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Familia Bonds

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Touya Todoroki hated his hair. Out of all his siblings, he got the short straw when it came to his appearance. Natsuo got their mother's white locks and rocky grey eyes in full while Fuyumi's hair was only laced with spatters of vibrant red. His youngest brother, Shouto, was only half lucky, literally being cut down the middle when it came to genetics. Touya was cursed to be a carbon copy of their father. While he admitted that the luminous blue Todoroki eyes were beautiful, they clashed harshly with the fiery red. His spiky hair was somewhat lighter than his father's but it still remained a bright shade of red. He despised it.

When it came down to it, it was probably the quirk that solidified how cursed he was. The flames burned hotter than any he had ever seen. Not only that, but they blazed a brilliant blue. When his sister had first seen them, she had even called them pretty. Touya used to agree. That is until his father tried to train him. Training the volatile fire was painful and proved that the mixed marriage had left a flaw in his quirk; Touya wasn't fire resistant. When the flames went beyond his palms and fingers, the flesh would blister and darken. It hurt beyond belief.

When Shouto's quirk appeared, Touya worried. He could control his quirk to stay at his hands with few slip ups by then. But that was after grueling hours of training under his father. In fact, a quarter of the burns weren't even from his own slip ups but from the reprimands. Enji had no tolerance for weakness; he wanted constant victories. He would demand those victories until Touya broke and then he would reprimand the failure. Shouto had a quirk more powerful than Touya's quirk. Would their father treat their little brother the same?

One day, Enji replaced Touya. The older brother could return to spending time with the other Todoroki children. Shouto, in turn, was swept away for training. He watched as the younger boy started the grueling training at five years old, and he watched his mother begin to shatter. She had always bandaged Touya up after he finished a rough session. Rei had tried to reason with her husband to no avail then. Now, another one of her little boys was in pain, and she feared once more. Her eldest didn't know what to do.

It wasn't until she complete broke that Touya realized he should have stopped their father long ago. He stumbled in on Shouto wailing, clutching his face. A steaming kettle was gripped in their mother's hand as she stared unseeing at her handiwork. Touya scrambled over to his baby brother, pulling him to his chest. He screamed for his brother or sister as Rei and Shouto cried. It was one of the worst days of his life as he watched his mother and little brother carted away. His mother never came back, locked away in a mental hospital. Shouto returned bandaged up and permanently scarred. The fiery red mark was a reminder to Touya of his negligence. Had he stepped in soon, his baby brother wouldn't have suffered. Had he stepped in sooner, his mother wouldn't be locked away because of his father.

Fuyumi was too much of a pushover when it came to their father, shying away from his fiery wrath. Natsuo reflected Touya's emotions but was still four years younger than the twins and didn't have a powerful quirk to back up his feelings. Shouto was the baby. He could barely control his quirk much less defend himself against the monster that was their father. The last line of defense remained and that was Touya. He would take over the place of their mother in healing Shouto's wounds and standing up to his father. Fuyumi had already taken over the cleaning and cooking, and Natsuo was just struggling to get by in his classes. That left Touya to protect Shouto.

Shouto whined as his older brother wrapped his thin forearm. "It hurts," he whimpered softly.

"Sorry, Little Shouto," murmured Touya, dark lashes flickering as he squinted at the instructions on his phone. "Just give me a moment. I'm making sure I wrap it better this time." He didn't want a repeat of last time where the bandages fell off in one day, and they had to resort to thirteen bandaids.

The small boy sniffled but nodded. His heterochromatic eyes shone with unshed tears. "I thought I did better this time..."

A small frown settled on Touya's lips. "I bet you did better than me at my age. You control your quirk pretty well, ya know."

"Father said I can do better..."

"Bullshit," growled the older, frowning sharply. "You're only eight. I could barely control my quirk at eight. He can't expect so much out of you. It's unfair."

Shouto's lip wobbled. "I-it's fine, Touya..."

Realizing his brother's discomfort, Touya's face softened. "Ah... Sorry, Little Shouto. I was just upset. Here ya go," he comforted as he finished his work. If the article was correct, the bandages wouldn't come undone so fast this time. "I'll wrap it again after your bath tonight, okay?"

The younger flexed his fingers, winced a bit, and nodded. "Alright..."

A soft smile graced the older boy's face. "Let's go see what Big Sis made for dinner, hm?" He rose into a crouched position. "Piggyback ride?"

A grin appeared as Shouto bounced up and onto his brother's back. "I hope it's cold soba!"

"You always want cold soba."

"Because it's the best!"

+++

A hiss slipped between his teeth as he dabbed a wet, soapy cloth on his jaw. Touya despised the sting of soap against freshly burned skin, especially on his face. But he needed to clean the skin before bandaging it up or else it could get infected. 'Still, I could do without the soap's bite,' he affirmed silently. 'At least the burn cream is nice.'

Tension fell from his shoulders as he smeared a splotch of aloe burn cream on his face. It soothed the heat that radiated from the burn. The injury started at the tip of his chin and swept up half his jaw. It wasn't the first time he had gotten a facial burn but it was the first time he had to fix it without his mother's guiding hands. She could cool his skin with gentle brushes of her icy fingertips. He missed her cold hands that soothed the blazing heat of his quirk.

Touya placed a few large bandaids along the burn, covering it. Hopefully it would heal without scarring. He didn't need another scar to lie about to his teachers. They at least believed the fifteen year old when be claimed that his quirk had accidentally gone off during the night last time he was burned on his shoulder. Truth was most of his injuries came from confrontations with his father. His quirk would flare up a bit too much, and he wouldn't suppress it. This led to fire spontaneously bursting up in random patches. Unfortunately, it had chosen his face this time.

He had been arguing with the old man over his baby brother's training again. Shouto had passed out during their most resent session, and Touya was furious at Enji for pushing the youngest boy to the point of fainting. He had felt the fire alighting inside himself but ignored it. That happened to be a mistake. When his father had lashed out, flames blazed across his jaw as panic seized his heart. It startled both of them enough for Enji to back off. The man had huffed and left Touya to lick his wounds and Shouto to rest.

Staring at himself in the mirror, Touya thought about his hair. It honestly looked more like a light scarlet than dark crimson. He hated it. He wished he was graced with some bit of white, one reminder of his mother. Sadly, he had to be a carbon copy of his father. At least, he knew he'd never have to copy the bastard's beard. Touya ran a hand through the bright locks. He could dye it some time. Bleaching it would look horrible but maybe a shade of brown or even black. Anything was better than some form of red.

A knock made the teen jump. Natsuo was watching him with an unreadable expression. "Fuyumi is done with dinner," he spoke up. "You good?"

He huffed. "When are any of us good?" Touya asked, smiling bitterly. He watched his younger brother frown deeply. "I'll survive."

"I know, I just..." Natsuo stopped himself, averting his eyes. "I wish I could stand up to him too..."

"You have a simple steam quirk, Natsuo. He wouldn't treat your words as serious unless you were an actual threat..."

"And I hate that. If I do something, I'll get hurt. If I don't, it's like I'm useless."

Touya put a hand on the boy's shoulder. His brother was only twelve and yet his anxiety shone bright as day. "Leave it to me. I'm your older brother, and it is my job to protect you," he reasoned. He gave a smile that turned into an awkward grimace as his injured skin stretched.

Smiling sadly, Natsuo sighed. "I wish things were different."

"We all do. But this is how things are. When I get older, I promise that things will change."

"I'll hold you to it."

"Natsuo! Touya! Fuyumi said you need to eat!" Shouto called, bouncing up the stairs.

Touya chuckled softly. "You dork. Shouldn't you be resting?" He asked. "Fuyumi wouldn't ask you to come get us."

"She was complainin' so I came and gotchu!" The smaller boy announced. "Come on!"

The two older boys looked at one another and laughed before following the youngest member of their family down the stairs.

+++

Touya shuddered at the scene before him. Their father stood over the prone form of his baby brother. The mats were smoking around him, and a thick coating of ice covered the far wall. A section of white hair was tinged black. He had just come back to check on his baby brother. Fuyumi had given him a sad look when he said he was worried about Shouto and admitted that he was motherhenning a bit often. He had scowled when Natsuo had agreed with her. Now he, walking upon this, was glad for his nervousness.

"What the hell are you doing?!" Touya practically roared. He slammed into Enji, shoving him away. Scooping the little Todoroki into his arms, he assessed the damage. 

Shouto was wheezing and crying. Soot stained his shirt and cheeks, and he smelt of smoke. Other than some tinged hair and a few bruises, the boy looked free of injury. That being said, the oldest Todoroki boy burned inside. From the looks of it, Enji had pushed him too far again, and Shouto's ice had lashed out. This lash out must have angered the man, like every other little upset, and he chose to lash out in turn.

"The brat almost hit me with his ice. We aren't training ice today, he knew that," growled the fiery man. "So I reminded him what we were training."

Touya snarled. "How does attacking him help? Leave the kid alone!"

"Shut up! Don't talk back to me!”

"I'll talk however I want, old man!" Touya felt the blue flames churning inside him, clawing to get out.

Enji sneered, his flame beard flickering. "You're nothing bit a failure! A mistake! Get away from him. He can handle it."

"He's a child!"

"He's not a failure!"

Touya flinched and rose to his feet. He stood between the cowering form of his baby brother and the monster before him. "Little Shouto..." He kept his turquoise eyes locked with the man's before him. "Go to your Big Sis..."

"T-touya...?" Shouto wheezed out.

"Go. Now."

He didn't wait another second and scrambled out of the training room. When Enji tried to follow, the older brother stepped in front of the door. They glared at one another. "Move," Enji stated, breaking the tense silence.

"Over my dead body," retorted Touya, his rebellious streak rearing up. His father was absolutely fuming, and he would relish in it as long as he could.

"I said move!" Enji bellowed, stomping forwards. Fire roared to life across the man's skin.

Blue flames danced across Touya's fingertips in response, prepared for his father's attack. The man lashed out with the golden red light and anger in his eyes.  Thankful for his smaller form and lean muscles, the boy dodged out of the way, slicing through an flames in his path with his own. He attempted to punch at his attacker only to receive a hit to the gut. White pain flashed across his vision, and he gagged.

Touya stumbled back and remained hunched for a second. Inhaling, he bounded forwards, lashing out with his quirk. Cyan sparks glowed as the fire met hellfire. He got in a hit as the man prepared for another burst of blue fire, slugging him across the face. The boy cheered internally at the successful hit as the man clutched his jaw. His joy was cut short as his father bounced back, grabbing him by the collar of his t-shirt.

He gagged again as he was lifted into the air. While he may be sixteen, the eldest Todoroki son had yet to be graced with height or ample weight. Enji easily held the teen in the air with one muscular arm. As much as he thrashed or kicked, his father's grip remained solid.

"You stupid child," Enji snapped. "Stop getting in my way, pest."

"M-make me, dumbass,” Touya wheezed out.

The man's eyes hardened, and the boy realized he wasn't in the right place to retort.

"Then I'll make you shut up."

Flames licked their way up Enji's towards Touya's neck. Horror gripped his heart. His father was going to kill him! If not kill, he would at least make sure the teen couldn't talk again. Both outcomes would not end well, and Touya thrashed harder.

As heat began closing in on him, Touya panicked worse. His flames blazed within him, trying to tear out of him. He didn't want to die. He wanted to live! He needed to protect his family! He needed to get his mother out of the hospital! He was...

Blue fire burst from his body. It blazed across his flesh and spewed out. The wooden walls and the mats of the dojo room were set alight. It burned at Enji's hand, and he dropped the boy. Everything was ablaze with Touya's fire, and all he could do was scream as it blistered his skin. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt... All he could hear was the roar of the fire around him until darkness enveloped him.

+++

The next time he awoke, he felt like he wanted to scream. He would have, in fact, if it wasn't for his lacking voice. Pain coursed through his body with each wheezing breath. Where was he? He was so disoriented right now. It was still dim but he could make out.... The sky? It sure looked like the sky with darkening hues of blues and purples. When did he get outside?

Shifting, he felt the ground around him shift as well. Now that he thought about it, he wasn't on level ground. Sharp objects poked at his charred flesh, and lumpy forms cushioned his shoulders. Beyond the gut churning smell of burning and smoke wafted a faint scent of mold and rot. Squinting and turning his head, he found himself staring at the grimy inside wall of a dumpster. His lips curled in disgust, sending a stinging pain through his face.

How much of himself was burnt? He remembered loosing hold on his quirk and then pain and darkness. But he and his father were in the dojo... Bile rose in his raw throat. His father was the last person with him. He was the only one who had been there when his quirk exploded. Had he thought the teen was dead and dumped the body? Or did he leave Touya to die in a dumpster? Either thought sickened the heavily injured boy.

Then his mind wandered to his siblings. What did they think? They knew his quirk could be dangerous and could believe that he lost control. Did his quirk even burn hot enough to cremate bodies? He shuddered at the thought and promised himself never to test it. That is, if he even survived. Touya could faintly see the darkness swarming at the edge of his vision, inviting him to just close his eyes and rest.

The thoughts of his family burned a resolve in him. He had to make sure that they were safe, even if it meant watching from the sidelines so they wouldn't get hurt. There was no question that their father would react badly to him returning. He was only a sixteen year old, and Endeavor was a pro-hero with more talent and expertise on his side. The man could wipe the floor with his face and then burn him to a crisp. 'Though I'm pretty sure I can't get more burnt than I am now,' the teen thought bitterly.

A searing heat pasted through him as he attempted to sit up. He pushed through it as black dots swirled in his sight. He would get out of the dumpster and then figure out what to do next. Using his unburned palms, Touya clawed himself up. He was panting like a marathon runner as he paused. Raspy breaths whisped past his lips into the chilled November air. The cold helped with the unsettling warmth across his skin. He enjoyed the relief for a moment before getting back to business.

Painstakingly, Touya pulled himself upright. His legs ached and burned. Wetness dripped down his body, and he couldn't tell of it was blood or sweat. All he knew was it stung like hell. Trying to push through the stinging, he pushed himself to move. His body didn't get the memo as he tumbled forwards, crashing into the alleyway below. Cans and bottles skittered away as he hit the ground with a painful crunch. Shards of glass dug into his cheek and arms. He doubted he could stand up without dicing his palms and knees. His body trembled as the cold air seeped into his bones after a few minutes. What once was a blessing was now becoming a curse.

His chest hurt. He was certain there were no burns there and yet it hurt. Maybe he inhaled too much smoke. The teen remembered when he was a child when something similar had occurred. It was after a rough training session. His father had forced him to over use his quirk, and it left his palms smoking. To avoid looking weak, he covered his mouth to stifle any sobs. Later, his lungs had hurt immensely. His mother had taken him to a doctor who explained that it was probably inhaling the smoke of his quirk and was given told to drink lots of water and use a humidifier in his bedroom to clear his lungs.

His throat constricted as he tried to swallow. He was thirsty, and his tongue tasted as though it was coated in ash. If he didn’t die from his burns, he'd probably die from smoke inhalation. Maybe he would he lucky and someone who walk down the alley he was in. He could at least hope, right? That person would take him to a doctor, and he would heal up. Then he'd watch over his siblings somehow. Touya wouldn't just die here... Right?

And as time past, his hope started to wane. Darkness clawed at the corners of his vision, seeping inwards. No one was coming. Enji must have dumped his body in some far part of town. If anyone did find his body, the people would probably leave it. That had to be the reason no person was helping.

Touya blinked slowly. Shadows danced before him. Giving in to the sleep gnawing at his mind sounded nice. A few seconds of shut eye couldn't hurt. As he closed his eyes, something shifted. He drifted off as footsteps came rushing towards him. He didn't even wake when his body was moved.

Chapter Text

Throbbing and aching... His blurry blue eyes flickered open only to shut tightly as light shone brightly above him. The chemical smell of antiseptic filled his senses and burned at his nose. Based on the dull pain and his senses, Touya could reasonably assume he wasn't dead. But that brought up the question of who saved his sorry ass and dumped him in a hospital. That, or some psycho surgeon picked him up to make him into a meat suit.

"Close but no cigar," a voice drawled next to him. 

He almost jumped out of his skin. Shakily raising a weak arm to shield his eyes, the teen squinted towards the noise. After a few blinks, the form of a man wrapping his own right hand came into view. His messy brown hair stood up randomly as if he hadn't touched a hair brush in months. Even though he was slouching, he clearly was tall with an extremely lean build. His lab coat, covering a dark v-neck and jeans, held small splatters of red as did a set of bandages that wound their way up his left arm. This clearly wasn't the first time he was injured as his opposing arm was riddled with scars that sliced through his pale skin.

The mystery man looked up. His honey eyes glinted despite the tiredness that radiated from his form. "Your injuries practically made me faint, brat. What made you go and almost get yourself burnt to a crisp?"

Touya was... At a blank. Who was this guy? Was he a surgeon? A doctor? He had to do something based on the lab coat and doctor equipment but he looked and spoke so unprofessionally. Everything he said so far sounded suspiciously sarcastic. What was going on?

The man quirked an eyebrow. "Right... Gotta sweet talk you into speaking, eh? How about you give me your name, and I'll give you mine and a glass of water," he attempted to persuade.

Now that he mentioned it, the teen's throat felt like a desert. "T...ouya..." he whispered, voice cracking. "My name is Touya... Can I have some of your damn water?"

A lazy grin found its way onto the guy's face. "It speaks... Miracles never cease. Here ya go, brat," he hummed. A bottle placed itself into Touya's hand as he stepped closer. "My name is Doctor Shoma Yoshihara. My friends, when I had any, called me Sho-san. You, until you've paid your debt, can call me Mr. Yoshihara."

Sweet water cooled the red head's parched mouth as he chugged down the bottle's heavenly contents. He drank so fast that he had to pause as coughs wracked his chest. Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he focused on the man and looked him over again. "You sure you’re a real doctor?" he asked incredulously. 

"Watch yourself, brat," Yoshihara shot back. "I'm not gonna take any shit from a kid that looked like a barbecue from hell."

At the harsh retort, Touya decided to glance down at his arms. He blanched. Light purple scars covered his once unblemished forearms and biceps. Fresh watery bile stung the back of his throat. His quirk burned him to the point of no return this time. His hands, as always, remained scotch free of burn marks. There was a clean line from where the fire resistance stopped. The injury glared up at him and made him shudder. If his arms appeared to be that jacked up, what did the rest of him look like?

Snapping fingers brought him from his thoughts. "Earth to crispy brat. Hey, Touya!" Once attention was back on him, the doctor folded his arms. "Hey, you okay? You look like you saw a ghost." 

"Why did you save me?" Touya asked as he clutched the bottle in his hands. "I'm clearly a pain. What's in it for you?"

Yoshihara blew out a low whistle. "Straight to the chase then. Well... If I'm being honest, it's because that's my job. I'm a back street doctor, and I'll help whoever I can: poor, homeless, vigilante, hell... I've even helped a few criminals. Everyone deserves a helping hand once in a while when they're hurting. People either pay me back some monetary amount or do favors. Based on how I found you, it looks like you'll be paying in favors," he explained. He ran his unwrapped fingers through his hair and only mused it up more. 

Touya blinked. "Al...right. What do you even want?"

"Hm... I'm covered on a lot of things right now... I guess I could use some help around here… Just some odds and ends that need to be done,” Yoshihara thought out loud. "Besides, you'll be stuck around here for a while so you can fully recover."

The boy considered the doctor's offer. He wasn't exactly in a place to say no. He didn't have a place to go back to at the moment. "Can I... Can I stay here?" He asked carefully. 

The doctor drew his hand away from his ruffled locks. "Well... I have a spare room... You sure you want to live with a stranger?" 

"Better than living on the streets... I could... Pay by helping out around here?"

A snort. "I'll make you do double the work until you paid off the first favor."

A nod in response. "Fine by me..."

The doctor's grin drew back into a small lazy smile. "Welp. Looks like I have a kid now. You're lucky I'm as nice as I am, brat," he crowed before walking over to him. "Here, you've been out for two days. I'm giving you a strict 'scrambled-eggs-and-applesauce' diet for a while. I don't want any upset stomachs. And if you even think of hiding any pain from me, I'll strap you to this bed and make sure you get healed properly."

Touya shuddered. 'No thank you...' He glanced down at his forearms again as the doctor took the half empty bottle from his hand. "How..." He started, catching the man's attention. "How bad is the scarring...?"

Yoshihara paused. "Hmm. I'm not a burn specialist. If I got you to an actual specialist, you'd have far less visual damage. That being said, your nerves appear fine for the most part. Your flesh mended itself and the burns lightened significantly from when I found you... Are you sure you're mentally sound enough to handle this?" It was the first time the doctor spoke in a careful tone. 

But Touya didn’t want to skirt around the subject. His lip curled. "I probably haven't been mentally sound since I was five years old. I can handle it," he spat.

Still, the doctor studied him with sharp eyes. He gave in, sauntered over to a drawer, and pulled a hand mirror from it. "Don't say I didn't warn you..." He laid the mirror in the boy's hand. 

The red head inhaled before holding up the mirror. Yoshihara hadn’t been wrong. The burns weren't extremely dark but were definitely noticeable. They ran along his jawline and ebbed up to his bottom lip, the line between healthy skim and scars softer and blurry compared to the sharp line on his arms. Under his eyes were permanent shadows of light purple as though he hadn't slept for a month or two. They too had a soft blur from skin to burn. The burn on his jaw went downwards to his neck in random faded patches and dipped across his collarbone until it vanished beneath the loose hospital gown he wore. He reached up a hand and ran a finger over the burn under his right eye. The skin was soft but sensitive, making him wince as a dull pain radiated across his cheek.

"Be careful, you're still healing. My quirk can't do everything ya know, brat," stated the doctor. He was watching intently as the teen observed his appearance. "I focused a lot of my work on your face. I couldn't get the burns to vanish but they lightened and aren't as sharp a contrast as they could have been." He crossed his bandaged arms. "Lost about a pint of blood on you... So don't go messing up my handiwork, got it?"

Touya blinked away some wetness from his eyes. "Right... Uh... What is your quirk?" He questioned, handing the mirror to the man.

"Blood Mending. I can heal wounds by using some of my own blood. More blood I use, more healed ya get. Luckily, blood type doesn't matter either. Causes me to be a bit anemic with all the blood loss," Yoshihara explained simply. "Now what's up with you, brat. You got a quirk?"

The boy was silent for a second before caving. The man was bound to find out sooner or later. If he was honest, he wanted to talk to someone about his quirk. Not even his siblings knew about how destructive his blue fire could be to his own person. "I got  a pretty bad hand when it comes to quirks," Touya admitted. 

"What? Ya quirkless?"

"I wish..."

"..."

"My quirk is Blue Fire but if I named it, it's more like... Cremation... And the only resistance I have is with my hands." He flexed his unscathed fingers. "It's hard to control. I've been training since I was about four or five years old. If I'm over emotional while using it, the fire goes crazy, and I loose control..."

"... So the burns?"

"... My... Someone was about to hurt me... Badly. I panicked, and my quirk went haywire."

"Ah..." The doctor uncrossed his arms. "Does this someone have a name?"

Touya shot him a glare. "Not there yet, bud."

Yoshihara lifted his hands in mock surrender. "Understandable. Don't bite at me, brat. Tell me when you feel comfortable," he drawled. "Okay?"

There was silence before the teen nodded. "Alright..."

"Get some rest. I'll be doing paperwork over here if you need me," the doctor stated as he collected some folders. Placing the papers down, he flicked off the overhead lights and turned on a light on a messy desk. He settled in his chair and pulled out a pen. "We'll see how you feel in a few hours."

Obediently, Touya laid back and tried to rest.

+++

The week flew by in the blink of an eye. Touya was recovering decently according to the doctor. While the burns remained the same, the soreness almost vanished by day three. They confirmed that none of his nerves were badly damaged by the burning. He was currently attempting to just move like a normal person and get beyond the stupid "scrambled-eggs-and-applesauce" diet. So what if he threw up the first time he ate something. It was almost a week now!

He was currently glaring at the offending plate piled high with the scrambled protein. If Touya could, he would have charred the food to a crisp. But Yoshihara would probably be mad, and he wasn't about to get on that man's bad side. The teen had seen him pull a knife on a patient for threatening him. Yoshihara was not defenseless. As a back alley doctor, he'd had to learn how to defend himself against all types of people. Behind his lazy persona was someone who knew how to a gut a person ten different ways.

Touya sighed and dug his fork into the yellow mass on his plate. He needed food to function now and could dream about burgers and fries later. If he was ever going to pay back his favor, he had to bounce back soon. For now, he would watch the news and eat his shitty breakfast.

Yoshihara sauntered in, yawning. "Morning, brat," greeted the tired doctor. "Found the left over eggs?"

He rolled his turquoise eyes. "Yeah. I found them, old man."

A snort left the man as he placed a mug under the coffee maker. "That's Mr. Yoshihara to you, stupid brat. Remember who saved your charred ass," he shot back in a sharp tone. With a glance, Touya could see the amusement that flickered in his honey brown eyes. He was teasing him. 

"Right..." The teen huffed and stuffed another forkful of egg into his mouth.

"... In other news, Endeavor..."

Touya's breath hitched, and he coughed on the eggs in his throat. Swallowing painfully, he jerked his head towards the screen sharply. The bastard himself was shown in hero uniform and blazing beard. 

"...will be attending the banquet on Saturday to commemorate his bravery and heroic actions over this pass year along with..."

His teeth gritted together painfully. "Heroic my ass..." And then he noticed Yoshihara's intense stare.

The doctor looked from the close up of Endeavor's picture to Touya and then back again. "Ah... I see..." He murmured, a frown weighing down his visage. "... I'm not going to ask... As I said before, tell me when you feel comfortable."

Wetness rose to his eyes. "I..." He paused. "It's uncanny... Isn't it..." 

He stared holes in to the eggs before him.

"Just a bit. Your hair is a bit lighter but... It's noticeable, yes."

"... My siblings were lucky... I... You know what." He stared straight into the doctor's calm gaze. "Do you know any good permanent hair dyes?"

A wicked smile slipped onto the man's face. "Maybe," he responded. He collected up the mug and cradled it in his palms. The dark, steamy liquid inside sloshed quietly. "What color do you fancy?"

"Black."

"Hmmm. Edgy but fitting. Guess teenage rebellion is better late than never, hm?"

A little smile pulled at Touya's lips. "Yeah... I guess…"

+++

He pulled the draw strings tighter so that his spiky hair fell further to shadow his eyes. The dark jacket was long on his frame, the sleeves rolled back to keep his hands free and the bottom edges brushing halfway along his thighs. Yoshihara promised to show him where to get more fitting clothing later. Until then, Touya was stuck wearing some of the doctor's clothing. The doctor was, in fact, tall as hell. While the clothing swamped the teen, he was comfortable against the bite in the air. Besides, he didn't have time to complain; he had a funeral to go to. His funeral.

As he walked, he fiddled with some of his hair. The black held a shocking difference compared to the pinky red color of his old hair. The dark tone matched nicely with his eyes and helped mute the scars on his face better. His hair remained spiked due to the genetics but dying the fiery locks made it more bearable, and his bangs now fell down in his face. At least his appearance didn't loudly scream "Endeavor's son" anymore. That, for what it's worth, was a blessing. 

He turned a corner and made his way towards the cemetery. Yoshihara had pulled some strings for him and used a favor to find out the goings on at the Todoroki household. Apparently, there was a funeral a majority of the family was going to. Endeavor, on the other hand, would be at a banquet. Touya had sneered at that information. Of course the bastard wouldn’t go to his son's fake funeral. See if he cared. His siblings though...

Touya picked up the pace and slipped into the cemetery with no hassle. He weaved silently among the graves until he spotted a shock of white hair. Natsuo was talking to someone. He was clad in a dark suit and black tie. His other siblings stood behind him, Fuyumi is a pretty black dress and Shouto in a smaller version of Natsuo's black suit. Even from a distance the teen could see the redness on their faces and their eyes. 

The man gave a gesture, and two people came out with a simple yet elegant casket. Touya swallowed hard. They were burying an empty coffin. They were crying for their dead brother. 

'And they're safe...' He reminded himself. 'And they'll stay that way.'

The coffin was lowered into the ground. Fuyumi burst into tears, her sobs echoing across the graveyard. His chest tightened as their younger brother's held her. Natsuo was cradling her head as she shoved it into his shoulder, unable to watch the lowering box. The only one who watched intently, tears in his eyes, was Shouto. There was a flicker of something, and it was anger. Among his sadness, the youngest Todoroki flowed with  a mixture of resentment and cold fury.

Touya's hands formed into fists. There it was. The fury that rose up in himself long ago. The metaphorical torch had now been passed on to Shouto. 'God... Don't let him do something stupid...' He prayed silently, and dirt was shoveled into the grave.

He stood there waiting until Fuyumi laid flowers on the freshly made gravesite. After a few moments, the trio left and Touya still remained in one place. He waited for however long it took to steel himself. 

Shuffling forwards, the boy found himself before a grave stone. 

2XXX to 2XXX

Touya Todoroki

Beloved Brother

Tears fell from his eyes. Delicate white daisies sat on the freshly placed dirt. Their petals furled out from the brilliant yellow center, a beauty among the dead. The bright green stalks were free of leaves, trimmed and perfect. He bent down to pick one up and rolled it in his thin fingers. 

"You know the boy who died here?" came a raspy voice behind him.

Touya turned and noticed the ground’s keeper. He had a rake in one hand and a bag in the other. The man was old, deep wrinkles lining his features and head balding. He was short with eyes dull from ages hidden behind spectacles. "Well, son?"

"Yes..." The teen finally replied. "I knew him better than anyone else..."

"Ah... I'm sorry for your loss, son," the old man dipped his head. "I know what it's like, loosin' a best friend and all. I wish ya best of luck." Straightening his cap, he shuffled away to continue cleaning the grounds.

Touya gazed at the flower in his hand. "...I'm sorry too..." Tucking the white daisy away, he turned and stalked out of the graveyard, leaving his final resting place behind.

Chapter Text

"I'm heading out," the teen hollered, pulling the hood over his dark locks.

The doctor peered around the corner. He blinked his tired eyes at the boy's dark outfit and shook his head. "Whatever, kiddo. Just be back before seven. I am not slaving over curry all day for you not to be here," he drawls lazily.

"You and I both know that it's store bought."

"Get lost, brat."

Slipping on a pair of worn, grey tennis shoes, Touya shuffled out the front door and out into the street. The sidewalks hummed with people. At three pm, there were a mix of young students, shopping mothers, and part-timers. All the people sent a spark of discomfort flickering through him. He needed to go somewhere less crowded. Retreating further into his jacket, he tucked his hands into his pockets and kept far to the side. People hustled and bustled along side him and yet ignored him. With his dark brown jacket and dark jeans, he didn't blame them. He probably looked like a delinquent or something. 

A few turns and he was on a lesser used street. He sighed and relaxed his shoulders. If he remembered correctly, there should be a park around here. Maybe he could go and wander around there. He could find a tree, climb it, and just read. The last time he did that was when he was twelve. If he didn't have all the purplish burns, he would have been able to see the light scar from when he fell. Fuyumi had patched him up and scolded him like a worrisome mother back then.

He pulled the smart phone from his pocket. It was an older model, a crack splitting across the screen right below the camera. Yoshihara had given it to him in case he was out and Touya needed help. It was the man's previous phone. "I was planning to get a new one anyways. You can pay me back later," the doctor had said flippantly. "Just don't break it."

Now that he thought about it, he was just becoming more indebted to the guy. First, he welcomed him into his home. Then he got him secondhand clothing so he wouldn't have to wear giant shirts and pants. Now he had his own phone. It was a trashy one with a fast draining battery and just a lick of storage left but it sufficed. How much would he end up paying back?

At least he had already started. It was two weeks into his stay, and the doctor put him to work. After a quick bought of first-aid training, he was cleaning up the clinic. Whether he wiped down the seats and tables or restocked his towels and gloves, Touya tried his hardest to be useful. Yoshihara appeared to approve of his hard work and offered to teach him more in the future. When he learned enough, the doctor told him he would take over some of the simpler cases that came in. The idea made him nervous but he was excited.

Low park gates came into his view. It was a small park with a scattering of trees and a playground. The set was clearly weathered by rain. Paint chipped from the faded plastics and metals that made up the equipment. The slide held bits of gravel imbedded in the cracks, and the swings creaked loudly in the gentle breeze. It was a surprise that any kids were there at all.

He squinted at the only group he spotted. No, something wasn’t right about that. He started walking closer to get a better view. 

There were three kids, one with noticeable wings and the other with long, thin fingers. Something... Wasn't right. 

The first sign that something was wrong was the broken yell, young and clear. The next was the two kids kicking at a third. They couldn't have been older than Shouto, especially the one being kicked. He could make out a mop of dark green curls and bloodied arms. 

"Hey! Get lost!" shouted Touya, stalking towards them. 

The larger of the two bullies blanched, red wings flittering behind him. "Crap! Let's get out of here!" They abandon the boy and made a run for it.

Huffing, the older teen shuffled over to assess the damage. He was glad Yoshihara had been teaching him general first aid so he wouldn't be a useless assistant in his small clinic. Hopefully, the boy wouldn't need any aid. "You okay, kid?"

The new voice made the trembling kid jolt and turn to look upwards. His fingers were tangled in his forest green curls. Dark bruises already started to blossom across a freckled cheek and under his shimmering eyes. The vibrant emerald eyes shone with tears. He sniffled. "I-I'm alright..." he said.

Touya raised a brow, looking at his scrapped arms and knee. "Yeah... Not buying that. Don't lie," he chided. "Here, let's get you to a bench." He held out a hand.

The battered kid stared at it hesitantly before taking the larger hand. He winced as he was pulled upright. The two shuffled to a nearby bench, and Touya pulled out a small disinfectant packet and bandaids from his backpack. Wet pad in hand, he looked into the calculating gaze. "This may sting but we gotta clean those cuts. What's your name?"

"Midori-" the boy paused as he let out a hiss as the older boy went to work on his injuries.

"Midori?" Touya asked. "Hm... Fits. You do have very green hair."

Midori opened his mouth as if to say something but paused. "I guess..." He finally digressed. "My mama told me not to talk to strangers though..."

Touya quirked his lips upward. "Wise woman. Keep it to heart. That being said, I'm Touya. Now we're not strangers."

The younger pondered his reasoning before smiling a sunshine grin at him. "Yeah, and you're a hero! So definitely not a stranger!"

He froze his work, blinking. "I'm uh... Not a hero..."

"Sure you are! You helped me!"

"That doesn't make me a hero, kid... Even if I wanted to be one, I don't have a good quirk for it... I'd hurt people," he explained.

Midori went quiet as he applied a few bandaids to his kneecap. "What is your quirk...?" He finally asked.

Touya paused again. Should he? ‘You know what. Sure.’ As long has he kept it to his fingertips, it should be fine. Leaning back to rest on his heels, he lifted his free hand. One by one, his fingers sprang to life with flickers of blue flame. They licked around the pads of his fingers and the ends of his nails. A sudden relief washed over him. Control. This was the first time since the incident that he had called upon his fire, and he was controlling it. 

The boy's eyes shone. Blue fire glinted off of teary orbs, pooling into the beautiful green. His face was drawn in an expression of awe. "It's pretty..." He murmured and leaning forwards. 

In a moment, Touya snuffed out the fire. Like hell he was gonna let a child without fireproofing get anywhere near him. Even his own father, dare he call the bastard that now, had trouble getting away unscathed from the destructive quirk. "Careful," he almost snapped. "I told you it's dangerous.”

Midori looked over the teen's features, brows knit together. "Is that why you have scars? Are you scared to burn other people too?" he questioned. They were innocent and honest questions yet they made the fire user's breath hitch. 

"I..."

"A quirk doesn't make a hero. It's the actions."

Touya stared.

"Like... Midnight with her sleeping quirk! She could knock people out and steal their stuff but she uses it to save people! Or Present Mic! His voice is super loud and can break things but he trains to control it and stuff!"

"But they're actual heroes. What can I even do? I'm not a hero."

"But you're my hero. Like All Might!" Midori's eyes shone, this time without tears. "All Might saves everyone with a huge smile on his face! He helps everyone! It doesn't matter if it's stopping a robbery or getting a cat out of a tree! He helps!" He shyly looked up at the older boy. "Like you helped me."

Touya didn’t know what to say. He had always dreamed of being a hero like his father when he was younger. Once he started the training, he fell away from the childhood dream. It progressed to where he kind of disliked heroes for a while. If his dad was such a great hero and acted how he did with his family, what about the lower and unranked heroes? When his mother was locked away and his baby brother burned, he questioned how helpful the hero society truly was if they had let this happen.

He gazed into the innocent eyes. The boy radiated honesty and pureness. What he spoke was what he meant, however naive it was. A smile tugged at his lips. Hell... Why not? This kid had faith in him. Might as well attempt to help others in some capacity. 

He put the dirtied disinfectant wipes back in their packets and shoved the trash into his pants pocket to throw away layer. Rocking on his heels, he checked his phone. The time shone back at him. He still had two hours until he needed to head back. He had plenty of time to help the kid out a little more. 

He rose to his feet, stretching out has lanky limbs. "Well... If I'm gonna be a hero, I suppose I need to do more heroic things..." Touya pondered aloud. "Maybe... Showing someone how to defend themselves?"

Midori perked up. "Like hero training?" 

The older shrugged, a lopsided grin on his face. "Sure. Call it... Training for the future! If you can't throw a punch, how can you protect people?" He made a show of falling into a defensive stance with his forearms up. In a swift motion, he did a few punches. While boxing wasn't his favorite, he'd been able to learn it quickly, and it helped keep him in shape when his father stopped training him. 

Sunshine glowed from Midori. "You'll show me how to do that?" He asked, jumping up. His scrapes were completely forgotten, energy renewed. The boy was bursting from the seams. 

Touya chuckled. "Yep," he chimed. Stretching again, he turned so that he faced the younger. "Get into a stance, like this." He fell into the boxing stance. Midori followed suit in a less stable one. "Don't have your feet turned like that. Put your arms up a little higher... That's it! You're a natural!”

They spent about an hour until Midori was sweaty and panting. A smile was still plastered across his face despite the tiredness. "Thank you, Touya-san!"

Touya ruffled the curly locks. "Drop the 'san.' I'm not that older than you."

Midori was quiet for a moment before perking up. "Alright, Aniki!"

The now dubbed "older brother" sputtered. "I...!" He was at a loss for words. Shrugging, he decided to just go with it.

"Oh! If you had a hero name, what would it be?" Midori asked, snatching up his jacket. "I want a cool one like All Might!"

"Hmmmm..." Touya hummed. "Never thought about that to be honest. What do you think?"

The apparent hero genius tapped his chin. "Maybe something related to your quirk?" Noticing the older's wrinkled nose, he frowned. "It's a super cool quirk! A cool name should go with it! Like... Blue Dragon! Or... Didn't you say it was super duper hot?"

Touya nodded. "Dangerously hot."

"Aonatsu!" The boy burst out.

"Blue Summer?"

"Yeah! Blue cause of the color and summer cause it’s super duper hot!"

Touya thought over the name. It wasn't bad. Kind of simplistic and basic but not bad. It was the first hero name he had ever been given. If anything, that made the name more special. "Alright then. I'm Aonatsu. What about you? Are you basing your hero name on your quirk?"

The boy suddenly frowned deeply. "I um... I don't... I don't have one..."

He was not expecting that. "Wait, you're quirkless?"

The kid nodded. "Yeah... But I still want to be a hero…”

Touya put a hand on his chin. That would explain the bullies. Kids could be stupid and judgmental, just like adults. No wonder he had been excited to learn how to punch. No one except maybe his parents probably gave him the time of day. Midori was a sweet kid too.

"I um... Do you think I can be a hero?" Midori asked. His eyes were closed and head down as if he expected the older teen to lash out.

He stood over the smaller for a few moments. It's true that being quirkless would leave him vulnerable. Even with a powerful quirk, Endeavor himself had gotten into a few rough scrapes on occasion. By being a hero, the kid would be throwing himself into the jaws of the wolves. Many wouldn't take him seriously either. It would be a hard road.

But as he looked at the kid, he held his tongue. The boy had a burning passion within him. There were many heroes who had simple quirks that required support gear and intense training. Couldn't Midori do the same? Then there was his blazing intellect. The kid knew a lot and learned quickly. He had picked up all of Touya's stances and punches easily. Besides, the world needed more people like Midori.

"Yes, you can," Touya stated at last. Midori's eyes shot open, and he stared in wonder at the older boy. "You can be a hero."

There was silence before tears started dribbling down the younger's cheeks again. This kid sure cried a lot. Touya placed a hand on his head and ruffled the sweaty locks, musing them up in a wilder fashion than they already were. "Re-really?" The boy hiccuped. 

"I wouldn't lie," the older affirmed. "You said it yourself. It's not the quirk you have that makes you a hero. It's how you use it."

Midori furrowed his brow. "I... Don't have a quirk to use though..."

Touya shrugged. "So what? A lot of heroes have to fight essentially quirkless. It just means you have to fight harder!" He encouraged, pumping a fist. "Your weapon is your body, not a quirk. You have a quick mind and moldable muscles. If you put yourself into it, I'm sure you'll become one of the greatest heroes out there."

"Will you train me?" The question caught him off guard. Midori looked up at him expectantly, and he frowned.

“I well... No, I don't think I can..."

"But we both can train to be heroes together!"

"I know, Midori. I just don’t think I should be the one to train you. A professional is a better option. What if you practice at a dojo? Build up some muscles?"

"..."

"I'm sorry, Midori."

"It's okay, Aniki..."

The boy stared at his bright sneakers while Touya watched him. He felt bad for turning him down but he had no clue what to do. He was trained by his father to control his destructive quirk. The only actual quirkless fighting he learned was simple boxing moves that could easily be found on the internet. Midori deserved actual training.

Patting the curly head one last time, Touya turned. "I gotta go, Midori. But be an amazing hero, okay? Prove everyone wrong," he said, waving.

Midori was quiet for a moment before inhaling deeply. "Don't forget to be a hero too, Aniki! You're Aonatsu!" He yelled, clutching the hem of his t-shirt.

The dubbed hero smiled sadly. "Right..."

Chapter Text

Midori's words haunted him for a while after that. "Don't forget to be a hero too!" he had called. Now the reminder clung to his mind. What in the world could he do to be a hero like the kid said? Why was he even pondering it? The best thing for Touya to do was completely abandon any thoughts on the matter. He was laying low and working for Yoshihara. He didn't need any distractions. 

The doctor looked as though he noticed his random thoughts but kept quiet. He was thankful; he didn't want to spill about his internal conflict, especially since one of the sides was starting to overtake him. The childish words were winning him over but he didn't know what to do about it. He couldn't exactly burst out into public and act like a hero, could he? He didn't have a hero license so he wouldn't even be an official hero.

