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?
I forgot to mention, but I'm planning on updating every Friday/Saturday afternoon. Just so you know when to check for an update.
I'm a comment whore, so please tell me how you feel about this fic! Even if you hate it, tell me, I love hearing from you guys
( ◡‿◡ *).
The walk home seemed to drag by in excruciating slow repetition. Every step lasted at least an hour ground out the monotonous rhythm of scritch, thud, scritch, thud. The path Izuku normally took deviated from the usual civilians’ routs and around the edge of the residential area, skirting the side of the wooded area that closed off the homes from the ‘outside world’ as Bakugou had once called it. The space beyond the civilised wilderness featured perfect picnic clearings, several rural parks and even a patch of slightly more dense jungle of closely packed bushes and trees — which Izuku and Bakugou had gotten lost in numerous occasions in their younger years — was vast expanses of farmland that eventually receded into the highway.
The Bakugou’s lived nearer to the edge than Izuku did though, so after wasting time meandering past the dewy grass, and whispering trees rocking in the breeze lit by light hues of orange afternoon light, Izuku forcibly pointed his head back towards the more densely populated parts of the residential area.
Izuku may have also been delaying getting home, as the rare occasion of physically meeting and talking with the League was no small thing. Sure, Izuku played his slight nerves off with sass and humour, but he was always a little bit jittery before a gathering. Shigaraki always preferred texting like the unsocial neet he was, and since Izuku had decided to continue living at home as to not attain suspicion, he wasn’t able to easily pop over whenever it fancied him.
Anyway, as the Plan centred greatly around Izuku attending and blending in at UA, he couldn’t just disappear for a few years then expect no one to call fowl when he materialised back into existence for the entrance exams. But the main thing that really made Izuku stop and reconsider had been his own mother. He didn’t want to do that to her — him leaving would have been so traumatic for her. As his father had already left, losing her son would have probably driven her into a downward spiral. He didn’t even want to know where that spiral would have ended.
The path Izuku had turned down, that led a pretty straight line right back to his house, passed under a small bridge, the inside walls covered in graffiti and little hearts with lovers’ initials in them. As Izuku approached, he kept a keen eye on the shifting shadows in the middle, always cautious of anything that lurked in the dark; normally everything was fine, he had nothing to fear — except that one time a girl with an invisibility quirk had accidentally bumped into him and nearly given him a heart attack. Apparently everything she touched or wore was cloaked as well so he hadn’t seen anything until he had apparently knocked against a hard pocket of air and nearly pulled out his sharpened scissors. This time however there was something acrid, something almost stale and different about the air as Izuku stepped underneath the overhang, and into the duskiness of the tunnel.
He lifted his head warily, sniffing the air for Kurogiri’s signature musky smell mixed with incense, but all he found was a disconcerting mixture of sewerage and rank mud. Izuku wrinkles his nose, frowning slightly as his brain ran over different possibilities but came up blank. He stilled, shoes scuffing the ground softly as he glanced around, body tensing. If there was anything he’d learned from being part of the League, it was to always expect the unknown wasn’t going to be friendly, and probably wanted to attack him — especially if it was in a shady location or a place empty of normal, non-violent civilians.
This place annoyingly, fitted both scenarios perfectly.
With careful, practiced movements Izuku shrugged off his backpack and deftly zipped open the front pocket, pulling out a pair of silver metallic sewing scissors, hewn to a nasty point at the end. It was a bit strange to have a pair of sharpened scissors, but the practicality overweighted the peculiarity: no one would suspect scissors in a kid’s school bag like they would a knife.
Izuku turned, ears catching the sound of a disgusting slithering, slooshy noise and had barely enough time to chuck his bag away before the grate in front of him juddered violently then erupted, hurtling through the air before clattering sharply onto the tarmac a few yards away. The thing that broke it came blasting out next, a huge mass of slimy, gelatinous, vomit-coloured goop with eyes full of malicious intent; a wide, crooked grin of triumph twisting it’s mucilaginous features when it’s large, bulbous eyes locked on Izuku.
Izuku stumbled back, momentarily caught off guard by the sheer shock of being attacked by a large lump of slime, rather than a normal human being as he’d presumed it’d be, but he quickly regained his composure. This was no time to stand gawping like an idiot. The villain was probably a small-fry villain anyway; by the look of him he was on the run from a probably gone-wrong shoplift. He was leagues (heh, get it? League?) above them in brains if not brawn. Izuku wasn’t really a fighter, to an extent — he’d been briefed on the basics of hand-to-hand combat and how to throw a ‘proper’ punch by some of the more minor members of the League, but personally he more thought of himself as one of the more tactical, wily types, able to win a battle with their quick thinking and agility.
The other villain’s eyes locked onto Izuku, letting out a gurgled laugh.
“You don’t look very strong, but you’ll have to do. I guess no one will suspect such an unassuming kid.” Izuku snorted, quickly attempting to turn it into a cough, but failing miserably. He rolled his eyes. Despite his initial reaction to being called “unassuming”, Izuku had to admit he was a bit pleased with being seen as innocent. It would make the Plan that much more easy, if even a fellow villain couldn’t see beyond his cute freckles and fluffy hair.
Without warning, the mass of slime lunged, it’s gelatinous body spilling wetly onto the tarmac as it rushed forward, tendrils reaching towards Izuku in an attempt to ensnare him in it’s cold, moist embrace.
“Not today, Satan.” Izuku muttered as he waited patiently till the other was nearly upon him. At the last millisecond, he deftly sidestepped, barely missing being swallowed whole by the glutinous substance by a hair. The villain slammed face first into the wall of the tunnel, splattering wetly, it’s large eyes popping open wide with surprise.
Izuku didn’t wait for the sludge to recuperate and peel itself off the wall, instead tilting back his wrist and sending his combat scissors hurtling point first into the villain’s right eye. It shrieked, most likely more from shock than pain. Did it even feel pain? Izuku couldn’t see any nerves - but then again he couldn’t see any intestines or even a brain swimming around inside the slime, so it was probably all relative. As the other villain writhed, Izuku took a moment to internally analyse it, his eyes forming into slits as he squinted at the bulky mass of sludge. Was this a physical type quirk or a transformative quirk? Did the villain turn back into a regular guy when he deactivated his quirk or was this his permanent form?
The villain removed himself from the wall, the action accompanied by an abhorrent suctiony, squelching sound. It turned, one slimy tendril pulling out the scissors embedded in it’s eyeball and flung them away, the blinded eye secreting a faintly pink mucus—like liquid. It’s other eye blazed with a fury only found when one of your eyeballs has just been gorged by an arts and crafts tool.
“You’re more annoying than expected.” It snarled, slithering it’s way towards him once more, but Izuku could see the slight hesitancy in it’s advance - it was warier, which was good, at least it had some brain cells left. But it wasn’t about to fall victim to the same trick twice, and Izuku’s only weapon was yards away on the other side of the tunnel; which meant Izuku was going to have to think fast.
“And you’re more stupid than I expected.” Izuku countered, mildly surprised the lump of sludge hadn’t figured out who he was by now. He was pretty sure no other villain used sharpened scissors.
Gauging the villain’s uncertainty, Izuku stepped forward, noticing with morbid amusement as the other villain flinched, sliming back a step in response to Izuku’s slow advance.
Izuku allowed himself a moment, frowning slightly as he assessed the situation. He needed to somehow get past the villain to his scissors, then hopefully use them to fully blind his opponent. There seemed no good way of killing the other villain, as the only solid parts of him seemed to be the mouth and eyes.
Izuku lifted a foot to step forwards, hoping maybe a desperate sprint towards and past the sludge villain would give him an opportunity to grab his scissors, when the ground began so tremble ever so slightly, the tremors only increasing as the pressure in the air began to push Izuku back, making him stumble and awkwardly catch his footing with little of his dignity intact. He grimaced, putting a hand to his temple as it began to throb from the sheer pressure of the air bearing down on him.
The uncomfortable feeling felt familiar - he’d felt it anteriorly, just before- oh. Oh, that’s it. Shit. Shit shit shit shit s-
-hit. Izuku’s mind went blank as he was blown forcefully into the air, the breath knocked out of him as he was flung into the opposite wall, his head cracking painfully against the stone. The world blinked out.
Izuku came to with a large something slapping his cheek. He swatted blearily at it, but withdrew his hand like he’d been bitten when he cracked open his eyes and the person standing over him came slowly into view. He scrambled back, eyes wide as he fumbled to his feet and began backing away, muscles tight and stance guarded.
“All Might...” Izuku willed himself to stay calm and in control. He couldn’t imagine the repercussions of him just turning tail and running, or worst attacking. He took a deep breath in, relaxed his shoulders, let his arms fall down to his sides. I’m a fanboy. An avid fanboy. he reminded himself. He moulded his mouth into a excited grin, reminiscent of his pre-villain days.
“Sorry, flight or fight mode. You surprised me.” He scratched the back of his neck bashfully. “Thank you for saving me back there, All Might. I was in a pretty tight spot.”
“Not to worry my boy! It is only natural to still be in flight or fight mode after an experience like that!” The hero paused, eyes widening in recognition. “Wait...”
Izuku winced. He had been hoping that the Number One Hero wouldn’t recall him, counting probably a little too heavily on his nondescript features and the fact that the hero probably saved thousands of lives on a weekly bases and didn’t remember specific faces, even when one of them was of a boy he had flat out told that there was no hope of him ever becoming a hero.
“Aren’t you the boy who I-“ the hero paused, wincing, his ever-present smile slipping just a little. “Ah. Ah, yes, um...”
Seeing the Number One Hero flustered and at a lack for words would have been a whole heap more enjoyable in a different situation. This particular situation just had Izuku wanting to get the hell outta there, maybe even find someone who could unwind time and give him the opportunity to avoid this situation completely.
All Might was standing before Izuku, his regularly blinding grin turned down at the sides in shame. “Look, I. I shouldn’t have said that - what I said to you - all those years ago.” All Might said, all in one apologetic rush. “I now realise how unthoughtful and callous it must have sounded - which is not how I meant it to come across as at all! - and how much it must have hurt. I am sincerely sorry for that.”
The Number One Hero was struggling, grasping desperately for the right words. Izuku wasn’t going to relieve him of the awkwardness and instead stood there, all his mental willpower focussed fully on keeping a glazed, slightly agape expression on his face and forcing his feet to stand their ground, though they were twitching slightly with the overwhelming need to get the fuck out of there.
He didn’t really care what had happened three years ago; the bitterness had faded into the back of his head, faintly tainting his thoughts but not causing him anymore pain, only stoking his resolve. To put it more accurately, he didn’t let it hurt.
Belatedly, Izuku realised that All Might had finished floundering, gazing sorrowfully at Izuku and he realised that it was his turn to speak - either to forever cast All Might away or forgive him for throwing his dreams onto the muddy roadside, and grinding his heel into them like a used cigarette butt.
“No, no, it’s fine, really! I was being immature, wanting something that I now know could never happen. Thank you for letting me realise that!” The words felt bitter on his tongue, even if they were essentially true. All Might had helped him realise he had absolutely no chance of ever becoming a hero. Izuku bowed, attempting to politely end the conversation and leave. Maybe go kick Giran in the groin to let out his anger or something.
“Wait, what? No, what I meant was-...” The Number One Hero trailed off, his face scrunched up in confusion and slight worry, an expression that Izuku loathed being directed at himself. This entire encounter was like a knife twisting itself in an old wound, aggravating nearly-healed skin and reopening the cut, blood full of bitter resentment and pain leaking viscously out from inside. Why was All Might deciding to be nice now ? Years after he had selfishly poured kerosene all over Izuku’s last hopes of ever becoming a hero, and flicking a match onto the pile of drenched wishes in contempt.
“Anyway, thank you for helping me!” Izuku backed away, bowing like an incessant dippy bird, a wide grin plastered on his face.
With as much dignity as he could muster, Izuku turned and speed-walked away, leaving behind a stunned and spluttering All Might.
God, he could not get out of there fast enough.
Izuku decided that maybe the main road was the best way of getting home, hopefully mingling amongst a larger group of people would stop him from getting attacked again - and getting spotted by All Might, if the hero was still looking for him - , Izuku was still miffed about his lost combat scissors. No more lurking down unpopulated side roads, as that would only increase his likelihood of getting jumped again.
The street was full of afternoon shoppers gazing with interest at the shop windows, deliverymen and woman, parents taking their preschoolers home and gaggles of high schoolers wasting time window shopping, buying sweets or making a hell of a racket in the arcade across the street. Izuku smiled and let himself take in the beauty of innocent, everyday life influenced, but not directly related to heroism or villainy. It was refreshing being in a part of town where you weren’t incessantly forced to see heroes traipsing about.
Izuku followed the forward flow of the crowd, letting it carry him on, blending in easily with the other kids going home after school; becoming one of many.
Izuku was meandering past a particularly delicious looking patisserie that had recently opened up, stalling for time as he eyed each baked good individually, when he heard a sudden loud crash, followed by shrieks of terror and a higher pitched wail that sounded more like an alarm than a human.
Around Izuku erupted deafening wailings of ding ding ding wooo, ding ding ding whooo of fire trucks and the woo woo of police cars, the sounds growing louder as they approached Izuku then faded slightly again as they past him and headed off to a large strip mall not far away.
Izuku turned, unsurprised to see smoke billowing into the sky from the presumed crime scene, the sounds of screaming only increasing. Morbid curiosity took Izuku towards the source of the smoke. Maybe he’d get to see someone beaten up or something. All Might might even be there to get thrown around, though Izuku doubted the hero would be out and about after handing the sludge villain off to the police. He may not be one of the brainiest of heroes, usually preferring to use his brute strength instead of his head to win battles, but he probably wasn’t stupid enough to get into yet another fight with his hours almost up, or close to.
The entire street was in chaos. The people stupid enough to still be nearby were either reconsidering life choices and running in the opposite direction, or attempting to get as close to the fight scene as possible, wanting to watch the fight despite the high risk, some of them filming it for their blog or to prove they were really there.
Fires flickered and consumed the nearby shops, the buildings not yet affected by flame crumbled, walls caved in and windows smashed. It was a disaster, both in the literal sense, and in the wallets of anyone without insurance. Heroes circled warily around the villain responsible for the damage, somehow unable to land a good hit.
Izuku poked his head up above the fascinated, masochistic mob, his eyes widening when he saw a writhing green mass, a struggling body clasped within its undulating tendrils. The sludge villain? How did it get out... did All Might drop it or something? That seemed rather careless for a pro hero, let alone the Number One Pro Hero.
Izuku dropped down from his tippy toes and shook his head disappointedly, massaging his temple as he felt the onset of another god why are heroes so annoying caused headache begin to throb. All Might was only doing the public a disservice by keeping his weakened state secret. They had a right to know , after all, since his well-being had a lot to do with their general safety.
All fake heroes, only in it for the fame and fortune the lot of them.
Izuku slapped himself. He really needed to stop complaining about the dysfunctional hero system, and thank the villain punching idiots for making his job of actually doing something about the hero system much easier. Use their idiocy against them: the citizens would feel betrayed and angry once they found out All Might had been keeping such an important piece of information a secret.
Presuming the Number One Hero didn’t disclose the information himself. Izuku was counting on the hero not doing that, which was a risky gamble, but one he was willing to take.
Izuku shoved his hands into his pockets and forced his way forwards through the dense crowd, remembering that he had seen someone clutched in the sludge’s slimy embrace, and vaguely wondered if he needed to save an innocent from the low level villain’s desperate stupidity. If it became evident that the only way to get the sludge villain to hand himself over to the police, or at least drop the person he was currently suffocating, was to play the ‘I’m part of the League of Villains and can and will have you tracked down and killed for needlessly ending a civilian’s life’ card, he’d just leave it alone and have him found and brought to him personally later.
Izuku believed in righting wrongs. He believed in an incorrupt society where people saved others because they cared. He did not, however, believe in the pointless slaughter of an innocuous life when there was a better or alternative way to achieve what it is you wanted. Life needed to be taken with meaning. If Izuku killed, he always had a reason to. He needed to know why someone was killed. What for.
Izuku stopped at the edge of the tape keeping the crowd from entering the blast zone. He looked at the struggling figure trapped in the slime, silently impressed with how long they had been able to hold on for. Then he did a double take.
Was that Bakugou ? Izuku quirked an eyebrow, barely able to hold back the slight grin that fought for access on his face. This day was looking up! Maybe this was a god’s way of apologising him after such a disgusting day.
Izuku fished out his phone from his back pocket and filmed a quick video of the heroes obviously not helping a person in need of saving, smiling softly to himself. Every little moment of the heroes neglecting their duty to save citizens in need — whether intentionally or not — gave the people just that little more reason to question the heroes.
In his peripheral vision Izuku thought he saw a shock of golden hair. He turned to look as he pocketed his phone once more, spotting none other than All Might in his emaciated true form, watching the scene before him unfold with a pained, almost regretful expression, not daring to jump in and help - Izuku had bee right, his hours had indeed been almost up when he’d seen him last. Their prolonged encounter must have drained the last remnants away.
Izuku tsked, suddenly sick and tired of heroes and corrupt societal mindsets. Not giving himself time to think that maybe, just maybe this was a bad idea, Izuku rushed forward and yeeted himself up over the sidelines, rushing forward towards the other villain with a recklessness born from working with people with little regard for general safety for over three years.
He’d show these people what real heroism looked like. And, he guessed, despite Bakugou’s history of bullying a certain quirkless boy, the other didn’t deserve to actually die . Maybe get munched on a little, maybe have his ego cut down to a more acceptable level, but not die.
Izuku twisted mid-run, slipping his bag off his shoulders and grasped the straps in both hands. Pausing for a millisecond, Izuku used his forward momentum to swing his backpack up and around, sending it hurtling into the other villain’s uninjured eye, right in the centre of the slimy orb. The villain screeched, recoiling backwards and momentary letting go of Bakugou slightly. The volatile boy gasped for air, but just as soon choked on it as his scarlet eyes paused in their desperate roving to land on Izuku.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” He wheezed angrily, still mostly breathless. Gods, Izuku went out of his way to save the bastard and now he was being ungrateful? Izuku felt something inside him snap.
“Because nobody else was going to fucking do anything!” He snapped. Izuku opened his mouth again to yell something even more incriminating when he was cut off by the sound of the sludge villain growling. It was recovering fast, as Izuku hadn’t entirely blinded him, quickly snaking it’s tendrils around Bakugou once more.
It eyed Izuku with distaste. “You again.”
Izuku tensed, about to dart forward when he felt that all-too-familiar pressure building again. He had only a second to tense himself for the inevitable whiplash before All Might streaked past him, landing one mighty blow upon the other villain, the reaction force of the Number One Hero’s Smash knocking Izuku away like a mere pebble, the sheer impact vaporising the villain.
As Izuku shook his head out of a noggin-meeting-tarmac daze, he felt his ears pop from the loss of air pressure. He groaned, pushing himself up into a sitting position with shaky arms. He blinked blurry eyes, his gaze falling on the figure of Bakugou awkwardly crumpled against a signpost on the other side of the street. The boy was groaning, somehow managing to make that usually pitiful noise sound angry.
Izuku flopped back down onto the pavement, gazing up at the gently floating clouds as his brain tried to work out how the hell he had gotten himself into this situation.
The heroes who had been standing uselessly on the sidelines waited until medics had checked and confirmed Izuku hadn’t somehow obtained a concussion before marching over and crowding around him with lectural intent. As he sat there, rubbing the back of his head in a disgruntled manner they took it in turns to tell him just how stupid he had been for rushing in and doing something they hadn’t had the balls to do.
“Someone with a non physical quirk like you shouldn’t have put yourself at risk like that!”
“Actually I don’t have a quirk.”
The heros’ faces heated up in what Izuku indifferently presumes was anger. “What?!”
“Don’t get your spandex in a twist.”
That, surprisingly, did not help the situation. As the self righteous heroes yammered on, Izuku sighed, tuning out the obnoxious background babble and turning his head to watch All Might as he enthusiastically talked to a reporter on the other side of the street, his stomach twisting bitterly. Oh, shit, the meeting. After a split second decision, Izuku widened his eyes in mock horror and pointed a trembling hand behind the heroes.
“B-behind you! I-it’s him!-”
The heroes panicked, whipping around and looking around desperately for the “ him ” Izuku has been pointing at. Except Izuku hadn’t been pointing at anything - if you didn’t count that restaurant across the road. What? It was a great restaurant.
Before the heroes could realise they’d been tricked, Izuku used their momentary distraction to spring to his feet, the bruises covering him from where he’d struck the side of the wall earlier - and from where he’d made violent contact with the concrete on the strip mall side walk - aching, and legged it to the nearest alleyway, a shifty looking stretch of darkness between a ramen shop and a souvenir store.
He slipped into the shadows beside a dumpster, waiting silently as he heard the heroes realise his deceit. There were peeved shouts and a few halfhearted attempts to relocate him, but eventually they realised he wasn’t important enough. Izuku wasn’t surprised, experience told him that the majority of heroes didn’t actually care beyond public show for popularity and publicity. As the group of costume flaunting con men minced their way back over to the gaggle of deluded fans, Izuku allowed himself a breath of relief.
Turning, he decided to find out where exactly the alley would lead him, hopefully in his desired direction, if only to avoid the crowds of interested onlookers and microphone wielding reporters. Once fully enveloped by the comfortingly shadowy alley, Izuku finally let himself relax, his shoulders untensing and gate slowing. He let out a long sigh as he slipped his hands into his pants pockets.
