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A Reckless Vigilante and his Supportive Mother

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“Izuku? How are you feeling?” Inko asks, tentatively. They’d spent the night in the hospital after the villain attack, just to be safe. Izuku refuses to talk about it. He hardly talks about anything really. Without his stream of consciousness muttering, everything is eerily quiet in the sterile hospital room.

“I’m fine. I just want to go home.”

He won’t meet her eyes. Izuku’s eyes always look too big for his face when he isn’t smiling. They’re  wide pits, voids sucking all the warmth out of the room. Something is very wrong. Izuku has always tried to hide his hardships from her, but she knows. She knows about the burns and scrapes and his charred belongings. She knows he doesn’t have any real friends despite the fact that he’s goodness personified. Even still, Izuku has always had an unbreakable spirit. He never stops smiling. Just like All Might.

“Honey, please. I can’t help if I don’t know what’s wrong.”

“I don’t want to talk right now. I just… need some time to think,” he mumbles. His voice  never sounded so weary. 

She expected him to be over the moon about this. He was saved by his favorite hero! What could possibly have happened to make him this upset?

She ponders this the entire way home, sneaking subtle glances at her stoic son. The cab is silent and stifling. Izuku is sitting next to her, but he feels light years away. Guilt rushes over her when she recalls what she said that night a decade ago, I’m so sorry, Izuku!

 

Izuku takes two more days off school, though he insists that he’s fine. Physically, there’s nothing wrong with him, but the emotional exhaustion of that day is like a boulder atop his shoulders, visibly weighing him down. When he isn’t shut up in his room with the door locked, he walks around with a hunch, his head low, and his eyes hidden beneath his curls. It makes Inko worry, and worry and worry.

 

“Hisashi, I don’t know what to do. He’s never been like this before. I’m so worried, but nothing I say helps.” Inko speaks to the father of her child via their ancient landline, twirling and untwirling the cord around her finger. They only had the landline because it was the only way to get through to I-Island, something about registered numbers and tracing phone calls and high level security. She thought it strange, but having the phone cord to distract her was a godsend. Her sleek, small cell phone just didn’t offer anything remotely as comforting as the tangled cord.

“He’s a teenager. I’m sure it’ll pass. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’ll open up when he’s ready.”

“But— I don’t know. I can’t explain it, but something is wrong. I can feel it. Can’t you come visit him for a while? It’s been so long and I could really use some help.”

“Inko,” he starts, clearing his throat, “I don’t doubt your… motherly intuition, but I can’t come back right now. I-Expo is coming up and maintaining security is a nightmare. I’ll call Izuku when our time zones match up and do what I can from here.”

“Sometimes I really hate your job.” She unwinds the phone cord again. If it weren’t for his job, they might still be married. If it weren’t for his job, she wouldn’t have had to raise Izuku almost entirely on her own. Child support and monthly phone calls can only do so much. Their marriage is long over, but the mutual love for their son keeps them amicable.

“I do too. After the expo I’ll spend a whole week in Japan. Everything will be alright.”

He says “a whole week” like it means anything, she thinks uncharitably. A whole week is nothing compared to ten years alone.

“Don’t forget to call him. He...he hasn’t done much lately, so he shouldn’t be too busy to talk.”

“I won’t forget. Kiss him goodnight for me.”

“It’s eight in the morning, Hisashi. He just left for school.”

“Oh, right. Well, have a good day. And try not to worry so much.”

She hangs up without a goodbye. She’s just so frustrated! And lost. And so utterly worried about her son. And having the day off from the hospital only makes it worse. Craving distraction, she busies herself cleaning the apartment.

 

The days he spends at home following the attack somehow manage to drag on and speed by all at once. He remembers things in fits and starts. He remembers carefully taking down his All Might posters. He wanted to sleep, but he refused to sleep in the same room as a thousand mocking All Might smiles. Once his walls are as bare as his soul feels, he crawls into bed, burying himself under quilts and pillows, desperate for comfort. He’s desperate to get away from the jeering voices in his head, the same ones that have followed him around his entire life, the same ones he never really listened to until now. The loudest among them is the deep, booming voice of a hero. He says the same things all the other voices have said at one point or another, but they cut so much deeper coming from him.

What am I going to do now?

 

School is hell. It’s hardly any different than it’s always been, but now it feels monotonous, passing by with an aching slowness he couldn’t speed up if he tried. Izuku realizes that it’s always been like this. He’s the one that’s different. Because now he has no lofty dream to distract himself from the present. No hero notebook to fill with nonsense, no wide smile to ward off his classmates’ cruelty. He’s an empty chasm. He’d do anything to rid himself of the feeling.

All he’s ever wanted to do is help people. He thinks of all the heroes he met a few days ago and how none of them really helped him in any way. Yes, All Might saved him from death by suffocation, but if he’s being honest he still feels like he’s suffocating. Like All Might himself has a vice grip on his vital organs and he’s draining the life from Izuku ever so slowly. He supposed words hurt just as much as villain attacks. Izuku hasn’t had a full breath since that moment on the rooftop.

And despite that, he did give Kacchan the chance to breathe, if only for a second. He’d never felt anything like that rush of adrenaline he’d felt running headlong into danger, and knowing he made even a small difference made it all worthwhile. And then the heroes yelled at him. Just about every encounter he’s had with heroes has ended unpleasantly. And then there’s Kacchan. He’s wanted to be a hero for as long as Izuku has, and they haven’t had a pleasant encounter since they were about three years old. If he thinks about it, heroes haven’t been the paragon of justice he always thought they were. So, maybe he doesn’t want to be a hero.

But if he wasn’t a hero, how could he ever hope to chase that feeling again? Is that what his mom felt every time she saved a life at the hospital? Do cops ever get that rush of satisfaction?

Izuku needs to know that feeling again. He just doesn’t know where to start looking.

 

Izuku’s never put much stock into destiny or divine intervention or whatever one would call it, but on his walk home from school he gets exactly what he needs. His walk is slow and without any urgency. He’s barely paying attention when suddenly he feels a gust of wind shoot past him.

A guy in an alarmingly shabby All Might limited edition hoodie is skating past him on all fours. It’s an odd, slightly off-putting sight. He watches as the guy comes to a stop next to a woman, and he holds up what looks to be a wallet.

“You dropped this, miss!”

“Oh, thanks Cruller Man.” She smiles, but is quick to dismiss him and keep walking.

“Ah, actually, it’s—“

All heads turn when they hear a shriek behind them. There’s an old woman on the ground shrieking about her purse. Izuku immediately goes to help her without much thought. He pays little attention to the man in dark clothes whizzing past him with a pink purse clutched under his arm.

“Are you alright?” Izuku asked her, concerned, as he pulls the woman up gently by her elbow and his efforts are repaid by a smack to his chest.

“Get my purse, boy!” she gripes while wiping dust off her sweater.

“O-oh, okay,” he says. He has no clue how he’s going to chase down the man who stole her purse. Even if he did manage to catch up to him, what would he do? Tackle him?

The boy in the All Might hoodie does just that. It’s by no means coordinated or flashy, and he looks a little ridiculous rolling on the ground trying to pry the purse from the other man’s grasp, but he gets the job done. The old woman shoves Izuku away and she busies herself by whacking both the thief and the hooded boy until they both relinquish her purse.

A small crowd of civilians pervade the scene, laughing goodnaturedly at the bizarre display of heroics that had unfolded before them. Some are even taking videos.

“Cruller Man strikes again!”

“He’s such a nice guy!”

“I thought Cruller Man and Nice Guy were the same person?”

“It’s the Crawler, actually!” The poor guy says as he dusts off his hoodie and massages the growing welt on his forehead.

“Vigilantes are always changing their names. They’ve got no concept of branding.”

The word vigilante runs through Izuku and nestles itself deep inside him.

“A vigilante, huh?” Izuku says to no one in particular. He feels like he’s just found the answer to all his problems. Midoriya Izuku has plans to make.

 

Inko iss just waking up from a nap when the front door bursts open. She jumps at the thud the door makes against the opposite wall.

“Izuku, what’s the rush?” she exclaims, hand on her heart.

“Mom! I just saw the strangest thing. I’ll be in my room!” Izuku sprints past her with the same buzzing, frenetic energy he once had. His week-long slump has, apparently, abruptly ended. She thinks back to Hisashi’s words when they’d last spoken, that he was a teenager in a moody phase. She wants to concede, to say he was right, and write off Izuku’s strange behavior as a one-time occurrence. Ultimately, she can’t. She knows her son. She certainly knows him better than Hisashi does. Izuku was broken before. She just couldn’t imagine what it would take to break him, and she couldn’t figure out what it would take to help him bounce back.

She was still worried, but above all, she was thankful he was smiling again.

Chapter Text

“Mom, you know how to sew right?” Izuku comes out of his room with the ghost of an idea in his eyes. He gets the same look when he’s spent way too much time theorizing about a hero’s Quirk instead of sleeping. Still, there’s light and life in his eyes and she’ll be damned if she lets them go dormant again.

“I’m better at knitting,” she says, turning back to the bubbling curry on the stove.

“But you could teach me to sew? Do you still have your old machine?”

Inko nods, a small smile on her lips. He’s picking up hobbies. That’s good, right?

“It’s in the hall closet. I’ll show you after dinner. Can you set the table?”

As promised, after dinner, Inko teaches him the basics, like how to thread the needle and set the bobbin, and what settings work best with certain fabrics. He takes the information in hungrily. Every word that falls from her lips is written in a new notebook. It’s titled #1. She wants to ask about it, but she figures he’ll tell her when he’s ready.

 

A few days later, Izuku comes home from the library with three new books: Your Sewing Machine and You, Sewing for Dummies, and Design on a Budget.

“Are you going to make your own clothes?” she asks when her curiosity gets the better of her. Izuku’s had his nose buried in Design on a Budget since he got home from school. It’s an odd hobby for Izuku to take up, and he’s never been overly concerned with his clothes. His closet is comprised of bargain jeans and gym shorts, graphic tees and All Might sweatshirts.

“Something like that,” he mumbles. Inko furrows her brows. That answer only made her more curious. She suppresses a sigh and goes to kiss his bushy hair.

“I’m off to work then, honey. Don’t read so much that you forget to do your homework, alright?”

“Yes, mom. Have a good night.” He pulls his head out of the book just long enough to smile at her. It’s a small, sweet reassurance to Inko’s overworked nerves.

 

When he’s not reading, he’s on the family computer. He never spent an exorbitant amount of time on it before now—no more than any other teenager this century, but now, it’s nearly constant. He’s out at the library returning books when Inko finds herself opening the browser history. She feels lousy about it. It’s a breach of privacy and trust, but she can’t bring herself to stop. 

She finds that he’s been on eBay constantly. All his All Might merchandise is for sale. Seeing it all neatly catalogued on the site—and how much money it’s all going for—it makes her wonder just how much money they’ve wasted on merch over the years. There’s an open bidding war for the most prized and pristine pieces of his collection. She thinks back to the bare walls in Izuku’s room, and how the walls are lighter where there used to be posters. Izuku clammed up when she asked why he’d put it all away.

No matter the reason, the amount of money Izuku stands to make from this venture is… alarming.

 

Once Izuku devoured the sewing books, he comes back with dietary and nutrition guides with titles like Bulking Up Made Quick and Easy and The Hero’s Diet, and a thick dusty book that looks like it weighs more than he does titled A Brief Introduction to Quirk Law and Regulation.

“Quirk laws, huh? Who in their right mind would call this thing brief?” Inko reads some highlighted text over Izuku’s shoulder. It’s a long-winded section about the laws that govern heroes.

 Izuku laughs lightly and rubs the back of his neck.

“I wouldn’t call it brief but it’s definitely useful knowledge, and fascinating to learn about the political climate when the laws were made.”

“Are you considering a career in law?”

“No. It’s just a hobby.”

“You’ve picked up a lot of hobbies lately,” she said, delicately casting a line and fishing for information.

“Well, I’m a renaissance man. The world is my oyster, and other such cliches, you know?” Once again Izuku has managed to answer her and not answer her all at once. When did he get so sassy?

“You’re allergic to shellfish, sweetie.”

“So, the world is trying to kill me. Makes sense.” She rolls her eyes and musses up his hair affectionately.

 

Izuku is different. For the last three months he’s been all over the place, frantically accumulating hobbies and exhausting himself by mastering them. He walks with a determined zeal she hasn’t seen in him since he was about five years old, and a quiet confidence she’s never seen in any member of the Midoriya family. She decides that whatever he’s doing can’t be that bad if he’s got that glint in his eye, so she backs off. It’s not like he was answering her questions anyway.

His room is steadily becoming less cluttered from his boxes of merchandise as more is shipped off to the highest bidder. He spends long hours shut up in his room reading, or he comes home late at night sweaty and tired from working out. She wonders, briefly, if this is his way of gearing up for UA’s hero exam. She wants to ask if he’s still trying to become a hero, but she knows she wouldn’t be able to bear the look of betrayal he’d give her if she asked anything like that, so she stays quiet.

Exercise is good, no matter the reason. He’s fine. He’s healthy!

As much as she wants to let go of her worry, she can’t. On the surface, Izuku is doing well, great, even. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s withholding something important from her.

Weeks later, he comes home with a waiver for her to sign from Hama’s Dojo. She passes by the building every day on her way home from work, so the name on the release waiver is familiar.

“Taekwondo? Isn’t this place pretty expensive?”

“I have the money, don’t worry,” he says, nonchalant as ever as he drinks deeply from his water bottle. He’s covered in sweat and sand and dirt. She wants to ask where he’s been, but she knows he’ll make some silly joke to deflect her questions. Asking her not to worry is like asking a bird not to fly, or a fish not to swim; it's impossible to ask her not to do so. It’s in her nature.

“Honey, did something happen? Are you feeling… unsafe?”

“It’s a dangerous world for a Quirkless kid.” He offers her a placating smile and shoots her some finger guns. Since when is that a thing that he does?

“I’m gonna shower. Do you need help with dinner later?”

Inko shakes her head. She wants to see him happy, so she signs the waiver.

 

He walks out of the bathroom in a towel one day, maybe three months after he started his Taekwondo, and Inko is shocked by the bruises and scrapes on his pale skin. Even more shocking is the toned muscles of his chest and arms and abdomen. He looked lean, wiry, and healthy—and utterly embarrassed by her wide, appraising eyes. He scurries off to his room to put some clothes on. Hama’s dojo must be rough.

She checks the history on the computer again because she’s nosey her son is a secretive little shit. There’s more bidding wars for his merchandise peppered between parkour and freerunning videos on WuTube. She watches the videos of flipping, jumping, running young men and women. She wonders if Izuku can do all this, or if he just likes to watch the videos for entertainment. Then she realizes who she’s thinking about, and comes to the conclusion that he is most definitely spending his free time flipping around and jumping off buildings because of course he is.

“What am I going to do with him?” She sighs.

 

“Have you spoken to your son lately?” Inko goes into the conversation full force because she knows Hisashi never called and giving him a stern scolding always makes her feel better.

“Ah, it’s been busy here. We talked a little after his accident.”

“Do you, just, I don’t know, conveniently forget you have a family as soon as you hang up the phone?”

She can almost feel Hisashi wince on the other end of the line. She’s been so frustrated with everything happening with Izuku, she can’t find it in herself to feel bad for Hisashi.

“That’s not fair, Inko.”

Not fair my ass, she thinks.

“We’re not talking about fair. You really don’t want to get me started on what’s fair. We’re talking about your family. I need you to pull your weight over here.”

“Is he still acting… off?”

“So, you did notice it.”

“Of course I noticed. I could barely get him to do more than breathe into the phone. I’m really not the shitty father you make me out to be.”

“I don’t think you’re a shitty father,” she says, an edge of remorse coloring her voice. Absent, yes, but not shitty.

Hisashi seemed placated by her words, so he pressed on. “So he’s still acting strange?”

Inko thought for a moment, choosing her words carefully so her valid concern wouldn’t be mistaken for paranoia.

“I wouldn’t say strange. Just different. He keeps coming home with these new hobbies. And he’s selling all of his hero merch.”

“Even his All Might collection?”

Especially his All Might collection,” she said, a little gravely. Hisashi lets out a low whistle, and Inko’s not quite sure what she’s supposed to do with that.

“Well, maybe he’s just growing up. Maybe he’s trying to find a new, attainable goal.”

“Like Quirk law? Or fashion design? Can you really see our son doing anything in those fields?”

“Wait, what,” Hisashi says, too deadpan of a delivery to really be a question. She waits for him to speak again.

