notebook. He needed to change the subject. "Where are we going?"
"Wherever the road takes us. Don't worry, you'll find your way home," Shigaraki glanced at him to see the nervous look in his eyes as he held his arms close to his own body. "How old are you, kid?"
"You don't know already?" he sighed. "I'm 15."
"You look younger," Shigaraki hummed. "Maybe it's because you're a scrawny, jumpy, little baby faced boy."
"Oh," Izuku didn't know what to say to that.
"Who's your favourite hero?"
Izuku looked up at Shigaraki, who was staring straight ahead of him with an unreadable expression on his face.
"All Might," Izuku replied.
"Of course," he sounded somewhat irritated by this. "Why?"
"Because he's the number one hero. I've looked up to him all my life. I'd love to ask him some questions some day."
"You know there's a saying; never meet your heroes."
Izuku raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"Being in the eye of the public for a while can really change a person. They may act differently than when they're being watched. It's a common thing, so it's better to just stay a fanboy than get any closer than you need to."
"But he seems like such a nice guy—"
"If you were a big hero with a fragile reputation, wouldn't you act nice too?"
"Well, yeah, but there are heroes that aren't particularly nice, like Endeavour."
"Don't bring other heroes into this, nerd, it's pissing me off," Shigaraki grunted. "Endeavour is the second best hero for a reason, and not because he's less powerful that All Might."
Izuku didn't have to time to think about that properly because Shigaraki had already moved on.
"All I'm saying is when you look up to someone, you tend to idolise them and strip them of all their flaws. Once you find out they're more disappointing than you imagined, you start to wonder what you saw in them in the first place."
"I'm not going to talk about this anymore. Just let my advice sink in before you start defending an asshole."
Izuku didn't understand; All Might couldn't be anything like Shigaraki was suggesting he might be. He didn't know him anymore than Izuku did, so who gives him the right to put him in the bad light?
As they walked down the road, they noticed a crowd hovering in the distance.
Izuku squinted his eyes to get a more accurate look. Perhaps some hero was putting on a show, or maybe there was a street parade of some sorts.
"I wonder what's going on over there," Izuku muttered, then realising how comfortably he was speaking to a man he only just met yesterday, not to mention he happened to be a villain.
"Who gives a fuck? I've got nothing to do with it," Shigaraki replied. "Someone's probably in danger."
"You think? If there's that many people there, then I guess you could be right. I hope they're okay if that's the case," the small boy frowned, walking on his tippy toes as they grew closer to the crowd, since he was getting a bit too short to see amongst all these fully grown adults.
"You don't even know who it is. Why do you care?"
"Because it could be an innocent person."
"Right. And what if it's a serial killer?" Shigaraki asked seriously, standing nearer to Izuku once they finally reached the crowd.
"Should you be standing here? You could get noticed," Izuku whispered, not even listening to what Shigaraki had asked him because he was too interested in what was going on.
"Oh, come on. Don't you ever use your brain? Everyone's too busy watching somebody getting attacked."
"Getting attacked? What—?"
Izuku turned to see a massive green villain surrounded by heaps of heroes trying to get involved.
"It's the slime villain from yesterday," he said, jaw dropped as he glanced at the taller man beside him. "Didn't you defeat him?"
"Defeat him? I just told him to fuck off and fought him away, I didn't lock him up or beat him to death — although that would've been fun—"
"You let him go?!"
"Uh.. Yes? You're getting the wrong impression from me, kid. You didn't seriously believe I would get rid of him completely, did you? I couldn't care less what he did, I just needed you."
Izuku wanted to ask him what he would've done if he didn't need him, but he felt like he already knew the answer. Instead, he looked back at the villain making a scene in the middle of the city, and noticed someone struggling in his grip.
He could only see his face, and the terror in his eyes, but that was all he needed to recognise him straight away.
"K—Kaachan," he breathed out, heart stopping.
This was not happening.