As he finally stepped back out into the light on the opposite side of the block, Izuku grit his teeth, his hands forming into clenched fists inside his pockets. Despite the fact Izuku had been sure he’d gotten over it, the fact that Bakugou had been praised for being brave just because he had a powerful quirk and Izuku had been berated for actually doing something grated on his nerves, twisting the ever present knife that embodied the corrupt hero and quirk centred society a little deeper into his heart.
Izuku only hoped that he’d shown up All Might. Made him feel guilty for not being a better hero. Made him realise even quirkless losers could be powerful.
This was one of the main reasons he had decided to join the League of Villains. Apart from the obvious benefit of having a few dozen powerful villains on your side and the fact that those said villains were well connected and feared within the underground, they shared his goal.
The League was working towards a world without the bias and hero centred culture that discriminated against those unlucky few without quirks, or those many with an even vaguely villainous quirk. A world where heroes saved people because they actually wanted to. Because they actually cared .
Well, that was the ideal. Izuku guessed the world would never actually be that perfect, but who could blame him for trying.
Once he got out of the main shopping district and into the suburbs once more, the rest of the walk home was pretty uneventful. Izuku wound his way through familiar side streets lined with rural homes and the occasional park. It was quaint. Homely. Full of normal people living normal lives. Whatever Izuku’s intentions, he never wanted to involve innocent citizens in his plans, at least not in a negative way. He may be angry and bitter and the world, but he wasn’t cruel. Not entirely. Anyone who had been raised by Midoriya Inko could never be completely corrupted.
“Oi! Fucker !”
Izuku paused at the corner before his street and sighed, exasperated. What does he want now ? He didn’t bother looking back, knowing full well who was stomping up behind him.
Blandly, Izuku wondered if his interrupter was feeling grateful, but quickly dismissed such a ridiculous idea. Bakugou didn’t do thankful.
Izuku heard Bakugou stop a few feet behind him, then was suddenly spun around as the other boy clamped a lightly sparking hand onto his shoulder and pulled him around to face him.
Izuku arched a serene eyebrow, not giving the blonde the satisfaction of a proper response.
“Listen Deku,” he began, his face screwing up in disgusted anger. He dropped his hand back to his side, clenching his hand into a fist. Izuku sighed. He seemed to be doing a lot of that recently.
“Look, you seem to have something to tell me, but since whatever you usually say to me is a contumelious, and usually unintelligent insult towards me and my existence in general, I don’t really care. I need to get home, so how about you tell me tomorrow, or, like, not at all. I don’t really mind.”
Bakugou seemed shocked into silence, which was a nice change. He stood there, gaping as Izuku spun back around on his heel and trotted around the corner. Izuku didn’t bother looking back. He was thoroughly over that day’s shit and all he wanted to do was go and curl up on his bed and ignore existence.
A little traitorous part of his brain told him he still had to go and deal with Shigaraki’s childishness. He booted the thought away before it could send him spiralling into “nope not happening” land.
There was a small civilian crossroad ahead. Izuku paid it no attention as he slouched past it, only pausing to retie his shoelace when he noticed it had come loose and undone. As he was straightening up, there was a massive blast of wind that sent Izuku stumbling back, shocking him into letting out an undignified screech of annoyance.
When he looked back up, the last person he wanted to see was standing in all his emancipated glory before him. The sunlight was shining directly behind the hero, causing his body to seem like a black hole surrounded by a halo of golden light.
“Edgy fuck.” Izuku muttered bitterly, raising his eyebrow slightly in a silent question for the man. Why couldn’t he just walk home without being ambushed by the Number fucking One Hero?
He guessed his life had never been that lucky to begin with. But still.
“Young Midoriya.” The man began, his voice very slightly hesitant. Izuku was only mildly pleased that he still had the sense to be even a little ashamed. He waited.
“I’m glad I caught you.” The hero continued. “I’d thought I’d missed you.”
“Nothing, nothing. Do continue.”
“Oh, um, I needed to speak with you.”
Izuku frowned a touch. “Yeah, uh, sorry - I had to get home...”
“Not to worry! Your rescue of your classmate back there was truly amazing. I apologise for not saving him immediately, as I should’ve.” He shifted, glancing away briefly, a fleeting glimpse of guilt flitting across his face before he looked back at Izuku. “Also, I’d like to thank you.”
“For jumping forward and saving that boy when I did not - could not. What you did was exceedingly brave.”
The hero smiled, a genuine thing that twisted Izuku’s stomach unpleasantly. “I also wanted to talk to you about the question you asked of me, two years ago.”
Oh. Oh fuck.
“If you hadn’t told me about your life. If you hadn’t run into that fight just before - I would have been a worthless bystander watching from the crowd. So thank you.”
Izuku shrugged helplessly. He wasn’t sure he liked where this was going. Wished there was some polite way of getting the fuck out. “No problem?” All Might quirked a smile.
“You told me that you didn’t have a quirk, so when I saw you jump out there to save your fellow student...” All Might trailed off, seemingly at a loss for words. Izuku stood before the Number One hero’s emancipated form and attempted to keep the annoyance from filtering through onto his face, only allowing the slight morbid curiosity to show. And if he played up that expression a little, then at least Shigaraki wasn’t there to judge him.
Izuku couldn’t figure out whether he was offended or wanted to laugh at being pegged as wanting to save Bakugou’s life, considering the shit the other boy had put him through.
He wondered what All Might was getting at however. The man seemed on the brink of one of those sickeningly inspirational speeches anime protagonists always seemed to conjure up. Izuku only hoped it wouldn’t go on for too long. Gods, so many things were inconveniently popping up to delay him on his way home. Izuku briefly entertained the idea that maybe he had been hit with a low level Unlucky quirk.
“There are stories about every hero. How they became great.” All Might began. Izuku mentally prepared himself.
All Might nodded. “They all had one thing in common: their bodies moved before they had a chance to think. Almost on their own.” The hero smiled, his sickly black eyes crinkling. “And today, that’s what happened to you.”
Weeell, not exactly. But sure.
“Young man. You too can become a hero.”
The words hit Izuku like he’d been physically struck by dozens of razor sharp, freezing ice shards, cutting into him and filling him with an icy numbness. After everything, after those years of believing he’d never be a hero because of All Might’s words “You can never be a hero, I’m sorry. But—” , the Number One Hero couldn’t just waltz up and suddenly declare he could be a hero only after doing some fancy smansy savie thing.
He couldn’t just suddenly decide Izuku was worthy of being a hero, not only when it benefited him. Not now. It was too late .
He felt the icy numbness slowly dissolve into a burning fire of rage and hate. How fucking dare him. How dare—
A sound that sounded like a crazed mix of disbelieving laughter and startled gasp ripped out of Izuku’s gaping mouth. Instantly he clamped it back closed, not having realised it had been hanging open.
Before he could let himself be drawn too deep into that certain pit of so-far-untouched pain however, his automatic mental defence kicked in, replacing the shock and hurt with sarcastic mirth.
Izuku chuckled, just quiet enough that All Might wouldn’t hear him and muttered, “ A little late for that, aren’t we now ?”
He really needed to stop using humour to cover over his emotional hurt, but it worked. As long as it was effective, he didn’t really worry about how it probably wasn’t the best coping mechanism.
All Might seemed oblivious to Izuku’s internal turmoil as he raised both arms, his body dramatically framed by the golden light from the setting sun, casting his front in shadow and causing his hair to light up like woven - if slightly stringy - gold. “I deem you worthy of my power.”
For a pleasant moment Izuku was tempted to believe that this was all just a painful dream his subconscious had conjured up to spite him. Looking down for a brief moment Izuku looked down, subtly pinching himself. Nothing happened. Damn.
His mind was still blank, filled with static like a tv with bad reception when All Might continued.
“My quirk is yours to inherit.”
Suddenly Izuku’s mind was running overtime, trying to figure out how , exactly, a quirk was inherited by someone not related to the user. Maybe All Might was just messing with him? Almost definitely. But the nagging thought that maybe his wasn’t a joke kept prodding at him.
He really needed to get better at not instinctually believing what someone told him.
But Izuku couldn’t get over how fake All Might’s smile was, even despite his shrunken form. That smile was too bright, too concealing. Izuku didn’t really know what it hid, and he didn’t like the implications. It was almost.. too friendly . Too happy even in the middle of a fight. It was a little creepy to be honest. At least villains smiled in a fight because they were a little crazy — you always had to have at least one screw loose to work on the other side of the law — , and if the fight wasn’t going to their advantage they didn’t just keep on smiling like some kind of uber-happy masochist.
But if he was telling the truth, for any reason; Izuku let himself revel in the fucking possibilities that would present. Only one of them being that it would be far easier to get into UA, which, to be fair, would be kind of nice.
Izuku quirked an eyebrow. “Say... what now?”
He watched as All Might tried to explain — looking for any sign of a lie, any part of his body language that signalled that he wasn’t being completely truthful.
“There are a couple of things you should know about my abilities. Journalists always guess my quirk is super strength or some kind of invulnerability. When people ask in interviews, I always make a joke and dodge the question. That’s because the world needs to believe that their symbol of peace is just a natural born hero like any of them. But I’m not. There’s nothing natural about my ability.
“I wasn’t born with this power, it’s a secret torch that was passed onto me by someone else. And you’re next! I can give you my abilities!”
Izuku’s sassy brain chipped in with a Sorry I’m not at the age of consent yet, lemme run home quickly to ask my mum if I’m allowed. He snorted a bit at the thought but kept his eyes fixed on the hero. So far, to Izuku’s delight, he’d seemed completely sincere.
“The true name of my power,” All Might continued, raising one hand and channeling some power into it, making it radiate a harsh light and emitting a wind that blew his hair back for no goddamned reason. Was it some extension to his quirk? A little edgy add-on to make these kind of announcements more dramatic?
God, this hero was such a drama king. “Is One... For... All...”
“One For All?” Izuku echoed, feeling like he’d heard of something similar to that before, but needing space to think about it. He’d probably remember later, at a completely inconvenient time.
“Yes. One wielder improves the power, then hands it off to another person and so on. It continues to grow as it’s passed along. It is this cultivated power that allows me to save people. The truth behind my strength.”
“Why me, though?” Out of all the enthusiastic, prospective heroes Izuku couldn’t begin to understand why All Might deemed him worthy. The thought slightly annoyed Izuku.
All Might smiled. “I was on a long hunt for a worthy successor. And then - I watched you jump into action as the rest of us stood idly by. You may just be a quirkless fanboy, but you tried to save that kid. You acted like a hero.”
“I said thanks.”
“Oh. For a second I thought you said something else.”
“No, I don’t think so.”
The Number One Hero hummed. “Well, what do you think? You can have more time to think about my offer if you need it.”
Izuku considered. All through his monologue, All Might had seemed entirely truthful, his face a mix of deadly seriousness and a faint bit of hope. Which was… great. Despite himself, Izuku felt a flutter of excitement bubble up inside himself.
This could be what the Plan had needed all this time. Izuku knew that he’d probably need to somehow get into UA to continue his planning and documentation, but with the — unknowing — help from All Might he might even be able to get into the the heroes course.
It was more risky, yes, but worth it. Plus he’d get professional training from a hero and a strong quirk. He’d feel absolutely no remorse for using the Number One Hero for his own gain. All that mattered was the Plan — then everything would be better.
He looked up at All Might, conviction and determination — just not the kind the hero probably thought he had — in his eyes.
“Alrighty then, I’ll do it.”
“No reluctance. That’s exactly how I’d figured you’d respond.”
For a second, Izuku allowed himself to feel a spark of amusement on the hero’s behalf. All Might thought he understood Izuku. He knew nothing.
Izuku felt the corners of his mouth pull into a subtle smile of mirth as he imagined All Might’s face when he realised that he had trained and given his power to a villain . Whenever it happened, and it would, eventually, Izuku made a mental note to take a photo of it and set it as his wallpaper. Because he was apparently one of those kind of fucked up villains.
As he began the hefty trick up the dodgy metal stairs to his apartment, Izuku reasoned that he would be able to witness All Might realising what he’d done, once Izuku released the final product and the world knew the truth — be it a little tampered with — and Izuku outed himself as the mastermind behind it all.
Or until Izuku got impatient and decided to kill him. Either one.
He couldn’t wait.
Y'all did I ever put 'slow burn' in the tags? I should have. Anyways. Hope you're all enjoying this, in this chapter there'll be a bit of the League, domestic stuff, blah blah.
I use the thesaurus way too much, as usual, and make up words that make sense in context. If you don't understand, just comment and I'll explain (or you could use google..)
Also, any feedback is appreciated, and as always I love getting comments (hint hint) :3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Izuku pulled open his front door, mind mulling over where he’s heard of the name One For All before. It was at the tip of his brain and was driving Izuku a tad mental.
The door shut behind him with a sharp click, echoing down the empty hallway of his and his mother’s small five room apartment. The smell of dinner was already wafting out under the kitchen door and reminding Izuku just how long it had been since lunch. Homely chopping noises were coming from the kitchen as well, mingling with his mother’s pleasant humming.
At the sound of the door closing, the humming and chopping noises stopped, followed quickly by his mother rushing out of the combined kitchen and dining room, wiping her hands distractedly on her I cook better than Kacchan apron Izuku had made for her birthday last year. Bakugou hadn’t been over to their house for years so he’d figured that it would be safe.
She rushed over to the genkan and stood there, fidgeting, as Izuku turned and slipped his shoes off, replacing them with a comfy pair of indoor slippers. Once he was done and had stepped up into the hallway she flung herself at him, simultaneously squeezing the life out of him and checking for injurious.
“Izuku! I was so worried! - I saw you on the news fighting that sludge villain and I...” his mother crumpled like a crushed leaf, letting herself cry into her son’s shoulder as he supported her. Grimly, he rested his chin on her shoulder, gazing set faced in front of him.
She was such a good woman, his mother. Unlike the other 98% of the population she actually cared . She hated it when he put himself in danger, and he hated making her feel bad. But his near — and probably far too — future only promised more and more dangerous, possibly near fatal things and Izuku knew he couldn’t shield his mother from it forever. Not really. And he hated that.
She didn’t deserve that kind of hurt.
They stayed like that for a little bit, Izuku just letting his mother hold him and know he was there . That nothing had happened to him. After a while, Inko quieted down and gently pulled back from Izuku, but still touching him. Her eyes were still red from crying - and probably would be too for quite a while - but she had a wobbly frown on her face, like she was trying to be disappointed in Izuku’s actions, when all she really was was happy that her Izuku was alright.
“That was very imprudent of you!” She scolded, though Izuku could tell it was half hearted. “You could have gotten really hurt, rushing in to save young Bakugou like that. I hope you learn from that and never do such a dumb thing again!”
Izuku smiled fondly at his mother and leaned forward to kiss her gently on the forehead.
“I won’t mum.” He said, then quieter. “At least not without reason.”
Dinner that night was udon with ebi and renkon tempura with way too much soy sauce. Izuku scarfed down the noodles probably a tad too fast, the broth flicking onto his shirt and the table as he attempted to eat an entire two bowls of udon and five plates of tempura in under fifteen minutes.
All while eating, Izuku kept glancing furtively at the clock upove the window. He only had five minutes before Kurogiri’s warp gate appeared inside his wardrobe and seven until he withdrew it.
Izuku slurped the last of his soup as the clock reached 6:48 and stood up with a clatter, gathering up his dishes and speedily heading to set them by the sink. After halfhearted ringing them off, Izuku made his way to the door. Inko looked up in surprise, a noodle hanging out of her mouth limply, chopsticks and eyebrows raised.
“Sorry mum, I just realised I had some homework due tomorrow that I haven’t yet finished. I’m going to go to bed right after too — big day.” He was fidgeting from foot to foot, eager to go. Only a minute left.
“Okay sweetie. Don’t stay up too late. Remember, it’s better to be healthy than at the top of the class.”
“Will do. Goodnight.” He calmly slipped out into the hall, an appeasing smile on his face, closed the door softly behind him then bolted to his room, only stopping to carefully shut his door behind him as to not raise suspicion. His mother took any funny behaviour as a sign he was getting sick. He’d slept in till ten one weekend and had woken up to the wailing of ambulance sirens.
Izuku hastily made his way over to his closet, only just remembering to snatch up his notebook and phone. He opened his closet door, breathed a brief sigh of relief to see Kurogiri’s warp gate was still there, hidden behind his hung up clothes, and stepped into the swirling, misty portal, pulling the closet door closed behind him.
He stepped out the other side, feeling the gate whisk shut behind him. He’d only just made it.
“Just on time.” Came a calm voice from the other side of the room. Kurogiri.
“Yeah, sorry. I was finishing dinner.”
“You could just text me if you need more time.”
Izuku huffed a laugh. “We both know I couldn’t’ve.”
Izuku glanced around the room, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The corners of the room were inky with residual shadows, that never seemed to go away no matter how lit the room was. Kurogiri was in his usual place behind the bar, doing as good a job as ever making the drinking glasses twinkly.
In front of him, sitting on one of the barstools, was Tomura, hunched over and scratching spasmodically at his neck.
Izuku rolled his eyes. Shigaraki’s excoriation disorder had started out as mildly concerning before morphing into very annoying and mentally draining for anyone unlucky enough to be forced to watch it longer than a few seconds. He usually did it more often when he was angry, so Izuku guessed that he had seen the news.
As Izuku stepped forward, nose wrinkling at the sound of Tomura’s nails worrying his flesh, the man in question spun around, hands falling down to reach towards Izuku, all five fingers grasping in the air at Izuku in anger.
“I saw you...” he muttered, eyes wide and irate, but also laced with a hint of confusion. “Why did you save that boy, Izuku? What was your reason behind that?!”
Shigaraki was such a drama queen. Izuku sighed. “It was a rash move, I admit. Honestly I wouldn’t‘ve if I hadn’t seen All Might in the crowd. No one was doing anything. I thought...” he struggled to find the right wording, “I thought maybe I could show up the heroes, show the world that a quirkless schoolboy had to run in and do a professional’s job.”
“But in the end, All Might came in to save you anyway.” Shigaraki pointed out.
“But.” Izuku countered. “It turned out doing that had been a good idea after all.”
“Oh?” The word was said with disinterest, but he’d caught Tomura’s interest. His hands lay quietly on his lap, one finger tapping slowly. That was a good sign. Now, to keep him happy.
“Afterwards, All Might stopped me. He said that I’d inspired him — that I too could be a hero.” Izuku allowed himself a smirk at this. It was so ridiculous now, though probably his two years ago self would have been sobbing I’m excitement at the prospect.
Ah. Izuku finally remembered where he’d heard One For All. Of course.
“He told me he wanted to pass onto me One For All .” Izuku carefully pronounced those words, making sure Tomura understood what he was getting at. A nasty grin began to spread over the other villain’s face as Izuku continued talking, his mouth pulling dry skin and cracked lips into a semblance of a smile. Even his tapping stopped.
“The counterpart of All For One. Do you know what we could do with All Might’s quirk? In our hands we might actually be able to go head to head with the heroes who decide to fight back - and trust me they will be many.
“And also. I could actually get into the heroics course in UA, giving us an even bigger advantage.”
Kurogiri had come up to stand in front of the bar and was nodding along to the ideas Izuku was forming. The misty man picked up a rag and a glass and began polishing it, nodding and mumbling agreements. “Yes, that might just work Midoriya. You may not have known it at the time, but your impulsive actions have led to benefit us.”
“How are you so sure All Might doesn’t suspect you?” Izuku snapped his head around back to Tomura. He waved his hand dismissively.
“All Might, nor anyone else, suspects anything. I’m a better actor than I look, thanks . I’ve been living as a fanboy for so long, faking it for a little longer has not been too hard.”
Shigaraki merely shrugged, loosing interest and turning away from Izuku to rest his elbows on the countertop. Izuku took that as an invitation and walked up to the stool a few seats beside the blue haired villain, sliding onto it and settling down, propping his chin on his hands and resting his elbows on the bench top. He glanced sideways at Tomura, waiting for him to speak.
“You said before that you’d been getting videos, but nothing big... how is it coming along?...” a pause. “How much longer will it take?”
Tomura had always been impatient. When Izuku had first thought of the Plan and it had been approved by ‘Sensei’ — Izuku had a slight suspicion that Shigaraki had taken the credit for the idea, because Izuku had never even been recognised for it, merely given the task of executing it since he was in the most optimal situation to do so — the other villain had been at him every two months, sometimes even more frequently, asking for updates and asking ‘ do you think it will be long now ?’. Two years later and thankfully he’d stopped asking so regularly.
The Plan was going to take time, and was only going to begin in full when he got into UA. It probably would be done by the end of the first year of UA High, if Izuku was lucky. The only reason it had taken so long was that he hadn’t been old enough to enter.
With all the video clips on Bakugou’s arrogance, All Might’s secret and the stuff he would get at UA, the public would no doubt turn against heroes; make them retire and avoid all the unnecessary violence that only led to meaningless casualties and more people hating the villains.
Destroy them from the inside out.
“I can confidently say, give or take a few months, by the end of the first year of UA. By the ThAt time I should have enough data to compile into one video. One video that will take down all heroes.”
“We’re planning to announce ourselves — to let the heroes know that we exist and pose a threat. When do you think would be the best time to do so, as not to disrupt the Plan and possibly even to benefit it?” Kurogiri asked, still expertly wiping his glass.