He stood, placing the files he was sorting on the table. "I'm done. I'm gonna go for a walk."

"Again?" The doctor finally questioned. "You've been doing that a lot." He was filling out some paperwork at his desk on the far wall of the room.

Touya shrugged. "It's nothing. I just want to clear my head," he reasoned.

"Everything alright?" Yoshihara set the pen down and looked the teen in the eyes. When he nodded, the man frowned. "Whatever you say. It's pretty late so come back soon. I don't want you getting caught up in a bad crowd."

"I won't, old man."

"Bye, brat."

And he was out the door in under five minutes. The crisp winter air was beginning to bite at his cheeks and exposed neck as November came to a close. December was peaking around the corner as soft plumes of white fluttered between his lips. He needed a scarf and gloves. The thick jacket alone wasn't going to cut it for much longer.

Despite the chill, the walk was rather pleasant. Less people mulled about due to the weather, leaving him with open streets. Few stared at the marks across his visage, possibly chalking them up as birthmarks of some sort from a distance. He still drew the drawstring tighter when a small child pointed at him from her mother's side.

The words of another kid fell into his head. He groaned. Midori was a piece of work. A quirkless hero and a hero with a destructive quirk... Touya had to admit he was fond of the concept when it came from the innocent mindset. Yet a tug at the edge of his thoughts, a reminder, sneered. He could never be a hero. 

'At least not one the legal way,' he contemplated. His legs paused. There was a way to be a hero without going to a school or obtaining a license. It was risky but he had heard about it. His father had ranted about them on occasion, enough so that the teen had silently cheered for them for getting under the man's skin. Vigilantes.

They were beyond the law, unhindered by the constructs built to keep heroes in line. Yet these people took down villains and criminals from purse snatching to entire drug rings. Vigilantes didn't report to anyone; they lived by their own moral code. Disliked by both heroes and villains, these people were loved by the public that they helped. A few came to mind when the topic was mentioned: Dog Tooth, Noir, Konoko... Most were vigilantes of the past yet they remained prominent in mind.

Pressing forwards, he continued walking. Sunlight trickled between buildings as it continued to set. He could think about this as he walked and then shove it away. Him? A vigilante? "Bullshit," Touya muttered softly. He kicked at the ground, toe knocking about a few small pieces of broken concrete. The concrete clattered against the sidewalk with loud clicks. It skittered to a stop at the entrance of an alleyway. 

Had the piece kept going, Touya wouldn't have noticed the sounds. Harsh whispers and muffled crying rose from the shadowy alley. He froze, eyes straining to see into the darkened path. The alley went on for a decent length before abruptly stopping where three buildings met. He was in one of the shabbier portions of the city to get back to the clinic. Yet the concept of coming across an actual mugging never occurred to him until now. 

He could make out the form of two people. One had their back to him but he assumed it was a man based on his physic. He towered over the young woman, a palm muffling her. His free hand held long, sharp claws that he flexed. They glinted in the dim light, sharp and dangerous. 

The woman held in place against the wall squirmed. Her hair was long and wavy with deep blue tones. Gills on her neck fluttered as she sobbed quietly, shiny silver eyes wide with tears. Based on her appearance, she didn't have a quirk to defend herself in this situation. Her eyes shifted and caught his own eyes. They stared at one another, and the silvery orbs shimmered. 'Help.'

Touya broke eye contact to do a quick look around. If he was going to do something crazy, have needed something to protect himself with besides his quirk. A pipe stuck out of a pile of trash near the entrance of the alley. Pulling it out, the rusty object proved to be  the length of a bat with a hooked end. Weighing it in his hand, he crept forwards. As he moved, the angry whispers became clearer.

"Listen here, lady. I know you have cash. Don't lie to me. Hand me your damn wallet before I find it myself. Quit crying. Pathetic," the man hissed out. His grip tightened on her face as a whimper slipped out her lips.

With his focus on the woman, the thug didn't notice anything amiss behind him until it was too late. Pulling back, Touya raised the pipe above his head before crashing it down onto the man's skull. He fell like a rock, dropping the woman. She gasped and shifted away from him.

"What the..." He moaned, rubbing his head. 

"Well, don't you have a thick skull," Touya sneered.

The man scowled. "You little bastard! I'll kill yo-..." He was cut off as the teen swung the pipe around like a baseball player. Before he could swipe at him with a clawed hand, the hooked end of the pipe smashed into his jaw and sent him reeling. He didn't get back up. From the looks of his face, something was broken. He was out for the count. 

Touya turned to the woman. "You alright, ma'am?" He asked, attempting to be as respectful as he could. 

The trembling woman nodded. "Y-yes. Thank you..." She finally said, rubbing her shoulders. "I um... I'll call the police on that guy." She gestured to the prone body.

Touya nodded. His own nervousness trickled in. He couldn't stay here. They'd find out who he was, and it'd be all over. Resting the pipe on his shoulder, he turned to walk away. 

"W-wait!" She cried. Her gills fluttered. "Be-before you go. What's your name?"

He was quiet, back to her. "Well..." He began. "You can call me Aonatsu." What other name could he use when Midori had given it to him with such joy. "Stay safe." He slipped away. 

Touya pull his hood lower as he ran. In one hand, he clutch the pipe close to his chest. He was glad he remembered to grab it. If he left it, he'd be leaving evidence. Better dispose of it back at the clinic. Speaking of the clinic, he went the longer around to get back. 

The sun dipped low, streaks of deep pinks and oranges splashed across the furls of grey clouds. Shadows stretched from the alleyways as street lights flickered on. The streets became scarcer with the chilling night air. The lone figure that did wander about steered clear of one another.  With fewer eyes on him, he slowed to catch his breath. Touya wheezed, not use to the strain on his lungs and leg muscles. When had been the last time he'd run like that? He should probably do more running if he was gonna keep this up.

He blinked. When did he decide that he was going to continue? Thinking back, he sighed. The moment he spotted the woman, he knew he had to help. How could he continue on knowing there were other people like that? The heroes rarely patrolled this area from what Yoshihara had said. If he left defenseless people to hurt, he'd be no better than Endeavor. His lip curled at the thought. He never wanted to be like that.

He shuffled into the alley that led to the clinic. Glancing around, he found a place to shove the pipe. A small space was visible behind the dumpster, just a large enough to store the old pipe. He slid it in with little effort before wiping a palm on his jacket to remove any dirt. Taking out his key, he opened the door and entered the clinic. Touya didn't mention what had happened, and Yoshihara was none the wiser.

 

+++

 

The next morning found Touya gaping at his phone. He had been skimming a vigilante forum when he stumbled across a familiar story. The user [ActualMermaid] explained how a mysterious person appeared, saved her from a mugging, and disappeared before the cops arrived. She gave her thanks to the person named Aonatsu. A few people left comments that added their condolences while a small handful called it fake.

Despite the small portion deny his existence and hating on the girl for "lying," most of the comments supported him and wished him luck. The forum the woman had used was a positive one for vigilantes. In general, the threads talked about experiences with vigilantes and theories like quirks or identities. From the looks of it, the woman either hadn't seen his face or she chose not to out him with a description. Either way, he felt as though he could relax. 

He'd have to ask Yoshihara about winter wear so he could get some gear to cover his face and hands. Of course the doctor wouldn't know why he needed it other than to combat the cold. His best excuse was to claim the chilled air was getting to him. Thinking over the options, his best bet would be black gloves and a bandanna. They were simple and easy to hide away. He could grab an extra jacket too.

"Where could I get more winter clothes?" Touya asked as he entered the kitchen. His camouflage pajama pants brushed his ankles, and he shifted hem of his white shirt to unbunch it.

Yoshihara looked up from his daily mug of black coffee. "The same way I get almost all my clothes I guess," he responded cryptically. Taking a long slurp, he set down the drink. "Either a second hand store or the area behind them."

Touya wrinkled his nose. "What?" 

"Some shops will throw out clothing that is barely damaged or doesn't sell. If you want nicer material, your best bet is in the actual store. I can give you a bit of cash but I can assure you that you'll be able to get a crazy amount of stuff," the man explain. "I've found most of my jeans in the back. They normally have torn seams or small holes. If you know how to sew, they'll be fine."

The teen thought about it. The information made sense. Yoshihara didn't have a lot of money. Most of his cash went to food, bills, and medical supplies. Any other cash was saved for the future. Besides, he did seem like someone who would do that anyways. 

"Can you give me a few places?" Touya asked, pulling out his phone.

Shrugging, the man listed a few stores. He placed a few bills in his palm before taking a final swig of coffee. "Right. I gotta open up the clinic," he stated. Bidding the teen a lazy goodbye, he swept back into the clinic. 

Touya stretched, snatched an apple, and went on his way. The day was just as cold, and he was ready to get thicker clothing. He made his way to the first location. It wasn't a big store but they had their winter collection up front and on sale. He easily found a cheap winter coat with decent insulated. Shifting around in the scarves rewarded him with a dark blue bandanna. He bought both and left the building.

Glancing around, he slipped down back. Yoshihara never said what he was doing was legal. The people didn't want the stuff so was it actually stealing? Deciding not to dwelling on it, he checked around the dumpsters. The first one was in fact a trash dumpster. He was rewarded with his second choice. 

Black trash bags were piled high but he spotted glimpses of fabric among them. Opening the first bag, he didn't find much. A lot of it was tacky or just plain ugly. There were neon shirts that clashed and jeans with weird sequin patterns. He scowled when a bunch of glitter rubbed off onto his sleeve.

Going for the next bag, he dug threw some ratty old sweaters and a few moth eaten jackets. At the bottom, he struck gold. Or, well, cardigan. The material was dark with a thin layer of dust. Upon further inspection, the piece of clothing had a small hole. If he searched for some videos, he'd probably be able to fix it. He shook the dust from the cardigan and held it up. It was a bit big but he preferred clothing loose over something tight. 

Touya tucked it into his shopping bag before continuing the search. Other than two plain shirts, both light shades of gray, there wasn't much else. Shoving the shirts into the bag, he hopped down from the dumpster and continued to a different shop. He decided that he'd keep the rest of the cash for the future and went right to the dumpsters in back. There was more than the last one. Maybe he could get away with just searching this place so he could go home. 

His hand paused, hovering over the lid. When had he started considering the clinic his home? Admittedly, he had been there for a month, and Yoshihara was basically his family at this point. The doctor provided a place for him and taught him. If Touya was being honest, the man was like the older brother he never had. Or maybe the crazy uncle. Either way, the teen hoped that once he paid his debt, the doctor would let him stay.

Shifting back to the matter at hand, he got lucky. The first bag wasn't even clothing. Inside were a few old backpacks and a worn blanket. The blanket wasn't bad with mostly just an old stain that looked suspiciously like ketchup. Taking a tentative sniff, he affirmed his suspicions. It was a solid purple color so he had no qualms with a pattern.

He ruffled through the bags and found two backpacks with only a little wear and tear. He stuffed the blanket in one and the shopping bag in the other. Continuing through the dumpster, he came across a pair of gloves, old boots, and a pair of jeans with a few frayed holes around the knee caps. Touya collected them all into his bags and chose to be done for the day.

There were still a few shops on Yoshihara's list. 'I'll go some other time,' he decided. Checking the time, he slipped into a small cafe down the street. Going into the bathroom, he slipped on the boots and the bandanna. The bandanna was tucked under his jacket, and the gloves were shoved in his pockets. 

Stepping out, he bought a muffin and a small coffee with some of the remaining cash. Quieting the hunger that had arisen during his "shopping," Touya made his way home to put his bags in his room. The room itself was small with a twin bed, an old desk and chair, and a small closet. It was enough for him though. Since Yoshihara didn't snoop in there, he'd be able to hide the bandanna and bag easily.

He past the dumpster in the alleyway of the clinic. He took a quick glance around before peaking at the pipe. It was still there. When he went out again, he could slip it in his bag. Touya slunk in the building. The less tattered bag was dumped on his bed and slung back over his shoulder. The other was dropped on the floor.

Glancing around, Touya didn't see the doctor. From the sound of it, he was talking with someone in the clinic. He could slip out without Yoshihara stopping him. He made his way to the door carefully and bolted into the alley. Putting the pipe in the bag, he pulled on the black gloves and shuffled out onto the street. 

The sun was dipping down. Time passed strangely when he didn't have a specific schedule. Then again, he had spent the day with his head in dumpsters of clothing. He hadn't exactly been keeping track of the time. Besides, the day was ending, which meant more crime. If he was going to create some kind of vigilante persona, there was no time like the present. 

As street lights flickered to life, he pulled the hood up and lingered along the alleyways. For the most part, people steered clear. It made sense since Touya looked just as much like a thug as the people he was hunting down. Should he call it hunting? It made him feel like a dangerous predator rather than a hero.

A crash made him jump a bit. Looking both ways along the empty street, he raced across the street and peeked into the alleyway. A businessman held up his brief case like a shield against two people dress like gangsters. They were throwing around names with slurred voices and waving around knives. Touya scrunched his nose in disgust. They were drunk.

"I need to get home to my wife!" cried out the man as he tried to get around the two.

"Naw maaaan," whined one of the drunkards. "You gonna be our drinkin' bud. And drinkin' buds help pay the tabs." The knife was getting a little close for comfort.

Touya slipped the pipe out of his bag and tugged his bandanna over the lower half of his face. The moment the second drunk put a hand on the businessman, he bolted out. He moved as he had learned while dodging his father, close to the ground and fast. The pipe slammed into the drunk man's arm, and he let go of his captive with a howl of pain. The other was shocked, gaping at the newcomer.

"Call the police!" He shot to the businessman and took a sharp swing at the stunned drunkard. 

"Gak!" The man choked out as he took the blow to the gut. He crumpled to the ground wheezing but out for the count.

Touya breathed heavily. Swinging took a lot more out of him then he expected. "Look out!" The businessman's voice made him turn in time to see the second drunkard swinging his knife with his uninjured arm. Ducking with trained accuracy, he used his fist to give the man an uppercut to the jaw. He was out before he hit the ground.

Letting out his breath, he straightened. The adrenaline coursed through his veins. He felt like he could do this all night. But there was something he had to do first.

Touya turned to the victim. He could see him still trembling and clutching his cellphone in his hand. A call had just ended. "You alright, sir?" He asked, attempting to sound respectful. He hated calling people "sir."

"Y-yes. Thank you. I don't know what I would have done," the man said, tears building up in his eyes. "I have a young daughter waiting for me at home. My wife doesn't work, and if I was gone, they..."

"You're safe now," Touya stated. "And you are going back to them."

He stuffed a hand in his pocket. "At least let me repay you-!" 

"No. Use that money to get a cab or something. I'm no helping people to get cash."

The man blinked. "Oh... Well... If you ever need anything..." He slipped a card out of his pocket and held it out. "This is my  number."

Touya warily looked at the slip before taking it and putting it in his jacket. "Fine. You called the police, right?" When he received a nod, he sighed. "Good. That means I have to get going. Take care of yourself." Slipping the pipe into his bag, he moved towards the alleyway.

"Wait! What is your name! At least tell me that!"

Touya turned to the man. A hidden grin spread under the bandanna. "Me? I'm Aonatsu."

Chapter Text

The winter chill gave way to a welcome spring with cool breezes and warm sun. Weeds sprouted up in the cracked cement, and bird song made its way through the heavy sounds of traffic. With the warming weather, Touya was more free to go out in the evenings on his vigilante escapades. He was glad the doctor refrained from any prying. He could tell that the man had questions from the look in his eyes whenever the teen came back with unexplained bruising or cuts. 

Yoshihara never asked why he was out late or came but with the small injuries. He only mentioned it once. “You're not in any gangs... Right?" He had rumbled out one morning around the rim of the mug pressed to his lips. "I'm not gonna judge you but... I've grown attached to you, ya stupid brat. I don't want you getting crazy hurt from the turf wars that go on."

Touya's chest had constricted at the words. Yoshihara was one of the first adults to actually care about him and his wellbeing. When he confirmed in all seriousness that he was not in a gang, the man hummed and dropped the subject, an obvious tenseness leaving his body. The doctor had been worried and that meant a lot to the teen. He made sure to be more careful after that day.

After the few months of vigilantism, the vigilante, Aonatsu, had blown up on the internet forums. He was well known and favored by most on there. When he felt down, he skimmed the old phone's screen. Due to Aonatsu's lack of quirk use, theories appeared for what it could be. Some thought he was quirkless while others supposed it was some kind of mental or sensory quirk. 

Touya decided he would keep it that way. His quirk was dangerous; it was better not to use it when protecting people. Besides, if Midori was going to be a quirkless hero, then Aonatsu would be a quirkless vigilante! He wondered at one point if Midori followed along with the vigilante forums and knew he was the vigilante from the name he chose. The kid seemed like the type to binge read his way through forums and news articles.

He kicked at a fluffy white dandelion, sending the tufts scattering into the wind. The sun was setting and soon the night would be his to do as he pleased. Even with his vigilantism scaring away some of the crime, people still rose up to cause some problems more often then not. His first stop tonight would be by the local bars to set any drunkards straight home to avoid any drunk muggings or attacks. 

As he trotted along, he noticed eyes trained on him. After years of carefully training under a fiery gaze, Touya knew when someone stared him down. A prickly sensation rose along his spine. It was probably a cop making sure he wasn't a wayward teen causing mischief. He made sure to appear non-threatening, taking his hands from his jacket pockets and tucking his thumbs into his jean pockets to show he was unarmed. His shoulders were relaxed as though he was on a evening stroll. 

A moment later, he slipped away. Street lights flickered to life as he planted himself in the shadows, pulling up the bandanna hidden by his jacket hood. He unzipped the backpack in advance, preparing to grab the pipe should anyone attempt to attack him. The eyes did not return until he knocked out a drunk creep attempting to get under a woman's skirt. He led the lady to the bar and told her to talk to the bartender and get a cab. He left the unconscious creep at the back door.

As he made his way into the back alleys, he sensed a gaze on him. This time, Touya whipped around and looked around. Behind him was a figure clad in a uniform. It was a hero. His frame was tall and muscular, hair spiked back. The outfit was a deep gray with streaks of red across his hips and shoulder. A heavy belt hung from his waist, gleaming the same silvery color as the gloves on his bulky hands and knuckles. His dark eyes flashed as he snarled, revealing sharp teeth. 

"So this is the bastard taking my work," the man snapped. "My name's Iron Strike, and you're under arrest once I'm done with you."

The teen was flabbergasted. "I've been helping people," he couldn't help but snap back. "People who you wouldn't have helped in time!"

"You give heroes a bad name!" Iron Strike snarled. "I go after the big fish, kid! Leave the minnows to the police and just come quietly."

Disgust rose up and turned to anger. He had to push down his blue flames that heated in his core. What kind of hero said things like that? It was just like his father's views! No wonder the people were so grateful for his care for them. How many other parts of town experienced the same thing? He couldn't afford to get caught now, not for his sake but for the innocents around him.

With little thought, he bolted. All the running and fighting he had been doing for the past months had strengthened his legs and stamina. Based on his physical appearance and outfit, Iron Strike looked for like a hand to hand combat type rather than a chaser. Touya knew the streets and alleyways like the back of his hand. 

With his lighter frame, speed, and knowledge if the area, he lost the hero quickly. He doubled back multiple times, weaving through the city until he reached the clinic. Touya went straight fo his bed after changing, foregoing any showers to wash off the sweat clinging to his body. It took him longer to fall asleep that night, fresh anxiety gnawing at his stomach. 

The encounters with heroes persisted after Iron Strike. He had a dangerous run in with Eraserhead once. Touya could have sworn the man was about to strike him down when he had froze. "You're young..." The underground hero had stated rather than asked. The vigilante used the distraction to escape. Eraserhead wasn't a problem after that. That didn't mean the others weren't. 

Everything finally hit a terrifying drop when the teen was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He decided to check in on a gang nearby to make sure no one was causing any trouble. After knocking some of them down a few pegs, they hadn't been a problem for a week or two. Now, there were rumors of the members popping back up and robbing a few small stores. 

He had prepared for a decent amount of time, ready to swoop in and knock out a few of them when two heroes and a sidekick burst onto the scene. Panic seized him. It was Iron Strike and some of the members of a local hero agency. He never caught their names but the hero had a water quirk and her side kick had a hot steam quirk. This wasn't good.

Touya clung to the shadowy walls as they took out the gang from within their warehouse. They were blocking the exit, and he didn't know the rest of the building. There was no escape plan; he was trapped. It wouldn't be long before they found him. Gang members he could deal with but pro-heroes? 

Iron Strike noticed him first and smirked. "Well would you look at that! I knew you were nothing but trouble!" The man crowed pounding his fists together. The metal encasing his hands clanged harshly, and the teen flinched. "You're a slippery fish. But today I'm gonna pound you into next week."

The sidekick looked surprised at the man's statements. "Mr. Iron Strike, what are you saying?" The younger male asked, utterly appalled. 

The pro-hero shoved the man away. "Get away. I'm taking this bastard out. He's been a thorn in my side for too long."

The vigilante barely had time to react when the hero came straight at him. A heavy fist slammed into his gut, and he fell, choking. Iron Strike's were quite literally like iron. His quirk let him add weight to his hits. The man's hands felt like a ton of lead crashing into his body. A strangled cough rattled his form, blood rising in the back of his throat. Had the hit messed up his lung? 

A heaviness encased his throat and pushed down. Iron Strike's large palms wrapped around him and shoved him into the concrete. Eyes wide, Touya struggled to breath. It felt like his esophagus was being crushed on all sides. Air escaped him, and black spots swirled in his vision. He was too thin and small to push the bulky man off. 

The other pro-hero was distracted with another gangster but the sidekick watched in hero. "M-mr. Iron Strike!" The young man practically whimpered. 

"Shut it, brat!" A deep growl reverberated in the older hero's chest. "I'm serving what this bastard deserves." His harsh words made the sidekick back away, and Touya felt his heart drop. No one was going to stop him. 

As the pain worsened, the vigilante began loosing control. A moment of disillusion passed over him, and Iron Strike’s hands were replaced with the hands of his father. A fear like no other clawed its way through him. His mouth opened in a silent scream as a searing burning tore through his entire being. It was just like that day long months ago when his father had attempted to hurt him for protecting Shouto. 

Blue flame flared and exploded from his body. The hero above him let go, roaring in pain and horror. Touya thrashed, his own flesh blistering and splitting under the intense flames. He wheezed and cried, crawling away front the crumpled body of his attacker. The man was still burning but from the way his body had stopped moving, it looked like it didn't matter anymore. That is, what was left of the man.

Blood and bile burned at his tongue. The horrifyingly familiar smell of burning flesh filled his senses. "Stop!" cried the sidekick as he came running after Touya. In a blind panic, the teen sent a slicing wave of fire that hit the young man across the chest. He yelled, and his mentor rushed to extinguish him. 

In the chaos, he clambered to his feet and stumbled away. His limbs were smoldering, the blue flames fading out of existence. The backpack was sitting outside. He clutched at it and stumbled further, away from the distant sirens. Finding a familiar alleyway, he let himself fall. 

Wheezing, he pawed his phone from his bag and tapped at the cracked screen. The early hour of two in the morning greeted him as he unlocked the device carefully. Yoshihara's name flashed in the contacts, and he pressed to dial the number. "Y-yoshi-h-hara..." He gasped out when he heard the man pick up.

"Holy shit, kid. Where are you? What's wrong?" The man spoke quickly, evident concern in his voice.

"Near... The cafe... You know, the one with the stupid... C-cupcakes? They're cupcakes right? Yeah... I... I n-need your help..."

"Stay on the line, I'm coming. How bad is it?"

Touya attempted to respond but a wet, gasping coughing fit took over. He wiped blood from his lip. He could see smoke rising from the purple flesh. "N-not good..."

Yoshihara stayed on the phone, making sure every few minutes the teen was awake and responding. It was getting harder to keep his eyes open by the time the doctor found his alleyway. The man choked in a breath at the sight of the teen's mangled body. "Touya..." 

"Hey, old man," he attempted to quip but the stretching of his burnt face made his eyes tear up more. 

"No more talking. Dammit, kid... What did you do?" When Touya prepared to respond, he held up a hand. "Rhetorical question. Answers later when it doesn't look like your jaw is about to melt off. I called in a favor, and I have to get the car back to the clinic soon so let’s go."

The trip blurred through Touya's mind. Every shaking breath distracted him with a new sensation of pain. His whole body hurt and yet there was a significant numbness in certain regions like his shoulders and face. A particular heavy wheeze made him fear that the skin stretched across his collarbone would split apart. He barely even registered being lifted up and out of the car. 

Had it even been a car? The teen wasn't sure. All he knew was that he was back at the clinic and was being carried by more than one set of arms. Probably the owner of the vehicle. The last thing he remembered before passing out was the exchange of keys and the chill of the medical table seeping through his charred hoodie.

+++

When he wakes up, everything felt wrong. His skin was pinched and stretched. Joints ache and crack loudly if he shifted. He felt dehydrated, tongue like sandpaper and lips chapped. He lifts a hand to rub the sleep from his eyes but pauses. Turning his hand back and forth, he stared at his limb. 

His fingers, knuckles, and most of his palm were normal if not just a bit paler. The rest of his skin though... Half of his hand to his wrist and up his forearm was dark purple flesh, tight and numb. Metallic staples held the burnt skin in place. If he flexed his fingers he could see the thin line between pale skin and the burnt mass open, red muscle and tendons shifting underneath. 

A sharp gag caught in his throat. It was the same for the other arm. The lump in his throat grew as he ran his fingertips across his bare chest and collarbone, the metal cool and holding his seams together. He choked on a sob as his hand met his face. It hadn't escaped the same treatment. Tears stung under his eyes as they seeped into the thin cracks of skin.

What the hell did he look like? He didn't have to strength to stand and find out. Luckily, the hand mirror from when he first woke up in the clinic was close enough to reach from the table. Touya carefully latched onto the hand mirror, attempting to avoid destroying his freshly sutured wounds. Taking a shaking breath, he flipped the mirror towards his face. 

The light scarring was replaced by distinct patches of dark burns. The skin was purpled like his arms but his sharp blue eyes made the color more vibrant. More metal staples studded his face around his eyes and along his jaw. His burns went down his neck and past his collarbone. It also appeared that the skin had split significantly from his bottom lip to his chin, a thin crease clamped shut with a close line of the staples.

Touya looked up when he heard footsteps. Yoshihara stood in the doorway, leaning heavily on the frame. His face was ashen, eyelids drooping with tiredness and knuckles white from clutching the wall. The bandages wrapped around his arms held fresh blotches of blood. "Hey, kid..." He finally managed. "Took a lot of blood to keep ya going... Sorry if I seem a bit... Out of it." His words slurred as though he were drunk.

"Why the staples?" Touya choked out. He cleared his throat, dryness making his voice border on sandpaper scratchy. 

The doctor sighed and ran a hand through his dark curls. The mop atop his head had already been messy but now it looked like a massing, untamable weeds. It matched the dark circles under the dull honey eyes and pale face. "My quirk can only do so much... I... I tried my damnedest to save as much of you as I could. You had damage to your right lung and esophagus that could kill you if not treated," he explained.

"I had to stop using my quirk for a few hours after that or else I was going to pass out. After cleaning you up, I realized that the burns went deep. Almost all of it is now scar tissue, and my quirk doesn't work on scarring unless I can take care of an injury automatically." Yoshihara's voice wavered and evident guilt flashed across his visage before being replaced by tiredness. "I... The only way to avoid dangerous infection from massive wounds and... If I had attempted to remove the skin, you'd be more likely to loose more blood..."

He hadn't looked at the teen's eyes this entire time. When he looked up, a watery glaze brushed over his eyes. "I'm... I'm so sorry, Touya... I... I can't do more."

Touya watched the doctor break down. For the past months, the man had been watching out for him. Hell, he was more of a father than Enji was. Yoshihara made sure he was well versed in first aid, had decent meals, and even provided him with a place to stay. He may have made the excuse of it being part of his payment but after about a week, the teen realized how lonely the man had been. 

Now the doctor had "let him down." Grimacing, he swung his legs over the table. The teen winced as he stood, staples pulling at his skin. "You did all you could."

Yoshihara's eyes snapped to him. "Lay back down!" He stumbled forwards, gingerly grasping his arms. "I still need to wrap the burns not fully healed and disinfect the seams of your sutures!"

Touya gave a grunt in response but did as he was told. Despite his drowsiness and tear stained cheeks, the doctor was attentive and serious. He was gentle with him, pausing anytime a groan or hiss of pain left the boy's lips. A strained smile crossed his face when Touya took a long drink for a cup of water. 

"I..."

"If you're going to apologize again, then stop."

"..."

"You did what you could. I don't expect more than this. You... You came for me... That's really what matters." Touya stared at the white ceiling. "So thank you."

A huff left Yoshihara's mouth as though he had been holding his breath. "I'm glad I found you... What were you doing there, kid? Who did this to you?"

Another grimace settled on the teen's face. "You... You know I've been going out at night. I've been a vigilante for the a while now. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and a hero..." He spat the last word. "He decided to make it clear that heroes only care for themselves and fame. I never used my quirk when I helped people. It's too dangerous. But I... I couldn't stop it. I was going go die, and it just... I think I killed him..." 

Chapter Text

Even once he was cleared to start moving more actively, Touya clammed up in his room. The vigilante threads had gone haywire. He was glad that he never used his quirk as Aonatsu because his heroic persona and his murderous actions were not connected. Many were concerned about his disappearance and associated it to a couple of gang busts, assuming he could have gotten caught in the crossfire. After a week of silence, it made sense that they would jump to conclusions.  

On the other hand, he was now a criminal. Iron Strike had been, for lack of a better word, roasted alive, and the sidekick, whom he now found was named Jōki, had severe burns but would be fine. Since the two heroes were unaware of Touya or what his vigilante persona dressed as, they chalked him up as a gang member turned murderer. The news speculated that his powers were like cremation, flame so hot that it could destroy human bodies until there was nothing left.

Based on the quirk, he had been dubbed Dabi. It wasn't very original, the name being derived from the word cremation itself. Then again, there wasn't much else they had to build on other than his quirk so Touya accepted it. He was Dabi now. With everything going on, there was no way to become Aonatsu again. 

Because of his intense scars, it was easier to notice. They matched ones that the heroes had speculated he would sustain from his attack. Not only that, but regular people responded visibly to his injuries. The few times he had attempted to leave in the next few weeks left him with margins as people swerved away from him. He had even spotted a mother drag her child to the other side of the street to avoid him.

In the end, he hid away from everything. It was better that way. No prying eyes, and no chances of cop or hero run ins. Yoshihara wasn't pleased with this change. Touya was becoming a depressed recluse, and the doctor had no clue how to draw him back out. If anything, he was getting frustrated. 

"Okay, brat. Get out here or I'll kick you out!" The man had said but his threat rang empty. He would never throw the kid out but this was getting ridiculous. 

Touya was sitting in his usual place. His back pressed against the side of his bed as he sat on the floor. The phone remained settled in his palm. News sites flickered across the screen as he switched from article to article. Time was progressing and so was the world. New heroes were making their debuts like Mount Lady while he was stuck here.

His grip tightened on the device, the skin clamped together by staples stretching slightly. He knew he shouldn't be pouting in his room but... He messed up. He killed someone. After that, how could he be a hero? How would he be able to save people knowing he had murdered someone. 

While Yoshihara had claimed it was self-defense, the media had dubbed Dabi a criminal and a murderer. Even though he respected the man's views, Touya couldn't help but feel the weight of society's views on his shoulders. The teen, just shy of twenty, felt like he was drowning. The world spun around him in a conflicting whirlwind. He didn't know where to go next, dragged into the center of the cyclone. 

As fresh fear swirled in his head, Touya clamped his teeth down on the side of his tongue. The face of Iron Strike, sneering and furious, appeared at the forefront his mind, and he bit harder. A gag rose in his throat as blood coated his tastebuds. He attempted to swallow and failed, coughing out some saliva and blood. Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he stood and walked to the door.

Yoshihara perked up when he saw the teen. The flash of relief fell away when he took in the boy's features. "There's blood on your lip..." He stated from his place at the kitchen table.

"Bit my tongue," Touya clipped back simply.

"... Touya... You don't have to lock yourself away... No one that comes to my clinic will judge you."

"..."

"Please... I just-...!"

"I'm going back to my room."

Taking a glass of water, Touya turned on his heels sharply and trudged away. He missed the sad look the doctor sent after him. The door thudded quietly behind him, blocking the world out once more.

 

+++

 

Touya had finally cracked. After months of skimming articles on All Might returning and news on fake heroes and vigilante forums while locked away, he stumbled across news based on criminals. The topic? Analyzing the criminal Dabi. And it tore him apart.

After reading it, he cried until his eyes were rimmed red and there were no more tears. His eyes hadn't watered since. He was tired and had no outlet. The scarring was too extensive to return to regular society without questions, and he felt unworthy of the heroic name, Aonatsu. For now he could only wallow in self loathing. 

Yoshihara tried his best to talk with the young man and keep food and water in his system. But Touya was becoming paler with each passing week, restless yet exhausted. He barely ate much less spoke to the doctor. The young adult was clammed away for over a year, and it was destroying him; it was as though he was decaying. 

A change occurred when a new client was in the clinic. A murmuring rumor hit Dabi's ears when he went to snatch more water from the kitchen. The name "Shigaraki" and "the League of Villains" were tossed about. At first, Touya thought it was a weird gang. Then more people came. 

The villain group's name jumped from person to person. They were a group with one known goal: destroy the hero society. Ambitious at best, they were private about how they would do so. What was known was that the leader, Shigaraki, had been recruiting petty criminals and gang members. 

A worming curiosity wound its way into Touya’s mind. He attempted to search more online but he came up with more questions than answers. His year or so long reclusion had cut him off from all information carried by word of mouth. He would have to stretch his legs and start talking to people again if he ever wanted to know what was going on in the streets he once protected. Luckily, someone was able to give him some general answers without much hassle.

A common guest at the clinic named Hana gave him more information. After her initial shock at his appearance, she settled down as she waited for Yoshihara to finish with his current patient. As a homeless woman in the city, she knew a lot about what was going on. "This League is a strange one," she commented. "A bit crazy but full of interestin' ideals. Something about wantin' to reform the hero society and trash like that. They are plannin, cause a scene at a hero school or somethin'. I guess they're just turnin' the waters. Gettin' the heroes antsy."

"You don't know anything else?" Touya prompted, glancing at the clock. Yoshihara would be finished soon.

Hana shrugged. "Not really. They convinced Ago to go with 'em. Some promises of givin' him protection and a place to stay. Ignored me once they found out I have a weak quirk." 

That surprised the man. Hana's quirk revolved around calming people. With a touch of her finger, tense muscles relaxed and tension went away. It was pretty useful. When compared to Ago, it was “weak.” Ago had a mutation based quirk that gave him the abilities and features of a shark. Both had lived on the same street and watched each other's backs. 

Whatever the League was planning, Touya decided to be silent and watch. Based on their name, a group of Villains wasn't something he was planning to associated with. 'Even though you are one...' A voice whispered into his mind. 

"You alright?" asked Hana. He jumped when her thin fingers dusted over his knuckles. The tension from his body faded away. "You look worried. I'm sure Ago will he okay."

"Y-yeah..." The young man stammered out.

The woman looked at him with warm, calculating eyes. "Hon... What happened to you? When I last came to visit a couple weeks ago, you weren't anywhere and Dr. Yoshihara was clearly upset. Now all these scars..."

She reached out a delicate hand again. Touya flinched, moving out of reach. "I... I'm fine!" He blurted out. Standing to his feet, he turned. "Thank you for the talk, Hana." He fled back to the comfort of his room.

It was a while before he talked to any of the clients again. 

 

+++

 

He gasped awake, sweat glistening on his face. The last thing he remembered from his dream was horrible screams and blue fire. A sick feeling clutched at his stomach, and he curled in on himself. If only he could just forget. If he forgot, maybe he could be a hero again.

'The quirk does make a hero, their actions do.' The young voice of Midori echoed in his mind and he felt sick again. The kid had been right but look at him now. Actions built the hero, and he killed someone. The smoke and fire and screams haunted him.

'I knew you were nothing but trouble,' Iron Strike's voice hissed through his thoughts. 

Touya choked on his breath and clamped shaking hands over ears to block out the words. "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" He repeated softly, a mantra against the crackling fire in his brain.

He laid still for a long time in silence. His mind had gone quiet at last as if obeying his commands. At one moment, he blinked and hours had passed. Staring at the clock sitting on his side table, he took in the time: 12:07 AM. He squinted at the phone screen and noticed the date. 

"I'm twenty-one…” He murmured. "I missed Little Shouto's birthday too..."

Touya let out a long breath. How was his family doing? Natsuo should be, or already did, graduating high school since he had skipped a grade or two before he left. Knowing Fuyumi, it was likely that she finished up college as soon as possible to help support her younger siblings in whatever field she studied. And then Shouto... He would be going to high school right now. 

He swallowed. What was their father like? What kind of training was Shouto doing? Was he going to a hero school? Which one? Gosh, those were a handful of unanswered questions that made his stomach twist. And the only way to answer those questions was to sit down and have a long conversation with Yoshihara.

Silently, he resolved to grow the hell up and get answers. Maybe the answers he got would help settle him. 

Yoshihara was surprised to find him on the couch the next morning at 5 AM. "I need a favor" were the first words past his chapped lips. 

The doctor was quiet, eyes calculating and sharp. "Depends on the favor... But you're eating a full meal. You look like the plague." 

Touya, startled by the subtle jab, rose and followed the man into the kitchen. The doctor was already pulling out a packet of bacon and the carton of eggs from the fridge. "Happy birthday by the way..." His head snapped up to stare incredulously at Yoshihara. The man was focused on starting the stove. "I've lived with you for a few years, Touya. This will be year four in November. I remember your birthday."

Touya remained hushed before commenting, "and your birthday is in late April, right? You'll be twenty-nine."

The doctor gave one of his lazy smiles. "Yeah, I'm almost thirty."

"You look it, old man."

Yoshihara feigned offense. "Rude! And here I am, making you breakfast!" They stared at one another until they burst out laughing. "I missed you, Touya."

The young man dipped his head in embarrassment. "I... I missed you too..." He admitted honestly. 

Humming, the doctor cracked an egg into the heating pan. He turned and crossed his arms as the pan let out pops and hisses. "Alright. Now about that favor..."

Chapter Text

Touya's choice to go off on his own wasn't as smooth as he hoped. After the stunt the League of Villains pulled, police and minor heroes roamed the streets in search of any loose ends. With the striking scars of his, the young man had to make himself scarce. It was honestly frustrating. He couldn’t restock on anything for a week or two.

Based on the news, the League of Villains made their debut by attacking one of the UA training facilities. There had been a first year hero class visiting at the time. Even with a large number of criminals attacking, the teachers had protected the students and wiped the slate clean. The only major injuries were sustained by two of the staff and one student. All Might had arrived and took care of any remaining criminals, avoiding any more harm to co-workers and students. 

Touya had felt relief. Before leaving, Yoshihara had informed him on his siblings. Fuyumi had become a teacher, Natsuo had left town to a decent university, and Shouto had started his first year of high school at UA in the heroics department. His baby brother had been among those in the attack. The idea that even without the presence of their father, the boy would be in more dangerous situations worried him. That being said, after the experiences with their father, any confrontations would probably feel typical. He felt sick at the thought.

After a week, in spite of the recent attack of the USJ facility, the UA board announced the Sports Festival. Admittedly, the festival was akin to the Olympics nowadays but after such a jarring incident, Touya was surprised they went through with it. 'At least I can see Shouto's progress,' he had thought upon reading the announcement. ‘How in control of his fire was he after all these years?’

The young adult had slipped into a pub the day of the festival. With the sheer amount of publicity the event held, the building was crammed full of people. Touya hid in the corner, hood up and a light scarf muffling his mouth. No one paid him mind, all focused of the screens around the establishment. Hell, half of them were already on their way to being drunk.

He watched silently from his shaded corner as the festival began. The opening speech made his lip curl in destain. What a brat. Even though the kid, Bakugo, proved how powerful he was in the first event, explosive and loud, Touya remained unimpressed by his attitude. His brother iced his way through the challenge, glaciers forming and crumbling around him. There was no fire.

He watched as they both lost to a smaller, green haired boy. The kid looked familiar but the name wasn't right when they called it out. He didn't know any Midoriya Izukus. He did have a generic vibe about him, maybe that was it. His quirk wasn't flashy either by the looks of it as it wasn't noticeable the entire first round.

The second round was more eventful. The poor plain kid got stuck with the highest points and had his group evading everyone the entire event. The explosive blond and Shouto spent most of the time trying to claim the highest points. His baby brother and the Midoriya kid tussled a while before headbands were snatched. They both made it to the next round.

With the brief intermission between events, Touya sipped on his water quietly. His brother hadn't used any fire thus far. He thought there had been a small burst during the calvary battle but maybe not. Not only that, but Shouto appeared cold as his ice. His face was neutral and sharp, a constant frown. This wasn't his baby brother. What had happened behind closed doors while he was gone? A jittery feeling wormed its way in his gut.

The feeling got worse when the one-on-one battles began. Most of them had been simple with powerful quirks advancing quickly. A boy with a tape quirk had barely step forwards before Shouto slammed him with a glacier of ice. Touya couldn't help but gape. The ice was jagged and dangerous, slicing into the air and encasing the young hero. His gut swirled with discomfort. What was going on with Shouto?

And then he fought the Midoriya kid and the world appeared to rip at the seams. The plain boy bled and broke and screamed at his brother in words smother by cracking ice and smashing hits. Frost coated Shouto's face and arms, his body literally trembling under the strain of the ice. As the plain boy shouted one last thing, fire erupted from his baby brother's unused side. A shaky smile rose to both their faces, and the world exploded. 

After that battle, everything seemed much more mellow. Other than the fight between the gravity girl and explosive dude, nothing got close to the tension from his baby brother's second fight. Even the battle against the exploding blond didn't compare. Shouto refused to use his fire after the plain kid. His brother got second place.

A few of the louder customers whined or hollered about gains and losses from their bets. There was trading of money and opening tabs as commercials played. The channel switched on a nearby tv, a local news station theme blaring out.

"Breaking News: Pro Hero Ingenium Hospitalized!" The man on screen crowed seriously. "Pro Hero Ingenium is currently in critical condition. The Hero Killer has struck again. What is his goal other than killing or maiming our heroes? No one knows! If anyone has any details on the attacker, please call the police as soon as possible..."

Touya stared widely at the screen for a moment. He had heard a bit about the Hero Killer. The guy had killed a small time hero and maimed three others in the past month. Ingenium was a pro hero with a team. What was this guy's goal?

A dark haired woman snorted at the table next to Touya. "Hero Killer my ass. What's his deal?" She drummed her long red nails against her glass.

