Work Header

The Serpent in the Garden

Chapter Text

The man sat, one leg propped up on the other, arm leaning casually on the countertop, chin resting on a fisted hand. The lights weren’t on and shadows enveloped most of the man’s figure, the only light being from a high-set window leaking the last remnants of evening light. Izuku gulped, but set his jaw, determined. He had a reason - a purpose for being here. It would be counterproductive to run tail and escape. 


“Why are you here?” The man asked - he still hadn’t proffered a name. The slight power imbalance unnerved Izuku, though he figured that was probably the point. 


“To join you.” The man made an irked ch sound, reaching his hand up furtively to his neck before forcing it back down.  


No , boy. Why are you here?” Izuku had to think about that. There were so many reasons, and he didn’t feel entirely comfortable with telling the man everything. He finally decided to give his general reason. Not too personal, but effective. 


“This world, this society , is cruel and corrupt. I want to change it.”  The man nodded, satisfied. The purple mist hovered in the background, unspeaking. Calculating. Izuku hadn’t dared ask about it, though it unsettled him slightly. Was it even human? 


With great effort he returned his attention back to the man when he spoke again.


“But what can you offer us?” Ah, this question he could answer. Izuku smiled, though it was more bittersweet — more cold — than happy. 


“I have a plan.”

☆*:.。. oCHAPTER ONEo .。.:*☆


Izuku sat at his desk, chair lent backwards and legs propped up on his desk. He idly tapped a pen against the leg of the chair, glancing around him at the other students, lazily looking for stimulus for his achingly bored train of thought. The other kids sat around him at their own idiosyncratic desks, diligent and paying their entire attention on the teacher. Izuku had no idea what they were talking on about, having long since tuned out their extensive droning. 


He fished into his uniform pocket for his phone, lackadaisically swirling it on and scrolling through the news app, not even caring if the teacher saw him using his phone during school hours. He didn’t see the need to feign interest to a maths teacher — they were probably used to their student’s minds wondering or napping in their class anyway. 


“Okay, class dismissed, don’t forget to do that homework sheet I gave you at the beginning of the lesson.” Izuku glanced up, flicking his eyes over to where the teacher was packing up his things and heading out to his next lesson teaching unmotivated teens. Izuku was pleasantly surprised to remember that their next lesson was in the same room, meaning he didn’t have to get out of his comfy position. 


What was next period again? 


Next to him a perky girl with black pigtailed hair tied with sickeningly bright green scrunchies clapped her hands excitedly. “I wonder what Keiko-Sensei will be doing today?” 


Ah. That’s right; next period was work ed. Izuku inwardly groaned, but flicked screens on his phone to the camera, readying himself. I wonder if Bakugou will start anything today, he wondered vaguely. He hoped so. Bakugou had always been invaluable to the needed video clips Izuku was collecting. His every word, action, and insatiable need for validation and needing to be the strongest was exactly what Izuku was looking for. 


The thought that Bakugou was unknowingly playing perfectly along to Izuku’s plan was ironic at the least, the very thought bringing a small smile to Izuku’s face. He hadn’t realised how mephistophelian it had looked until a boy seated in front of him turned around, sighted Izuku’s expression and squeaked in fright, swivelling back to the front of the room quicker than Izuku thought was possible for someone his size. 


His friends snigger at his girly outburst, but are quickly silenced by turning to take their own look at the ‘green haired oddball’. Izuku quickly wiped the smile off his face, berating himself for letting such an expression onto his physiognomy. 


At the front of the room, the door slid open, the tall, gangly form of the work ed teacher slipping through before he pulled the door closed behind him with a dull thud. 


“Good morning!” He called, sounding way too cheery for a Wednesday morning. He was clutching a stack of papers under his arm, which he proceeded to dump onto to podium at the front of the room, turning to grin widely at the sea of expectant students. Izuku raised an eyebrow at him, catching the words Career Aptitude Test on the papers as Keiko-Sensei slapped them down. Knowing Bakugou, and knowing his need to reinstate the fact that he was going to being the fucking Number One Hero this class could go any of two ways, with one way massively outweighing the other. 