Izuku hummed, tapping a finger against his chin.
“Give me a few weeks after I get into UA. I’ll gather information, check the timetable and upcoming events. I’ll most likely give you an answer around then.” Kurogiri nodded. That glass looked cleaner than Bakugou’s school record. Damn.
Tomura growled in frustration at having to wait longer but said nothing more. Izuku, figuring that there was nothing more to say turned to go. We was stopped when Kurogiri set his glass down with a sharp clink , clearing his throat.
“Ah, Midoriya. One last thing — Giran recently told us that there were some people interested in the League. Would you be so kind as to come and attend their interview? You seem the best at judging people and gauging their usefulness.”
Izuku took a dekko back and nodded in assent. “When?”
“They’ll take some time tracking down again, so a few weeks or so, depending how easy they make it. We’ll notify you when we know exactly.”
The warp gate appeared in front of Izuku, swirling and rippling mysteriously. He stepped through, not bothering to bid the two villains goodbye. Curtesy was suspended in the underworld.
Passing through the gate was strange, but not disgustingly horrible. It felt like a pull in his stomach, right in the middle of his belly button, tugging him forward like a gentle fishhook towards a boat. If you fell through it, it was coupled with a terrible falling feeling, like speeding down the Hollywood Dream ride at the USJ. He was told it made some people a little nauseous, but Izuku’d never gotten carsick let alone warpsick.
Stepping out of his closet, feeling a little like Lucy from Narnia, Izuku set his notebook on his desk and plugged his phone in to charge. Making his way over to his bed, he floumped down onto it, letting himself finally just stop .
Instantly his brain took advantage of the momentary calm to start going into overdrive, because he was going to get All Might’s quirk and-!, but Izuku held out a mental hand and instead kicked the intrusive thought into the Think about tomorrow or maybe never box within his mind.
Ah yes. Tomorrow .
Tomorrow was Friday, and Izuku had foolishly agreed to meet All Might at Dagobah beach on Saturday morning. Izuku hadn’t been told exactly why , but he presumed it was mostly likely to begin his training as soon as possible. Izuku couldn’t understand why he’d chosen Dagobah beach of all places, though. That place was a dumping ground for litterers and people too lazy to continue driving that last mile to the actual dump.
At this point, the entire beach was full of piles of breaking down recyclables, rusty cars, plastic bottles, microwaves that were probably still giving out radioactive waves, even after being unplugged and abandoned for years, and just enough straws to kill the entire turtle species. Also a random crane, that Izuku had no idea how it got there.
Izuku groaned. Maybe All Might wanted to do public service and build Izuku’s strength while he was at it. It wasn’t a bad idea, really. Two birds with one stone as they say, but Izuku bet all his saved up twenty thousand yen that the hero wouldn’t actually help, and just sit and watch. Maybe even bring a megaphone to shout encouragements.
Oh goody . Izuku couldn’t wait.
The next day sped by in a blur of textbook pages and the background cacophony of Bakugou’s self important yelling. Izuku couldn’t seem to pay attention, his mind fixed solely on the next morning, gradually trying to integrate himself into the fact that he was, in fact, getting All Might’s quirk, and it wasn’t just some good dream. Which was probably a bad thing, since he was 84% sure they had been handed several sheets of homework and that he may have possibly just sat through a maths test. He could only hope he got at least 50% right.
Izuku, despite his phased-out state, had to also somehow avoid Bakugou. Luckily he was quite adept at that by now, for obvious reasons, so staying out of his way even in a dazed stupor and locked in his own mind, was surprisingly easy. Which was exceedingly fortunate considering that the other boy had wanted to talk to him — or at least what passed for talking for Bakugou — and Izuku had blatantly refused to listen to him. He figured that the blond would be mildly, just mildly , angry.
Bakugou couldn’t outright attack him in class, not really. The teachers may be used to the blond’s outbursts, but they were all on their last fuse and did not want to put up with his nonsense anymore. Except apparently Keiko Sensei, but he was relatively new. Luckily for Izuku they didn’t have work ed that day. So as long as he avoided the blasty boy during breaks and before and after school he should be fine.
At the end of the day, just before the bell rang, Izuku quickly slid his stuff off his desk into his bag. He stood up just as the bell rang, shrugging on his bag and leaving with the main group of students, mingling easily with the crowd of other kids all heading in the direction of the students entry, all eager to get home and causing a near-impenetrable wall of bodies.
Behind him, Izuku noticed Bakugou angrily shoving his way through the throng of kids, but to no avail. By the time the other boy would finally get away from the mass and get his shoes on Izuku would be already two streets away and speed walking the fuck away.
He’d get cornered someday soon and get shit about it, but for now he didn’t care.
At home, Izuku bypassed his mum and headed into his room. He plonked down his bag and unzipped it, pulling out his laptop. He’d hacked into the settings in his computer to make it so it had three different passcodes and even a voice recognition in order to get in. If he got the first password wrong twice, the security settings took a photo of his face (Izuku would have set it to only after one try, but sometimes he was too tired to type right).
Izuku settled down on his desk, quickly typing his here passwords in and letting out a monotone “Ayyy.” when the voice recognition box popped up. He dug out his phone cord from the front backpack pocket and plugged it into the computer, before bringing out his phone and plugging it to the charger.
The mini green battery symbol appeared on the lock screen, signalling that everything was properly connected.
On his computer screen, the photos app popped up, asking whether he’d like to import all his new videos. Izuku selected yes, then sat back as it slowly started bringing all his new files across onto his computer whilst simultaneously whipping them from his phone as he went.
It was an effective system. His computer was much safer than his phone, for obvious reasons, and definitely much less easy to pickpocket. Plus, he scrolled through his phone his phone to show his mum things all the time, and having suspicious-looking videos would lead to some very awkward questions.
Once the videos had all been imported, he saved Photos and shut off his laptop. He spun his office chair around so he could lean back and prop his feet up on his bed. He shuffled his ass down and lent his head back against the top of the backrest, closing his eyes and heaving a long-suffering sigh.
Maybe he’d be able to squeeze in a short rest before his mother called for him.
Izuku helped make dinner that night, chopping up onion for Tonkotsu ramen and blinking back tears when the acid fumes reached his eyes. As his mum placed the onions, garlic and ginger into the skillet she chatted about her day, making funny quips about coworkers and joking about the Lawson’s cashier that obviously had a crush on her. Izuku smiled and let himself relax, but only as much as he dared, just letting the happiness of the moment wash over him. This moment might never happen again. Times like these were what kept him sane, kept him grounded and stopped him from loosing track of what was important.
His mother was everything to him, was all he really had left in this world except for the promise that someday everything would be better. Right now, in this moment, he wasn’t a villain, conspiring against heroes. He was just a fourteen year old boy helping his mother with dinner on a Friday night.
“I’ve been noticing...” Inko mused, wiping her hands on a tea towel, “there has been a significant decrease of villain activity over the past year. Seems rather odd doesn’t it? Though I’m not complaining. Some attacks can be very damaging - they’ve had to rebuild that bakery down near Tomi’s Restaurant at least three times.”
Izuku nodded, thinking back to when he told Tomura that mindless attacks on property wasn’t going to help them in any way. The other villain hadn’t seemed happy, but Kurogiri had reasoned with him and eventually talked him out of it. Apart from low-level villains and petty thieves with destructive quirks, there weren’t that many large villain organisations who were actively going out and causing as much property damage recently. Izuku smiled, leaning back against the kitchen bench top and checking to see if the stove temperature was right. His mother always had a tendency to make the stove just a bit too hot than necessary.
“Yeah, I’ve been noticing that too. Except for the sludge villain and a couple other low level villains, there hasn’t been a single attack this entire month.” He tilted his head speculatively, though it was all for show. He knew that being clever and joking about villainy wasn’t a good idea, but he couldn’t really help it. Joking about his problems made them less real.
“Maybe they’re waiting for the right moment to strike.” He casually theorised, tapping a finger on his chin. “There has been a decrease in villain activity, but maybe there’s more a reduce in reckless and unorganised attacks. There have been a few direct assaults - the villains are probably just getting smarter and more organised.”
His mother looked sidelong at him in askance, though the corners of her mouth were pulled up in a bemused smile. “Don’t go all theoretical on me, Izuku. I don’t even want to know what kinds of things you’re thinking up in that evil little mind of yours.”
Izuku put a hand to his chest in mock horror, but couldn’t hide his grin.
“ Mother ! How could you? I was only being logical!”
“And that’s why I sleep in fear every night.” Izuku couldn’t help but crack up, his mother joining in on his laughter shortly afterwards. It was good to just laugh, no pressing problems weighing them down in that moment. Good to hear normal laughter occasionally, not Shigaraki’s dry throated cackle when he won a game on his Nintendo.
“On another note,” Inko chuckled, wiping a tear of mirth out of her eye and ruffling her son’s hair affectionately. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your future.”
That sobered Izuku up. He looked at her, quiet and questioning, an apprehensive eyebrow raised. Inko smiled again but this time it seemed more forced, less genuine.
“I know you want to go to UA. You’ve been wanting to become a hero your entire life...”
“ But ?” His mum bit her lip, glancing furtively away.
“But I’m worried. Izuku, I- we know that you’re quirkless. There’s no use pretending that that’s not true, and... and in this society no one accepts anyone without a strong power...” she was tearing up now, and Izuku felt himself shift a bit, uncomfortable. He’d grown out of his emotional cry-babiness years ago, but he still didn’t know how to deal with someone else crying, least of all his mother. He usually just tried to keep it from happening altogether.
“And even though you’re an amazing, brilliant boy, I feel like you’ll never get past the entrance exam. No one will realise how gifted you are and... I just don’t want you to have to go through that. To be outright rejected by UA.”
Izuku but his lip, kneading it in uneasiness. Too late, mum. No one has accepted me. No one probably ever will, but don’t worry - I’m used to it.
He smiled shakily up at his mum, holding his hand out and taking hers, giving it a comforting squeeze.
“I know mum. I know you care and don’t want me to have to go through that, but... but I feel like that if I never tried, I’ll always regret it. I know the costs, but I’m going to take the entrance exam anyway.”
Inko sniffled, squeezing back. “You’re so strong Izuku. Much stronger than I ever was.”
‘ HA HA HA HA HAAA. FEAR NOT CITIZENS. WHY? BECAUSE I AM HE-‘ Izuku blearily struck out at his alarm clock, managing to knock it off the bedside table and onto the floor, effectively cracking off one of it’s All Might hair pieces. Not so high and mighty now , are we All Might? Izuku’s mind grumbled, still only half asleep, as he heaved himself up and out of bed. He was beginning to regret not taking the opportunity to buy a new clock when Inko had asked if he needed one.
Well, it helped fuel his daily hatred of heroes every morning. But it was still annoying.
It was five oh five, which gave Izuku enough time to run past FamilyMart to get breakfast, get to Dagobah beach and have at least an hour before he needed to start back for his Saturday classes, with just enough time to duck home for a shower before heading over to school.
He got dressed quickly, not bothering to shower if he was only going to get dirtier and slipped out his bedroom door, creeping past his mother’s room and down the hallway to the genkan. If he stayed on the edges of the hall, near the wall, he could minimise the amount of creaking of the floorboards to almost naught.
Ripping a piece of paper out of his pocket notebook, Izuku quickly scribbled a note for his mother explaining where we was going, and blue-tacked it to the front door. Satisfied that she wouldn’t freak out and call the police again, he slipped into a pair of beat up sneakers and headed outside, closing the door softly behind him. The cold morning air bit at his face and ears. Izuku shivered a bit, regretting not bringing a coat.
Their apartment was on the third story. One of those tall, minimally funded buildings that gave up on actually putting a stairway inside and just tacked it on on the outside. Rickety metal stairs lead down to the ground from an equally dilapidated iron balcony-type-thing. Every step down on a stair caused it to bend under his weight and groan ominously.
Dagobah beach was give or take around eleven miles away from his house. Not too far, but far enough that maybe jogging there everyday would increase his — admittedly terrible — fitness levels. Around two kilometres away was a twenty four hour FamilyMart, selling everything from masks, hot bento boxes to bread.
Izuku made it to the ground safely and rubbed his bare arms to warm up a bit. His breath plumed in the frigid air and he knew that his ears were probably turning pink from the cold. They were starting to ache already.
He began walking, slowly easing into a comfortable jog, making a beeline for the FamilyMart and breakfast. There was surprisingly more people than he expected to be up and about this early in the morning. Night shift workers returning home, sipping coffee and looking dead inside, bakeries opening up for the morning rush, young adults making their way back from a night at a shifty bar or something. In Japan, you could never truly be away from a crowd, even in rural arias. Especially in shopping districts like this.
As Izuku entered the Familymart, he pushed the glass door open, hearing it jangle pleasantly as he stepped inside. The cashier nodded politely and called good morning as Izuku rounded an isle, heading straight for the bread section. After a few desperate moments’ searching, Izuku’s eyes alighted on a carefully packaged baked good, his eyes lighting up in excitement.
The holy sustenance.
Izuku reached out and grabbed one, before turning and heading gleefully to the register. He dropped a five hundred yen coin into the bowl for the cashier to take, waiting for the man to press a few buttons before taking his change.
Izuku made his way outside before hastily unwrapping and biting into his second favourite food. The melon bread was soft and sweet, almost how he’d imagine a cloud, if clouds weren’t flavoured of slightly-polluted water. Did clouds even taste of anything at all? Was it like opening your mouth in a thick mist or snowfall?
All the same, Izuku was mildly glad his mother wasn’t here to see this. She’d probably throw a well-meaning fit over how he “couldn’t eat only sugar and no protein for breakfast”.
After he finished he pocketed the plastic wrapper, before slowly setting off jogging again, aiming to get to Dagobah - optimally- around six.
If he spent an hour there, he had just enough time to rush back, get home at eight, shower and get to school at eight thirty. He just hoped nothing disturbed his perfectly thought out plan.
Of course, something would, inevitably, mess it up; if you took into account how bad his luck was. But he was allowed to dream.
Izuku reached Dagobah beach in time; out of breath and side screaming out because of a particularly persistent stitch that had built up during his run, and refused to go away. It was like a constant reminder of how disgustingly unfit he was.
All Might in his large, muscular hero form was waiting for Izuku by the steps leading down to the sand. As Izuku jogged up, the hero stepped forward and clapped a hand on Izuku’s shoulder as he came to a standstill. Izuku let out an undignified oof and felt his knees buckle slightly under the hero’s strong hand.
“My boy! You seem enthusiastic- running here and everything! I just hope it didn’t tire you out before your actual training.”
Izuku bent over as soon as he was freed from the Number One Hero’s grasp, hands on his knees, and took some deep breaths to calm his rapidly beating heart. After a second, he looked up at the man standing before him, pasting what he hoped with an enthusiastic grin on his face.
“Hey... All Might,” a deep breath in, “yeah, I decided running here would help boost my stamina or something. Seems I,” another deep breath in, “really need it.”
All Might chuckled. “You will improve in no time!” Then he paused. “But you’ll be tired after this, and you’ll be needing to get home in time for school. Please allow me to drive you home.”
Izuku did a double take as he vigorously shook his head. Wait, All Might had a car ? He guessed he’d never thought of that. The idea that the Number One Hero could own a car had simply never occurred to him — but thinking about it now, it seemed pretty obvious.
“No, no, really! It’s fine! It’ll be good for me anyway.” Izuku spluttered, frantically waving his arms about in a near-futile effort to ward off the hero’s offer . All Might still didn’t look convinced, but didn’t push it, thank God. Honestly it would have just been awkward, and he didn’t want to spend more time in the hero’s presence than he strictly needed to.
All Might turned and swept his arm out, indicating the entire beach. “This place has been a dumping ground for people in general to unload trash. I thought that it would be an excellent idea for you to get strength training here by clearing everything away.” Izuku nodded. I was a good idea objectively speaking, he had to admit.
“Plus!” All Might continued, smiling blindingly. “You will be helping the council and the environment by doing this!”
Izuku couldn’t help snorting. Of course the hero had a good and wholesome ulterior motive to his plan.
“Okay, sure.” Izuku flashed a thumbs up at All Might, turning and heading down the grassy slope to the sandy beach. He figured that if he started with the little things and worked his way to the biggest stuff like cars and refrigerators, it should allow him time to get strong enough to actually move them.
As Izuku stepped towards the nearest pile of discarded trash, he felt All Might tap him on the shoulder, the other hand coming up to awkwardly clear his throat. Izuku turned and had a sheet of paper shoved into his face, a rough itinerary written on it. He raised an eyebrow.
“I thought it would be helpful if I made a chart of your daily schedule, putting in how long it takes to get places, when and how long you’re going to train and putting into consideration how much sleep you’ll need and giving time for other recreational activities. This is so you don’t overwork yourself and still keep doing everything you want to do, plus your training.” All Might explained, gesturing to the paper with his free hand. Izuku scanned the page and found that it was actually, surprisingly , pretty well thought out. A little too well thought out: it was kind of scary that the hero seemed to know so much about his daily life. But he was probably thinking too much into it.
Overthinking was one of his many talents, after all.
Izuku folded the paper neatly and slipped it into his pocket. He tacked on a grateful smile for the hero, hoping it looked genuine and not as pained as he felt.
“Thank you, I’ll use it.”
He turned back to the trash and bent down, heaving up a microwave and looking back at All Might, a sudden realisation coming to him.
“Where... exactly ... am I putting these?”
Inko is a queen
New peeps, training... training. Honestly not that much happens hhh
The next few weeks or so passed monotonously. Everyday Izuku woke up to the insufferable sound of All Might’s catchphrase at the ungodly hour of five am, ran to Lawsons or Familymart where he got a balanced, carbohydrate-rich breakfast of melon bread, then went and lugged trash before heading to school. The only exception was Sundays where he got the privilege of going home and dying in peace instead of school after training instead.
Izuku’s mother had immediately noticed his new routine and he’d been confronted one night during dinner. She had moved the big bowl of rice away from him and demanded an explanation or he wouldn’t get another helping. He’d told her, not entirely untruthfully, that someone he’d met at the sludge villain attack had seen potential in him, offering to become his mentor and train him.
Inko had immediately begun a rant about stranger danger and not agreeing to random people’s offers. He should have come to her if he wanted to train her son. She had a point, All Might hadn’t been the most responsible in that particular department. After he’d reassured her, promising that he’d tell his mentor that she wanted to meet him herself, she began stressing that his trainer wanted money in return. She hadn’t really understood that someone might just want to help her son become more strong out of the goodness of their heart.
“He’s kind.” He had told her, placing a rough hand over her smaller, but no less weathered, hand. “He doesn’t want anything in return, unless you count me getting into UA and making him proud as payment.”
It was true, really, even though Izuku didn’t completely believe or truly trust it. He had no doubt that the Number One Hero had some sort of ulterior motive, but until he showed even a hint of one he couldn’t just accuse him of such. Innocent until proven guilty.
All Might only cared because he had a reason to. Only cared because he deemed Izuku important. The moment Izuku somehow became no longer important he would no doubt be cast aside for someone more worthy, more powerful.
After Inko had finally exhausted all possible sources of worry, she had chatted animatedly for the rest of the meal, encouraging him enthusiastically on his training, even going so far as asking if he’d like her to buy him some hand grippers and small weights.
Over the next week or so, Izuku kept checking for any news on the potential League members, but as days went by he guessed that the potentials were being more troublesome than necessary, and decided to change the name of the chat and turn on notifications. He was a busy man after all, if Shigaraki wanted him he’d have to contact Izuku himself.
Izuku’s attention was momentarily diverted as he walked down the freezer isle in Lawsons, gazing at all the different ice-cream available and battling with his sweet tooth and his common sense, because no — he should not get an ice-cream. It was zero-fucking-degrees outside, when he suddenly collided headlong into someone perusing the bread section. That someone squawked as they were sent stumbling and crashing into a shelf of instant ramen. Izuku’s head whipped around, green eyes wide as sauces.
How the hell hadn’t he sensed them?
“OhmyGodI’msosorry,” he reached out to help the boy, righting him before taking his hand back, bowing profusely. He may be a villain but he still had manners. Especially when he’d apparently been so caught up in chocolate ice-cream that his trained senses hadn’t sensed someone walking very obviously toward him.
“I’m so sorry.” He said again, just in case his apology hadn’t been properly communicated the first time. He gazed at the boy abashedly. The guy smiled and rubbed the back of his wild purple hair, letting out a soft, reassuring laugh.
“No, no, it’s fine. I should have seen you.” Izuku’s lips twisted up into a bemused smile.
“Guess we’re both at fault then.” He glanced to where the boy had been looking before he had ungracefully smashed into him. “But I still feel bad. Please allow me to pay for your things.”
The lavender haired boy opened his mouth to protest but Izuku wagged a finger at him. “I insist.”
The boy shrugged in defeat and turned to point at the melon bread. “I was going to get one of those.”
Izuku’s eyes lit up. Kin .
“You like them too?” The boy’s smile brightened a tad.
“Yeah, they’re, uh, my favourite food actually.”
Izuku grabbed a melon bread for himself before taking the purplette’s and heading to the register, striking up an animated discussion with the boy, both somehow finding a surprising amount of conversation material in their shared love for the sweet bread.
It wasn’t the deepest of discussions, but Izuku kind of appreciated that fact. Sometimes one needed to stop talking solely about heavy, pressing concerns, and instead step back and chat about something superficial like your favourite brand of instant ramen — or, of course, how soft and sweet melon bread was and how it melted on your tongue and made the entire experience amazing, no matter how many times you ate it.