"I hear he wants to reform the hero society," hummed the silver haired man next to her. "Bit wild, right?"

The woman rolled her luminous eyes. "Hell with that. Why would anyone want to reform it?"

Shrugging, the older man took a swig of his drink. "Something about there being bad apples in the bunch? People only being heroes for money and shit like that. I heard it from a friend of mine. Said he spotted the guy and he was spilling all sorts of weird propaganda."

She hummed in response before locking eyes with Touya. "Hey bud, quit staring. Get lost before I claw your eyes out." Her nails seemingly got sharper, bright lips drawn back in a sneer.

Touya huffed and rose to his feet. "Whatever lady," he rasped, slipping out of the pub. 

While he left the obnoxious woman and the building behind him, his thoughts still churned with what he had heard from her companion. Reforming the hero society? It sounded too good to be true. Killing and maiming people wasn't a good course of action but he wasn't completely wrong. He had first hand experience with crappy heroes. It would be interesting to share ideas with people of the same mindset.

He shuffled off to his hide away, praying that no one had messed with his things. He'd have to check around to see if anyone else had information of the Hero Killer Stain.

Even when rationing his supplies out, Touya was on the last keg of just about everything. Without any cash, he couldn't buy anything. He already looked too conspicuous to steal from a store or restaurant. It was honestly getting to the point where stealing from other criminals was his last option.

Murmurs of the League and the Hero Killer rumbled through the streets after the Ingenium attack. Two more heroes were attacked near Hosu by the end of the week, Stain was upping the ante. This led to more close calls with police and riled up criminals. He was thriving on little sleep and food. At least Yoshihara was safe.

Everything came to a head when the monsters attacked Hosu. The League had just announced a connection with the Hero Killer when everything went down. Endeavor had taken out a few of the beasts before being dubbed the hero who took out the Hero Killer. A few intern heroes and a pro were cornered when Endeavor came to the rescue. Touya couldn't help but glare at the article on his cracked phone. 

Below that were words from Stain himself. His ideology was skewed but it still remained that he was right about the hero society. It needed to be fixed. If it had been decent in the first place, he wouldn't be starving in a condemned apartment building. 

A thought struck him as he continued to read. The League of Villains had been mentioned, claiming to be hand in hand with the Hero Killer. The cogs turned in his head. If they shared beliefs and working with the Hero Killer, maybe he could get help from them. If anything, maybe he could be a part of reforming the hero society. Then he could shove it in his father's face once and for all.

Making up his mind, he shoved his few belongings into his backpack and shimmied out the window onto the fire escape. Climbing down into the alleyway, he started walking towards the street. "Hey bud," growled a deep voice from behind him. "You're the one whose been stealing from my gang, eh?"

Touya froze and turned. A few men stood behind him. All of them had a thug vibe about them, most even baring matching tattoos. Ah, some of the people he stole from had that tattoo, didn't they. He gritted his teeth. Not good. He had no weapons. 

"I think we should just get rid of you before you cause any more trouble."

As if on cue, the men rushed him. Touya lifted his left arm and let the churning blue fire blaze to life. It shot from his palm and fingers, swirling around his attackers. They screamed in agony, some crumbling to the ground and the others falling back. 

"Oh hell! He's got a fire quirk!" One of the men who had stayed back screamed and made a run for it.

The lead man, taller and more muscular the the cronies that attacked him, stumbled back. "W-who are you?!"

Touya snapped his eyes to him. "My name is Dabi. And I'm looking for the League of Villains."

 

+++

 

Touya, or better dubbed Dabi, was connected to an informant as soon as possible. His stomach still churned at the thought of hurting more people, thugs or not, but he had to survive. He looked at the girl next to him and held back from wrinkling his nose. She had to be no older than his baby brother. Her blond hair was up in cute, innocent buns, and she donned a navy styled school uniform, the skirt fluttering in a wind. Despite her first glance petite figure, the moment their eyes met, Dabi knew something was off about her.

The girl's eyes were a sharp piercing yellow that glimmered with some unknown insanity. Her grin was wide and as sharp as her gaze. A continuous blush coated her cheeks as though she was bursting with excitement and energy. That being saids, it was  the energy of a caged animal radiating from her expression. You don't turn your back on a caged animal. Dabi held in a shiver. It would be best to not show he was off set by her. 

The man in front of them was no better. He gave off the energy of a snake, a cigarette nestled into his crooked smile. Giran was the info broker he was sent to when asking around about the League. He had thin glasses perched on his nose that he squinted through, speculating and dangerous. The gun he twirled in his fingers sent jitters through his body. Dabi could have sworn it was a fake designed to a be a lighter but you never knew. 

Giran swept a hand through his gray locks. "This is the place," he purred out. "Don't break anything, hm." He pushed open the door of a back alley bar. "Shigaraki!"

Dabi watched as the scarfed man stepped inside and started small talk. He steeled himself. He was about to join the League of Villains to change the hero society. They would be much harsher than any group he had associated with before, he knew it, and that meant he had to be tougher. That meant being cocky and showing attitude was his best option... He hoped.

The older villain before him let out a chuckle and stepped back. A gesture to the door and Dabi stepped into the bar. It was dimly lit with a warm yellow hue, red accenting most of the furniture in the room. A bar and stools were to one side, shelves of amber and clear liquids glinting from behind it. The walls were simple brick work that only added to the warm color scheme. Two men were visible at the bar, one in a suit with smoke obscuring any of his form behind the counter and one hunched over in a stool. 

Based on the images he had seen from Giran, the man named Shigaraki was on the stool. His dull blue hair was matted and wild against the pale shade of his skin. There were disembodied hands clinging to his form, a particularly large one clasped across his face. Other than the disconcerting number of severed hands, the guy looked like a broke college student. He almost laughed.

Then again, he wasn't much better. To complete the Dabi look, he had gone the extra mile. He had always wanted a piercing or a tattoo back when he lived with his family. He now had a few piercing on his ears and nose, the color matching has medical staples. The people he went to were more back alley types but they had been sterile with the procedures. Adding in the white v-neck, loose black jacket, and bulky belt, Dabi looked like a punk rather than a villain. 

Stepping forwards, he tilted back his chin and sneered. "So it's really you, huh? I've seen you in pictures. But I gotta say, you're way grosser in person..." He drawled. Dabi prayed internally that this was the right move. Besides, the guy did look pretty nasty.

"Wow, it's the weird hand guy!" Toga cried, arms bouncing. "You're friends with my hero, Stain, right? Cool! Let me join the League! I wanna be in your group!" 

Dabi had to keep from grimacing. Yep, she was eccentric alright. Despite that, she looked a lot more sane at the moment than the villain before them. Even without seeing his face, Shigaraki radiated annoyance. 

He jabbed a finger at the two of them. "Kurogiri, get rid of these two. I can already tell they're exactly the kind of trash I hate. A brat and a guy with no manners."

'Shit...' Dabi thought.

"Now, now, Tomura Shigaraki. The least we can do is hear them out. Give them a chance," the mist man, Kurogiri, reasoned. "Besides, this broker is respected in the underworld. They're bound to be valuable assets."

"Like 'em or not, you still owe me a finder's fee. In cash," Giran piped up after taking a drag of his cigarette. "I suppose I can introduce the two of 'em before I go." He stepped forward with a swagger to his step. 

He gestured to Toga first. "This one looks like an adorable high school girl, right? She's actually the suspect in a series of deaths where the victims all bled out. So far, her name and face have been kept out of the media."

'Very insane too...' Dabi wanted to add but held his tongue. The others here had probably killed too. Best to hold back. 

"Toga, here. Himiko Toga!" The young girl introduce herself. "Life is too hard! I just want to make it easier to live in this dumb world. I wanna be Mr. Stainy! I wanna kill Mr. Stainy. C'mon, handy-man, please let me join your League of Villains." Her happy voice tapered off at some point, bordering somewhere along the edge of hysteria. 

"You've got to be kidding me," muttered the hand villain, voicing Dabi's own thoughts. "Is she crazy?"

"Well, she can hold a conversation. For the most part, at least," the broker stated. "C'mon, she can be useful."

He then turned to the fire user. "And this guy... Hasn't committed any flashy crimes, but he's taken Stain's ideology to heart. Even killed a hero, I heard."

Swallowing silently, Dabi decided to speak up. Toga seemed a bit too trigger happy, and he honestly wanted to know what the group's real plans were. "I don't like this... Is your group really dedicated to the Hero Killer's mission?" He demanded in a low voice. "I can't imagine you are if you let this little psycho join you." Toga giggled in response.

Shigaraki tilted his head. "Grow up. She may be a psycho, but at least she knows how to introduce herself to people. Don't just stare. What's your name?" He shot back. 

"Right now I'm goin' by Dabi," Dabi rasped. 

"No, I want to know your real name." The League member's irritation was becoming palpable. 

"I'll tell you when you need to know it." Which was a full on lie. They would never get his real name. "In any case, my new purpose is to carry out the Hero Killer's will." Or at least, something like that...

"That wasn't what I asked you, patchwork. Jeez. Why is everyone so hung up on Stain? He's all I ever hear about." Shigaraki's voice grew louder as he stood up. Anger was seeping from his words. "Every damn day..."

Kurogiri straightened. "No, don't do it." He stated.

Dabi's muscles tensed. He must have gone too far. So much for acting like an arrogant villain. He caught a glimpse of wild red eyes behind the hand on Shigaraki's face. 'Oh shit.'

"It's really pissing me off. You two are done!" He snapped lashing out with his hands.

Everything happened so fast. Dabi was quick to jolt into action. Throwing up a hand, smoke rose to life across his finger tips, fire burning beneath his skin. But then nothing touched him and his palm hit no one else. Dabi stared at the swirling black mist before him. A portal?

"Please calm yourself, Tomura Shigaraki," demanded Kurogiri. His arms had extended forming four different portals. Dabi's own smoking palm floated above his head. "If your desire is to be realized, then we must increase our numbers. Now that we're in the spotlight, our chance is at hand." His wispy features moved around the hand villain. "I advise you to be more accepting." His voice trailed off as he murmursed something else.

Shigaraki drew his hands back, and Kurogiri pulled his arms away. "I'm outta here," he grumbled. 

Giran rose a brow. "Where are you off to?" He questioned only to be shot down with a simple 'shut up.' The broker scratched the back of his head. "I make it a point to not complain about a client, but he's too young. And far too immature."

"Really thought he was gonna kill me for a sec!" Toga chimed in. Her smile made it seem as though she wasn't even fazed by the attack. 

"That guy makes me want to vomit," Dabi stated, attempting to sooth his jumbled nerves. 

Kurogiri sighed and apologized. He offered them another meeting at a later date. Dabi felt more relaxed after making more plans and yet, Shigaraki set of many alarms in his mind. Toga may be a bit unhinged, but she it looked as though she took everything in stride and held firm to her goals. The League leader, on the other hand, had snapped and outright tried to kill both of them just because he didn't get his way. 

Dabi sucked in a deep breath as he left the bar. Being an arrogant newbie villain was a route he never thought he'd be on. At this point, it appeared his only choice was to join. Staring back at the bar one last time, he adjusted his jacket collar. He'd just have to take it in stride. As long as his family and Yoshihara were safe, that's all that mattered to him.

Chapter Text

It took a few days for the League to get situated. All in all, the group was a mess of backgrounds. Spinner and Magne were the more mellow members, Spinner specifically pursuing after Stain's ideology. The reptile villain was decked out in blades and even dressed like the Hero Killer himself. He would go off on tangents but it reminded him of Natsuo when his brother talked about his favorite subjects at school. 

Twice was less sane but interesting nonetheless. He constantly wore his black and grey mask, explaining how he would "split without it." The man had a bad habit of doubling his speech, and the listener would have to figure out which sentence was true and which was a lie. He was nice enough though, his energy high and happy. He also hit it off well with Toga, bringing out a softer side of the crazy chick.

Toga was now balancing the line of crazy and sane. As long as she didn't go off about knives and blood, she was relatively pleasant. The other youngest unfortunately was more annoying. Mustard was extremely bratty and arrogant, the kind of kid Dabi found frustrating to deal with. He was still better than Muscular. 

He avoided Muscular as much as he could. The murderer had no morals or basis for being part of the League other than being able to kill more. An absolute sicko. Even the newest addition, the masked magician Mr. Compress, had only held one conversation with the man before avoid him like a plague. Dabi hadn't had a chance to speak with the newest members, vaguely aware that he had been a help in busting out their final teammate, Moonfish, from prison. 

They had yet to receive any tasks other than "get comfortable and train." He chose to train with Spinner and Toga rather than any of the others. They showed him how to hold and swing a knife, and he taught them how to punch with breaking their hands. Generally, he let himself become relaxed. Most of these people just wanted to help society change like him. 

It wasn't until he met All for One that he realized how wrong he was. 

He met the man behind the screen, and he realized something about the whole League was off. Kurogiri had talked to many of the members individually before studying Dabi carefully. "I need you to come with me," the misty figure stated. "Someone would like to meet you."

Quirking a brow, the young man rose from the bar. He followed the bartender silently through one of his portals. The room he stepped into was dark except for the glow of television screens and small blinking lights. A large silhouette was visible is the shining lights. The figure sent a shudder through his body. 

"Dabi, a pleasure to finally meet you face to face," a reverberating voice spoke. The figure turned in the chair, tubes shifting and wires twisting. "Come closer. Take a seat." His hand swept out, large and callused, toward a simple chair. 

Glancing back, he noticed the lack of Kurogiri. He had left. Which meant Dabi would be stuck here until the man called for him. Great...

He strode forwards and settled in the chair. Casting a glance at the man's face, his mind stuttered. The face had no eyes or nose, wrinkles of scar tissue wrapping across his visage. All that was visible was his mouth set in a relaxed smile. Tubing wormed from his throat and attached to machines around his chair. Bags of fluid hung from metal racks around him, dripping into thin cords that dipped into his flesh. His chest rose slowly, a soft beep following every exhale. 

"My appearance must surprise you," the man noted. 

Dabi shook his head. "Oh... I was... I just wasn't expecting..."

"A man one step away from life support?"

"..."

"I don't blame you," the man let out a long sigh as he spoke. "Years back, I would not have expected to be trapped in this situation." He lifted his chin as if considering the young man before him. "Though I expect you did not plan to be in this situation either."

Dabi tensed. "What do you mean?" He asked in a level voice. 

"Heroes have a way of ruining peoples lives as much as they save them," the man reasoned. "You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, weren't you Aonatsu?"

A chill rushed through the young man. "How did you--?"

The older man raised a hand. "I know many things, Dabi. I know that you were a vigilante until a selfish hero decided you were too close to his spotlight." His hand lowered, and his voice turned sympathetic. "You were trying your best and helped people. Then he went and hurt you. You retaliate in self-defense only to be dubbed a killer."

Dabi remained silent. He hadn't mentioned his father. It seemed that he only was able to piece together his vigilante past. That, at least, was a relief. 

Taking his silence as a reason to continue, the man spoke more. "I understand. My name is All for One, and I attempted to heal the hero society long ago. No one understood, and I had to... Dirty my hands. People rely on heroes for everything, and through my attempts to prove them wrong, the world turned against me. I've been tossed aside, injuries and forgotten." His voice was soured yet sad. If All for One hadn't rubbed him the wrong way, he'd be inclined to believe him entirely.

"The Hero Killer believes in reforming the hero society any way possible," Dabi spoke finally. "How are we as a group going to do that?"

A smile spread across the man's face. "Quite simple: we will destroy it." 

The chill was back, spearing through his stomach. "What?"

"Ah, that's a bit of a shocker, isn't it?" One for All mused. "It isn't just destroying it. To fix the hero society, we must prove its flaws. One of them is the new generations of hero. They must know that the world is not a stage to play superhero. The other is the pillar of peace, All Might. He needs to die."

Dabi almost choked. Kill All Might? But All Might was the most honest hero out there! The man was a saint compared to most of the power happy and money hungry heroes that populated the pro hero ranks. Even Stain respected him, a damn murderer! How would killing him help anything?

As if sensing his unease, All for One patted his knee. "People rely on him the most. As one of the only stable heroes, he blinds them of how weak they are. By putting their trust in only heroes, society has become defenseless. If we take away their pillar, they will be forced to grow and change. A new power will rise from the ashes of a mighty hero, and the society will change," the man crowed. "We will bring about a new era and reform heroes!"

His speech finished, he faced the young villain expectantly. "I..." Swallowing, Dabi tried to speak again. "I was unaware of your plan to kill All Might..."

"Does that diffuse your ambitions?" His voice was calm but the younger man felt as though a cold knife was pressed up against his gullet. 

"No," he stated, the lie weaseling its way out of his lips. "I am here to complete the Hero Killer's mission to change the hero society."

The man before him though over his answer and a large smile returned to his face. "I see. Shigaraki was wise to choose you then."

"Choose me?"

"You are to be the leader of the next mission. Kurogiri will give you the details soon. I expect great things from you, Dabi." His face grew serious. "Do not let me down."

Kurogiri had appeared moments later to take him back. When he arrived at the bar once more, Dabi went straight to the apartments in the upstairs portion of the building. He avoided the others and slipped into his room. The space was small with little personal belongings. There was his old backpack, a phone charger, a book from Yoshihara, and his favorite hoodie. Everything else was simple essentials provided to him like extra clothing and cleaning products. 

He fell back onto the plain blue comforter of his bed and tugged at his hair. He screwed up. He royally screwed up. They were planning actual murder. He would never be able to avoid killing, would he? He was becoming a monster just like Shigaraki and Muscular and... Endeavor. He slammed a fist into his bed. 

How did he not see this coming? He had gotten too comfortable with the people around him. They were criminals all in their own way, and now he was going to help them commit the murder of the decade. His fingers clung to the thick fabric under him. Hell, maybe even of the century. 

Exhaling, he thought back to his family. He was doing this for his family and for those like them. Even if Dabi hated the plans of the League, keeping them safe was his top priority. Play along and they'll get out unscathed. 

Kicking off his shoes and shrugging off the fraying jacket, the young man moved fully onto the mattress. If he slept on it, maybe everything would work out in his mind. The reminder of his family helped calm his nerves just a bit. Sleep would hopefully do the rest. 

+++

Dabi wished he was still dreaming. He stared at the papers in his clammy hands. Among the names listed was his baby brother. His baby brother was a threat. They would try to kill Little Shouto.

Shigaraki snapped at him. "Did you get all that? Pass the papers, barbecue."

Flashing the man child a scowl, he obeyed and shifted the packet to his left. “What's the point of having a 'dangerous individual list?' They're kids," he shot back. 

Red eyes bore into turquoise. "They may be baby heroes but they are still heroes. Some of them will try and stop us from getting the prize. Even as just brats, they got some powerful moves."

The plan was to cause chaos and kidnap a UA student. Apparently, the first year UA hero classes were going on a summer training camp trip. How they found out about it Dabi would never know. Among the first years was a particularly brash kid with a dangerous quirk. Explosives and a temper didn't seem to mix well. Even civilians had commented on how villainous he acted. Shigaraki took those words seriously. 

"So we can kill 'em?" Muscular asked, a dangerous glint in his eye. 

Kurogiri focused on the murderer. "That is not your first goal. Your goal is to capture Bakugo Katsuki and cause as much destruction as possible. The head of our organization is also interested in one Shiretoko Tomoko, the pro hero Ragdoll. If possible, capture her alive. She does not have to be uninjured." He spoke simply as if describing another kidnapping was normal. 

"There will be a selection of other heroes: two teachers, Vlad King and Eraserhead, and the other Wild Wild Pussycats. Some of you will need to distract them while others focus on the main tasks of Bakugo Katsuki and Shiretoko Tomoko. Dabi will be in charge," the mist villain finished. 

They all looked at the scarred man. "Him?" Mustard whined. "Why him?" 

"Because, even with his shit manners, he isn't a brat or a psychopath," Shigaraki sniffed. "Sensei also approved. Do not test my judgement." His long fingers curled around the empty glass in his hand, disintegrating it. 

Mustard shut up fast. 

"The mission will take place in four days on the third night of their training camp. Prepare yourselves. You will be the Vanguard Action Squad," the hand villain exclaimed. 

Dabi held in a snort at the dramatic name. "Whatever. Just be ready," he drawled, standing and going up to his room. 

He ignored the scattered voices he left behind. He had to calm down before he spoke to any of them. Once he locked the door behind him, Dabi slid down the wall, clutching at his chest. "Oh gosh..." He choked out softly. 

This mission was personal. Not only was he kidnapping a child and a decent hero, but he might have to hurt his baby brother. 'Or the others will get to him first...' He realized. He trusted his brother's strength but these villains weren't their father. Their father sometimes held back; the Vanguard would be out for blood. 

His stomach churned with anxiety. He would have been fine dying. He had caused pain for his family and for others. Hell, he'd killed a man and robbed people. All the good he had done as a vigilante only went so far. If he left the League, it won't matter if they went after him and killed him. At least he won't be killing anyone else. 

But now Shouto was involved. A thought struck him. If he was there, he could watch out for him. He was the leader of the mission, and he would keep them on track. He'd stop them from killing people if he could but the only way to do that was to... Betray the League. 

A plan began to worm its way into his mind. All for One was a bit too bloodthirsty for his taste. He wanted change but at the cost of students and heroes who worked hard to help society? Not to mention his own family being on the list of people to wipe out? No, he couldn't have that. He'd have to sit and wait and plan. And do something about the anger that was burning inside his chest.

Chapter Text

As the Vanguard Action Squad stood over top the forest containing the training camp, Dabi stared sharply into the trees. Toga whined beside him, fixing her mask. "I do not like this," she grumbled. "It's so not cute!"

"They were engineered for the black market, from what I hear," Mustard chimed in, voice muffled by his elaborated gas mask. "You should be worried that they work, not that they look pretty."

The blond took it in stride and continued her complaints about style. Magne, Moonfish, and Spinner arrived behind them. Dabi ran his eyes through the group and looked back over the cliff. "That makes seven of us," he commented. 

"I don't care! Let me loose," growled Muscular behind his hockey mask. "I'm too pumped up to stand by."

Dabi glared at him, his stitched jacket fluttering in the breeze. "Shut your mouth, you crazy bastard," he snapped. "We wait. We're still expecting three more people to join our little party. The League of Villains made a mistake going after them with a bunch of random thugs at the USJ. Better to use a small group of elites." He noticed Spinner puff up at the word ‘elite.’ 

"The first thing we have to do is take away their sense of peace and show them their lives rest in our hands," he said dramatically. He hated every word spilling from his mouth. "Go set up camp. I'll take first watch."

As the others scattered off to do their own thing, Dabi sighed. Holding them back would be a pain in the ass. He could only hope that things would fall in his favor. Just grab the kid and get out before anyone got seriously hurt.  

It wasn’t long before it was the next night. The plan was turning in motion. Taking a deep breath, Dabi placed a palm against one of the trees. The dark shadows obscured him and his comrades from view for now. 

"From what we can tell, they're doing a test of bravery. Most students and the Wild Wild Pussycats are in a particular area. Magne and Spinner, go to the open field and stall as long as you can. Muscular, round the perimeter. I don't want anyone getting out to the police. Try not to kill anyone," the fire user gave the murderer, who grumbled angrily, a pointed glare. "Mustard, Moonfish, Mr. Compress, Toga, and... The Nomu. You five are in the forest. Flush people out best you can, find Bakugo. When you do, radio us so I can signal Kurogiri. Twice, you're with me. Meet me at their lodging."

Twice raised a brow. "Sure thing, boss! No way, what are you doing?!"

Dabi’s face twisted into a dangerous look. "Me? I'm lighting the damn forest on fire."

Toga shifted nervously at his look and bounded off, Mustard on her heels. The group eventually all dispersed. Praying silently that everything would go as planned, he spread his fingers out and let his fire take over. Flames of blue came to life across the tree trunk, licking up its side and catching in the limbs. The wind sent flickering sparks to other trees, the dry forest catching fast. 

Sighing softly to himself, he stared at the hues of turquoise and cyan in his dancing flames. "Now, it begins," he muttered. 

Once the fire had stretched far beyond his view, he removed his palm. It would serve as a decent distraction for now. If he didn't get back to Twice soon, the dope would get himself hurt or something. Or hurt someone else...

He ran through the forest with ease, vaulting over the fallen trees and rocks in his way. Dabi had memorized as much of the terrain as he could before the mission started. With any luck, he’d be there in a few moments. Weaving through the trees, he was greeted with the sight of the Wild Wild Pussycats camp lodging. Staying low to the ground, he spotted Twice hidden in heavy undergrowth bordering the clearing. 

"How many inside?" He asked, sliding in next to the masked villain. 

"Two heroes and six kids. I dunno! Why ya asking?!" Twice responded in his usual fashion. 

Based on the general location of the other heroes, it had to be Eraserhead and Vlad King. As long as he was quick and Twice could back him up, he could delay them a bit. 'And warn them...'

"One of the Pussycats has a telepathic quirk. By now, Mustard is using his quirk, and my fire has spread. Spinner and Magne left first so it's safe to assume she'll try to contact the students and teachers..." Turning to Twice, he pointed to himself. "You can make a clone of me, right? Can you do it fast enough to swap me out if both heroes come to attack me?"

"Sure thing! No way!"

"Good. Send it in when I signal."

Dabi slid forwards and stopped at the door. Standing beside the entrance, he waited. The students were generally loud, and he heard their voices within the depths of the building. And then there was a set of pounding footsteps rushing through the hall. Taking a deep breath, he prepared himself and let his frustrations take over. 

Eraserhead burst through the doors and froze. He was staring at the smoke and blue sparks rising from the forest in the distance. The hero didn't even notice Dabi, his arm stretched out and ready. Unclenching his hand, he pulled on an expression of discontent.

"Looks like your concern has you distracted, Eraser," he rasped. 

His eyes widen at the sight of the scarred villain. ”Vlad-…!” The underground hero began to yell only to have blue flames blast at him. 

Keeping his face neutral, his heart hammered in his chest. All his pent up flames had exploded to life. The force of his fire made him step back to catch himself. Starting the forest fire didn't even compare to this. The temperature of the cool summer night rose to a sweltering heat. 

"You pros ‘oughta lay off. We haven't come here for any of you so just stay out of our way," he stated, part of him wishing they would actually stay out of their way and just protect the students in this building. 

But Eraserhead was glaring down at him, eyes glinting with the use of his quirk. Hand falling back to his side, smoke curled between his finger and dissipated. 

"Nice move. Guess you really are a pro," Dabi commented. His fire blazed to life once more as the man blinked, and he shot Twice a look. A clone shot out of the bushes and replaced him. If he remember correctly, Twice's clones copied a person down to their personality and morals. If he was lucky, the clone would do as he hoped.

+++ 

Eyes glinting again, Aizawa shot his capture weapon out and wrapped it around the villain. The villain had gotten a shot at him but he had the brat immobilized now. After a knee to the face and slamming him to the ground, man gagged. He snarled out questions. "What do want and where are you friends hiding?"

"My what?" The young man choked out, face rubbing painfully against the rocky ground. With all those medical staples, it couldn't be pleasant. 

Completely done with this, the pro hero snapped his left arm. "Your right arm is next. Be logical about this. At least save your legs. It would be a real pain to have to carry you off to jail without them."

A grunt emitted from villain along with a tremor. It shivered through his body, and he swallowed down what sounded like a response. Aizawa's eyes narrowed. Had this guy almost apologized?

"You can take your time, Eraserhead," the man below him rasped out. A flicker of fire rose from his hair. 

Sounds from the forest, rumbling and crashing, drew Aizawa's attention. "What was that?" He muttered. 

"Mr. Aizawa!" Iida called from the forest edge. Mineta, Ojiro, and Koda stood gasping behind him. 

"Stay back," the teacher called in return. But his attention had been shift for too long. 

The body under him shoved up, and he stumbled back. Rising up and catching his footing, the villain turned. "That's exactly the performance I'd expect out of a UA teacher. Tell me, hero..." The capture weapon was still wrapped around the criminal's chest and biceps. 

Attempting to cut off his speech, Eraserhead yanked at the tool. The tool, in a shocking turn of events, went through the body. He stiffened as the mouth continued to move. "You worried for your students?"

He stared in horror. What was this guy's quirk? Hadn't it been fire? What was going on?

Staring into his eyes, the villain continued. "I wonder if you can save them in the end..." The words gave off the nature of a threat and yet... 

Something clicked in his head. He knew this voice. It had been less raspy and a little shaky the last time he heard it. "You're..."

The melting face gave him an expression that sent a shock up his spine. "They'll need your help," the villain seemingly mocked, the barest hint of a wispy plea at the end. "See you soon…"

As the villain's form melted completely, his students ran up in a panic. Sending them inside, he bolted down the path. He had to track down his other students and, if he could, the villain. Because he sure as hell remembered those eyes of a scared vigilante years ago, and he needed to find him.

+++

Twice and Dabi had made a break for the forest the moment the clone took over. Going back to lighting forest fires, his companion announced his clone's defeat. He couldn't help but sigh. At least Twice could keep more clones coming so they could keep distracting people. 

Removing his palm from the trunk, he tilted his head, listening. "Let's go. This is enough fire. We may run into some of the students who may know where that Bakugo kid is."

Twice gave him a thumbs up with one hand and flipped him off with the other. "Let's go, bro! This mission is a breeze! Dammit dude! So pushy!" He hollered off. 

As they walked along the blazing shrubs, the radio crackled to life. They paused. "Vanguard Action Squad. I've acquired our target. Our little show has officially come to a close. Meet me at the retrieval point in the next five minutes for the final bow," the voice of Mr. Compress filtered through. 

"Hey, Dabi! Did you hear the radio? I'm so pumped up! Our boy Compress totally got the job done!" Twice cheered. "The man certainly took his time. I was starting to get bored."

"Don't be a pain. He did a good job," Dabi sighed. 'He was way quicker than I could have hoped. With any luck, no one got seriously hurt.’ Looking ahead, he continued his pace. "Now we just have to wait for everyone to regroup here."

"You're the pain! Forgive me."

Dabi furrowed his brow and swept his eyes over the area. There was a severe lack of Mustard's gas quirk. "This place was suppose to be hard to find because of the wall of flames and poisonous gas. But it looks like the gas is gone. Things never go according to plan, do they?" He muttered. The brat must have been caught. Great. 

"For real. This is the plan."

A soft rustle came from the bushes from where the gas had been. Dabi paused as Twice rambled on. A blond head poked out a moment, and blue eyes met purple for a moment. Fear flashed in the boy's eyes, and he fell back into the undergrowth. 

The villain stepped forwards a bit, hoping to scare the kid off when Twice popped up, reminding him of the Nomu. Oh shit. He forgot about the Nomu. "It's probably killed someone by now," he murmured, worry tinging the edge of his words. He pulled out a trigger, clicking it. The Nomu should be making it's way to the meeting point rather than chasing people down now. 

"We're wasting time! Move it! Take as much time as you need," Twice piped up.

Dabi scowled but nodded. "Yeah, yeah. We should hurry.” He gave one last glance at the bush hiding the teen. Kid was lucky it was Dabi who saw him and not Twice. “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

They entered the small clearing a minute later. Toga stood along, a grin on her rosy face. "Hey, crazy. Did you get the blood? How many different kinds?" He asked. Part of what she needed to do was get some blood for her quirk. 

"One person's!" She sang. Well that was good news at least. Only one person actually got hurt from her.

Dabi tuned her and his other companion out as they talked about her lack of success. As they pulled their shenanigans, he sighed. "Both of you shut it. You're too loud." And then he heard it. Was that screaming above them?

Mr. Compress yelled loudly as he came crashing to the ground. Dust clearing revealed a trio of UA students. One with multiple arms, the plain kid, and... His baby brother... Dammit. 

“Give Kacchan back!” The green haired boy demanded. Upon further inspection, the kid looked really battered. As in, he was way too battered to be making demands.

His injuries made Dabi's heart squeeze in his chest. Blood had dried to one of his arms, dark purple with deep bruising. The splints implied broken bones, and in both arms nonetheless. A dried patch of blood was smeared across his forehead, dipping down from his wild hair line. Someone had did a number on this kid. 

"Who are these brats? I know who they are!" Twice added in, pulling out his measuring tapes. 

"Sorry, kid. That isn't going to happen," Dabi stated, eyes narrowing. There was something wrong. This kid... There was something familiar about him. Too familiar to ignore. "Move it, Compress."

"Of course!" The magician called and used his quirk on himself. 

The teens looked startled as Dabi raised a hand towards them. The green haired boy looked up, emerald eyes shining in shock, and suddenly he remembered. "Midori?" He breathed out, smoke rising from his palm. The fire churned within him as it screamed for an exit. 

Midori went rigid. "A-aonatsu?" He choked up. "Why are...?"

The blue flames burst forth, and the group scattered. It was wild and burning and even his own palm hurt as a wave of anxiety exploded inside his body. Why was he here? How had he gotten a quirk? When he saw him all those years ago, he was quirkless! A late bloomer? A miracle? This wasn't part of his plan.

"Who is he, Midoriya?" Shouto yelled, throwing ice up as Twice took a swipe at him. 

Midori didn't answer, eyes locked on the fire user. "I thought you wanted to save people. What happened to you?" He questioned angrily, arms limp at his sides. "You were going to help people! Now you're kidnapping our friends and one of your guys almost killed a civilian child!" His voice cracked. 

Dabi swallowed hard. "What are you..." Muscular's murderous tendencies came to mind. "Oh gosh…" How could he be so stupid? Of course that psychopath would try to kill someone not on the list.

"Why did..." The teen was cut off as Toga pounced and shoved him to the ground. 

Mr. Compress reversed his quirk and slipped over to the young man. "What was that all about?" He asked as he looked back as the multi-armed student smacked the blood crazed girl away. "Do you know him?"

"Must have me confused with someone else. I'm not Aonatsu," Dabi responded. 'Not anymore...' He didn't add. "Do you have the blond brat?"

"Of course," the man responded flippantly, only to gasp as he rummaged around in his trench coat pocket. 

The multi-armed boy glared at them before brandishing two luminous marbles. "I'm guessing these are Tokoyami and Bakugo!" His companions brightened significantly at the news.

Except Compress chuckled. "Well, color me impressed! Just as I'd expect from someone with so many hands. How splendid," he crowed sarcastically.

Shouto shot a glacier of ice towards them and bolted back to his companions. "Let's get out of here! Aizawa can help us if we get back to camp!" He yelled, and they started running. 

Panic clenched at Dabi's chest. They could not fail this mission. If Shigaraki found out his baby brother and Midori had screwed everything up, what would the psycho do to them? He lifted his arm, ready to block their root when Mr. Compress blocked him. "Wait."

And then the Nomu stepped through the bushes. Its eyeless visage bore down at the teens. Lips drawn back, the monster's teeth ground against the bit in its mouth. The sight of the beast made them skid to a stop. This Nomu wouldn't attack without Dabi's command but they didn't know that. 

A swirl of black mist rose up on their left, narrow yellow slits glaring down at the lot of them. "Dabi, five minutes are up. Magne and Spinner have been retrieved. Prepare to leave," his voice echoed as portals appeared. 

"Bye Midoriya!" Toga sang, falling back into her portal. Dabi could have sworn she fluttered her eye lashes. Disgusting.

Twice mock saluted them. "Suck it, losers! Nice to meet you!" He bounced backwards into the gaping void. 

Mr. Compress finally moved his arms in favor of putting a hand on his mask. "Misdirection is a key piece of magic. If I keep your focus on one object, let's say those two marbles, I can easily distract you from the main attraction until the final scene,”  he monologued. Drawing back his mask, he revealed two more marbles between his teeth. 

A snap of his fingers made the extra marbles held by the kid expand into chunks of ice. Horror glossed over the teen's faces. "What do you know. You're full of all kinds of tricks," Dabi quipped. "Let's go."

The man sneered at the boys and gave a sweeping bow. "It's been a pleasure," he teased and began to step back. It would have been a grand exit. They had not expected the beam.

Light, glittering and bright, shot out from the forest. The blast hit home. The magician's mask cracked, and he gagged, the marbles flying from his mouth. Disoriented, he stumbled back towards the portal. 

Dabi whipped around and spotted locks of blond. The boy from earlier had not run away. Honestly, the young man was impressed. No one had even noticed the kid. His quirk was flashy and, based on the sports festival, took a toll on him. Had this been a different place at a different time, Dabi might have even applauded his aim. But he had a job, and the boy was making it harder. 

The marbles were falling down, and everyone was rushing for them. Midori was too slow and stumbled, crashing into the ground with a loud grunt, while the multi-arm boy caught one. Shouto went for the other but Dabi wasn't going to give in. Hand shooting out, he snatched the marble before his baby brother could get to it. The younger skidded and fell, looking up with wide mismatched eyes. 

Putting on a smirk, Dabi looked down at him. "What a tragedy... Poor Little Shouto Todoroki..." He hummed. 

A looks similar to that of recognition and then confusion flashed in his brother's eyes. His brow furrowed as if straining to remember something and yet it remained out of his grasp. Shouto didn't know who he was, and for that, Dabi was grateful. What would have happened if Shouto had called him by name?

"One out of two," Mr. Compress spoke up, wiping his lip with the back of his hand. "Too bad you didn't catch the grand prize."

He snapped his gloved fingers. The bird headed boy appeared and fell into the multi-armed boy, knocking them both down and unable to move. Midori, realizing where the explosive blond was, jerked his head back to Dabi, horrified. Bakugo was still with them. 

The marble began expanding, and Dabi opened his palm. As Bakugo materialized in front of his palm, the young man clamped a hand around his neck. Controlling his flames, he heated his palm, a warning of what would come from any struggle. The kid stiffened and stared straight ahead. He got the memo.

"Thank you for staying for the grand finale," the magician villain said and dipping back into the portal. 

"Aonatsu, let him go!" Midori cried from his prone position. He lifted his head, trying pitifully to get up. "Kacchan!"

"Stop it, Deku. Don't get any closer," Bakugo growled.

Dabi's throat felt dry and wouldn't let him speak. It was as though his tongue was sealed to the top of his mouth. His teeth gritted as tears gleamed in Midori's eyes. ‘Damn it all.'

"Kacchan! Aonatsu! Tou-...!"

He yanked back through the portal, pulling the blond with him. His feet hit wood as he stepped into the bar. Bakugo stumbled after him before Magne's giant magnet cracked into his head. He crumpled to the ground in a heap as Dabi breathed out. 

Everything was shit.

Shigaraki stood from the bar stool. "Finally, level one is complete," he grinned behind his hand. "Tie him up. We'll be starting on level two soon. Now go clean up before you get blood on the floor." He glowered specifically at Toga's bloodied uniform and shoes as she skipped up stairs. 

Dabi lifted the teen into a chair and assisted Magne in restrained him. Spinner stretched and left to assemble more weapons while Mr. Compress went to collect a new mask. Shigaraki and Kurogiri portaled away to who knows where. Eventually, Magne vanished off in the building, most likely to clean up and rest. 

He watched the teen, slightly bruised but otherwise unscathed. In all honesty, Dabi hoped the kid would fight back and resist the League's offer. The heroes would be on the look out. All he had to do was make sure Bakugo stayed safe. He could do that, right?

Chapter Text

Dabi ran a hand through his hair. His nose wrinkled as a light dusting of ash fluttered in front of his eyes. He wished Shigaraki gave them at least a day to recuperate before going forward with the plan. Unfortunately, the man child wanted to get things rolling as soon as possible. After he returned with Kurogiri, he immediately rounded up the league. That meant that the fire user had not been able to get a shower or a change of clothes before they pitched their speech to the brat. All this because Shigaraki thought the kid would join them...

The patchwork villain held his tongue. Best to keep these thoughts to himself. One wrong move and their leader would have all five fingers on him at once. The man radiated excited energy. If someone interrupted that, Dabi doubted that person would live to see another day. Thus, he hung to the opposite side of Shigaraki, who took his place on a barstool.

"Well... Someone wake him up!" The leader demanded, bouncing in place.

"I can!" Toga cheered, brandishing a knife.

Dabi scowled. "Hell no," he retorted and stepped forward. "He said wake him up, not shank him."

The young girl pouted. If he hadn't know her, she could easily be described as cute in that moment. That is, if you could over look the crazed glint in her cat-like eyes. "But Daaaaaabi! He would look so much better with a little more blood!" She whined. "Just a tiny bit?"

"No," he stated firmly. The man turned and faced Bakugo. The boy was firmly strapped into place, chains and cuffs sealing his explosive hands. His head lulled to one side, sandy blond locks covering his face. Dabi's foot shot out and kicked the his leg. "Wake up, brat."

It took a few more kicks for teen to jolt. A groan filtered from his chapped lips as he tilted his head upwards. Blinking open vibrant red eyes, Bakugo froze. Panic fluttered across his features before resolve hardened his expression, drawing back his lips to bare his teeth. His eyes narrowed as he looked over the people in front of him.

"Welcome back," chimed Shigaraki. "Have a nice nap?"

Bakugo lurched forwards with teeth bared only to grunt and close his eyes tightly. His face held visible pain. 'Probably a headache,' Dabi thought, arms folded tightly to his chest. 'Magne's magnet hurt like a bitch.'

Shigaraki grinned down at the boy, wild eyes hidden behind the horrid hand clutching his face. "Looks like the main character is a bit beat up," he stated, rounding the chair.

The teen glowered up at the villain. "What the hell are you talking about?" He ground out.

Some of the others looked uncomfortable. Spinner shifted foot to foot, glancing between their leader and their prisoner. Toga clutched her knife a bit tighter. Dabi himself breathed out heavily, hiding his anxieties behind a sigh. He prayed silently that this kid would hold his stupid tongue.

But the hand villain just sneered. "All that anger... You really should use it for something better," he replied. Seeing that he caught the boy's attention, he returned to standing in front of the chair. "We saw your show at the Sports Festival, everyone did. You have a lot of potential... Too bad you're wasting it."

"Get to the point, creep," the teen practically growled.

The man child glared back at their captive but restrained himself. "The point is that the so called heroes are holding you back. If you were with a group like our's, you'd level up so much more."

He continued to ramble for a few more moments. Dabi did his best to tune out all the gaming references and chose to gauge Bakugo's reaction. The teen had originally looked surprised. His confused stare followed the wild hand movements of their leader. The villain couldn't blame him; even he had a hard time understanding the man child.

But as Shigaraki rattled off more about the trash hero society, the teen's visible ticks started showing through. His face was turning a faint red, brows furrowed and twitching. A faint grinding could be heard as he ground his teeth together. There were tremors along his arms, as though he was holding back his quirk from exploding his hands sealed in the cuffs. His eyes blazed a bright, angry red.

Honestly, Dabi would probably be reacting the same if he was chained up and had to listen to the hand villain monologue. Well, except he would keep his damn mouth shut. Bakugo unfortunately did not keep his mouth shut. Anxiety roared up his spine as the teen scoffed, making their leader pause.

