It lay thick and cold over the earth, cold and uncaring and empty, with not even a whisper of a breeze to grant twenty-six year-old Izuku Midoriya peace. He sat in ashes and dust, fingers laid limply over his knees, and stared as it coated the legs of his worn green suit gray. The silence cut deeper, creeping into his skin, and his breaths came in quick silent pants as he realized what had happened. He had been holding a little girl’s hand. He had been telling her he was a hero, that it was going to be alright, as fire and ash and stone rained down around them.
Now his hands held dust.
Now the air was silent.
It was hard to be a hero when there was no one left to be a hero for.
Midoriya’s heart broke.
He curled up so his forehead pressed against the ashy ground.
And he screamed.
He screamed to fill the terrible silence and waited for the villains to find him and silence him too.
Todoroki found him instead and his jaw clicked shut, his body moving as his mind remained in a fog and he grabbed his friend’s arm just to be sure he was real. It was telling that Todoroki clasped his shoulder with equal intensity, his fingers colder than the ice he wielded.
Eventually, they pulled themselves together enough to move. They dragged themselves through the decay and ashes that nearly went up to Todoroki’s knees. They found the other survivors, the ones Shigaraki had missed or mockingly spared.
That was how many people were left.
Izuku Midoriya, Shouto Todoroki, Katsuki Bakugo, Momo Yaoyorozu, Hitoshi Shinso, Denki Kaminari, Ochaco Uraraka, Tenya Iida, and Eri. Eight Heroes in their mid-twenties, and one teenaged girl who never got the chance to grow up in Hero Society. As he walked through the decayed ashes of what was once a city, Midoriya wondered if Shigaraki did it on purpose. Did he leave the last eight students of UA alive just to torment them with their final failure? The city, dubbed Haven, had been the last safe place from villains.
There was no one left to protect anymore.
There’s no one left. We lost.
The realization almost broke him.
It would have broken him, if not for one final plan.
One final chance.
Rewind was a powerful Quirk. A fascinating Quirk. Yet one with limits. Although her control had grown since she was a frightened little girl, Eri could not perform miracles. She could not undo the decay of Shigaraki’s Quirk, or bring the ashes of Dabi’s victims back to life. She had tried, over and over and over again until her cheeks were wet and her fingers bloody. Were Shigaraki’s Decay and Dabi’s Cremation counters to her Quirk, or was some damage beyond even her abilities to Rewind?
As he stumbled after the others to their last bunker-like safe house— not safe nowhere was safe they were starving mice being hunted by cats—Midoriya supposed it did not matter.
No, it did. It
had to— did matter. Because maybe there was another way to save them. All Might, Mirio, Tamajiki, Eraserhead, Present Mic, Nighteye, Midnight, Best Jeanist, Mount Lady, Kamui Woods, Edgeshot, Hawks, Miruko… Everyone who had died.
It was Eri who came up with the idea, inspired by an old superhero movie that somehow survived the Villains’ apocalypse. It was Kaminari who volunteered to test it. Midoriya did not know exactly how or why. All he knew is that the day after they came up with the tentative— desperate— plan, Kaminari woke him up in their final bunker and told him it worked with a beaming grin on his face.
They tested it a few more times, again and again, until one day they all woke together.
“So it’s decided then.” Midoriya stated. “We’ll go back to before we entered our second internships.”
Uraraka tensed and glanced at Iida. “Deku—”
“It’s alright, Ochaco.” Iida interrupted quietly, a far cry from the loud stern student he had once been. “I know we have to arrive after the Kamino Incident, after Hawks is given the mission to infiltrate the League.” After my brother was paralyzed, went unsaid.
“But surely it would be better to arrive before that?” Kaminari blurted. He dragged his hand through his hair, visibly distressed. “I mean, we’d still have All Might with us.”
“Haven't you learned anything from the past decade?” Bakugo snapped. He leaned against the wall, arms crossed and fingers clenched tightly so they dug into his biceps. “We can’t rely on All Might to solve all our problems. That’s what got society into this mess in the first place!”