Subtly, Izuku turned his phone to angle towards his childhood friend. Bakugou hadn’t seemed to see what the papers were about, yet. It gave Izuku time to push play and wait for the eventual, unavoidable, bout of egotism.  


“As third year middle school students, it’s about time for all of you to start thinking seriously about your futures and what you want to do with your lives. I could pass out these career aptitude tests, but,” he paused for dramatic effect, grabbing up the pile of paper and swinging his arm back. Izuku’s lizard brain subconsciously flinched back at the incoming rain of paper. “ Why bother ?” 


All around Izuku, the other kids began activating their powers in anticipation, the room filling with excited energy and a myriad of quirks that varied from one boy pulling his godamned eyeballs out of their sockets (how the fuck was that a potential hero quirk? Was he going to shock the villains into submission?), to a girl glowing brightly, like an ugly, oversized firefly. 


Izuku watched in mild, dissociated curiosity. It was almost cute, watching all those young, aspiring kids with such bright futures use their quirks with almost innocent-like excitement. Izuku could almost remember when he had been just like that. Minus a quirk, of course. 


Keiko-Sensei laughed, whipping his arm up and around, simultaneously letting go of the pile of now-crumpled test papers, letting them flutter restrainedly up into the air before slowly twirling back down amongst the cheering students. Izuku fought a bark of laughter at the amount of dramatics. He concealed it with a not-so-subtle cough. 


“But I know you all want to become heroes!”


Izuku made a long noncommittal keening ehhh sound. Well, most of them. Everyone else seemed to agree, however, screaming their confirmation at the teacher. The uproar was deafening, and conveniently effective in drowning out Izuku’s derisive snort. 


In the edgy anime-protagonist by-the-window seat, Bakugou sat, barely acknowledging his peer’s excitement. His arms were crossed, his brow furrowed and eyes brooding. He probably thought he was too good for such a childish display of delight.


But Izuku could see the volcano, rumbling just beneath the surface, waiting to erupt. He wanted to show his worth. His power (again). He was just waiting for the moment to strike. 


Keiko-Sensei gave him the exact cue he was looking for. Izuku wondered if the guy was intentionally riling Bakugou up. Probably not — Keiko-Sensei wasn’t exactly known for his   perceptiveness.  


“Oh, yes. Bakugou aren’t you planning on going to UA High?” 


Bakugou looked up, a wide snarly grin full of mean satisfaction spreading across his face. “Fuck yeah I am.” 


Izuku smiled fondly, shifting the camera slightly as Bakugou subtly moved, most likely getting ready to jump up onto his desk like a madman. I really hope you get in, Bakugou. He thought. I really do. 


All around Bakugou the other kids started chattering to each other in disbelief. No one from that crappy public middle school had ever made it into UA before, though with someone as gifted as Bakugou Katsuki, there was little doubt he was going to be the first student ever from Aldera Middle School to make it in.


“He’s going for the national school?”


“That school has a point two acceptance rate!”


“It’s basically impossible to get into!” 


Bakugou cut them off, pointing a self important finger at himself, daring them to continue. “That’s exactly why it’s the only place worthy of me.” He stated, like it was a well known fact. He shifted his feet off his desk, bracing one heel on the side of his chair and propelling himself up off his chair onto his desk, his hands clasp and unclasping like he was barely holding off excited explosions. His grin twisted wider, his eyes surveying the classroom like a king scrutinising his subjects, judging their worth and daring them to refute him. 


“I’ve aced all the mock tests.” He told them calmly, icy cold with certainty, but boiling with unrelenting ambition and self assurance. “I’m the only one at this school who stands a chance at getting in.” The way he said that made him sound both confident and malicious — he was daring anyone in the room to challenge him and try out for UA too. He would be the first student from Aldera Middle School to get into UA, if only because he intimidated every other hopeful out of the idea. 