As they headed out the door, the boy started, eyes widening. “Oh — we haven’t introduced ourselves yet,” he flushed and held out a hand. “Nice to meet you, I’m Shinsou Hitoshi.”
Izuku grinned, taking Shinsou’s hand and shaking it.
They stood outside Lawsons in companionable silence as they ate their bread, the only sounds being the general traffic, the crinkling of plastic wrapping and munching. Izuku finished first, brushing crumbs off his jacket and straightening up out of his slouched position of leaning against a pole.
“I’ve really got to get going.” He glanced over at his new — friend? Fellow melon bread addict? — apologetically. There was something unexplainably different about Shinsou. He was somehow genuinely nice . Sure, he threaded sarcasm and morbid jokes in with his sentences but he was more simon-pure than any other kids he’d met at school. He hadn’t asked to know Izuku’s quirk, either. It was refreshing that someone didn’t need to know he had a powerful quirk to think he was worth anything.
He also had this air of bitterness around him, somewhat akin to Izuku’s ever-present mien of resentment. Though Izuku knew he hid it better than the other — if Shinsou was even trying to cover up his anger. Maybe he didn’t want to. But nevertheless, the similarity drew him to the wild haired boy like a moth to a flame. He related to him more than he’d related to anyone else before, omitting the League and other villains who had been and continued to be subjected to the injustice of the current society. It was yet another thing Izuku could empathise with.
Also his hair was floofy as fuck and Izuku wanted really badly to run his fingers through it, no homo.
Shinsou paused, his mouth full of sugary carbohydrate. His face fell in disappointment when Izuku began to turn to go. “Where’re you going?” He asked, his voice mildly muffled and very unintelligible.
Shinsou raised a quizzical eyebrow. “That place is a dump.”
“Well, yeah.” Izuku conceded. “But I’m training there. My coach thought it would be a good idea for me to get strength training by cleaning the place up.”
Shinsou’s forehead crinkled in confusion. “Training for what?” Izuku guessed he didn’t really look like the athletic type. More a bookish, bully victom-y kind. Which was also true, he supposed.
“I’m aiming to get into UA.” Izuku supplied, making himself think of one his no-so-best moments so a deep red blush creeps up onto his face. Continuing the fein of embarrassment, he shoves his hands into his pockets and turns away slightly, his face still burning from the memory he usually tried to forget.
“It’s my… dream to become a hero.” The words felt like old ash in his mouth. They’d burned years ago, but even now still left a bitter aftertaste on his tongue.
Shinsou’s face lifted in surprise for a second before settling back into it’s usual deadpan resting bitch expression. “You too, then?” His eyebrows jerked downwards for a millisecond, a second of angry weakness. If Izuku hadn’t been so adept at reading people’s minute mannerisms and expressions, he probably wouldn’t’ve noticed it. “Well, if my quirk was actually suited to combat.”
“You don’t need a combat style quirk to become a hero, though,” Izuku refuted, turning back to face Shinsou fully, eyebrows creasing in confusion. “Midnight doesn’t have a combat type quirk, but she’s still a successful, deadly R rated hero.”
Shinsou frowned, bemused. Izuku sighed, trying to explain.
“What I’m trying to say is, she coupled strength and combative awareness with her quirk to become a lethal R rated hero. I bet that if you just got more hand to hand combat training and built up your strength in general, you’d stand a chance of getting into UA.” Izuku smiled tentatively. He still didn’t know what Shinsou’s quirk was, and trying to be encouraging without being too presumptuous was like stepping on eggshells.
“I… I guess you’re right, actually.” The purplette nodded, his face a mix of thoughtfulness and what Izuku knew to be a slight budding of hope. “But I have no way of doing so. My parents would never pay for a coach or trainer.”
The way he said that, like the fact that he could never achieve his goals was irrevocable, grated on Izuku. Just because he was never told he could be a hero, didn’t mean he could just stand back and let that happen to others. Especially when he had a choice in the matter.
Izuku’s lip quirked up into a small smile when an idea struck him, forming in his mind like a particularly insistent, but no less pretty to look at, weed.
“How about you come train with me?” He ventured, eyes shining hopefully at Shinsou. He had no doubt he was unconsciously doing puppy eyes, a habit he often slipped back into after using it much too frequently as a child to get the newest All Might action figure. His mother was a sucker for her son’s huge, viridescent eyes. “I’m sure my coach wouldn’t mind.”
Shinsou’s eyes widened comically. “R-really? You’re sure... what about payment or something?” He sounded sceptical. Izuku couldn’t blame him.
He waved a hand dismissively. “No, really, my trainer doesn’t want payment. He’s a good guy, and I’m sure he won’t dislike more company.”
Shinsou’s face stretched into the first wide, genuine grin Izuku had seen so far. The action almost hid his eye shadows, and lit up his entire face. It suited him, more than the usual sullen look he normally wore.
“Call me Izuku.”
“Izuku.” The other said, slowly. It sounded like Shinsou was testing what the name felt like on his tongue, like calling someone by their first name was a very foreign concept. “Then call me Hitoshi.”
“Alright, Hitoshi — you good to come now or just want to wait until tomorrow?”
“Nothing better to do.” The other boy shrugged nonchalantly, falling into step with Izuku as the two set off down the road. “Might as well see where this takes me.”
The next week went by in a blur. All Might, called Yagi in front of Shinsou, had been delighted at the thought of two new prospective heroes, instead of just one. He had readily agreed to let Shinsou come and train alongside Izuku. It meant less one-on-one talks with All Might, but the Number One Hero said they would have ample time to discuss his quirk once the initial strength training was completed.
Izuku had the idea that he and Shinsou could practice hand-to-hand combat and techniques from YouTube tutorials. There was a surprising amount of videos made by heroes and martial artists that was made to help people with no quirk or a non-combative quirk. They decided to meet up at Izuku’s house every Saturday after school and Sunday.
Izuku had asked if they could switch it around occasionally and go to Shinsou’s house one weekend, but the boy had avoided the question, saying his parents didn’t really approve of him becoming a hero. Izuku hadn’t pushed it; he knew when someone was hiding something uncomfortable or painful.
They decided to do a trial run the following Sunday. When Izuku had told his mum that a friend was coming over she’d honest to God nearly fainted. It had been pretty understandable too, since he hadn’t brought a friend home or even talked about one in almost eleven years. Which was… mood.
When the doorbell rung, Inko shrieked from somewhere deep in the house, “Izuku! Someone’s at the door, can you answer it please?”
Izuku scrambled up from his spot doing homework at the kotatsu and ran for the door, reaching it and flinging it open with a grin on his face. Shinsou was standing on the doorstep, his fingers twiddling nervously. One foot was angled back, like he was still in deliberation whether to stay or leg it. He looked up in surprise as the door was flung open forcefully.
“Oh! Midoriya.” He smiled tentatively, still a bit shy even after spending every morning for a week together. Izuku waved him inside. “How many times do I have to tell you to call me Izuku, Hitoshi?”
“Sorry. Never really had a friend to call by their first name before. It feels weird.” Shinsou paused before squawking softly, hand rising to flail, embarrassed, in the air.
“I’msosorrythatsoundedweird…” Izuku waved him off, laughing. “No, you’re fine. I’ve said much worse, don’t worry.”
“He really has!” Came his betrayer’s voice from the kitchen. Shinsou cackled.
“You’ve been outed.”
Izuku sighed, vowing silently to get his mother back very, very soon. “Indeed.”
But he could understand where his friend was coming from. The only friend he’d ever had a pet name for had been Bakugou, but Izuku had stopped using it ages ago. Years of bullying tended to do that.
“Bring him in here, Zuku.” The betrayer’s voice came from the kitchen, the sound of clattering plates and the smell of food wafting out with her voice. From what he could tell, she was making a huge meal of sashimi and tempura with way too much rice. He smiled.
“Have you eaten yet, Hitoshi?” He queried as his friend slipped his shoes off and stepped out of the genkan. The boy shook his head.
“Mum’s going shopping this afternoon.”
“Well I hope you like sashimi and prawn tempura.”
There was a final clanking noise from the kitchen, then the form of Midoriya Inko bustled out, wiping her hands on her apron and smiling invitingly.
“Shinsou-kun! How lovely to finally meet you.” Before the poor boy had time to even smile, he was ensnared in one of Inko’s bear hugs. His mother’s hugs were akin to a fly trap. Once you were in, it was neigh impossible to escape.
“Mother you’re killing my friend.” Izuku informed, voice deadpan.
Inko quickly retracted her embrace. “Sorry, sorry. I just tend to up and hug people…” she stepped back, finally taking him in. “My! You look awfully pale. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting enough daily nutrients? How many cups of water do you drink everyday? Two litres? It doesn’t look like it.”
“Mum! Mum,” Izuku laughed, stepping in between her and Shinsou. “Is lunch ready? If we needs more water…”
His suggestion effectively distracted Inko from her mini motherly barrage and instantly she was off, clicking her tongue disapprovingly at his “neglectful parents” and rushing back into the kitchen to finish lunch.
Izuku glanced back at Shinsou who looked slightly stunned.
“Don’t mind her.” He chuckled, “Her motherly instincts override her frontal lobe sometimes, I think.” He smiled fondly.
Shinsou turned to look at Izuku, his face flabbergasted. “How… how did she know I wasn’t drinking enough water?”
Izuku couldn’t help the peal of laughter that forced itself up and out his throat before he could repress it. “I...” more laughter, “I guess she’s just,” his chest was starting to hurt. “I guess she’s just psychic.”
The purplette looked miffed. “Do I really look that bad?”
Izuku finally managed to rein in his laughter and clapped a hand on Shinsou’s shoulder. “No, not bad . Just tired. Mentally drained? Your resting bitch face always looks so dead inside. Plus your lips are like, permanently chapped. His mind flashed momentarily to another person he knew that seemed to always have dry, chapped lips. He snorted.
“Maybe try some lip balm?”
He reached down and took Shinsou’s arm, pulling him down the hall.
“Anyway, come on and have lunch, Hitoshi. Training can wait.” He looked over at his friend and winked conspiratorially. “And don’t worry. My mum already loves you.”
“Who couldn’t love that mop of fluffy hair?” He muttered under his breath, almost as an afterthought. He prayed that Shinsou hadn’t heard that.
The morning sun shone warm and bright on Dagobah beach. The water rippled calmly, the gentle to and fro motion of the tide and distant caw of seagulls a harsh contrast to Izuku’s sweaty body and heavy breaths as he lugged trash to a pickup truck. Shinsou was behind him, grunting as he toted a large and heavy radio. All Might in his smaller, more dishevelled form had found himself a place on the top of nearby, and so far untouched heap of junk from where he languidly sipped his take-out coffee and periodically shouted encouragements to the two boys.
Izuku wished he would stop. If he wasn’t going to help or be of use, he could at least keep his damn mouth shut. Maybe he should revolt — start taking trash from the heap he was perched on so he’d fall or something. He was pretty sure Shinsou would help him too, if his distinctly choleric expression was anything to go by.
His phone vibrated in his back pocket, tearing his attention away from revolting. He looked down in surprise. The only people who texted him was his mum, Shinsou and Shigaraki — or Kurogiri using Shigaraki’s phone because the man was too old fashioned to even get himself a Nokia.
Shinsou looked up curiously. He’d never heard Izuku’s phone go off before, and probably didn’t realise what the sound had been. The text message sound that he’d set for Shigaraki was an ambiguous orchestral psychedelia song that he’d found in the depths of the internet.
Izuku let the tyre he was carrying drop down onto the sand and fished his phone out from his pocket. He brought up Messages and tapped on the name Tomura . He sensed Shinsou peeking over his shoulder and jabbed his elbow back into the other boy’s stomach. There was a surprised “ Oof ,” from behind him. Izuku turned to frown at Shinsou as the purplette wheezed, doubled over from the hit.
“Who’s Areta?” The other boy rasped, still trying to regain his lost breath.
Izuku considered his words. “An… old friend. Knew him in primary school but he left before middle school. We kept in touch.”
Shinsou straightened back up, snorting. “Why does his name mean ‘chapped’?”
Izuku laughed. He’d chosen ‘chapped’ as Shigaraki’s codename as a joke, but the name had stuck. Kurogiri’s was chosen by himself: Kemuri, meaning smoke.
“It’s an in joke. His real name is Hayakaze.”
Shinsou grunted, hoisting the radio back onto his shoulder and continuing his trek to the truck. Izuku glanced down at his phone, glad that Shinsou was the kind of person that respected people’s privacy without question.
Areta: The meeting is tonight at seven. I’ll be sending a gate to pick you up at six fifty five unless you are in the aria. - Kemuri
Izuku: I won’t be in the aria. See you then.
Almost as an afterthought, Izuku quickly typed in,
Izuku: Areta don’t you dare make a sarcastic remark.
As if the other villain had been waiting for the perfect moment, a text layered in sarcasm appeared.
Areta: You know me too well Midoriya ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Izuku huffed a laugh as he pocketed his phone, turning back to the car tyre. He squatted down, careful not to bend his back as he heaved the tyre up onto his shoulder again. To his left, All Might shouted something about not being lazy into his megaphone, which Izuku found amusingly hypocritical.
“Help me with this fridge, will you?” He called to Shinsou. His friend groaned, but headed over.
“Only if you buy me macha ice-cream after this.”
Izuku arrived home that night sore. He blamed Bakugou, even though the blond hadn’t even been at school that day. Recently, he’d begun blaming all his minor inconveniences on Bakugou. If he stubbed his toe, Bakugou was to blame. If he got a C- on an assignment, it was also somehow Bakugou’s fault. Today, the blond was indubitably responsible for his aching muscles.
Izuku had to admit he hadn’t exactly been particularly fit before his training had started, so all the sudden exercise was causing all kinds of aches and pains to spread over his body. They usually appeared in the morning, preventing him from walking without being accompanied by excruciating agony.
The front door made a series of creaks in complaint as he opened it. As he slowly and painfully slipped off his shoes, Inko bustled out of the kitchen and crowded him in a warm, if slightly too tight, hug.
“Izuku! How was your day? How is Shinsou-kun doing?”
“Gee, glad to know I’m your first priority, as your beloved only son.” She flicked him in the nose.
“I’m only worrying. You know I’m good at that.” Izuku couldn’t help the fond smile that tugged at his lips.
“He’s doing better. He has semester exams next week, though. I’m not sure if anyone can be okay if they have to endure that.” His grin dropped when he remembered that both their schools did their semester exams around the same time. “Oh, shit, I haven’t studied at all…”
He drew back, sliding past her and padding down the hall. “I have a whole bunch of homework.” He called over his shoulder. “If you need help with dinner, just kick down my door or something.”
He heard his mother chuckle lightly as he entered his room, snapping the door shut behind him. Releasing his bag onto his bedsheets, Izuku lent one hand on the side of his desk as he peeled his socks off, dropping them into the laundry bag beside his door. He wriggled his freed toes, relishing the release from the suffocating confines of the smothering fabric. He bent backwards, his back cracking before he finally plopped down onto his swivel chair and rested his feet up on the desk top.
He let his head fall back for a moment, his eyes closing as he heaved a tired sigh and tried to ignore all his individual aches and pains. Not even bothering to open his eyes again, Izuku dug around under his butt until his fingers found his phone in his back pocket. He brought it up to his face, his eyes opening up just a crack so he could dial a number. He hadn’t wanted to save this number, but luckily after a few times of calling the wrong number he’d finally remembered it.
The man answered on the first ring. “Akatani.”
Izuku let his eyes slip closed again, a lazy smile creeping onto his face despite the fact that the other couldn’t see.
“You called for an update?”
There was a knowing chuckle on the other end of the line. “Progress is coming along smoothly. Kakureta is sending an ambassador to me in a few days. Care to come?”
Izuku made an affirmative humming noise. “I’d love to.”
“Eleven pm Saturday. Front or back door?”
Izuku considered. “Back.”
See you then, Akatani.”
Izuku pressed end call, before wiping the number from his call history.
Izuku set down his phone, reaching over to the bed to retrieve sheets of homework from his bag. Glancing at the clock, Izuku sighed as he saw that he still had two hours before Kurogiri was due to pick him up.
Izuku shivered. A peek at the thermometer on his window sill told him he should probably put a jacket on. He picked himself up off the desk chair, his fingers gripping and probably crinkling the sheets of paper as he made his way to the living room instead, the warmth of the room enveloping him as soon as he stepped through the door.
He padded softly over to the couch and slumped down onto the cushions and fumbed for the remote to turn the tv on. The background buzz of the news always calmed him, probably a side effect of Inko keeping the radio on pretty much twenty-four seven in the kitchen when he was younger. Now, he could practically fall asleep to reporters moaning on about villain attacks and which celebrity was going to Tokyo in May.
The evening news came on as Izuku flipped through his homework, not sure whether he should get maths out of the way or start his essay on the origin of haikus. A pretty blond reporter was standing outside a demolished building, face theatrically worried for the camera as she relayed the incident.
“Earlier today there was a fight between several unknown villains, resulting in the destruction of a number of shops and restraints in the aria. Despite the region being full of civilians at the time of the attack, no information was able to be gained of their quirks or identities. Before heroes or police could arrive, the villains seem to leave as soon as they came. Luckily, they did not seem interested in harming citizens and so no casualties ensued.”
Izuku settled down further into the cushions, eyes trailing lazily over the tv screen. Faintly, he wondered if that was Shigaraki’s way of collecting the rogue League prospectives, or if it was just some petty gang war between people with overpowered quirks and no control over them or their childish emotions.
Izuku made a mental note to slyly mention it to Shigaraki that night.
Izuku sighed, tuning out the background chatter of a talk show and focussed on the sheets before him. He decided to at least begin the essay. Once he had begun it was always easier finishing. Flipping to an empty page in his school notebook, Izuku took the pencil that had been sitting behind his ear for he couldn’t remember how long, subconsciously sticking the end in his mouth as he muttered ideas. Sometimes he stuck pens behind his ears and walked around with them there all day until someone told him, or until he rolled into bed and jabbed the side of his head with it.
“Bashō was the foremost haiku poet…”
An hour later Izuku stopped to find he’d accidentally filled out thirty pages of ideas. He shook out the cramps in his wrist, re-positioning the pencil behind his ear again to stretch his fingers out of their strained position. He decided to leave the maths homework until after the recruitment meeting.
Izuku groaned and switched off the television with his foot. Hoisting himself up, he slouched off into the kitchen, setting himself down on a bench stool with a noncommittal grunt. One more hour before Kurogiri was going to pick him up. God, waiting was tedious.
His mum looked over from where she was spooning rice into a bowl, eyebrow arched.
“Maths suck out your life force again?” Her lips quirked up into a sly smile, but Izuku noticed her eyes held only sympathy and tenderness. If something really was wrong, she was there to help. Izuku appreciated it, though he’d never tell her.
Izuku’s only reply was a long, drawn out pterodactyl screech of long suffering pain. Inko nodded in understanding.
“It be like that sometimes.” She said sagely. Izuku snorted, attempting — and failing — to cover it with a cough.
His mum smiled, turning away to put the lid back on the rice cooker. She picked up the two bowls of rice, making her way around the bench dividing the kitchen and small dining room. Setting them on the table, she turned back for the plates of vegetables and meat. Izuku slid lackadaisically off the stool and pulled a chair out from the table, making himself comfy as he picked up his bowl and chopsticks. Digging the utensils into the food, Izuku heaped them with rice before shovelling it into his mouth.
Behind him, Inko let out a resigned squawk of indignation.
“Izuku! Wait till all the food’s on the table.” She always disapproved, but Izuku always ate his rice before the rest, despite her annoyance.
With an aggrieved chink of glazed earthenware against tabletop, Inko set the remaining plates down onto the table and pulled out the chair opposite Izuku’s, eyeing him meaningfully as she placed her hands together. “Thank you for the food.”
Izuku just rolled his eyes. He had more important things to worry about than table manners.
Hitoshi: Oh my god that costume is so on fleek ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Izuku was leaning against the wall beside his closet, one foot tapping a pattern impatiently against the plank wood floor of his room. He’d been here for the past half hour as he waited for the quiet rustling sound of Kurogiri’s warp gate to announce the other villain’s arrival in his room. He choked as he received Shinsou’s text, almost dropping his phone in his sudden burst of laughter.
He’d sent a picture of a hero with an unusually tight spandex outfit to Shinsou. Sometimes he forgot how dorky Shinsou could be when he was around people he was comfortable with. Apparently Izuku was one of them, which warmed him more than he’d ever admit.
Izuku: Haha, I should do that (*ﾟ▽ﾟ*)
Hitoshi: ╰(*´〇`*)╯♡ YaS you’d look great
Izuku spluttered. Had Shinsou just said he’d look good in a skintight suit? He spent a few precious seconds spluttering and trying to regain his dignity, and when he finally pulled himself together enough to stop flustering, he heard the familiar soft shifting, sandy sound of Kurogiri’s warp gate. Izuku was almost disappointed.
Izuku: djfhdjgtdjth... uh, um... listen sorry I’ve gtg text you later okay (-.-;)y-~~~
Hitoshi: (￣^￣)ゞsee you
Izuku shoved his phone in his back pocket as he pushed himself off the wall and stepped around to the front to his closet. With a quick check around — at the window, the door — he stepped inside, shutting the door softly behind him as he placed a foot through the swirling mass of purple smoke, and let the magnetic tug of the gate pull him through.