“I agree with Kacchan.” Midoriya said. His voice was steady, but they could all hear the tinge of pain under his level tone. “All Might is on borrowed time. He has been ever since he fought All for One. He was down to three hours of power before giving me One for All. After, his time limit dropped. We can’t rely on his power to save everyone. We need information, on the League of Villains and the Meta Liberation Army. We have to take them both out completely, or Hero Society will crumble again.”
“So we’re going to let Hawks walk into the killer wasp’s nests again?” Uraraka asked quietly. “That’s how he died last time, remember?”
Midoriya grimaced. Of course he remembered. How could he ever forget? Although it had been nearly ten years, he could remember the Winged Hero’s death clearly. Outed as a spy working for the Hero Commission, the Paranormal Liberation Front had let the world know they were not to be trifled with by broadcasting his torture on television. Yet even while at their mercy, Hawks got in one last strike against the PLA by using hand signals to warn the Heroes about an upcoming attack. It was only because of that warning that Hero Society was not completely wiped out in a day.
When he realized what had happened and that Hawks cost him total victory, Shigaraki had wasted no time and disintegrated him on the spot.
Midoriya shoved the memories out of his mind and met Uraraka’s gaze. “We don’t have much of a choice. Last time, all the information Hawks had died with him. Lab locations, PLA members’ identities, their assets, businesses backing them, dirty cops, heroes, and corrupt politicians under their thumb… All things we need to know in order to stop the Villains before they outnumber us. We need someone to infiltrate them, and Hawks lasted longest.”
It was the truth. All following attempts to infiltrate the PLA had failed miserably. The longest any hero-turned-spy lasted was a month, and that was only because their spy had been brainwashed and they had no idea until he assassinated Red Riot. Midoriya felt a twinge of pain at the thought of his friend and forced himself not to look at Bakugo. He knew what expression he would see there. It was why Midoriya could not ask Bakugo to try to infiltrate the League when they tried to recruit him. It was why he could not ask any of his friends to make that sacrifice.
Uraraka hesitated and placed a cautious hand on Midoriya’s shoulder. “That’s… a bit cold, Izuku.”
Midoriya knew it. He despised it. But ten years of losing had hardened him. He wanted to be a shining hero, a Symbol of Peace like All Might. But he couldn’t be. How could he be when Peace was a thing of the past?
Which is why we’re going to the past, where peace is possible, he thought, and his heavy heart felt just a bit lighter. “We have to do this.”
Perhaps she saw something in his face or heard it in his voice, but Uraraka let her hand drop and looked away.
“Are you going to come with us, Eri?” Shinso asked.
Eri flinched. “I can’t.”
They did not pressure her further. Midoriya knew what situation she would appear in if this worked. He could not ask her to go back to Overhaul any more than he could ask his friends to infiltrate the League. They were going to try to save the future and themselves, not destroy them.
“You should appear in your younger selves’ bodies.” Eri continued briskly, as if the previous topic had never been brought up.
“Should?” Yaoyorozu echoed warily.
Eri shrugged helplessly. “I haven’t exactly done this over such a long distance— er, time?— before.”
“There are so many ways this could go wrong.” Todoroki said lowly.
Midoriya’s gaze unwittingly followed the burn scars on his face, his scar from boiling water nearly lost among the red. “Well, the worst case scenario is we all die and this is all for nothing.”
Bakugo jabbed him none-too-gently in the side. “Like we’re going to let ourselves die for nothing, Deku.”
Midoriya felt himself relax as he gently shoved Bakugo back. “If anyone’s going to survive it’s you.”
Bakugo scoffed. His hand drifted towards the empty space beneath his left shoulder. “Don’t sell yourself short, nerd.”
Midoriya’s guts twisted and he did not respond. “Remember, our priority is to take down the PLA before it can form.” he said instead.
“While saving people.” Uraraka added.
Midoriya nodded sharply. “While saving as many as we can.”
“Great plan. How do we do it?” Shinso asked sarcastically.
Midoriya hesitated. “The PLA will find us soon. We don’t have time to plan things out here. But we should try to warn All Might and the heroes. From there, maybe we get intel from Hawks so we can find their bases and shut them down.We’ll figure the details out before we get to that point.”