“I mean, maybe law—he’s whip smart and loves to exploit a loophole—but fashion design? Doesn’t he wear cargo shorts?”

“And graphic tees that say tuxedo on them. The boy is a walking fashion disaster. But almost every night for a month, he locked himself in his room and all I could hear was the sewing machine going for hours.”

“Hmm, that is strange. Have you asked him about it?”

“Of course I have. He’s evasive at best and sarcastic at worst. He’s never kept something from me and it’s really freaking me out.”

“Well, he is a—“

“If you say he’s just a teenager as an excuse one more time, I’m going to snap,” she says, as calmly as possible.

“Alright, I won’t say it. I’ll call him tomorrow night. Anything else I should know?”

“He’s exercising.”

“Well, that doesn’t seem so bad. We should be supportive and optimistic,” Hisashi says loftily. She wants to tell him that there’s a difference between being optimistic and being blissfully ignorant.

“On the surface, it’s lovely. But he’s doing taekwondo, and parkour, and freerunning. He’s covered in bruises. I just keep picturing him flying off a roof and flipping over dumpsters and breaking every bone in his body .”

“Okay, Okay. I’ll talk to him about it. You just relax.”

“I haven’t relaxed in fourteen years,” she says, world weary and actively trying to loosen her tense muscles.

“Now is a great time to start. I’ll start putting in for time off, so you can take a break.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it. But thanks, Hisashi.”

“Get some rest, Inko. You deserve it.”

 

BONUS

Izuku hangs up the other landline in the guest room when he’s sure both his parents are gone. He smiles, and it’s a small, secret thing. He wants to be just the slightest bit upset about his parents casually roasting his fashion sense, but he’s just too relieved to know neither of them suspect a thing.

He feels bad about worrying his mom, but that’s what she gets for snooping. Maybe he’ll do something to make up for it. A spa day or a nice dinner.

He moves silently through the house until he’s in his own bedroom. Minutes later his mom knocks on the door and pokes her head inside.

“I’m heading to bed, Izuku. I love you.”

“Love you, too, Mom.” He smiles and yawns for effect. “I’ll probably go to sleep soon too.”

She smiles and closes his door. He can hear her pad into her room, and the faintest squeak of springs as she lays down.

Izuku waits thirty quiet minutes before he puts on his costume and slides out the window.

Chapter Text

Koichi walks through a part of Musutafu he’s not entirely familiar with, alternating between looking at the map on his phone and the street signs around him. He won an old limited edition All Might hoodie on eBay, and since no delivery service has ever been able to find his apartment, the seller agreed to meet him in a nearby park. He’s excited to finally replace the only jacket missing from his collection. He paid an ungodly amount for it, but it would be totally worth it to have the full collection—as long as Pop doesn’t find out how much he actually spent.

After another ten minutes and a few wrong turns, he finds the park in question. On principle, his head begins a phantom throbbing. The last time he was walking through here, an old lady beat him after he tackled the guy trying to steal her purse. Koichi knows he’s not the smoothest vigilante out there, but that was one of the more embarrassing things that happened to him on the job. The crowd of people taking videos didn’t help either.

Anyway, Koichi messages the seller that he’s arrived and told him he’s wearing an All Might jacket. A few seconds later, he gets a reply. I think I see you. Green hair, gakuran.

A gakuran? Koichi sees a literal child walking toward him, and Koichi remembers why he never bothers with the internet. He feels like a creep, meeting a kid in the park.

“NiceGuy01?”

Koichi nods. Upon taking a closer look, the kid doesn’t look as young as he initially thought. He could be a few years younger than Koichi. The gakuran just threw him off.

“Well, here it is. Thanks for buying.” The boy holds out a paper grocery bag, he can see the bright primary colors of All Might’s signature look. It looks nearly pristine.

“Thanks. The condition’s great.”

“It better be for what you paid for it,” the boy says, a small smile breaking across his face. Koichi takes a step back, ready to leave when the boy speaks again.

“Wait, um, I know I shouldn’t tell you what to do with your jacket, but… well, just don’t wear it when you’re working, alright?”

Koichi blinks. And then blinks again. He’s trying to figure out how the kid recognized him. He’s hardly well-known, and hardly worth remembering. Even if he is wearing an All Might hoodie, it’s not the one he wears when he’s working.

“Uh…” Koichi says, rather eloquently.

“I won’t tell anyone. Just don’t scuff up the jacket, okay? I’m not the biggest All Might fan anymore but the nerd in me can’t bear to have a collector’s item ruined.” He smiles again, bigger, but still a bit hesitant.

Koichi can only nod. What an odd kid, but who’s he to judge? He’s odd too. Koichi starts to walk away again, but the boy’s not done.

“Thanks for all you do, Crawler.”

Koichi turns to give him a small, two fingered salute and a smile. Honestly, he’s just happy he got the name right.

 

Kuroda Asami is watching her grandchildren play on the jungle gym at the park. Save for the green haired boy on the bench beside her, they’re the only ones there. The boy looks a bit too old to be playing at the park. Briefly, she wonders what he could be doing here. She divides her attention between him and her grandkids, who are plodding around in the small sandbox nearby.

The boy unbuttons his gakuran and shoves into his backpack and begins stretching next to the bench. Her curiosity officially piqued, she begins speaking.

“What are you doing?”

The boy jumps and gives a small squeak, looking alarmed, like he’s just been caught doing something naughty.

“Exercising,” he says, and his voice is small and unassuming, just like the rest of him.

“Oh, carry on, I suppose.” She feels a bit bad for harassing the boy. He’s so skittish. When he finishes his stretching, he takes off in a sprint and leaps high enough to grab the bar of the swing set. He does a pull up, then pushes himself up so he’s standing on the bar. He walks back and forth along the bar as if it’s a balance beam. He wobbles every now and then, and once after a particularly precarious save, Asami realizes she’s spent more time worrying over the boy than she’s spent watching her grandkids.

“Boy! What do you think you’re doing?”

The boy squawks, jolted by her outburst, and only just saves himself from falling over. Once he’s regained his balance, he kneels in kiza, as if he’s some ninja.

“Exercising,” he says again. Asami narrows her eyes at his borderline exasperated tone.

“Are you practicing something?” She couldn’t think of any sport—other than gymnastics, but gymnasts tended to practice in gyms—that would require him to walk around on a high beam.

“I’m just practicing my balance.”

“Don’t you have a safer place to practice? Somewhere with floor mats?”

“No, but I promise I’m careful. I hardly ever fall anymore!” He smiles, as if any part of his sentence is reassuring.

“My granddaughter does gymnastics at Okamura’s. It’s not far from here. For the love of god, please go practice breaking your neck somewhere just a little bit safer.”

“Okamura? Like Okamura Hama at the neighborhood dojo?”

“Her husband. Maybe they can cut you a deal. Tell them if they don’t take you, they’ll be responsible for the inevitable heart attack you’re going to give me.” And then she realizes they’re perfect strangers, so she gives her name as well. “Kuroda Asami.”

“Midoriya Izuku! I promise not to give you a heart attack next time!”

Somehow, Asami doesn’t believe him. She begins to dread their next run-in.

 

Takeda Akane was on her daily run, near that trash heap on the beach, when a clatter caught her attention. If she’d remembered her earphones she might’ve been able to ignore the small, dirty child lugging an ancient microwave across the beach. She was more than a little transfixed as the boy puts the microwave down, rips the grate off the back, and starts pulling bits and bobs from it and cackling like some mad scientist.

She picks up her speed, and briefly wonders if she should alert the police about the feral child living in the garbage of Dagobah beach.

 

Middle school passes by in a blur. To anyone who isn’t paying attention Deku is the same. He still keeps his head down and writes in his notebooks between taking notes for class. He’s still the only one who can beat Katsuki’s own test scores every now and then. But to someone who’s paying attention Deku is completely different, and Katsuki is paying attention.

At first it was little things; his notebook no longer says hero analysis for the future , and it no longer number thirteen. It just says #1. Katsuki’d love to get his hands on the notebook to get some insight as to what the nerd thinks he’s doing, but he keeps it guarded, and somehow Deku’s managed to steer clear of Katsuki more often than not.

He no longer flinches when someone is loud or moves too quickly. Katsuki can’t even get Deku to look at him no matter how loud he is. He doesn’t walk with that signature hunch in his shoulders anymore, trying to make himself smaller. Katsuki wants to get in his face and get a good long look at his eyes to try to discern what his deal is. But he never looks Katsuki’s way. He decides it's time to make him look.

“Deku,” he calls after him on their walk home. They always walk home the same way but they never acknowledge each other. Deku looks over his shoulder but doesn’t stop, his stride doesn’t falter for a second. Katsuki finds himself walking faster to catch up to him.

“Don’t ignore me, shitty Deku.”

“What’s wrong?” Deku asks, and it’s clear he’s mostly speaking to humor Katsuki. It rankles him and his snarling frown deepens.

“You’re not training for UA, right? That’s my school.”

“You made that very clear.”

“Well, then what the f—“

Deku cuts him off by putting a hand up, finally pausing his steps and looking Katsuki in the eye when he speaks.

“Bakugo, I’m not going to be a hero. I didn’t even sign up for the test.”

Katsuki would be pissed at being interrupted if he wasn’t so shocked that Deku called him by his family name. Katsuki opens his mouth to speak but words won’t come out. 

“I’ve got to go,” Deku says, hiking up his backpack and jogging into the closest alley. Katsuki regains his composure after a second and moves to follow him.

“I’m not done with you, Deku!” he shouts, but when he turns the corner Deku is nowhere to be found.

 

Dabi lights a cigarette and takes a long drag to keep it burning. His head is pounding and the sun is harsh on his eyes. He doesn’t usually come out this early. People look at him less when it’s dark out, so he rarely goes outside in the daylight. He only came out for more cigarettes.

“Excuse me,” a voice says. Dabi is surprised to see a young boy with a mop of green hair addressing him. He raises an eyebrow. People don’t speak to him, especially not bright eyed, freckle cheeked, sunshiney children.

“Scram, kid.”

“I won’t bother you long. I just need a favor.”

“I’m not the guy to ask.”

“I’ll make it worth your while.” The kid pulls a wad of bills out of his uniform pocket and not so subtlety holds a few out to him.

“Okay, I’m curious. What,” he deadpans, letting the crumpled bill fall into his hand.

“I need you to buy me a taser and a sturdy hunting knife, among other things. I have a list here. Use that money, and then I’ll give you 20,000 yen when you come back.”

“What does a kid like you need with a taser?”

“I was hoping you’d be the type not to ask questions.”

“Tough shit.”

“Self-defense,” the kid says, flippant. “Now will you do it or not?”

“Why me?”

“Because you’re old enough, and scary looking, so no one will waste your time by asking questions. Also, you paid for those cigarettes in mostly coins, so you probably need the cash.”

He had to admit the kid was smart, and ballsy if he had the guts to talk to him. He didn’t carry himself like a rich kid—he’d known plenty of rich kids in his younger days. He wonders how the kid got his hands on that kind of money.

“Fine.” He goes and does as he’s told, grumbling the whole way, but excited to have some much needed cash in his pocket.

 

Izuku is in the shower when Inko gets home. He left his backpack by the door like always, but his keys and what looks like the contents of his pocket are dumped all over the kitchen counter. Inko sets to cleaning it up before she starts dinner.

Among the pocket lint, candy wrappers, and a pair of earphones, was a receipt from a sporting goods store and at least 10,000 yen. She picks up the crumpled receipt, knowing without a doubt that she won't like what she’ll find. The dread in her gut shifts to acceptance as she finds that she’s right. She doesn’t like what she sees.

Knee pads

Elbow pads

Multipurpose hunting knife, 8-in, serrated

Climber’s Grippy Gloves TM

Zip Ties, pack of 40

Zip’s Tiny Taser TM

 

BONUS

“Zip’s Tiny Taser? Why’d you get something so small?!” The kid balks at the pocket sized taser and Dabi almost rips his staples trying not to laugh at the look on his face.

“It’s for you, isn’t it? You’re minuscule.”

“Wha—! I’m perfectly average for my age!”

“You look like a ten year old. What’s a ten year old need with a taser?”

“I told you. Self-defense,” he says primly, crossing his arms. This kid can’t be any older than Shoto, but he’s so much more emotive than Shoto’s ever been. That long dead brotherly instinct that he’s worked so hard to bury over the years rears it ugly head.

“You in trouble or something, kid?”

“No offense, scary edge lord, sir, but my mom always told me not to talk to strangers. Here’s your money. Thanks for your help.” He shoves the roll of yen notes into Dabi’s scarred hands and begins to walk back the way he came.

“Name’s Dabi.” He pulls another cigarette out of his pack and pops it in his mouth. The kid stops and looks back at him over his shoulder, like he’s wrestling with what to do next. Dabi waits patiently, lighting a  cigarette on the end of his fingertip. The movement catches the kid’s eye, and for a second they widen imperceptibly.

“I’m Mikumo.”

“That’s not your real name.”

“You’re one to talk.”

Dabi smirks around his cigarette. He can’t help it.

Chapter Text

Izuku is going on five months as an amateur vigilante, and it’s rough going. His suit is subpar—he made it himself, so he should’ve expected that. It’s little more than tracksuit; however, it’s a much sturdier material than anything he’d be able to get from exercise clothes. He’s also lined it with padding for the likely eventuality than he takes a tumble from a great height. His mask is nothing special, but it fits perfectly around his head. He’d had to remake three times to get it just right, so that none of the material puckered around his head. The large white mesh that covered his eyes looked a little unnerving—and that’s exactly what he was going for. One of his more ingenious additions to his costume came from his gloves. The grippy material on the fingertips of the climber’s gloves he bought worked so well that he went back and bought another pair, absolutely ripped them apart and attached the grippy material to the toes of his shoes. His parkour practice had been exponentially less dangerous since he’d done so.

In the last five months, his body’s take quite the beating. He gets pretty battered up, whether it’s from losing spars at the dojo, eating a faceful of mat at Okamura’s gym, or getting smacked around by small-time villains, Izuku always has at least 5 bruises on him at all times.

But he feels so alive. It’s a steep learning curve but he’s quite literally rolling with the punches, and he’s proud of himself for it. He’s working for the things he wants. It’s not heroism, but it’s something, his own brand of justice.

Izuku checks the small digital watch buried underneath his sleeve. He’s got about thirty minutes to get home before his mom. He thanks his lucky stars that she writes all her shift times on the calendar by their front door. If not for that, she’d have caught him by now. He’s got a clear path of endless rooftops ahead of him. He’d make it home way before his mom—plenty of time for a shower and to methodically hide all his gear. He starts running, and he can’t help the wide smile that breaks across his face. He doesn’t need heroes, or attention, or legitimacy. This was enough. Freedom.

A sharp cry and a grunt breaks his reverie, and then he remembers why he’s running around the rooftops of downtown Musutafu in a homemade jumpsuit.

Izuku’s heart nearly stops when he sees a familiar pink sweater surrounded by two looming figures in the mouth of an alley. Izuku jumps, the only halfway coherent thought bouncing around his head is Mom.

 

Inko barely registers what’s happening before she’s grabbed and pulled into a dead end alley off the main road.

“Empty your bag and maybe we won’t gut you,” a large figure murmurs. Inko notices the knife glinting in the light of a far-off streetlight. She makes a small, strangled sound and the other figure tuts and scolds her.  “No screaming.”

She wants to scream. She’s trying to but she’s too frozen in shock. And then all at once, things seem to slow down, and Inko can think a little more clearly. Slowly, she turns her bag over so everything falls out on the ground around her. One of the thugs kneels down to grab her wallet, and as he does so she throws her bag at woman that’s still standing.

The knife falls with a clatter and Inko tries to run in all the chaos.

“Hey!” The man on the ground grabs her ankle and she falls with a shriek. All she can think is, I’m about to lose my life over a couple tampons and the 3,000 yen in my bag. So not worth it.

And then something falls from the sky.

The thug closest to her crumples in a heap as her green-clad savior lands on the man’s head. The small hero rolls with their momentum and pops up to standing almost instantly.

“Oh god, oh fuck, did I just accidentally kill someone? Ah, holy shit . Wait, no. Don’t panic. Are you okay, ma’am?” The tiny hero’s words fall out in a jumble, and she’d be a shitty mother if she didn’t immediately recognized her son’s specialized brand of frantic mumbling. Did my son just call me ma’am?

She’s about to yell at him for being reckless when the woman she’d thrown her bag at rushes Izuku from behind.