Izuku barely managed biting back a sarcastic cheer. However fun it would’ve been in the moment, the aftermath and Bakugou’s wrath at being mocked wouldn’t have been entirely worth it. 


“I’m going to become the most famous and richest hero of all time! People across the world will know who I am. And it all starts with UA high!”  


Izuku stifled a sigh as the blond’s ranting began to get a bit tedious, leaning back in his chair a little more and shifting a dead leg, wincing as pins and needles ran up his calf where’d it had been squashed against the desk leg. Idly he rubbed one hand up and down against the uncomfortableness, switching the hand propping up his phone from his right hand to his left. 


To he honest, it was kind of funny watching Bakugou perform up on his desk like that — Izuku would have almost felt embarrassed for the boy if the fact that he was unconsciously humiliating himself by standing on his desk, yelling about his heroism at the top of his lungs and letting off contained, but nevertheless earsplitting explosions wasn’t so fucking hilarious. 


But Izuku had to admit he was kind of confused as to why Keiko-Sensei was just letting this happen; looking down at his clipboard disinterestedly and seemingly oblivious to the fact one of his students was using his quirk inside school and was disrupting the class (and probably the rest of the poor school). 


Finally, the man looked up, fixing bored eyes on Izuku. “Oh, yeah. Midoriya. Don’t you want to go to UA too?” 


Welp. Time to die. Izuku should probably stop the video and put his phone safely away before it was inevitably smashed into (another) unrecognisable piece of splintered junk, when it got in between Bakugou and killing Izuku. 


Maybe if he placed it down and scrambled out of the way quick enough...


Bakugou has stilled, exulted face frozen into something more strained and simmering. Izuku probably only had a few more seconds before the blond snapped and pounced on top of him, full of bruised ego fuelled bloodlust. 


If Izuku managed to place the phone and get the fuck away from it in time, this situation would be invaluable. A potential hero would be filmed bullying a weak, defenceless student. If he forced down his habitual sassy comebacks and drew on some of his once-had meekness and rabbit-like terror, Bakugou would be seen as the villain in this circumstance.


Half-desperately, Izuku spun the phone to face him, trying to make it seem as if he wasn’t the one operating it. Hastily, using his reflection on the device, he moulded his expression into one of pathetic fear, a face of a boy who had been bullied for years — it was a familiar, if a recently slightly unused expression. His eyes widened to the size of saucers, as the sound of Bakugou’s breathing became more laboured and furious, the lid barely contained on the steaming kettle, about to blow.  


The silence stretched on for a few more agonising seconds, then the class erupted in incredulous laughter. Izuku scrambled back away from his desk, accidentally knocking into the desk behind him in his rush to get away from the immediate danger zone. The boy sitting at the desk he’s hit grunted in annoyance, probably only bold enough to be angry because the rest of the class was convinced Izuku was meek and weak-willed. 


“Oi, watch it, stupid.” Izuku muttered a — forcibly — shaky apology, but the boy reached forwards and grabbed his leg. The tips of his fingers pinched painfully into the skin of Izuku’s thigh through the fabric of the uniform pants. 


Izuku struggled helplessly to get away, kicking his leg pathetically in a half hearted attempt to free himself. He wasn’t really worried, but the fact he couldn’t smack this guy to make him let go was slightly irritating. 


Bakugou turned, metaphorical kettle screaming and about to blow. He stalked forward, swiftly gaining on the small amount of space Izuku had covered, his hands twitching, the smell of nitroglycerin and smoke emanating off him.


Deku, ” He whispered, low and guttural, and full of barely constrained fury. 


Izuku knew he shouldn’t stand up for himself. Portraying a meek personalitied schoolboy would be hard enough without the temptation of talking back, just a little. What would the old Izuku do?


Sometimes it was hard, remembering what he used to be like, over two years ago now. Before he’d snapped, the weight of all the acrimony from his classmates, teachers. Kacchan. Hero society’s prejudice towards weaker quirked people. Quirkless people. His mum’s belief he couldn’t make it. 