“They’re not going to believe we come from the future.” Yaoyorozu predicted. Her gaze darkened and she rubbed her left shoulder, hand brushing the scars there. “They’re more likely to think we’re spies who have replaced our originals.”
“Then we’ll have to convince them.” Midoriya stated, more optimistically than he felt. “Eri?”
She took a breath and held out her right hand. “I’m ready.”
The eight crowded into a circle, reached out, and grasped her outstretched hand. Uraraka giggled, muffling it with her other palm, and the unexpected sound brought a twitch of a smile to Midoriya’s face as well.
“What’s so funny?” Kaminari asked.
“We look like a sport’s team about to go out into a match.” Uraraka muttered.
Midoriya looked at their joined hands. “Well, we are a team.” He looked up, holding each of their gazes for a moment. “No matter what happens next, we’ll have each other’s backs. We’ll face the future— the past, as we always have. Together.”
“Together.” Bakugo echoed.
“Together.” Shinso affirmed.
“Together.” Todoroki whispered.
The ground rumbled. The bunker shuddered. Metal creaked and snapped as dirt trickled onto Midoriya’s face. Eri’s pale skin turned a sickly white, but her hand did not shake.
“They’re here.” Eri said calmly. Her red eyes filled with tears. “It’s time for you to go.”
Before Midoriya could protest, he felt a jerk in his chest, like something had taken hold of his soul and yanked it. White light burned their retinas, as the world around them shuddered and turned black.
The last they saw of Eri was the girl crumbling to dust.
Hawks, the Winged Hero and Number Three Hero in Japan, was not one to complain. Sure, he would rather have less to do than more, and sure, his goal in life was to give Pro Heroes some time to spare, but when duty called he answered willingly and jumped into action with a smile.
Since he was such a good sport about it, he let himself groan a little as he weaved over thick green treetops as rain pelted him from the heavens.
Despite being a bird, forests were not really Hawks’ thing. Well, they were in the sense that he loved walking beneath the trees and breathing in the fresh, earth-scented air, but for battle? Not really. Villains liked to hide behind the trees, though it was more annoying than disadvantageous. Playing hide and seek with villains was time-consuming, and he had better things to do back in town. Like help little old ladies carry their bags and save cats from trees and maybe stop by that new food place if he had the time before it closed for the day.
As he glanced at the sky and noticed it was almost night, he acknowledged that at this rate, he would not have the time.
The rain was just making it worse. His wings, coat, pants, and everything were soaked. If he tipped his head he bet water would come pouring out of his ear— and that was not an airhead joke, Rumi. It was Miruko’s fault he was in the rain chasing after a villain in the first place. She just had to kick a truck at him and make him dodge when he almost snagged the guy. Yes, she hated working with others and told him many times, but they were friends. Friends don’t kick trucks at friends, no matter how unhappy they were to be working with them.
Hawks grumbled and flew low over the trees, sharp gaze piercing the foliage as he searched for his prey. Normally he would send out more than a few feathers to scout out the area, but unfortunately the heroes had no idea what this villain’s Quirk was. It would be just his luck that the Quirk allowed him to control people if he snagged something off of them, like a feather. Consider Hawks paranoid but lessons about caution had been beaten into his head from an early age. Better to be safe than sorry when handling unknowns.
His headphones crackled slightly and the voice of the source of his suffering came through. “Hey, baby bird. I’m done here. Got the runner yet?”
“No.” Hawks grunted, and excuse him for being a bit miffed when his wings were soaked. “And don’t call me ‘baby bird’. You lost that right when you betrayed me.”
“Ooo, you are grumpy today.” Miruko noted. “Is it because of the truck that almost hit you?”
“The truck you kicked at my face.” Hawks corrected.
“I was aiming for the villain.”
“I was next to the villain. About to arrest him. Until someone decided to kick a truck at my face.”
“I was testing your dodging skills.”
Hawks’ eye twitched. “More like you forgot you were working with someone, again. This is why your nickname privileges have been revoked.”