"Are you kidding me?" He spat. "I want to be a hero, you dumbass! You think I want to be a villain?" He turned up his nose. "Whatever, Hand Bastard."

The air went cold as everyone turned to look at Shigaraki. The villain stood still and silent for a second, processing what the kid had said. His fists clenched. "How... How dare you!" He screamed. A gnarled hand plunged forwards like claws aimed for the boy's unblemished face.

A sudden image of his baby brother flashed in Dabi's mind, the blaring red burn seared into his memory. "Shigaraki, stop!" He shouted, grabbing at the villain's wrist. "Just wait!"

The mop of blue hair whipped around as the man glared him down. "He needs to be taught a lesson, Dabi. He needs to learn some damn respect!" Shigaraki hissed out furiously.

Dabi stopped himself from gulping, holding firm. "Would your Sensei want you to do that?" He questioned. The young man perked up at the mention of Sensei. "You wouldn't want to do something against his word, would you?"

His fingers began to twitch. "How... How do you know?" The man hissed out. He wrenched his wrist away and lifted his hands to his neck. An awful scratch sound, nail against skin, accompanied his voice. "How do you know what Sensei wants?"

"I've spoken with him," he shot back. "He doesn't seem like the... Impulsive type. Not someone who appreciates childish responses." Sweat gathered in his hands.

The scratching intensified. "Hnnn... Ugh... I... Fine. I'll let him sit but tomorrow," he spat. “Tomorrow, he better not back mouth me." The man child turned away from the group and walked up to Kurogiri. "Oh and Dabi..." His head tilted as one of his visible eyes bore into Dabi's soul. "You get to watch over him. I'm going to talk to Sensei."

"Oof, sucks to be you," Spinner snickered. Without a second thought, he bounded upstairs to his room followed by Magne and Twice, who had started rambling to himself again.

Mr. Compress hummed as Shigaraki and Kurogiri teleported away. "My, oh my... Quite childish indeed. Was he really planning on killed the kid after all we went through to bring him here?"

"Yeah, probably..." Dabi replied, gazing at the spot where their leader had vanished from. "That fool..."

"Get away from me, you crazy bitch!" Bakugo yelled from behind them.

The villains whirled around to see Toga creeping towards the chained up boy. A small knife glinted in her hand as a wide grin laced across her lips. Her eyes shone wildly as she got closer. "Ah, come on, Bakugo!~" She cooed, raising the blade. "You'd look so much prettier with a bit more red on you!"

“No, you don't!" Dabi shouted, catching her arm before she could slice the teen. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

She pouted up at him, similar to earlier. "But Dabi... Let me play with him..." The killer whined, eyes watery.

He yanked the knife from her hand and chucked it to the side. A soft thunk could be heard as it impaled itself in a nearby table. "No way. Did you hear anything I said earlier?" From the blank look she had on her face, she probably hadn't. "Whatever. Just go to your room or something."

"Hnnnnngh... Okay..." She whined again. Wriggling her fingers, Toga slipped out of his grip. She fluttered her long lashes at the captive, blowing him a kiss. "Let's play later!"

"Hell no," Bakugo growled back.

Toga just giggled. "Bye bye!~" She sang before giving Dabi a quick hug. "Bye bye to you too! I know you love me!~" The girl skipped away and up the stairs.

The magician villain beside him laughed. "She puts on a show, doesn't she," he said. "But, it appears the night is drawing closer! I should be on my way as well!" The man spun on his heel, trench coat flaring out dramatically as he walked.

Dabi sighed. Dude was always so damn dramatic. At least he did it well. The villain turned around only to lock eyes with Bakugo. The boy was surprisingly silent, eyes calculating. He kept his mouth shut as he studied him. What the hell was he thinking about so hard?

And then he spoke. "How do you know Deku?"

"Who? The green haired kid? I mean yeah, Shigaraki has this weird vendetta against the brat," he responded, trying to avoid the connection.
Bakugo shook his head. "No. I mean personally know him."

"I have no clue what you're talking about."

"Then who the hell is Aonatsu?"

"Some dead vigilante I think."

"Okay, what about Touya?"

Dabi went rigid. He hadn't been called that in months. "Don't stay that name."

"What? What so bad about the name Touya?"

"I said shut up, brat."

"Tou-..."

Dabi silenced him with a hand slapped over his mouth. "Shut the hell up right now before you kill both of us," he hissed out between clenched teeth. "Do you have a damn death wish?"

Bakugo tried to squirm away, even attempting to bite the man's palm. "Nope. Not letting you go until you stop saying that name." He got a glare in response that he met in kind. "Will you stop saying it?”

The teen let out a heavy breath through his nose and gave a begrudging nod.

"Good," Dabi affirmed, removing his hand and wiping his palm down the kid's shirt. "Why the hell did you try to lick me?"

"Thought it might work," Bakugo replied, spitting. "You taste like ash and dirt."

"Pleasant. I don't care."

"Ugh, it's disgusting…"

"Sounds like a you problem."

Red eyes bore onto turquoise. "But Deku knew you. I know that for sure."

Groaning, Dabi rubbed the back of his neck. "If it'll get you off my back then fine, yes. In a way, I know the kid. It was a long time ago though. Hell, I was surprised he even recognized me with all... This..." He gestured generally towards the staples.

"What? You didn't always look like a rag doll?" The teen sneered.

"No. And I sure as hell won't be here if I didn't." Bakugo shut his mouth. "What? Nothing more to say?"

"Water. I need water," he shot back.

"What?"

"Hand Bastard said you were taking care of me, right? Well, I need water."

Letting out a quiet snort, the villain rose. "Whatever. I'll be right back." He left the room to the storage behind the counter. He found a few water bottles after shuffling around a moment or two.

He returned, bottle in hand, to the teen. The kid looked exhausted now that he wasn't on the defensive. His head hung, sandy bangs shielding his eyes from view. His foot tapped slowly as if keeping himself grounded.

"You doing okay, brat?" Dabi asked.

"I'm fine," Bakugo muttered. "I'm fine, dammit..."

"I'm gonna need to help you drink by the way."

The boy looked up, frowning. "What?"

"You think I'm undoing the cuffs so you can hold the bottle? I'm a villain, not an idiot."

"Hmpf..."

"If you don't want it..."

"Let's just get it over with!"

"That's what I thought," Dabi teased, striding over. "Tap your foot twice when you want me to stop."

The bottle gave a light crack as he unscrewed the cap. He pressed the rim to the boy's lips. 'Extremely chapped lips... Could give Shigaraki a run for his money,' the man mused as the teen started chugging the water. The water was almost completely drained when Bakugo tapped his foot.

The boy coughed as he took a deep breath, shoving his chin into his chest to suppress the hacking. Catching his breath, he stilled himself. He opened his eyes and ran his gaze over Dabi's feature up close. "Gosh... You look even nastier up close," he snorted.

The villain laughed. "Trust me when I say Shigaraki looks ten times worse."

A grin tugged at the corners of the teen's mouth. "There's another set of ugly under that hand?"

"Ugh, don't get me started. First time I met him, I thought he was a walking corpse," Dabi affirm.

Bakugo actually snickered this time. "Fitting. I would have exploded the creep and left."

'If only,' Dabi thought to himself. “I don't think everyone would be to fond of that..."

The teen studied him again. "Why did you join this bunch of losers anyways? You kind of implied you didn't want to."

"First off, these losers aren't going to try and arrest me on sight. Second, none of your business twerp."

"Is it the Hero Killer thing? You guys worked with him right? His ideas are shit."

"They aren't shit," Dabi snapped, heat rising in his palms. The bottle began to melt in his hand, and he dropped it, spilling the remaining water. "At least, not all of them. There are false heroes."

"Psh, you don't understand. Heroes are there to protect people! They save everyone and do what's right!"

"Not everything they do is good! I have these scars because of one!"

"You're a villain; maybe you deserved it!"

"How does me protecting my baby brother make me deserve being left for dead! How does me helping other people make it okay for them to hunt me down like an animal! How can you justify him crushing my throat because I was messing with his image!"

Fire blazed to life across his skin as he yelled, scorching his jacket and shirt. Bakugo visibly jumped, eyes wide. Dabi was panting, clenching his fists. "Damn it... I just..."

"Sorry..." Dabi jerked his head up and looked at the prisoner. "I... I didn't..." The boy looked uncomfortable. "I know some heroes aren't all good but... Those aren't real heroes. Real heroes save the day no matter what."

"... And what makes you think there are any real heroes left?"

"Because I'm going to be one. And I'm not going to let anyone get hurt again."

Chapter Text

Dabi stared at Shigaraki in shock. "You want me to do what?"


"I said let him out of the cuffs," the man rasped. "We are trying to recruit him after all. Besides, he knows not to do anything. Isn't that right, Bakugo?" His red eyes shone dangerously behind the hand over his face.


He highly doubted that the brat knew any better. The villain looked serious though so he couldn't exactly say no. If anything, he was more worried for Bakugo than the guy. Would Shigaraki be able to hold in his temper if plans go south? He hoped so. Despite their heart to heart the night before, Dabi didn't want to chance getting his head blown off by the kid. "Twice, you do it."


"Sure thing! No way..." The masked man replied, looking a bit indignant.


"Do it," the patchwork villain snapped.


Twice huffed and obeyed, shuffling over to the chair. Bakugo stiffened at the closeness of the villain but kept himself still as he unlocked his bindings.

"I am sorry for how rough we were the other day," Mr. Compress piped up from the back of the group. The man is leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. "While perfectly dramatic, I do believe we should have treated you better as our future compatriot."

"Exactly," Shigaraki agreed. He spread an arm towards the teen. "As a future member, we should treat you with respect. Better than how all the others have treated you."

The leader rose to his feet and stretched his lanky limbs. He took a few steps so that he stood right in front of the boy. "They just want to hold you back... I saw what they did at the festival. A muzzle... Quite barbaric, don't you think? We won't hold you back. You can use your quirk as you please. Put down anyone who defies you. You'd win at whatever you wanted." Dabi could practically hear the smirk in his voice. "And you like winning right? We like winning too. So why not win together with no rules tying us down? What do you say?"

Bakugo rubbed at his wrists, red chaffing visible from his futile attempts to wrench them free. His eyes remained shadowed by his hair, and his face was unreadable. The only sound in the room now was Twice fiddling with the cuffs holding down their captive's legs. The man cheered quietly when they finally came undone. The teen shifted his feet now that they were free from their bindings. He opened his mouth. Despite the quiet, Bakugo's words were almost silent.

Shigaraki leaned downwards. "I didn't catch that," he said. "What were you-..."

"I said shut up!" The teen roared, slamming a palm straight into the man's face.

The dim room burst to life as an explosion ripped from Bakugo's hand. Dabi stumbled back, surprised. The rest of the League had the same experience, Twice letting out a startled squawk and Toga ducking behind the bar. Mr. Compress had raised an arm to shield part of his torso while Magne, Spinner, and Kurogiri stood stiff, ready to move if necessary. Shigaraki almost fell and caught himself on the bar. A portion of the wood disintegrated away as all five fingers pressed down. The man clutched gently at his face, the discolored hand flung somewhere across the room.


"You really must be stupid to think I'd change my mind in one night! If I want to win at anything, I want to win like All Might! Like a hero! Not stupid scum like you! I'm nothing like you!" His lip curled into a shaky smile. "And just watch! I'll prove to everyone how great of a hero I can be!"

A shiver rolled up his spine. While he was not fond of how the kid had almost exploded them all, Dabi had to admit he had guts and found his words hitting home with his younger self. He quite honestly was glad Bakugo hadn't been easily swayed by sitting a few hours in the bar. His actions now were not something that made him happy though. Shigaraki was unstable at best and could easily be unhinged. Maybe talking with All for One would have cooled his temper enough to avoid any backlash from this turn of events.


"You went through all the trouble of getting me here for nothing! I'll never join your League of Bastards! I know people believe in me. Not so much for you, huh?" Sweat was visible on the boy's face.

"The clever boy figured it out," Magne muttered, falling into a defensive stance.

"He's a fool," Dabi retorted, glaring. 'He could have done things a lot more civilized and won't have all us on his head.'

Toga clapped her hands together. A feral smile graced her lips. "Let me stab him," she chimed.

"A clever performer would have pretended to be won over before reacting," Mr. Compress added, an almost disappointed tone in his voice. "Now that you've broken character, you're finished."

Bakugo sneered. "I'm tired of everyone jabbering their damn heads off! I'm able to fight! I'll do what I want to do and take you down!"

Dabi glanced over at Shigaraki. He hadn't moved yet. What was he thinking? Or better yet, what was he going to do?

The man in question stood rigid. He lowered his hand from his face. His eyes were wide and wild, and Dabi had to stop himself from flinching. An emotion one could only describe as utter hatred smoldered across his visage. "You... You... You stupid brat!"

He lunged forward, left hand splayed. No one had time to react, not even Kurogiri. The hand slammed into Bakugo's face with all fingers down. The tips slid down along his face to his sharp jawline. A choked scream, ragged and agonizing, tore from Bakugo's throat as he fell back. His skin was peeled away, and muscle visibly shifted underneath as he clenched his teeth. The right side of his face was gapping wide after the destructive grip of four fingers dragging down his visage. Blood poured from his wounds, dripping down and dampening his dark shirt. He thudded to the floor. The villain prepared to strike again.


"Shigaraki, stop!" Dabi snapped. He moved before he realized it, already blocking off the crazed man's path.

Shigaraki snarled. "Move, Dabi. I gave the brat a chance."

The patchwork villain held his ground. "Stand down. The kid runs his mouth. So what?"

"Move. Now."

"No."

Shigaraki shook with anger. "Then I will make you!" He snapped, lashing out.

"Tomura Shigaraki, no!" Kurogiri shouted, a portal swirling between the two and sent their leader's hand into a chair. It crumbled away.

Dabi's heart pounded in his ears. That could have been him. He felt sick. The voices of Shigaraki and Kurogiri were drowned by his own breathing and roaring blood. Only the sudden interruption through the television broke through his hearing.

"Tomura," All for One called out. Everyone turned to the screen. It was audio only, purple text typed across an inky black screen. "Calm yourself."

"M-master," the young man stumbled out, facing the television.

He was quieted quickly. "You are still impulsive, Tomura. Even with his defiance, the boy is of use to us. I would have much preferred you refer to me before making such rash decisions," the master scolded.

Shigaraki became visibly uncomfortable at the reprimand, scratch at his neck. "Of course, Sensei. I will work on it. I'm... Sorry..." He spotted the hand he weirdly enough named Father and picked it up. Reattaching the appendage to his face, he let out a low breath. "What do you have in mind for him?"

"We will decide that in private. For now, one of your group may tend to him. We need him in decent condition to go any further. It would be a pity if the heroes arrived, and he was already long dead from the injury," All for One offered simply. "I would like to speak with you once everything is situated."

"Of course, Sensei," Shigaraki replied. He waited for the screen to go entirely dark before turning back to Bakugo and Dabi.

Bakugo laid twitching on the floor, choking on his breaths. His shoulders shuddered with suppressed sobs. Blood had smeared in bright red streaks over his face and neck. A slather of the scarlet liquid covered the wooden panels beneath his head. The teen still pawed at his face in an empty attempt to stop that pain. His eyes were clamped shut, brows knit together and teeth gritting.

The man glared down at the kid. "I don't care who takes care of the twerp. Just someone do it without killing him. Kurogiri, let's go."
Dabi watched as they filtered away. Toga looked ready to pounce on the bloody mess before Magne ushered her away. It ended up with Dabi remaining. He glanced down at the kid and sighed. "You really are a piece of work, you know?" He muttered. The villain carefully touched the kid's shoulder. The contact made him flinch away and open his eyes. They were wide, red rimmed and panicked. "It's just me, brat... Calm down. I need to see your injury before I move you."

Bakugo opened his mouth to retort only to wince. He conceded and faced the man. Dabi sucked in a sharp breath.

The wounds were worse than he thought. With the blood flow slowing, they were much more observable. Layers of skin had been stripped away, more so on his right side. The muscle had torn with dark gray splotches of rot on the edges. A sharp white against red jutted out below his right eye. If Shigaraki's hand started any higher, Bakugo would have lost an eye. The left side was better, less rot and muscle damage due to only one digit pressing into that cheek. Hairline cracks etched out from the wounds into his skin. It would have been even worse if the villain had held his fingers there much longer.

It was by sheer luck that the damage hadn't spread. Bakugo's fall had saved him from a more severe injury. He had, in turn, smacked his temple against the solid floor. A dark bruise was forming at his brow and stretched along his hairline. It looked painful but not as nasty as the rest of him. From the look in his eyes, the kid might pass out.

"You gotta stay awake, brat. You may have a concussion," he murmured. The kid tried to curl in further on himself but Dabi stopped him. "Nope. No shutting down. I'm putting you in the chair whether you like it or not."  He slipped an arm around the boy and lifted him up into an awkward sitting position. It took a few moments to place him back into the chair, not even bothering to lock him back in; kid wasn't going anywhere.

The villain leaned down, pushing the shaggy locks away from the boy's face. He grimaced again. Facial wounds were never fun to work with. He had seen some nasty ones while working with Yoshihara, not to mention Shouto's burn. His stomach clenched. Why did the young ones get hurt like this? 'Because you're too scared to protect them,' a voice hissed in his mind, a reminder of his past failures.

Rising to his full height, he collected the first aid kit, a damp towel, and a bowl of water. He settled down, pulled on a pair of latex gloves, and assessed the damage once more. The skills that Yoshihara taught him were general: simple anatomy, CPR, stitching, treating minor injuries, cleaning wounds thoroughly and keeping them disinfected. This would be enough to at least keep him alive, right? The doctor could do so much more than him. He could only hope that he didn't make it worse.

Dabi began cleaning the blood from Bakugo's face. He was careful, dabbing along the edge of the injuries and using slow swipes along his jawline and neck. The water turned a rosy red after he rinsed the cloth a few times. Thankfully, the wounds themselves had stopped bleeding. Now that his face was clear of blood and grime, the worse part of the damage shone clearly.

White was vibrant along his eye, a small sliver of the malar bone jutting out. Decay had eaten through a decent portion of muscle and flesh, luckily not going deep enough to leave a gapping hole where his mouth was beneath it. A dark black fringed along the edges of the injuries, and there was more grayed dead flesh than he remembered last. Dabi had never worked on an injury like this on his own, much less a facial injury. But right now, he was all Bakugo had.

"This is going to sting a lot, kid," Dabi stated.

Bakugo opened his eyes and gave him a confused look before shouting out in pain and surprise. Dabi had started to gently dab a cloth with disinfectant on it along the wound. The man was not happy to find some of the flesh pulling away from the boy's face.

"Dammit," hissed the teen, feebly swatting at his hand. "Do you even know what the hell you're doing?"

Dabi glowered down at him. "I'm a walking health hazard, brat. You think I'm letting someone like Toga take care of me? Hell no. I have to know how to do basic first aid," he reminded Bakugo.

The boy shut his mouth, realizing the truth behind Dabi's words. "Fine... Just... Just make it stop..." He murmured. “Damn, it hurts..."

"I'm trying. The sooner we disinfect it, the less chance you get sick and keel over."

“Wow. You're reassuring..."

"I try."

The rest of the cleaning went silently if one disregarded Bakugo's hisses and soft groans. More of the dead flesh came off as Dabi tried to remove some of the dark decay. In the end, Bakugo looked exhausted, Dabi felt exhausted, and it was well into the night.

Sliding off the gloves he used to protect his hands, Dabi pulled out gauze and bandages. He gingerly pressed the gauze to the boy's right cheek and used the white bandages to wrap over the thick padding, wrapping it around his head by swooping under his chin and over his messy hair. The dressing held firm. The left side required less of a covering, and he resorted to a gauze and medical tape instead of the large mass of wrappings he used for the other injury.

Inspecting his handy work, the villain snorted. "You look like a mummy," he commented. Bakugo scowled. "You look fine, kid."

He rose to his feet, collecting up the bloodied gloves and towel. He dumped the soiled objects into the trash and washed his hands behind the bar. Snatching a cup, Dabi filled it with water and returned to the tired kid. "Here. You need fluids."

Bakugo grabbed the glass with shaky hands, and Dabi had to help him bring it to his lips. He watched as the boy gulped down the refreshing liquid. A splash of color had returned his face by now, much to the man's relief. His only hope now was that Shigaraki's quirk won't cause any effects that Dabi couldn't heal. If that happens, he didn't know what he would do.

"I'm... Tired..." Bakugo muttered, eyelids drooping.

A weak smile tugged at Dabi's lips. He sounded exactly like Shouto after a hard training session. His baby brother would get bandaids to patch up any scrapes, and he would get them some ice cubes for any burns. He would place a hand on Shouto's mismatched hair and ruffle it wildly before simply running fingers through the silky locks. He had repeated this motion until the younger sibling would fall asleep.

Dabi tentatively placed his palm on the boy's spiky locks. Bakugo stiffened under the touch and locked eyes with the man towering over him. Gently musing his hair, Dabi gave him a nod. "Get some sleep. I'll wake you up in an hour to make sure you're doing alright," he said.

He ran his fingers slowly through the bushy hair. It was surprising soft compared to what he expected. The locks weren't as silky as Shouto or Fuyumi's hair, falling more similarly to his own. Hell, if the kid dyed it black, they'd look like siblings.

Realizing what he was doing, the man stopped. The kid wasn’t his brother, and he shouldn’t be acting so familiar. Pulling his hand away, he settled himself at the bar. Bakugo stared at him warily before settling down. His head lolled to the side after a few moments, sleep taking over him. Dabi watched quietly. What was he going to do?

Chapter Text

Uncomfortably warm. Dabi drew his hand away from the boy's forehead. The decay had worked fast. It was only the next morning, and Bakugo had a fever and an infection. The dead muscle had, in fact, been a problem. He could only redress the wound, give the boy water and pain meds, and pray that the kid didn't throw up. He'd have to figure out a way to get the kid's fever down and get rid of the infection.


Bakugo had slept well throughout the night, waking whenever Dabi needed to check on him. Closer to dawn, he had started to sweat more and gain a flushed appearance. His breathing was heavier, as if each inhale and exhale took all his energy. His bangs stuck to his forehead and looked messier and more disheveled then normal. Being awake, Bakugo's eyes were unfocused as he stared down at the glass of water in his hands.


"Want to try to sleep again? I can try and get an actual mattress," Dabi offered.


"I'm done sleeping," Bakugo responded bluntly. "I don't want to sleep anymore."


They sat in silence until there was a soft rumble. The redness that had settled in the boy's cheeks flared to life. "Hungry? Well... Neither of us have eaten in a while. I'm used to it but..." The older realized, rising to his feet.


"Is that why you're a walking stick?" The teen snorted, before running a shaky hand through his hair.  


Dabi raised a brow. "Sounds like you're doing better if you can be sarcastic again. I'm glad I got you those meds."


"Still feel like shit."


"Pleasant. I'm grabbing food. Any preferences?"


"... Got anything spicy?"

 

"You sure you want something spicy while you have a fever?"

 

"Just get me something spicy!"


"Touché. Fine, I think we have some leftover curry or something."


Dabi rummaged around in the kitchen behind the bar. The fridge held a few containers of leftovers from random meals Kurogiri made throughout the week. He pulled out a tub full of curry and rice. Cracking the lid open, he slipped the container into the microwave on the counter. He stood, hovering around the machine, as the food heated.


Bringing the food back out, he spotted the feverish teen attempting to stand. The boy wobbled and crumpled back to the ground, panting. "You idiot," Dabi muttered, placing the container on the bar and moving to Bakugo's side. "You aren't getting out of here any time soon so just sit still."


"I can't stay here... I have to get out..." His voice was quiet, much different than the witty snap it had held minutes before. "Can't let everything go to waste..."


Dabi quirked a brow. "Go to waste?" He helped the boy into a sitting position.


"Deku's stupid rescue plan... Everyone else trying to protect me... They all got hurt for nothing if I die here..." The boy gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. "All for nothing, damn it!" His eyes glistened with angry, unshed tears.


The villain blinked. This was not like the Bakugo he saw at the Sports Festival. He acted much more human now, worrying about his classmates. It was strange. All he had known was that the kid was an explosive, self-centered brat. This was not it.

Leaning back to sit on his heels, Dabi hummed. "That's interesting. Didn't know you had a heart," he commented. "Much different than the angry wayward student who only wants to win for himself Shigaraki told us you were."

Bakugo snapped his eyes up to meet Dabi's. His face flushed darker, mixing his fever with either anger or embarrassment. "He's wrong about a lot of things," he growled out. "I haven't been like that since..." He shut his mouth. 

"Since...?" Dabi prompted, intrigued.

"Since I told Deku to kill himself..." A look of shame crossed his features. His body looked incredibly small as he curled in on himself. Bakugo looked less like an aggressive teen and more like a pitiful child. "I told the nerd to kill himself, dammit!" His voice cracked. 

They sat quietly for a moment as Bakugo's chest heaved. Dabi processed his words. Based on what he knew, Midori was Deku. At least, that was what the kid had called him after he was dragged through the portal. At some point, Bakugo had told him to commit suicide. Kids were brutal... And he looked like he was about to start crying. 

"You... Want to talk about it?" Dabi offered awkwardly.  

Bakugo looked away. "I... I haven't spoken to anyone about it..."

The villain gave him a smile. "Well, nothing like the present. Besides, I'm not going to tell anyone, and you look like you have a lot bottled up."

"You look creepy when you smile," he shot back.

Dabi snorted. "Wow. Thanks."

"But... I... I guess it started when I was little..." He shifted so that he leaned against the chair instead of Dabi. "I was always told I would amount to great things. Deku was... My friend. We grew up together. We both loved All Might and dreamed of being heroes like him. But then I got my quirk, and Deku didn't. Everyone praised me for my power but looked down on Deku for not having one. I still hung out with the nerd but... But he still wanted to be a hero."

"He was always trying to help me. I always thought it meant he was looking down on me. I was more powerful and strong, and he was powerless and weak. It made me angry. So I reacted how I always had and I... I treated him horribly. When I started doing it, so did everyone. And the damn nerd took it all. He got so confident and tried to protect everyone. At some point, he just won't put up with anything we did or said."

Tears had started building at the corners of his eyes, and he tried to wipe them away. Bakugo winced as he pulled at the decayed flesh. Dabi placed a warm hand on his shoulder and squeezed. This felt so familiar, like he was comforting Natsuo or Shouto.

"It wasn't until middle school that it got worse. I... I never meant to escalate it that much. Deku was planning to go to UA, despite being quirkless, and I got mad. I thought he was still trying to show me up. I told him that... That if he really wanted to be a hero… He should pray he had a quirk in his next life and take a swan dive off the roof... I was just saying things. I didn't expect him to challenge me..."

"He asked me... He asked me what if he did! He stared me straight in the damn eyes and asked what I'd do if he jumped off the damn roof! I... I didn't..."

Tears were falling now, and Bakugo's voice cracked harshly. "Deku left before I could say anything, and I... I panicked. It was later that I got attacked by a villain, and Deku helped me. I was useless, and he protected me, even after I told him to kill himself! Who the hell does that?!"

Dabi squeezed his shoulder firmly. "A hero," he stated simply. "And he believes anyone can be a hero, despite where they came from." 

Bakugo's head shot up, an expression of surprise etched into his features. "How do you..."

He interrupted the question. "Not now. What happened that made you change?" He asked. 

The teen bit his lip but kept eye contact this time. His eyes were rimmed a soft pink and shone in the dim light of the bar. "I caught him after the police questioned us and he said... He said I looked like I needed help, and heroes help everyone in need. I... I didn't bully him after that. We didn't talk much until high school. He has a quirk now. I don't know how but he keeps saying he's a late bloomer or some shit like that. He... He wants to be my rival now, and I want that... I need to push myself to be a hero like All Might, and I need to get stronger to do that. I know he doesn't think I'm weak, and he is working just as hard as I am... And now Deku is hurt again because of me, and I'm here and spilling my guts to a damn villain... Why are you listening to me?"

"Because everyone needs to talk about what haunts them at night," Dabi reason to the confused hero. "Especially something like that..." He moved his hand to ruffle the fluffy blond locks. 

Bakugo looked like he was about to stop him but he gave in, too tired to retort. “Do you ... Do you have anything that haunts you?"

Dabi froze. 'So many things...' He wanted to say but he held his tongue. "We all have memories that haunt us. It's how you deal with them that matters. And it looks like you're doing well," he responded, avoiding the real question. "I'm sure with someone like Midori at your side, you will be able to exceed every expectation and move beyond your past."

Bakugo did not respond. He was silent again, leaning into the hand settled in his hair. He breathed out, and his shoulders relaxed. Had they been tense this entire time? It made sense; who wouldn't be tense around a villain like him? 'That's right. You're a villain,' the cold voice hissed in his mind. 'You've killed... Don't start thinking you're the same as the kid. You can never go beyond your past.' It sent a shiver up Dabi's spine. 

"You're still hungry, right?" He got a rumbling stomach in response. "I'll take that as a yes. Here, it should still be warm." The villain rose and collected the tub of curry. "It's a few days old but it should have some spice left."

After hassling the boy into a barstool, Dabi watched him dig into the food with vigor. Bakugo had gone through a lot it seemed. It was unfortunate that he started out so rough but he was getting better. His classmates cared for him, he was working through his problems, and he was pursuing a dream to help others. Dabi felt guilt stab him in the gut. Shigaraki had almost killed the kid. 

Even without Midori's presence, the young hero continued to show him that there was a future in the hero society. A young generation of heroes were rising, inspired by the acts of All Might. 'And the League wants to dash out those people,' he reminded himself bitterly. The idea left a sour taste in his mouth. 'They aren't trying to reform the hero society. By destroying All Might, they'll kill it.' 

He felt like a fool. He had admired Stain for his goals to reform the hero society. The man had good intentions despite the bloodied path he left. Dabi was hopeful to find a place for himself among the other outcasts under the same ideology. It seemed that only Spinner and maybe Toga, in a crazed roundabout way, also held these ideas to heart. 

There was hope for the next generation; Bakugo and Midori had made that clear. Dabi could only try to fix what he had started. He glared at the black television screen at the far end of the bar. He would protect Bakugo from the bastards if it meant that the future generation would be better than those before them. They would not be like Endeavor or Iron Strike. They would be better. They would build a better world.

Dabi watched Bakugo finish cleaning out the container with a spoon. "Wasn't so bad," the boy commented. He blinked slowly. 

"Yeah, Kurogiri can cook. Which is good, cause all I do is burn stuff," the fire user joked. 

Bakugo snorted at the comment and then yawned. "Why the hell am I so tired..." He grumbled in a childish manner. 

"Healing takes a lot out of you, especially infections."

"How would you know?"

"Brat, I am the best example of healing infections. I thought I made that clear earlier."

"Oh... You did, didn't you..."

Dabi softened his expression. "You really are tuning out, brat. Here. I'm putting you in an actual bed." 

Bakugo looked at him suspiciously but the tiredness won him over. "What bed?" He asked. 

"Mine. It's upstairs though. I'll have to carry you," the villain responded, collecting the tub and putting it behind the bar. 

This made the boy scowl. "I can walk with you. You don’t have to carry me." He tried to prove his point by standing, only to wobble on weak legs and grab hold of the barstool before he fell. 

Dabi rolled his eyes. “Thought you learned from earlier. Come on. Hop up." He bent down so that the kid could get on his back. "It's just you and me here right now. You can keep your pride."

After a moment of grumbling, the boy gave in and grabbed Dabi's shoulders. A fever warm forehead pressed between his shoulder blades. The taller of the two tucked his arms under Bakugo's legs and hoisted up. His legs trembled for a moment before he rose to full height albeit slightly hunched. The villain wasn't built for heavy lifting but he'd make due. Luckily, he room was closest to the stairs.

It was halfway up the stairs that the boy grew limp across his back. Sleep must have begun to win him over. "Just a bit more, brat. Keep holding on or I'll end up dropping you." He laughed softly as Bakugo jolted awake and clutched at his arms. 

"Because you have stick arms?" Bakugo muttered. 

"Because I have stick arms," Dabi affirmed. 

The young hero stayed awake long enough for Dabi to shove his way into his room. It was minimal at best, the small collection of shirts, jackets, and jeans taking up little space in the open closet and a neatly made twin bed pressed against the far wall. The walls themselves were bare besides the dark curtains blocking the small window. His desk was empty save a medical book and first-aid kit, the old lamp clamped to the side glowing softly. The desk chair barely held any padding, portions of it torn and stuffing leaking out. 

"You don't have much..." Bakugo commented. "It smells musty."

"I didn't have much to bring," Dabi shot back. He dumped the kid onto the bed, making the springs of the mattress groan in dismay. "I'll be at my desk. Holler if you need anything."

Bakugo looked as though he was about to respond but a sudden yawn cut him short. "... M'kay," he mumbled as he flopped over on the bed. 

The villain made sure his breathing was leveled and slow before settling in the rickety old desk chair. He opened the medical book and let his eyes run over Yoshihara's notes. The doctor's crisp writing helped relax him as he read. There were many good people out there working to fix the world. They were creating a safer place for everyone.

‘I could never bring that to anyone…’ Dabi thought, leaning back. 'But Bakugo and Midori... Shouto will bring our family that now. Build the world I could never give them...' He glanced at the boy curled up in the small pile of blankets. 'Bring them the safety that I could not.'

Chapter Text

Dabi sauntered downstairs a few hours after dumping the kid into his bed. He seemed to be doing better now that he had food in his body and was in an actual bed. The villain left him to sleep and returned to the main room. Most of the group was there. Magne was putting Toga's hair up in her usual school girl buns. Spinner was fiddling with his giant knife sword, blades glinting dangerously in the dim light. It looked as if Kurogiri had been back since the container that held the curry was gone from the bar but he was not present. Neither were Mr. Compress or Twice. 

When he settled at one of the barstools, Twice burst through the door. "Good afternoon! Ugh, it's you losers," he greeted.


"Greetings," chimed Mr. Compress, entering the establishment behind the wild man. "We ran into each other on the way from our apartments. It seems that Twice and I reside in neighboring streets." Dabi couldn't tell if the magician was okay with that or not.


He watched as Toga bounced to her feet, thanked the magnet villain for doing her hair, and bounded over to Twice. She talked rapidly, hands bouncing around. The man responded in similar vigor, his mask just as expressive as his voice. Magne turned to Spinner, and the reptilian man began to explain details about the sword. It wasn't long before Mr. Compress joined the two.


Dabi watched from his spot at the bar. It surprised him how domestic the league could be. For a ragtag group of criminals, they treated each other as a family most of the time. He had seen it in Magne playing with Toga's hair or Toga comforting a jittery Twice. He had seen it with Spinner offering to help Kurogiri in the kitchen late at night. He had seen it with Mr. Compress going out to buy him more disinfectant pads for his injuries when they got strained. The league looked out for one another.


"And yet here we are hurting everyone else," he muttered to himself, resting his arms on the table top.


"Dabi! What do you think?" Toga piped up, prancing over. "Beach or forest?"
The patchwork villain raised a brow. "What brought this up?"


"Twice was talking about vacation spots, and I said the beach was the best but he says the forest is better! We need a tie breaker!" She answered, eyes shining. She looked more like a happy girl than a psycho. 


"Clearly the forest is the best choice! Get a life, no one cares," Twice chimed in with his two toned answer.


Toga turned. "But at the beach it's warm and sunny, and there's sharks!" She chomped her teeth, imitating one of them. "They have big, sharp teeth!"


Twice waved a gloved hand flippantly. "Forest have more variety of animals and  is less crowded! Camping is way better, idiot." They both turned to Dabi, awaiting his say. "What do you think? I don't want your opinion."


Dabi huffed. "Why ask me?" He questioned.


"Because you're fun to talk to! As if, loser," the masked man responded.


"Go ask someone else," the other man shot back. It was best that he didn't get too drawn in by the normality of the conversation.


But then Toga pouted, puffing out her cheeks like Fuyumi did when she was younger. "No fair... Now we'll never break the tie," she whined.


Dabi sighed and turned in the stool, back hunched. "Beach. The air smells fresh there," he stated simply. It wasn't a lie either. Especially after the training camp incident, he wasn't sure be wanted to go to a forest in a long time.


The teen cheered and latched onto Dabi's arm. "I told you! See, beach is best!"
Twice grumbled but gave her a nod. "Fine, the beach is best. No way! I want a recount."


She squeezed his arm as she stuck her tongue out at the man. Dabi felt a pang of fondness at their interactions. It was hard to keep them at a distance when they acted like this. When everyone was peaceful, it was easy to forget their backgrounds and ultimate goals. If only it could stay like this. Unfortunately, the sick hero upstairs made it perfectly clear that it could never stay that way.  

"By the way, where's Bakugo?" Toga asked, peering up at him.

Dabi placed a hand on her head. "He got sick last night. I put him upstairs in my room so he could sleep off the infection. He's too ill to get around on his own so it's fine."

The young girl leaned into the touch. "Okay, Dabi! Hey, Twice! Let's ask Spinner vacation questions too!" She slipped away from his palm and bounded over to the small group, flinging herself at the lizard man with reckless abandon. He chuckled when Spinner let out a startled squawk and dropped his knife sword.


Deciding that he might as well follow, he rose from the bar and joined the group as they argued over vacation spots. He might as well make the most of the League before everything fell apart. 


+++


Shigaraki returned with news from All for One. "Bakugo Katsuki gets to live until the heroes come for him. The moment they get here, kid dies." He flexed his thin fingers. "Can't wait to see the brat dead."


Toga clapped her hands. "Will there be blood?" She asked in a giddy voice. "I hope there's blood."


"Where is Bakugo?" Kurogiri prompted from the bar.


Dabi rose. "My room. His injury got infected, and I was treating him throughout the night. He has a fever right now and can't stay awake for long, much less stand," he explained.


Shigaraki sneered. "You've been taking care of him a lot lately," the man snapped. "What's up with that?"


He resisted the chill gripping his chest. "Someone has to," he shot back. "If I recall correctly, no one else stayed to help and you were the one who injured him in the first place. I'm just doing my part so that the kid doesn't die before your Sensei wants him to.” His arms crossed as he stared the hand villain down.


Red bore into blue as Shigaraki searched his gaze. He let out a low huff. "Whatever. Just make sure the kid stays alive until the heroes come."


"Believe me, I will," Dabi rasped. "I'm going to check on him now." He rose, ignoring the angry muttering of the League's leader behind him.


He marched up the stairs and stood in front of his door. Letting out the breath he had been holding, the young man entered his room. Bakugo jumped from his position in the pile of blankets, arms up defensively. He must have just woken up, hair messier than normal and face even more flushed than the last time Dabi had seen him.


"Cool it, tiger. Not gonna bite. I just got done talking with the others. No one is coming up here for a while," he stated, moving to his desk.


Bakugo squinted at him. "What did they talk about?"


"Mostly about vacation spots." The teen snorted at this. "But I mentioned that you were sick, and they... Figured out what they're doing with you," Dabi said, not looking him in the eyes.


The teen tensed. "What is it?" He demanded.


"When the heroes arrive, they want to kill you in retaliation before fighting and escaping," the man answered honestly. "And I'm not letting that happen."


At first, Bakugo looked distressed. The prospect of death right in as his rescue arrived must be horrifying. But his features twisted into something unreadable. "You're what?"


Dabi turned. "I'm not letting them kill you."


"I don't believe you," Bakugo spat back. "Why would you help me? Why are you helping me?"


The young man paused. "Honestly? I don't know. Maybe because you remind me of myself. Maybe because I don't want the next generation to screw up like I did," he replied.


"I'm nothing like you."


"You don't know everything, brat. Not everyone is how you think they are."


There was a grumble and then silence as Bakugo buried himself in the blanket pile. Dabi watched the pile still before picking up the medical textbook. He read quietly, scribbling notes in the margins of the pages below Yoshihara’s own scribblings. The best he could do now was continuing to study infections and body tissue. Maybe he could find something in the pages that could help heal the brat. 


+++


"Who's book is that?" Bakugo asked. The man had woken him to redress the injuries. The boy had been tense but agreed. "You steal it from someone?"


"We don't always steal things, brat," Dabi retorted. "And no, it was a gift from a friend."


"You have friends?" The boy replied. He winced as the pad peeled away from his cheek.


The older grimaced at the white puss that clung to the material and dumped the bloodied bandage into his trash bin. "I had friends before I came here. Not everyone repels people away with their bad attitude." He gave the boy a pointed look.


Bakugo rolled his eyes and wiped some sweat away from his forehead. "Whatever. Why a textbook?"


"He's a doctor. He fixed me up after... Many incidents. When I ended up leaving, he gave me the book. It's basic medical knowledge with his notes. It's why I know how to do what I'm doing right now." Dabi dabbed at the gaping wound with a wet cloth.


The injured boy tried to stay still, biting his lip to avoid flinching. "What incidents gave you scars like that? Isn't your quirk fire?"


"My quirk may be fire but my body doesn't like it," the man explained. He dropped the cloth into a bowl of now dirty water. "The fire I use can be hard to control, and my body isn't entirely fire resistant because of my mother's quirk..."


Bakugo's eyes widened in realization. "So that means..."


Dabi nodded, starting to peel back the other bandage. "My quirk caused my scars." He dropped the second soiled bandage into the trash. "I'm not too fond of my power sometimes."


"Why did you use it enough to hurt you if you hate it so much?" Bakugo asked.


There was a pause. "When you're sure you're going to die, your body reacts without thinking sometimes. My fire does the same. I was... Protecting my baby brother. That man wouldn't stop pushing him, and I couldn't stand it any longer... So he decided to get rid of me. He almost did it too. My quirk responded to my fear, I passed out, and I woke up in a clinic. Yos- my friend had found me and patched me up."


The boy studied him. "That man..."


"He's unimportant now," Dabi cut him off.


"... Fine," Bakugo agreed, clearly wanting to push further but holding back. "... Deku has a quirk like that. If he uses too much power, it breaks his bones."


Dabi finished cleaning the second wound. "Really? That makes sense. He looked messed up after his fight with... The Todoroki kid."


The kid grunted, affirming the statement. "He only just learned his limits, damn nerd."


"You only know your limits by pushing yourself. You just have to make sure you learn when to stop," Dabi stated, placing a gauze pad gently against the boy's cheek. "If someone pushes you beyond your limits, it can result in more damage than actual helpful experience."


Bakugo's brows furrowed as the man started wrapping his head. "You sound like you understand..."


"... My quirk is powerful. Even as destructive as it is, it can be controlled and a dangerous tool. All the training he put me through only amounted to me getting hurt and becoming more likely to make mistakes... Damn bastard..." Dabi growled out. "Didn't know when to stop."


The younger remained silent as Dabi caught himself. He was talking too much. It was better that Bakugo knew very little about his past. He knew his baby brother, and he didn't want the kid connecting the dots. Bakugo needed more rest anyways; he looked like he was about to fall over again.