Before his most revered hero took the last straw, telling he couldn’t become a hero. The only person he’d ever worshiped, the person he’d put all his last hopes in, tore down his aspirations like they were flimsy birthday streamers, taken and crumpled up after other people finished having their fun, thrown in the bin and forgotten. 


He’d been shy. Meek and unassuming. Not much to look at, but steel-willed. Behind those green eyes had burned the brightest fire full of ambition and good intention. Now those eyes just held cold resignation, masked by layers upon layers of humour and apathy. If he pretended he was fine, he’d make himself believe it. He’d seen the true side of society, the side that showed that not everyone got a happily ever after. Some people were just handed opportunities on a golden platter, and some, no matter how hard they worked, would only ever get left in the dirt. 


Sometimes Izuku wished he’d never caught onto All Might’s leg that day. If he’d just left it alone, it would have just been an ever-present what-if. A ‘I wonder what he would have said’. Not this horrid, festering wound, full of painful realisation that he would never be able to become a hero. But, surprisingly, his hurt didn’t turn into a wild, uncontrollable fire for revenge and violence, venting every ounce of pain into causing pain in others.


He had stopped, a profound feeling of wrongness filling him. If the hero system was flawed, then shouldn’t it be fixed? And if no one else had seen how flawed it was, wasn't he just the person to slowly, surely make a change?


He didn’t want violence. Violence only begets violence. He just wanted to change things; slowly, ever so subtly till the whole faulty system cracked and a new era of hero society would — hopefully — begin. 


“Think you can go to UA?” Bakugou snarled, shoving his face into Izuku’s, mouth wide in anger, teeth bared. “I thought you had given up on that, already. Guess you’re even dumber than I already thought.” 


Some saliva was spat onto Izuku’s face by Bakugou’s vehemency. He resisted the urge to reach up and wipe it off. “B-Bakugou-“


“I thought your quirkless ass would’ve know it’s place by now.” The blond shoved Izuku, pushing him backwards out the the other boy’s grip, the sudden release of his leg sending him stumbling back and crashing against the wall with an ooft as the wind was driven forcibly out of his lungs. “No one without a quirk should ever even entertain the idea of heroism!” 


The old Izuku would at least have stuck up for himself right? He always had, whatever the price. No matter how much Bakugou had pushed him down, he’d always gotten up, fire burning brighter than ever. But there’d always be a limit to how much kindling was available. The fire would always go out if no more wood was cut, and Izuku had only ever been living on burrowed fuel. 


“Well, actually they got rid of that rule!” Izuku reposted, weakly pushing at Bakugou, but the guy was an immovable wall of flesh. “Quirkless people can get into UA! Maybe I can be the first..” 


Bakugou brought his right hand back, fingers splayed and palm spitting sparks. With a boom that Izuku felt ringing deep in his ears, the blond slammed his palm on the wall right next to Izuku’s head, sending a sharp pain coursing through Izuku’s left ear and knocking his head sideways, leaving Izuku stumbling with one ear ringing and aching, messing with his balance. 


The rest of the class came up behind Bakugou, creating a wall of flesh, emanating a viscous cloud of hatred and mockery. Izuku was more inconvenienced than frightened; having no immediate rout for escape meant he’d have to play this out until the end. Which just meant a higher possibility of being directly hit by one of Bakugou’s explosions. 


And he’d become so good at avoiding them and everything. Hadn’t been hit by one for months. Oh, well. It was only Bakugou’s undoing, really. 


“You’ll never be able to hang out with the best of the best! You’ll die in the exams !” Bakugou growled — he was like a damn animal, growling after every sentence. Izuku barely bit back growling sassily back. 


Izuku looked down. He forced a sad, resigned expression onto his face. Bakugou needed to think he was getting to Izuku. (Even though he wasn’t. Not anymore). 