“I reject your revocation.” Miruko said loftily. “I will always call you baby bird. Because that’s what you are. Adorable. And tiny. Like a fluffy little baby bird.”
“Haha.” Hawks sighed, but could feel a smile pulling at his lips. “I’m twenty-one and taller than you, you know.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Miruko’s teasing tone faded. “Any luck yet?”
Hawks scanned the sea of drenched green below him and shook his head. “No. Got a Quirk for me?”
“The police pulled an image of the guy’s face from the security feed but we haven’t got an ID or Quirk yet. Be careful.”
“Always am.” Hawks said lightly.
“Liar.” Miruko muttered.
Hawks pouted despite her being unable to see it. “Mean.” He let his smile drop and scoured the treetops one last time. “I’m heading down. The villain’s here somewhere.”
He slipped through the treetops and landed on the muddy soil below. It was not much drier under the trees than on top of them, but Hawks could successfully shake off some of the water that had gathered in his wings. His sharp golden eyes pierced the gloomy underbelly of the forest, watchful for any movement.
“I’m sending out feathers.” He murmured. “If I get controlled or possessed, I’m blaming you.”
“Noted.” Miruko said, and he could hear the grin in her voice. “Show them your talons, baby bird.”
Hawks would keep the banter going but he honestly wanted to just get home and dry off at this point. He stepped carefully through the trees, mindful of any mud he could slide in. He felt the vibrations through his feathers but none alerted him to a human presence. Still, he continued his search as the sun slowly slipped beneath the horizon, plunging the forest into darker shadows.
The crackle of his headphones alerted him and he put a hand to his ear. “What have you got?”
Miruko cleared her throat. “Sooooo the guy has a Quirk that lets him sorta jump back to a place he had previously been… Like some sort of flash-step thing.”
Hawks stopped in place and put his head in his hands with a groan. Rainwater dripped down over his fingertips. “He appeared back in town, didn’t he?”
“And you’ve arrested him.”
“So I’ve been out here walking in the mud and rain for hours for no reason.”
“Yep.” Miruko said, popping the ‘p’.
Hawks whined into his hands and dragged them down his face. “You owe me buckets of chicken. Buckets. Actually, scratch that. You owe me a feast.”
“I don’t owe you anything.” Miruko huffed. “You’re the one who messed up and missed him with your hawk-like eyes of yours.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.” Miruko amended quickly. “Look, we got him and no harm was done—”
“Rumi,” Hawks interjected. “It’s fine. You don’t have to worry. I’m not a perfectionist terrified of failure anymore.”
“You’re not a teen terrified of what would happen if you failed anymore, you mean.” Miruko muttered.
Hawks hummed vaguely and squinted at the dreary black sky.
“Get yourself home and dry off, baby bird.” Miruko lectured. “Can’t have you catching a cold.”
“You’re still worrying.” Hawks said lightly.
“Well, someone has to.” Miruko huffed. “Now get moving before I come over there and kick you back home.”
Hawks laughed, then spluttered as rain water ran into his mouth. “I hate rain. So much.” he hissed once he stopped coughing.
“Then get out of it, dumb baby bird.”
Hawks stretched out his wings and shook them in a futile attempt to dry them off a bit. He could fly, but it was going to be a rough journey. This was why he tended to swim with most of his feathers detached. Before Hawks could lift off, a shiver went down his spine. The chill spread into his chest, icy and cold, and his heart beat faster than a hummingbird’s wings.
“Hawks? I heard your breathing speed up. What do you see?” Miruko questioned urgently.
Hawks hesitated, unable to explain the cold feeling of dread he felt. He scanned the area warily as his wings flicked up in preparation to fight or take flight. “Something’s—”
White light flashed, the trees around him shattered, and Hawks’ head split in two. For a moment he thought he had somehow been struck by lightning, but then pain tore through him from head to foot to wingtip. Red-hot claws sank into his skull, ripping his brain apart and he might have screamed. He distantly felt his body hit the dirt, but the dull ache from the collision was dwarfed by the fire in his skull. Another scream caught in his throat, choking him with its intensity, but boiling lava blocked his airways, spreading out over his whole body and leaving him writhing in pain.