"You should rest again. Your temperature is up again," Dabi added as he wiped his hands. The wounds were redressed. "It hasn't gone down at all. You sure your body temp doesn't run high because of your quirk?"


Bakugo shrugged lethargically. “I guess. My palms and feet are warmer because of my quirk but I'm not sure? I think I am a little bit?" He bit back a yawn.


"Here, let's get you back up on the bed," the man offered, lowering down an arm. The younger grabbed hold and stood, clutching the appendage to steady himself. "Now get some rest. I'm right here. No one is going to mess with you.”

 

+++

 

"--abi... Dabi... Touya!"

"Shouto!" Dabi jolted awake, almost falling out of his chair. His chest heaved as he clutched at his shirt. What was that? 

"T-touya," a voice trembled to his right. 

The man turned and blanched. Bakugo was quaking. Sweat made his hair wilt and dampened his bandages. His eyes were horribly unfocused as he hunched over. A shaky palm covered his mouth as he swallowed thickly, Adam's apple jumping. His hand looked pale against the dark flush of his face. 

"I... I... I'm going to puke," he finally got out before his body jolt. 

"Shit!" Dabi spat, snatching the waste basket under his desk and scrambling to the boy's side. "I gotcha, kid."

Bakugo grabbed the basket and ducked his head over it. His body lurched and a strangled choke left his mouth. The kid gripped the bin until his knuckles went white. It took a few more coughs before he heaved again, the contents of his stomach dripping between his chapped lips. His body jolted over and over until his guts were empty. 

Placing a hand on the boy's back, the older rubbed gentle circles. He could feel the tensing muscles shift beneath his fingertips. Even with nothing left in his body, the kid kept dry heaving and coughing. Saliva and bile dripped down his chin as he gasped for breath. It must be burning his throat with the way he gulped down mouthfuls of cool air.

A moment later, Bakugo slumped against the villain's side. His forehead pressed into the man's shoulder. A wetness began soaking into his shirt, either the bile and spit or sweat and tears; he hoped for the latter. Dabi continued rubbing slow circles across the boy's back. 

"You alright?" The man murmured softly. 

"N-no..." Bakugo stammered. "I... I don't..." He wheezes, another tremor running through his frame. "I... I really don't feel good..."

Terror clawed at Dabi's lungs, and his breath caught in his throat. His fever had definitely worsened, and the vomiting wasn't a good sign. Bakugo looked up at him, tears and a visible fear shining in his eyes. The decay was wreaking havoc through his body, and Dabi could do nothing. How could he fix it? How could...

Yoshihara. He needed Yoshihara. 

Chapter Text

"He's not going to make it," Dabi snapped at Shigaraki. "He needs an actual doctor."

The leader scowled. "And how do you know that?"

"He threw up his guts in my room, you dumbass. I can tell if someone actually needs a doctor!"

"You can't bring him to a hospital," Spinner pointed out from the bar. He swirled a knife between his clawed fingers. "That's a sure way of losing our hostage and getting arrested."

The patchwork villain gestured at his scars. "I know a street doctor. You think I could heal this myself?"

The lizard man huffed. "Fair point."

Shigaraki gave him a calculating look and turned to the television screen. "What do you think, Sensei?" He asked. He appeared more tentative about acting out against his teacher's will. 

"How long will the treatment take? It is imperative that he is here when the heroes come to save him," Kurogiri added, placing a clean glass on the counter. 

Static hummed from the television. "Yes... Kurogiri offers an excellent question. Dabi, how long would he be away?" The voice of All for One filtered through the speakers. 

Dabi swallowed down his fear. That man... "If just to heal the worst of it... Probably a few hours. I'd be able to carry him back after the treatment," he replied. 

"Hmmm... As long as another League member is with you, you are free to take him to your doctor," All for One affirmed. "That decision will be up to Shigaraki. Be as fast as possible. The heroes are restless."

"Go get the brat," growled Shigaraki. "I'll find someone to go with you."

Dabi exhaled slowly and turned on his heel. He slipped into his room quietly and peered down at the sleeping Bakugo. He looked awful but at least the vomit was cleaned up. Cautiously, the man placed a hand gently on the boy's shoulder. "Hey, kid... Wake up..."

"Hngh..." The kid groaned. "Touya...?"

"Shh... Don't call me that, remember? It's Dabi."

"Mm'kay..."

"We gotta go now."

"Go where...?"

"Remember my friend I told you about? We're going there. He's gonna fix you right up."

"Doctor dude?"

"Yep, the doctor dude. But I need you to get up. I have a hoodie for you to wear. It's chilly outside tonight." 

Bakugo blinked slowly and yawned. He coughed a bit but sat up. He let Dabi wrestle him into a large hoodie without much protest. "Piggy back again?" His head drooped lazily. 

Dabi bent down. "Yeah. I need your help so I can carry you. Get on, okay?"

"M'kay..." 

The motions were stiff and weak but the kid eventually clambered onto his back. Dabi pulled Bakugo's arms over his shoulders before hooking his own arms under his legs. The weight felt heavier than last time as the boy went limp across his spine, burning face buried in the crook of his neck. The way he hung made him look like a dead body. 

"Hold on, kid," Dabi said as he started to move. 

The boy did not respond. 

+++

"Let's go! I want to stay here..." Twice sang from the door. He bounced on the balls of his feet with unending energy. "To the doctor! I hate doctors."

Dabi nodded, careful to not jostle the kid. "He's a bit aways."

"Fine by me! Ugh, kill me now." Twice waved to the others as they left. 

They carefully made their way through the streets. Yoshihara's clinic was easily a few blocks away. It could easily be a straight shot if it weren't for the patrols out. But Dabi had seen the news. UA and the heroes claimed to not know where the League had hidden themselves. He doubted that was true but that also meant hero patrols would be out everywhere, not to mention the police. If he was going to get Bakugo somewhere safe, not get arrested, and keep Yoshihara out of trouble, he would need to avoid any open streets. 

He journeyed through the back alleys. This was his usual method of travel. The sidewalks held too many prying eyes, and face masks only did so much to hide his scars. Dabi took to the back streets and shadowy spaces, memorizing every nook and cranny since leaving the safety of Yoshihara's home. 

His mind turned to the doctor as he dipped into a shaded space to avoid a small group of passing thugs. How was the man? He hadn't been happy that Dabi was leaving. Hell, he tried his best to make the villain stay, claiming Iron Strike's death wasn't his fault and he would defend him. Dabi had long since accepted the death as his fault and had pushed past the man. His last interaction was accepting the medical book from Yoshihara. 

"Take it," the older man had demanded, shoving the heavy textbook into his arms. "You have a habit of getting hurt. If I'm not there to patch you up, I... I want something there for you to look over in case you need help. Promise you'll read it."

"I promise," the younger had answered, and he had. He had read through a good portion of the book, skimming the pages and drinking in the notes scribbled along the margins. He had laughed at the poorly drawn doodles and the frantic reminders to "study this section because it makes no damn sense." It had made him feel more at home in the tiny room among the League. 

How would Yoshihara view him now though? He was sure to piece everything together. Would he throw him out? Would he call the heroes? Would he hate him? The last question made him quake inside, and he prayed silently that that would not be the case. 

They were a few streets away when Dabi decided he had to do something about Twice. The man himself had become something akin to an acquaintance or, in a tentative way, a friend. But despite all their interactions, the man was a villain who worked with the League. If Dabi was going to keep Bakugo and Yoshihara safe, Twice would have to be out of the picture. 'But not dead... Just knocked out...' He reasoned to himself..

The villain lightly jostled the teen clinging loosely to his shoulders. "Hold on tight," he murmured. He waited for Bakugo to grip his shoulders before acting. 

Twice, who had been uncharacteristically quiet the entire time, perked up. "Yo, what's going--..." His question was cut short as Dabi whirled around. A fist smashed into his nose with a painful crunch and sent him flying back. The whites of his mask were wide as shock filled his expression. "D-dabi?"

A thrill of success filled the patchwork villain before horror settled in his gut. Twice's body was melting away. "He was a clone..." The man growled as the body fell away into a dark puddle. He stomped at the remains before readjusting Bakugo. "Sorry, kid. We have to run."

He ignored the boy's soft complaint and took off. His feet thudded against the ground as he ran. The rhythmic sound filled his head as his mind raced. They had sent a clone with him instead of the real one. The League had started doubting his loyalty already. Destroying the clone would only solidify their thoughts. He had hoped that, by knocking Twice out, he could blame it on heroes. Unfortunately, the clone knew exactly who destroyed it. 

"At least they don't know where we are going," Dabi breathed out. His arms were already aching. He wasn't meant for this kind of running or lifting. Small flashes of pain radiated from his scars as every bounce tugged at the medical staples. But it was for the kid, and he would live. "You've been through worse... You can get through this..."

The man was gasping for air by the time he stumbled into the clinic's alley. Bakugo must have passed out at some point because the kid was now just hanging over his shoulders. He had to get inside, fast. The walk to the door seemed like a century. All the fears of seeing Yoshihara after months apart welled up in his chest. His hand felt a thousand times heavier as he lifted it and knocked.

It took only a few minutes before a familiar face opened the door. His hair was just as wild as always. Dark shadows settled beneath tired eyes like constant companions, standing out against the comforting honey brown. The doctor's coat, white and sweeping, still had the sleeves rolled up, revealing more scars than Dabi had remembered. Yoshihara was still the same old Yoshihara. 

"What do you..." The man started, clearly annoyed at the interruption from the back door of his home. "T-touya?"

Dabi gave him a sad smile. "Hey, old man..."

A laugh of disbelief fluttered out. "I can't believe... How... Why are you here?" The doctor finally got out. 

The smile fell. "I... I made a mistake... A lot of them actually," he replied. He adjusted himself, making the body clinging to his back more visible. "Yoshihara, I need your help."

Eyes widening in realization, Yoshihara opened the door more. "Come in. The clinic is empty tonight. No one will see us." He ushered the two inside and led them through the kitchen and living area to his medical room. 

Dabi was careful with placing the boy onto the table. He gently tugged back the hood, revealing messy blond hair and bandages. Bakugo's face was still flushed and sweaty, his mouth parted as he drew in shaky breaths. "I did all I could... Please. Please help him."

Yoshihara's mouth was set in a thin line as he put on gloves and began to unwind the bandages. The wounds looked worse in the bright lights of the medical room. White puss oozed out from the gaping flesh. The muscle, decayed away, held a disturbingly grayed tone to it. Fresh blood welled up along the edges of the injuries, a sharp contrast to the whites and grays. If the wounds didn't already make Dabi queasy, the smell of rot most definitely did. 

The doctor dumped the soiled bandages into a nearby bin. "Get hot water and a rag. Then tell me what the hell happened to this kid's face." The sharp order sent Dabi racing to the cabinets. He returned with steaming basin and washcloth in moments. "What did this?" The man prompted again as he wrung out the cloth. 

Dabi watched the man begin cleaning away at the infection. "Shigaraki Tomura... He has a quirk that destroys anything he touches. The kid back talked him one too many times and... I couldn't stop the lunatic..."

Yoshihara grimaced. "Well shit... So he started to decay the kid's face off... How long ago was this?"

"Two days ago? I think the quirk sped up an infection, and he got sick. I couldn't leave him there..."

"Any longer and he would have died. I'm glad you brought him here." A subtle glance. "I'm glad you're here."

Dabi looked away. "I'm surprised you haven't thrown me out yet."

The man paused his cleaning. "Why would I throw you out?"

"I'm a villain, Yoshihara! I've killed someone! I kidnapped a kid! I am a member of the League of Villains! I know your ‘no questions asked rule’ but... I... I'm awful..." Hot tears burned at the corners of his eyes. 

"I don't care."

"What?"

Yoshihara turned and stared at the younger man down. "I don't care. You are like  my brother. Ever since I found you in that alleyway, you have been important to me. To hell with that villain crap! You've helped people, you've been protecting this kid, and you came back! I would never throw you out, Touya. Especially not now."

Dabi's heart leapt into his throat. Brother? Yoshihara saw him like his own family? He gripped his shirt. No wonder he hadn't wanted Dabi to leave. Dammit... Damn it all...

"I'm sorry I left," he finally spoke. "I wanted to protect you. You're... My family too. And I couldn't let anything happen to my family. Not again."

The doctor's visage softened. He turned back to the boy lying on the medical table. "I know... I... I'm sorry too... But right now, this kid needs our help." He picked up a scalpel. "So let's fix your mistake and help him."

+++

It was an hour and a half before Bakugo's wounds closed. The rotted muscle had been removed lowly and disposed of. Dabi had been used to retrieve different tools and clean water. Otherwise, he let Yoshihara work. This kind of injury was beyond the younger man's expertise. 

The doctor stayed hunched over the boy for a majority of the time. His usually tired eyes were sharp and focused. Streaks of red coated his fingers as his quirk worked, pushing out the infection and healing the injury. Dabi had forgotten how fascinating it was to see his quirk at work. It was as though Bakugo's body was rebuilding itself before their eyes. 

After the healing was finished, all that remained was scarring. A long discolored patch, starting below his right eye and ending at his jaw, dipped across his cheek. It stood out against the creamy color of his skin. The scaring on his left cheek was smaller but just as noticeable. At least they weren't as dark and purpled as Dabi's burns. 

The burning fever had left the kid once the infection was removed with Yoshiahra's quirk. The angry flush across his face had long since faded, and his breathing was clearer. They both had been relieved this development. Now Bakugo simply slept, still bundled up in the large hoodie.

"He'll wake up soon," Yoshihara spoke, plucking off his bloodied gloves and tossing them into the trashcan. "What will you do now?"

Dabi handed the man a fresh roll of bandages for his arm. "I need to go back," he replied honestly. 

The doctor stiffened. "Why would you do that? They'll kill you." He clenched his fists when Dabi didn't respond. "Touya! It's suicide!"

"And not going back means they'll look for us and find you!" He snapped. "You are my family. Bakugo is an innocent hero. I will not let them hurt either of you. Which means I need to go back. I got rid of one of our member's clones. They may know which direction I was going. I can't chance them searching for me."

He took a deep breath and continued. "I can make excuses about everything if I go back. When I leave, I can contact the heroes. Tell them that you found the kid or something. I know people will back you up if you need help. But I can't stay, Yoshihara."

The doctor's eyes frantically searched his face as if looking for some lie or flaw in his statement. He closed his eyes when he found none. "Can you promise me something?" He asked slowly. 

Dabi quirked a brow. "Like what...?"

"Promise me you'll try to come back," Yoshihara stated firmly. "Promise me you'll try your damn best to come back, Touya."

The villain was quiet. "I... I'll try."

"Promise me!"

"... I promise..."

Yoshihara turned. "Good. I... I'm going to change. There's blood on my shirt..." He paused in the doorway. "Good luck, Touya..."

"Thank you, Yoshihara..." Dabi watched the man slip away. He didn't know if he could keep his promise Yoshihara. The League would probably kill him before he could make up an excuse. "But they'll be safe..." He reminded himself. He pulled on his heavy jacket and started for the door. 

"...Where are you going...?" A groggy voice piped up from behind him. The man froze. Bakugo was awake.  

Chapter Text

Bakugo was awake and upright, staring into his soul. "How long have you been awake?" Dabi asked, a feeling of discomfort tugging at his stomach.

"Since you and your friend started yelling," the teen replied with a sneer. He winced and gently pressed his palm his cheek. "Damn, that hurts still…”

"It'll be sore for a few days," the older responded. 

Bakugo scowled at him. "And how would... Oh..." His eyes shot down to the burns and staples. "...right..."

"You should sleep. Yoshihara's quirk takes a lot out of both parties. The heroes will be here once I get far enough away," Dabi explained. He glanced at the clock clicking away on the wall. It was getting late. "I should get going."

"No!" The teen snapped, making him stop in his tracks again. "I heard what that Yoshi-what's-his-name said! You're going to die if you go back, right?" He gritted his teeth. "Like hell I'm letting you do that after... After what you did…For me.”

Dabi sighed. He could still make it back in time as long as he didn't take too long. Turning on his heels, he strode over to Yoshihara's desk chair, spun it around, and sat down. "First, his name is Yoshihara. Call him ‘old man’ if you want. He acts like he hates it but he doesn't. Second, what the hell have I ever done that warrants you not wanting me to die, brat? Considering the fact that I kidnapped and dumped you into the League's hideout, I don't think it's very much." He leaned forwards so his elbows rested onto his knees. "So tell me, what have I done for you?"

Bakugo remained silent, taking in the man's words. His brows lowered into one of his angrier scowls. "A good amount. You protected me from that damn hand bastard, tried to make sure I got better, helped me escape, and... You listened to me. You actually listened to me, dammit! Even after I yelled at you and treated you like a piece of shit, you listened to me and didn't use it against me and then went out of your damn way to save me... What kind of villain does that shit?"

"Not a very good one I guess," Dabi mused. 

"Exactly! So why are you going back to them?" The boy demanded. "To be selfless or some bullshit?"

"No."

"Then why?!"

"Because I need to protect those I care about," Dabi replied honestly. He saw the confusion in the boy's expression. "And I guess that includes you now too, brat."

"Why?" The words were soft, and even though he had asked so many times already, it felt like a punch to the man's chest. 

"You made me realize there is hope for the hero society. The future generation is different than the one I grew up in. If we lose the symbol of peace... If we lose heroes like All Might or Eraserhead... It won't help us; it'll break us,” the man explained. “I don't want the next generation to be like my father. And your story shows that people change. Heroes like Midori and you will be out there soon. The hero society will reform itself with you... And your friends..."

He rubbed a hand against the back of his neck. "They worked so hard to save you. When you see them again, apologize for me? Especially to Midori."

"Touya..." Bakugo spoke up with an ever deepening frown. "Who is your father?"

Dabi looked away. "Doesn't matter. He's a valor stealing bastard of a hero who used his kids for his own gain. That's all you need to know."

The angry blond scoffed. "He doesn't sound like much of a hero," he growled out. "Like hell I'd be like him."

The young man snorted. "I know you won't. I must admit, you are different than I expected. You seemed to be ruthless at the Sports Festival. But really, you care," Dabi hummed. "Still a brat though."

An explosion crackled and popped to life from Bakugo's palm. "Call me a brat one more time..." He grumbled, his words lacking as harsh of a bite as earlier. "... You're not what I expected either..."

"Hm?" 

"I thought you were some psycho killer villain that was trying to hurt everyone. Now it looks like you're just a big softy." He wrinkled his nose at the last part. "And really shitty at running."

"And you're heavy as hell," Dabi shot back. Despite the insults, a warmth rose in him. The interaction felt familiar, like bickering with his siblings or Yoshihara. 'Too bad you'll never see him again,' the voice in his head hummed. His smile dipped. ‘Ah... Right…'

He rose to his feet. "But there is a reason I'm going back. A reason I have to go back, Bakugo..." The sharp grin on the boy's face fell as they were brought back to the grim topic at hand. "The only way to keep good heroes is to keep them away from the League. I don't know all their plans... I just know they want to ruin what is developing now. So to protect you and my family, I am going to try my best, right now, to destroy as much as I can."

"You're going back to attack them?" Bakugo asked. “By yourself.”

He nodded. "It'll draw attention to them with all the heroes around, and I can try and get rid of the worst threats, like Shigaraki." His expression hardened. "I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. If anything, this is my way of making up for them," he admitted. "Be a good hero, Bakugo."

The boy straightened. “Stop, you idiot," he snapped. “Sacrificing yourself isn't the only way!"

Dabi gave him a final smile. "Right now, it seems like the only thing I can do. Stay here, kid. And... Good luck." He walked away from the boy. He could hear his shouting as he shut the door behind him. He didn't look back. 

+++

Katsuki tried to get to his feet, stumbling. He hadn't stood in over twenty four hours, and his legs felt like static. Curses fell from his lips as he clung to the metal table. Why can’t his damn legs work when he needed them? He had to get feeling back in his legs. He had to be able to run. He had to stop that damn idiot.

"Hold up," a man said from the doorway. 

His head jerked up, and he spotted the doctor dude watching him. The man looked scruffier now that the teen was more awake. He dressed a lot like the flame idiot, v-necks and skinny jeans. He also had scars, not dark purple like Touya’s burns, but in hues of pink and white along his arms. A fresh bandage wrapped around his right forearm, pale like his skin. 

"What do you want, old man," he grumbled. 

The man snorted, also like him. "Touya told you to say that, didn't he. Dumb brat..." He muttered. 

Katsuki studied the man. He looked tired and less stiff. The boy relaxed his shoulders. "Are you going to stop me from following him?"

Yoshihara, Katsuki thinks that was his name, hums softly. "I probably should," he responds. "But if I can't stop him, I won't stop you. That is, as long as you promise to stay safe as well."

"You sure like having people promise you shit," the teen retorted, remembering the demands the doctor had made before leaving. 

"I suppose," the man agreed thoughtfully. The corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. "But when people promise you shit, you have hope that they'll keep those promises."

The reasoning sounded stupid and flawed but Katsuki found himself nodding. “Okay..." He glanced around the medical office. “He reads the book you gave him,” he added.

Yoshihara's expression softened. "Good... He promised he would.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes. ‘Of course, promises.’

The man saw his reaction and grinned. “You remind me of him, ya know." Seeing the grimace in response, he laughed. "Really. Loud, reckless, defensive... Yet wanting nothing more than to help others. He tried, being a hero that is. I found out after the fact but... Touya did good as a vigilante. Sometimes I feel like he tried so hard to make up for the harm his father caused to their family. If I'm honest, I have a lot of questions for him myself." His eyes were sharp as he focused on the boy from his place hovering next to the table. "I know he has made mistakes but he's trying to make amends. And I know he's going to be upset when he sees you going after him but... Both of you look out for each other, okay?"

It felt like another promise. Katsuki simply agreed. "I'll watch out for him," the young hero promised. "He saved me. I've learned from my classmates that being saved doesn't make me weak. Now he needs to be saved." His eyes bore into the doctor's gaze. "Which means it's my turn to return the favor."

Huffing, the man shook his head. "Looks like Touya was right. There is hope for the next generation of heroes," he stated. "Do you know where to find him?"

"It was a bar? It took us at least half an hour to get here..." The teen realized he didn't know where the idiot was headed. "Damn it! I don’t know where it is!”

"Chill. I know the area pretty well. Describe it to me," Yoshihara spoke, his voice calming. 

"There's a lot of run down or dirty buildings along the way..."

"Probably the older section of the Kamino ward. We're just a ways outside that area,” the man commented, hooking a finger under his chin. “What kind of building was it?”

"The bar... It was a white building with at least an upper floor for apartments. Maybe two? I couldn't really read the signs but it was in red with a smaller sign below it. I think it had a margarita glass on it?"

The puzzled look on Yoshihara's face faded away. "I know where you're talking about. I avoided that place like a plague when I was in college. Too creepy for me." He pulled out his phone and searched for something. "Here. This is it."

Katsuki stared at the dimly lit screen. That was it alright. "How far away?"

"Fifteen minutes by car, twenty if there's traffic," the man replied. He tapped something and a printer chirped in the next room. He slid over to the machine, plucked out the sheet of paper, and handed it to the kid. "Follow the streets listed here. You should be able to catch up with him if you're quick."

Katsuki held the paper tightly in his hands. "I... Thank you. For everything."

"No prob. Now get going. You don't have much time."

The teen nodded and crossed the room with little trouble, his legs finally responding to him. A final farewell was given before the boy rushed out of the clinic. He clutched the map in his hands, running through the streets. He barely glanced at the signs as he went, only making sure he was going the correct way for a moment.

Katsuki had spent too much time getting his bearings and finding the bar's location. He had to catch up to Dabi... No, Touya. Dabi was the name of a criminal; Touya was at least something of a hero in his book. 'Deku thought he could be a hero, the old man says he has been one, and he saved me,' he listed to himself, rounding a corner. 'He sure as hell is a hero to me.'

Chapter Text

His legs, ironically, burned. Dabi couldn't remember running this much since gym class. He hated gym class. Now his muscles screamed for a moment of rest, a moment that the villain didn't have.

He trudged through the discomfort. He ducked into an alley, slipping through the shadows. There were many obstacles to avoid in the darker corners of the Kamino ward. Windows, having been broken by gang scuffles, left glass shattered across pavement. Piles of undisturbed trash tended to block anyone's path. Sometimes even drunk homeless people huddled together around small fires, watching people walk past.

Doing his best to avoid all these things, he bound down a shadowed sidewalk. He was lucky the run down side of town gave off a bad reputation, sending people in the opposite direction of his destination. Besides, Dabi wasn't worried about running into civilians. He was worried about the heroes. They would be far less scared of him and more proactive in capturing him.

At the thought of heroes, Dabi's mind wandered back to Bakugo. The kid was safe at least. Yoshihara would look out for him until the heroes arrived. He planned to call them once he was outside the bar. If they did track his number, the League will have been done away with before hand. Bakugo would be back with his class, Yoshihara would be away from danger, and Dabi... Dabi could die without worry. Even if he didn't want to die.


His mind then drifted to the League. If he was going to get rid of the League of Villains, he didn't want to hurt everyone. Toga, Twice, and Spinner had been decent companions to him while he lived at the bar, even with their wild tendencies. Mr. Compress and Magne also were comfortable people. Misguided, yes, but they could easily go back to society without batting an eye. It was Shigaraki and Kurogiri he was focused on.


Kurogiri was sane as most people but he was loyal. One could easily describe him as the "man-child's handler" from time to time. He would never turn from All for One's plans. Even without the watching of Shigaraki or the Master's meetings, the mist villain was just as likely to avenge them or complete their goals. He would have to be dealt with.


Shigaraki was an obvious one. Unhinged, crazy, murderous... He radiated insanity from time to time. No, Dabi had a personal problem with him now. He hurt Bakugo. He put his baby brother and Midori on a hit list of sorts. The hand bastard, as the angry teen had called him, was on the top of his own hit list right now.


With those two out of the way, the League would most likely fall apart. They were the face of the leadership, the only ones with an actual connection to All for One. The others, without the big bads, would scatter at best. None of them were big planners when it came to group crimes. If anything, maybe Dabi would be able to reason with them before someone offed him.


But All for One was still a problem. He never saw where the man had been located. Of course, he looked close to dead when Dabi first met him. He even said it himself, right? Unless he was bluffing... And Dabi didn't want to call that bluff. He should have told Bakugo before he left. Hopefully, the heroes would find the villain sooner than later and take him off the scene.


And then Dabi saw the bar. Or what's left of it.


The front had been exploded away, and he could see the brickwork inside. Long branches stretched out of the opening, signifying the appearance of Kamui Woods. Smoke swirled into the air. He had heard the sounds of police cars earlier but he hadn't realized they were coming from this area. Some of the cars were smashed and silent while others wailed, lights flashing, farther down the street. Everything was chaos.


Nomu rampaged in the street. Many nomu. Some fought with heroes while others went after police officers. He had know there were a few made but never this many. Sweat dripped down his jaw. The heroes had known where they were hiding out. They had stormed the place while he was gone too and now everything had gone to shit. What the hell was he going to do now?


In the midst of his panicked thinking, he heard pounding footsteps behind him. "What the hell," Bakugo huffed out at the insane scene before him.


"Bakugo, why are you here?!" Dabi snapped. "I told you to stay!"


"And you thought I would? I'm not a dog," the teen retorted. "I'm better, I can fight, and I'm not letting you fight alone." There was a determined gleam in his angry eyes. "So deal with it, fire idiot."


The man scowled at the name. "Real original, brat. But seriously! It's dangerous out here. How did you even find this damn place?"


"The old man.” He held up a crumpled piece of paper with a map printed across it.


"Of course." Touya snatched the paper and burned it away as his frustration bubbled up. He then ran a hand down his face with a long sigh. "What am I going to do with the two of you?"


"You can figure that out later," Bakugo answered. "Now what is your damn plan? Did you know this was going to happen?" He gestured at the masses of nomu.


Dabi groaned. "Do I look like I knew about this?"


"Fine! You didn't know about the hundreds of nomu bastards. What is the plan now?" The teen demanded with crossed arms.


"I don't--..." The man froze. There was something moving inside him. It churned and bubbled and gurgled and... "Bakugo, run!" He shouted as he shoved at the teen to go, drawing many people's attention.


"Young Bakugo!" All Might roared from across the street. He stood in the wreckage, tall and foreboding. "Unhand him, villain!"


"Touya, what's going on?" Bakugo began, going pale. He looked almost queasy.


"Something is wrong! You need to go! You need to--..." Dabi's warning was cut off as he choked, clutching his throat. A rush of blackish liquid burst from his mouth and spread over him. He spotted the same thing happening to the younger boy.


The image of All Might flashed in his field of vision, arm outstretched to grab the student. But the liquid was faster. It covered both of them, and they vanished.


For a moment, all Dabi was... Was nothing. He heard nothing. He saw nothing. He smelled nothing. He felt nothing. His mind was blank. Completely and utterly clear and devoid of thought.


Until everything came rushing back in a terrifying explosion of sound and color. He almost fell to his knees, wheezing. A slimy sensation coated his mouth and made him gag. The taste was horrible. "Disgusting..." He spat.


"Damn it! What the hell was that!" Bakugo sputtered next to him, coughing to expel any slime. Then other villains appeared behind them, all with similar reactions.


Dabi looked around. Everyone was there, Kurogiri lying unconscious on the ground. The area around them was decimated. Maybe it had been a warehouse of some sort. Now, not so much. Metal had exploded outwards, pipes bent, and panels skewed about. Slabs of concrete stuck out from the earth like jagged growths. Nearby structures were damaged with broken walls and shattered glass. Dust and smoke curled in the area around them. The open night sky hung visible overhead where a ceiling should be.


Then a figure before them spoke. His voice was deep with an almost electronic ring to it. He bore a suit and mask, black as the inky sky above. The face was etched with a skull-like quality with various tubes jutted out of a neck piece. He spoke as ominous as he looked. "Tomura, you have failed once again..." He hummed. "But fear not, you'll try again. You are still learning."


His footsteps echoed as he stepped forwards. Each sound sent shocks of dread though Dabi's body. "That's why I brought your associates with you. Even the boy and the traitor... You saw their importance," All for One, he realized, spoke methodically. "Start over as many times as you must. I am here to help you... And I am here for you."


The man turned his masked visage to Dabi. It was blank and empty and made the young man want to scream. "As for you... You still have a chance to redeem yourself... Touya Todoroki."


Dabi fell to his knees, a choking pressure weighing down on him. 'He knows... He knows, he knows, heknowsheknowsheknowshEKNOWSHEKNOWS.' His mind was racing, screaming utter senseless thoughts. He could feel the eyes of all those around him baring down. Bakugo's breath had hitched beside him, and he couldn’t look at him.


"You must be surprised," All for One broke the silence. "It took a lot of digging, you know. You know how to cover your tracks. Vanishing from your family, being announced dead, and then showing up almost a year later as a vigilante. Quite the accomplishment. Unfortunately, some heroes did not take kindly to your work, did they?" The man leaned forwards. "What good did heroes ever do for you, Touya Todoroki. Endeavor never had the best qualities as a hero so it isn't hard to imagine what kind of father he could be... Not to mention other heroes trying to kill you. That's why you joined us, isn't it? To reform the society that had let you down so many times."


Dabi... No, Touya shakily looked up. His eyes locked with the blank mask. "I..." His voice cracked harshly, and he stopped himself.


"I do not know what made you decide to help Bakugo escape but I am offering you a chance. A chance to right your wrongs," All for One continued. He spread his large hands dramatically. "Fix your mistake, and you are welcome to return to us."


"W-what..." Touya stammered. He didn't understand. What was the villain wanting him to do?


He could hear the grin in the man's next words. "The task is quite simple. You must kill Katsuki Bakugo."


The young man's head whipped around, and he stared at the boy next to him. Bakugo stood stiffly, eyes wide and teeth clenched. He looked shocked, terrified, and angry all rolled into one unnamable emotion. A tremor ran through the kid's body. The scars, fresh and probably still sore, stood out against his blanched features. They stared at each other, eyes locked and silent.


And then his mind calmed. This was it, wasn't it? This was his chance to take out the big dog. The one he thought he couldn't plan for stood right in front of him. Touya's eyes slid over to look at the imposing figure. He had already made his choice the moment he first defended the kid. He wasn't changing it now.


Rising slowly to his feet, he looked at Bakugo. "Sorry, kid," the man murmured. The kid straightened, betrayal in his gaze. Until the patchwork villain turned to face All for One. "I can't keep my promise to the old man." And staring down the big bad himself, he sneered and spat out his challenge. “Screw you.”


A pin drop could be heard from miles away with the silence his statement left. All for One sighed. "I see... I had hope for you, Touya. Unfortunately, we will not see your potential flourish," he said in a pitying manner. The older man raised a large palm. Red and black energy crackled to life, and suddenly a rush blast of wind cut into the younger man.


Touya cried out as the blast slammed him across the ground. His body bounced, and he could have sworn he heard all his bones creak at the force. A sound, Bakugo yelling, road faintly on the wind. He smacked into one of the concrete slabs, torso barely missing a jagged rebar jutting out of a broken section. His ribs rattled inside his chest as he gasped for air.


He carefully eased himself up. The kid was watching, fists trembling. "Touya! Get up!" Bakugo shouted. As if the words empowered him, the man did as he was told. He stood up and faced All for One.


"I won't let you hurt anyone," he snarled. Stretching out his hands, he willed his fire to life. "Not anymore. I can't let you hurt anyone anymore!”


+++


"Keep the boy away from the fight, Tomura. This will not take long," the masked man hummed. His voice, distorted, sounded eerily inhuman. Air swirled around him as he rose, hovering above the ground.
The League turned, realizing that Katsuki was still there. The student fell into a fighting stance. "Like hell you'll keep me here," he growled.

"Make sure he doesn't get away," the hand bastard stated.

At his word, the other villains lunged at him. The blond leapt back, avoid a swipe from the crazy mask guy's measuring tape. He could hear it slicing through the air like the psycho bitch that stabbed at him next. His hands lit with explosions. With so many people around him, he couldn't make a clear escape.


'And I can't leave Touya,' he thought, avoiding the magician's touch.


His mind still reeled at the prospect of Touya being related to the icy hot bastard. Honestly, how could he have missed it? It all fit really. He had overhead the story of Endeavor's parenting during the Sports Festival. It matched Touya's version clearly, filling in all the missing information from his story. And icy hot hadn't mentioned his older brother because he thought the guy was dead.

If they made it out, Katsuki had a lot to ask him. 'When,' he corrected himself as a series of explosions ripped from his palms. 'When we get out of here. I just need to keep avoiding them.'

An explosion of blue fire shot through the air. Touya was using his quirk, a lot. He was using a quirk that destroyed his body against a villain the could wipe the ground with him. "You better make it," the young hero hissed out. "You promised, dammit."

They would make it. They had too. They promised Yoshihara. Touya still had to apologize to Deku. They needed to see their families. A knife narrowly missed his arm. He let out another blast and a curse. 

"Dammit."

Chapter Text

Blue fire tore through the world around him. It hurt but he fought through it. It'll hurt more if the villain in front of him gets a blow in. The searing heat followed his fingertips and flew. It danced in the air, almost beautiful in the night, and sliced into the towering man.

All for One grunted in response. His success was dampened by the returning strike. The villain lashed out with more blasts of wind. He could feel his fire moving from the violent quirk, and blood seeped into the torn pieces of his shirt and jacket. Touya gaged at the churning of his guts. "My air cannon packs more of a punch than your fire," All for One mused. "How far can you go with your flames?"

"Farther," Touya spat back, a dribble of blood running over his scarred lip. "Farther than any damn quirk!"

Heat exploded across his skin. The metal staples seared his limbs and face. He set his jaw and pulled out more fire. His hair whipped around him as torrents of blue flame swirled over his right arm. Blisters formed over his unscathed flesh and yet he didn't stop. He had to control it.

All for One attempted to shift away but it was too late. With a shaky, pained grin, the fire user sent his inferno at the leader. The man vanished from sight, engulfed in the blaze. The fire died out from Touya's arm, and he stumbled. Pain radiated from his right arm and the right side of his face. He blinked, that eye slightly blurred.

When he refocused, he spotted an unfortunate sight. All for One, although no longer hovering, still stood tall. Smoke curled up from his clothing, the white button up under his suit singed black along the collar. The ground around him was sooty and smoldering. The man himself? Visibly unharmed. His biggest attack did nothing.  

"My turn," the distorted voice spoke. He appeared at Touya's side in only a second. A fist slammed into his torso, ribs audibly cracking. The young man went flying into a pillar near the far end of the wreckage. His body thudded against the ground. The sound had a hollow tone to it. "I should have guessed you won't go down easy. I'll make your last moments painful for it."

All for One was over him once more, grabbing his right arm and lifting him. The smoldering skin ached down to the bone. His fingers twitched as the villain lifted his free hand. "You should have taken my offer." Another blast left him palm, tearing through Touya and throwing him near Bakugo's fight.

The League members near him scattered. Spinner stared at his mangled body in horror, lips parted as if to say something before a rippling explosion caught his attention. "Touya!" The explosive blond cried out, rushing towards them. The reptilian villain turned away and returned to the fight, fending off the young hero.

All for One moved closer. He settled his feet on the ground and strode the last few steps. He leaned over the younger man's prone form. The injured man's breaths were wet and wheezing. Never a good sign. The villain silently studied him for a moment.

"I do not know what you were trying to achieve by fighting me. It would never have worked," he stated. "Goodbye, Touya Todoroki."

But before he could blast Touya into oblivion, he paused. "I was wondering how long it would take for you to get here," the man spoke up. The words were not directed at Touya. He looked up.

Soaring through the air was All Might, and he wasn't smiling. His golden hair sliced the air as he dove into the clearing, fist reared back. His punch hit home in the palm of All for One's hand. The world exploded around them on impact, sending dust and earth flying. The blast flung everyone in different directions. Touya himself rolled across the ground, crying out as his body hit a few sharp pieces of concrete.

The two towering men were speaking to one another but they sounded a million miles away. Touya's vision swam, churning with the swirls of dirt in the air. A sharp buzzing echoed in his ears, successful muting everything around him. All he could feel was a pulsing pain throughout his entire being. He just wanted everything to stop. Tears blurred in his cloudy eyes. 'Make it stop...'

"Touya!" Bakugo's call broke through the fuzziness. The teen fell down beside him and grabbed his shoulder. “Shit! Touya, get up!"

All Might looked towards the sudden shouting and spotted the duo. The pro hero's expression went from confusion to understanding. "I will finish what I should have finished five years ago," he bellowed. "I will help those in need, and lock you away for the rest of your miserable life!"

"By all means, try your best," the villain rumbled. He lifted a hand, calling out an array of quirks. The energy crackled around him and sent the hero flying. "Shigaraki, handle the boy and the traitor. I leave them in your hands. Do not let them get away."

"Of course, Sensei," the hand villain affirmed. He turned to the two. "I will not fail you again."

All for One reached out a hand, long black and red growths extending and stabbing into the unconscious body of Kurogiri.

"Forced quirk activation," the man hummed out. A dark portal swirled to life above the incapacitated man's prone form. "Escape with your comrades, Shigaraki." He turned in time to face All Might once again, finger retracting to normal.

Touya struggled up on his forearms, pulling himself up into a kneeling position. He put himself carefully between the villain and Bakugo. His body ached and tore and bled but he rose up. Now that All Might was keeping the big bad distracted, he could help Bakugo. Even if it felt like he was dying, he was going to help.

Bakugo stood with him but looked visibly disgruntled. "What are you doing? You're hurt like hell," he stated.

"You weren't supposed to follow me. I'm going to make sure you can get away," Touya replied, fire dancing across his fingertips.
The boy scowled. "Hell no! I'm not leaving you! I'm going to fight with you!"

The man glowered back at him. "If you get a chance, you run. You got that?"

"But-..."

"You got that!"

"Fine. Just... Make sure you get away too..."

Touya turned to stared down the people before him. Kurogiri was still knocked out from earlier, the ominous dark portal shadowing over his head. Shigaraki, unsurprisingly, looked ready to rip his head off. The others though... Toga and Twice looked wary, glancing between each other. Even Spinner looked uncomfortable as he fiddled with his knife. He didn't have time to assess the others as the angry villain lashed out. With their leader's actions, the others followed.

The young man pushed the hero student back as he dodged away from the pale, gnarled fingers. It strained his muscles but he had to keep pushing. If he was too slow, it won't end well. He'd rather have painful muscles and his current injuries than whatever Shigaraki's quirk would do to him. He ducked a throwing knife from Spinner. Or any injuries from the League for that manner.
A crackle of explosions behind him made him jump as Bakugo fended off Toga. The girl skittered back to avoid the blasts, her usual wild smile lacking significantly. Twice took her place, and Bakugo had to dodge again.

Magne attempted to hit Touya while he was distracted. Blue fire flared up, and the magnet user backed off. The white mask of Mr. Compress flashed in the corner of his vision, and he shot out a leg. His kick struck the magician in the knee, sending him stumbling into Magne. He stuck close to Bakugo, glaring down the villains around him.

He didn't know how long they could do this. Currently, it was a battle of endurance. They were holding their own fine now but if anyone got in a lucky hit, Touya doubted they'd be able to protect each other much less themselves. He doubted his own skills in particular as he dodged a swiping knife.

It was then that Toga faltered in front of him, stumbling on a loose patch of concrete. He could get a hit in and get her out of the way. His palm heated up as his flames curled beneath his skin. She locked eyes with him, and he stepped back. Touya couldn't hurt her.

Instead, he dodged away from another attack from Magne, leaving the young girl to correct herself. His legs burned as he jumped over a sweeping kick from Twice. His arm screamed as he smacked away a strike from Spinner. He ducked under Shigaraki's arm, tugging Bakugo away with him. The world spun as they continued the deadly dance.

Yet despite all the noise drowning out everything else, Touya heard the explosion. It wasn't one of Bakugo's that crackled like fire crackers. This explosion was followed by a wall crumbling nearby. Three figures burst through the concrete as a slab of ice struck through the air. It split the sky, shining brilliantly in the moonlight. The figures were racing up the ice ramp like lightning, one with green hair whipping around their face.

Touya's eyes widened. It was Midori and two UA kids. It had to be. The others were distracted by the sudden pillar of ice that

Touya could push Bakugo into the clear. "Go!" He snapped as the group breached the ice, sending chunks tumbling down.

Bakugo whipped around and stared at him. "Like hell I'm leaving without you!"

"Get out of here! I can escape on my own! This is your chance!" He gripped the young boy's shoulders tightly. "Don't make their sacrifice for nothing."

The young hero frantically looked into his eyes, jaw clenched. Stepping back, he turned his head to the sky. "You better escape... You owe me an explanation. For everything," he spat out.