He moved through the crowd to get a better look, and behind him, Shigaraki seemed startled and rushed to follow him. If he let him out of his sight, he'd lost him completely. He was quite short, after all.
"Kid, wait up," he found Izuku, who had finally stopped, a frightened look on his face as he watched the heroes fighting with all their strength, despite them failing miserably. Shigaraki put an arm around his shoulder so that he wouldn't move again, but he tensed up at the simple touch. Probably because he knew of his quirk now and was scared he might disintegrate his shoulder. "You know the boy that's been caught?"
Izuku couldn't answer, he was too overwhelmed by shock, his body was stiff in fear.
"Who is he, Izuku?"
"It's not important right now. He'll die like this if I don't—"
"If you don't what, huh? Save him? With what — your inexperienced quirkless body? That's ridiculous," he pointed to the heroes. "See them? They aren't doing anything to help and they've been training longer than you've been alive.. So what makes you think you'd make a difference?"
Just like that, all confidence left Izuku's system. He couldn't watch and stare, but he also couldn't save his friend in the state he was in now.
"Can't you help?" Izuku looked at Shigaraki with a helpless look in his eyes, lips trembling as if he was about to break down.
"You're joking, right? That snotty slime ball has grown twice as large since we encountered him yesterday. He's hardly gonna cower in fear if I step in," he tapped the boy's shoulder blade irritably.
"And I'm not making a move like that with everybody else watching me. They'll think it's my debut as a hero. I'm not digging myself down into a hole I'll never escape from; the moment someone snaps a body shot of me, I'll be recognised anywhere, and for reasons that I don't want to be known for."
Izuku looked down, suddenly feeling like the guiltiest person alive. Katsuki was struggling to breathe as he exploded his palms in an attempt to free himself from the villain, and all he could do was stand there, feet glued to the floor.
This wasn't right.
How could he just stand there and do nothing?
Whether he agreed or not, Katsuki was his friend, and as Izuku looked back up at him, the look in his eyes were screaming for him to be freed. Katsuki would never admit to something like that, but Izuku could see right through him.
"I can't watch," he said suddenly, shrugging away Shigaraki's arm "I'm sorry. He's my friend."
And before Shigaraki could process why he was apologising, Izuku ran towards the slime villain with a desperate expression on his face.
"Izuku!" Shigaraki reached out a hand, eyes wide in shock, but the boy was too fast. He clenched his fist, before muttering to himself. "Stupid kid. You'll get yourself killed."
The slime villain saw him straight away — since Izuku was yelling for Katsuki — and there was a familiar look in his eyes. He must've recognised him from yesterday.
Katsuki was barely conscious, but he wasn't about to let himself die so easily. Not like this.
He noticed Izuku running towards him and immediately thought of him as a dumb nuisance, throwing his life on the line for no reason.
Izuku saw the danger of running like this as he got closer, but his feet wouldn't stop. He couldn't back down now after making it so far.
He shook his bag of his shoulders and threw it at the villain, luckily hitting him in the eye, making him loosen his death grip on Katsuki, who could finally breath. But instead of taking time to do that, he resorted to screaming at the crying Izuku who was now grabbing at the slime as best as he could, fingers sifting through each time.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, Deku?"
Katsuki was wrongly furious, exploding his palms into the slime, but not doing a single bit of damage.
"I'm sorry, Kaachan," he cried like a baby. "You looked like you were asking for help!"
Katsuki gave him that same hysterical look that Izuku knew all too well. It wasn't that different to the look Shigaraki had on his face when he told him he wanted to become a hero. It made him upset.
Heroes were yelling at Izuku for getting involved, but he didn't listen to any of their warnings and instead focused on helping Katsuki.
He knew this was a bad idea, he knew from the moment he started running.
But he couldn't give up now.
Katsuki was in trouble, and he had to know that he tried his best to help him instead of watching from afar.
