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When he woke up, his head throbbed, as if warning him that opening his eyes would be a mistake. He stubbornly did it anyways, but the warnings seemed to be for naught, as the room he was in turned out to actually be pretty dim. Not empty, just dim. He groaned softly, his eyes struggling to focus for a long moment, long enough that he doesn’t get the chance to see whoever it is that’s in front of him, wiping something off the side of his neck with a cloth.

Whoever it jerks hard enough for Katsuki to hear the jangle of metal chains before they move away. He blinks a few times trying to clear the haze in his eyes.

He’s in a dimly lit room, it looks like a small bar, surrounded by the villains that had snatched him up from among his peers back at that training camp. Fuck his head hurts, and he slumps a little, trying to move his arms to grab the aching head, but he’s cuffed.

He opens his eyes and he scans the room, surrounded by villains, fuck. He recognizes all of them, from the USJ, from before he woke up, at the training camp. Well, almost all of them. There’s one he doesn’t recognize, some guy in a mask, who must be new or inexperienced seeing as he’s curled up in a chair in a corner and not taking part in this… Whatever it is.

They want him to join them, he learns pretty quickly when the hand guy explains the idea to him. They saw his performance at the sports festival, and they think he’d join them, willingly, but they’re dead wrong, as always. There’s quite a bit of back and forth, everyone seems to have something to say, except for him, the little one in the back.

He doesn’t pipe up at any point, in fact, the only reason Bakugou even remembers the kid exists is because the burnt fucker stops talking mid-sentence when the kid touches his arm.
It’s not happening, he makes that clear in plenty of words.

They all turn their attention when they hear sounds from outside. Someone must be hot on the trail, and Bakugou grins at them, glad to know that time is up for these fuckers.

It’s quick, a flurry of orders, and movement, Bakugou watches the burnt guy, Dabi, or whatever, grab the little one in the mask and he tells him to watch Bakugou while they deal with this.

He shakes his head, and he grabs onto Dabi’s hands, and Bakugou can’t see his face or hear if he says anything, but Dabi just rolls his eyes, shoves the kid’s hands off, and hurries out with the others.

The masked one has his hands outstretched toward the door, but when it closes, the hands drop to his sides, and then they come up, hugging himself as he turns to Bakugou. The mask is a little unsettling, it’s painted white, with two large eyes. He can’t see the face behind it, likely some kind of fabric there to hide the eyes of the wearer, but the eyes aren’t even the creepy part. The creepy part is the frown, that looks like it was sloppily carved into the mask by someone inexperienced with a knife. There's even a few stains of red around it, like whoever did the carving had cut themselves in their efforts to make the shape.

Bakugou watches him, as he grabs his own head and starts trembling, and suddenly the blonde is overcome with the urge to protect, because if it wasn’t obvious before, it’s certainly obvious now, that this kid isn’t exactly on level with the rest of them. Bakugou shifts a bit to lean forward, and he watches as the masked guy jumps nearly a foot in the air at the rattle of the cuffs.

He doesn’t realize the purple mist douche is still there until he talks, “Calm yourself, Nix.” The masked one, Nix, apparently, looks over to Kurogiri, and his shoulders slump a little. He looks at Bakugou, who just glares back at him. Eventually, without a word, Nix heads to the chair he’d been in earlier, and curls up again. He’s timid, and he’s obviously scared, something is wrong with this situation, Bakugou can feel it, but he can’t quite pin his finger on what, exactly is this kid’s deal.

The door opens, and the rest of the villains return turns out the sound was something else, no heroes on their way. Not yet, Bakugou corrects and gets a nasty glare from the dude with the hands, who starts scratching at his neck, like it’s a nervous tick.

There’s a small sort of huddle formed, and they discuss what Bakugou can only assume is their plans for him, and what they eventually seem to settle on is taking turns, trying to talk him into joining them, they set up shifts, and Bakugou just scowls the entire time.

They move him, after a while of more back and forth, arguments between a few of them, though Nix continues to sit in the corner quietly. The new place he’s in isn’t quite as inviting as the bar, if the bar could even be called that, it’s a lot more like a prison. He’s gagged, he’s stuck in a chair, and he’s left like that for hours, maybe even the entire night, who knows.

The point is that he doesn’t see anyone for a while, a long while, and the first one he does see is Burn Ward, who doesn’t seem all that enthusiastic about actually trying to change Bakugou’s mind, in fact he just seems to be content with a bit of time more or less to himself. Though he doesn’t talk to Bakugou much, there’s something about him that insufferably familiar, but Bakugou can’t pin that down either.

The creepy murder girl shows up later on, and she’s substantially more talkative, though what she talks about, what Bakugou figures are supposed to be tempting scenarios, don’t really do anything for him, and had he the ability to speak he’d have told her to fuck right off.

It’s stupid, and it’s annoying, and none of them are particularly convincing, but one lets it slip that All Might is hot on the trail of their whereabouts.

After that, it’s quiet for a long time, hell Bakugou almost falls asleep, he’s been awake so long anyways when the door creaks open again, but the figure that steps through is carrying something. A tray, of what Bakugou isn’t sure, not until they step closer and set the tray on the floor. It’s Nix, this time, still wearing the mask, still donned in dark clothes that obscure everything about him. Bakugou watches him through a barely cracked eye as he steps up to him, and unties the gag, softly talking to himself the whole time, though the words are hard to make out.