"Come on!" One of the boys above them screamed, an arm reaching out to their friend.

The villains, snapping out of their daze, rounded on them. Shigaraki reached out in an attempt to grab the boy's arm but it was far too late. A yell tore from his throat as explosion burst around his palms. Bakugo propelled himself through the air, soaring away from the battle field to grab hold of his friend's hand.

"What!" Spinner sputtered. "How did-?!"

With their eyes on the airborne students, Touya whirled and prepared to make a dash for the shattered wall. If he got beyond that point, he could make a break did it. He could go back to Yoshihara's clinic within a day or two to get patched up. After that... He'd figure it out later. 'I just have to make it past...' His thoughts were cut off by a sudden pressure on his right bicep, close to his elbow.

Fingers curled around his bloodied arm, jolting him back. He choked, turning his head. Shigaraki glared back at him. "I didn't forget about you, bastard," he sneered.

A scream burst from his very core as he felt his flesh peel away. Muscle crumbled, blood splattered, and his bones crunched. Panicked, he lashed out with his heel and broke the villain's grip, an audible crack resounding from Shigaraki’s torso. Touya stumbled, wheezing and panting. Tears burned in his eyes as he clutched his mangled arm. His lungs burned as his own broken ribs threatened his breathing.

Chest heaving, he stumbled and bolted. There was a deafening crash behind him as Mt. Lady stopped the others from going after the kids. With everyone firmly distracted, he scrambled into the alleyway. There was a flash of red and white disappearing into the shadows as he ducked into a different alley. He ignored it, pushing onwards.

His vision swam as he raced through the city. With all the focus being on the League and All Might, Touya was able to avoid heroes and civilians with ease. His body felt like it would fail him at any moment. Yoshihara was still a long way away. He had to get to the clinic or somewhere safe. There was no telling what would happen to him if he was snatched up by heroes or found by the League.

He stumbled, tripping over his own feet. Grabbing the side of a building for support, he realized he had made it to the edge of a busy street. One of the screens mounted on a towering building blared out a scene from many streets back. His head is still buzzing with explosions and blasting wind but he can make out the reporter's fanatic words. 

"The scene below's straight out of a nightmare! Half of Kamino Ward was demolished in a single, horrifying instant!" The worried voice rang out. "All Might is currently fighting the villain who appears to have caused the blast. I can't believe it! How is one person so powerful? He destroyed the city and is holding his own against the Symbol of Peace!"

All Might was beaten up, bruised and battered. His iconic bangs wilted, and steam rose from his body. He held firm against another blast, protecting a young woman behind him and... All Might wasn't muscular anymore. His blond mane was ragged. Blood coated his trembling fist and poured from his hairline. His eyes were shadowed as he grimaced, entire skeletal being exposed to the world.

Touya could only stare as citizens in the street below the screen burst out in shocked murmurs and cries. All Might's expression turned to one of horror as All for One spoke, voice unheard by the onlookers around Japan. Fear radiated off the people around.

"Come on, All Might!"

"Beat him!"

"You've got it!"

Voices rose up from the crowd. Touya blinked away welling tears. "You can do it," he whispered, voice broken and shaking.

All Might clenched a fist, muscles forming and tensing. Black and red electricity crackled around All for One as he prepared to strike down the Symbol of Peace. And as All Might glared into death itself, other heroes arrived, prepared to take his side. Endeavor's hellfire distracted the villain hovering above them. The man, however much Touya hated him, screamed to Japan's hero, urging him to stand firm and fight. The other heroes began to assist, protecting their injured companions and keeping the villain's attention away from All Might.

He couldn't hear the reporter anymore as everyone screamed out encouragements. 

All for One blasted everyone away. His sleeve ripped away, a disgusting conglomerate of metal and limbs twisting together and rippling through his arm. The man struck, All Might returning the blow. Even with all the odds against him, the hero stood his ground and smashed down the man in front of him in a glorious explosion of wind and pressure. 

The world sat silent as dark clouds faded. A frail fist punched into the air, turning into his hero form for one last moment. All Might won. 

Touya let out a breath he never realized he was holding. And as the new morning dawned, he continued his journey back to Yoshihara. The only evidence of his presence left behind was a bloodied hand print smeared across the side of a building at the edge of the street. He dipped away, fading into the darkness as he always had. 

Chapter Text

The moment he stumbled into the clinic, Yoshihara was hugging him. "You're going to get... Blood all over... Your lab coat..." Touya murmured, slouching into the embrace.

"Shut up. I get blood on me all the time, occupational hazard," the doctor snapped as he remained latched to the younger man. "You idiot... You damn idiot..."

"I know, old man... I know... I just-" His reply was cut off by a hacking cough.

Fear flashed across Yoshihara's expression as he pushed Touya back to arm's length. "Oh... Oh Touya..." He whispered, taking in the sight of the mangled body in his hands.

"Why... Why do you always come back to me like this? You're going to give me a stroke someday…”

A wet laugh bubbled from Touya's pained chest. "Sorry... It's a habit, isn't it?" 

“Then break that habit. It's bad for both our healths,” the man grumbled, checking him over. “I need to get you to a bed. How are you even standing?”

“Bitter stubbornness?” Touya offered. His eyes flickered down to his dangling arm. "But um... I... I can't feel my arm... And I... I'm going to pass out now..."

"What do you mean pass out no...- Touya!" The doctor panicked as Touya fell back, darkness covering his visage. Touya didn't remember much after that. He just knew he didn't hit the ground.

 

+++


Katsuki hadn't stopped tapping his foot. His knee bounced fast and rhythmically. Everything felt uncomfortable, especially after the car ride back to UA. The police, as if sensing his discomfort, kept to themselves. But now that he sat in the teacher's lounge, he just wanted to go home.

Aizawa sat hunched in the chair across from him. There was a thin stack of papers on his lap. The hero had pulled them from a folder and had been skimming through them for the last two or three minutes. The silence, save for the tapping and shuffling papers, was stifling. It made Katsuki want to scream.

"Alright, you can stop tapping that foot," Aizawa hummed, straightening his back.

His foot froze as he stared at the teacher. He narrowed his eyes and sat still. "Why am I still here? I told the police everything!" He spt.

A dark brow was raised. "Everything? That's not what I've heard," the man shot back.

Katsuki's mouth snapped shut.

"Funny enough, the police reports lack one significant detail... Who helped you escape... Who got you medical help... Who you returned to the bar with... You never told anyone about that. All you said was that you were out of it for a while," Aizawa drawled, thumbing through the pages. "You said you didn't know... Except All Might said you called out to a villain by name. So tell me, Bakugo. Who are you protecting?"

The boy pressed further into the chair. Uncomfortable plastic pressed into his arms. "Do you think I'm siding with the villains?" He muttered, looking away. "I know why they kidnapped me..."

"I don't doubt for a second that you would fight tooth and nail to be a hero," Aizawa stated simply. His gaze was sharp and clear and sent a warm feeling into Katsuki's chest. "But you're withholding information, Bakugo."

Katsuki didn’t look up. What was he supposed to say? 'Hey, some dude that might be Todoroki's damn brother saved my life and then got the hell beat out of him for it.' It sounded fairly ridiculous, even to him. But his teacher was looking at him expectantly, and he believed in him. 'What the hell...'

"He... His name is Dabi. At least, that's what the other bastards call him," he began, fiddling with the hem of his shirt. "He was one of the bastards that came to the camp and shit. But he didn't... He didn't seem like he wanted to be there. And... Deku knew him. I asked Dabi about it, and it was from a long time ago. His name is actually Touya."

"He didn't want me saying his name though. He was scared? Like he freaked the hell out when I said it too loud... But he wasn't shitty like everyone else. He even kept that stabby bitch away." He shuddered. She wasn't a pleasant memory. "And I... Did something stupid... Dammit..."

He rubbed his cheek. The only evidence of his injuries were faint indenting scars. They had faded in color significantly since Recovery Girl made sure he was fully healed. Even with the dulled color, they stood out whenever he looked into the mirror, a reminder. And yet, he didn't regret it in full.

"The hand bastard got a hit on me, and Touya stopped him from killing me. If he didn't step in..." Katsuki gritted his teeth, and Aizawa was left to answer the question himself. "... He realized I wasn't doing good so he risked everything... His own friend... And his life. I asked him why and the damn idiot said he wanted the next generation to be better... He thought that I could help the world..."

A warm burning edged its way into the corners of his eyes, and he clenched his jaw. He could still hear the scream when everything was quiet. Kirishima had just grabbed his hand when he heard Touya's cry. The wind had blurred his vision for a moment before he spotted the hand bastard falling away from the injured man. Despite the distance between them, he could see the mangled arm. His horror was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Mt. Lady blocked an oncoming attack from two of the villains. He never saw what happened to Touya.

He looked up, eyes shining. "The damn idiot almost got himself ripped apart! I... I didn't want to tell anyone he was out there because... He... Touya did some bad shit but he wants to help! I...-" Katsuki clamped his mouth shut as Aizawa raised up a hand.

"Calm down, Bakugo. We aren't hunting him down," the teacher stated firmly. He lowered his hand as Katsuki relaxed. "Dabi has been a questionable character for a while. He confronted Vlad King and me during the training camp incident."

This information made the boy jolt. "He what?"

Aizawa nodded, acknowledging his surprise. "He is the one who started the fires and attempted to be a distraction so we couldn't stop the kidnapping... I'm sorry I wasn't able to get to you sooner..."

Glowering, Katsuki huffed. "Don't apologize..."

The man studied his expression and nodded once more. "During the confrontation, Dabi showed concern for the other student's wellbeing. I also came to the realization that I have confronted him before... When he was a vigilante. His disappearance fits the debut of Dabi."

"The vigilante... It's Aonatsu, right?" The student asked, remembering the name Deku had first called Touya.

"Yes. About a year ago, Aonatsu went off the grid. Around that time, Dabi murdered the hero, Iron Strike, and injured a sidekick."

Katsuki felt like his throat was closing up. "He killed a hero?"

"He was at a gang bust. During that time, one of the other heroes witnessed Iron Strike catch an unidentified figure. In response, this person lit themselves and the hero on fire. The person got away from the sidekick and escaped severely wounded," he explained. "No one made the connection due to the fact that Aonatsu never used a quirk. But I've... Had a run in with the vigilante before... The resemblance is uncanny..."

Katsuki was silent, processing the pro hero's words. A lot of it fit Touya's story. He had been helping people when a hero tried to hurt him, hell, almost killed him. No wonder the guy had been so defensive about being among villains. He had been treated like one for a long time, not to mention the implications of his father... Oh shit, his father!
"Aizawa... There's something else you need to know..." He spoke. Their eyes locked, and Katsuki swallowed. "Touya's name… His full name is Todoroki Touya..."

The man sat still. His face fell into an unreadable expression. And in one sharp motion, he slammed the documents onto the coffee table separating them, making the teen jump. "Dammit!" He spat. "It makes complete sense! How were we so blind?" A hand found it's way into his messy black locks and carted through them.

"What do you mean it makes sense?" Katsuki demanded. "Icy hot never mentioned an older brother, and he doesn't like talking about his damn family either."

"That's because Todoroki Touya was buried over four years ago."

"What..."

"There was some unknown incident involving his quirk 'going haywire' and killing him. But if you're right, and Dabi is really Todoroki Touya..."

"We have to find him, right?" Katsuki caught the stern look from Aizawa. "He saved my life, dammit! He could be bleeding out somewhere!"

The teacher sighed. "I want to find him as much as you do, especially after this new information, but since everything with the League, the villains still being on the loose, and the sudden retirement of All Might, we need to focus on UA and the safety of the students." He continued when Katsuki failed to respond. "We will be on the lookout, Bakugo. I promise you that. For now, rest."

The boy frowned heavily. "... Fine..." He muttered, too tired to argue anymore. The last few days had been rough, not to mention barely eight hours before he had been fighting villains to escape. That and he didn’t know where Touya went. Its was possible that he went back to the doctor guy but the map had been burned up and everything was so foggy in his head. He silently cursed his own memory.

"Good. I need to return these documents to the principal. Stay put. I'll be driving you home," Aizawa stated, collecting the folder and rising to his feet. "I'll be right back." The man left silently, the door slightly ajar.

Katsuki watched him retreat down the hallway. His mind had finally started processing everything, and his frown deepened. He wanted to help Touya, even if they hadn't know each other very long. The man had gone out of his way to protect him, believed he could be a hero. 'And now he could be bleeding out in some shitty alleyway.' He shook the thoughts away.

He jumped when the door creaked. He looked up to see a familiar mop of mismatched hair. "Icy hot, what the hell are you doing here?" Katsuki demanded, eyes narrowed.
Todoroki remained quiet for a moment, taking in the explosive blond's disheveled appearance and scars. "I needed to see Aizawa," he replied bluntly.

"... It's about Touya, isn't it?"

His classmate stiffened at the name. Considering what their teacher had said, it made sense that he would react like this. His dead brother was back and had been among villains.

"... Yes... Where is Aizawa?" was the sharp reply.

Katsuki snorted. "Had to dump some papers and shit with the principal. He'll be back so just sit the hell down instead of standing in the doorway."
Todoroki hesitated before accepting the harsh invitation. He glanced over at his classmate before sighing and speaking up. "What is he like? I... I haven't seen him in a long time..."

Huffing, the blond turned up his nose. "He's rude so obviously that's genetic. And weak as hell too, no muscles," he snapped but paused when Todoroki glowered at him.

"If you're going to just be-..."

Katsuki stopped him before he could continue. "But he was really gentle... When I was hurt, he made sure I was alright. And he was sarcastic as hell... And when he knew I felt like shit, he did this weird hair ruffle thing, and I felt better... He tried his hardest to make sure I was comfortable when I got sick... He's... A big brother." He didn't look at Todoroki, who took a sharp breath when he started spewing something akin to compliments.

"... Thank you..." Todoroki mumbled. "I... I'm glad he's still Touya."

He looked up at the boy's face. His expression was the softest he had ever seen from the cold teen. Katsuki scowled. "Whatever..." He muttered in embarrassment. “He… told me about him leaving…” 

The soft look vanished. “... Like what?”

“Your dad is an ass.”

The teen stared at him. “Yeah… He really is…”

“You guys deserve better…”

“... Thank you…”

"... What was Touya like?"

"Before he disappeared?"

“Of course before he disappeared, you idiot."

Todoroki sighed at the irritable teen's harshness but conceded. "Well... He was one of the best older brothers I could have asked for..."

Aizawa found the two of them talking upon his return. Todoroki was caught up retelling childhood adventures from a happier time while Katsuki listened, fully invested in the stories. The stories only confirmed the teen's need to find Touya. The man had a family who missed him. 

Katsuki had needed a hero back then. But now? Now Touya needed someone to help him get back home.

Chapter Text

He had rested. It was the first time in the last few months he could fully relax. Touya's injuries were great, some worse than any he ever had received before. His arm still hurt even weeks later. He wished he could put all the pain and the League behind him but it all remained prominent in his mind. 

Yoshihara let him stay again. Well… It was more like he demanded Touya to stay. “I'm not letting you go off on your own. Not again,” he had stated. “You stay here, and I'll give you work. How does that sound?” To Touya, it sounded perfect. And it was. He had missed spending time with the doctor. 

The man made it a point to teach Touya more. It felt like he was in high school again, textbooks piled in his room and notebooks full of chicken scratch and doodles. While the information was invaluable, he wished he could just start helping Yoshihara in the clinic. He had been turned down with a whack to the back of his head and a “Hell no. You're still grounded for the rest of the month for the stunt you pulled in Kamino.” It took a full week of pouting, whining, and studying for the man to change his mind. 

He was only allowed to interact with patients he knew before he left. Hana in particular was overjoyed to see him once more, fussing over his recent injuries and demanding to use her quirk to ease any pain. He let her; if he didn't, he'd have two people hovering him constantly. Yoshihara was enough, thank you very much. The others clearly pitied his current state but gave soft encouragements and kept any thoughts about his reappearance quiet. 

Touya threw himself into his studies. He couldn't exactly do much other than simple check ups and reading. His injuries hurt too much for the longest time, and he ran the risk of reopening many of those wounds if he strained his body. At one point he almost fainted, and Yoshihara had forced him to rest all day. He had mentioned something about anemia. 

Despite the time spent apart, their lives slotted back together easily. The old man made it certain that Touya knew that he was welcome back. Whether it be calling in a favor to get him a new phone after his previously one was utterly destroyed in his fight with All for One or making extra coffee just for him, he attempted to make life comfortable for the young man again. The sentiment touched his heart but he still felt a subtle itch in his mind that reminded him of the pain he had brought the doctor. He decided to keep those thoughts to himself. 

And as the weeks passed, Touya grew restless. Now that his body had relatively healed naturally, he could do more strenuous work, or so he thought. Yoshihara made it clear he was not fond of that idea, pointing out the obvious dangers if he were to make any mistakes with any delicate equipment or heavy lifting. He had flushed in response but relented. The doctor was just being careful with him. That being said, that won't stop him from going out. 

The older man had ensured he had new clothing since most of his shirts and hoodies had likely been destroyed during the hero raid. He pulled on one of the oversized hoodies. The sleeves were long and covered his arms and knuckles. A medical mask concealed a majority of the scarring along his jaw, and blue tinted sunglasses hid the shadowy marks beneath his eyes. Yoshihara demanded he stayed safe, and the young man was on his way. 

It had been awhile since he had been on the streets. The afternoon air was cool against his visible skin. Fluffy white clouds spun overhead, streaking across the brilliant blue sky. A hum vibrated in his throat as a breeze tugged at his hood. He was glad to get out of the clinic, even if it was just for a short walk. 

Deciding to abandon his original plan of walking around the block, Touya ducked into an alleyway. His strides were with purpose despite not having any destination in mind. Sometimes, just walking along with no course was the best way to clear his thoughts. He hadn't gotten to do this since he had joined the League. He had all the time in the world now. 

He ran his left hand along the brick walls, grit rubbing against his palm. His fingertips dipped into the creases of brickwork. The red stone was cool to the touch and helped him relax further. Memories of simpler times buzzed at the corners of his mind; times of dipping into the shadows and slipping through alleys, rescuing citizens and protecting the weak as a vigilante in the night. It was all so easy before everything turned on its head. The memories took a sour turn at that thought, and he pushed the past away. 

As he walked further, he realized he was recognizing less and less of the location markers around him. Touya’s purposeful stride slowed. He should have seen this coming. He didn't want to use up the data plan Yoshihara was sharing with him to find his way back yet but he must have taken a wild turn two or more streets back. Besides, if he wanted to walk a while longer, he needed to make sure he didn’t get himself hopelessly lost.

He was about to tap on the Map icon when a small figure tumbled into his legs. His form jolted, not ready for the sudden impact. Turning his eyes down, he saw a bundle of white. A pair of red eyes, wide and glittering like gems, stared up at him. It was a little girl, a medical gown swirling around her form. 

A set of bandages, similar to Yoshihara's, clung to her forearms. A small horn jutted out just below her hair line on the right side of her head. Her eyes shone desperately, a sheen of unshed tears glinting in the lowering sunlight. Touya frowned and carefully got down to her height. She flinched away, and he recalled moments when his baby brother reacted the same. It was always after their father finished an intense training session.

“Are you alright,” he murmured carefully, not wanting to scare her. 

She scrambled backwards, and he realized how off putting he must look. Even with the lack of people around, he didn't think it was safe to remove his simple disguise. He tried again, his palm pressed against the sidewalk to steady himself. 

“You look scared. Are you lost? Is there anyone I can call?” He offered, refraining from encroaching on her personal space. He was a stranger after all.

The white haired girl frantically shook her head, rising to her feet. “N-no I…” She stopped her trembling voice and took off running. He noticed she had been barefoot when she turned a corner. 

Touya slowly stood, making sure he didn't fall as he regained his balance. She was fast, and he doubted that his current state would allow him to catch up with her. His best bet was bringing it up to Yoshihara, maybe asking for a favor to help find her and make sure she was alright. Knowing the doctor, he would be on board. 

He made careful note of his surroundings, even going as far as taking a photo of a nearby store to save his location. Once finished, he pulled up his Map app and typed in a store just down the street from the clinic. The clinic itself was hard to find on the maps; he had learned this while fiddling with the device weeks ago. But he paused, an uncomfortable pressure weighing him down. 

He turned and came face to face with a masked man. The beak-like mask jutted out, bright red and yellow in the evening light. Golden eyes bore into his very being, glinting dangerously. His outfit itself stood out with a green jacket fringed with dark fur around the collar and white gloves. Otherwise, he would look quite plain, wearing mostly black and having a generic complexion and hair color. But his eyes…

“Have you seen a girl,” the man drawled. It sent shivers up Touya’s spine. “Young, white hair, a horn…” 

“Why would you want to know,” Touya shot back despite the terror gripping his chest. 

He felt a calculating gaze drag over his form. “... I'm her uncle. A loud noise scared her while I was watching her… I have been looking all over,” he offered. 

The young man’s mind raced. Even if what the man said was true, something about him rubbed him the wrong way. “Didn't see her. I think I'd remember seeing a kid with a horn,” Touya lied. 

Golden eyes narrowed. “... Are you sure you didn't see her? I was quite certain she went this way.” When Touya shrugged, he sighed and turned. “I'll be on my way then.”

The man slid past Touya, eyes locked the entire way. He looked disconcertingly familiar now that he wasn't so far away. And his stomach dropped. ‘Oh.

During his days of bed rest, all Touya could do was read. When medical journals and textbooks began to gnaw his mind away with boredom, he had turned back to hero news and forums. He had avoided all news on the League. Instead, he focused on vigilantes and lesser known investigations. It had led him to the Yakuza… That man was from the Yakuza. The only public images available were blurry but the mask was the same. This mystery man was dangerous, and Touya had just lied to his face. 

Touya got back to the clinic as soon as possible and holed himself in his room. He flung himself into the internet, ripping into as much information was available of the Yakuza. Ever since the rise of heroes, organized crime like the Yakuza had dipped. Small groups still existed, heavily watched by the police and heroes. Most were just wallflowers at this point, relics of a past generation. 

Recently, it appeared as though some crimes were being connected to different remaining groups, specifically a group who donned various styles of plague doctor masks. Names were few and far between as he dug deeper. Only one name was publicly known, Kai Chisaki, or Overhaul. All he knew was the man was most likely a leader. His best speculation was that the man he ran into was Overhaul himself, much to his horror. But other than that, he came up blank. 

Why had he been after that little girl? He definitely wasn't a loving uncle looking for his niece. So what was his motive? “Whatever it is, it isn't a good one,” he muttered, skimming through an article. How was he going to help the girl when she had completely vanished? He didn't want to try calling in a favor now. There was a chance the Yakuza would hunt down the clinic if they end up snatching the girl away from them. 

A common name appeared on the article he was currently researching. Sir Nighteye… The hero and his agency were prominent informants for the public police reports. Did he know about the girl? He searched around and came up with nothing. If he did, it wasn't public knowledge. Could he chance the man remaining unaware?

Touya took a chance and opened a new tab. His thumb tapped rapidly against the keyboard. He pressed search, and the Sir Nighteye Agency location loaded onto the screen. 

 

+++

 

Yoshihara won't approve if he knew where Touya was going. Therefore, he did not tell Yoshihara. His mind reminded him that the doctor would whoop his ass if he ever found out. Better make this worth it. 

He carefully slipped on his hoodie. His injured arm had been itchy lately, and he didn't want to aggravate it again. He could only hope that the scabbing went away soon. Then maybe he could finally put on shirts without worry or discomfort. Wouldn't that be fun?

Touya slipped out the door and wandered. The clouds covered the sun today. They were dark and shadowy, muting the light around him. Less people were out and about, the fear of rain sending them back to their homes. Even without the warmth of the sun, he felt relaxed with the lacking people. 

The hero agency was further than he had expected, and he applauded himself for leaving early in the morning rather than in the afternoon. It came into sight after a while. And… he had no clue what to do next. He couldn't exactly walk inside and announce who he was. That was a straight shot to prison. He felt kind of dumb at his lack of planning. 

“Think…” he muttered, a finger hooked under his chin as he thought. “How can I…”

A figure moved in his peripheral vision. They were tall and lanky, hair a swirl of green and yellow. A defining pair of glasses perched on their nose. He blinked. It was Sir Nighteye himself. ‘Oh. That works too.’

The man was further down the street, walking towards his building. If Touya didn't move now, he might now get such a perfect chance again. At least, not soon enough. 

He slipped forwards, shoulders hunched to make himself look smaller. Based on his attire, he probably looked like a sick and tired college student. There was a college campus nearby if he was correct, so at least the hero won't be automatically suspicious of him. That would change the moment he saw his face. He would have to act fast if he wanted to get his information out and then get away. The man was about to pass him, not giving him a glance. He steeled himself and shot his left hand out. 

Sir Nighteye froze, head whipping around to look at the person latched onto his shoulder. His eyes, a blank yellow, widened behind clear lens. “You are…” He started but was silence when his gaze caught Touya’s. 

“You're searching for the Yakuza, right?” Touya stated firmly. The man was startled at his statement, and he took that as a sign to continue. “Specifically… You're looking for Kai Chisaki…”

“Why do you ask?” The pro hero replied, narrowing his eyes as he straightened himself. 

He swallowed. “That man… He’s been moving through the Kamino ward… And he’s after someone, a young girl. I don't know much about your investigations, you have kept most of it hidden from the public, but I know this man is dangerous. Which means that girl, and anyone around him, are in danger,” Touya explained. “So please… Find him and stop him.” He drew back his hand. 

Sir Nighteye set his jaw. Touya could visibly see him processing the information. He came to a conclusion. “We are working on it. But why did you come to me?”

“Because that girl… She was scared. And I can't leave someone in that situation. Not again,” he muttered, pulling further away. “I can't help her. Not with how I am now. But you're a pro hero already aware of what's going on. You may be her last hope.” Touya turned. “So don't let her down.”

“Wait…!” The hero began. 

Touya ignored him, shooting down the sidewalk. His body did not agree with his movements but he chose to ignore that too. He vanished as soon as he appeared, dipping away into the alleyways and doubling back multiple times. Once he was sure he was far enough away, he slowed. A grin stretched at his scars. He had done it. Now he just had to wait. 

 

+++

 

Mirai Sasaki let the man leave. His mind raced as he stepped into his agency. He hadn't expected a known, missing villain would step out just to help in an investigation. Out of everyone, Dabi didn't seem like someone who would do this. 

And yet he believed his words. In the moment Dabi, hand on his shoulder, had locked eyes with him, Mirai’s quirk activated. He saw the man return to a clinic, wounds being healed, and continuing his research on the investigations. His concerns were real, and futures never lied. But no one could be too careful when dealing with villains. 

Bubble Girl noticed his appearance. “Sir, are you alright? You look pale,” she asked, blue fingers clutched her tablet. 

“Yes… I need you to make an entry. I just received more information on Chisaki,” he commanded, adjusting himself. 

His sidekick stood from her desk and tapped away at her tablet. “Alright! I'm ready, Sir!” She looked up, her dark yellow eyes glittering. 

“A witness confronted me outside the agency moments ago. He gave me a recent sighting, and it matches with Chisaki’s movements. The rumors of the young girl is also confirmed by this witness… If we can trust this man…” He trailed off. 

“Sir… Do you know who the witness was?” The blue haired woman asked carefully, head tilted. 

Mirai hummed. “In a way… He appears to have been the criminal, Dabi…” He noted. 

She almost dropped her tablet. “D-dabi!?” Bubble Girl sputtered. “Isn't he known for killing a hero?” 

“He is also noted as having a hand in protecting Katsuki Bakugo during the League of Villain raid,” the man affirmed. “He went missing afterwards. It appears he was recovering from his injuries. We'll need to give the police a new update on his appearance as well.”

Bubble Girl perked up at this and pulled up a new tab. “How injured could he have gotten? He already had burn scars, right?”

Mirai’s long finger thrummed across the desk. He huffed and looked at her seriously. “Significantly it appears.” The girl before him bit her lip. “Despite wearing a medical mask, there is fresh scarring along the right side of his face. It starts at his temple and stretches down to his jawline. He appears to favor his right side as well. The injuries may progress over his torso.”

Bubble Girl’s fingers tapped rapidly, writing out his words. “Alright… Anything else?”

His mind went through the appearance of the man he had spoken to this morning. Dark shaggy hair, purpled scars, black clothing… Mirai’s hand froze, fingers stopping their rhythmic motion. “There is… I didn't notice it before…” He looked up, brows drawn together. “He only had one arm.”  

Chapter Text

Mirai Sasaki could feel the life draining from him. By all means, he should feel utterly horrified by this. He couldn’t see his own fate, and yet it was very clear; the doctors had made sure of that. He could hear it in Bubble Girl’s quivering voice, Centipeder and Eraserhead hovering by her side silently. He could feel it in strained look on Yagi’s face and the terror in Midoriya’s eyes. He was going to die.

He couldn’t move much now. His body felt as though it were plastered to the hospital bed. Tubes and wires arched out of his torso like unnatural organs branching from his guts. Soft beeps echoed, slow and methodical, his heart murmuring as it struggled to beat. He could feel his breath, wheezing and pained, puff across his cheeks as it swirled within the oxygen mask. And even with the pressure of death itself looming over his bed, he cracked his eyes open to stare down his old friend. 

“All… M-might…” Mirai rasped, his voice cracking from its lack of use. “You didn’t feel like coming to see me… Until I was dying…?” He was joking, a bit of spite bittering the edges of the comment.

Yagi’s expression tightened. “I don’t know what to say… How I… wronged you…” He was searching for words.

“Nighteye! You gotta live! Hang in there!” Midoriya cried out, unable to hold his tongue any longer. He gripped the bed rail desperately, and Mirai would have sighed if his lungs had been torn apart.

“No need… to be so uptight… I… I never held anything against you… I just… always… wished for your happiness… That’s all,” the dying hero continued, voice quaking. “So… if you’ve… decided to fight against fate, that’s fine… in my book…”

Distraught, Yagi leaned forwards. “You need to fight too! Give me a chance to atone for what I’ve done!” 

Mirai wished he could laugh; what a joke. “Atone? I’m the one… who’s caused trouble… for so many… I wanted to… keep you safe… Search for a way to change things… I could never change the future… But… Midoriya showed me something today…” 

He stared up at the startled boy. “I was so… caught up with my negativity… My inability to change anything… Within thoughts is an… energy. I believe that now… And when someone… everyone is striving… for a certain future… What we saw happen today… was perhaps… the result of all that energy centered on Midoriya… The future is uncertain… You’ve changed my thinking… And that’s enough… for me…”

Tears rolled down Midoriya’s face, and his heart panged. This boy was suppose to die today when they raided the Yakuza. He wasn’t suppose to survive with the help of  the girl, Eri. This young hero had death staring him in the eyes, and he had stared right back. Mirai knew now that Yagi had made a good choice. Midoriya would be a fine successor and an excellent hero.

And a thought itched the corner of his frazzled mind. “Ah… He’s also out there…” He murmured. 

Yagi furrowed his brow. “Who…?”

“Dabi… He’s still out there… Will need help in the future…” The man rasped. He could see Eraserhead stiffen off to the side. “He’s with a doctor… On the outskirts of the Kamino Ward… near the inner city… He helped us… with this case… Never able to thank him…”

“Y-you saw Touya?” Midoriya whispered. “Is he…?”
Mirai hummed shakily. “Is that his name…? He’s doing well… All things considered… Bubble Girl can tell you…”

His sidekick whimpered softly, and he could faintly see Centipeder placing a hand on her shoulder. Eraserhead’s expression had sharpened as he studied the dying man’s face. It made Mirai glad he had revealed this information. He hadn’t seen much into Dabi’s future but he knew that the young man would need help. It appeared as though Midoriya and Eraserhead would see to that.

In the distance, he could hear his other student. Mirio exploded through the door, a nurse clutching at his hospital gown. His hair was wild and face pained. Yet he raced through the others to reach his side. “Sir Nighteye!” He cried. “No! You’ve gotta live! Don’t you die on me!” 

His chest tightened uncomfortably. It hurt to see him crying. This young hero that was his student, his boy… “I’ve put you.. through so much hardship… If only I’d been there for you…” He wheezed.

Mirio slammed his hands down on the bed rail, wailing out. “I only got stronger cuz of everything you taught me! It’s thanks to you that I’ve got the life I do! You gotta keep teaching me! You can’t die now!” His voice cracked

A sense of grief washed over him. Even though he had accepted his demise, hearing his student’s desperate pleas tore him apart worse than any of Overhaul’s attacks. He raised his remaining arm painfully, clasping the boy’s cheek. The boy he had brought in as just a potential vessel for One for All had blossomed into his own person, his own hero. And he could never be more proud of his boy. 

His quirk activated, eyes flashing a familiar black and purple. He gritted his teeth, a future spiraling out before him. Mirio would bring change. He would stand tall, smiling and brave. He would be the hero he always dreamed of being and then so much more. “You’ll be okay… You’ll make… a fine hero…” 

The strength in his body wavered, and his hand slipped back down to the bed. “That… is one part of the future… that mustn’t be changed… So… keep smiling!” He gave a soft smile, eyes closing as energy was pulled from him. The world wobbled around him. Darkness edged away at the bright lights shining overhead. “A world without smiles and humor… has no bright future.” His words were final and exact.

And then the air caught in his battered lungs. He could feel it, his heart giving in. The sound of its trembling beats clogging his ears, blotting out his students’ sobs. They were in good hands. He knew this clearly. All Might… Eraserhead… They’d take care of his boys… Centipeder would take over the agency and watch over Bubble Girl… And his students would become heroes… And Dabi… Dabi would be at ease…

His last thought felt strange, and yet he took comfort in it. The future would be bright. ‘Good luck… All of you…’

+++

A shiver ran down Touya’s spine. He looked over his shoulder but no one was around; it was just him in the kitchen. He pressed his lips together and turned his attention back to the news on Yoshihara’s old laptop, a mug cradled in his hand. The keys were stiff and stuck at times, the screen would flicker occasionally, and the track pad was delayed. Luckily, it worked well enough for him and his hobbies.

The doctor had noticed how often he researched information on the tiny phone screen and had shoved the computer at him. “I gave you your own profile so don’t mess with my records,” the man had stated. “I’m not paying for glasses if you keep squinting at that dingy little phone. Use a damn computer.” He had snorted at the aggressive offer but accepted, now able to file away any information he received for efficiently.

It had been a few weeks since he had interacted with Sir Nighteye. The time had tested him, and he just about went out on his own to look for the girl. But Yoshihara had been hovering about, sipping his coffee and rubbing his forehead as he scanned his bills and finances. The idea of stressing the doctor out more after so much they had gone through made him pause and reconsider. The heroes were aware, and he could wait a while longer.

And now the news was finally updating. Victory sang in his entire being. The Yakuza had been raided by heroes, Sir Nighteye one of the key members of the group. All the fighting had destroyed some of the suburban area around them, and the news had made their way to the scene not long after. From what it looked like, the group was dispersed, if not destroyed entirely, with the leader captured. From some of the choppy footage released by citizens, he spotted the white locks of the little girl alongside one of the heroes. From the wild green hair and crackling lightning, he could only assume it was Midori. His chest swelled with pride. 

But his excitement halted as breaking news articles appeared after a page refresh. In his shock, he dropped the mug of tea, the ceramic shattering against the worn tiles below and spilling its lukewarm contents across the floor. He barely heard Yoshihara race into the room, whatever activity he was invested in long forgotten. “Touya! What happened?!” The doctor asked, spotting the younger’s frozen figure and the broken mug at his feet.

“… He’s dead.”

“What?”


“Sir Nighteye… He’s dead…” Touya looked up, eyes filled with pain and terror. “I… I got him killed, didn’t I?” The voices in his head clung to his fear, murmuring agreements. “It’s all my fault… Oh god…"

Yoshihara carefully made his way to the trembling man’s side. He observed the articles. “Pro-hero Sir Nighteye killed in Yakuza Raid… You’ve never been mixed up with the Yakuza though… Touya, why do you think you killed him?” His honey brown eyes bore into his soul, and Touya swallowed heavily.

“I… I ran into someone when I first started going outside again… They needed help but I couldn’t… Not like this…” The reference to his recent disability rang unsaid. “I tried seeing if it was related to any of the information I had been looking into… And it was. The hero on the case was Sir Nighteye so I… went to his agency…”

“You did what?!” Yoshihara choked. “Touya! What if he had attacked you!’

Touya clenched his fist. “He didn’t! He listened to me! I made it out fine! I’m okay!” He gestured to most of himself. “So stop worrying! I knew you’d freak the hell out if you knew!”

“I do not freak out!” The doctor yelled before shutting his mouth, realizing that he was doing exactly that. He exhaled slowly. “… Okay… Why do you think this is your fault?”

The young man’s head lowered. “The information… He used it to raid their hideout… And now he’s dead.”

“He would have had that risk even without your information,” the older pointed out, placing a palm between his shoulder blades. Touya leaned into the touch. “Who knows, maybe more people would have died without that information. Maybe not. We don’t know, kid. But I know one thing, his death was not your fault. He was a pro-hero. They know the risks, and he took this chance knowing death was one of those risks.”

Touya remained silent and let his words sink in. His shoulders felt lighter after a few moments. “… Thanks, old man…”

“Whatever you say, brat. Now let’s clean up this mess.”

He glanced at the screen one last time. “Yeah… Let’s do that…” 

Yoshihara kept him busy for the rest of the evening with filing away records and restocking supplies. He appreciated the work. If his hands were busy, he could focus. If he focused, he won’t think about what had happened. For just one evening, he needed to clear his head. Touya could look into everything later, make sure all the bases had been covered during the raid. That no one else had died.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get much relief in the results. Most of the Yakuza and the Precepts of Death had been captured. Overhaul, their leader, had been found, almost  dead and brutally injured on his way to prison, along with the corpse of a pro-hero hero, Snatch. Evidence pointed to the League of Villains taking the both out, and fear had clutched his heart for a while after that information. Otherwise, everyone appeared to have made it through mostly unscathed. The little girl was never mentioned in the articles. 

The lack of info nagged at him for a while until Yoshihara noticed and made him work more in the clinic. Hana and some of their other regulars had been pleased to see him more often, and Touya had kept his mind free of worry. He worked hard, using his knowledge to stitch up a patients’s arms or splinting a sprained ankle. It was tough work considering his lack of functional hands but he made due, specifically working with those who could assist him when he patched them up. It remained a struggle.

Hana had noticed his lapses in emotion, his expression straining when he thought about the League or his lack of information on the Yakuza raid’s outcome. She would rest her weathered hands on his shoulders and bring him back to reality. Her quirk, the soothing of nerves, grounded him in those moments. She would hug him, and he would hug back. The old woman would never ask questions, returning every time to comfort him and receive medicine for her aching joints. He enjoyed his time with her.

Yoshihara also spent more time with him outside of their busy schedule. He continued the early morning coffee, occasionally making the younger a cup of tea to signal a study day. The doctor tested him sometimes, letting Touya flex his mind and correcting any of his misconceptions. He would crack jokes too, horrible dad jokes and puns, and Touya made sure to punch him hard every time he made one when he was within arm’s length. Their relationship had taken a surreal, domestic turn, and Yoshihara really felt like a quirky older brother. 

He paused briefly one day when he thought about that. His mind drifted from his new family dynamic to his old one. They must know by know, right? Bakugo didn’t seem like someone who would blab about his identity to just anyone but Shouto had been there. That ice pillar Midori and the other UA students had used to save the explosive blond, that way his ice, right? The faint flitter of red and white while he escaped the fighting, the remains of his damaged arm distracting him from fully acknowledging the significance of that moment. 

Shouto had been there. Shouto had to know. His baby brother knew who he was, what he had become. He knew Touya wasn’t dead. Would his baby brother hate him for never coming back? Was he relieved the eldest Todoroki brother was alive? Or was he disgusted over his villainous turn? What about the others? The thoughts of Fuyumi, Natsuo, and their beloved mother made him shudder. What would they think?

He avoided mentioning his worries to Yoshihara again. The man didn’t need more concerns. Touya had already freaked him out with his secret research and contacting a pro-hero without his knowing. His personal fears should stay as they were, personal. He continued to mute his unsettled feelings, deciding to one day resolve them. Today would not be that day he affirmed.

But that day was approaching quicker than he had expected. Touya was settled at the filing cabinets, sorting through a few recent and some of the aged files. He was taking out the old files and putting the information in new, brightly labeled ones. Yohsihara’s old system was dated and hard to search through at times. Now, they both would be able to open the drawers and find the documents they needed far faster than normal, especially if was a regular’s folder.

He jumped when he heard a sharp set of knocks on the side door. It was confusing. Most people didn’t use the side door… That door led to their personal quarters rather than the clinic. While not clearly marked, everyone who came had some knowledge of how their clinic worked and knew where to go. If it was personal business, he’d let Yoshihara handle it. It definitely wasn’t his business.

Except when the doctor opened the door, the man had froze. His body went tense, his form taking on a more intimidating stature. “What can I do for you?” He snapped, tone sharp. Touya paused with his work, watching the interaction despite being unable to see who he was speaking with outside. 

“It’s you! He was right!” A familiar voice spoke, harsh and crackling. 

It made Touya stiffen. “Oh shit…” He muttered, fingernails digging into his palm as he clenched his fist tightly. Bakugou had found him.

“You recognize him?” A gravelly voice added.

“It’s the doctor guy that helped me,” Bakugou clarified. “He’s the dumbass’s friend. Where is he?” That last question was probably directed at Yoshiahara.

“I don’t…-” The doctor began only for Touya to stop him. 

“Let them in, old man,” he called. “This was going to happen eventually. Just… Let’s get it over with…”

Yoshihara studied his face and let out an angry huff. “Fine… But if they do anything…”

“What? You’ll heal them? It’s fine.” The younger man spun the chair around and straddled it, forearm resting on the back. “They can come in.”

The man stepped back, and the heroes stepped in. Bakugo was in first, sharp strides and even sharper features. His scars had healed well, only faint marks along his cheeks remaining. He wore his hero attire, surprisingly enough. The spiky black and orange mask was pushed up into his hairline, face visible. Eraserhead was one step behind him, looking even more tired than the last time Touya had seen him. The white bandage-like scarf piled high around his shoulders and neck, muffling the lower portion of his face and guarding his expression.

Bakugo paused, taking in Touya’s appearance, and swallowed heavily. Anger, frustration, and relief filtered through his features in a strange order. It was understandable, considering how Touya appeared now. Sure, he still had the purpled scarring and staples, but there was more scarring etched along the right side of his face and part of his eyebrow missing. His hair was a bit longer too, choppily cut and lighter red roots peaking through. Tiredness tugged at his form, too many sleepless nights giving added years to posture. Not to mention the obvious feature missing, destroying any sense of symmetry he ever had.

“Hey, brat,” Touya finally broke the silence. “Welcome back.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, brat. Welcome back.”