“Behind you!” Inko feels a very unique brand of fear when her son takes a knife in his shoulder blade just before rounding on the last remaining thug and punching her square in the face. She staggers back, but she’s still coming for him. Izuku pulls a pint-sized taser from nowhere and gives her a prolonged zap until she passes out.

“This tiny thing really does pack a deceiving wallop,” he muses to himself before shoving it in a hidden pocket on his hip. He does all this with the knife still sticking out of his back. The nurse in her immediately starts assessing his wound; most of the knife is outside—not a deep wound by any means, but he’ll need stitches.

Once the woman is down, he expertly zip ties her hands and feet before moving on to the man sprawled out in a puddle of the contents of Inko’s purse. She already checked his pulse. He’s alive, her son isn’t death-by-flying-leap murderer. She tells him as such.

“He’s not dead.”

“What a relief!” He zip ties the man the same way he did the woman. “Are you alright?”

His casual tone irks her. After months of worrying herself into an early grave, her anger finally makes an appearance.

“Izuku Midoriya what on earth do you think you’re doing!”

“Midoriya? Wh-who?” He stands and takes a hasty step away from her.

“Honey, you’re a terrible liar. Unfortunately, it runs in the family. Take off the mask.” For as angry as she feels, she’s even more tired. This is the last thing she expected after a ten hours shift.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, ma’am! I’m just your friendly neighborhood— shit.” He winces when the stab wound they both seem to have forgotten about gets jostled when he tried to run away. The knife falls out of his back with a squelch. She’s surprised it hadn’t dislodged sooner.

“Izuku, take off the mask. We’re going back to the hospital.” She finally stands. The contents of her purse are still dispersed all over the mouth of the alley, but she has a patient to treat now.

“No hospitals, concerned citizen!” Izuku starts to back away, but Inko catches his arm, much the same way she used to when he was about five years old, and he was behaving poorly in the grocery store.

“Izuku, I swear to every deity I can think of, if you don’t take off that mask right now I’ll ground you from all vigilante activity for a month.”

She takes off her sweater and presses it to her son’s stab wound. The pink is immediately saturated with blood. Izuku rips off his mask to reveal an incredulous expression.

“What? You’re not gonna try to stop me?” he asks in slack-jawed amazement.

“The only thing I want to stop right now is this bleeding. You need stitches, baby. It’s pretty shallow though. Has this happened before?”

Izuku seems to realize that playing dumb won’t get him anyway. His head drops—he’s avoiding her gaze—and he speaks softly.

“Not this bad.”

She sets to picking her belongings while Izuku calls in an anonymous tip to the police station.

 

She finishes the stitches with a precision Izuku’s never seen before. For all the clumsy falls he’s taken in his life, he’s never seen the extent of her healing prowess. He didn’t even know she had a medical bag in the house.

Izuku is uneasy about this new development. He doesn’t quite know what to do next. He’s imagined what it might be like if she found out about his extracurricular activities. He never expected to run into her on the job, but he couldn’t regret coming to her aid.

He almost laughs when he realizes he’s more scared of his mom taking away his vigilante privileges than all the villains he’s encountered in the last five months.

“So, now that you’re in not bleeding to death, care to explain yourself?”

Izuku winces. He feels as if he’s out at sea without a map, no idea where this is going.

“I guess… what do you want to know?”

“When did you start?”

“About five months ago.”

She nods like she expected that. She busies herself by putting a gauze bandage over his stitches.

“You’re being shockingly cavalier about this, Mom. It’s freaking me out a bit.”

“I’ve been freaking out for five months. It’s almost comforting to know the truth. I just thought you were training for UA. Or you got yourself a boyfriend or something.”

Mom,” he says, cheeks flushing like mad.

“What? I was a kid once too. We’ve all done our fair share of sneaking out. You should be quieter about it though.” She gives him a tired smile.

“So… I can still be a vigilante?”

“It’s not like it’s illegal. You’re Quirkless.”

“That’s what I said!”

“But you can’t keep it secret. I want to know when you leave and where you’re going and if you get hurt you need to come to me. And don’t be reckless.”

Izuku laughed. “That’s my vigilante name. Yamikumo.”

“Why?” she asks, but the way she looks up at the ceiling in exasperation it seems more like she’s asking god.

“A friend of mine calls me that. He thinks my name is Mikumo though.”

“If I ever met this friend, would I approve?”

Izuku just laughs and leans into his mother’s comforting warmth. He feels like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. He could genuinely say without a doubt that he has the coolest mom ever.

 

BONUS

Izuku jumped into a heist gone wrong and may have bitten off more than he can chew. He’s surrounded by three angry individuals with unsavory Mutant Quirks, and all he has to defend himself is his puny little taser.

This is it. This is how it ends.

He has to try not to close his eyes and wait for the killing blow, he wants to see it coming. Instead, he finds himself surrounded by familiar blue flames and he ducks out of the way.

“Mikumo, what the fuck?” Dabi says, and somehow his voice sounds both urgent and incredibly bored.

“Dabi? How’d you know it was me?”

“The only thing tinier than you is that shitty little taser I bought you. Again, what the fuck?”

Izuku shrugs. He has no real defense. He pulls his mask up just enough to show his sheepish smile.

“What are you doing here?”

“Technically, you’re helping me do my job,” Dabi says, a lazy smirk on his face as he kicks a well-done and crispy thief. Izuku starts zip tying the passes out thieves.

“Did I unknowingly help a shady, less-than-legal organization?” Izuku frowns.

“I wouldn’t call nearly getting yourself killed helping, but to each his own.”

Izuku starts to speak when the man he’s zip tying wakes and starts growling. His response is a girlish shriek before he tases the man until he passes out. Izuku stares at his baby taser and then looks at Dabi.

“You know, this tiny thing actually kicks ass.”

“At least one of you does.” Dabi cackles half-heartedly, always mindful of his staples.

“Hey!”

“Seriously, your name should be Yamikumo with how reckless you are.”

Izuku gasps and jumps to his feet, and Dabi’s smirk falls off his face.

“That’s a great idea!”

Dabi looks completely done before lazily walks back the way he came, shaking his head.

Chapter Text

Tsukauchi Naomasa is stressed. For the last couple of months, the police tip line got an anonymous call almost every night. It doesn’t matter if its ten at night or two in the morning, the officer on duty always expects it to be the same mysterious man alerting them to a crime in progress. He always gives clear instructions, and tonight is no different.

“Armed mugging. Two perps. No evident Quirk use.”

He then gave them the cross streets and hung up. At first, the police force was quick in dispatching officers to deal with the crime, but every time they did so, they found only the perpetrators of the crime zip tied in place in various states of beat up or unconscious.

Clearly, they had a vigilante on their hands. They just didn’t know who. Was it Knuckleduster coming out of his long sabbatical? Probably not.

Tsukauchi figures there’s a new vigilante on the scene. Now if only they could keep him on the phone long enough to get a name, or a witness to ID him.

Most of the witnesses he’d interviewed were tight-lipped about the vigilante. It made sense. They were thankful he’d saved them.

Tsukauchi sighs and rubs his temples, silently praying for a break. The phone rings—he’d had the tip line diverted to his office line—and Tsukauchi mentally prepares for the long night ahead.

“Musutafu Police Department, Detective Tsukauchi speaking.”

“Detective, I saw a suspicious character jumping around on the rooftops near my parents’ store,” the young woman says.

“And where is this store?”

The woman tells him, in a rather long-winded and roundabout way, the same cross street the mysterious vigilante called about only an hour before.

“Were they committing any obvious crimes or acting suspiciously? Aside from running on the rooftops, of course.” He pulls a pad of sticky notes closer to him, ready at waiting to take down any pertinent information.

“No, I just saw them running. I don’t know if they’re a villain or a hero, and I figured I should call, just in case,” the woman says, sounding nervous.

“I appreciate it. We received a similar call about an hour ago. Could you describe this person?”

“Well, it was dark. I didn’t get a great look at them, but they were in a black costume, I think. Not very tall, but definitely athletic if they were running like that. I think he was a man, but I could just as easily be wrong. I really wish I could say more, Detective.”

“You’ve done plenty. Thank you, and I urge you to call again in the future if you think of anything else or see them again. We have officers responding nearby, so I assure you, you’re safe.”

Tsukauchi ends the call, and feels no better about the mystery vigilante. He was hoping for a better description. A small man in a black costume. That was next to nothing.



The days following that fateful attempted mugging are quiet. Both Izuku and his mother tiptoe around each other, saying very little of consequence. Izuku hasn’t gone on patrol once since she found out, simply because he didn’t know how to casually mention to her that he was going out to prance around rooftops in the wee hours of the night.

On the third day, his mother finally snaps. She smacks her hands on the dinner table and the plates clank against each other. It’s the most noise they’ve heard in days. Izuku jumps.

“Mom?”

“I can’t take it anymore!”

“Wha—?”

“This is weird. We need to actually talk about this.”

“You haven’t changed your mind, right?”

He’s eternally grateful that she allowed him to continue his vigilantism at all, albeit with some restrictions. She made it clear that if his performance at school suffered she would revoke his privileges, and that he wasn’t allowed to stay out past two AM on school nights. She also gave him a pager, just like the one she used at work, so he could ping her if he needed medical attention.

“Against my better judgement, no, I haven’t. But we can’t just not talk about it.”

“Yeah,” Izuku says, even though he thought they already talked about it. What else was there to say?

“So, talk. If I’m going to be an accomplice, I want to know everything.”

“Okay, like what?”

“Well, I know when you started, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why.”

Something in Izuku’s gut twinged. He’s spent very little time dwelling on that awful day so many months ago. It’s getting easier and easier to distance himself from the fragile, weak boy he’d been. He feels so capable now that the memory of All Might’s words only vaguely sting. He’s afraid to dredge up old feelings by sharing it with his mom, but he couldn’t keep it from her if she specifically asked.

“I met All Might. He saved me from the sludge villain, and I asked him if I could be a hero. He said no,” he says. He tries to keep any and all emotion out of his voice by keeping the story short. His mom is silent for a long time. She looks pained as she pokes at the rice in her bowl. Finally, she looks at him across the table.

“Izuku, I’m really sorry about what I said to you the day we found out you were Quirkless. I’ve felt guilty about it for a long time.”

“Is that why you’re letting me be a vigilante?” The words fell from his lips like word vomit. He said them the exact moment the thought came to his head. He feels guilty when she gives a small, almost imperceptible wince.

“Maybe. Mostly, it’s because I haven’t seen you this happy in years. I forgot what your real smile looked like.”

“I’m really happy, Mom.”

His mom smiles, the beginnings of moisture apparent in her eyes. She dabs at them with the sleeve of her sweater, mindful of the mascara on her lower lashes. She takes a deep breath before speaking again.

“Alright, so the UA hero practical is, what, four months away? What do you need from me to help get you ready?” There’s a fierce determination in her eyes that Izuku has rarely ever seen. He’s utterly befuddled by it.

“I’m not taking the hero practical.”

“What?” Her mouth pops open, a perfect little o. Her eyebrows lift so high they’re almost obscured by her bangs. Something about her shock makes Izuku’s heart lift. It feels like complete and total proof that she believes in him.

“I already got the Support recommendation from Dad. And he’s helped me with my spec inventions a bit.”

The Support recommendation stated that he had to submit blueprints for three inventions to be considered for acceptance. He made three things he desperately wanted for his own costume: a voice modulator, a shock baton, and joint braces that still allowed for a full range of motion. He’d made them too, with parts scavenged from the junk on the beach, but they were all too clunky and rusty to really use.

“Don’t you want to be a hero?”

“I feel like I already am. I don’t need a license,” he says, the picture of nonchalance. His mother purses her lips, displeased.

“Honey, no offense, but have you lost your damn mind?”

Izuku furrows his brows and in favor of injecting some levity into such heavy dinner conversation, he knocks twice on his temple.

“Feels like it's still in there.” He smiles cheekily. His mother rolls her eyes, and hits him with the tired mom stare.

“What?” He asks when those eyes refuse to relent.

“I don’t see how becoming a legal hero can in any way be a bad thing.”

“Well, it’s not like I’m illegally a vigilante. Vigilantism is described specifically under the terms of illegal Quirk use.”

While he was technically correct, and that was a reason, another softer, more fragile part of him refused to tell her the real reason: he didn’t want to be constantly undermined and underestimated. He’s had enough of that from authority figures to last a lifetime. At least he knows he’ll do well in Support. He’s practically Support royalty. And maybe his dad would visit more if they could gush over inventions and share ideas—maybe he’d be excited to talk to him more than once a month.

“You could still be arrested for assault and battery,” she says, and he pictures her popping the balloon of his idealism with the delicate thrust of a needle.

“They have to catch me first.” Izuku grins again, impish this time. He never knew he had so many different smiles. They felt like weapons in an arsenal.

“Wipe that grin off your face. I’m loving this new confidence, but don’t get cocky.”

“Me, cocky? Never,” he says, pretending to clutch his pearls in scandalous fashion.

 

“Evening, officer,” the vigilante says casually as he finishes zip tying a man to a drainpipe. His voice is deep and strained, like he's trying to distort it.

“Hands on your head. Don’t move,” Sansa says. His hands are steady on the cool metal of his gun as he surveys the man before him. He doesn’t appear to be holding any weapons.

This is the first time anyone on the force has been close enough to ID the man. Well, not quite  ID. He’s wearing a mask and every inch of him is covered in black and green fabric. He has no distinguishing features, aside from his short stature.

“I’d prefer not to be arrested tonight.” The man starts to stand and Sansa clicks the safety off. He’s never actually fired his gun outside of the range.

“I said don’t move! What do you think you’re doing?”

“Just dispensing justice. Did you get the witness’s statement? I don’t want attempted rapists walking free because you failed to get a statement to convict him.”

“You call this justice? That man’s teeth are on the other side of the alley.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little unfair to criticize me for being violent when you’re pointing a gun at me?” The mask he wears shows no expression, just wide, white pits where his eyes should be.

“I’m authorized to use this,” Sansa says. He wonders why he’s even talking to this person. Probably because he really doesn’t want to shoot him for saving a woman’s life, though it’s fairly clear that he won’t come quietly. His chest feels cold as he over thinks his dilemma.

“Okay, but hear me out! What if you weren’t? And you were trying to do a good thing, and you saved someone from a lot of emotional and physical trauma? Do you think you’d deserve to be punished?”

Sansa is confused and only half listening to the man’s words because the cadence of his voice keeps shifting, and every now and then he can hear its high lilt amid the gruff, forced distortion. Sansa takes a moment to wonder how he’d gone so quickly from a quiet nightly patrol to being preached at by a vigilante.

And then the smoke bomb detonates.

Amid his wracking cough, he hears the vigilante giggle .

“Gotta blast!” The high voice comes from somewhere on the other side of the smoke. When it clears and Sansa can breathe again, there’s no sign of the vigilante.

Tsukauchi is not going to be happy about this.

 

BONUS

Inko sits on the couch and waits for Izuku. He told her he’d be home before her, so naturally she’s worried. She knows she’s a little too keyed up when her cell phone buzzes in her pocket and it elicits a small shriek from her. She fumbles to answer it.

“Izuku?”

“Mom! I was just held at gunpoint!”

“What! Did you get shot? Are you okay?”

“Nope! Anyway, I was so badass! I totally called that officer’s bluff. I practically moonwalked out of there. You should’ve seen me!”

“Honey, if I’d have seen you I would’ve had a stroke. Come home so I can ground you for being an idiot.”

“Wha—!”

“One week. No more armed standoffs, I mean it.”

“But,” he starts, but Inko cut him off.

“I’ll make it two if you’re not home in the next fifteen minutes.”

She ends the call before he has a chance to respond.

Chapter Text

Izuku left for a quick patrol downtown about an hour ago, and Inko doesn’t quite know what to do with herself. It’s an odd feeling knowing her son is throwing himself into brawls every chance he gets. It’s even more odd when she has nothing to occupy her time. Usually, he patrols when she’s at work. It’s almost funny the way it happens.

“I’m heading to work, honey. Have a good night.”

“I’m out, too! Probably just for a few hours around the neighborhood,” Izuku said, fumbling with the green utility belt he was testing out that night. She gave him a peck on the temple.

“That belt is going to be too bulky for you. Don’t forget about your homework. See you in the morning.”

And then she would leave through the front door while her son gracefully climbed out the window and down the conveniently placed fire escape.

Tonight, however, he left out the window and she remained on the couch. It was too early to reasonably go to bed, the sun had barely set, so she was trying to catch up on her favorite drama. She’s so bored, and barely listening to the lovers’ quarrel happening on the TV.