Someone else was screaming. Many someones, in fact. Instincts drilled into him by years of training pushed back the pain for a moment and he struggled to rise, to find those tortured souls and help them. Instead a barrage of voices stabbed through his mind like knives, screams overlapping in a chorus of terror.
“WHERE THE FUCK ARE WE?!”
“I can’t feel my body.”
“Oh my God.”
“Can’t breathe. Can’t breathe. Can’tbreathecan’tbreathecan’t—”
“Why can’t I feel my body?!”
“Deku? Deku, where are you?”
“What’s going on?”
“Oh no. The transfer—”
Hawks tried to get to his feet and his red wings fluttered weakly. Panic tore through him like a lance.
“Are those wings?!”
“We’re a Nomu. We’re a Nomu.”
“Were we captured?”
“Nonononono please not like—”
Tears gathered in Hawks’ eyes, from the terror or pain he could not say. His hands twitched towards his face— He just had to reach his communicator in his headphones he just had to reach— but it was like his limbs could not listen to his commands. Instead they quivered in front of his eyes, fingers twitching spasmodically. The voices overlapped, becoming a cacophony of disjointed words and noise worse than nails on a chalkboard and a demon’s screams. Hawks’ body jerked and he felt something warm trickle down over his upper lip.
“Hands? Human hands?”
“Not a Nomu… Please not a Nomu...”
“Too much noise. Can’t think. Give me a—”
“What is this?!”
“I’m so cold.”
“Weightless we’re weightless.”
“I can’t feel my limbs—”
“Shut up! All of you shut up!”
“Stop it stop it STOP! IT HURTS!”
The voices went silent for a wonderfully painless second, and Hawks belatedly realized the last one screaming had been him. In the silence, Hawks heard yet another voice, one he slowly recognized as Rumi’s.
“—don’t care if he’s asleep! Get someone to Hawks’ location right now. He’s screaming—” There was a pause as Miruko realized Hawks was silent. He had been screaming...? “Hawks? Hawks, can you hear me? Hawks! Answer me, dammit!”
Hawks’ lips might have moved, but he could not find the breath to respond.
In his head, eight voices spoke as one, overlapped, ominous, and echoing as they were united in terror and pain.
Hawks’ vision wavered and everything faded into darkness.
Miruko prowled back and forth, more like a caged panther than the rabbit her Quirk was styled after. If she were Endeavor the tile beneath her feet would be blackened and smoking. As it was, a few cracks appeared in the flooring where her feet struck the ground. She glanced at the clock on the wall and her ears went flat, flicking back.
"Screw orders." she growled and stalked towards the door. She yanked it open and scowled. "Move."
"Hello to you as well." Best Jeanist said mildly. "Also, no. You need to rest. Doctor's orders. You’ve already collapsed twice—"
"I'll rest when Hawks is found." Miruko snapped. “I have to keep looking.”
When Hawks vanished, the Pro Heroes were in a bit of a panic, with rescue and tracking teams sent out to search for the missing hero. ‘A bit of a panic’ became full-blown alarm as the weeks went by without a single red feather being found. A hero— even one as flighty as Hawks— did not simply disappear without a trace. Something went wrong and no one had the slightest clue as to what. The villain Hawks was chasing was no help either because he didn't know which way he ran. He also was not part of some scheme to capture Hawks. The police made sure of that when they questioned the guy.
The disappearance of a Pro Hero— especially one as high-ranked and popular as Hawks— could only be the precursor to something big. Miruko knew it, Jeanist knew it, hell, even All Might knew it if his strained smile when questioned about the incident was any indication. Yet as time went by, it seemed like everyone was giving up on finding Hawks. So excuse Miruko for being a little short with Best Jeanist, even though he was one of the few who seemed to think Hawks was still out there.
"It's been months.” she reminded him. “How haven't we found him yet?"
Jeanist sighed with the weariness of someone who had already had this conversation. "Something fried the tracker in his costume—"
"I know that!" Miruko snapped. "That's not what I'm asking."