His greeting made the boy jump, him clearly not expecting the bluntness. Red eyes shifted, inspecting the man sitting in front of him. Bakugo was unnaturally quiet, lips firmly pressed together and expression calculating. His stance was tense and yet calm. A pang of worry struck him for a moment, and he rose to his feet carefully. A faint ache pained his side as he rose, and he was sure it reflected in his visage from the boy’s furrowed brows.

“What? Cat got your tongue?” Touya asked, spreading his arms to emphasis his point. The dangling end of his cardigan swung, empty, from where his bicep cut off. He realized how unsettling it may look and began lowering his arms. ‘Guess I’m here to be taken back…’ 

He gasped when Bakugo rushed forwards and slammed into his body. Arms wrapped around his torso, and a mop of blond hair burrowed into his chest. His hand hovered in midair, unsure. “You idiot… You damn idiot,” the teen muttered, muffled, into his shirt. 

Touya lowered his hand and placed it on Bakugo’s head. “I know, kid… I know…” He hummed. “But I’m okay now. We’re both okay.” He looked up and locked eyes with Eraserhead. “We should sit down… And talk.”

It took a moment but Bakugo eventually let go, stepping back to look up at Touya’s face. He opened his mouth, a million words at the tip of his tongue, and then shut it again. A simple nod was given instead, and he moved to sit at the kitchen table across from the desk. Yoshihara followed suit along with Eraserhead. The pro-hero sat close to his student, careful and wary. He didn’t blame the man; they were in his territory of sorts.

“Where would you like to begin?” He asked, returning to the old computer chair. 

The older hero spoke up this time. “The beginning, Touya Todoroki.”

His eye brows rose. “Full name. I suppose the kid told you? …Who else knows?”

“A few of the students and a small handful of heroes,” the man offered, scratching at his stubbly chin. “Is that a problem?”

Touya thought about it. Was it a problem? “No,” he decided. “It’s fine. Though I prefer just Touya. I don’t… want to called Todoroki…” Eraserhead nodded, and he continued. “Where to begin… I guess you’re curious about all the vigilante crap, huh? Never did get to thank you for letting me go back then. Yoshihara would have had a stroke if I never came back that night.”

Yoshihara muttered something from across the table about “stupid teenagers getting into trouble” and “going to give me a heart attack”. It made Touya smile. 

“Well… It started with Midori, or well, Izuku Midoriya. He never gave me his full name back then, probably for the best,” he reminisced. “I was recovering from an accident and ran into the little tike. That was about five years ago now? Kid took one look at me and said I could be a hero,” he said, a laugh bubbling in his voice. “Told me a quirk doesn’t define you; it’s how you use that quirk. Took a while to believe it.”

“You never used your quirk during your time as a vigilante,” Eraserhead commented. “Your quirk is still being speculated.”

“You’re right, I did all my work as if I were quirkless,” the younger stated honestly. “I did it for two reasons. For one, my quirk is dangerous. If I don’t keep it in check, it can hurt a lot of people. It’s best to refrain from using it than chancing an injured civilian. And then there’s the obvious one…” His smile grew into a cheeky grin. “Vigilantism has an… interesting… definition. Do you know what that is?”
Bakugo answered this time, rolling his eyes. “It’s using your quirk to carry out heroic duties without a hero license or legal authorization. Everyone knows… that…” It clicked, and he stared at Touya in surprise. “You found a loophole.”

Touya laughed. “Yep! Not only was I not endangering anyone with my quirk but I was technically not breaking the law,” he explained. “Unfortunately, some people still thought I was using a quirk and stealing their spotlight… That didn’t end well.”

“The pro-hero Iron Strike could attest to that,” Eraserhead commented, eyes narrowing.

Touya’s playful smile dropped, and Yoshihara looked ready to break something, standing to his feet. The doctor was seething. “Don’t ever talk about that… man in my clinic,” he snapped.

“Yoshihara…”

“No, Touya. You won’t be… You won’t have ever gotten mixed up with the League if that sorry excuse of a human hadn’t tried to kill you!” 

“Shoma Yoshihara,” Touya stated, promptly shutting up the older man. “Sit. Down.”

The doctor looked like he was about to protest but the sharpness and tiredness in the younger’s expression made him pause. He glanced at their guests. Bakugo was stiff in his seat and focusing his gaze on the table cloth. Eraserhead’s lips were set in a harsh line, eyes glinting red and hair more ruffled than before. Yoshihara gave a sharp huff and sat back down. “So what do you want to know about the asshat?” He gritted out.

“I believe I got my answer,” the pro-hero replied. “We were aware that Aonatsu vanished around the time Dabi killed Iron Strike. The other pro-hero at the scene was too distracted with gang bust that she didn’t notice the scuffle until Touya released his quirk. She also saw him lash out at her sidekick. Jōki was hospitalized for a long time, unconscious for most of it actually. Her agency marked Dabi a villain before he could tell them what happened. In fact, I believe he says that it was an act of self-defense…”

Touya gaped at the man. “He… He what?”

“You have a hero advocating, albeit privately, that you aren’t a murderer, Touya,” Eraserhead stated clearly. “He never came forward due to the agency he was signed under. But ever since the fight in the Kamino Ward, I’ve been digging around. Bakugo gave me some loose ends to work with, and I’ve been tracing your steps since your vigilante debut. I believe you were wrongly accused, as well as some of the staff from UA with whom I discussed this with.”

The former criminal chewed the inside of his cheek. This was a lot to mull over. Not only did someone outside of Yoshihara believe his side of the story but apparently multiple people did. The staff at UA were prominently pros, which meant the ones who attested to his innocence were high tier heroes. He would never have seen this turn coming. Wincing as he bit too hard, Touya paused his gnawing and clenched his fists. “What does this mean for me then?” 

The scruffy man tilted his head back a bit, analyzing him. “For one, while you are not to blame for your act of self-defense, you took active part in the camp raid and kidnapping of Katsuki Bakugo. You need to come with us so we can sort through that bull,” Eraserhead began.

“Hell no!” Yoshihara spat. “I can understand coming here to clear everything up but I am not letting him get ripped apart by cops!” 

“Who said anything about cops?” This made the doctor stop. “I’m bringing him to the head faculty and principal of UA. They will figure out how we will handle this situation. While the police do their job well, they will have no idea how to handle a case like this, especially since it involves such a prominent hero family.” This made Touya flinch slightly, and he knew the pro took notice. “… We will handle this situation delicately, far more delicately than the police.”

“… Alright…” The doctor sighed. He didn’t appear to agree with anything going on in this conversation but it was an uphill battle at this point. “As long as I can keep contact with him. He… Touya is important to me. If something happens to him, you’ll have to deal with me.”

“Of course,” Eraserhead replied, taking the threat in stride. “The other reason is that some people want to see Touya.”

“Midori and Shouto?” Touya asked, chest tightening. He hadn’t seen either since the camp except for a few glimpses during his fight with All for One. The last time they had been face to face, his baby brother was horrified and Midori was furious. The thought of confronting them after that made his stomach roll. “I don’t… I was awful the last time they saw me… What makes you think they want to see me now?”

Bakugo scoffed this time. “Damn, your skull must be thick,” he snorted, lips pulling into a sneer. “You really think they could stay mad at you? Midori was a blubbering idiot, and I know he’s already forgiven you after what he got out of me, nagging nerd. And Icy Hot was no better. He… he misses you.” His voice trailed off at the end, softening as his eyes locked with Touya’s. “… You really don’t know how much you mean to them, do you?” The teen frowned.

Touya broke their eye contact and looked elsewhere. He honestly didn’t. “I’ll go with you,” he changed the topic. “You came all this way for this, and I’m tired of running away from my problems burned.” The man rose to his feet, making the others follow suit. “I suppose you’ll need to lead the way?”

+++

To say he was nervous would be a horrible understatement. The windows caught the sunlight, and blazed brilliantly against the afternoon sky. UA stood tall, proud, and intimidating. If the thick, defensive walls didn’t deter villains from attacking, it was how imposing the building inside them did it. Touya had never been to the school, his father had smacked him over the head for suggesting it when he was a child. No, his viewing experience was through images and videos. Now that he stood in the presence of the towering school, he froze.

This could have been his future. Maybe in a different life, a different world, somewhere his father couldn’t interfere in his life. Unfortunately, this wasn’t that world. He would be a former villain walking through a school of preparing heroes, a walking irony he supposed. It had him wanting to duck his head down, pull his hood tighter around his face, and walk away. And it was clear that these thoughts were not hidden well from his companions. 

Bakugo stuck close to his side, visage sharp and frame rigid. The young hero had remained at Touya’s side like a guard dog. He had to swat the boy after he quite literally growled at a child for staring too long at the injured man’s face. The kid existed on a hair trigger temper. Honestly, he needed to chill out or else Touya was going to get more anxious about their journey into the belly of UA. He could only hope that Bakugo wouldn’t try to kill any of the teachers or principal if anything went south during any meetings. ‘Assuming he’s allowed in those meetings,’ he silently mused.

Eraserhead also stayed close, though it could be to stop him from running. ‘But he believes in you,’ he had to remind himself. A sliver of doubt still wriggled in the depths of his mind despite this confirmation. The teacher was a hero, and Touya had been a criminal. Had Aizawa been entirely truthful about everything? About the sidekick’s private testimony? About his supposed innocence? About the staff at UA believing him? He hated the anxiety that wormed its way through his gut and yet he let it. Maybe it would help when reality crashed back in and he was shoved off his feet again, the bit of pessimism proving true and him prepared for it.

Touya stood before the gates of UA. He took a deep breath and exhaled, long and slow. He would never know if he never took the step. Fist clenched, he took his first step into the campus, prepared for whatever the world threw at him next.

Chapter Text

Touya was confused. When he looked up UA as a kid, he never looked too deep into who ran the place. There were rumors of a monster, a dangerous being, a genius. Someone ran the school without flaunting his appearance, keeping to the shadows at best and running things from above many. What sat before him on an elegant office desk, sipping from a cup of tea, was not a monster. He didn’t know what it was actually. 

The muzzle made him think mouse, the ears made him think bear, and the tail just added a whole cat monkey vibe to the mix. Thin, soft fur covered the creature, a small scar cutting through the snowy white and made its calculating eyes stand out. It was also wearing a little black suit, a red tie around his neck and orange shoes on its feet.

The creature took notice of his discomfort and smiled. It did little to ease his ever mounting anxiety; he was quite sure it made it worse. But the principal set down its tea, greeting the two behind him. 

“Aizawa, Bakugo, I see your search was successful,” he hummed, voice light and airy. “After such a long day, I believe Bakugo must be tired. Perhaps he should retire to the dorms.”

Bakugo visibly bristled. “I’m not tired, you damn rat! You can’t get rid of me like that!”

Aizawa shot the boy a sharp look. “Go back to the 1-A dorms, Bakugo. I’ll be there shortly.” When it looked like the student was going to argue, he raised a hand. “No. Get out or I’ll suspend you again.” His threat gave Bakugo no room to push, and the student reluctantly retreated, leaving the adults alone. Or what Touya could assume were all adults.

“Now then! Down to business!” The principal clapped his paws together. “My name is Nezu! I am the principal of this fine school. Am I a bear? Am I a mouse? No one knows!”

Ah, this day proved to get weirder. “I… I’m Touya,” he returned tentatively. “Though I assume you already know this.” A grin was all he got in return. “Right. Aizawa said I was coming here to talk about the whole kidnapping thing.”

“Buh buh buh!” The critter interrupted, paw in the air. “That can wait! I just need to confirm one thing!” He leaned forwards with sharp, beady eyes glinting dangerously in the office’s light. “Did you murder Iron Strike in cold blood?”

Touya could feel the temperature of the room drop. Despite being the size of a toddler and having the appearance of a mismatched plush toy, Nezu radiating a tangible intensity. If he was asked a question where he was forced to lie, he had no doubt the creature would know. He swallowed thickly. He knew his answer though. 

“No,” the young man replied. “It was an act of self-defense.” And for once, he believed those words. For days upon weeks upon months, the memories had haunted him. With every fiber of his being, he had accepted that he was a criminal, a murderer. Now he could confirm to himself that he had been lying to himself. He had been trying to survive, to escape the deadly grip that was choking the life out of him. 

Nezu tapped a padded finger under his chin before nodding. “Alright then! I trust you!”

“Eh?” It couldn’t be that simple.

The creature laughed. “You're probably thinking that this situation is too simple thus impossible. It isn’t!” He rose and jumped off the desk he had been perched on. Nezu padded forwards until he stood right in front of Touya, head tilted far back to look up at the young man. “I have heard the facts, looked through them myself, and now have been witness to the victim give his own testimony. Seeing how everything lines up together, I think I have enough to decide if I trust you.”

“What about everything with the League? I’m a criminal! A villain!” Touya snapped. He knew he wasn’t helping his case here but this all seemed too easy! Life was never easy for him!

A slow blink. “Touya, you are a victim of circumstance,” the principal stated. “Everything you have done has been to protect those around you and to protect yourself. Aizawa and Bakugo have made it clear that you were extremely reluctant to hurt others during the camp raid and especially during the capture of Bakugo.” He tilted his fuzzy head. “There is obviously more to the story but that can wait. For now, let us discuss your arrangements until everything gets fully cleared up.”

Touya stood silently as the two staff members spoke to one another. He had never thought of himself as a victim. He had been too busy trying to survive to consider it. First the anger of his father, then the wrath of Iron Strike, until he was under the control of a true monster, All for One. In all confrontations, Touya could only resort to fight or flight. He had joined the League out of a deep need for people who understood his fears and aspirations. Except it was being led by someone who fed on his fears and wanted to shatter his aspirations. 

His mind reeled. No, he had never considered himself a victim back then. It was clear now that he truly had been one, even if a sliver of doubt still gripped the corners of his mind. In different circumstances, he would never have joined the League. If he had known about All for One and his goals… If he had met Bakugo and known how the hero world was changing… If he had know that he had a family in Yoshihara all along… But then Bakugo would have still be captured, All Might would still have lost his power, and maybe they would have gotten far more hurt. Maybe more people would have died.

He was broken from his pondering by a tap on his shoulder. Aizawa hovered by his side. Nezu had vanished, leaving the two alone in the office. “Come on, we’re going to Recovery Girl’s office. She’ll check over your injuries,” he explained, leading the way out of the room. “Then I’m taking you back to my classes’s dorm. “

This new development made Touya perk up. “Dorms? I don’t remember hearing about that?”

“They're relatively new. It’s a way to protect the students considering the whole camp attack put a real scare into the media. This is our way of preventing any further villain incidents within our school. Teachers have their own room in the building. You’ll be staying in the vacant room next to me.”

“Ah… I wasn’t expecting that. It would explain why you asked me to pack though.” Touya straightened his back, the backpack hanging heavily from his shoulders. “Did you know I would be staying with you?”

The older man shrugged. “I assumed. Nezu is unpredictable at times though.” Touya believed him. “Here we are.”

A petite old lady peeked up from her computer. Her hair was pulled up into a tight bun and a purple and pink visor covered her eyes and went around her head. She truly was a tiny woman with the lab coat that swamped her form. She saw them enter the quiet room and smiled. “Good afternoon, Aizawa. Who is this?” 

“Recovery Girl, this is Touya. He’ll be staying on campus for a while and may need some more medical attention,” the teacher explain. “Touya, this is Recovery Girl. She is our nurse on campus.”

The little nurse hopped off her computer chair and shuffled over to the younger man. She raised a gloved hand. “Ah yes. The vigilante child you spoke of at the meeting. A pleasure to meet you, Touya,” she said cheerfully. Recovery Girl grabbed his hand and shook it. “I hope you don’t mind but I would like to take a look at your injuries so that I know what I have to work with.”

Touya furrowed his brows. “I lived at a clinic, ma’am. I think I’m as healed as I can get at this point,” he explained.

Recovery Girl snorted. “As if! There’s lots we can do! I plan on contacting a scar specialist for you so we can get rid of those dreadful staples. Less concern about infect in the future and far more sanitary!” She noticed his surprise and confusion. “Scar specialists like her are not all that common and tend to be expensive. Unless the one running the clinic knew one personally, it is quite possible that they never considered that an option and did what they could with what they had.”

The young man considered her words. Yoshihara had been devastated with the out coming of his second major injury. He hadn’t been able to do much considering his quirk revolved more around fresh wounds and cuts as well as internal injuries and the occasional burn. At that time, the burns had been far too deep and severe. The doctor was left trying to pull together the pieces more than anything else. 

“He tried his hardest to help,” Touya murmured. 

“I bet he did. You’re still walking around despite it all. Now come here and take off that hoodie so I can look you over,” the old woman beckoned. She pulled him over to a medical bed and made him strip down to his underwear.

Without his pants and hoodie covering his form, all his scars were visible. There were the prominent ones that started at the back of his hand, ran up his arm and neck to his cheeks and lips, and then dipped down over his collarbone and down to the stump remains of his right arm. There were smaller burned patches around his ankles and calves as well as under his eyes. A patch of fresh scarring, light enough to avoid medical staples, spattered over the right side of his torso and face. It merged the burns under his eye with the burn on his jaw and went high enough to remove some of his eyebrow. All together, he looked pretty messed up.

Recovery Girl check over him, poking and prodding lightly at his wounds. She moved on to check his vitals and scribbling down notes. Once she was satisfied with the information she had, she took his hand and kissed it. He sputtered, surprised at the sudden action, and felt suddenly tired. “My quirk activates quick healing,” she explained. “It takes your own stamina to heal yourself. Any recent remaining injuries you have should be gone now. I’ll contact my friend to come in and work on the scarring more throughly. For now, rest. Have a gummy.” She dropped a few gummies into his hand.

He blinked, startled at how his body felt. It was pleasant for once. He tested out his right leg. It had been giving him trouble for the last month. No pain. Touya felt a burst of joy and relief. He could walk normally again, no more limping!

Aizawa cleared his throat. “Get dressed. You're not going back to the dorms in your underwear,” he stated and walked over to Recovery Girl to discuss things with her while Touya got dressed.

The two men left the nurse’s office minutes later and made their way through the school. Even though the healing made him tired, Touya felt more alive than he had in a while. His body had lost all the aches and pains that came with long periods of activity. It had been years since he had been without this constant pain. If it wasn’t for the reminder of who he was about to run into he would be far more relaxed. He fidgeted nervously as they exited the school building and walked towards the dorms. 

“Why are you so antsy?” The hero asked.

“Hm? Oh uh… I just… I don’t know how everyone is going to react to seeing me… The last time most of them saw me, I was burning down the forest or trying to attack them.”

“Trust me. These kids are too forgiving for their own good. I don’t think any of them hold a grudge against you for what happened.”

“… How many of them know Shouto is my baby brother?”

“At least six. That being said, word travels. I won’t be surprised if more of them know at this point in time if any of the main six told any of the chatty ones.”

“Oh… I hope you’re right though,” Touya finally admitted. “I don’t want them to be scared of me. Or for them to reject Shouto because he’s related to me.”

Aizawa placed a hand on his shoulder and made him stop. “If anyone has a problem with you or your brother, tell me. I will handle it. You got that?” He commanded. 

The younger gave him a weak smile. “Whatever you say.”

“Now straighten up. We’re here.”

The building was about the height of a small apartment. Reddish brown brick work made up a majority of the dorm with white accents. The name of the dorm was plastered on the front: 1-A, Alliance. Windows lines the building, signifying rooms and letting light into the bottom floor, possibly the common area. There was a movement of color in one of the bottom floor windows. He could have sworn there was something pink or yellow, maybe both, that had disappeared. He frowned.

They went up the steps, and he took a deep breath. This was it. More terrifying than stepping into the campus itself, but he could do it. The hero opened the door, and the two of them walked inside. He had been correct in his assumption that the common area was on the bottom floor. There was a lounge with plush furniture and a television. A kitchen was snug in the corner with a series of long tables and chairs set up in a mock dining room. It was cozy and open. And all the occupants were there.

At least, he assumed they were. Some were seated in the dining room, a few mulled about in the kitchen, and a majority were flopped over one another in the lounge. Everyone had frozen and were staring at him. His body went rigid under the multitude of eyes boring down on him. “Quit staring and get up. I have someone I want you to meet,” Aizawa snapped. His words broke the silence, and everyone jumped to attention, stepping out into the open area between the lounge and dining room. “This is Touya. He’s staying with us for now. Be hospitable. He is our guest.”

A small boy with purple hair wheezed. “Him?! Isn’t he the one who tried to kill us! Why is he here?!” He demanded, turning up his nose. 

Aizawa glared at the boy as Touya shrank back. “Mineta. Be quiet.”

“But sir! He’s a villain! He should be in ja-…!” The child was cut off as Aizawa’s scarf lashed out and silenced him. 

“You and I will talk about this in private. I am tired of you disregarding what I’m trying to say. I’m tired, he’s here, and that’s final,” the teacher said, making his statements final. He turned his attention to the other stupid. “You all mingle. Play nice. Do not talk to anyone outside of this dorm about him until I give you all the okay. I’m going to deal with this one.” He walked off, abandoning Touya with the students.

“… Well then…” He murmured. “I um…”

A dark haired boy with rectangular glasses stepped forwards. “Welcome to UA,” he stated, voice loud and commanding. “I am Tenya Iida, class president of 1-A.”

“Ah. I remember. You were fourth in the Sport’s Festival,” Touya mused. “You fought my…” He paused, realizing what he almost revealed. He looked up and spotted his brother.

Shouto was between Midori and the gravity girl from the Sport’s Festival. His expression was soft, lips set in a line. He stepped forwards, passing his classmates until he stood right in front of Touya. Most of the others looked between themselves, confused. Shouto ignored them. “You started to grow your hair out,” he commented, nodding towards the visible red roots.

“Shouto…”

“… Welcome back, Aniki.”

Touya choked at the words. Aniki… Big brother… Tears welled up in his eyes and dripped down his face, stinging whenever one got into a crease of his scarred face. He slipped down to his knees, grabbing onto his baby brother’s arm with his hand. “I’m so sorry, Shouto…” His voice cracked, emotions controlling him.

The younger Todoroki trembled in his grasp but Touya couldn’t look up. “It’s okay, Touya…” He dropped down to Touya’s level and pulled him into an awkward hug. “It’s okay…”

Iida gathered the others and sent them back to their rooms to give the brothers some time alone. Midoriya hovered for a few moments before Bakugo dragged him away, snapping something about being a “nosy nerd.” It was comfortable to finally be back together again. They stayed like that for a while.

Chapter Text

Shouto was the first to pull away. Touya noticed the large wet patch on his brother’s shoulder. He had been crying a lot. He wiped at his eyes gently, dampening his sleeve. After all the emotions, he felt even more exhausted. 

“Let’s sit down,” his brother offered. He rose and held out a hand. But then he paused, as if realizing something. “Touya… Your arm…” His eyes were focused on the limp sleeve with a knot at the end. It had slipped out of Touya’s pocket and hung dangling against his side. 

Touya gave him a sad smile. “Yeah… It’s a long story…”

“I have all the time in the world,” Shouto shot back.

The older Todoroki laughed. “You’re a high schooler. I highly doubt that you have any time on your hands.”

The boy rolled his mismatched eyes and gestured towards the lounge. Touya admonished him, taking his outstretched and letting himself get pulled upright. He was no longer taller than Shouto. It looked like the younger Todoroki took been bleesed in the height department as well. He won't be surprised if the kid surpassed him soon. His expression softened, and he ruffled the younger boy’s hair. Shouto jumped at the sudden contact but then leaned into the touch. 

They sat in chairs facing one another, a long coffee table separating them. The building was warmer than he thought it would be, especially after all the crying, and the hoodie felt constricting. Since it was just the two of them, Touya carefully tugged the garment over his head and wrestled out of it. He was left in one of his v-neck shirts. The stump of his arm was free of the fabric, no longer rubbing and irritated. He caught Shouto staring at the discolored stump and cleared his throat.

“I guess we have a lot to discuss,” he started, snapping the younger out of his daze.

“Yeah… I guess we do,” the boy murmured. “What… What happened that night, Touya? With dad? What did he… What did he do?”

Despite not wanting to tell the younger, Touya gave in. It was better to lay everything out. He explained in light detail how he fought with their father, lost, and his quirk going haywire. He talked about waking up in a dumpster and being found by Yoshihara. Shouto seemed to like the doctor from what Touya said about him. He mentioned the run in with Midori, who was actually Midoriya, and his inspiration to become a quirkless vigilante. And then he mentioned Iron Strike and the beginning of the darker path he walked.

Shouto remained quiet for a majority of the conversation, only asking questions when he was confused about something or when he wanted more information. He made it clear that he believed Touya was innocent. “I talked with Bakugo after we rescued him. He is grateful, even if he doesn’t like showing it. And he’s fond of you too. He asked about you before… All this happened.” The boy gestured to all of him. “But one thing still confuses me… You said you didn’t fully agree with the leader of the League but you never said why you betrayed them and warned Aizawa during the camp raid.”

“I decided that before we even left to go there,” Touya admitted. “They gave us a list of targets. It was dangerous individuals to look out for, a go ahead for killing. You were on it.” He clenched his fist. “And like hell I'd let them mess with you.”

“Why didn’t you turn on them then? Why didn’t you just free Bakugo?” The boy asked, brows furrowed. 

The older leaned back. “I knew that, if I let him go, they’d know it wasn’t an accident. They would have killed me, at least Shigaraki would have. And then they’d try it again, and more people would have been hurt or killed. I won’t be able to protect any of you. I did my best looking after Bakugo and well…” He glanced at the remains of his arm. “You can see how that went…”

Someone cleared their throat. The brothers looked up. Midori was hovering off to the side, nervously shifting from foot to foot. “Hey, Midori,” Touya greeted with a sad smile. “Want to sit down?”

“I um… I don’t want to impose… I just wanted to see… I dunno…” The freckle face boy stumbled over his words, twisting the hem of his shirt in his fingers. “I… Yeah. I’ll sit.” He scuffled over and sat in a chair diagonal to both brothers. 

“Did your injuries heal well? You got a thrashing from Muscular, didn’t you?” The oldest asked. The last time he had seen the kid was with both his arms, broken and bloodied, in makeshift braces and blood smeared across his face. He looked a lot better now though he had visible scarring etched into his arms.

Midori huffed. “Yeah. I’m better. How about you?” He glanced at the missing limb.

“A little lighter. Who knew loosing an arm was the way to loose some pounds!” He joked, causing the boy to blanch and his brother to let out a undignified snort. “Seriously though. I’ve been doing better. Recovery Girl wants me in for a few check ups, and I’ll be back in action.”

Shaking his head, Midori changed the topic. “So you two. You’re really brothers?”

Shouto answered in his stead. “Touya is my oldest brother. This is the first time in  years that I’ve seen him,” he explained. “I’m glad he’s back.”

A warm feeling swelled in Touya’s chest. “I’m glad to be back. I’m glad you don’t think I’m… well, dead anymore. We should probably do something about the grave…”

His brother jolted and looked at him in bewilderment. “You know about your grave?”

“Yeah… I’ve been keeping tabs on you guys through Yoshihara. Found out about the burial. Dad never went, did he?” Touya questioned.

Something dark glinted in Shouto’s eyes. “No… The bastard never went,” he ground out.

A humorless laugh rose in his chest. “Should have known… The man has no remorse,” Touya relented. “Are the others… Natsuo and Fuyumi? Are they well?”

Shouto nodded. “Fuyumi takes care of the house. She’s a teacher now. She knew you and mother would be proud. And Natsuo… He finished high school as soon as he could and left for college. He doesn’t visit often…” He trailed off, obviously upset at this outcome.

The older brother sighed. “He was the level headed one but didn’t like the conflict. I don’t blame him for trying to escape,” he admitted. “I’m glad they’re doing alright…” He glanced at Midori. 

While the boy looked uncomfortable, he appeared to understand what was going on. Had Shouto told him? Or had he figured out for himself? The kid had a quick mind back when they met years ago. He didn’t doubt this skill was cultivated further over time. Yet he kept quiet, letting the boys talk. It was best if they continued this topic later.

“I never got to apologize,” Touya commented. “For the training camp incident. I never thought it would go that far. If I had known Muscular would go after a civilian child, I would have stopped him.”

“You can’t control everything in life,” Midori offered. “Kota is okay, I’m healed, and Muscular is behind bars. Everything turned out fine. I accept your apology…”

“I tried you know…” The man leaned back. “When you called me a hero, back then, it stuck with me. I became a vigilante for a while there.”

The boy smiled. “I know. I saw your name in the forums. And then you just disappeared one day…” He looked at the severe burns and staples, smile slipping away. “What happened, Touya?”

“Not all heroes are like you, Midori,” Touya explained. “I’ve found this out the hard way. A few heroes weren’t happy I had been taking the spotlight from them. One constantly looked for me. One night, he finally caught me. He… He tried to kill me. I lost control of my quirk and killed him instead… It ended up having an extreme backlash on me as well, and I couldn’t go outside for a long time. 

“The League attacked the USJ around that time, and the police were on the look out for criminals. I went into hiding before eventually joining the League. I heard they were working with Stain. I may not agree with how he tried to change the hero society but I believed his ideology. The hero society has been damaged, and it needed to be fixed. If the League worked with him, there must have been people who agreed with this ideology. I wanted to find others that would help make that possible. But I was too deep when I met… All for One.

“The League didn’t want to heal the hero society, they wanted to kill it. I had to figure out how to stop them but I was put in charge of the Vanguard Action Squad and the whole kidnapping mess. It all went to hell after that. I guess we’re lucky everything worked out the way it did,” he finished. The man looked up at the boys. “I can’t say how sorry I am… You should never of been put through that.”

Shouto scowled. “Stop apologizing. You didn’t have the power to fight against them. You just told us that. There was nothing you could do, and you did what you thought was best in that situation.”

“We’re just glad you’re back,” Midori affirmed. “And you helped protect Kacchan. Thank you for that. He’s too proud to thank you himself.”

“So I’ve heard,” Touya replied softly. “… Thank you.”

“Now that you’ve gotten all that out, we need to get you settled in a room,” Aizawa spoke up, catching them all off guard. The pro-hero stood near the hallway at the end of the room. He leaned against the wall with his arms cross, clearly having waited until they had finished their conversation. “Come on. You can talk more once you unpack.” He shot the two students a look. “Besides, do you two have homework for tomorrow?”

They looked between each other, realized what he said, and made a break for their rooms. Touya chuckled as they left. “I would think they’d be on top of things,” he commented, pushing himself up and stabilizing himself. “Are they good students?”

“When they aren’t trying to play hero or fighting among themselves, yes.”
“Fighting?”

“After they rescued Bakugo, Midoriya and Bakugo fought in one of our training zones. All Might caught them beating each other up. I mentioned that suspension before, right? That was from the fighting.”

“Bakugo, that little shit,” Touya muttered, shaking his head. “Can’t say I’m not surprised but still. After all that he fights with Midori?”

Aizawa opened a door halfway down the hall. “While I do not condone the fight, they were both working through their emotions. They’ve gotten along better recently at least. This is your room. Standard bed, desk, and closet. Do with it what you will, just make sure to keep it clean. I’m not cleaning up another month old rotten banana.” He grimaced, a haunting memory clearly tormenting the teacher. “You can join the students for breakfast in the morning but stay here. Recovery Girl will come and get you later. I’m two doors down if you need me.”

“Thank you,” Touya said, dumping his bag on the bed. It had a plain blue comforter and pillow. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” 

“Of course,” the pro affirmed before turning and closing the door behind him. 

Once the man was gone, Touya fell back onto the bed. It was comfortable at least. It wasn’t as familiar as the one from Yoshihara’s house though. He exhaled harshly through his nose, relaxed, and pulled his phone from his pocket. He tapped out a message to Yoshihara.

To: Old Man

8:30 PM

——

hey i survived my first day at ua

From: Old Man

8:31PM

——

Good. If they do anything stupid, tell me.

Im serious. I will fight them.

 

Touya laughed. Yoshihara was probably serious. But he doubted anything was going to happen anytime soon. Recovery Girl wanted him to meet a specialist, and the principal just wanted to talk for now. He honestly didn’t know how things would go from here on out.

 

To: Old Man

8:32 PM

——

whatever u say old man

im moving my stuff into one of the dorm rooms

i can text u in the morning???

From: Old Man

8:33 PM

——

You better!

And who are you calling old man!

-`д´-)

To: Old Man

8:33 PM

——

U  are

night

From: Old Man

8:34 PM

——

Night brat

 

He put his phone down and began unpacking. The room was decent with enough closet space for his clothing. He put some of the medical textbooks on the desk as well as his medical kit. Once he was finished, he changed into a pair of pajama pants and flopped on the bed. He’d have to see about soap in the morning so he could take a shower. For now though, he was exhausted. After getting the healing jumpstart and interacting with so many people, he just wanted sleep. It didn’t take him long to pass out.

Chapter Text

He stood in the rumble of an undefined warehouse. The concrete rose high and jagged into the dark sky, blocking his view of the world around him. Wind tugged at the tatters of his heavy coat and shirt. A chill ran up his spine. Something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong.

The figure, suddenly there before him, laughed. The sound echoed spastically, a melding of voices clashing together. All for One stood, tall and imposing, with his dark mask obscuring his features. His face was blank and hollowed and made Touya’s stomach churn. No, he had been caught by All Might. He couldn’t be back. But there he stood.

“You should have listened, Touya Todoroki,” the man cut through the deathly silence. “But you couldn’t listen to reason could you? You know what happens to those who fight people more powerful than them…”

He opened his mouth to retort but no words came out. Instead, a hand closed around his neck. Touya gagged at the sudden pressure. The hand was large and calloused. The towering figure morphed, and there appeared Iron Strike’s sneering visage. 

“They get to learn what true power is. They get to learn how to follow, you bastard,” the dead pro spat. “They learn their damn place. Or are you too stupid to understand?” His eyes flashed with something dark and deadly.

Panic seized his chest as his feet left the ground. He clawed at the hand frantically. The vice tightened harshly. His breaths were ragged, and he strained to inhale. He was a child again, the man grasping his throat changing to a more familiar person. His father’s features fell into place, beard blazing bright and eyes narrowed in disgust.

“Disgraceful,” he growled. The word cut into Touya’s very being, marking him. “I should have made sure you were dead. Now look at what you’ve become. A failure of a brother, a son, a hero, and even a villain. You don’t belong anywhere. You should have stayed gone.”

Heat began to rise from the palm against his gullet. Terror filled him, memories of a burning training room dancing in his vision. “…No… No, no, no!” Touya choked out, trying to call upon his flames. 

As his fire exploded to life, his body jolted. Eyes snapping open, he sat up in bed. He gasped desperately for air. Looking around, the young man realized he was in the dorm room. He was at UA, not the destroyed warehouse or his old home. No one else was in the room with him. It had all been a dream, a horrible nightmare really.

He inhaled deeply to clear his head and coughed. Looked up, he swallowed dryly. The originally white ceiling had a dark charred patch right above him. A similar burn ran along the wall in a harsh streak up to the large mark. His quirk had been activated. This hadn’t happened for weeks now. He had burned a few things accidentally at Yoshihara’s place during his sleep but nothing like this. He could still smell the smoke.

Touya rose from his bed, sweat dripping from his hair. He rubbed gently at his maw, phantom fingers still digging into his flesh. It had all been a dream, there was nothing here. Aizawa was just down the hall if something actually happened. Besides, only an idiot would attack a building full of potential heroes surrounded by even more potential heroes and pros. Being logical, he was the safest he could ever be.

He rose to his feet, using the bed’s wooden headboard to steady himself. He shuffled over to the window and opened it. Fresh night air wafted in, and he took a long breath. Cool air filled his lungs, making his body loosen up. Leaning against the frame, he plucked his phone up from the desk. The screen read simply [4:00 AM]. He hummed. He had at least gotten some sleep. 

At this point, it would be futile to go back to bed. He would only toss and turn. Pulling on a pair of sweat pants and straightening his shirt, he padded barefoot into the hallway. No one would be up this early except for maybe Aizawa.

He was wrong. A mop of blond hair, more sunshine yellow than Bakugo’s, peaked up from the kitchen counters. Purple eyes locked with turquoise as the boy dropped a box. A few tea bags skittered across the hardwood floor. He was dressed in silk pajamas, a matching night cap nestled up on his head. A kettle hissed on the stovetop as steam curled into the air. Touya recognized the kid.

“You’re the laser guy, right?” He murmured, carefully leaning against the counter.

The boy nodded slowly, lowering himself to collect his tea bags. 

“You’re a good shot. None of us saw it coming.”

“…Merci.”

‘French,’ he noted silently but gave the hero a smile. “I never got to thank you, ya know.” The boy furrowed his brows, lips parting to ask a question but said nothing. Touya continued. “If you hadn’t gotten Compress to drop those marbles, two kids would have been captured, and I… I don’t think I'd have been able to protect two heroes considering I did such a shit job protecting one of you guys.” He closed his eyes, trying to will away the memories of Bakugo screaming in pain. It didn’t work.

The thoughts were broken by the kid instead. “You… You really think I helped?” The words were careful, delicate. He was standing straight now with his eyes focused on the box clutched in his hands. 

“Of course,” Touya confirmed. “If not for you, I… I probably won’t be here. Or Bakugo and that bird student. You did fantastic back there, kid.”

The kid looked up tentatively. “… My name is Yuuga Aoyama,” he said quietly. “Do you um… want some tea?”

Touya smiled softly. “Hello, Aoyama. My name is Touya. I would love some tea.”

They settled at the kitchen counter, two steaming mugs of tea between the two of them. They remained mostly silent, content with a simple quietness. Occasionally, Touya would make a soft comment or question. Apparently, Aoyama had woken up a while before him and couldn’t fall back to sleep. He had chosen to make some tea to help him get back to sleep or at least help him relax before getting ready for the day. “I take my time getting ready in the morning~,” the boy had hummed against the rim of his mug. The older had nodded and explained he had also woken up, omitting the nightmarish aspect of the event. 

They returned to the comfortable quiet until Bakugo appeared at the bottom of the stairs clad in a loose tank and gym shorts. He had looked between the sleepy pair and huffed. Striding over, he nudging the man. “Why are you up so early?”

“Hmm… How do you know I’m not always up this early?” Touya shot back with a loose grin and a tilted brow.

The younger blond glowered up at him. “Don’t be an ass,” he grumbled, crossing his arms.

A chuckle escaped his lips as Touya placed a hand on the boy’s head, ruffling the spiky fluff. “Whatever, brat. I woke up and couldn’t fall asleep. Probably just need to get used to the new bed and stuff. Nothing to worry about,” the man explained.

Bakugo grumbled more but let him mess up his already messy locks. “I wasn’t worried,” he growled out before noticing the other person. 

Aoyama blinked, glancing between the two of them. “Um…”

The angry blond swatted Touya’s hand away quickly and shoved past them to get to the refrigerator. The older noticed a redness to the boy’s ears. Ah, he was embarrassed. “Well, I should probably get back to my room. Don’t want to scare any of the others this early in the morning,” Touya spoke up. He placed his empty mug in the sink. “I’ll see you later, Bakugo.” He got a huff in response. 

Turning to Aoyama, he ruffled the boy’s hair. “Thanks for the tea, Aoyama. Have a good day at school.”

The teen stiffened at the touch, and he realized the mistake. Bakugo and Shouto were fine with his contact. Bakugo because he had grown accustomed to the act, probably due to the fact he wasn’t getting hurt from it. Shouto because he was his little brother, and he had done that to all his siblings. But Aoyama didn’t know him, hadn’t been associated with him other than a nightmare fueled interaction and a cup of tea. Touya felt stupid as he pulled his hand away.

“I… I’ll get going… back to my room that is… Bye,” he finally said, taking long strides and escaping the room.

+++

He didn’t see Aizawa before the school day began. About half an hour after fleeing back to his room, he could hear the hustle and bustle of students waking up above him. By seven thirty, the dorm building was alive. Worried comments about due assignments, breakfast requests, and childish teasing echoed down the hallway, and he hovered by the door. He couldn’t catch any familiar voices other than the loud class rep. There was a slight temptation to slip out and greet his brother or Midori. 

The reminder of his past interactions with the class made him pause, and Touya pulled away from the door. No, they were probably on edge even with him not mingling among them. It would be best to hold back for now. After all, his interactions with Aoyama were chance, and the kid seemed more timid than angry or fearful. Touya didn’t want to chance running into a more aggressive student. The small grape kid made it clear that some had his actions clear in mind.

For now, he returned to his desk and sifted through one of his medical textbooks. He would continue to study until the voices and noises faded away around eight thirty. His fingers had grown stiff, and it was harder to write with only one functioning arm. Rising from the chair, he moved to the door and carefully opened it. The door hung open to reveal an object set in front of his door.

He looked around. No one was here; the dorms were silent once more. He bent down and picked up the box. It was the tea that Aoyama had earlier. A bright yellow sticky note had been stuck to the top. In glittery purple ink, a message printed in cursive was scrawled across it. 

‘You can have this tea. I have more available. Thank you for having tea with me this morning - Aoyama ~’

A smile slipped across his lips. It looked like he would be having another cup of tea with his breakfast.

+++

Touya was settled in the lounge when Aizawa walked in. He glanced at his phone; it was almost noon. “Lunch break?” He asked. 

“Yes, now get up. Recovery Girl wanted to talk to you and introduce you to the scar specialist,” the hero replied curtly. He looked at what the younger man was working on. “Scoliosis?”

“I’m studying through spine-related injuries. There was a young man who would come by the clinic who had acute back pain. Yoshihara wanted me to go through some of my books and try to diagnose it. I was just skimming through this page,” he explained. Placing a fresh sticky note on the page, the man closed the heavy textbook. “Even if I’m away, he wants me to keep my mind fresh.”

The pro hero nodded and turned. “Interesting but we should get going,” he commanded. “Or else we’ll have hell to pay with Recovery Girl.” 

Touya grimaced. For such a sweet lady, the nurse had just as much chaotic energy as the principal. Small package but a terrifying force to be reckoned with. “I’ll change into something more presentable. I feel like I’d be torn apart if I show up in coffee stained sweatpants.”

Aizawa looked at his attire. “Go change and meet me outside. Five minutes.”

The younger man changed fast. He slipped on a pair of jeans, sneakers, and pulled a cardigan over his plain t-shirt. Carefully, he rolled the dangling sleeve up and knotted the end loosely. He slid into the bathroom to tidy up his appearance, running his fingers through the wild black hair. An uncomfortable feel clawed at his stomach as he noticed how much red was becoming visible through the dark locks. He couldn’t exactly go out and get it dyed professionally, and Yoshihara was the one who normally helped him with it. Should he just let it grow out? It’s not like his had to hide anymore.

He stepped out of the bathroom and walked outside, never fully deciding what to do. The teacher looked up from his own phone. “We’ll be late if we don’t move it. Let’s go.”