Her skin feels like it’s buzzing with untapped energy. She stands and starts stretching to alleviate the feeling. It’s not unpleasant, pulling on her hamstrings and stretching slowly up to her full height. When was the last time she exercised?

Nursing keeps her on her feet, but it’s hardly a substitute for a work out. She remembers when she was younger, when being thin was just part of being a good wife. When Hisashi took his job overseas, she stopped caring about how she looked, and that was compounded by the stress of finding out her son was Quirkless. Stress-eating became a favorite pass-time of hers.

She wants to laugh at her younger self for not thinking of herself. She could never regret doing anything for Izuku, but living her life solely for Hisashi’s happiness seems ludicrous now. She thinks for a moment, as she stretches this way and that, of how happy Izuku is now. He took matters into his own hands, and now he seems to glow with an inner peace she envies. Maybe she’ll accompany him on his morning runs, or perhaps she’ll finally go to Tai Chi in the park with all the other old maids and grannies. Maybe it’s time for Inko to take her life into her own hands as well, and do something for herself for a change.

 

It’s a quiet night in Musutafu, and Izuku’s trying not to be disappointed by that. He should be happy there’s no one to save, no crimes being committed. He takes a deep breath and seats himself on a tall ledge. Looking down on the world from rooftops never gets old. It provides the perfect amount of relaxation and adrenaline. It clears his head, and he feels special knowing that so few people get to see the city from this vantage point. He feels an easy peace he’s entirely unfamiliar with. He’s not used to things going his way. School is still an unfortunate necessity, but he doesn’t feel under siege anymore when his classmates pick on him. He finds their insults don’t stick because he knows what he’s capable of. He’d be lying if he said that Kacchan’s words don’t sting still, but Izuku knows better than to expect anything from him. He used to crave Kacchan’s approval, or the Kacchan equivalent of it, which probably amounted to an insult-free day. Now, he couldn’t help but think of Kacchan as an incredibly sad, petty person, and he’d be damned if he was going to let him rain on his parade of personal growth. Izuku stands, decides he’s had a long enough break, and goes looking for trouble.

 

He didn’t find much. The most he’d done in his three hour patrol was help a little girl find her mother. He found her on the outer edges of some block party, crying into a stuffed rabbit. He approached slowly, hoping his mask didn’t scare her too much.

“Hi, are you lost?”

The little girl jumps, clutching her plush even tighter, and Izuku kneels down so as not to loom over her.

“Are your parents nearby?”

“I don’t know where my mom is,” she says, sniffling.

“Well, at least you have your rabbit. What’s his name?”

“Her name is Usagi,” she says primly, stroking its ears.

“Well, she’s lovely. Where’s the last place your saw your mom?”

“When we got takoyaki. Who are you? You don’t look like a hero.”

“I’m your friendly neighborhood Yamikumo. You can call me Yami, though,” Izuku says, looking around for any frantic parents. He sees a promising sign for a takoyaki stand not too far away. He’s sure her mom is somewhere over there.

“I think I might know where your mom is. Would you follow me?”

“Mom said not to talk to strangers.”

“Of course, you shouldn’t! I promise if you walk towards that sign, your mom will be nearby.”

The little girl nods, a bit tentative, and starts toward the takoyaki stand. Izuku skulks around nearby, a silent guardian over the lost little girl. A  woman, who admittedly looks a lot like the little girl, wraps her in a frantic hug, and Izuku lets out a long, relieved sigh. He decides to call it quits for one night. There’s no point in hanging around on such a quiet night.

 

The next morning, Inko wakes up in high spirits. She goes about her day, business as usual—cooking breakfast and making coffee. Izuku didn’t stay out too late last night, so he should be up soon. She turns on the TV for some background noise and gets to cooking. She’s whisking eggs when Izuku emerges from his room, hair especially disheveled.

“Morning,” he mumbles sleepily.

“Morning, sweetheart. How was your patrol?”

“Quiet.” He sounds almost disappointed, and Inko can’t help but roll her eyes a bit.

“That’s good, right?”

He nods, too busy yawning to give a verbal response. Izuku sits on the couch and changes the channel to his favorite hero news network, nestling into the corner of the couch. She thinks he’ll probably fall asleep again as she pours the scrambled eggs into a pan, lightly seasoning them. She drops her spatula when Izuku squeaks.

She looks over, and he looks much more alert than before, his eyes wide and his hands over his mouth in shock.

“What is it?”

“They said my name!”

“What?” She wipes her hands on a dish towel, waiting for her son to use his words.

“They said Yamikumo! I’m on the news! Oh my god.”

Inko abandons the half cooked omelet on the stove to get a look at the TV. The smartly dressed newscaster holds a large microphone to her face. She stands in front of the Musutafu police station, her eyes shining with an edgy ferocity, a predator hunting for a good sound byte.

“Police finally have a name to ascribe to the masked vigilante that’s been quietly working in the shadows of Musutafu. In recent months, the brawler, Yamikumo, has assisted law enforcement in the take down of petty criminals and small-time villains. I’m here with Officer Tamakawa Sansa, one of the few officers on the force who’s seen Yamikumo with his own eyes. Officer, is this vigilante a friend or foe? Are the people safe?”

“I believe it’s best not to sensationalize him by giving him a name and a title. The bottom line here is that Yamikumo is illegally using his Quirk to assault people. He’s not a hero, he’s a criminal himself.”

Inko frowns at the man with a feline Quirk. He’s not entirely wrong, but she’s too invested in Izuku to not feel personally offended by hearing him call her son a criminal.

“Do you have any leads on his identity? Or perhaps, his Quirk?”

“We can’t discuss open cases with the public, but we urge anyone with information to come forward. Vigilantism is a serious offense,” he says, and Inko immediately recognizes the double-talk, the art of answering a question without actually saying anything of note. In short, political bullshit. They’ve got nothing. If they did, they wouldn’t say anything about Yamikumo using a Quirk. Inko feels giddy, like she’s getting away with something.

“Hah! They’ve got nothing. That’s the officer that almost shot me.”

“Can we please not make a habit of nonchalantly referencing all the times you’ve been threatened with deadly force? This is serious, Izuku.”

“Sorry. Don’t worry, though, Mom. They think I have a Quirk. It’ll be really hard to find me in a Quirk Registry,” he says, a sly smile playing across his face.

“I know. Still, maybe you should lay low for a bit.”

Izuku doesn’t say anything, so she goes back to making breakfast. She fears that determined look in his eye. She can almost hear the gears turning in his head. Inko can almost guarantee that Izuku will do just the opposite of laying low.

 

“Don’t you want to be famous?” Dabi asks, thumbing through his phone on the other side of the couch. Every now and then, he shows him an opinion piece on the rise of the newest vigilante.

It’s surreal, this quasi-friendship he’s formed with Dabi. They know almost nothing about each other, and yet, he’s probably the only person he can really talk to about being Yamikumo. His mother knows, of course, but if she knew every gory detail, she might lock him in his room and ground him for the rest of his existence.

He’s supportive too, which is odd, given how standoffish he was when they first met. Dabi is obsessed with the world of heroes and villains, but he’s not a fan. He’s more like a political protester, an anarchist, always criticizing the evils the current system creates.

“Not really,” Izuku says, picking at a cold piece of pizza he looted from the fridge. It was exciting to be mentioned on the news, but they called him a criminal. They accused his of assaulting people. That wasn’t the image he wanted Yamikumo to carry.

“That’s stupid. If you want to change things you need a platform, and to have a platform you need recognition.”

“Dabi, that’s not… I’m not—“ He pauses, frustrated. “Nobody listens to me.”

“Because no one knows your name.” Dabi has a way of disregarding Izuku’s emotion and cutting straight to the core of things.

“You don’t even know my name.”

“I know Yami. I know you’re a good kid trying to work the system in your favor. Musutafu wants to know Yami, too.”

“I highly doubt that,” he mumbles, he’s tearing the crust of his pizza to shreds, nervous fingers looking for something to do.

“Why did you become a vigilante in the first place?” Dabi asks, his cold blue eyes staring Izuku down. Sometimes, Izuku wants to tell Dabi everything there is to know about himself, just so he can pick him apart and tell him exactly what he’s made of. Izuku holds his opinion highly because he always tells it like it is. Now, is one of those times. Izuku sits on the cusp of telling Dabi his shitty origin story, trying to anticipate how much to say, and what the fallout will look like.

“Because I can’t be a hero.”

“Why’s that?”

Izuku’s silent for a moment, ripping the bits of pizza crust into even smaller bits. Should he be honest? Should he drop the bomb and see what’s left of their friendship once he knows about Izuku’s greatest shortcoming?

“I’m Quirkless,” he whispers, unable to meet Dabi’s eyes.

“I know,” Dabi says, softly, but not with pity.

“Really?” Izuku’s head shoots up to stare at him, Dabi shrugs.

“It was an educated guess.”

“How’d you know?”

“Because you look like me.”

“That might be the meanest thing you’ve ever said to me, you crispy bitch.” Izuku tosses a mangled piece of pizza crust at him, and it gets stuck in his hair.

“Shut up for a second, I’m about to be profound.”

Izuku rolls his eyes, but waits for Dabi’s words of wisdom.

“I mean you look like someone who’s been beaten down, but you haven’t broken yet. You saw the system, and you said fuck that. Shouldn’t people know about that?”

Maybe they should. Maybe Izuku actually could make a difference with a platform as a spooky, mysterious vigilante.

“What should I do then?”

“Winstagram. Become recognizable.”

“I won’t even give you my phone number, what makes you think I’m going to make an account on a low-security app that’s known for being hacked?”

“Get a burner, or something. I’ll do it on my phone. Let me help you control the narrative,” Dabi says, holding his battered phone up in his hand.

“You want me to Peter Parker myself,” Izuku says, musing on old world hero comics. Spiderman was always his favorite.

“Huh?” Dabi makes a face, like he knows Izuku is about to say something he couldn’t care less about.

“You know, like Peter Parker selling photos of himself as Spiderman,” Izuku says, liking the idea more and more.

“I don’t speak geek.”

Izuku lobs a pillow at his head, but there’s no real force behind it. Kacchan used to tease Izuku for loving heroes and comic books and his general penchant for nerdiness, but Dabi’s words don’t cut like his do. Dabi might be the first real friend he’s had in a long time. And if not a friend, definitely an ally.

 

BONUS

“Hi, Dad,” Izuku says, nervous energy making his voice a bit higher than usual.

“Hey, kiddo. How’s your support portfolio going? Do you think you’re ready for the exam?”

Izuku frowns, it’s nice to finally have a shared interest with his father, but he wishes it wasn’t his dads go-to conversation topic, but maybe he could use it.

“More than ready, but I did have a question.”

“Shoot,” his dad says, and Izuku imagines him smiling on the other side of the world. He hopes he’s smiling. He hopes he likes talking to Izuku.

“Well, I was thinking it would be cool to learn more about everyday tech, not just the niche, hero work stuff. How do you make a phone untraceable?”

Chapter Text

“Is this line really secure?” Inko asks, winding the phone cord around her fingers again. She couldn’t remember the last time she'd ever called Hisashi so much, but then again, neither her life, nor Izuku’s had ever been much to report. Inko is itching to talk about her son’s recent extracurricular activities—and her tacit involvement—with someone.

“Is this about the vigilante thing?” Hisashi blurts and Inko almost drops the phone.

“You knew?” She hissed.

“I figured something was up when he asked me for an untraceable phone, among other things.”

“What other things? How long have you known about this?”

“About a week. I gave him blueprints and prototypes of some basic, modded weapons for him to study. He said he wanted a head-start on the support curriculum, and I knew it was probably a lie—even he’s not that studious—so, I asked him. He folded like a wet napkin, Inko.”

“You gave him weapons?”

“And the phone he asked for. I sent one for you too. It’s tapped into our lines here so you can finally get rid of the landline. I’ve liked talking to you so much lately.”

“But you gave him weapons?” She repeated, shocked. She couldn’t get past that one little detail.

“Would you rather have me send him tested and proven gear, or have him making his own from parts scavenged at the dump?”

Inko hates that he makes a good point. Still, the idea of her son running around with weapons leaves a cold pit in her stomach.

“How do you get away with sending him stuff like that?”

“I put him on the payroll.”

Inko balks. Hisashi was always the calm one in the family. He had a way of casually saying life-altering information as if he was commenting on the weather.

“Excuse me?”

“He’s technically a support student so I passed it off as a paid internship to the testing lab supervisor,” he says, and Inko can practically see him waving his hand in nonchalance.

“They don’t check up on things like that? Like the fact that he’s fourteen, an illegal vigilante, and definitely not a support student?”

“Nah, they didn’t ask any questions when they saw his last name.”

“No guns, right? I’m drawing the line at guns.”

“Nice to know you think so highly of my parenting skills, Inko,” he grumbles. Inko rolls her eyes.

“It’s a valid question, and you know it.”

“No guns. I sent him a small grappling hook with a built-in rigging system, a lightweight Kevlar vest, and some really kickass throwing knives.”

“You just used the phrase kickass throwing knives and you wonder why I question your parenting skills.”

“Fair point,” he says, conceding. Inko sighs. She’s done that a lot lately. She is trying to get used to constantly being pushed to her limits mentally. Every time she gives Izuku one more inch, he takes a mile, and Inko has to race to keep up with him. She thinks of how relieved she is that Hisashi knows too, and laughs lightly. She must be losing her mind because she can’t stop giggling.

“Inko?” Hisashi asks, and she can sense the smile on his lips all the way across the world.

“A wet napkin, huh?” She says it around her heaving little laughs. Hisashi laughs too, and it feels like it used to—when they were still married—laughing at their silly, babbling baby.

“Better hope he never gets caught. I’d hate to see him in an interrogation room.”

“From your mouth to god’s ears.”

 

“Alright, first post! I think I know what I want to do,” Izuku says, rubbing his hands together and psyching himself up. Dabi is fiddling with the new I-Island phone his dad sent last week. It’s sleek and black with red accents and Izuku treats it like the treasure it is. It looks like it probably costs more than anything he’s ever owned.

“Can I get one of these things?” Dabi asks, thumbing through the menu and settings to download Winstagram. The manual the phone came with talked about processing power and highgrade materials and other things Izuku has no idea what to do with. He hopes once he starts his support classes he might have hope of understanding everything his phone his capable of. For now, Winstagram and Fumblr posts will be its main use, along with making his anonymous tips to the station.

“Only if you’re going to be my sidekick.” Izuku smirks, and then remembers that Dabi can’t see his smirk because of his mask.

“Fuck off,” Dabi says, opening the camera app. The camera is absurdly good for cell phone. “Alright, get to it.”

“Okay, hold on. I’ve got to get in position!”

Izuku set up the rigging for his grappling hook the second he got the package in the mail. The rigging lays seamlessly under his suit, fitting into a simple, lightweight harness. The hook is minuscule and shoots out of his sleeve like a dart. He immediately thought of Spiderman’s webbing, and though he wasn’t brave (or graceful) enough to go swinging through the streets on a wire, he had been practicing some moves every now and then.

Izuku shoots the hook out and it swings around a lamp post a few times. Izuku yanks on the wire to test its strength before he sets the rigging to retract and his feet leave the ground. When he’s high up enough and conveniently placed in the intersecting glow of two more lamplights, he hung upside down in an iconic Spiderman pose, the toes of his grippy shoes coming together, the wire between his feet.

“I’m ready!” Izuku says, his muscles straining to hold the pose and blood starting to rush to his head.

“That’s the pose you’re going with?”

“Take the damn picture, Dabi, this is way harder than it looks!” He screeches, thankful there’s no one around to see such a spectacle at this time of night.

Dabi gives him a flat look before positioning the phone in front of his face to click a few pictures. For someone who practically begged Izuku to be able to help out with “controlling the narrative,” he seemed to be a rather lackluster camera man.

“Done. I’ll fuck around with the brightness in a minute. What caption do you want?”

Izuku allows himself to drop the pose and slowly let out the wire until he’s on the ground again. His arms are screaming and he makes a mental note to add more weight training to his workouts. Izuku yanks on the wire to try to loosen it, making a face when it doesn’t budge.

“I want it to say your friendly neighborhood Yamikumo.”

“Is this a nerd thing?” Dabi asks, lifting his eyebrows skeptically as he surveys the mess Izuku has made of the wire.

“Spiderman transcends nerd culture. In the span of two decades in the early 2000’s there were three different live action Spidermans. Educate yourself.”