"Then what are you asking?" Jeanist asked mildly.
That extinguished Miruko’s fire and she slumped in a chair. “I don’t know. I just don’t know what else to do.”
The admission hurt to voice and she loathed herself for saying it, because admitting there was no new lead felt like she was giving up on Hawks too. The other members of the team put together to find him had already drifted onto different missions, with the exception of her, Jeanist, and those from Hawks’ agency. Mockingjay was doing a good enough job keeping the agency— jokingly nicknamed “the Kettle” by its occupants— running, but as a mostly underground hero, she was never one for the spotlight. That left the publicity on Miruko’s shoulders since there was no way in hell she was letting Hawks’ agency fall under while he was gone.
“Rumi...” Miruko stiffened at the use of her civilian name. Jeanist noticed her tense posture but kept speaking. “Hawks went missing in early April of last year. The Sport’s Festival is in a couple weeks. It hasn’t been months; it’s been more than a year. You’ve been running yourself into the ground trying to find Hawks, and keep your and his agencies up and running. You went up in the rankings, from seventh to fifth, because you’ve been doing so much, but I don’t think that’s healthy. Hawks wouldn’t want you to go on like this.” Dark eyes studied her knowingly and she spotted a hint of a wistful smile peek from behind his high collar. “You know how he is about relaxing. Maybe you should take some time off to get your head together.”
“What part of “I’m not resting” do you not understand?” Miruko said with less fire than she intended. Her ears quivered and she slumped. "Hawks is missing because I screwed up. I spent our last conversation teasing him instead of asking what forest he was in, or how far away he was from the city, or anything useful we could use to locate him. I broke one of the golden rules of working with a team and didn’t keep track of my teammate. So I lost him."
“You shouldn’t blame—”
Jeanist seemed to understand Miruko did not want to hear it so he wisely didn’t. Instead he sat across from her, perching on the edge of the chair with his legs crossed. "We've questioned suspects. We’ve searched nearby forests as best we could. We’ve put up missing posters with rewards for information. We’ve sent out our best trackers. All Might himself went looking." Jeanist hesitated, then put a hand on her shoulder. “Miruko, I’m sorry. But I don’t think there’s more we can do.”
“You’re asking me to give up on finding my best friend.” Miruko stated coolly.
Jeanist had the decency to wince. “I’m asking you to take a breather. Just for a couple weeks. Stay at home, sleep, eat, watch the Festival that’s coming up—”
"My best friend is missing and you want me to watch the Sports Festival?" Miruko asked flatly.
“You need a break.” Jeanist enunciated. His posture shifted, growing stern, and Miruko was reminded she was speaking with the Number Four Ranked Hero. “Don’t make me order you.”
But how long will he be Number Four with Hawks missing? The only reason Hawks is still Number Three is because he’s so popular and his agency… Miruko shoved those thoughts far, far away into the back of her mind.
“You can try to order me.” she said mutinously.
“Or I’ll watch the Festival with you to make sure you stay put.” Jeanist retorted mildly.
Miruko’s scowl faded away and she sighed. “This is why I hate working with people.”
“And here I thought you’d be used to it by now.” Jeanist said. He rose from his seat. “I’ll be back the day the Festival starts. And if those bags I see under your eyes are still there by then, I will be severely disappointed.”
“Oh no. Not disappointed.” Miruko intoned dully. She remained in her seat and flapped a hand. “Go. Find someone else to mother hen.”
Jeanist chuckled but obediently headed towards the door. He paused just inside the door frame, one hand laid lightly on the knob. “I’m not giving up on Hawks, Rumi. None of us are. We’ll find him.”
He left before Miruko could reply. She stared at the closed door for a few minutes and slouched in her chair, dragging her hands over her tired eyes. Her red eyes unwillingly drifted to a picture on the wall. Her and Hawks’ grinning faces looked back at her, his fingers poised in a peace sign while hers gave him his own set of bunny ears. The picture had been taken only a few years ago when Hawks was nineteen, but to Miruko it felt like a different lifetime.
“You’re going to get an earful when we find you, Hawks.” she whispered. “For making me worry like this...”