One of my better chapters I think. There's fluff and angst at the end, somehow, too.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The bar was dimly lit, the bulb above the bench flickering like the wings of a dying insect. Apart from the bar and stools, the rest of the room was cast in shadows.
The room gave off an ‘edgy, most likely illegal’ atmosphere. Izuku’s eye twitched as the lightbulb coruscated erratically. He made a mental note to replace it in the very near future.
Before stepping out of the shadows, Izuku flicked his eyes around, gauging the situation. Shigaraki was sitting slumped in the farthest stool next to the wall, gaze as non-committed and bored as ever as he nursed a steaming mug. His middle finger was raised in what was probably both a necessity and a small indicator of his inner thoughts.
Kurogiri was standing in his usual place behind the counter, polishing his prized glasses. The man made no indication that he knew Izuku was here, though he obviously did. He was probably waiting for Izuku to make himself known, instead of announcing him.
Two people were standing awkwardly to the side. Shigaraki probably hadn’t invited them to sit down, despite the long hours Izuku had drilled the concept of hospitality into his head. One was a tall, lanky young man, probably around eighteen or nineteen with unruly back hair and burn scars across most of his exposed skin.
Next to him, with a bright smile — almost worryingly so; no one who smiled that bright wasn’t hiding some form of inner pain and darkness— was a girl around Izuku’s own age. She had wheat blond hair that was up in two messy buns, and a school uniform on. Izuku blinked in surprise as he recognised the uniform from the all-girls private school from the district next to his.
The mood in the room was thick with apprehension and thinly veiled discontent. Izuku chose this moment to step forward, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his hoodie in a masquerade of nonchalance. He figured that he was probably the one that had to ease the awkward vibe emanating from the two applicants.
Kurogiri nodded to Izuku as he stepped closer. The black haired young man followed the smoky man’s gaze to Izuku, his electric blue eyes widening as he set eyes on the younger boy, an eyebrow arching in skepticism.
He turned to Shigaraki. “This is who we were waiting for?” He didn’t sound very impressed. Izuku huffed, blowing a curl of hair out of his face and glowering lightly at the man. If one of the new applicants had a problem with his predilection for hoodies that said ‘hoodie’ or ‘generic popular culture reference’ on it, he would never allow him into the League.
The girl saw him and waved, a friendly smile lighting up her face. She stepped forward, but the man behind her pulled her back. “You’re so excitable.” He muttered.
Shigaraki glanced over at him and grunted in disgust. “Why does your jacket say ‘cotton clothing implement’ on it?” He asked tiredly.
“Because it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
“Watch Mary Poppins.” Izuku enjoined. He slid onto a stool, looking over at the two potentials and gesturing at the seats next to him. “You can sit down you know. We won’t bite.” He considered for a second. “And from the looks of it on the news, you can handle yourselves even if we do.”
The black haired man glanced up in surprise, looking over at Izuku in confusion as he and the girl sat down. “What do you mean?”
Izuku rolled his eyes, yawning. “Oh please. Did you really think your little scuffle wouldn’t be noticed?” He eyed Shigaraki meaningfully. The git didn’t seem to notice.
The girl seemed to consider. “Well, it was pretty loud. And you did destroy loads of property, Dabi.” The man — Dabi — hissed. “We’re not supposed to just go throwing our names about, Toga.”
Izuku face palmed.
“Well,” he tried, sighing exasperatedly. “If you’re going to be joining us we’re all going to know each other’s name anyway. So it doesn’t really matter.” Dabi didn’t look happy but shrugged in resigned assent. Toga seemed more enthusiastic however, grinning more brightly and waving at everyone individually, even Dabi for some reason.
“Hi! I didn’t properly introduce myself, then. I’m Toga Himiko!”
“Dabi.” Dabi grunted. Izuku frowned. He’d have to work harder to get Dabi to open up, it seemed. And work especially hard to get Toga to actually shut up — but he kind of enjoyed her shiny nature. It was a stark, kind of nice contrast to the rest of the emo shits who made up the League.
Kurogiri cleared his throat, setting down his glass and resting his hands on the bar, staring intently at the newcomers with unblinking intensity.
“Let’s get started, shall we?” Shigaraki nodded and shifted himself around to face the potentials.
“I don’t want to waste time.” He growled. “I just have some questions. I don’t demand loyalty or any of that shit. Just one thing; if you do join — if you betray us, just know that I will find you, and I will demonstrate why I’m the leader of the League of Villains.”
“More like second in command.” Izuku muttered. Shigaraki shot him a murderous stare, eyes piercing right through Izuku’s scull. Toga’s eyes widened and she clapped her hands excitedly. Not... the reaction Izuku was expecting.
“So cool!” She gushed. “So edgy !” Izuku had to bite his tongue to stop himself from laughing at her words. He might just like Toga.
Dabi rolled his eyes so hard Izuku swore he felt the Earth’s rotation shift. “Get on with it, grease-boy.”
Once again Izuku had to consciously bite down on his tongue to stop a stream of loud — potentially damning — cachinnations. Yes, Izuku thought he might enjoy getting to know the newcomers. If they joined. Although, Izuku guessed, he could always track them down and stay in contact with them even if they didn’t.
Shigaraki made a grunt of annoyance, but surprisingly didn’t do anything beyond slightly flaking the edge of the bar away in agitation. Izuku was almost impressed, the boy was learning a semblance to self control.
Suddenly, Welcome to the Black Parade began to play from Izuku’s pocket, noise muffled by fabric. Izuku jumped, annoyed at himself for not switching his phone to silent. He fumbled for it, bringing it out to see Giran’s number across the screen. He sighed, clicking the decline button and quickly sending a Sorry, busy. In meeting, ring you later before finally setting the device on silent and sliding it back into his pocket.
He looked up, apologetic. “Sorry. Jouhou. Ah, that reminds me; Kemuri, could you be my back door for a meeting with my informant?”
“Eleven pm Saturday.”
Kurogiri nodded silently and Izuku turned back to Shigaraki, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. It was all an act, to hopefully make the other man less angry at the interruption. It probably wasn’t necessarily needed. “Sorry for that. Do continue.”
The blue haired man sighed, all-too used to Izuku’s frequent disturbances and last moment phone calls by now. He was the League’s intelligencer and informal secretary after all. He turned back to the two candidates, staring at them impatiently.
“Why do you want to join the League?” The two were silent for a moment before Toga spoke up, ever the more loquacious of the two.
“Because I want to! I like your ideals and want to help.”
“I have my reasons.” Dabi said after a few more seconds of silence.
Izuku sighed. “Dabi, mah dude. Don’t think you can just give an answer as half-assed as that.” He caught the other’s eyes for a moment, smirking ever-so slightly as the man ch -ed in irritation.
“More or less what Toga said.” He snapped. Izuku tutted. “Don’t use that tone with me, young man. You’re trying to convince me to let you join, after all.”
Shigaraki butted in before Dabi could say something, which was probably for the better. “How much experience have you had?”
Izuku chuckled. The other probably didn’t want another re-do of Izuku’s incompetence. He’d had to train Izuku how to so much as hold a knife, and hadn’t been especially pleased about the fact.
“About four or five years.” Dabi’s short reply came, contrasting with Toga’s enthusiastic, “A few months!”
Shigaraki got half way through a sigh of exasperation before she went on hurriedly. “But I know the basics and I’ve practiced and used a knife often. I’m very good!”
The sigh morphed into a breath out in relief.
“Fine. One last thing.” Shigaraki began tapping his fingers on the varnished surface of the bar, never allowing all five digits to hit the countertop at once. The sharp tmp tmp tmp echoed unnaturally in the silent room.
“What’s your purpose?”
The seconds ticked on, the entire room quiet and still. Waiting. Thinking.
“People… heroes… society — have wronged and abandoned me. I want to be accepted, but I’d also like to get revenge. I want people to realise that I’m only here because they’ve made me become like this.” For once, Toga was solemn. Her ever-present smile was gone and in its place was a thin, sober line. Izuku nodded slowly, lips twitching up in pleasure. “Good, good. Perfect.”
Her eyebrows twitched downwards at Izuku’s confusing reaction. He couldn’t blame her, people wouldn’t normally smile after hearing something like that.
Dabi took a little longer, before he shrugged stiffly. “Endeavour.” Was all he said. Izuku nodded, smile growing only bigger. Dabi didn’t need to say anything more. The Number Two Hero had a nefarious reputation amongst the underworld. To many, he might seem to be impressive and powerful. And he was. Powerful, that is. But villains, criminals and people caught up in the vast network of the underworld knew better. The man killed unnecessarily, and was violent even when the situation didn’t call for it. Whatever reason Dabi had for hating Endeavour, Izuku would full-heartedly back him up and support him in bringing the man’s downfall.
Looking at Dabi, maybe Endeavour had been the one to cause such extensive damage on the man’s body. His eyes caught the other’s for a moment, Dabi no doubt noticing Izuku scrutinising his body. Izuku glanced away. It was none of his business.
“Hm.” Izuku mused. He knew that neither had lied, though Dabi had probably told only half the truth. These people looked and sounded like the perfect new members for the League. He shouldn’t hold any reservations.
Yet a bit of doubt that something was still not right gnawed at him. But, without any evidence he couldn’t just accuse either of them of something. He also didn’t want to turn away new recruits with so much potential and a natural ability to get under Shigaraki’s skin.
Kurogiri was gazing at him expectantly. “Well?”
Izuku heaved a long sigh of resignation. He looked up, one side of his mouth tugging up as he tried to kick the incessant doubt into a vat at the back of his brain. Then maybe pour a whole lot of other things he didn’t want to think about on top of it, just to make sure.
“Welcome to the League of Villains.” He announced, arms spread wide. His attempt at buoyancy went flat however as he yawned at the end, arms dropping to his side as he attempted the stifle it.
“I’m Midoriya Izuku. Don’t call me that. Grease-boy is Shigaraki Tomura and Misty over there is Kurogiri.”
Toga huffed, confused. “Then what do we call you?”
Izuku smiled. “Unless you’re one hundred percent sure no one’s listening, I’m Akatani. Akatani Mikumo if anyone wants my full name. Shigaraki here is Areta. If they want a real name make something up, or use Hayakaze. Doesn’t matter. Kurogiri is Kemuri.” He tapped lightly on his chin. “I’ll have to come up for aliases for you two soon.”
Grease-boy got off his stool with an irked grunt. “I’m done here.”
Izuku shrugged at the departing figure of their leader as the other shuffled from the room, muttering something about Dementium. He turned back to the two new members.
“Don’t mind him. He’s a bit of a neet. I’m pretty sure he thinks if he defeats Freddy Fazbear enough times he’ll magically be able to kill All Might.”
Toga blinked. “He plays five nights at Freddies?”
Izuku waved a hand vaguely in the air. “Oh, he plays everything. Anyway,” He glanced up at Kurogiri, reaching over to tap a fingernail on an immaculate drinking glass.
“So do either of you want a drink?”
Izuku yawned. He was still tired from the night before. Despite leaving before either of the new League members had the chance to ask him anything, abandoning Kurogiri to show them to their rooms he’d no doubt pre-cleaning just in case, he’d gotten to bed even later than normal. Considering he got up at five every morning, getting to bed at three had fucked with his sleep routine quite a bit.
Izuku had had years to explore the sheer size of the main League hideout, but despite the ground level only being a meagre bar and a smallish house behind it, the underground labyrinth that was the hideout stretched on for quite a while, hallways twisting and turning. There were many unused rooms; some full of storage containers, some with beds in a semblance of a bedroom. Some were large and empty, intended to be used as training facilities or to hold large crowds for debriefing or some such. Izuku himself had been offered a room here once, but he had declined and chosen to instead stay at home where he could play the role of a normal schoolboy and aspiring hero.
Dabi and Toga. Izuku had to admit he was curious of those two. They stuck together, like they’d known each other before the League, which made no sense; from what little he knew of the two, they seemed to come from two different lives. One where Dabi got massive permanent scarring and the other still... wore her school uniform? Did it mean something special to her or something?
“Midoriya! Young Midoriya!”
Izuku turned, excuse already half formed on his tongue as he spun around to face All Might, his skeletal form puffing and shuddering as he rushed to catch up to Izuku. His breath rattled agonisingly, making Izuku wince in what would have been sympathy if he felt any positive emotion towards the Number One Hero. As it was, the sound merely grated on his senses and made his body instinctively shiver.
Izuku stood and waited as Yagi caught up and bent over, wheezing painfully. After a minute the man straightened up, twisting the edges of his mouth up into a fond smile.
“I haven’t gotten the chance to talk to you privately since young Shinsou arrived.” Izuku nodded, still unsure. Yagi seemed to sense his hesitation because he waved his hand, in an attempt to sweep away Izuku’s worries. It didn’t work.
“I won’t hold you up long, Young Midoriya. I merely wanted up talk to you about One For All.”
“Oh?” Now Izuku was interested. All Might nodded. “I figured you’d like to know more about what will be happening.”
Izuku bobbed his head down curtly in assent. He had been wondering what was happening with his quirk-to-be. The months, days, leading to the UA entrance exam were steadily decreasing.
All Might gesticulated as he explained, hands waving to form meaningful circles and squares. “I was planning to give you One for All after you finished clearing Dagobah beach. Or, if you hadn’t finished the beach by the time the UA entrance exam rolls around, I’d give it to you anyway. Knowing what I know about the exam, you’ll need any sort of help, quirk-wise, you can get. I’m not allowed to give you confidential information on the exam in case of cheating, however. The optimal situation would be if you finished clearing the beach early, so I could give you some time to adjust to your new quirk. But if that opportunity doesn’t arise,” here he winked at Izuku, which sent cold shivers running up the boy’s spine. The motion made Yagi’s entire face twitch, twisted and wrong; his gaunt features not accustomed to such gestures. “I will be here-on-out working as a teacher at UA High School. So I will be able to easily assist and advise you as you adjust and start to understand and use your new power.”
Izuku gawked. All Fucking Might was coming to teach at UA academy?!
After the initial revulsion at having to spend more time around one of the people he most despised in the world, Izuku realised the opportunity being handed to him on a silver platter.
He had figured that after he’d received One for All, he’d go to UA and All Might would just continue mercilessly punching villains into the stratosphere. Then, maybe, they’d meet on the weekends to train Izuku’s new quirk or something.
That way it would be as hard as ever to get to him. As hard as ever to quench the gnawing need within him to let his anger out, to put barely restrained fingers around that frail neck and wring the sick, godforsaken life from his already dying body.
Though, of course, Izuku couldn’t do that. For the plan to work, no violence whatsoever could be allowed to be used on heroes or civilians alike. (Shigaraki wasn’t great at keeping that rule, but he was trying).
“You’re teaching at UA?!” It wasn’t hard to say that with enthusiasm. Yagi chuckled.
“Yes, my boy. I will be teaching the Basic Hero course.” He paused, waiting for Izuku to take in the information before moving on. “Anyway, I’ll stop holding you up. I just wanted to tell you what I’m going to be doing. Enjoy school.”
Izuku saluted sassily as All Might turned and left him standing elatedly on the sidewalk. When the man was out of sight, Izuku spun, mind already racing with the new possibilities, and forced his legs to cooperate enough to make it back to his apartment on time.
Izuku wiped the sweat from his eyes. His shirt was drenched with it, the fabric clinging uncomfortably to his skin as he carried different parts of a ruined car to the truck, red paint old and peeling as he pulled tires and doors off, the vehicle not resisting his dismantling as much as it probably should have been, probably because of it’s old age.
Shinsou was sick that day, but he’d said he’d most likely be fine by the next day. They’d planned to skip the half day of school and spend the Saturday in town. Shinsou had said that there was a place he wanted to take Izuku, and despite his efforts to extract information from his friend, their destination the next day remained as cryptic as ever.
On his left, All Might picked himself up off his perch on a junk heap with a soft grunt. He made his way over to Izuku and set a hand on his shoulder, shaking him gently in what Izuku presumed was playful affection.
“You’ve done enough for today, young Midoriya. I’ll see you again on Monday.”
Izuku dropped the steering wheel he had been carrying under his arm. He heaved a sigh of relief, picking up patches of his soaked t-shirt and shaking it to create a makeshift wind under the fabric. He couldn’t wait to get home and have a shower.
Thinking of home made his mum pop into his head, and more specifically her asking him to tell his mentor to meet with her. He turned, Yagi’s arm falling to his side as Izuku scratched the back of his head awkwardly, almost dislodging the pencil stuck behind his ear from that morning.
“Actually, I was wondering All Might… I told mum about these daily lessons and she said she’d like to meet you. Would that be… okay?” Okay, so maybe he played up his shyness and hesitant attitude when he was around All Might, but he’d have to keep acting the avid fan and quiet kind of boy until the whole of Japan knew the truth. By then there wouldn’t be much use pretending.
All Might looked surprised, then a look of resignation crossed his face. His shoulders drooped. “I should have presumed something like this would happen. I guess I couldn’t just ask a boy to have private training with me and expect the mother to just let it happen without question.” He sighed. “Will this Sunday work? Or is that too soon?”
Izuku shrugged. “Sunday should work. What time?”
“Three? If I’m to impress your mother, I’ll need some time to prepare.” He chuckled, a small bit of nervousness leaking through his careful nonchalance.
Izuku laughed. “Don’t worry, you don’t need to do anything to impress my mother. You’re All Might after all, even in your smaller form you have a natural charisma.”
The Number One Hero’s eyes widened slightly at Izuku false words. “Thank you, young Midoriya. It’s nice to know some people can appreciate me beyond my title and stronger form.”
Izuku chuckled, the sound sickening to his ears, and grinned. “You’ll always be my hero, All Might. It’s what you do, not what you look like.”
“Where are you taking me?” Izuku asked, voice full of suspicion. Shinsou smirked, hand warm and firm as he guided Izuku down the busy street. The hand on Izuku’s wrist was a necessary anchor to keep them from being separated by the thick ocean of bodies around them.
The idea of skipping school and going into town had initially been Izuku’s idea, but Shinsou had instantly latched onto the idea and told Izuku that he would be taking him somewhere. He would . Izuku had no say in the matter. None whatsoever.
Shinsou had met Izuku at the bottom of the stairs leading to his second story apartment and had promptly grabbed Izuku’s wrist and began leading him towards the nearest train station. All through the train ride he’d had this smile on his face that was a mix between sly and childishly excited.
With that spark of anticipation in Shinsou’s eyes, Izuku didn’t have the heart to protest and merely half heartedly complained as he was hauled from the train to the part of town that was more teenager and pop-culture centric.
The crowd changed to young adults and adolescents, milling around in merchandise stores or clothing shops. There was a huge-ass line for the hedgehog cafe, mostly compiled of younger girls desperate to take cute selfies with slightly panicked small animals.
Izuku raised his eyebrows at Shinsou.
“What? You’re planning to buy me a huge Doraemon plushie or something?”
Shinsou laughed. “You like Doraemon?”
Izuku shrugged. “Not much. More an All Might guy myself.”
Shinsou weaved around a Western couple taking a selfie in front of an anime poster. The girl glanced at them and giggled, causing Izuku’s cheeks to burn, though he wasn’t entirely sure what for. Shinsou glanced back before turning down another street.
“But you have no hero merchandise in your room. I just presumed you weren’t the fan-type.” He said.
Izuku bit his lip, glad Shinsou was too busy not getting mowed down by the crowd to look back. “I used to. Threw them out a few years ago. Guess I grew out of them.”
Shinsou opened his mouth like he was going to reply, but instead let go of Izuku and turned around with a very uncharacteristic flourish.
“We’re here!” He crowed.
Izuku glanced up at the name of the cafe that they’d stopped in front of. Kotsutouhin Cat Cafe.
Izuku raised an eyebrow. “Antique… cat cafe?”
Shinsou’s face flushed and he looked away, hands dropping to his sides and finding their way into his jean pockets protectively. “It’s kind of retro. I don’t know. It’s really nice and—“
He was cut off as Izuku poked him gently, face screwed up in light annoyance. “Oi, don’t get all defensive on me now, Hitoshi. Lets go in. I want to see why you like it here.”
The door was large and had an intricate pattern constructed from stained glass on it, and creaked a little as Izuku pushed it open. The front desk seemed normal enough however, the woman behind it sporting large feline ears and whiskers. She glanced up as they headed inside, face brightening as she spotted Shinsou.
“Shinsou-kun! Nice to see you. Skipping school on Saturday again?”
He grinned bashfully. “Never can stay away for too long. No other place does such good coffee.”
The woman chuckled. “I see you’ve finally brought a friend! Usual room I presume?”
He nodded. “Thanks, Nekomi-san.”
Shinsou turned to the small elevator next to the door, pushing aside a potted fern next to it to get to the button. The elevator was small and cramped, but somehow strangely luscious. The inside was mahogany and glass, causing Izuku to gaze at himself from several different directions at once uncomfortably. In vain he scrubbed through his mess of curls to get them to sit better. They didn’t.
Shinsou caught his eye in the mirror. He smiled. “Your hair looks fine.” He said.
The elevator dinged, the doors sliding open seamlessly. The hallway beyond was also mahogany, antique lamps casting a superlunary glow onto the panelled wall and floor.
Izuku stepped hesitantly out, feeling very out of place in his ripped jeans, red timberland boots and the person wearing this is a hypocrite hoodie. This place looked nothing like a regular cat cafe, and gave off more of a regal, cat-hair-is-a-parasite-for-the-furniture vibe.