Defenceless Deku. ” Bakugou mocked, “The school’s already crappy, do you really want to embarrass it more by failing so hard ?”


Izuku opened his mouth, eyes peeking up at Bakugou imploringly, hands grasping at the wall in vein, fingers bent and shaking. “I-“ 


The bell rang, loud and assertive. Izuku was mildly impressed at the almost perfect timing, effectively distracting Bakugou for long enough for Izuku to slip quickly between a gap in the human wall and hastily grab his bag and phone from where it was lying. He’d crop the video later. 


“Class dismissed.” Keiko-Sensei droned, like there hadn’t just been a full class bullying session right in front of him for the last ten minutes.


Bakugou turned, eyes burning. He hated being cut off or ignored. “ Deku ...”


But Izuku was already trotting out the door, waving pleasantly at the seething boy as he pocketed his phone after pressing stop on the recording button, pulling open the sliding door and slipping out, mingling and disappearing effortlessly into the sea of students heading outside for lunch. 


Izuku let himself be taken along with the flow, allowing himself to be pushed and jostled until they had all made it out the front doors and the stream of pressing bodies ebbed until Izuku was left standing alone in the middle of the playground between two swing sets. He knew he only had a few minutes at most before Bakugou managed to shoulder his way through the mass of students and make it outside. Besides, he was way too vulnerable out here in the open, easy picking for any bully with a dash of self hatred and a need to punch something. 


With a sigh Izuku turned, making his way unhurriedly around the side of the school. There was a shady corner around the side within an overgrown patch of trees and bushes that Izuku had discovered. He spent every break out there, doing his homework while eating lunch in the small sanctuary. So far no one else except a few unassuming, equally outcast kids had found it. It was almost like an unspoken rule between the bullied kids at Aldera Middle School; to not talk about the place to anyone, and to just enjoy the refuge in silence and gratefulness. 


It was mostly only unnoticed so far because usually students ate their lunches together in their home room or the cafeteria, and the only people who came here for lunch were the people no one cared about or noticed were missing. It had been years since Izuku had even entertained the idea of eating lunch in his home room. He’d tried, a few times here and there, to eat with the rest of his class but it always ended with his bento splattered on the ground outside the window or in his hair. 


Izuku plopped his bag down onto the overgrown grass, dropping down next to it a second afterwards. He leant his back against the wall, resting his head back against the cold stone and closing his eyes with a sigh. Across the small clearing-of-sorts sat a first year, quietly eating a sushi roll, eyes downcast. 


No one asked questions in this corner of the grounds. It was nice, just being allowed to sit and eat his lunch without someone coming up to him to talk to him or push him around. 


Running his fingers through his already mussed-up hair, Izuku reached a hand into his bag to grab his bento, settling it on his lap and lifting off the lid. Chicken katsu. Izuku shrugged, moving to pick up his chopsticks with one hand, digging the other hand into his back pocket to bring out his phone. 


Popping a large lump of rice into his mouth, Izuku looked down, swiping out of the camera app and switching into Messages. Scrolling lazily down to the bottom of the contacts list, he lightly tapped the one labelled Suspicious Group Chat . Looking at that name made him snigger, the sound catching the attention of the first year across from him. Izuku smiled bashfully at her, but couldn’t help keep a grin off his face. The name never ceased to make him laugh, even though it was probably a little immature. 


The page read no new messages and Izuku frowned, reloading the page to no avail. 


“Agh, whatever.” He muttered. He’d do it himself, if he really had to actively keep in touch. 


His fingers flew in practiced patterns across the keyboard as he typed out an irritated message. 


Izuku: Any updates? Remember I’m not there all the time, I asked you to keep me up to date (c" ತ,_ತ)


Almost instantly a new message popped up, like the fucker had just been sitting there, waiting for a text to come in. 


Areta: Come tonight. We need to talk. 


Izuku huffed. Oh so now he wanted to talk. Took him a few months. 


Izuku: Okay, okay. What time?