It was getting to the point where Izuku was about to lose hope, as his fingers were going numb and his eyes were clouding with tears. Katsuki was screaming and cursing at both him and the villain.
Except there happened to be a light in the darkness — as Izuku peeked over his shoulder when Katsuki was caught off guard by something else, his body froze in shock once he took in the sight from behind him.
Shiny blond hair glided swiftly through the air as muscles flexed larger; the silhouette of a grinning hero advancing towards the scene made Izuku's heart race.
"Stay back, young boy! It's alright now," the figure yelled, but Izuku was practically glued to the ground. "Because I am here!"
Izuku was so overwhelmed with excitement and admiration, he didn't even notice how one of the other heroes swept him up from the disastrous situation and carry him to stay aside somewhere else.
He reached his hand out, smiling wide as he saw All Might lift his fist up into the air and scream about some sort of smash move; honestly Izuku wasn't listening because he was too focused on keeping his eyes wide open.
It seemed to go in slow motion, Katsuki braced himself for impact as All Might punched the suddenly very alarmed slime villain and blasting it to smithereens, never to be seem again.
Katsuki fell back onto the ground with a slight crash, completely blacked out from the punch. He was quickly attended to by the other heroes and some nearby doctors.
Izuku watched as All Might turned to the crowd as they cheered, a daring grin on his face as he posed for the media and the fansites.
Meanwhile, Izuku was shaking with glee. He'd never met All Might before, and now he had just yelled at him to get out of the way.
Now that's a hero.
Izuku waited almost an hour for All Might to stop giving out autographs so that he could talk to him alone. During that time, Katsuki had woken up, and he didn't say a word to Izuku, he didn't even spare him a quick glance.
To be honest, he looked rather vacant, embarrassed even, and Izuku was sure it because he had been watched by an entire city at a time where he was absolutely helpless.
He didn't want to say anything to him in case he erupted and shouted more abuse towards him, so he kept quiet and stayed back.
He felt weird for keeping an eye on All Might for such a long period of time, but he was part of the disaster, so he had a perfect excuse for staying and waiting for the number one hero.
And once he was finally let go, freed from the shrieking fans and the controversy-seeking media, Izuku hopped onto him before he could leave too soon.
He didn't want to be named a stalker, but he was so hesitant to make a move that he ended up following him into an empty lane and calling out to him as if he didn't just stalk home for five minutes.
"Um.. All Might," Izuku was almost stuttering, and when the hero turned to look back at him, he felt his breath get caught in his throat. He looked so much cooler in real life.
"Oh, hello, young boy," All Might was grinning, but when did he ever frown? "What can I do for you?"
"I, uh," Izuku fumbled around in his bag for a moment or two before pulling out his notebook and pen. "Can you sign this for me?"
All Might stared at the book silently, eyebrows slightly raised, probably wondering why it was so dirty and damp.
"Of course," he flipped through the book, and Izuku's teeth started chattering. All Might seemed skeptical for a second before he turned the page and wrote down his name.
He must've seen the spread about Tomura Shigaraki, and his name written in big bold letters on the previous page, and it probably concerned him — if he knew who he was anyway.
He didn't seem to ask questions though, and although Izuku knew for sure he had seen the other pages on the different heroes, he never said a word about it.
Izuku felt a little disheartened by his silence. He would never compare his favourite hero to a villain, but Tomura Shigaraki actually liked his notes.
Maybe All Might was just letting him have some privacy.
Izuku took back the notebook and watched All Might begin to stretch a little.
"I should be off now. It's nice to meet you, young boy," All Might put his thumbs up, and Izuku almost dropped his notebook trying to stop him from leaving so quickly. "Hm?"
"Wait, can I—? Sorry, uh, All Might," Izuku paused to focus on his breathing, before he rushed to speak since All Might looked torn between going and staying. "Can I ask you something?"
"Yes," he nodded, waiting patiently for the freaked out boy to reply with his question.
"Well, I uh," Izuku couldn't believe himself right now.