“Please, stop talking.” Dabi’s head doesn’t lift once, his fingers flying across the screen in a thousand taps per second. Izuku is still lightly yanking on the wire to try to dislodge it from its new home atop the lamp post.

“Alright. I said, ‘How’s it hangin? Your friendly neighborhood Yamikumo is here to stay,’ peace sign emoji, fist emoji, black heart emoji. Good?”

“Since when are you an emoji person?”

“Shut up. It makes you seem lighthearted and relatable.”

Izuku shrugs, but the tension in the wire disrupts the movement. Dabi posts the photo and hands the phone back to Izuku.

“Wait, what's my handle?”

“Yamikumo,” Dabi says simply.

“Really? That was available?”

“Apparently, there aren’t a lot of people in the world who proudly claim the term reckless.”

Izuku chuckles. Those people don’t know what they’re missing.

 

BONUS

Izuku wakes up in the middle of the night because his Yami phone is going ballistic and Izuku hasn’t figured out how to silence it yet.

“What’s going on?” He mumbles, half asleep, hands fumbling for the smooth glass surface of the little noisemaker on his bedside table.

His corneas are immediately seared out of his eyes at the offending brightness on the screen. He shuts his eyes for a moment, trying to will away the big spot on his vision. He tries again to read the screen and immediately shoots up in bed.

He has sixty Winstagram notifications, and they’re still coming. He feels an overwhelming mix of excitement and apprehension. He’s already stressed about becoming a public figure, and managing an account in addition to all the other things he has to do to keep up with being a vigilante. He swipes away the plethora of notifications and a text notification pops up.

Dabi: platform, meet yami. yami, this is platform.

Izuku thumbs a reply, laughing at the whirlwind he feels stirring inside him. This feels like the beginning of something big.

Yami: if you manage the account i’ll get you a yami phone

Dabi: naming things after yourself already? the fame must be getting to your head.

Yami: fuck off

Chapter Text

Katsuki sits at his regular lunch table, feeling uncharacteristically sunny. He feels like everything is falling into place. The entrance exam was last week, and he dominated. He could feel it in his bones, along with the tightness in his joints from the strain of his Quirk. He knew he was the best prospective hero in the testing center, but when the acceptance letter finally came yesterday, it proved that all his hard work and confidence was earned. First place out of a thousand students. This is the first step on his path to being number one.

He’d never smile at school, but this is the closest he’s ever felt to wanting to. The only thing even remotely comparable to knowing he was the best was the knowledge that Deku didn’t show up for the test. He’s finally given up that pipe dream. He’s finally conceded to Katsuki. Katsuki finally won.

Katsuki opens the lid on his bento and digs in to his leftover spicy curry, feeling more on top of the world than usual. Then, as his good mood often does, it all comes crashing down when he sees Deku.

“Leave him alone,” Deku says to some extras from Class D. He didn't say it loud, and he’s not exactly nearby, but Katsuki can hear the dangerous edge in his voice. There’s no warble. There never is when he’s coming to someone’s defense. Katsuki wants to roll his eyes, but he can’t make himself remove his gaze from the scene for even a second.

“Dumb Deku finally grew a spine, huh?”

Deku says nothing, but he stands his ground. The lower classmen he’s defending has already run off, but Deku’s still standing there like an idiot, his hands balled in a fist. Katsuki’s waiting for the show, for the moment when Deku recoils and gets his ass beat for not choosing his battles better. It never comes. It seems like the taller boy barely even moves in Deku’s direction before he sinks low and throws himself at them in a tackle that lays the guy out. The other guy, the one who should probably cut his losses at this point, pulls Deku up by the back of his gakuran, shouting something stupid. He gets a good hit in and Deku’s nose is gushing blood. He goes for another hit, and Deku blocks like its second nature. When did he learn to block? When did he learn to fight back instead of just taking the beating in someone else’s place?

Deku retaliates with a quick efficiency he wouldn’t believe if he wasn’t seeing it himself. Striking like a snake, he punches the guy in the jaw and he goes down to his knees. Deku stands over him, not menacingly though, not in the gloating way people used to stand over Quirkless Deku.

“Don’t dish it out unless you can take it,” Deku says evenly. He holds a hand out to help the kid up, but he bats it away. Deku’s eyes flick over to Katsuki’s, and the cold, steel he sees in them is unnerving. It’s different than any other time he’s ever stood up to Katsuki. It’s more. It’s heady and suffocating and a warning, and if Katsuki was a lesser person he might be put off by it. To Katsuki, it’s a challenge, and Katsuki always rises to a challenge.

Deku wipes his dripping nose off on his sleeve, eyes still locked with Katsuki’s, when a teacher comes and hauls him off, while another tends to the crying students on the floor. Katsuki thinks this may be the first time he feels anything like respect for Deku—it’s the first time he’s ever agreed with him. Don’t dish it out unless you can take it.

 

Izuku wants to regret throwing a punch on school grounds. He wants to regret getting dragged to the principal’s office and getting reamed out. He really does, but he can’t find it in himself to be anything other than proud. He’s still high on the rush of it all. Standing up for himself, for Izuku , not Yami, was exhilarating. He never realized how little his double lives intersected until that moment.

He sits outside the principal’s office, a tissue pressed to his bleeding nostril, waiting for his mom to come get him. Why she has to take time out of her day off to come pick up her delinquent son when he could easily walk home was beyond him. She was going to be so mad, so disappointed. He hates when she says that.

“I’m not mad Izuku, I’m just disappointed.” Like it was a swear word. It drains him, makes he feel like a shriveled up prune.

“Deku.”

Izuku looks up, out of his hazy thoughts, at Kacchan. He looks just as angry as ever, but earlier, when he was watching Izuku at lunch, he saw it, a flicker of grudging respect. It makes Izuku feel dirty knowing he did anything Kacchan respected enough to notice.

“Hi, Bakugo,” he says, dropping the tissue to rest his hands on his lap. He revels in the small jolt of surprise Kacchan does at the sound of his family name coming out of his mouth.

“Why weren’t you at the entrance exam?” Kacchan demands, narrowing his eyes and crossing his arms. Izuku, still feeling a bit high on his display of dominance in the schoolyard, cants his head to the side in obvious confusion.

“Why’s it matter? You told me not to.”

“Obviously you’re training for something. If it’s not UA, then what is it?”

Izuku laughs—actually laughs at Bakugo Katsuki—with zero fear for what might happen. He’s not afraid of Kacchan anymore, even if he couldn’t win against him in a fight right now. Maybe it’s because no matter how angry Kacchan gets, he’s never tried to kill him, or seriously maim him, like all the other criminals he’s captured as Yamikumo. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing Kacchan could do or say to him that he hasn’t before.

“There’s really no pleasing you, is there?” Izuku blurts out, incredulous. Kacchan looks about as taken aback as he ever allows himself to look. It makes Izuku angry.

“What I’m doing is none of your business. We’re not friends, and you’ve never cared before. I don’t want to be a hero.”

“Why the hell not?” Kacchan asks, like the idea of anyone not wanting to be a hero is a personal insult to him. Maybe it is. Izuku finds himself parroting lines from every one of Dabi’s long winded speeches about the evils of the system. He never knew how much he believed in his ideals until he was looking in the eyes of the embodiment of that system: a spoiled bully who’s destined to become a top hero.

“Because heroes uphold a broken system. They’re at the top, and no one at the top actually cares about the people at the bottom of the barrel. If they did, they wouldn’t make a spectacle of arresting them, or—or crush a Quirkless kid’s dreams.”

Izuku didn’t mean to say that, but what’s a truthful confession to someone who probably isn’t listening? Kacchan’s lip curls in disgust.

“You’re pathetic.”

“Then fuck off! Stop wasting your time obsessing over me!”

Kacchan nearly balks, tucking his chin into his neck before shaking it off and standing tall again. He looks like he might be gearing up for a fight, gritting his teeth, his fists shaking at his sides.

“Izuku.” His mother’s voice, usually soft and pleading, sounds absolutely feral right now. It makes Izuku’s stomach drop. He completely forgets about his heated exchange with Kacchan as he looks at her, fire in her eyes.

“We’re going home. Bakugo, I suggest you get to class, and stay away from my son.”

Say what you want about Kacchan—and Izuku could say a lot —but he was always polite to his mother. Kacchan huffs, gives Izuku one last furious glare, and nods at his mother before skulking away.

“Mom, I’m sorry,” he says, trying to get ahead of the thrashing he’s about to get.

“Hush. We’re leaving,” she says, sounding a bit calmer now that Kacchan is gone.

 

The walk home is completely silent, and for the first time ever Izuku wishes they still had a car, just so the silence could be done with that much sooner. The second they make it home and the door is locked behind them, his mom bursts like an emotional balloon, angry tears dripping down her face.

“Suspended for the rest of the week! And it’s going on your record! What were you thinking?”

Izuku wants to be conciliatory. He wants to beg her forgiveness and promise to never make her cry again. Instead, he gets just as emotional, his own little balloon in his chest popping with righteous anger.

“They were bullying some kid! I didn’t start it. I’m just the one who always gets in trouble because I’m the Quirkless scapegoat.”

“Do not. Don’t your dare try to make yourself a victim. I raised you better than that. Take responsibility.”

“I am a victim. Or I was. And I’m sick of it! I’m not going to take it anymore! I’m stronger than that!”

“I won’t allow you to become some...some angry meathead who solves all his problems with his fists!”

“I’m not!”

“I saw you yelling at Bakugo. I heard everything you said. You looked exactly like him.”

That hurt. Izuku isn’t like Bakugo. He doesn’t want to be an angry, entitled bully. He doesn’t want to pick on the weak to feed his ego.

“No more vigilante stuff. No more Yamikumo. It’s done,” she says, firm, her mouth set in a determined pout. Izuku feels like the floor has opened up underneath him.

“No, you can’t. I just started!” He’s panicking now. Yamikumo is too important to let go. He’s just starting to fall into a rhythm. And Dabi! Would Dabi even be his friend anymore if he wasn’t Yami? Dabi doesn’t know Izuku.

“I told you when this started that if it affected your performance at school it was done,” she says, crossing her arms.

“I’m an A student!” Izuku bellows, trying to sound reasonable, but no one sounds reasonable when they’re yelling.

“You won’t be by the end of the week, four days behind on all your assignments.”

“Mom, please. Don’t take this away from me.”

Izuku won’t go back. Sometimes he feels like being Yamikumo is the only thing he enjoys, the only thing that keeps him smiling through his day as Izuku. She turns her head, unable to look at him and his sappy, baby tears, and Izuku knows she won’t budge.

“I want your suit and all your gear. You’re grounded for the duration of your suspension.”

“You’re really going to make me stop?” He wheezes, unable to speak clearly through the fog of his breaking heart and splintering dreams. She sighs, looks forlornly at him.

“I’ll think about it. I need you to think about what you’ve done. You’re going to apologize to those boys, too. I don’t care if they started it. You’re better than that—you’ve always been better than that.”

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, all the fight gone out of him. He feels broken again, like the only thing that kept the pieces of him together all this time was Yamikumo.

“I know you are. Go clean yourself up. Bring me your gear when you’re done.”

Izuku spends far too long in the shower, crying and scrubbing blood from his knuckles. There’s a small bruise forming on his cheek, and it smarts when he washes his face.

When Izuku hands his mom the box of Yami gear—everything but his phone—he feels like his giving the best part of himself away. No one cares about Izuku, except for his mother. Not All Might or Kacchan or Dabi, not even himself. Izuku is a voiceless nobody, a useless, Quirkless waste. Yamikumo is somebody. Yamikumo has three hundred followers on Winstagram from one post, and twice as many comments. Yamikumo has a friend and a life and a purpose. What does Izuku have other than Yamikumo?

 

BONUS

Katsuki spends the rest of the day in a state of mild shock. Deku doesn’t want to be a hero. Deku told him to fuck off. Deku went off on a tangent about the “broken system.” He knew Deku was different, undergoing some odd, subtle metamorphosis. He’s secretive and sly and now he’s been suspended for fighting—which even Katsuki can recognize as ludicrous. He can’t remember the teachers ever giving a shit about kid’s fighting when Deku was on the receiving end.

Katsuki doesn’t care, not exactly. He doesn’t want to put stock in Deku’s rant. And he’s not obsessed. Deku’s the one who was obsessed with Katsuki, always hanging on him and running after him, trying to slow him down. Katsuki’s doesn’t care and he’s not obsessed, but Deku is up to something and Katsuki is going to find out what it is.

Chapter Text

“Suspended for fighting? That doesn’t sound like Izuku,” Hisashi says on the other line, for once affecting the tone of a concerned parent.

“I know. I know he’s not like that and I still freaked out on him. We had a huge fight and I grounded him. Took his gear and everything.”

There’s a pause on the other line, some shifting papers and a squeaking chair. Inko can feel how uncomfortable he is.

“Well, that doesn’t sound like you,” he says finally. “What happened?”

“His school is the worst. I spent an hour fighting with the principal—they called him a troublemaker, and I was just so shaken up by it. He wanted to expel him. When I finally talked him down to suspension and I got out of there, Izuku was yelling at Bakugo, and he looked so unlike himself. So angry and bitter and I just… lost it.”

Inko feels bad about that. She regrets jumping down his throat, but she doesn’t think she was entirely wrong. That said, she doesn’t think Izuku was entirely wrong for defending himself. He’s strong now, but she doesn’t want him to lord his strength and skill over his tormentors.

“Well, how’s everything now?”

“Quiet,” she mumbles, her mouth a tight line.

“You haven’t talked since?”

“No. He won’t come out of his room. I don’t blame him, honestly.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

“Don’t try to make me feel better. I’m a shitty mother—I tried to be cool about the vigilante thing and it blew up in my face. I just wanted to give you an update, just in case. He still has his phone.”

“I’ll give him a call soon. You two will work this out. And you’re not a shitty mother—everyone makes mistakes. I know I’m not the authority on child-rearing, but I don’t think grounding him was a bad idea. That said, it’s gotta be tough for him.”

Inko nods, even though Hisashi can’t see her, tears welling in her eyes.

 

Inko took the day off after Izuku’s suspension—not because he needed to be watched, but because she didn’t want him to be alone. She hadn’t heard a peep from his room since he relinquished his gear, and it worries her. He hasn’t left left his room to eat or shower, nothing. She pokes her head in around two thirty—two hours past when she knocked on his door and asked if he wanted lunch. She got no response, not even a quiet shuffle of blankets on the other side of the door. All she can see is a small, miserable lump of bedding, the curtains shut tight. She heaves a sigh, and leaves him to sulk.

He’s punishing her, and she’s pissed that it’s working. She’s never been fully on board with the vigilante thing. She sees it as a means to an end—a way for Izuku to build his confidence and keep his smile. She was hoping that he’d give it up after a while, maybe after high school started, with the UA curriculum taking up all his time. She wants Yamikumo to be a phase, but she knows it’s not. Not now that he’s doubled down on his persona and made social media accounts, and his friend—whom she still hasn’t met—has filled his head with radical ideals of changing the world.

She knows that Izuku would never throw a punch unprovoked. She knows he’s a good kid with an even better heart, but he’s changing too fast for her to keep up with him and it’s scaring her. She keeps thinking of his twisted sneer as he yelled at Bakugo about giving up on heroism and his crushed dreams. Inko doesn’t want to crush Izuku’s dreams again, but she doesn’t want him to resent himself like that. To throw around his Quirklessness like it’s an excuse to be violent, to blame the world for undermining him. She wants her son to love himself as much as he loves Yamikumo, and she doesn’t think that’s the case.

A few hours later, after she’s run herself into the ground trying to distract herself from the broken boy holed up in his bedroom, she takes the plunge. She goes into Izuku’s room, after a light knock gone unanswered, and sits herself on the edge of his bed. He stubbornly doesn’t come out of his nest of blankets, so she pulls it off just enough to expose his head. His eyes are big again, unsmiling. He’s pale as a ghost.

“Honey, we need to talk,” she says, her voice soft in the growing dark of his bedroom.

“Can I have my gear back?”

“That’s what I want to talk about.”

Izuku sighs and pulls the covers tighter around his chin. She strokes the soft green curls poking out of his bedding.

“I don’t like the vigilantism. You know that. I tolerate it because you like it and I want you to be happy, but you’re letting it consume you. I’ve never seen you look like that, and it scared me.”

“I’m sorry I yelled at you. I really was just defending myself,” he says softly. He unearths his hand from the blankets just enough to hold hers. She squeezes it gratefully.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you, too. I know you were. I know your classmates suck and your teachers don’t care. I hate them all for ignoring you.”