Shinsou must’ve seen his expression because he tugged lightly on Izuku’s arm and started heading down the hall. “You’ll be pleasantly surprised, trust me.”
Izuku grunted and shoved his hands into his pockets, hunching his shoulders as he followed Shinsou up the hallway in case a hook nosed woman in Victorian clothing came out to whack him with a mop.
A woman in a black skirt and frilly apron appeared out of nowhere as Shinsou stopped at a door and began pushing it open. He jumped.
Izuku raised his eyebrows slightly. A vanishing quirk? The girl’s skin was lightly green and her irises a bright shade of silver.
“Jinko-san!” Shinsou shrieked, stumbling backwards before composing himself. He scowled. “I told you not to fade-in when I don’t know you’re there.”
She giggled before pushing past him to check the room. Izuku walked up, curious, and peeked into the room, eyes widening as his gaze swept the room.
One whole wall was made of glass and looked out over the street. This side of the building caught the most sunlight, and the morning rays of sunshine filtered into the room, casting white lines over the thick beige carpet that sat next to the window. Several cats were lying in the sunlight, stretched out and asleep.
A long sofa stretched along the right wall, curving around to create a cosy room within a room next to the window. Behind that was a cat play gym, large and intricate, and arching over a large kotatsu.
The room was naturally lit at that moment, and despite the more modern feel, the room was still antique themed and a large stained glass lamp hung from the ceiling. The floor was dark planking and the walls were panelled mahogany like outside. Despite this, the colour scheme of the furniture worked well with the walls and floor and somehow made mahogany seem modern.
Along the left wall was a bookshelf with books ranging from ancient to just-published, the middle of it leaving a hole for a big-screen TV.
Izuku whistled. “You weren’t joking, Hitoshi.”
The bastard had the audacity to look a little smug, but Izuku decided to let him have this one.
The girl, Jinko, looked up from scratching a cat behind the ear. She grinned. “Want anything?”
Izuku idly walked to the kotatsu and plucked up a menu from it’s stand. His eyes skimmed lazily over the food options.
“Can I get a hot chocolate and french toast?” Jinko nodded, writing the order down in her tablet. Shinsou didn’t even bother looking at the menu.
“Long black and banana bread, thanks.” Jinko nodded again and turned to leave. Before she got to the door, however, her entire body faded into nothingness. A few seconds later the door opened and closed, seemingly by itself as she slipped, invisible, through it.
Shinsou tched in mild annoyance, turning to head over to the carpet which was, now that Izuku looked closer, covered in a small paw pattern. He plonked himself down onto the carpet and let himself fall backwards until he was basking in the sun like the cats surrounding him. One tabby cross heaved itself up, stretching and yawning before padding delicately over to lie on Shinsou’s stomach, making the boy let out a surprised breath of air as it’s heavy body settled itself right on top of his lungs.
“That woman scares me on purpose.” Shinsou softly complained as he brought one hand up to start petting the cat on top of him. Izuku chuckled.
“She’s actually pretty easy to hear if you know what to listen for.” He said, coming around the couch and selecting a victim. He bent down, lifting the lethargic animal into his arms like a furry baby. It made a soft mew in half-hearted protest.
Shinsou sighed. “I know, I know.”
Izuku shuffled backwards until his legs hit the side of the lounge and he sat down heavily, cradling the cat in his arms and enjoying the way it relaxed trustingly in his arms. It was annoyingly adorable.
Shinsou closed his eyes. The cat on him turned over in its sleep.
“I have a few cats myself, actually.” Shinsou said. Izuku looked up.
“Oh? What are their names?”
Shinsou smiled softly. “Shibou and Genkina. They’re probably jealous of all the cats here, actually. I come here so often.”
Izuku hummed in amusement, fingers running gently over his cat’s stomach. “You called one of your cats ‘ fat ’?”
Shinsou sniggered. “Yeah, well, he’s a thicc lil thing. What was I supposed to call him? ‘Skinny’?”
“I always wanted a cat.” Izuku said. “My mum always said they weren’t worth the hair.”
Izuku laughed. “Says the person with two cats.”
“My parents didn’t want me to have them either, actually.”
Izuku peered down at Shinsou curiously. “How did you convince them? Tell me your secrets.”
His friend curled up into a sitting position, the cat on his stomach sliding into his lap with a small mewl of disgruntlement. “I…”
Izuku cocked his head to the side. Shinsou’s face was inscrutable, but his eyebrows were crinkling downwards slightly. Izuku sensed tea.
Shinsou stroked his cat, forehead creasing and mouth pulled down in disquiet.
“I sometimes think my parents agree to things and let me have or do things so they can get on my good side. I… I don’t even know why. They’re… my parents. Why wouldn’t they be on my good side?”
“So they got you those cats not because they wanted to, but because they wanted to please you?”
Shinsou nodded uncomfortably.
There was a knock at the door and Jinko materialised in the room, carrying a tray with their orders on it. “Here you’s are! Sorry it took a bit long.”
Izuku scooped the cat off his lap and went to take the tray with a smile. “Thank you.” She grinned back and waved her fingers cheekily at Shinsou.
“Looks like you’re enjoying yourself, Shinsou-kun.”
Shinsou huffed. Izuku set the tray on the kotatsu as Jinko vanished out the door again, calling a quick, “Say hi to the Satorus’ for me, will ya?” over her shoulder.
Izuku glanced after her, confused. “The Satorus'?”
Shinsou looked away. “My parents. My adoptive parents.” He supplied when Izuku’s look of confusion didn’t go away.
“But I don’t like thinking of them like that. It makes them more… I don’t know.” He bent down and buried his face in the cat’s fur. When he spoke again, his voice came out muffled. “My original parents were scared of me when my quirk manifested at four. They put me up for adoption almost right after.” He turned his head slightly to look at Izuku, and noticing the greenette’s stunned face, he hurriedly added, “Don’t worry, I can’t even remember what they looked like. I don’t miss them.”
“They were afraid—?” Izuku paused. “You never did tell me what your quirk was.”
His friend sighed. “I don’t like telling people. It’s kind of… people say it’s villainous.”
“No quirk is inherently villainous, Hitoshi. It’s what you do with it.”
Shinsou looked up, confusion etched into the lines of his face. In his slightly upturned eyebrows and crinkled forehead. “But—”
Izuku stepped forward, face serious. This was what he hated about society. This is why their world was so corrupt. This boy with so much potential and a dream to become a hero — a good hero — was cast out and ostracised just because his quirk looked slightly scary.
This was the kind of world he was working to change.
“Don’t you dare think that your quirk is villainous. What about heroes with potentially villainous quirks?! Every quirk could be used for evil if wielded by someone with a pernicious intent.”
Shinsou was staring at him, mouth agape. Izuku forced himself to take a breath in. He realised this was the first time his new friend had ever seen his angry. He was never angry. Not visibly.
When you work with villains you get good at hiding your emotions. Only show the strong emotions. Contempt, sarcasm, happiness in moderation. Calm. Those weren’t weak.
Sadness was. Anger, too, if you lost control.
“You told me once that you wanted to become a hero so you can prove your heroic intentions. So you can show those people that you could become a hero despite them. And that you would never let what they said get to you.”
Izuku bent down and retrieved Shinsou’s coffee before striding around the lounge until he stood in front of the other boy. He knelt down and gently offered the cup to his shocked friend. “Show this society that anyone can become a hero. If nothing else, I believe in you.” He chuckled softly. “I believe in you so hard, Hitoshi. So go. Go and show them that you . You . Are a badass motherfucker.”
Chapters may be a little slower after this because I've reached the end of my chapter backlog, but I'll try to keep it consistent. We'll see how I go, hm.
Introducing some new characters :0
Sorry y'all! Inktober, writing block and rl backhanded me out of nowhere. I also figured you'd prefer to wait longer for a properly edited chapter, than if I just posted something unedited so I could post sooner.
I'm not promising I'll be keeping a regular update schedule anymore (obviously), but I'll try to keep it to once every one or two months. (Also I accidentally wrote 11,799 words in this single chapter, so maybe that's why it took so long).
The endings a bit cheesy, too, in my opinion, and I use way too many time skips.
Also, as always, any and all feedback is appreciated :) Hope y'all enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’m going to go to bed,” Izuku said as he finished drying his bowl and turned to leave. Inko glanced up from where she was washing the dishes from that night’s meal. Despite it only being the two of them, there was never a shortage of dirty dishes. Soap suds were all up her arms and some, somehow, had found lodging in her hair.
“But it’s not even nine yet.”
Izuku shrugged, wiping his damp hands on his pants and earning an exasperated look from his mother. “I have a bit of homework. And anyways, I have something I wanna do before Yagi-san gets here so I want to get to bed early.”
“Yagi? Is that your trainer’s name?”
Inko hummed contemplatively, seemingly satisfied with his response, and turned back to the My Mum’s Hotter Than This Tea mug she was scouring with a sponge that Izuku had nicknamed Bob. “Alright, sleep well. And keep your window closed, I always seem to hear the wind blowing in your room and I don’t want you to catch a cold.”
Izuku internally winced. It was only understandable that she had mistaken Kurogiri’s warp gate for the sound of wind.
“Yep. You too, ‘kay?” He sent her a soft smile before slipping into the hall and into his bedroom, locking the door behind him with a dull click.
After switching off the light and instead turning on the warm yellow desk light, Izuku quickly got changed out of his daggy jeans and this was made in China t-shirt, and pulled on a pair of clean black jeans, a long sleeved shirt saying this shirt has sleeves , his trademark red timberland boots and a slightly more presentable grey sweater with the word Sweater across it in black stitch.
He’d always wondered about getting a ‘villain costume’ but had never really considered it a real option. After all, villains wore costumes for much the same reasons heroes did — to be recognised, or to, in some cases, stay anonymous, and to have something easier to fight in. Izuku wanted to stay anonymous, sure, but he could easily achieve that without a full costume. Plus, medical face masks were much less suspicious and were like four hundred yen at FamilyMart.
He had, actually, done a rough sketch of a possible villain costume once when he was bored in class. Maybe if he never used it for villainy, he could use the design for his hero costume.
The main reason for not getting one however, despite how many times Kurogiri had suggested it, was that Izuku liked to be underestimated. It gave him an advantage over people at the same time they thought they had an advantage over him, thus making them even more vulnerable. If he didn’t look villainous, he couldn’t possibly be a villain, right ? Right.
So for now his dorky sweater would have to do. Despite himself, Izuku found himself wishing that he had something more presentable. A tuxedo, perhaps. A simple black one, like the one in his concept design. It was practical, comfy, and could be used outside of work. And it would be useful in a time like this. He wanted to appear more professional, even just a tad, for the Ambassador of Kakureta. Izuku wanted to form an alliance, and Kakureta probably wouldn’t want to form one with a scrawny teen in his only pair of clean, and very oversized, clothing.
Izuku plucked the pencil out from behind his ear and set it deliberately on the table. He didn’t want to be seen as scatterbrained too (no matter how much he was).
Reaching into his schoolbag, Izuku pulled out his new pair of sharpened scissors, shoving them into his back pocket. If they were there, it would make them seem like merely a pair of normal crafting scissors he’d forgotten about (so much for not seeming scatterbrained). Putting them into somewhere obviously suspicious like his boot would be too salient. And besides, trying to yank his weapon from his boot in the middle of a potential battle sounded like a bad idea. Better to have them easily accessible.
Izuku straightened up to stand in the middle of his room, glancing about him in case he’d forgotten something. Nothing coming to mind, he turned and pulled out his desk chair. He still had two hours to get homework done before his personal warp gate chauffeur arrived, and that essay still needed doing.
A sandy, granulated shifting sound alerted Izuku to the arrival of Kurogiri’s warp gate. Pushing back his chair and closing his textbook, he got up and flicked his light off, plunging his room into pitch blackness. The only light left came from his softly glowing phone screen and the line of light radiating from under the door.
Snatching up his phone and thrusting it into his back pocket, Izuku turned and stepped up to his closet, quietly pulling open the door and peering in. It was even darker inside than in his room, but the signature sound of the gate was louder, so Izuku knew the portal was right in front of him. Without further ado he stepped inside, pulling the door to his closet shut behind him.
Izuku landed on polished floorboards, his shoes making a muffled thud as his feet hit the floor. Despite Giran’s grubby aesthetic, his office where he met new recruits and customers was surprisingly grand. It wasn’t a huge room, but the cream coloured walls and beige carpet-covered oak floorboards made the room feel bigger than it actually was. On one side of the room was a big oak door and a bookshelf, on the other side a large mahogany desk with small plush armchairs in front of it, and another behind. There was a potted fern in the corner and a fan on the roof, suspiciously devoid of any dust. A lamp was attached to the middle of the fan, casting white light across the room. There were no windows.
Izuku had only been there a few times before, and the office was almost enough to make up for the fact that the rest of the building was dark and musty. It was an oasis of cleanliness in villainous disarrangement.
Giran looked up from where he was shuffling papers on his desk, mouth strangely lacking a cigarette. He must really be trying to impress the Ambassador, huh. They must be offering something for him, some sort of asset or information, because Izuku knew Giran wouldn’t bother being this nice just to help Izuku, no matter how helpful he’d been and continued to be for the man.
Villains were really ungrateful sometimes.
“She’ll be here in a few minutes.”
“Yes, she and her husband work together in Kakureta, and they are also Ambassadors for the boss. When ones are needed, of course.”
Izuku stepped over to the armchair nearest him and made himself comfy. “Do I get a name?”
“Hagakure Shou, actually.” Izuku turned to spot a tall, elegant woman step into the room. Her hair was long and ever-so wavy, and her eyes were dark and intelligent, flitting over the room and registering all information in under a second. She wore a black turtleneck with a professional jacket over, and dress pants over high-heeled black boots. She looked to Izuku like a deadly office lady, her clothes obviously made for both meetings and massacres.
The woman seemed to quietly assess the situation. She smiled. “I hope I wasn’t too late.”
Giran waved the woman over to the other chair. “Good evening Hagakure-san. Don’t worry, you are not by any means late. My name is Giran, and this is—”
“Midoriya Izuku.” Izuku cut in, just in case Giran had been about to call him Akatani. Kakureta was all about information and knowledge, much like himself. They would undoubtedly uncover his real name soon enough, if they didn’t already know it, so it would be better to be open about his name and identity from the beginning if he wanted an alliance that wasn’t built on distrust and constant tension. It was dangerous, but worth it. And after all, Izuku wasn’t doing all of this and expecting to be completely safe. He had known the risks of joining the League and becoming, essentially, a villain from the very beginning.
He wanted what Kakureta offered, and he would obtain it. He didn’t set out to fail. Ever.
“Now, I believe you contacted Kakureta because you wished to form an alliance with us?” Hagakure said, folding her hands on her lap after sitting down, her back straight and posture flawless. “Is that right?”
Izuku sat forward, fingers laced, and smiled. “Actually that was me. Giran here is, what do you say, the in-between. I am part of the League of Villains. I opined that forming a business alliance with Kakureta could be beneficial to both our causes.”
Hagakure tilted her head in curiosity. “How so? Kakureta is an underground company that specialises in marketing, transporting and selling otherwise illegal goods and weapons, and also has several branches dedicated to forging fake identities and passports and the like. How could forming an alliance benefit us?”
Izuku brought out his phone and unlocked it, bringing up photos and tapping on one he’d taken of one of his many hero analysis notebooks. The book was opened on a page that detailed the strengths and weaknesses of the hero Snipe. He passed the phone to Hagakure.
“You’re a company that deals and specialises in information, are you not?” Izuku countered, “I have analysed and broken-down every weakness and defence of nearly every hero in Japan, and even some from other countries. If that isn’t enough, I would like to inform you that the League is lead by the most powerful man on Earth, a man with almost limitless power and centuries of knowledge. This could be available to Kakureta should it choose to forge an alliance with the League.
Hagakure looked up from the phone, eyes widening. “Who? You mean...?”
“All For One. Yes.”
Hagakure’s eyes got impossibly wider. She sat back in her chair, stunned. “So he really is real... but, what could we possibly offer you in return? Having relations with that man is something we could never exceed.”
Izuku grinned. “I’m sure Kakureta could more than help the League out. You see, we need more contacts, more people we can call up at a moment’s notice. We need equipment, weapons, fake IDs, as well, as we’re still a fairly small group with limited resources. Also...”
“Do you have hackers?”
Hagakure paused. “I believe we do. Yes. We have a side department devoted to keeping any information about us off easily accessible websites and the like. They’re equipped with specialised quirks, and are quite impressive.”
She passed back Izuku’s phone. “Also, your analysis on Snipe’s weaknesses and strengths is quite impressive. Do you perhaps have an information quirk of some kind?”
Izuku pocketed his phone once again, and sat back in his chair, now that he had gotten the upper hand and obtained what he’d wanted, he felt himself relaxing slightly.
“Hm? Oh, no, nothing like that. But thank you, I hope it may assist you in the future, if you ever need it. And as for the hackers, I just may need their help in the future.”
Hagakure smiled. “Anything else?”
“I don’t think so, no. Thank you, Hagakure-san.”
Hagakure leaned forward, holding out a hand to Izuku. “No problem, it will be a pleasure working with you in the future, Midoriya-kun. When you’re available, just come to headquarters and we can have you fill out some paperwork so we can begin to order and make some IDs and such.”
“It will be a pleasure working with you too.” They shook hands, Hagakure’s hand strong but soft against his.
Hagakure then stood, bowing briefly to Giran and Izuku before turning and heading for the door. As it clicked shut behind her, Izuku allowed himself to relax more fully.
“Man that was stressful,” he groaned. “Being diplomatic is tiring.”
Giran grunted in reply to Izuku’s complaint, popping a cigarette into his mouth. He’d most likely held it under the desk this entire time for the moment Hagakure left. The man reached under his desk and pulled out a small pistol, bringing it up to the end of his cigarette like he was about the blow the object’s brains out, and pulled the trigger. Izuku mentally braced himself for the resounding crack but instead of a bullet, a small burst of fire came out of the hole. Giran then used this flame to light his cigar.
Izuku rolled his eyes, “Extra.” He muttered.
Giran looked up, one eyebrow raised ever-so-slightly, and face blank, doing a perfect act of pretending he hadn’t heard Izuku’s comment. “Do you need something more?” He blew a long stream of putrid smoke from his mouth, before leaning back and kicking his feet up on his desk.
Izuku wrinkled his nose, knowing his clothes would be covered in the smell of cigar smoke by the time he got back home. He’d have to wash them, before his mother noticed.
Izuku dug out his phone again and opened Notes. “Yeah, could I get Kakureta’s leader’s personal number, and Hagakure Shou-san’s business number? I know you have them.”
Giran chuckled. “Of course I do. Why his personal number, though?”
Izuku stretched a lazy smile across his face. “Just give them to me, Giran.”
“Secretive fucker,” Giran muttered. “Alright kid, I’m only saying them once. Kakureta’s leader is named Satoru Sho. His number is 173 017 927.” He paused a second as Izuku quickly typed down the number. “Hagakure’s number is 018 283 273.”
Izuku finished typing and looked up, eyebrows furrowing. “Satoru?”
“Yeah. Got more information on him, but you’ll have to pay.”
Izuku shrugged. “Not interested. I’ll do my own research.”
Giran stubbed his cigarette butt into the underside of his desk. “Have it your way.”
Izuku was about to get up when he remembered something. “Oh, yes, also.”
Giran eyed him, smoke pluming around him like a noxious genie. “If you want more information you’d better be prepared to pay for it.”
Izuku raised his hands placatingly. “I am, I am. Actually, I have some new information that might interest you.”
Giran raised an eyebrow, not easily impressed. “Oh? Do tell.”
“In exchange I would like any information you have on the villain Dabi.”
“Give me the information first. I’m not just going to go around giving away precious information for some random bit of useless info.”
Izuku sighed. “Fair enough. I have intelligence on All Might, actually. Did you know he’s going to be a teacher at UA? He’ll be teaching the Basic Hero Course.
“His name is Yagi Toshinori, and his real appearance is that of an emaciated middle aged man with long shaggy blond hair and skeletal features.”
Giran looked skeptical so Izuku expanded. “Remember his fight with Toxic Chainsaw? He was actually wounded badly during the fight, which led to the removal of several of his vital internal organs. Now he can only work as a hero for around two to three hours a day. His buff-er form is something he cannot hold for an extended amount of time. He’s weak , Giran. Weaker than even we believed he was. But I think his biggest weakness is that he cares too much. He would do anything to save someone, especially someone he cares about. Now, I know you’re not tied to us, but please, I would really appreciate it if you didn’t disclose this information to anyone with harmful intent. I have my own plans for All Might, and I don’t need someone else to come in and mess things up.”
Giran sat back in his chair thoughtfully. “Huh. Well, in that case, I actually do have some information on that Dabi guy. Real name’s Todoroki Touya. Ran away from home a few years back, and has been steadily gaining a notorious reputation for being an edgy bastard. According to sources, he was pretty close with the youngest sibling, Todoroki Shouto, but no one’s been able to get close enough to him or follow him undetected long enough to notice if he’s been keeping contact. Apart from that, the guy’s an enigma. If it wasn’t for the one informant I have that’s close to the family, I’d never have even known he was a Todoroki.”
Izuku stood up with abrupt finality. No wonder the guy had a vendetta against Endeavor, the bastard was his own father.