The duo walked quickly through the campus and into the building. A few passing students glanced at him, either noticing his scarring and prominent injury or recognizing him as a villain. He doubted the second one. His image wasn’t out there. That being said, the scars were probably a decent giveaway. 

They found themselves outside of the nurse’s office when a bell rang. “You stay here until I, or one of my students, comes to pick you up. I don’t want you wandering the campus alone,” the teacher ordered, opening the door. “You can talk to Recovery Girl about Yoshihara’s assignment if you need something to keep you busy.”

Touya sighed. “Right. I’ll see you soon then,” he replied and walked inside. 

The little nurse was there at her desk again. This time though, another woman was present. Her hair was inky black streaked with silver and pulled into a high pony tail. She looked up as the door clicked shut. Her face was angular and sharp with softening lines of age near the corners of her eyes and lips. Dark eyes peered through crisp glasses that reflected the bright lights overhead. She wore professional attire, a dress suit fitting her slender frame and a clean white lab coat to top it off. 

Her eyes scanned his face and chest, pausing a moment when she saw his missing arm. “You must be Touya,” she spoke, voice light and clear. “My name is Doctor Reiki Hirose. I’m a scar specialist and one of Recovery Girl’s students.”

Touya gave her a small smile and was relieved when she returned the gesture. “Hello… Recovery Girl mentioned you but she never said you were her student.”

Hirose laughed. “I’m not surprised. After I finished my studies, I went off to America to train in my field. Turned down a job around here for it. Got a mouthful from her because of that.”

The shorter woman huffed from her chair. “I talked you up to those doctors, and you up and ran off to America of all places.”

Touya watched the previous mentor and student bicker, relaxing his body. “I um… I was told you could help me with… All this.” He gestured to his face and collarbone, catching the specialist’s attention.

“Ah yes, the medical staples. I’ll need to check over your scars and figure out the best course of action,” the woman stated, a serious doctor air appearing around her. “Off with the shirt and sit down.”

He flushed lightly at the blunt command but did as she said. He settled on a circular stool, the wheels squeaking against the linoleum floor. Similar to the day before, he was gently poke and prodded along the scar tissue as notes were being jotted down. The specialist was careful with her inspection, especially around the severe scarring on his severed limb. 

She hummed. “Alright, I can start today if you’re not busy,” Hirose offered. When Touya shook his head, she continued. “There is some recent scarring that won’t be too hard to work on. The real problem is the old scar tissue. The more severe scarring on your face and upper torso is extremely deep. At this point, a majority of it will be permanent.”

Touya frowned but nodded. He should have expected that. Still, a bit of disappointment weaseled its way in.

“I’ll be using my quirk. My quirk is called Tissue Revival. I can activate the cells in someone’s body to close wounds or create new flesh. This helps with lacerations, gaping wounds, and even scars. That being said, the sooner I get to the wound the better. When damage is severe, it is hard to active those cells,” the doctor explained. “It also has a backlash on the recipient and the user. Similar to Recovery Girl, my quirk uses stamina. Unfortunately, it effects both parties, and it takes a lot depending on severity.”

“How long will it take for me? And how much can you heal?” Touya asked. 

She tapped her chin. “Considering the wounds, I’d say it will be mostly healing your more recent scars, mending the flesh back together, and lightening old scars. I can heal a majority of the new scars in the next few days. Mending and lightening could span weeks. I plan to mostly focus on your face when it come to lightening the burns.”

He sighed. He would never be healed fully. The scars would remain a constant reminder of his faults and mistakes. Yet a wash of relief overcame him. He wouldn’t have to worry about the staples anymore. The burns won’t be as dark. He would be free of some of his constant pain. Even if everything wasn’t healed, at least his life would be a little easier. 

“Alright, Doctor Hirose. Let’s do it.”

Chapter Text

By the end of their session, Touya had no scarring on his stomach. It had been a shock to look at afterwards. The splotchy purple marks had receded from his right side, leaving only faint traces of a wisteria tint to the skin. His torso felt numb and uncomfortable to the touch. Doctor Hirose promised that was normal and his body would finish recovering by the next morning. 

“I have to work with a client tomorrow but I will be available this weekend if you want to do a longer session with breaks. I may be able to start on sealing the sections between the scarring and healthy skin,” she offered, rising up. Recovery Girl held out a few gummies, and the woman smiled, accepting them with a soft “thank you.”

Touya also took a few gummies from the nurse, putting a few in his mouth. He was tired again, and it was only two in the afternoon. “I’ll have to ask Aizawa. He’s kind of in control of my schedule… At least I think he is…?” His brows furrowed. “I have no clue what’s going on actually.”

Recovery Girl patted his arm. “I can ask him for you and inform Reiki if anything changes,” she stated. “For now, just assume you need to be in my office by ten on Saturday. Have one of the students escort you if you’re still nervous about walking through the school alone.”

The young man frowned at her statement. “I’m not nervous,” he said.”

“Could have fooled me,” the old lady snorted. “Came in here jittery as a mouse this morning. You expect me to believe this situation doesn’t make you nervous? Don’t lie to your elders.”

She made sense. His anxiety had been gnawing at him whenever he was around more than one or two of the students. Yesterday and this morning had led to multiple moments of pure and utter stress. He honestly felt a bit called out on the matter now. 

He sighed but nodded. “Alright. I’ll keep that in mind.” Carefully, he pulled a shirt on. It took a moment as the shirt caught on the end of his arm but a sharp tug made the material fall into place. “By the way, do you um… have anything I can use to cover this?” He gestured to the amputated limb. “Sometimes my arm gets irritated while I wear long sleeves or jackets. I tried socks but the ones I own just irritate it more.”

“I’ll put an order in for a prosthetic sleeve. That may be more comfortable for you,” Recovery Girl replied, shuffling back to her desk. “You may rest until someone comes for you. I can tell you’re still worn out form the healing.”

“I should be going,” the scar specialist spoke up. Doctor Hirose nodded to both of them and collected her things. “I’ll see you Saturday, Touya. Until then.”

“See ya,” Touya called as she left the room. He settled in one of the beds. The nurse quietly returned to her work, leaving him to his own devices.

His mind was pulling blank at this point. The healing he had been put through in the last twenty four hours had worn him out, not to mention the shockingly new environment. He just wanted a moment to himself, no studying, no people, no anxiety. Just rest and quiet. He didn’t realize he had drifted off until an hour later. 

Someone burst into the room, panting. The sudden noise made the young man jump, blue fire flaring up in his hair and along his knuckles. Bakugo stared at him, chest heaving and sweat on his face. Realizing the lack of threat, he snuffed out his flames. The only evidence of the quirk was a faint smell of smoke that curled through the air. He had responded to the sound sharply and needed to calm down.

Before he could scold the teen, the nurse was upon the boy. “You little brat! Never slam my doors!” She snapped, walking him with her syringe inspired cane. “That is dangerous and stupid!”

“Quit it, you hag!” The angry blond shot back only to yelp when she smack him in the head. “Hey!”

“Respect your elders!” Recovery Girl retorted, waving the cane. “Now unless you’re hurt, get out of here!”

“I’m here for the fire idiot!” Bakugo burst out, ducking away from the older woman. “Come on. Get out here. I’m taking you back to the dorms.”

Touya chuckled but complied. Giving the nurse a respectful goodbye, he let the younger boy lead him out into the hall. Bakugo’s hands were shoved into his pockets, and an angry scowl overtook his features. The kid would hopefully relax soon. “If you keep glaring like that, your face will stay like that permanently,” he chimed, running a hand through his hair. 

The teen jumped and looked at him, startled. And then the words processed. Bakugo glowered more, nose wrinkling. “It will not.”

“Right, cause you’re the doctor assistant in training,” Touya hummed.

“Whatever, Doctor Sparky.”

“Hey, a new nickname. Got any others, kid?”

“Screw you.”

“Sorry, I’m all out of screwdrivers.”

Bakugo’s face grew red in frustration as Touya shot back replies. Touya, on the other hand, was enjoying the banter. Shouto had been a shy child and never acted out. Natsuo, while more rebellious, wasn’t one for word play. Fuyumi hadn’t been one for any arguments, taking too many things literal. The explosive blond proved to be a breath of fresh air in the conversation department.

Before he could rile the boy up further, he noticed the students. They watched him eerily, whispering among themselves and staring him down. His stomach clenched and churned. He knew they were just curious but a part of him buzzed with anxiety. What if they recognized him? What if they took matters into their own hands? He couldn’t fight a bunch of young heroes alone even if he had wanted to. 

His fear must have been noticeable because Bakugo clenched his fists and quite literally growled at those around him. “Quit staring, side characters!” He snapped with teeth showing. A majority jumped and looked away. A calloused hand grabbed his thin wrist and started dragging him. “Let’s go, Sparky.”

Touya let himself get drug out of the school and back to the dorms. He didn’t attempt to joke with Bakugo either, the mood had been dampened. But the student also kept his grip firm, as if he expected the nervous man to pull out of his grasp. Touya attempted no such movements. And that was how a small collection of Class A students saw them enter the dorm.

They were piled on the couch, the blond one clasping a phone that the others were peering at. The sound of the door slamming open caught their attentions. One of the boys, hair red and spiky, grinned a sharp toothed grin. Ah, it was the one who had helped with the rescue. “Hey, Bakubro!” He greeted, smile only slipping when he noticed his friend’s companion. 

“What do you want, Shitty Hair,” Bakugo shot back, dropping Touya’s hand. A hand which promptly rose and smacked the back of his fluffy head. “GAK! What the hell, Fire Idiot!”

“That is not how you treat a classmate, much less a friend,” the older replied. “Didn’t he help save you back in the Kamino Ward?”

Bakugo grumbled, rubbing the back of his head. 

“He has nicknames for everyone,” the boy explained, waving a hand. “It means he’s fond of us… I think.”

“He calls me Dunce Face!” The energetic blond added, as if it would make the situation better. It did not.

“… How the hell do you have friends, kid…?” He asked, looking over at the brat. The brat, somehow, glowered more.

“He’s lovable once you get through all those explosive layers,” the pink girl chimed in. “My name is Mina! You’re Todoroki’s brother, right?”

The black haired boy next to her gave a small wave, grinning widely. “I’m Sero. That’s Kirishima and Kaminari,” he added, gesturing to the redhead and blond.

Hell, these kids seemed nice. Why in the world did they choose this brat to be their friend? “My name is Touya. Thanks for being friends with this idiot. I was worried he scared everyone away with his charming personality.”

Mina giggled, her yellow and black eyes shimmering. “I like him.”

The others grinned amongst themselves. Touya felt like this was not a good thing.

 

+++

 

Touya simply determine that he had been both right and wrong. The insane amount of questions they put him through and the manhandling had made him feel exhausted and wanting too escape as soon as possible. But once they had chilled out, realized he may be tired, they calmed down and fell into a relaxing conversation. They joked, told stories about Bakugo much to the teen’s annoyance, and listened to Touya’s own experiences.

“You were a vigilante? So cool!” Mina squealed. “I’ve only read about those in comics! They aren’t very common now though.”

“I didn’t run into many while I was in action,” Touya admitted. He hadn’t really considered that. He was normally too busy running from heroes or saving people to think about the possibility of the vigilantes being out and about. “There's probably some still active.”

“But now you’re training to be a doctor?” Sero asked, his clunky elbows propped on the coffee table.

The young man rubbed the back of his neck. “Uh… Not quite. That would require having graduated high school and going to university. I’m just studying under Yoshihara at the clinic. I could never be an official doctor… Legally that is…”

The students traded glances but didn’t ask what he meant by that. “Why didn’t you graduate high school?” Kaminari prompted. “You’re like twenty or somethin’. Flunk out?”

Touya snorted. “I wish.” This time the glances were more worrisome. “I didn’t flunk out. I… had to quit.”

Kaminari opened his mouth again but Sero kicked his shin fast so only a yelp came out. “What cases did you have at the clinic,” he offered instead. 

The blond next to him whined. “What was that for?”

“You knew what you were gonna ask. All of us knew it too. Stop it,” Sero hissed back as if Touya couldn’t hear them. “Don’t make us do what we did to Bakugo to you.” Kaminari stiffened at this, blanching.

The young man furrowed his brow and looked at the spiky redhead beside him. “What do you guys do to Bakugo?”

Kirishima looked up at him. “T-posed him into submission for fighting with Midoriya,” he explained innocently.

Touya… had no clue what that meant. 

 

+++

 

He found out what it meant when Kaminari asked another personal question, this time about his scars. The shrill screech that left the boy’s body was deafening as three of the four members of the “Bakusquad” rose abruptly; the namesake had not approved of the name. The teen scrambled away from the others who had started what he could only guess was “T-posing.” 

Bakugo dragged him away as they cornered the frantic boy. They did not look back. May Kaminari rest in piece.

 

+++

 

“You have good friends,” Touya offered as he sat on his bed. One of his medical books sat on his lap, highlighter posed over the pages. “I don’t know how you found them."

“More like they found me,” Bakugo grumbled. The young man could see a bit of pride in his expression, albeit it was mostly hidden. The boy was sitting at Touya’s desk, notebook open and pencil scribbling away. 

The man smiled. “So you were adopted. That’s sweet,” he hummed, neon yellow blocking in another section of text.

“You’ll be next,” was the snappy reply. 

“Ah.” He had not considered that…

 

+++

 

He won’t say he was avoiding the other students of Class 1-A. That would be rude. No, he was just… resting. And not interacting with anyone. That was all. Definitely no avoiding.

Aizawa had raised a brow at his explanation, a plate of curry and rice in hand. “Your choice, kid. But you have to eat. Healing, especially that extensive, takes a lot out of you,” he stated. He sounded just like Yoshihara. His dinner was shoved into his hands and he avoided all interaction with people for the night except for a soft greeting from his baby brother.

Shouto had wanted to make sure his day had gone alright. Touya had affirmed it. Shouto asked if anything new happened. Touya asked what t-posing was. Shouto had no clue. Shouto left with more questions than when he had arrived.

 

+++

 

Touya woke up wanting to vomit. There were more ashy streaks across the ceiling. This was going to be a problem.

That’s how he found himself outside Aizawa room, fist raised to knock. He wondered what the man would think. What kind of person couldn’t control their quirk? What kind of person was scared of their quirk? Someone that needed to be restrained, he supposed. He set his shoulder and knocked.

The pro hero looked exhausted. Considering it was one forty in the morning, he had a reasonable excuse. He blinked sleepy eyes, realized who was hovering awkwardly in the doorway, and straightened up. “Touya, what’s wrong?”

“I…” He chewed the inside of his cheek. “I need quirk suppressors.”

The man blinked again, as if he hadn’t heard him right. “Quirk suppressors?” A nod. He had not heard wrong. “Why do you need quirk suppressors?”

Touya broke eye contact, mumbling. At Aizawa’s raised brow, he spoke again. “I may have burnt the ceiling on accident… Again.”

Touya showed him the ceiling. It added contrast to the room at the very least. Aizawa told him he would look into it. 

Touya did not fall back asleep.

At four, he slunk into the kitchen. Aoyama looked up from the counter, a fresh mug of tea steeping. The student placed another mug onto the counter. Touya could never express his thanks enough. Aoyama only smiled softly into his tea. They watched the sunrise in comfortable silence.

At least until Bakugo barreled in at five.

Chapter Text

A sharp knock on his door startled him. There shouldn’t have been anyone in the dorms right now besides him. The class was preparing for their school festival right now. Touya stood, pushing in his desk chair. He rolled his wrist, feeling the cold pressure of his quirk suppressor. At least he had gotten one of these quickly. His fire was controlled at night now; he couldn’t thank Aizawa enough.

Straightening, he stepped over to the door and opened it up. Aizawa raised a brow at his disheveled appearance. Even if his quirk no longer went haywire, his dreams gave him little access to deep sleep. His hair was still wild, and his large shirt hung loose and rumpled from his frame. The man shook his head with a sigh. 

“I assume you haven’t been sleeping all day,” he stated with a huff.

Touya gave him a weak smile. “I wish. No, Yoshihara sent me some more work. He wants me to visit sometime soon,” the young man explained. “Or else he’s going to get antsy and come crashing in the campus. I uh… I don’t think you want that, sir.”

Aizawa pinched the bridge of his nose. “Right. I almost forgot about that… I can ask Nezu about it. Tell him to be patient. We’ll figure something out. For now, I have two people I want you to meet.”

The hero stepped back. Behind him was a student and a little girl. His eyes widened. “It’s you…” Touya murmured, recognizing the long white hair and little horn. “You’re okay.” A familiar sting of tears crept into the corners of his eyes, and he blinked quickly. 

The little girl stared up at him in confusion before a look of recognition cross her features. Her lip wobbled, and Touya was sure she was about to cry. Had he done something? Maybe she was still scared of him. He wouldn’t blame her; his scars weren’t exactly a pleasant feature.

But she surprised him. Pulling away from the student, the girl leapt forwards and wrapped her arms around his legs. He almost fell back at the sudden force against his legs and grabbed hold of the door frame. The student, an older boy with blue eyes and sunny yellow hair, looked between them, startled. Aizawa looked as though he expected this reaction. Touya had no idea what was going on.

Steadying himself, he carefully patted her head. “It’s uh… I don’t… You okay, kid?” He finally asked. 

She pulled back enough to look up at him. Her large, red eyes shone. “Mr. Aizawa said you helped save me… I…” She glanced back at the hero; he nodded. “Thank you very much!”

He felt like he was going to die. This child… He wanted to protect her. And in a way, he already had. Touya ruffled her hair gently, a smile gracing his face. “No problem, kiddo. I’m glad I could help.” His gaze turned to the student still hovering in front of them. “And who are you?”

The boy straightened. “Third year hero student, Togata Mirio, sir!” He practically shouted, making the two jump. Mirio paused and lowered his voice before speaking again. “Was it true that you helped saved Eri by giving information to Sir Nighteye?”

Touya bit his cheek but nodded. 

Mirio looked away, breathed in, and gave a long exhale. Making sharp eye contact, the boy continued. “I was part of the group who went to rescue Eri and take down Overhaul,” he said. “Sir Nighteye was my mentor.”

His stomach dropped. Touya shifted, hand gripping the doorframe. The little girl, Eri, stepped back, surprised by the sudden movement. His breath caught in his lungs. Mirio was Sir Nighteye’s student… Was his student… A choking guilt curling within him, one he hadn’t felt for weeks. ‘You led him to his death,’ the voices whispered, mocking. ‘You took his teacher away. Look what you’ve done.’

“Touya, breath.”

The young man jerked. Aizawa had a firm grip on his shoulder. A soft beep rang in his ears as the quirk suppressor blinked. His palm felt warm. He broke eye contact with the man and looked at the two younger people in front of him. Eri looked nervous while Mirio’s expression was unreadable. Touya swallowed dryly. 

Clearing his throat, he shrugged off the hero’s hand. “I am sorry for your loss. He was an amazing hero, and he would be glad to see Eri safe. Thank you for saving her… For doing what I couldn’t.”

He could feel the young hero’s gaze shift to his stump. “I… Yeah. He would,” Mirio agreed. “And he would be glad you were also safe. That was one of his last wishes, that we would make sure you would be okay.” This time he was firm.

Touya blinked and then relaxed his shoulders. “Really?” He asked, a bit bewildered. “I’m surprised he had even remembered much about me…”

“You helped save Eri. Of course he remembers you,” Mirio stated as if it were obvious. “And I couldn’t go without saying thank you, for all the help you’ve been.” A sadness filled the boy’s features. It should have been his mentor thanking him, not a messenger.

Touya pushed past Aizawa and stepped to stand directly in front of the boy. Mirio stood a few inches taller than the man but he held himself as tall as he could. “Thank you for all you’ve done as well. The next generation of heroes continues to prove to me that the future will be bright,” he spoke seriously. “Sir Nighteye is proud of you, Mirio. Never forget that.” 

Mirio choked, eyes shining. “How do you know that?”

Yoshihara’s tearful face and arms hugging him came to mind. “I know. How could a teacher not be proud when you’ve accomplished so much?” He pulled the boy into an awkward, one armed hug.

It was instantaneous. Touya was enveloped in a tight hug. Mirio’s nose buried into his shoulder, and tears soaked into his shirt. He rubbed light circles into the boy’s back as he shuddered and cried. He barely noticed as Aizawa led Eri back to the kitchen, him comfort the boy in peace. He would have to thank the man later.

Mirio cried for a while longer, finally releasing his pent up grief. He apologized for the tears and snot he got on the man’s shirt. Touya waved it off lightly. “A necessary sacrifice,” he had joked. “Now you should go wash up and get back to Eri. She’ll be worried.

The three left to go check on Class 1-A. Touya remained in his room, phone in hand. He stared at the screen blankly for a while. Sighing, he gave in and started tapping away at the keyboard.

 

To: Old Man

2:30 PM

——

thanks for looking out for me

 

From: Old Man

2:31 PM

——

This better not be you trying to get out of me visiting.

I will visit if I have to break into that damn school!!

Don’t test me!

 

To: Old Man

2:33 PM
——

no i just realized i haven’t thanked u enough

and i asked Aizawa about visiting. 

dont worry old man!

 

From: Old Man

2:34 PM

——

Don’t mention it, brat. I’m glad to help.

I am not OLD!!!  -`д´-)

 

To: Old Man

2:35 PM

——

whatever u say old man :P

 

+++

 

“This may hurt,” the specialist admitted. “I’m sorry we don’t have more equipment with us but Recovery Girl is here to help you if you start bleeding.” Doctor Hirose carefully began removing the staples.

Touya held back a grimace. The removal didn’t hurt too bad. The seams of the injury had mended enough that the scarred skin was attached stably to his unmarred flesh. Despite the surprising lack of real pain, removing the staples was uncomfortable. They pinched at his skin, some digging in uncomfortably as the doctor carefully shifted them. He dug his nails into his palms to avoid shifting his facial expression.

He never dreamed of having the staples removed. He had come to terms with his appearance long ago. With the chance to go back, even a little bit, he didn’t know what to think. Of course, the young man knew his scars wouldn’t entirely recede. The burns were too deep, the nerves damaged and skin utterly destroyed. But even just lightening them and removing the metal imbedded in his body was all he needed. A chance that people would stare less, and he could live normally.

The doctor dropped another one of the staples into the tray next to her. It clattered loudly. The pile grew as she finished her work.

Doctor Hirose placed her tools down and gently cleaned off his chin and cheeks. Dumping the bloody cloth into a bin, she pulled off her gloves with a snap. “Alright. There’s still more healing to do. I’m sure I can get it lighter than that but we’re both exhausted right now,” she hummed as she dumped the gloves in the trash. “I’ll see you next week. Be careful for now, okay? There may be weak sections so don’t be too expressive for a day or two. That means for screaming or yelling.”

Recovery Girl placed some gummies in his hand. “If anything happens, come to my office and I’ll fix you right up. I’ll see you on Wednesday, Reiki.” She waved after the doctor as she left. The nurse turned to Touya. “Now, where are you going?”

“No where actually. Aizawa said someone would come get me once they finish preparing for the school festival,” he explained.

The nurse’s expression soured. “If it’s that Bakugo brat, I’ll wack him over the head again. He left a dent in my wall from last time.” She pointed at the wall next to the door. The paint had cracked, a clear divot visible in the shape of the door handle. 

“He’s a good kid, I promise,” Touya offered weakly. Bakugo meant well, most of the time… The kid could be a bit of a brat though… Okay, maybe he was a really big brat but Touya could deal with him better than with Shigaraki. The villain had just been pitifully childish. Bakugo was at least a child, not that it excused his rash behavior.

A soft knock echoed from the closed door. A mop of green curls popped in. Midori glanced around, made eye contact with him, and grinned. It was like sunshine; Touya wondered if he would go blind. 

“Touya! Aizawa said you needed someone to pick you up,” he chirped, opening the door fully. Three other people hovered behind him.

One was the class president, glasses glinting and visage unreadable. One of the two girls stood with hunched shoulders. Her long green hair was pulled into a bow-like bun. The final girl was far more expressive, cheeks a rosy pink and eyes wide with curiosity. He noticed all of them wore t-shirts and shorts. They must have just gotten done with practice for the festival.

“You heard right,” the man affirmed. “I guess I should take my leave. I’ll see you on Wednesday, ma’am.” He dipped his head to the nurse.

Recovery Girl waved her hand. “My, if only everyone else had manners like you,” she stated. “Maybe you can teach those hero students to be careful and respectful.” Her eyes locked with Midoriya’s, and the boy gulped. “Could stop them from breaking their bones every week.”

“It’s been a while since I broke any bones,” the teen pointed out.

Touya looked between the two. “…What do you mean breaking bones?”

“Well I-…” Midoriya was cut off by the green haired girl.

“His quirk breaks his bones if he uses it too intensely, ribbit,” she croaked.

“…”

“…”

“Your quirk does what?!” Touya almost shrieked. He yelped and stumbled as a cane smacked the back of his knee.

Recovery Girl squinted at him angrily. “What did Reiki say? No. Yelling.” She studied his face and sighed. “Sit down. One of the sections opened up again.”

He groaned in annoyance but pulled up a chair and sat. He glowered at the students who shuffled awkwardly in the doorway. “You are telling me everything after we get done here.”

 

+++

 

The frog girl, Tsu she had told him, had explained the details of Midoriya’s problem. His quirk was a recent thing since he was a late bloomer, he’d break bones if he didn't control its output, and he had broken his fingers too many times to count. Midroiya was strangely quiet this entire time, avoiding eye contact. 

Touya couldn’t blame the kid for not telling him about his predicament. This was one of his faults, something he didn’t want to deal with. It honestly reminded him of his own quirk. The fire was hard to control and, most of the time, dangerous to his own person. It would be rather hypocritical of him to tell the boy to be careful. He just wanted to keep the kid safe.

The young man sighed and ruffled the nervous hero’s hair. “Chill out, kid,” he murmured. “I’m just frustrated you have to deal with this too.”

“Deal with this too?” The brunette, Uraraka, piped up. “What do you mean?”

“You know my quirk is fire-related right?” The group nodded. “Well, how do you think I got this many burns?”

A look of horror passed through the group. “I- I didn’t realize…I’m sorry!” Uraraka stumbled over her words frantically.

Touya waved his hand dismissively. “No worries. I’ve accepted it. Besides, I’m healing now and I have a… slight better handle on my quirk? For now, I’m just wearing this.” He gestured to the quirk suppressor.

Iida nodded. “We are glad you are receiving the care you need,” he said almost robotically. His arms even moved like a robot. This kid was quirky, wasn't he. 

“Thank you?”

“It’s not a problem!”

“Right…”

Tsu tapped her chin, studying him. “What about your arm? That’s new isn’t it? Doesn’t look fire related.”

Ochako squeaked. “You can’t just ask about that, Tsu!”

“Nah. I can answer that. It was Shigaraki,” the man replied. “He got a good hit on me before I could get away. A friend of mine is a doctor and helped me get back on my feet again.”

“Isn’t it hard to live with one arm?” She questioned more. She was a blunt girl, not scared to ask the harsher questions. It was a bit refreshing if Touya was honest. Tsu didn’t worry about stepping on his toes like most of the others.

Touya nodded. “Takes a while to wrestle my way into shirts,” he admitted. “And I can’t cook much anymore. Can’t carry many of my textbooks either. I make do but it’s kind of an all-around hassle.”

The frog girl hummed and looked at Midoriya. “Hey, Midoriya. Don’t you know someone in the support department?”

Midoriya tilted his head. “You mean Hatsume? I guess so. I’d have to ask her though. She’s a bit busy with the school festival right now. Why do you ask, Asui?”

“Couldn't she make something for him to make it easier to do his daily routine? And call me Tsu,” she stated.

The boy sputtered an apology before he processed her first statement. “I… yeah. She would like that. I can ask her whenever she updates my current gear. I don’t want to overwhelm her right now.”

“We can help him out for now!” Uraraka exclaimed. She clapped her hands together, a grin spreading across her face. “I’m sure Momo could make something for now too!”

Touya chuckled, catching their attention. “I appreciate the sentiment but you don’t have to push yourselves or your friends to help with something like this.”

Iida shook his head dramatically. “It’s really no problem!” His hands chopped the air to punctuate his words. “You are our guest!”

“And Todoroki’s older brother, ribbit.”

“Of course we’d like to help you!”

His expression softened. These kids were very much like Midori. “You have good friends, Midori,” the man commented. He looked forwards to seeing them become the next generation of heroes. They had arrived at the dorms by now. “I’ll be heading to my room now. Thank you for walking with me.”

He patted Tsu’s head. The girl blinked up at him, confused but calm. “Bye, Touya,” she chimed, voice quieter than before. He didn’t notice the exchange between the other three as he stepped inside. 

Chapter Text

The pink haired girl was eccentric to say the least. She poked and prodded at him, examining the remaining staples and scars. “You are a Frankenstein, aren’t ‘cha?” She stated simply, turning his hand over to examine his wrist. “Wild.”

“I thought they said you’d give me a hand, not take my last one,” Touya commented.

Hatsume stared up at him, yellow eyes glinting. “… I like you. Where’d you pick this one up, Midoriya?”

Midoriya laughed nervously, cheeks a bit pink with the sudden attention on him. “Well… It’s kind of a long story…”

She hopped back to her work table. “Yeah, no one has time for that,” she dismissed. “I can guess by the missing bits of him that he needs an arm?” Touya snorted, and she grinned wider. “I’ll take that as a yes. Any details or can I go wild with it?” Hatsume looked at him with excitement.

The young man shrugged. “I mean, I don't want something too flashy. Function over fashion. Like, I just kind of want an arm?” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Maybe fire proof it? A lot. My quirk burns hotter than most flames.”

The support student nodded, quickly jotting down the information. “Not too flashy, needs to function like an actual arm, extremely fire proof… Okay! I’ll get to work when I can. I’ll need measurements first.” She pulled out her tools and went to work sizing up his arm and the stump on his right side. 

“Thank you for the help,” Touya said in appreciation as she finished her work. “Will this cost a lot?”

She laughed. “Nah. The school helps fund some of our projects,” she explained. “It’s still technically a support item. Maybe I can use the prototypes for one of my assignments. Besides, a friend of Midoriya is a friend of mine.” Her grin wasn’t as sunshiney as Midori’s but it was still bright.

“That’s great. I thought it might cost me an arm or a leg,” he replied with a sly smile. 

Hatsume cackled. “Damn! You will have to tell me where you got this guy! I’ll make sure your new limb is a blast!” She promised.

“It better be,” Touya shot back. “I’m expecting my mind to be blown.” They were grinning like crazed cats now.

“You can’t put guns or explosives,” Midoriya added. “He’s still kind of under house arrest… I think…?” He gave Touya a questioning glance. Touya, in turn, shrugged; he had no clue what the rat principal had put him as.

“Darn. There goes those ideas,” the girl grumbled. She shoved some of her notes away, revealing some sketches beneath. “Oh! That’s right! I need to talk to you about your gear, Midoriya.”

“Ah… I would like to but I need to get Touya back…” The teens looked dishearten by the news.

“Then I can take him off your hands,” Shouto spoke up from the doorway. “Iida said you’d be here.” 

Touya grinned at his brother. “Hey, kiddo. How has festival planning been?”

“Fine. I’d rather talk while walking though. I wanted to ask you about something.”

“Sure, I’ll be there in a second.” The young man turned back to Midoriya and Hatsume. “Looks like my guardian has arrived! I’ll see you later, Midori. It was nice meeting you, Hatsume.” He patted her head, a cheeky grin on his face. “I look forwards to seeing your explosive ideas.”

Hatsume blinked up at him, lips parted in surprise. Ah, he had done it again. He retracted his hand quickly. “Right. I’ll be going now…” He left as quickly as he could.

As the brothers left, Hatsume spun to look at Midoriya. “What was that?”

“Huh?”

“That head pat!” She said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

 

+++

 

Touya exhaled. “I really need to stop doing that,” he muttered, running his finger through his hair. It was still growing longer, the red streaking through his hair at this point. He probably looked like some kind of exotic bird. Should he cut it? Should he could dye it again?

“Stop doing what?” Shouto asked, head tilted. “I didn’t notice you do anything.”

“The head pat thing. It’s like instinct or something…” He grumbled, crossing his arms. “And by the looks of it, I’m scaring almost everyone I do it to.”

The younger looked at him weirdly. “But you did that with all of us, even if Natsuo wasn’t fond of it,” he commented. “It was affectionate, wasn’t it?”

His cheeks went warm. “You don’t have to point it out…” Touya felt embarrassed. It had been an action of affection he used with his siblings. Fuyumi hadn’t been fond of hugs after their mother had left, and his younger brothers were never the physically affectionate type in general. It was his way of showing he cared or appreciated them, especially when they didn’t feel like making much contact. He hadn’t expected the habit to come back. “Besides, you guys were family. I was a threat to some of these kids. I feel like I’m crossing a boundary…”

Shouto studied his somber expression and shook his head. “I think you’re worrying over nothing…” He said firmly. “But there is something else I need to talk to about.”

“Ah, that’s right. You needed me for something. What’s up?”

“When are we going to tell our family about all this?”
A chill settled in the pit of Touya’s stomach. “I… I don’t know…” He turned his gaze away from Shouto. “I haven’t seen them in years… Not to mention Aizawa and Nezu being in charge of my life right now… And I… I don’t want them to see me like this.” He grimaced. His hand ran over the mangled remains of his right arm. “It would be better if they never found out…”

His baby brother frowned deeply. “Touya…”

“Sorry, I’m just not ready. Even if Aizawa or the principal allowed them to visit, I don't think I could handle it…” His eyes stayed locked on the ground as they excited the building and started walking back towards the dorms. He kicked at loose pebbles, sending the skittering across the pavement. 

Shouto was quiet for a moment. Touya could feel his gaze on him but he refused to look up. He wanted this conversation to end. “Alright,” the boy conceded. “But you can’t hide forever.” He appeared somewhat satisfied when his older brother nodded slowly. 

They were almost to the dorms when a voice made them both freeze. It was as though ice had crawled into his veins while his fire roared beneath his skin. “Shouto! I’ve been trying to call you all week!” Fear curled within his body. He wanted to run, to move. “Who the hell is that with you? He doesn’t look like a stu-…” The voice cut off as they turned around.

Enji Todoroki stared into the eyes of his dead son. With most of his facial scars on the way to becoming lighter mixed with the streaks of Todoroki red in his hair, the young man’s appearance was becoming hauntingly more similar to Touya than Dabi. As a pro hero and as his father, Endeavor recognized both. 

His fisted clenched, smoke curling from his lips. “You.

Touya wanted to vomit.

Shouto was shaking.

“Hey, dad…” The young man murmured.

“Don’t you dare call me your father, villain scum!” Endeavor snarled. “I thought I got rid of you long ago! Now I find you here, tainting Shouto? Get away from him.” He took a threatening step forwards.

Touya stepped in front of his baby brother.

Shouto cowered under the intensity of their father’s glare.

“Not until you calm down…” Touya tried to reason. His mind raced. He was back in the training room, his baby brother injured and only himself as a shield against the anger of their father. And after all these years, it scared him to his core to be standing in the same positions. “You’re on a school campus.”

“And you’re a damn villain. How the hell did you get in here?” Endeavor snapped, lunging forwards. “I’ll be damned if I let you get away!”

The young man couldn’t move, taking the hit to protect his little brother. Panic seized him as a familiar, scorching vice closed around his throat and yanked him off his feet. Shouto fell back with a thud as he was shoved away. Touya gagged, clawing at the grasp with his hand. The quirk suppressor beeped softly before rising in speed, chirping like a fire alarm. His fire churned beneath his skin but couldn’t escape. 

He had no way to defend himself, he realized in horror. He was going to die.

 

+++

 

Shouta Aizawa had just finished another meeting with principal Nezu about letting the doctor see Touya again. “I would like to meet this Yoshihara fellow,” the critter had decided. “Have Touya inform him that he can visit.” Needless to say, the meeting was very short. 

The hero shoved his hands into his pockets as he stepped down the stairs. Things had been going smoothly for the last week and a half. Touya had settled into the dorms and was getting along with the students for the most part. Some of them were still wary about the past criminal but it looked like the more outgoing of the bunch were helping them along. 

The healing sessions also helped with that. Touya no longer limped when he walked and the burns on his face had been sealed. The facial medical staples were removed as well, giving him less of a zombie appearance. Rather, he looked something more human and approachable. There was still a long way to go but Touya was looking better.

An itch of worry returned to his mind. He may look better but Shouta was growing more concerned about his mental health. It had taken a few days for the young man to come forwards about the nightmares and unintentional quirk use. He had even caught a glimpse of him sharing tea with Aoyama in the early morning. The teacher was aware of his student’s habit, something the kid was working through, but the fact that Touya was also not sleeping concerned him. How many times had this happened before?

Once he was fully settled, he wanted to get the man in therapy. Yoshihara would be visiting soon. With his help, maybe they could convince Touya to see someone. There was obvious repressed emotions and memories. Just talking some of them out could help settle him enough to at least sleep at night. With all the healing and lack of rest, Shouta won’t be surprised if Touya’s health would regress a bit.

He straightened when he stepped outside. Someone was yelling. It sounded bad. His teacher instincts took over as he bounded around the corner towards the class dorms. He won’t be surprised if his students had gotten in a tussle again. If it was Midoriya and Bakugo again, he would try sicking Touya on them this time. The brats seemed to listen to him.

When figures came into view, he wished it had been Midoriya and Bakugo arguing.

Even with his back to him, Shouta recognized the current number one hero. Fire curled around his face, angry and blazing. Smoke visibly leaked from the sides of his mouth. The towering man was holding someone up by the neck. The person squirmed, a flash of red and black hair flicker in his vision. The pro hero Endeavor had his oldest son by the throat.

“P-please, dad!” Shouto cried, trembling. “Let Touya go! You’re hurting him!” He was cowering on the ground, frost lacing the ground around him.

Endeavor practically snarled at his youngest. “Shut up, Shouto! I’m finishing what I started. Then you’ll tell me why a villain like him was on your damn campus,” he snapped, glaring up at the thrashing figure in his hands. “He should have stayed dead.”

Above all the noise was a loud chirping. Not a bird… More like an alarm. Aizawa’s gaze met Touya’s. They were wide and shining. Tears were running down his cheeks as he gasped for air. Fear, unadulterated dread, shone through with a terrifying clarity. The quirk suppressor was blaring; Touya couldn’t protect himself.

His eyes flashed red as fire rushed towards Touya’s neck. The flames snuffed themselves out, leaving only swirls of smoke and soot on his shirt. Endeavor sputtered in disbelief as Shouta’s capture tool ensnared him. The man let go of Touya, sending him crashing down. 

“Eraserhead, what is the meaning of this!” The number one hero growled. 

“You are attacking someone on UA property,” Shouta answered coldly. He glanced down at Touya for a moment. The young man was coughing, blood dripping from between his lips. Anger rose within him. “What makes you think that’s allowed?”

Endeavor scoffed. “I’m the number one hero, and that bastard is a villain.”

“Who is under my custody and is your son.” 

“No son of mine. My eldest son died years ago.”

Shouta’s eyes narrowed. “We can easily get proof.”

“I beg to differ,” the fiery man shot back. He tugged at the capture tool.

The teacher stared him down. “Then beg.” Endeavor gapped at him. “For attacking a defenseless civilian under my care on a school campus, I’m arresting you, pro hero or not. We’ll see what Nezu and the police have to say about your actions today and the validity of your statements.”

He looked back at the two brothers. Touya was sobbing and gasping, clutching at his baby brother’s shirt. The younger Todoroki held the man close, watching the two heroes intensely. His eyes were like ice. “Todoroki, take your brother back to the dorms. Send someone to get Recovery Girl. I don’t think he can make the walk to her office. Have someone else to go get the principal and some staff.”

The boy nodded solemnly. Carefully, he pulled Touya to his feet, slung his left arm over his shoulders, and guided the man back to the dorms.

Endeavor pulled against his restraints to no avail. “How dare you make accusations like that!” His yelling was attracting attention from other students, watching in shock as one of their teachers restrained the number one hero.

“You’ll regret trying to ‘finish what you started’ once we’re through with you,” Shouta spat back, fury in his veins. “Principal Nezu isn’t fond of people like you…”

 

+++

 

The invisible girl cried out when the brothers stumbled into the dorms. “Todoroki! What happened!” She wailed, clutching the tailed student next to her.

“We can tell you later,” the icy boy snapped. “I need someone to get Recovery Girl, and Aizawa needs help from the staff. Now!” He added when the two looked at each other.

Touya blinked blearily as the two student bolted out the doors towards the school. “S-sho…” He rasped, coughing violently. His body felt heavy, and he started slipping off of his brother’s shoulders.

“Aniki!” Shouto cried, trying to catch him.

A blue blur appeared at their side as Iida caught the young man. Uraraka ran after him, skidding to a stop as she took in the sight before her. Touya was practically limp between Iida and Shouto, his head leaning heavily against his brother’s shoulder. Dark bruises encircled his throat, striking against the healing scars. The hem of his shirt was singed back with small splotches of red. Blood dribbled from his parted lips as he wheezed. The man looked awful.

“Todoroki, what happened?!” She asked frantically as others filtered into the common room.

But the younger Todoroki only dismissed her. “Help me get him to the couch,” he ordered. Iida complied, and they moved him to the couch. “Aniki, Touya. You need to stay awake until Recovery Girl gets here.”

As Touya blinked his eyes slowly, Bakugo shoved his way through the crowding students. “Get out of my way,” he snapped, shoving his bird headed classmate to the side. He stiffened when he spotted the injured Touya. “What…” He saw the charred shirt, and his eyes locked with Shouto’s. “Why is his shirt burned, Icy Hot?”

Shouto pressed his lips tightly together and held his brother close, protectively. They both knew exactly who did this.

Rage filled the explosive blond. “I’m going to kill him…” He muttered.

“Kill who, ribbit?” Asui asked, a pressed to her chin.

Explosions crackled in his palms. “I’ll kill him!” He snapped, not answering her question. His actions instead made Touya flinch and cower into his brother’s shoulder. 

“Stop it, Bakugo!” Uraraka demanded, stepping forwards. “I heard Todoroki say that Aizawa was dealing with whatever happened. We shouldn’t get involved.”

Bakugo wasn’t looking at her. He stared at Touya in a mix of anger and dread. Touya was trembling… “I…” Todoroki shook his head; his brother needed quiet. “Give the guy some space, you stupid bastards,” he stated instead. 

His classmates looked at him in surprise but did as they were told, backing away. They whispered worriedly amongst themselves. Bakugo didn’t leave though. He set himself next to Touya’s left side. His hand hovered for a moment before he placed it in Touya’s mop of messy hair. Todoroki studied the blond but said nothing. They stayed at the older Todoroki’s side until Recovery Girl arrived with a panicked Hagakure.