“I’m used to it,” he says, and Inko nearly does a full body shudder at the defeated tone of his voice.

“That’s not okay. Do you want me to take you out of school? I spent the whole day looking into online programs.”

Izuku shakes his head. They’d had a similar conversation about online schooling options before, and he said the same thing. She regrets listening to him back then, but there’s only a few months left of his middle school career, so she lets it go.

“I just don’t want Yamikumo to get in the way of Izuku. This could affect your shot at UA.”

“Does that mean there’s still a Yamikumo?”

“Come Monday, I’ll give you your gear back, but no more fights at school. If it happens again, we are one hundred percent done. I know it feels like I’m punishing you for the things that others do, but you have to stay above it.”

“It won’t happen again,” he says quickly, some of the light coming back in his eyes. He squeezes her hand and takes a shaky breath. The shine of tears in his eyes makes her own water reluctantly.

“Izuku, you understand that you are Yamikumo, right? Yamikumo is a costume, a shadow puppet on the wall. You make him move, and you’re the one people are following and listening to.”

“It doesn’t feel that way. It feels like Yamikumo is the better version of me—a separate entity.”

“There’s no better version of you.”

Izuku makes a face. “Blech. Too mushy.”

“Oh, hush. I’m serious. I love you, always.”

“I love you too. Thank you.”

 

Izuku’s Yami phone buzzes. It’s Dabi, and Dabi never calls.

“Hello?”

“Oh, thank god. You’re alive!”

“I know I’m alive. What’s up?”

“I’ve texted you like twelve times, dumbass. You didn’t come over last night. We were going to do another Winsta post.” Dabi sounds the slightest bit agitated, and Izuku feels oddly touched by the involuntary show of affection.

“Oh, right. I’m grounded.”

“What?”

“I’m grounded. You know, forbidden from leaving the house? I got suspended from school.”

“Jesus. Sometimes, I forget you’re ten. Sneak out, we need to post while we have momentum.”

“I’m fourteen, asshole,” he snarks.

“That’s hardly relevant.”

“I can’t sneak out. My mom took my suit and all my gear. It’s going to have to wait until Monday.”

“What? Your mom knows you’re Yami?”

“Yeah,” he says, not feeling up to describing the chain of events that lead to such a development.

“That’s…odd.”

“That’s my life. You know, if you want to, you can come over to my house. I have real food here, and a couch that wasn’t stolen from a trash heap.”

“Isn’t that against your rules?”

Izuku pauses. Typically, yes, this goes against the rules he set to keep Yami and Izuku separate from Dabi, but his mother’s words ring in his head. He is Yami. By circular reasoning, doesn’t that mean that Dabi is also his friend?

“Do you think you’d still be my friend if I wasn’t a vigilante?”

“Who says we’re friends now?”

“Well you seemed pretty relieved a few minutes ago when you found out I wasn’t dead.”

“Fuck you.”

Izuku barks a laugh, but he won’t be deterred by the tough veneer Dabi presents. He feels warm. It’s been a long time since he’s had a friend, a confidant. He decides to dive headfirst into that feeling.

“I remain unconvinced that you don’t care about me. My name’s Midoriya Izuku. We’re friends and you should come over. I’m really bored.”

“Fine. Send me your address.”

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Izuku forgets that Dabi has had a rough life. He puts up a convincing front, a tough persona of cool anger and quiet, confident self-sufficiency. He forgets that Dabi works low-level villain jobs to make ends meet, and that he’s probably starving more often than not, and even though he’s been to his apartment on numerous occasions, he forgets that he’s basically a hobo with an address.

It’s hard to forget all that as he watches Dabi raid his fridge and eat just about every speck of leftover food there is to be had. He doesn’t know exactly how he’ll explain the missing food to his mom, but he can’t find it in himself to ask Dabi to stop.

“Holy fuck,” Dabi says as he shovels a container of leftover yakisoba into his mouth. “Your mom can cook.”

“I know.” Izuku smiles, taking the praise for her food as if it’s his own.

“I’m formally proposing to this yakisoba. No, I’m proposing to your mom, so she can feed me all the time.”

“First of all, I think that was offensive—women don’t exist to take care of you. Second of all, stay away from my mom.”

“I’ll be your new daddy, Yami! Think of how happy we’ll be, son.”

Izuku throws the nearest weighty object—the TV remote—at Dabi’s head with extreme prejudice. It smacks him in the forehead, but he’s too engrossed in eating to care about it. He cackles around the slurping noodles.

When Dabi is finally finished eating, a trail of dirty Tupperware left in his wake, he settles on the couch like a dead weight. Izuku laughs when he notices the distinct paunch protruding from is usually flat stomach. Maybe he’ll tell his mom the truth about the food. She doesn’t seem like the type to begrudge a hungry person some extra food.

“She wants to meet you, you know.”

“Sounds like a bad idea. I’m not one for good first impressions.”

“Yeah, no shit. I don’t think she’s expecting someone good, though. From what I’ve gathered, she thinks you’re a bad influence,” Izuku says truthfully. She hasn’t asked many questions about Dabi, or said much, but he can just tell by the quiet, cautious way she brings him up sometimes.

“I’m the bad influence? The first time we met, you bribed me with cigarette money to buy you a fucking taser.”

Izuku waves a hand at that, as if to say that detail is entirely irrelevant. He has a point, though. Izuku was already neck deep in his twelve step plan to take on vigilantism when they met, so Dabi is hardly an influence on him in that regard. If anything, Dabi only gave his recent illegal activities more weight, more gravitas. Dabi helped him see that he wasn’t just saving people, he was shouldering an ideal, calling attention to the inherent evils of the villain-hero binary. Izuku used to think in black and white, but Dabi might be the most morally grey person he’s ever met. Izuku himself was going more grey as time went on, and it didn’t bother him one bit.

Izuku abandons that train of thought and turns on the TV, trolling for minor distractions. The TV in the Midoriya home is almost always tuned in to one hero news station or another, so it’s no surprise that the first thing he sees when it blinks on is coverage of Endeavor’s latest villain fight. He settles into analysis mode, out of sheer habit. He doesn’t even notice the sour look on Dabi’s face, pulling his staples into a sneer. He rips the remote out of Izuku’s limp hand and changes it to nothing in particular.

“Turn that shit off. I hate that bastard,” he grumbles.

Izuku frowns at Dabi’s obvious fury, trying to understand what made him go from fat and happy to pissed off and disgusted in a matter of seconds.

“You know he has the highest kill count of any hero in history? Two hundred fucking years of heroics and no one’s murdered more people than Endeavor.” He says the name like it’s a slur, like it’s the worst word in anyone’s vocabulary.

“How do you know that?” Izuku asks, bewildered. He’s a grade A hero nerd, his favorite pastime is hero research, but he’s never come across anything so damning. He’s not Endeavor fan by any stretch of the imagination, but he’d ever imagined he was that bad.

“I pay attention. And I don’t get my news from hero worshipping assholes.” Dabi’s words are pure vitriol, acid spewing from his tongue.

Dabi is in a perpetually snarky mood, but he’s rarely angry. It makes Izuku feel uneasy. It makes him think of Kacchan and popping explosions igniting across Izuku’s blistered skin. Dabi wouldn’t do that—even if Dabi were prone to violent outbursts, he doesn’t think he’d intentionally burn him. Anyone who’s been burned as badly as Dabi must know how powerful fire can be. And that thought ignites something in the back of his head, a spark leading him on a trail of clues all piecing together slowly. His eyes dart over to the TV, where Endeavor was previously on the screen. He looks at Dabi’s icy blue stare and his patchy dye job. He remembers that Dabi guards his real name—his entire identity—so closely, almost as closely as Endeavor guards his family and his home from the press.

“Dabi,” he says slowly, placing a light hand on the shoulder of Dabi’s tattered jacket. “Fuck Endeavor.”

He knows it’s nothing profound, but maybe it’s what Dabi needed to hear anyway. His staples pull at his cheeks, a rare smile, and he grunts out a laugh.

“Fuck Endeavor,” he says, like he’s making a sanctimonious toast. The awkward air dissipates and the mood feels lighter as Izuku puts on one of his mom’s favorite dramas. They spend his second day of suspension laughing at poorly written dialogue, overwrought acting, and insane plot twists.

 

Katsuki sits at his desk waiting for the final bell to ring, his fingers tapping in anticipation. He has a plan and he’s ready to execute it with the same flawless finesse with which he does everything. The buzzer dings and he makes a beeline for the teacher’s desk. He hopes he doesn’t look like the cat that ate the canary, but then again, he doesn’t really care either.

“Hey, teach. I promised Deku’s mom I’d bring his assignments by on my way home,” he lies, smoothly. The teacher doesn’t look like he cares enough to question him.

“That’s very kind of you, Bakugo.” He gathers worksheets and assignments for him to take to the Midoriya’s house, and just like that phase one is complete. He walks away with books and notes in his hands, a smug smile curling on his lips. I’m surrounded by idiots.

Katsuki walks home, only deviating at the last second to make his way toward Deku’s shitty apartment tower. He’ll worm his way into the apartment while Auntie Inko is at work, and make Deku tell him what he’s up to. Maybe he’ll snoop around his room or finally get his hands on that new notebook of his. And Deku won’t be able to turn him away because he’s sure the nerd is worried about getting his assignments done. It’s perfect. He knocks on the door with excessive force, the books hanging limply in his other hand. He refuses to reflect on the fact that this is his first time coming to Deku’s apartment in about eight years. He doesn’t dwell on the fact that it looks even dirtier than it did back then, rickety stairs and cracking foundation. He’s sure the inside is the same though, warm light and simple decorations, spotlessly clean. They may live in a shithole but Auntie Inko knows how to make a home.

There’s some muffled speech on the other side of the door, and Katsuki wonders if Auntie Inko is actually home. If she is, this just got a lot harder.

There’s a laugh on the other side of the door that gets louder as it opens. Deku’s smile falls when he meets Katsuki’s eye. He doesn’t say anything for a long moment, not until Katsuki breaks eye contact to look at the stranger behind him, a scarred up, lanky individual that looks like he’d be more at home in a Hot Top than on the Midoriya couch. The door closes just enough to obscure his view, and that only piques Katsuki’s curiosity.

“Deku,” he sneers.

“Bakugo,” he says, slow and measured without an ounce of apprehension. Katsuki still hates the way his family name sounds coming from Deku, but he supposes its better than the stupid baby nickname of the past.

“Got your assignments,” he says, shoving past the half-closed door, and somehow he knows that Deku let him do it. He rankles at the thought.

“I’ll take them and you can go,” he says, pointedly holding out his hand for the assignments. “My mom will be home soon and I don’t want you here when she gets back.”

“I should probably head out, too, Ya—“ the scarred guy says, and then cuts himself off with a choked cough, and then speaks again, “Ya...y’all?”

Deku looks tense, grimacing at his friend, and Katsuki has no idea what’s happening, but it’s fucking suspicious. Deku leans closer to the stranger and they talk in low whispers. Blue eyes cut to Katsuki and then back to Deku before the guy gives a firm nod, and Katsuki is annoyed to be on the outs.

“Who the fuck is this guy, Deku?”

“His babysitter.” The guy smirks and reaches out a scarred hand to take the books from Katsuki. He grips it tighter in retaliation, determined to be petty about it.

“Thanks for coming by, Bakugo,” Deku says, plastering a fake smile on when Deku’s friend pries the book from Katsuki’s hand with surprising strength. He didn’t expect his noodle arms to do much. “I’ll walk you out.”

Deku literally shoves Katsuki out the door, but Katsuki is surprised to find that Deku came outside with him. He shoves his hands in his pockets, the tense line of his shoulders hunching around his neck.

“You haven’t been here in years, Kacchan. What are you doing?” He sounds tired, but Katsuki can detect that hopeful little lilt in his voice. Katsuki physically jolts when he hears the nickname again, but he tries to hide it by crossing his arms.

“I’m not doing shit. You’re the one acting shady,” he snarls, his words dripping accusation.

“I’m not doing anything.”

Say you want about his strained relationship with Deku. They’re not friends by any means, haven’t been since they were brats, but Katsuki knows when Deku is lying.

“You’re lying,” he says, jaw clenching.

Deku looks him in the eye, and they hold all the strain from the last decade or so, all the grief over being too useless to hang around with someone like Katsuki.

“We’re not friends.”

“No fucking shit, Deku.”

“So, leave. I don’t feel comfortable with you here, and I deserve to at least have some peace at home.”

Katsuki rolls his eyes at Deku’s obvious play for sympathy. He doesn’t care. And he really wanted peace he wouldn’t be hanging around with creepy bastards like the scarred guy inside his apartment.

“I’m going to find out what you’re doing one way or another.”

For a brief moment, Katsuki see something sharp in Deku’s expression. His jaw tightens and his eyebrows pinch and pull together. And as quickly as it surfaced, it was gone, a placid, fake smile put in its place.

“Good luck with that, Kacchan,” he says sweetly before going back in his apartment and pointedly bolting the deadlock.

That feels like a fucking challenge, and Katsuki loves a challenge.

 

BONUS

“Honey,” his mom calls from the kitchen when she gets home. He’s in his room doing those assignments Bakugo brought over under the pretense of sticking his nose in Izuku’s business.

“Yeah, mom?” He doesn’t move from his desk just yet. His mom will call him out to the kitchen if it’s that important.

“What happened to all our leftovers?”

“Oh, I had a friend over,” he says, his lip caught between his teeth in a nervous habit. There’s a prolonged silence on her end, and Izuku only gets more nervous as time ticks on.

“Your… mysterious friend?”

“Uh, I guess.” The idea of Dabi being mysterious is entirely incongruous with the way he acts most of the time, but he supposes anyone his mom doesn’t know is mysterious. The thought almost makes him giggle.

“Well, at least he did the dishes….” she trails off, sounding a bit flummoxed—probably by the sheer amount of food he ate. Izuku grimaces because Dabi definitely did not do the dishes before he slunk out of the apartment.

He pulls out his Yami phone when his mom doesn’t answer anymore.

Yami: my mom thinks you must be 150 kilos to have destroyed our fridge like that

Yami: and youre a fuckin slob for not doing the dishes

Dabi: the day we get married im shipping you off to the worst boarding school amer*ca has to offer

Yami: ffs

Chapter Text

Izuku literally weeps when his mom gives him his gear back. A week without the option of skulking around in the dead of night has him feeling stifled and stir crazy. He wants to get back out there and see the city in the way he can only see it behind the mask. Not to mention, Dabi has been on his ass about the necessity of posting to Winstagram as soon as possible. He says they have to establish a good base of appeal before they start sharing ideals about heroes and villains. Dabi’s sudden change from apathetic loner to social media guru is jarring, but Izuku appreciates what he’s trying to do. Dabi is so passionate it’s hard not to get swept up in his ideals. Izuku often has to remind himself to remember to form his own opinions, to cultivate Yamikumo’s voice.

Izuku does unnecessary inventory of all his gear to kill some time. He double and triple checks that everything is in working order, and that his suit is clean and devoid of any holes. He keeps staring out his window, almost begging time to move faster. The sun’s slow descent on the horizon is killing him. Night can’t come fast enough.

When the moon and stars have finally come out to play, and his mother has kissed him goodbye before her night shift, Izuku calls Dabi.

“Out and about yet?” Dabi sounds just a bit excited, like he might be fighting his stitches to smile.

“Climbing out the window now. Where are you?”

“Working a job.”

“Legally?”

“Yes, I’m behind the counter at a McDonald’s as we speak.”

Izuku rolls his eyes. They were supposed to be meeting up. Apparently, Dabi doesn’t trust Izuku to post a decent picture on the internet.

“Guess I’m on my own for the night, then?”

“Don’t get yourself killed,” he says, two parts condescending and one part concerned. “Don’t take on more than you can handle.”

“Worry about yourself! Your customer service voice is shit.”

His joke is rewarded with a low chuckle before there’s a clatter on the other end of the line.

“Gotta go. Seriously, don’t die. And post something!”

“Don’t get arrested!” The line goes dead shortly after.

 

Izuku spends hours fiddling around with his grappling hook, practicing swinging around on it without getting stuck, hurt, or embarrassing himself. He’s no Spiderman, but he’s managed to work something out that he can use in a pinch, but it’s best for him to stick to sprinting across rooftops and parkouring to his heart’s content. He’s so excited to be out, literally back in black, that he forgoes stealth entirely.