“Thank Giran, that’s actually really useful. Guess I’ll just need to find someone who can get near to him, then, huh.”
Giran’s only reply was a long puff of smoke that permeated Izuku’s lungs and made him gag.
Izuku rolled out of bed, already somehow knowing he’d slept in longer than he’d planned. A quick glance at his clock told him he only had a few hours at best before his mentor arrived. Though, to be fair, he shouldn’t be that surprised: he had stayed up pretty late the night before.
He picked himself up off the floor, and made a half-hearted attempt to shove his comforter back onto the mattress in a semblance of a made up bed, and kick some residual trash under his bed, just in case the Number One Hero was feeling particularly nosy that day.
A quick shower later and Izuku was padding down the hall and towards the front door, hoodie over his arm and timberland boots in hand.
Inko poked her head out of the living room, polish smudged on her nose and a duster tucked under her arm. “Where’re you going?” She queried.
Izuku glanced over at her before sitting down at the genkan and pulling his shoes and hoodie on. “Just the shops. I was planning on making cupcakes or something.”
“What flavour?” Inko asked suspiciously.
His mum sighed in relief and turned back to the tv cabernet. “That’s sweet of you, Izu. Don’t take too long, ‘kay?”
Izuku smiled at her turned back. “Won’t.”
Izuku stood up and pulled the door open, a rush of chill morning wind hitting him straight on. He grimaced.
Stepping outside, he closed the door behind him and made his usual precarious way to the ground, before turning left and heading towards the nearest grocery stores.
Inko had said what he was doing was sweet, probably thinking he was doing this as a treat for his mentor. He wasn’t, actually, he’d just been craving mud cake for a while now and this had seemed like the perfect excuse. Also, he could take the leftovers to share with his friends back at the League. Might make a nice peace-offering for the newcomers. Dabi had seemed chilly towards him when they’d met and for the plan to work there needed to be trust between them.
And, maybe, Izuku wanted him as a friend too.
Izuku entered a grocery store with a gaudy cartoon of a man on the window with the words Tsuyomi’s Groceries next to it in bold red hiragana. The bell jangled obnoxiously as he stepped inside, the bored girl at the counter looking up at the noise and giving him a half hearted wave. He waved back.
He frequented this store, on his numerous trips to and fro from home to get groceries and the like. He always used the change gotten after he bought the stuff requested by Inko to buy himself a melon bread every time he came, so the girl, Hanako, who worked here for her father, knew him and his melon bread addiction pretty well.
From some of their previous over the counter conversations, she’d told him that she was a college first year, and was working at her father’s store so she could afford the rent for her tiny flat that she shared with another girl, and about twelve dozen or so ferrets. She was nice, in a tired, sarcastic, college student kind of way. She took no crap from any of her customers, and Izuku had frequently witnessed her putting some of her more entitled buyers into their place. (No, Wakuri, you can’t find broccoli flavoured baby food here, and honestly I’m worried as to why it even exists). The numerous incidents had been enough to spark conversation, and eventually they’d become friends.
Or, whatever you called two people who hung out in the back of an empty parking lot eating half defrosted grape coolish together.
Occasionally, Izuku would help her stack shelves when he had nothing better to do, or throw out containers of pickled plums or the like that were too far past their expiry date to even give to your already-dying old grandmother.
She’d told him once, one afternoon in that parking lot that housed more graffiti than even rats, that she too was quirkless. Izuku hadn’t known that he would be getting All Might’s quirk back then, and he had never really hid the fact that he was quirkless, so he could only guess that she had felt safe telling that secret to a fellow outcast.
“People like us need to stick together, y’know?” She’d said, thoughtfully. “Being like this makes you bitter, doesn’t it? Makes you wonder why you drew the short straw and get ostracised for something you can’t help. But we survive. We make our mark. People won’t even see us coming till it’s too late.”
He’d agreed. It was true after all, maybe more so than even she knew. One day, because of him, a quirkless boy, the world would be changed for the better. No one would be discriminated against for something they couldn’t help, ever again, if he could help it. And he would help it.
Izuku walked to the back of the store, contemplating his options as he scanned the different flavours of cake mix. Was he feeling inclined to helping the planet and buying an organic brand that day or not? He was, as a matter of fact, and finally he settled on one that had a disgustingly delicious-looking picture of a mud cake on the front. The kind that was probably made to look so great with the help of copious amounts of glue and other inedible substances.
And if he couldn’t stop himself from buying a melon bread or two who was going to judge him?
Hanako grinned at him knowingly as she scanned the melon bread through.
“How’s it going, ‘Zuku?” She asked, prodding at the screen in front of her and pushing the small display with the amount the items cost on it in small digital numbers around, so Izuku could pay.
He shrugged, popping the money in the small bowl and sliding it back towards her. “Nothing much. My trainer is coming to my place today so I’m making muffins.”
“Trainer?” She raised an eyebrow, a corner of her mouth tugging up in a soft smirk. “What’re you training for?
He gathered the bag and turned slightly, for the door. “I’m getting into UA.” He supplied, simply. He waved as he turned fully and headed out the door.
Back at his apartment, Izuku dumped the shopping bag on the kitchen counter, reaching a hand in and plucking out a packet of melon bread. He ripped it open and stuck the loaf in his mouth, munching contemplatively as he rummaged around in the cupboards, retrieving various mixing bowls and spoons.
Methodically, Izuku cracked eggs into a bowl, whisking it before pouring the pre-made mixture in. Inko bustled in as he was stirring, moving past him to distractedly turn the oven on and dip a cheeky finger into the mixture.
Izuku slapped her hand away.
“The batter or the muffins, mother. Choose carefully because you can’t have both.” He warned, glaring half-heartedly at her. She only laughed, turning to open the fridge and rustle around inside.
“He’s coming before lunchtime, but I want to be hospitable…” she worried. “Should I make something or serve some onigiri I made last night?”
“I’m already making muffins.” Izuku pointed out, and Inko closed the fridge door with a reluctant sigh. “If they don’t cook in time, you can serve the onigiri.”
Izuku moved to pour the batter into the cupcake pan, one hand moving to open the oven door, the other clumsily picking up the pan and somehow managing not to drop it.
He’d had this incident once where he’d accidentally dropped his birthday cake pan full of cake batter onto the floor, effectively ruining the cake and, in his opinion, his entire birthday. He’d been scarred for months afterwards, never letting himself pick up a cake pan or help with cooking for almost an entire year just in case he fucked up again.
Yes, he was dramatic sometimes. Sue him.
A sudden noise of muted catastrophe had Izuku shoving the pan into the oven and whipping around, only to find his mother frantically trying to retrieve all the tiny individual tea bags that had scattered when she’d opened the overcrowded tea cabinet.
“ Mum …” he admonished. Inko had a slight tea addiction, and whenever she discovered a new brand or flavour, she immediately bought a few dozen of the ‘new specimens’, as she liked to call them. This usually resulted in an overcrowded cupboard, which effectively spewed it’s contents whenever opened like a person who’d eaten just a bit too much.
Izuku was inclined to make her pick everything up herself — you reaped what you sowed after all — but his mother’s panicked and watery-eyed expression had him squatting down beside her, gathering tea bags into his hands and dropping them into their respective boxes.
A sharp buzzing sound had Inko startling to her feet, dropping her teabags and undoing the progress she’d made so far on the mess. Izuku sat back on his haunches, sighing.
This visit was only an honorary affair. He was only doing this for his mother’s peace of mind, nothing more. Being in All Might’s presence always managed to make his anger spike, made the hot rage simmering in his stomach bubble up, ready to overflow at a moments notice. It was a dangerous game, keeping his identity as a villain working against the hero society secret, and pretence of being a bright-eyed prospective hero from being realised as false.
Izuku could only thank his lucky stars he was so good at pretending to be happy.
Inko began to hyperventilate, and Izuku still needed to clean the teabags up. Izuku directed his mum to the teapot and picked a random teabag up off the floor. Handing it to her, he quietly moved the rest of the scattered packets of tea underneath the cupboard with his foot, then walked out into the hallway, idly flicking the kettle switch on as he passed.
He opened the door with a bright smile, full of welcoming excitement. “Yagi-san!”
All Might was in his shrunken form, face gaunt and hair as stringy as ever. He was perched precariously on the doorstep, like a leaf about to be blown off it’s branch by the tiniest gust of wind. Waves of nervousness radiating off him. He was dressed in a suit, obviously as an attempt to impress Izuku’s mum, and his hair was somehow less dishevelled today, brushed back and less wild.
“Young Midoriya, it’s good to see you.” He smiled, but the edges were tinged with anxiety. “Is your mother here? Oh no, she’s not out, is she? Did I come at the right time, I’m sure I checked—”
“Yagi-san.” Izuku butted in, aware of the anxious tirade about to spill forth from the hero. He was always less confident when in his smaller form. He wasn’t as headstrong and bold, and tended to be more skittish, embarrassed about his emaciated appearance. More the soft uncle who has a pure, sweet, ace relationship with a woman who bakes cookies and gives everyone big hugs, than the Number One Hero.
Izuku wondered, for a moment, if All Might was in a relationship with someone. He remembered when the news had made a whole big thing about All Might and Sir Nighteye once, but that had been ages ago, and they didn’t even work together anymore. From what he’d gathered, they’d had a falling out or something.
Which was a pity really, because they had made a good team.
“Yagi-san, it’s fine. You came right on time, and my mum’s just in the kitchen, making tea. Have you eaten?”
“Um. Yes. Was I not supposed to?”
“Hm? Oh, no no. Just checking. I’m baking muffins, but they probably won’t be ready in time…”
Izuku stepped back, letting All Might enter and take off his shoes. Izuku wasn’t sure they had any indoor slippers Yagi’s size, so just let the man shuffle his way to the kitchen in his mismatched grey and pink socks. To Izuku’s amusement, they had the words Make Love Not War on the sides in cutesy hiragana.
Izuku poked his head round the kitchen doorframe. “Yagi-san’s here.”
Inko turned, picking up the tray she’d set with a fancy teapot and cups she reserved for visitors (they didn’t have many — excluding Shinsou, who was here so often now he’d received his own mug, with the words Sleep Yeet Juice on it in black hiragana). There was a plate of sour plum onigiri nestled next to the teapot.
Inko glanced up at Izuku. “Take him into the lounge room, I’ll be out in a moment.”
Izuku turned and guided All Might into the room adjacent, and almost had to physically force the man to sit down, as without any prompting he seemed as if he’d continue awkwardly standing by the door, fidgeting in a uniquely annoying way that made Izuku seriously consider committing kill earlier than originally planned.
Izuku sighed. He felt like the only grown up sometimes, as adults around him always seemed to be so childish sometimes. But maybe that was just him reacting to his mother, who always seemed to be in a constant state of barely-controlled-mid-nervous-mental-breakdown, and cried much more than he ever did, even before he had trained himself out of the inconvenient behaviour.
Hoping to somehow stop the man from fidgeting so damn much, Izuku sat on an armchair beside the couch that Yagi had settled on, attempting to silently convey through his not-so-subtle actions that is was alright to sit down, and to stop fucking bouncing his leg.
Shortly after, Inko bustled in, a warm chocolate smell wafting in behind her. In her hands was a tray, and her face was bright with a warm, welcoming smile. After setting the tray on the table, she bowed politely, something Izuku belatedly realised he probably should’ve done — working with impolite villains seemed to be rubbing off on him, it seemed. He didn’t think he had ever seen Shigaraki say thank you, let alone bow. Yagi scrambled to his feet and returned the gesture.
“Nice to meet you, Yagi-san.” Inko greeted.
The hero smiled sheepishly, nodding. “And you must be Midoriya-san. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about you from your son.”
Inko’s face turned the same colour of a tomato, and she covered her face with her hands in an attempt to cover her embarrassment. “Oh, no, no, I’m not—!…” She floundered for a second before recovering, “And Izuku has told me about you too!” She gestured for Yagi to sit down again, a bit frantically Izuku thought, and she too took a seat across from their guest.
She glanced down, and reached for the teapot. “Tea? Onigiri?”
“Tea would be lovely, thank you.”
Inko filled hers and Yagi’s cups before looking to him, a silent question if he wanted some too. He waved his hands, having already taken note of the pungent scent of another one of his mum’s more exotic teas.
Inko picked up her cup delicately and listed it to her mouth, where she blew gently on the surface. “So you’ve begun training my son? I must admit I’m curious what inspired you to do so.”
All Might shifted in his seat, fingertips tapping nervously on the side of his teacup. Izuku was briefly reminded of an ASMR video he’d watched once, but it had been the first and last one he’d ever watched, because frankly he couldn’t understand the appeal.
“A few weeks ago, I was present when your son helped rescue his classmate from the sludge villain. I saw in him a spirit of a true hero, because, even unlike the nearby heroes, he jumped in and saved that boy without any regard for his own safety. When I realised he was quirkless, I decided I would do everything in my ability to help him along the road to becoming a hero. He has too much potential to go to waste.”
Izuku noted with not much surprise that the hero had completely left out the incident on the rooftop a few years back. Probably didn’t want himself to look bad. Or, Izuku supposed, maybe the hero felt guilty, but that was unlikely.
He scoffed quietly.
Inko took a sip of tea, nose instantly wrinkling at the more than likely astringent flavour. She was most likely making a mental note never to buy that particular brand ever again.
She nodded thoughtfully. “I have to say I’m quite pleased to hear this,” she sighed, lowering her teacup. “Izuku has always wanted to be a hero, but so far no one has believed in him, or encouraged his dream. I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t been as supportive of him as I should have been, either. But,” here she fixed Yagi with an unwavering stare full of motherly protectiveness. “Mostly because I don’t want him to get hurt. I worry that without some sort of superpower helping to protect him, the life of a hero will be too dangerous for my son.”
Izuku shrunk imperceptibly down in his seat. She was right, of course. You didn’t need a quirk to become a hero, but it definitely helped, and not having one was as good as a death wish, unless you had trained since an infant and were a giant hunk of rippling muscles. In some round about, messed up way, being a villain was somehow safer than being a hero.
“I need you to promise me something, Yagi-san. Promise that you’ll do everything in your power to keep my Izuku from harm. You need to promise me that you will do everything you can to…” She sniffled, and Izuku turned away, face set in a determinedly neutral expression. He rarely, if ever, cried anymore, but for some reason reason the sight of his mum bursting into tears always seemed to tip him over the edge.
All Might looked pained; even more so than usual. He was gazing at the floor, biting his lip as if he was searching for the right words to say.
“I…” he began, “I… cannot completely promise that, Midoriya-san, no matter how much I would dearly like to. The job of a hero is never easy or safe. It’s about saving those who cannot protect themselves, from people who wish to do harm. That means putting themselves into harms way so that other people are safe. The life of a hero is a noble one, but it comes at a high price. I can’t fully promise you that Young Midoriya will never be in harms way, but I can promise you this: I will do everything in my power to make sure, for as long as I can, that your son is kept as safe as he can be. One day he will be able to protect himself, to keep himself safe. And I will make sure he gets there.”
Izuku’s mum nodded curtly, mouth a thin line as she tried desperately to keep a calm and straight face and not revert to her default of bursting into tears.
“Thank you.” Was all she said. All Might nodded, a small relieved smile on his face, and took another sip of tea.
“Interesting tea…” He murmured.
Inko quirked a smile. “It’s disgusting, I know. I’ll go brew us something better.”
She stood up and leant down to remove the platter of onigiri from the tray, before gently listing it up. “Don’t worry,” she said, chuckling. “The food isn’t as bad as the tea.”
Izuku stepped into his apartment, shoes squelching and tracking mud in. There’d been a sudden torrential downpour that had caught him when he had been only halfway home. Luckily, he’d escaped the worst of it by ducking under a bridge, coincidentally the same bridge that the sludge villain had jumped him in, and waiting till it blew over. The entire time, he’d had his eyes trained suspiciously on the grate in the far corner, in case a torrential downpour villain was planning to pop out. The rain hadn’t lasted too long, at least. It had just been a quick reminder from above that the clouds didn’t give a fuck about the fact that you hadn’t taken an umbrella that day.
He hadn’t however, been able to avoid the huge puddle that had been formed in the dip of the road, and his boots were now sporting a rather strange, dark crimson colour, more akin to the colour of dried blood than the cheery red it had had previously. He could only hope it would come out in the wash.
Inko bustled out of the bathroom, towel in hand. She had no doubt heard the rain on their shitty metal roof, which amplified every drop of rain into the sound of a gunshot, and figured her son would arrive home a tad more damp than usual. She waited patiently whilst Izuku peeled off his shoes before viciously attacking him with the towel.
Izuku made a half hearted whine of protest, but the immovable motherly force could not be assuaged. (And maybe he kind of liked the feeling of being rubbed down with a soft towel).
“Why didn’t you take an umbrella, Izuku?” she tutted, “You could catch a cold, and it’s only Monday!”
Izuku rolled his eyes and sighed. “Not even the weather forecast predicted that and you know it.” And I just have shit luck in general, but, y’know.
Eventually the towel let up, allowing Izuku to see again, and step free. His hair was somehow even more wild than it had been previously. He groaned, fruitlessly raking his fingers through the green mop that say on his head like a large, untamed, pom-pom.
Inko chuckled, turning and going to put the towel back, before heading across the hall and into the kitchen. Izuku sighed again, shoulders drooping in silent resignation at his pom-pom fate, and proceeded to follow her, after dumping his bag on the floor outside his room.
His mum was in front of the fridge, tying her apron, fiddling with the string and unravelling the knot several times before Izuku stepped up to help tie it. She glanced over her shoulder at him, a grateful smile softening her face. She reached up to stroke his cheek in motherly affection, and Izuku leaned into it, eyes closing in comfort.
“So I was thinking maybe udon or something, but if you want something else you’ll have to tell me before I start cooking.”
Izuku straightened, opening his eyes again when Inko let her hand fall away, and bit his lip. “Uh, actually I’d already planned to go to Shinsou’s for dinner. I forgot to tell you, I guess.”
Inko turned around fully to pout at him, her forehead crinkling and arms crossing in mock annoyance. “What? So you were planning on just leaving me to eat instant ramen in the dark living room all alone tonight? Sobbing in solitude, whilst watching cheesy black and white American romantic dramas, where everyone is sad and true love is merely a fragment of the imagination?!”
Izuku almost laughed. His mum had never seen any of those types of films, nor did he believe she ever wanted to. But she had bought one from an antique store that had been closing down, a few years back, and he was pretty sure it was just to use for playfully guilt tripping him. It was called I Love Lucy or something cheesy like that, and he was pretty sure his mother would rather sell her soul before actually watching it.
Plus, it was a film reel and they didn’t even own anything to play it with.
“Don’t guilt trip me woman.” He grinned, “I’ll be back by nine or so, ‘kay? He invited me and I took my chance. Sorry for forgetting to tell you, it was kinda last minute.”
Izuku was glad he had a friend now, actually. It had been much harder to lie to his mother about meeting with friends when he didn’t actually have any. He’d had to make excuses like a ‘study group’ and such, which weren’t very believable even when it didn’t go until after ten pm.
And Inko wasn’t an idiot. It was hard lying to her, period. She was able to call bullshit, and only because Izuku had gotten so good at lying, was he able to still get out of the house without her stopping and interrogating him. Of course, if he pulled the ‘study session’ or ‘dinner at Shinsou’s’ card too frequently, his mother would get suspicious. It was lucky that this was the first time he’d needed to use that particular excuse.
Inko swatted at him playfully. “You know I don’t care if you see your friends.” Her voice got softer, for a moment, “heaven only knows you don’t have nearly enough. But! Just don’t stay out later than nine, okay?”
Izuku walked to the station, newly acquired umbrella up and helping him stay sheltered from most of the drizzle that still hadn’t let up since the downpour that afternoon. It was dusk, and the multicoloured neon lights of Shizuoka Prefecture were beginning to turn on, streaking bright colours across the wet pavement and causing the air and people to glow almost ethereally.
He’d shoved the container of muffins in his yellow backpack, but the umbrella wasn’t quite wide enough to cover the bag and Izuku couldn’t shake the nagging worry that the food was going to get unpleasantly damp.
Izuku sighed in relief as he stepped into the train station, moving out of the rain and letting down his umbrella, before moving over to the top up machines to put more money into his pasmo card.
As he inserted a one thousand yen note into the machine, his ears caught the sudden sound of a commotion heading steadily towards him. He turned, body tensing for action, and was met with the sight of two men flat out brawling in the middle of the Shizuoka public train station. A dozen or so security guards were trying and failing to separate them, their quirks somehow not even phasing the two men.
One of the men resembled a large green lizard, maybe a Jamaican giant anole, with a long scaled snout instead of a face, and a tail whipping around and smacking anyone dumb enough to get in it’s way. The other was a big, brawny man with pale pink skin and short devilish horns. Izuku vaguely recognised him as Daemon, a low level hero whose agency wasn’t very far from there. He liked to call himself “the friendly neighbourhood Daemon” which was a line Izuku was pretty sure he had stolen from an old pre-quirk American superhero movie or something. Izuku liked watching those movies to analyse the differences between real and imaginative heroes were. It was also good practice to figure out Captain America’s strengths and weaknesses, and more than a little bit fun.
The lizard man was yelling something, possibly “ return it !”, but it was hard to make out in the general din. Daemon was barely fending off the other man, grunting with effort and writhing manically. He was clearly out of his league, which was unusual since he was a professional hero, so he must’ve been cause unawares, and by the lag in his punches and sluggishness of his general movements, he was mostly tired after a long day and didn’t have the energy left to deal with this. He kept repeating something along the lines of, “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I haven’t taken anything, damn it!”