Bakugou tenses when he moves out of view behind him, especially so when the sizeable metal cuffs around his wrist are undone, and they drop to the floor with a metallic thud. Nix steps around to his front again and gently rocks his shoulder until Bakugou finally opens his eyes and looks up, eyes narrowed and teeth bared. Why did this idiot free him?

He swings his hands around and he blasts the villain in the face, shoving himself up, but Nix doesn’t budge. He has an arm raised, blocking the right side of his head, and Bakugou can see the smoke from his explosion drifting away from… An invisible wall? He blasts again, and Nix blocks once more, stepping back, arms at the ready, and again the smoke drifts away, and the villain is left unscathed. Bakugou tries to move quicker, but Nix is unnaturally good at predicting his moves, even if he spends the entire fight retreating until he’s pinned into a corner, blocking himself in an invisible box as he trembles.

He doesn’t move, but Bakugou doesn’t dare take his eyes away for more than a second as he scopes the room, there’s the door, obviously, but that isn’t what really catches his attention, no it’s the tray Nix brought in with him.

Resting on it is a glass of water, and a bowl of food, some rice with an egg on it. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s food, and Bakugou’s stomach lurches.

Bakugou has to remind himself that once he gets out of here, he can eat and drink as much as he damn well pleases, so he makes a break for the door. He slams into it, but it doesn’t budge, so he grabs for the handle, and he hits a wall midair. He slams his hand against it, a few times, yelling and whirling around on Nix, who has a hand extended toward him.

Invisible walls. Nix makes invisible walls. Bakugou huffs, slams his fist against the invisible wall in front of the door again, and he turns back to the char, dropping into it and folding his hands together, “I knew you couldn’t be that stupid.” Nix flinches at the word, but his hand finally, slowly, lowers, back to curl up in his lap. He doesn’t move much after that, he just watches Bakugou as he picks up the tray, and holds it out toward the villain. “I’m not eating this unless you do first. I’m not stupid either.”

Nix tilts his head a bit, but shifts a bit, crawling the short distance to the tray, and picking up the water. Bakugou would be lying if he said he didn’t lean to try and get a good look as the kid pushes his mask up, but it’s only enough to reveal his mouth, and the severe bruising that paints his jaw from one side to the other, like someone grabbed him there and weren’t gentle about it at all. He takes a drink from the glass of water, and puts it back on the tray, then takes the plastic fork to get a bite of the rice and egg.

He’s young, Bakugou had already figured that out, but judging by the looks of him like this, he couldn’t be too far in age from Bakugou, could he? Hell, he might even be younger than him. Nix swallows the food, and opens his mouth like he’s proving to him he actually did it, he didn’t just hide it to spit it out later. Satisfied, Bakugou leans back, and he drinks, and he eats. Nix fixes his mask and pushes himself back into the corner.

“What are you doing with them?” Bakugou asks, and Nix gets tense, way tenser than that question should justify, but Bakugou doesn’t press, just waits for an answer as he eats.

But it never comes. Nix never answers, he just sits in the corner, and he tangles his fingers in his mop of black hair, and he presses a hand from the front of the mask like he’s covering his mouth. Bakugou, puts the tray down, and he stands, taking a few steps closer, and Nix finally looks up flinching hard again and holding up his hands to block a blow that isn’t coming.

That urge in him that screams to save this one, who obviously isn’t evil, he’s just wrapped up in the wrong crowd, comes back in full force, and Bakugou kneels down in front of him, ready to ask more questions when there’s an explosion upstairs.

Nix jumps up, shoving Bakugou back until he’s in the chair again. He makes a gesture with his hands, like straightening a rope, and then gestures like he’s wrapping it around Bakugou’s wrists, and despite the lack of any real rope, Bakugou can feel it tight around his arms. Nix gestures like making a ball and smacks his hand over Bakugou’s mouth, and he’s gagged again, by absolutely nothing.

Nix rushes to the door, grabs the handle, and doesn’t have time to react before it blows in from the inside, slamming him against the wall so hard Bakugou can practically feel the way his bones crack. He hits the floor, and he doesn’t move, and the invisible forces that were holding Bakugou in place dissipate.

A small wave of panic rolls over him, and against his better judgment, he rushes over to Nix, instead of the hero standing in the destroyed doorway. He needs to make sure he isn’t dead, Bakugou can’t exactly save him if he’s dead. He shoves a chunk of door aside as his shoulder is grabbed, and he grabs the cracked mask on Nix’s face, pulling it off as he’s pulled away from him, and his heart practically stops.

Because it’s Deku.

His hair is dyed black, and he’s bruised to hell and back, and there’s dried blood crusted to his face, that’s just getting mixed in with fresh stuff, but it’s definitely him.

Him, who up and vanished the day Bakugou started going to UA, him who Bakugou thought had gone and offed himself, him who Bakugou has caught himself thinking of when the quiet is too much and the lights in his room can’t fight the shadows in his head.

Bakugou fights the hands on him, the hero that’s trying to save him, distantly his brain registers All Might’s voice, but he can barely hear it over his own shouting for Deku to wake up and explain himself.

The purple mist forms, and Bakugou shouts as Deku, as well as his cracked mask, fall through it, and vanish again.