He lets out little whoops of joy every time he jumps from building to building. The few people still on the streets notice him every now and then, shouting his name to get his attention. He waves, a beaming smile under his mask. Some snap pictures, and for just a moment, Izuku thinks he knows what it feels like to be a hero adored by the public.

He finds himself on the roof of a konbini only a short walk from his apartment. He’s run himself ragged, but he’s buzzing with contentment, laid out on the concrete roof, the orange and blue neon lights blinking in and out in his peripheral vision. He thinks he might go grab a slushie, mask and all. He’s just rolling to an upright position when he hears the tell-tale sound of shattering glass, and muted shrieking. He’s off like a shot, his earlier fatigue completely forgotten.

He goes straight through the broken glass of the door to tackle the idiot waving a knife in the cashier’s face. The assailant is rather small, which is rich coming from Izuku. He’s got a mask and a hood on, but he’s almost certain that this person is around his age. It’s sad to realize, but it doesn’t stop him from subduing the would-be thief, taking all his weapons off him, and zip tying him to a drainpipe at the front of the store.

Izuku sits at a distance from the hooded thief. He decides not to unmask him, as something of a solidarity thing. His identity will be outed tonight, but it won’t be done by the other person in a mask.

“Why’d you do it?” Izuku asks, surprised by the voice modulator. It’s so compact, and he speaks so little as Yamikumo, that he forgets about it entirely.

“Fuck off, hero,” he spits, venomous and hateful. It’s the kind of sharp, embarrassed defensiveness that comes from being found out.

“I’m no hero. I don’t think being a hero is all it’s cracked up to be.”

“You’re sure as shit not a villain.”

“You’re not a villain either. It’s nice to exist between the extremes.”

“What’s that mean?” The eyes behind the mask are wide, childlike and trying to understand.

“It means there are millions of people existing between the binary of heroes and villains, good and evil. Knocking over a corner store is bad, but it’s not enough to brand you a villain, right? You don’t have to let one bad night define you.”

“You’re delusional,” he says, head lolling around and eyes rolling viciously.

“And you’re young, so you can turn this around. Good luck.”

He stands from his crouch, shaking out his muscles before he pokes his head through the shattered door frame, feeling odd interacting with people under bright fluorescent lights in his shadowy disguise.

“Anyone hurt?”

There are only three people in the small space, still hiding behind the counter and shelves. They seem to be unharmed.

“We’re okay. You got here so quick,” the person behind the counter, a kindly middle-aged woman, says.

“You’re Yamikumo, right?” A boy not much younger than Izuku stares at him in awe. An unfamiliar feeling of warmth surges through him. The recognition—the attention— feels a bit like a drug.

“I am,” he says, a bit awkward about it. He feels like he should strike a pose, or say something witty, but he’s got nothing. “Did you call the police?”

The woman shakes her head, slightly frantic.

“We wanted to give you time to run away.”

“Oh. Thank you! I’ll give them a call soon. For now, can I buy a slushie?”

 

 

Tsukauchi gets an email around midnight, and he’s immediately irked. It’s untraceable, the sender’s name only a jumble of letters and numbers. It’s a link to Yamikumo’s Winstagram page—as if Tsukauchi wasn’t constantly keeping eyes on it ever since it started. Yami sits on the roof of a konbini, bathed in the orange and blue glow of the lights. The neon logo is familiar to Tsukauchi. There’s tons of them littered throughout the city. He holds an Icee up to his masked visage, the straw poking into the fabric where his mouth is supposed to be. The other hand throws a casual peace sign.

He clicks back to the email. Much like the phone calls Yamikumo still makes every now and then, the email is composed of short, clipped half-sentences and the cross-streets where he stopped a crime.

One perp. No obvious Quirk use. Tried to rob the konbini with a knife. The owner gave me a free icee, so they probably won’t give me up. ✌🏻 

Toodles!

Your friendly neighborhood Yamikumo

 

BONUS

Katsuki lays in bed, scrolling through Winstagram in hopes that it’ll bore him to sleep. He only has social media accounts to check up on heroes, and observe how they’re doing their advertising. That shit is stupid, but it’s what’ll put him at the number one spot. A necessary evil, he supposes.

He’s about to give up and lock his phone when a new post lights up his screen. It’s from that new, shitty vigilante. The extra’s got no style, no sense of branding, and no consistency. And don’t even get him started on the lack of originality. Katsuki may not be as openly into nerd shit anymore, but he can spot a Spiderman reference a mile off.

Still, he likes the photo. He’s not sure why.

Maybe it’s the mystery of it all. Maybe it’s because Yamikumo is clearly a closet superhero nerd, too. He’s obviously studied the way heroes promote themselves on social media. He’s just the right amount of radical, likable, and relatable. He’s worth studying. Maybe he’ll still be active in a year or two, and Katsuki can track him down during work study, expose him, and ride that fame all the way to the top.

Chapter Text

Kuroda Asami ascends the stairs to her daughter’s home with the intent to take her grandkids out for some fresh air. They’re six and seven, and they already spend far too much time indoors, staring at screens, for her tastes. She uses her key to the front door and steps through the threshold to find her rambunctious granddaughter sitting atop her older brother, wrangling him into a vicious headlock. He wails, and she notices that he’s got something like opaque, black tights on his face.

“I give! Surrender, surrender!”

Her granddaughter has something similar on her head—it looks like one of the covers for her school books.

“Take that, villain! You’re no match for Yamikumo,” she bellows, pumping a fist in the air before standing up, punching in front of her like a prize fighter.

“Heroes and villains, again?” Asami asks when the commotion has died down to a dull roar.

“No way! Friendly neighborhood Yami is a vigilante,” her grandson says, picking himself up off the floor and wiping dust off his chest. “Now, it’s my turn to be Yami.”

With practiced ease, they both rip their makeshift masks off their heads, and switch them.

So much for the park, Asami thinks, settling herself on the couch to watch the show.

 

Tamakawa Sansa really regrets letting Yamikumo get away. As punishment, he’s been forced to go through every post on the goddamn internet that even slightly mentions Yamikumo. His eyes burn from looking at the screen for hours on end, fruitlessly searching for clues from every looky-loo in the city. The text is burned in his eyes.

Yamikumo is so cool!

Yami spotted taking out the trash downtown. No really like literal trash. #oneearth #litterbugsgtfo

Yamikumo signed my notebook! … the auction starts now place your bids. #dmsareopen

Yamikumo saved me! Such a gentleman. #marryme

An email pops up in his notifications, and he’s grateful for the short reprieve. That feels is incredibly short lived as he reads Tsukauchi’s email.

New FaceSpace group to comb through for Yami info: link.

Reluctantly, Sansa opens the link, and immediately regrets whatever he’s done in his life to deserve this. The group’s title is laden with multicolored heart emojis and reads Hot Girls for Yamikumo. He sighs, and grudgingly prepares himself to comb through every single post, though he knows he won’t find anything of importance.

 

“Sweet, suffering Jesus,” Dabi hisses under his breath from his shabby couch. Izuku turns and sees Dabi with his head thrown back and his hand over his face. It’s a pose he often does when the world has utterly disappointed him (again).

“What?”

“I need unsee juice. There’s an entire Fumblr thread dedicated to your butt.”

“My what now?” Izuku splutters, choking on embarrassment. He’s been doing a lot of squats, and he taekwondo does give his legs quite the workout, but this is the last thing he ever expected. That said, he does have a lot of padding in his suit, purely for breaking his many falls.

“The bar is really on the floor these days.”

Izuku elects to cover his embarrassment with false bravado and easy teasing. He’d really like to not talk about the internet’s newfound devotion to his backside.

“You’re just jealous, and you would be on Fumblr, you sad emo,” Izuku says accusingly. Dabi waves off the slight and reads an excerpt from the post.

“I want #yamikumo to suffocate me between his thicc— spelled with two C’s— juicy asscheeks. Imagine the fallout when they inevitably realize you’re twelve.”

“Excuse?!” Izuku pulls out his phone to google his vigilante persona and begins reading, his face going from pale to pink to red to damn near purple the more he reads. Where is the brain bleach?

“Step on me, Yami-Daddy. What does that even mean?”

“The internet is a hellscape,” Dabi intones sagely. Izuku can only nod, compelled by an almost defeated sort of zen. He knew he put too much padding in his Yami suit. No amount of fall cushioning was worth this.

 

Katsuki scrolls through Winstagram, liking posts under the musutafuheroes tag. There’s an annoying amount of Yami propaganda going around, nevermind the fact that the bastard isn’t a hero, and he frequently posts about how heroes aren’t the gold standard. It’s infuriating how quickly Yamikumo has become the city's biggest mystery. He’s loathe to admit it, but he’s spent a fair amount of time sifting through forums of people speculating on Yamikumo’s Quirk. There’s an impressive lack of information on him, and it’s all baseless. He’s seen exactly one video of him actually fighting, and he saw no signs of a physical Quirk.

Right now, the running theory is that he has a healing Quirk, and that’s why he so easily jumps into danger. Reckless, indeed.

He refreshes the page, still not tired enough to fall asleep, and is met with a post from the vigilante menace himself. Yami’s not in it. It’s a grainy image of a trash can fire in the slums. The caption reads Endeavor sighting! #heroesofmusutafu #musutafuheroes #HECKendeavor #yamikumo

Katsuki hates that he laughs for a full minute, and reluctantly likes the post.

 

“Dabi! You can’t post shit like that. This is a family friendly page!” Izuku yells into his phone. The post is, admittedly, hilarious, but that’s besides the point. Dabi’s voice is calm, cool, and searching for a fuck to give.

“Notice how I didn’t say fuck. Boom, family friendly.”

“Endeavor is going to kill me. He’s going to burn me alive, and there will be nothing left to mourn.”

“Just stay out of his patrol area,” Dabi says, still maintaining an air of nonchalance. Izuku’s never actually encountered a hero on patrol, but if Dabi is specifically targeting them online, he feels that will change very soon. Izuku’s not sure he has the skill to evade seasoned pros. He can hardly handle seasoned villains.

“When I die, make sure my mother knows it’s your fault.”

“You’re not going to die. Oh, look, #heckendeavor is trending. You’re welcome!” Dabi cackles, and unceremoniously hangs up. Izuku groans.

“Izuku?” His mom knocks on the door to his room.

“Yeah?”

“What’s this?” She asks, the second she's through the door. She has her phone in her hands, and he knows exactly what she’s referring to.

“It wasn’t me!”

“It’s your account.” She frowns.

“Dabi doesn’t let me manage the account. He says I’m incompetent. He did it!”

“Well, he’s not my son, and he’s not the one Endeavor will be gunning for. No Yami for two weeks.”

“Mom! That’s so unfair.”

“It’s not to punish you, honey. It’s to keep you out of harm’s way. You know, Endeavor has the highest on the job kill count?”

“How has everyone but me seen this statistic?” He wonders aloud, eyebrows drawing together in utter confusion.

“Research. It’s imperative when my son has zero impulse control, and seems to be a magnet for trouble. Two weeks.” She crosses her arms in her usual I mean business way, and turns on her heel to leave, but not without one last command. “And tell Dabi I’m going to hunt him down if he pulls this again!”

“Yes, ma’am,” he mumbles, thoroughly subdued.

 

BONUS

Yami: my mom has threatened your life for endangering mine.

Dabi: if im dead i wont get to eat her food!

Yami: remember that next time you post something stupid. I’m grounded for two weeks.

Dabi: you have to admit its fucking funny

Yami:

Yami: it is. fuck endeavor.

Dabi: HAH! FUCK ENDEAVOR

Chapter Text

Izuku hates being grounded. He can appreciate his mom’s point of view on it this time around, though. She must know he can’t be trusted to keep a low profile, so taking his suit is the only way to ensure Endeavor won’t roast him alive on his next patrol. Still, that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s stifling being only Izuku. School is so much worse when he knows he won’t spend his evenings running around the city, decompressing.

School is claustrophobic—a walled cell Izuku can’t even hope to escape from. Since his suspension, people either give him a wide berth, or they try to goad him into another fight. Izuku keeps his head down, his eyes closed, if only for his mother’s sake. He’s eating lunch alone, his nose shoved in his notebook as people throw paper balls, pencils, and plastic sporks at the back of his head. His fists clench so hard, little half-moons embed in his skin from his nails. All he can do is take a deep breath, and ignore it all. Just a few more hours and Yamikumo will be back.

In the midst of another ragged breath, Kacchan comes up to his table, slamming his bento down like it personally offended him.

“Fucking fight back, nerd,” he barks. “We all know you know how to, now.”

Izuku looks up into narrowed red eyes, absolutely confused that Kacchan has graced—more like cursed—him with his presence.

“It’s not worth it,” he says evenly, content to let that be the end of the conversation. Unfortunately, it’s not. Kacchan scoffs.

“Should’ve known you’d never actually grow a spine. Stupid Deku.”

Izuku’s skin tingles, heated anger simmering under his skin. He hates that name. Izuku isn’t Deku. He isn’t useless anymore.

“If you’re going to sit here, you’ll damn well call me by name. Fuck off if that doesn’t work for you,” he spits.

Kacchan’s only response is a raised eyebrow. Izuku goes back to his notebook. It’s one of his old ones—the hero analysis. He’s crossed out for the future, but he figures studying others will help him if he ever comes up against a hero on patrol. The news has been troubling lately.

Izuku always knew the newscasters fed the public pre-approved lines that shift public opinion, but it’s never been so blatant now that it's all about him. Every morning, on every local news station, there’s a call to action—a call to bring Yami to justice, so the heroes and police can continue doing their jobs. They make him out to be a threat, and for the first time, Izuku realizes that he is one. Not a threat to people, obviously, but a threat to the status quo. Sitting in front of the TV, mindlessly eating cereal, every single thing Dabi’s ever said about the system seems to crystallize and form one truth: it doesn’t matter if Yamikumo is good if the system can’t control him.

“Where’s your other notebook?” Kacchan asks abruptly. Izuku had almost forgotten he’s still there.

“Why are you so obsessed with me?” Izuku asks in the same mocking tone, eyes held firmly on the lines of his notebook. Kacchan grunts, and it’s an immature, petty sort of sound. He slams his hands on the table.

“Don’t fucking ignore me, Deku! You’re up to something, and I want to know what it is.”

That name, again. Izuku desperately wants to start a fight, even if it’s one he knows he won’t win. He’s tired of Yamikumo being the only one with agency, freedom, or a sense of self-worth. Izuku looks up, a smirk plastered on his face.

“Prove it.”

Kacchan loses it, lunging across the table to grab the front of Izuku’s gakuran, and it takes all his willpower not to block, not to move a muscle. He won’t even flinch. Kacchan yanks him closer, his mouth twisted in an ugly snarl. Izuku grins, more than ready to call Kacchan’s bluff, and praying against all odds that it works.

“You start something with me, and I’ll be expelled. It’ll probably make stalking me a lot harder for you.”

He can’t really believe it works, but Kacchan tosses him back into his seat, collects his things with angry little flourishes, and stomps away.

Izuku’s quick to leave as well, he doesn’t want anyone to see him in the throes of restarting his heart.

 

Later, as he’s walking home, he finds Kacchan following closely behind him. He feels his gaze like daggers in his back. This wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if not for Kacchan’s blatant and suffocating proximity. About halfway through his walk, he can’t stand it anymore. He finally acknowledges his angry little shadow.

“Can I help you?”

“You wanted a fucking stalker, Deku. You got one now,” Katsuki says, clearly pleased with himself.

Izuku ignores him, or at least he tries to. When he passes the turn that leads to Kacchan’s house, and finds that he’s still following him, he starts to panic. He should’ve kept his mouth shut with Kacchan. He shouldn’t have allowed himself to stand up. That always carries consequences for Izuku—all that is better left to Yami. If Kacchan actually follows through with this threat and stakes out his apartment, how will he ever get out as Yami?

Izuku quickens his pace, his legs moving faster than his chaotic, floundering thoughts. If he doesn’t get out for a patrol tonight, he’s going to lose his mind. He won’t let Kacchan ruin this for him. Kacchan follows him until he gets to the stairs of his apartment complex. At least he isn’t going to follow him all the way up to his door. Kacchan says something vaguely threatening as he hastens up the stairs, but he’s not listening anymore. He’s in Yami mode and Yamikumo is a fucking problem solver.

He whips out his phone and calls Dabi the second the door locks behind him.

“It’s Yami time!” Dabi’s elegant greeting makes Izuku laugh, despite his current frustration.

“Not yet. I’ve made an enemy,” he says, surreptitiously peeking out the window through the slats of the blinds. He catches Kacchan heading to the park across the street and sitting on a bench, presumably for the long haul. Izuku takes a moment to curse the stubborn determination Kacchan possesses that once fascinated him.