Intrigued as to why a civilian was fighting and accusing a hero of possible theft, as anyone would be Izuku supposed, he slipped his phone out and discretely opening the photo app and tapping video. He stepped sideways into the crowd, which had accumulated into a wide ring around the two fighting men to watch, despite the danger. He didn’t want to be as noticeable, and besides he was fucking short and in order to see anything he’d need to be at the front of the crowd.
Izuku squirmed his way to more or less the front of the crowd and pressed record, hoping that this fight may turn out more interesting than it seemed. Any footage was good footage after all.
The brawl continued on for several more minutes, in which time a fern pot had been overturned and trampled thoroughly, before finally a man with what seemed to be an anti-magnetism quirk stepped in and separated the two. The lizard man wouldn’t stop struggling however, so a big and burly security guard with what seemed to be a minor gigantrifying mutation quirk had to rush forward and grab him.
“What’s going on here?” One guard barked, clearly thinking that it was way too late for this bullshit.
The lizard man’s eyes face was angry, but a hint of desperation was evident in the wild flare of his eyes. “Look! Just check his back pocket! It’s a wallet he stole, just check!”
Izuku raised his eyebrows. All this fuss over a single wallet? Sure, loosing a wallet with all your money and cards in it was shit luck, but it wasn’t exactly The Most Impressive RobberyTM. But maybe he was too quick to judge.
A security woman standing behind Daemon shrugged and bent over to check the hero’s pockets. Her slightly disbelieving face morphed into surprise, however, when she pulled out a diamond encrusted wallet that was obviously not Daemon’s. The little gemstones sparkled in the bright light of the overhead lights, and the crowd around Izuku all gasped in shock unanimously. The hero had to have thought he had really hit the jackpot with that one.
The lizard man was released as the rest of the guards rushed forward to subdue the hero as he began thrashing and struggling in the security guards’ grip.
“It was planted! He put it in there to frame me! Why would I have stolen a wallet? I’m a hero! I wouldn’t steal!”
The woman who had found the wallet stepped around to face the man and waved the wallet with a small grin on her face. “You have the right to remain silent, Daemon-san. Whatever you say can and will be used against you in court.”
The hero growled.
Izuku watched in grim satisfaction as the hero was dragged off, the lizard man following behind unprompted, most likely to provide a statement, a satisfied smirk on his long scaly face.
Izuku stopped the video as the people around him began murmuring, most likely confused as to what they’d just witnessed. Heroes were hardly ever arrested, and never for petty theft. Two women beside Izuku we’re making excuses for the hero, since it was strange that a hero would’ve done such a thing. Maybe he was hard on, or possibly bankrupt?
Izuku sighed. When would people finally see how greedy and corrupt most heroes were?
He turned and headed towards the platform, swiping his pasmo and heading down the stairway. He pushed to the front of the crowd waiting for the train, and pulled out his phone again, looking down and replaying the footage of the fight on mute. Who had the lizard man been? He’d looked vaguely familiar. Or, more like, gave Izuku a strangely familiar feeling.
Izuku sighed and shrugged the feeling off, shutting off his phone and cramming it distractedly into his pocket as the train pulled in. The police would no doubt put the names of the two on the news, since the incident had involved a hero, so he’d check who the guy had been then.
Izuku had been to and walked to and fro from the League’s Headquarters many times before, but he still always somehow managed to get lost. Even at the times Shigaraki had accompanied him, he’d still accidentally found a way to get them both hopelessly lost, despite the fact that the other villain knew the area like the back of his PlayStation remote. The deeper he got into the dank and narrow alleyways, the more disoriented he always got. Had he already looked around this way or not?
The bar was downtown, at the back of a rundown pub that was nestled between equally dilapidated apartments and shops that had been abandoned years ago, and now housed all sorts of runaways, outlaws, social outcasts, homeless people and the like.
Some of the shops actually were still open, but only to certain customers. Though Izuku was mildly interested, he’d never gone to any because he didn’t fancy salmonella or some other kind of food poisoning. The shops also didn’t accept money, either.
Izuku had asked Shigaraki once what one payed with instead. The other had been in a strange mood that day and had replied “The souls of the innocent.”, but he had said it with such sincerity that to that day Izuku still didn’t know whether he had been joking.
You never knew, really, with villains.
Izuku stepped dramatically into the room, flourishing his container of muffins and letting the rustic oak door slam shut behind him with nary a squeak of hinges.
“I brought muffins!” He declared. From another room he heard a sudden high pitched squeal, and his grin widened.
Shigaraki looked up in bafflement from where he’d been playing some disgustingly pixelated game on his hand held gaming device.
“What the fuck?” He hissed, “I didn’t know you were coming.”
Izuku shrugged and went to place the container on the bench beside his grumpy friend.
“Yeah but I brought muffins.”
He opened the container for Shigaraki’s benefit (opening lids when he could only use eight fingers tended to be hard, apparently), as Toga came bounding in from the room adjacent. A slightly bemused Dabi, his hands shoved deep into his pants pockets, came trailing behind her.
Izuku’s grin widened.
“What flavour?” Shigaraki asked sullenly as he dipped four fingers into the container and brought out a muffin. He sniffed it suspiciously.
Behind Tomura, Toga slumped. “But I’m lactose intolerant.” She pouted.
Izuku smiled knowingly at her. “Don’t worry. It’s soy milk.”
Dabi peered at Izuku suspiciously. “How did you know she was—?”
Izuku shrugged. “I make it by business to know things.”
Shigaraki grunted around a mouthful of baked good. “True that. I never told him about Tora, but he still knew about him, somehow.”
Toga glanced up from where she’d crawled onto the counter, and was meticulously selecting the perfect muffin. Her face was scrunched up in confusion. Dabi’s hand crept into the container when he saw she was momentarily distracted and snatched the muffin she’d been about to pick up. “Who’s Tora?” She asked.
Izuku snorted, crossing his arms and leaning against the side of the counter. “Tomura’s unofficial pet cat.” He eyed Shigaraki condescendingly. The other squinted back, suspicious. “I don’t even know why you thought he was a secret. You very obviously go out to feed him every afternoon and come back covered in white cat fur.”
Shigaraki frowned in what would have been a defensive, possibly intimidating expression if his face hadn’t been covered in chocolate crumbs. “You’re not even here most days. How could you see that?”
Izuku raised an eyebrow, before turning away to find a seat at the bar, next to Toga.
“If you really think I haven’t set up at least a few cameras around here, then you’ve been severely oblivious to me going around and very obviously bugging every room in the hideout.”
Shigaraki looked up in shock, his red eyes widening comically. “Every room? But there’s hundreds — at least .”
Izuku shrugged. “And I’m a nosy motherfucker with a bucketload of patience.”
Shigaraki only grumbled around his second muffin in reply. Toga, who had been happily munching beside Izuku, suddenly turned as if on a split second whim and began scrutinising him. Izuku glanced sidelong at her, and instead of looking away in embarrassment, she grinned.
“Your hair’s so fluffy!”she cooed, taking the opportunity to reach out uninvited and run her hands through it. Izuku smacked her hand away. “You remind me of my middle school crush!”
Izuku furrowed his eyebrows, face scrunching up in incertitude. “Is that... a compliment?”
She nodded excitedly. “Yup! Saito was really cute! He was cuter with a bit of red on him though. I’d bet you’d be a lot cuter too with a bit of red. Want me to give you some red?”
Izuku had subconsciously slid slightly away from the girl, and he was glad for the space between them. “Uh. No thanks. I’m good.”
Toga’s grin morphed into a pout, but almost as quickly brightened up into a grin again. Was she bipolar or something? Izuku didn’t know that much about the condition, but this seemed similar.
“Can I play with your hair?”
“Thanks!” She slid closer on her stool and pulled a comb and several pink clips out from nowhere. Izuku guessed, wryly, that she had been holding onto them for the exact opportunity.
On Toga’s other side, Izuku saw Dabi glance over, amusement evident in the slight strain on the stapled scars near his mouth. He pleaded with his eyes for the other man to help him escape, but he merely grinned evilly and went back to his muffin, doing nothing to save Izuku from his imminent doom.
Desperation increasing, Izuku looked to his right, where Shigaraki was gazing at him with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Instead of answering, Shigaraki leaned around Izuku and regarded Toga conspiratorially. “His hair’s too thick for that comb,” he pointed to the one Toga was brandishing like a knife, “it’ll break in an instant. Try this one I stole, it’s made for strength quirks.”
He took out a heavy, silver coloured comb from who knows where and handed it to Toga, who took it delightedly.
Izuku squawked indignantly. “Why?!”
“Because hair that fluffy must hold secrets,” Shigaraki said, face completely serious. “And I don’t trust you with that much confidential information.”
He had a point, but Izuku wasn’t going to just admit that. Instead, he spluttered, “I thought you were supposed to be plotting the demise of hero society. Not the demise of your colleague’s hair!”
The git smirked. “Who says I don’t do both?”
Izuku was about to protest again when he felt a tug on the back of his head. Not prepared for the sudden pulling motion, he fell ungratefully back onto Toga’s lap with a surprised yelp. He felt his face begin to burn and quickly scrambled upright again. He whipped around, indignant.
“ Toga !”
“Oops!” She giggled, not at all sorry.
He had come that night to hopefully become closer to the two new League members, and though that seemed to be working, his initial idea hadn’t involved having Toga embarrass him in front of both Shigaraki and Dabi. Worse, they seemed to be enjoying his pain.
Despite him protests, Toga began methodically brush and untangle his hair. Usually the industrial strength hairbrush seemed to be actually working, and Izuku could feel his hair being — actually — unknotted and tamed for the first time in years.
Izuku glanced at Shigaraki. With Toga systematically yanking his hair out, he needed a distraction.
“So... you planning on recruiting some more people?” He waved a vague hand towards Dabi. “I’ve been in the League for almost three years by now and you’ve never mentioned another member, let alone two.”
Shigaraki shrugged. “The opportunity came up. I’ve always wanted my own action squad, and out of curiosity asked Giran if he could scout out any potential members. No one really applied, or was good enough though.” His hands twitched towards his neck, but he forced them down when Izuku shot him a look. “Most villains are either already in groups, or are basic thugs.” He grumbled.
“So if you could find some better villains, you’d recruit them?”
“Yeah.” Shigaraki’s hands flitted towards his neck once more, before settling on tapping the bar surface to the tune of Bad Romance .
Dabi leaned forward to peer around Toga, a thoughtful expression on his scarred face. “I know a few people that might be interested. There a villain; the Hero Killer Stain. He’d be good.”
In his peripheral, Izuku could see Toga nodding enthusiastically. He glanced at Shigaraki, who had a small furrow line on his forehead. Good, at least he wasn’t the only one here who hadn’t heard that name before.
“Who is he?” He asked, because obviously Shigaraki wasn’t just about to admit he didn’t know something.
Dabi sighed. “He’s not that we’ll know by the public, I think because the police and heroes involved in the case have been trying to keep it secret, or something. You usually get your news from the tv, right?” The villain was looking at him, and Izuku nodded in affirmation. He couldn’t juggle trying to keep up a normal schoolboy facade and know all the juicy villain gossip at the same time. It annoyed him.
“Well, he has this ideal, or code.” Dabi continued. “He says that most heroes are corrupt—“
“Obviously.” Izuku butted in.
“—And that they should be eliminated. He’s taken that duty onto himself, and uses his unique quirk quirk to paralyse his victims.” He chuckled, then said dryly, “He’s acquired quite a fan base, I must say.”
Izuku was quiet for a second, before saying, “So... basically what I’m planning to do, but with more blood involved. Huh.” He grinned. “Can’t say I fault the guy, I sometimes wish I’d just snapped and begun killing heroes.”
Toga giggles. “Yup! He says all heroes are corrupt except All Might!”
Izuku and Shigaraki both somehow managed to choke on their saliva at the exact same moment. They looked up, incredulous.
“ What ?” Shigaraki hissed. “No he’s fucking not!”
Izuku spluttered in indignation for a second before growling, “He’s the reason I became a villain in the first place!”
Dabi and Toga looked like they’d both just got whiplash. Dabi’s expression of shock was something Izuku would have usually found amusing, in any other circumstance. Toga stilled, the brush dropping away from Izuku’s hair to land in her lap.
“He’s the reason ...?” Toga said, her voice hushed and somehow scared.
Izuku sighed, forcing himself to rein in his sudden flare of anger. Beside him, Shigaraki had given into the need to scratch his neck, and already the skin was raw and tinted red.
He guessed they deserved to know, if they were to be working with them. The rest of the League knew, too. It wasn’t a secret, not here. Here, he didn’t need to hide his hate for the Number One Hero. But it was still hard to talk about. Of course it was.
“Yeah.” Izuku conceded. He shifted slightly so he was sitting straighter, his demeanour changing and making him more in charge of the situation. “He’s the one single person I hate most in this world. If I could, I’d kill him.” His steely voice seemed to be putting the two newer members on edge. They’d obviously not expected this sort of reaction.
And this night had been going so well, too.
Dabi looked grim. Probably because he knew how much pain Endeavour, the number two hero, had caused. He knew that no matter how high a hero’s rank was, it didn’t make them angels.
“What did he do?”
“I used to be his biggest fan. No, like, really. I had everything they sold of him, though I’m glad to say I’ve managed to get rid of most of it by now. But anyways, the first time I met him,” He chuckled hollowly, “It was a few year back, and I was in a really bad place. Because of my quirklessness, I was constantly bullied. My only dream was to become a hero like All Might, but even that dream was beginning to fade. You can’t be a hero without a quirk, right? It’s physically impossible and admittedly very dangerous.”
Izuku was very studiously looking everywhere but at his friends — friends? When had he started to think of them as such? — . His hands were fidgeting, fingers clenching and unclenching, but he wasn’t sure what they were wanting to hold. A knife, maybe? A squeeze toy?
“I guess it’s true what they say, ‘never meet your heroes’. I was walking home from school and got caught up in a villain chase. I was knocked unconscious by a blast from one of All Might’s punches, and when I came to he was standing next to me, trying to see if I was okay. I... I grabbed onto his legs as he leapt away, and he had to land on a rooftop to extricate me. He was about to leave, and I got desperate. I thought that I’d never get to see him again. Not like that.
“I asked him if I could become a hero. Even if I was quirkless, even if no one, not even my own mother believed I could be.” Izuku clenched his fists, nails digging into the soft flesh of his palms. He never understood how pain could help centre someone, but it definitely helped release frustration or anger. “He said no. He said that no one could realistically be a hero without a quirk, and that I should give up on my dream. Of course, he was only reaffirming my belief that I was nothing, a useless nobody without even the most weak power to my name. But I guess something just... snapped . I made a vow that I would somehow take down this corrupt, power hungry hero society and change it for the better.” He turned, to stare directly at Toga, then Dabi, eyes hard and piercing. “Starting with the Number One Hero.”
Izuku turned around and hopped off the stool, ignoring the stunned silence behind him, and headed over to the tv in the corner of the room. There was an old worn down couch stationed before it, various sections of the fabric disintegrated and exposing the metal springs beneath. Izuku plopped onto it and leaned forward to switch the tv on.
Usually the channel was set to the one that All For One, or Sensei, as Shigaraki called him, used to communicate through, but someone must’ve been watching the news recently, because when the tv switched on, it instantly cut to a reporter standing daintily in front of a disaster zone. The buildings behind her were tumbled down as if blasted from the inside out, and bricks and other debris littered the ground. She smiled prettily at the camera.
“In downtown Tokyo, an unnamed villain attacked a bank and held the people inside hostage. Heroes entered the scene but the villain managed to escape by setting off a bomb on the third floor and fleeing in the resulting chaos. Luckily, no one was seriously injured.” She glanced to the side. “Kaneko? What are your thoughts on this incident?”
The screen switched to a man sitting at a white desk in front of a fake window overlooking the city. He smiled at the screen and shrugged helplessly. “I think the people who were inside are very lucky, as that could have turned out much worse. It’s a good thing banks are built to withstand these types of villain attacks, as they’re usually the buildings most commonly targeted. But,” here he winked at the camera conspiratorially, “I think the heroes could have handed that situation a bit better, too. None of them even attempted to negotiate with the villain.”
The screen slid back to the woman, and she nodded seriously. “Yes, I can’t help but agree. But maybe ease up on the heroes a little! They were relatively new, and as far as accidents go, it could have been much worse.”
Izuku made a derisive ch noise at that. Ease up? If something had gone wrong, they could have killed those people with their rashness. And new? Heroes were given more than enough field experience, so that was hardly an excuse. They only succeeded through sheer luck.
From behind him, he heard the distinctive sound of a stool sliding, and a few moments later Shigaraki collapsed onto he couch next to him.
“Fucking indoctrinated reporters.” He grumbled.
The news moved onto some store robbery, which Izuku mainly ignored. Finally the screen switched to the news broadcasting room, where the man from earlier was sitting with another woman with long, elf-like ears.
“Earlier this evening, a fight broke out in Shizuoka train station. A man by the name of Shouichi Iguchi attacked the pro hero Daemon, claiming the hero had stolen a wallet. As it turned out, this claim was correct, and the person the wallet belongs to is the daughter of an important and wealthy family in America. He is being taken to court, by request of the father, and the trial will be held a few weeks from now.”
The woman sighed and glanced at the man. “I must say I’m surprised.” She said, “Daemon may not be a particularly strong hero, but he has kept Shizuoka safe for the past six years. I can’t see any reason why he would want to steal a wallet — isn’t it the exact thing he’s trying to discourage?”
The man shrugged. “Maybe he wasn’t doing so well? I hear pro heroes aren’t actually payed that much, they get most of their profit from the merchandise they sell, but Daemon isn’t especially popular amount the younger generation.”
The woman nodded. “Yes, but that doesn’t excuse his actions.”
Izuku felt the couch dip under unknown weight, and looked up to see Dabi perched on the armrest next to him. From Shigaraki’s muffled squawk, Toga must have done the same on the other end.
Izuku quirked an eyebrow at Dabi, and the man gazed right back, unrepentant.
“I have to sit here unless you budge over.” He said matter-of-factly.
The man glanced away from Izuku to look up at the tv, and raised his eyebrows. “Wait? Shouichi Iguchi?” He looked back down at Izuku, then over to Shigaraki. “I know him. He’s also a follower of Stain.”
Izuku groaned. “Why is everyone suddenly a follower of that guy? Shigaraki, you’d better not text me tomorrow with news of your new Hero Killer infatuation or I’m unfriending you.” Then the information finally clicked into place. “Wait, you know him? I was there at the train station when the fight broke out.” He smirked. “He was pretty interesting, standing up for justice even when it convicted a hero.”
Dabi nodded. “Yeah. I met the guy at one of those most likely illegal, back alley villain merch stores. Actually, I think the guy was looking for a group or something to join. Something about being stronger together or some shit.”
Izuku perked up, despite himself. He twisted in his chair to pace the scarred man before him. “Oh? And what’s his villain alias?”
“What? Does he spin things a lot?” Izuku muttered. Dabi snorted.
Twisting his torso around, Izuku glanced at Shigaraki. The other man was also facing Dabi, a strangely contemplative look on his face. Izuku raised his eyebrows in a question. “You interested?”
Shigaraki chewed his grossly dry lips for a second. “Maybe. Is he strong?
Dabi waved his hand in a so-so gesture. “His quirk’s some sort of lizard mutant, but he’s also pretty good with swords, and is stupid strong, if what he told me was correct. I’d reckon he’d be atleast worth a shot.”
Izuku nodded. “Can’t hurt to interview him.” He agreed.
Shigaraki muttered something in reply, but was drowned out by Toga eagerly saying, “Ooh! Ooh! You mean the big scaly guy with the super weird hair?”
“That’s the one.” Dabi replied dryly.
Izuku pokes Shigaraki. “Want me to mention him to Giran, or do you wanna?”
“Why can’t Kurogiri do it?” He asked petulantly.
“Because you have nothing better to do.”
“I hate it when you have a point.”
“That’s what I’m here for.”
Toga got off the armrest and slotted herself in between Izuku and Shigaraki, putting her arms over their shoulders and grinning. “Anyways! Izuku, you’re here! Let’s watch a movie or something! I still haven’t finished your hair, either.”
Izuku moaned. “Oh please, no.”
“How about Meet The Robinsons?”
“Shut up Tomura.”
“Can I put clips in your hair too?”
“You’re all idiots.” Dabi sighed, but he sounded more fond than annoyed. Izuku couldn’t help a small feeling of warmth in his chest at the knowledge he and Shigaraki had grown on Dabi. “And it’s Finding Nemo or nothing.”
Izuku doubted that the two new members would let him get away with just telling his story, and would most likely want him to answer some questions, but for now they seemed to realise that Izuku had come to spend a fun evening with them, and that they shouldn’t darken the mood. Well, no more than they already had, but Izuku was willing to ignore that little bump in his endeavour to have a nice bonding session with his fellow villains.
And, to Shigaraki’s — downplayed — delight, they did end up watching Meet The Robinsons after all, because as Shigaraki explained it, the villain wasn’t actually the villain and just needed saving.
And couldn’t they all relate to that?
If y'all bored and have nothing better to do, you can come harass me on Instagram on my account https://www.instagram.com/amejisuto_koinu/ , where I do bad art and post memes :')