What was he doing?
He was seriously about to ask All Might about becoming a hero as if he didnt already know the answer.
Katsuki.. Shigaraki.. Even his mother; they all told him he had no chance.
But then he remembered — Shigaraki had asked him who he needed confirmation from to get him to stop dreaming of impossible outcomes.
What if All Might was the particular person he needed to ask such a question?
Izuku felt his heart pick up the pace just at the thought of being able to finally confirm whether or not he could become a hero the way he is now.
He wanted to know.
Izuku snapped out of his trance once he realised he wasn't alone with his thoughts, and his voice cracked.
"Perhaps another time," All Might suggested, before waving him off and beginning to walk away again.
"Wait—" Izuku reached out a hand, but something was holding him back.
You might as well give up now,
he remembered this was what the doctor from his past had told him after he found out he was probably quirkless.
I'm so sorry, Izuku! I'm sorry,
his mother had cried to him that day, but even now, he believed that wasn't at all what he wanted her to say.
He had to find out now.
Was his dream as pointless and impossible as everyone else had told him?
He really needed to know.
"Even if I don't have a quirk, can I become a hero?" Izuku finally asked, closing his eyes, not noticing the surprised look on All Might's face.
It was quiet, and it hurt to not get an answer straight away. He swore he was going to collapse from his heart beating so fast in anticipation.
"Can even someone without a quirk be like you?" He asked again, tears already seeping through his tightly shut eyelids, heart aching for a response.
"You don't have a quirk," All Might began, voice unusually calm and quiet. "But you want to be a hero?"
Izuku wanted to say yes, but he knew if he'd try to speak now, he'd completely break down into tears and frighten the hero away.
"I'm sorry, kid," he said suddenly, and it caught Izuku off guard, making him open his eyes to express his confusion.
All Might stared down at him for a moment, his smile faded into something more sympathetic.
"Heroes are always risking their lives, and it's hard work. Some villains just can't be beaten without powers. So can you be a hero? Not without a quirk," All Might admitted, and Izuku felt his heart shatter even more.
Izuku stood there dumbfounded for a moment, shocked even if he had warned himself not to become too hopeful. It was a difficult fact to take in, and he couldn't bring himself to look into All Might's dark eyes.
"I see," he said flatly, eyes glazed over. He honestly felt sick.
"If you wanna help people, there are plenty of other ways to do it," All Might added, voice sincere as he turned around. "Become a police officer. It's a fine profession and it'll do the job."
Izuku didn't want that though.
That wasn't what he wanted to hear at all.
"I'm sorry. It's not bad to have a dream, young man. Just make sure they're attainable," All Might rubbed a hand across his mouth, before coughing slightly. "I apologise, kid, but I have to go now. I'm sure somebody is waiting for you to get home too."
Izuku only listened silently, too broken to talk.
"I just had to be honest," he said. "Don't worry about it too much. Get home safely, young boy."
And this time, as All Might started walking away, Izuku didn't dare to stop him. He couldn't even watch; suddenly the thought of All Might made him incredibly upset.
And even as All Might was out of sight, Izuku still stood there five minutes later, with fists clenched around the straps of his backpack and his head low in disappointment.
It was a loud growling voice that brought him back to reality though.
"Deku," he knew it was Katsuki, but he just couldn't turn to look at him right now, after what had just happened.
"I would never ask for a weakling like you to help me, so don't you dare look down on me, you got that? I was fine by myself! You're just a quirkless bastard. You didn't help me — you did nothing. I don't owe you anything!"
As Katsuki was screaming at him and rambling on about some nonsense, Izuku once again found his legs moving all by themselves.
He was walking away, far from Katsuki, and although the blond boy was yelling his name and calling for him to come back so he could rant more, Izuku just wasn't up to listen to him anymore.
He just kept walking, and never turned back.
He'll remember what All Might had said, for all eternity — it'll be forever scratched into his memories.
He just wished it wasn't true