“If this is about the fucking Endeavor tweet again—“

“It’s not,” he says quickly. “Remember that guy that came to my house the first time you came over?”

“The constipated blonde?”

Izuku snorts and lets the slats fall back into place. Dabi never fails to entertain.

“Yeah, him. He’s literally camped outside of my apartment, waiting to follow me.”

“What does your psycho little boyfriend have to do with me?”

“First of all, fuck off. Second of all, I need you to come over.”

“Ew, why?” 

“I have a plan.”

“Why am I part of the plan?”

“Plausible deniability, and you owe me for getting me grounded.”

There’s a long suffering sigh on the other end of the line and all Izuku can think is same.

“You are without a doubt the most annoying eleven year old I’ve ever met,” he says, exasperated. Izuku doesn’t bother reiterating how old he actually is. He hangs up the phone and puts his plan into action.

 

Katsuki can admit that posting up outside Deku’s apartment is going slightly overboard. It’s also incredibly fucking boring, but never let it be said that Katsuki does anything by half measures. Deku called him a stalker, so that’s exactly what he’ll get. Hopefully, this’ll show Deku that he means business.

Not even thirty minutes after he’s planted himself on the bench in the park, he sees that creepy scarred up dude walking toward Deku’s apartment complex. Whoever he is, he’s part of whatever dumb shit Deku’s got himself into.

The guy has the audacity to look directly at him and flip him off before jogging up the stairs and disappearing through Deku’s front door. He’ll give it an hour before he goes up there himself. Let them think he’s leaving and that’s when he’ll strike. He sighs and stands, content to take a walk around the block for a bit.

He can’t quite reconcile what he’s seen of Deku lately with the boy he grew up with—the way he walks with confidence, and speaks like he’s pulling from a deep well of snark and rage. It’s been two months since Deku got suspended for that fight, and he can’t stop turning over everything he said that day.

Deku doesn’t want to be a hero.

Deku thinks the system is broken.

Deku seems to genuinely hate him.

If he’s being honest, it’s the last one that surprises him the most. Katsuki’s life is full of certainties. He’s certain he’s going to be a great hero, certain he’ll leave his garbage middle school at the top of his class, and be the only one to get into the nation’s top hero course, certain that no matter what he does, how he acts, or what he says, Deku will always be right behind him, chasing after him with a gleam in his big, stupid eyes.

He has no idea what to do when certainty turns to uncertainty—when one of the most constant fixtures in his life suddenly shifts at a 180-turn without his permission—but he’s always faced his problems head on and solved them with vicious precision. That’s the only way he knows because if he thinks about why he’s so bent out of shape about Deku finally turning his back on him, he doesn’t feel like himself. He doesn’t feel right and balanced. He refuses to admit that he might be worried about Deku, so he’ll go all in on figuring out what the fuck is going on with him instead. Katsuki walks for much longer than an hour. He walks until he’s shoved down his conflicted thoughts to a quiet, more manageable place, and the sun has gone away.

 

Katsuki knocks on Deku’s apartment door with far more force than necessary, and he feels he waits an absurdly long time for someone to open the door with the most saint-like patience he can muster. He’s not surprised to see Crispy Shit Head on the other side of the door.

“What.”

“Where’s Deku?”

“I don’t know anyone by that name,” he says flatly.

“Midoriya,” Katsuki says, enunciating every syllable, each one more annoyed than the last.

“Oh, well why didn’t you say so?” Deep Fried Edge Lord smirks, but makes no move to unblock the doorway.

“Who is it?” Deku’s voice is muffled, coming from somewhere deeper in the apartment. He can faintly hear water running.

“The ugly blond!” The guy turns his head and speaks just a bit louder, but he keeps his eyes and his stupid smirk on Katsuki.

“Tell him to leave!”

“You heard him. Scram, kid.”

“I’m the same age as fucking Deku!” Katsuki all but screams in his face. His patience is waning. Nothing's going to plan.

“Don’t know how many times I have to tell you, I’ve never met a Deku in my life,” he says, his face steadily getting more annoyed, icy, blue eyes sharpening. Katsuki is struck with an annoying pinch in his gut—it’s something like disappointment, but he’d rather not give it a name at the moment. Briefly, he wonders if this is how Deku felt around Katsuki and his friends for years—excluded, left out, on the outs.

“Fucking… fuck, fine,” he says, frustrated by a night wasted. He raises his voice to address Deku. “See you Monday, Deku.”

Deku’s only response is almost hysterical laughter. It cuts off just as Deku’s damn bodyguard shuts the door in his face. Katsuki walks home, royally pissed, whether it’s at Deku or himself, he’s not quite sure.

 

Izuku’s patrol is done, but the night air is cool and comfortable, and the city lights gleam from below him. He can’t make himself go home just yet, so he seats himself on the ledge of a building, taking it all in for the first time in two weeks. There’s nothing better than this. His phone buzzes from one of his many pockets. It’s probably Dabi. He hopes the plan worked. Dabi’s text is short and sweet.

You’re an evil genius. Off without a hitch.

Izuku breathes a sigh of relief. It wasn’t the most complicated plan out there, so he’s glad Kacchan fell for it. The second he hung up the phone with Dabi earlier, Izuku began furiously recording one sided conversations with himself, so Dabi could pretend to talk to him if Kacchan came back to the apartment. Anyone who spends a Friday night in their apartment can’t possibly be up to something—specifically moonlighting as a somewhat popular vigilante—right? Plausible deniability.

“Yami, I’ve been looking for you,” a deep, weary voice says from behind him. Izuku yelps, totally caught off guard. He nearly drops his phone off the side of the building, but luckily, he manages a save. He stumbles to his feet, ready to bail off the building in an effort not to be caught. How could he be so stupid? What if that had been Endeavor?

Eraserhead sends his capture weapon out to wrap around his hand—the one he was preparing to shoot his grappling hook from.

“Relax. I just want to talk,” Eraserhead says coolly, but his eyes are red behind his goggles, and his hair stands on end. He wonders if Eraserhead’s Quirk can tell there’s nothing inside him to cancel out. Probably not, if Eraserhead’s impassive face and insistence on not blinking is any indication.

“Why should I believe that?” Izuku’s modulated voice still surprises him. He almost sounds like his dad.

“You shouldn’t, but you have my word as a fellow underground hero, that you’ll be able to walk away from this when I’m done.”

“I’m not a hero,” Izuku says, and he can’t help but detect some wistfulness in the response. Old habits are hard to break, he supposes—old dreams are hard to put to rest.

“You could be. I’ve worked with a lot of vigilantes, and I can tell you from experience that the only difference between you and me is legitimacy.”

Legitimacy is a tiny, laminated card Izuku will never have the luxury of obtaining. He wants to laugh. If only Eraserhead knew just how many differences lay between them. Izuku is a Quirkless middle schooler. Last he checked, they weren’t handing out hero licenses to powerless children. Izuku can’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t make it easier to identify him, so he stays silent.

“A lot of agencies work with vigilantes. It’s like an internship. You work a few cases, prove you’re capable and trustworthy, and an agency will get you into the next licensing exam.”

That’s never going to happen, Izuku thinks, but in reality, he said it aloud. He curses his penchant for mumbling. If Eraserhead is surprised by his response, he doesn’t show it. He shrugs, totally nonplussed.

“I’m giving you an out—or an in, as it were. You’ve pissed off a few big heroes with a lot of firepower, not to mention the police. Think on it, but if you don’t take the offer, the next time you see me, it’ll end with you in cuffs in the back of a police van.”

Izuku would rather die than let that happen. Yami is just getting started. There’s no way to tell him the option presented to him isn’t an option, so he cants his head pointedly in the direction of his wrist, still wound tightly in the capture weapon.

“Off,” he says, allowing his slight annoyance at being caught so easily seep into his tone. A man of his word, Eraserhead snaps his weapon back to him, and allows Izuku to run off into the night.

Chapter Text

“Izuku? Why aren’t you home yet? Are you hurt?” His mother’s voice was frantic in his ear, on edge from across the city. Two in the morning, their agreed upon curfew, was fast approaching, and Izuku was nowhere near home yet. His body felt like a mass of broken nerve endings, synapses shocking him from everywhere, clouding his thoughts with panic.

“I’m fine. I just… is it ok if I stay at Dabi’s? I’m closer to his place than home. I got… caught up with something.”

He doesn’t know how to tell her that Eraserhead literally caught him, and swiftly released him. He didn’t want her to worry, and he didn’t want to talk about it at the moment. He couldn’t make sense of it.

“I don’t know how I feel about that. I don’t even know where he lives. I don’t even know him.”

Izuku sighs, guilt swelling. They really need to meet soon. He doesn’t want to go home yet, and his feet are already taking him to Dabi’s by way of dark thoroughfares.

“An apartment in Kamino ward. I can send you the address. It’s getting late and I can’t exactly take the train in this get-up.” He tries for a laugh, but it’s too breathy, too strained.

“What on earth are you doing in Kamino ward?”

“I’m technically not in Kamino yet. I’m just on the edge. This won’t happen again.”

“Izuku…” She sighs, and Izuku can feel her letting this go, no matter how much she wants to will him home. “Just this once. I want you home before noon, so don’t sleep in. We need to talk about whatever is bothering you.”

“Thank you. Goodnight, mom. I love you.”

“I love you, too. Don’t think that means you’ll be getting out of this unscathed. Before noon, okay?”

“Yes, ma’am.” He takes off running the second he’s off the phone.

Dabi is half-asleep when he answers the door, and makes no effort to pretend he’s not surprised to see him.

“You good?”

“Not really. I met Eraserhead about an hour ago,” he says, letting himself into the apartment like he owns the place. He moves across the room to the dumpster-chic dresser in the corner, rifling through it for a T-shirt and shorts. His suit is drenched in stress sweat and he’s desperate to get out.

“You pay your water bill?” Izuku asks instead of elaborating. A shower would help pull his thoughts together. Unfortunately, Dabi has a bad habit of forgetting about bills until his utilities shut off. Dabi scoffs, and lobs a towel at his head.

“I’m not that broke, asshole. Hurry up.”

Izuku has just enough humor left in him to laugh at Dabi’s scowl before he shuts himself in the tiny bathroom, and turns the shower dial until the water is scalding.

He can’t stop turning Eraserhead’s words over in his head. Legitimacy. It’s… a tantalizing offer, but impossible to go after. Eraserhead assumes he’s older. Would he offer him admission to a hero school if he knew how old he really was? Does he even want that?

The obvious answer is that it’s too risky to even imagine. The number one hero himself told Izuku to give up. Who’s to say all the opportunities Eraserhead is offering won’t dry up the second they know exactly who he is? Who’s to say it’s not a trap?

Izuku’s not exactly conditioned to trust people. He can count the people he trusts implicitly on one hand—and that list doesn’t include a single hero, underground or not. Izuku sighs and shuts off the water. His skin is pink and irritated from the heat, but he feels better. His mind is clear and his decision—well, it was never really a decision because it was never an offer he could actually take. It’s fun to dream, but ultimately, he has no choice. He’s Yamikumo, and Yamikumo will never be a hero.

By the time he’s dressed and out of the steamy, clouded room, Dabi is wide awake, pacing across the room.

“How the hell did you manage to get away from Eraserhead? Did you tase him? God, I’d pay to see you tase a hero with that stupid little thing.”

“Hey! Don’t hate on the baby taser,” Izuku says, throwing himself on the couch. “Also, this is the dumbest shirt ever. What is your obsession with deep v’s? It’s damn near down to my belly button.” Izuku gestures to the heinous cut of his borrowed shirt. Seriously, if he was a girl, he’d be showing an immodest amount of cleavage. Dabi rolls his eyes, but he still rifles through a drawer and tosses a wadded up sweater at his head. A very nice sweater, in fact. He’s sure if he cared to check the label, it’d be designer—no doubt a relic of his not so mysterious past.

“Don’t change the subject. What happened?”

“I wasn’t paying attention. He came up behind me and we talked.”

“He didn’t try to catch you?” Dabi’s eyes are comically wide. Izuku is suddenly exhausted.

“He offered me a shot at a hero license. Said if I didn’t take it, he’d catch me next time.”

“You… didn’t take it, right?” Dabi asks, slowly, wary of his answer. Izuku wonders at his closed-off expression. Would their friendship change if he said yes? Izuku sits up, brows furrowing.

“Of course not. Even if I wanted to, how could I?”

“We both know you still want to be a hero,” Dabi says, and it very nearly sounds like an accusation.

“I don’t,” he says, spitting the word out. “You know, Eraserhead said that the only difference between him and me was a license. I believe him. I didn’t sign up for the hero exam because I like being a vigilante. I like living outside the system, and playing by my own rules.” He lets out an angry sigh and makes an accusation of his own. “I like being your friend, and clearly, we wouldn’t be if I was trying to be a hero.”

Dabi frowns, the action pulls his stitches in an ugly way. He crosses his arms defensively and grumbles, and it reminds him of Kacchan. He does the same thing when he doesn’t want to admit someone other than him is right. He seems to be choosing his words carefully.

“It could be a trap,” he finally says. “Just don’t be stupid.”

“I’m not stupid!” Izuku’s not sure what it is that makes him snap at Dabi. Maybe it’s because the day has already been filled to the brim with bullshit and he’s tired; maybe it’s because this is the first time since they met that Dabi is wary of him; maybe it’s because he can’t handle losing another friend and not entirely understanding why, and he doesn’t want to have to spend time wondering what he could possibly do to fix it.

“I’m not a hero, and I’m not stupid enough to think it’ll ever happen. A hero license isn’t going to fall into Quirkless Deku’s lap, and I know it. Now, can I fucking sleep?” Izuku throws himself back on the couch, angrily shifting around so that his back is to Dabi. Izuku determinedly stares at a particularly dark stain on the couch cushion, content to stare until Dabi puts out the light and leaves him alone. Instead, Dabi clears his throat. Izuku thinks the stain is shaped like a cat.

“How long has that kid been calling you that?”

Izuku considers not answering. He considers keeping the hurt to himself and pretending he’s miraculously fallen asleep.

“Ten years,” he mutters, talking to the cat-shaped stain.

“I’m sorry. I know you’re not stupid. That guy’s an asshole, and his hair looks like a toilet brush.”

Izuku guffaws, and finds that the cat-shaped stain really isn’t all that interesting.

“His hair looks exactly like yours!”

“Get some sleep, Yami. Tomorrow will be less shitty.”

Izuku isn’t sure he believes him, but he’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. He succumbs to his exhaustion quickly.

 

“I’m home,” Izuku calls, shutting the front door quietly behind him. It’s bright and early, barely eight in the morning, and Izuku feels like he could benefit from another eight hours of sleep.

“You look exhausted,” his mom says, coming out of her room to greet him. Her hair is damp, but she’s still wearing pajamas. It’s a lazy day off for her, then. Izuku is happy to indulge with her.

“Spending the day in?”

She smiles at him, and nods. She looks just as tired, and Izuku realizes that all his fun as a vigilante wears on her too. It’s not the first time he’s realized this. It’s just the first time he’s allowed himself to really think about it. If Izuku was a better son, he’d give this up for her. He’s come to terms with the idea that he’s not that good of a son.

“I’m sorry for worrying you, and for staying out too late. I just… had a bit of a weird night.”

“Weird how?”

“Had a run in with an underground hero. He basically offered me a license, and said if I don’t take it, he’ll catch me.”

“I see. Now, I know why you didn’t want to come home,” she says simply. She moved closer, pushing his unruly bangs away to press a kiss to his forehead. “Go shower, and put on some pajamas. It’s a lazy Saturday. I’ll make breakfast.”

“Thanks, Mom.” Like the good son he wants to be, he does as he’s told.

 

Inko knows how tired Izuku is. She can see it in the curve of his shoulders and the dark bags under his eyes. She can only imagine how that impromptu meeting with that hero went. How it made him feel to have his wildest dream dangled in front of him with no way to take it. The chip on his shoulder about this is never going to go away, and that’s something they both need to face. She busies herself with breakfast, frying eggs and washing rice.

Izuku pads out of his room some time later, his slippers plodding along the carpeting. His pajamas lack any kind of heroic logo, and the realization sits low in her gut. She has fond memories of a tiny toddler in All Might onesies, rescuing her from villains. He’s grown so much, and Inko has the urge to remind him of that, among other things.

“I’m really proud of you, Izuku. I don’t think I say that enough,” she says, as she deposits a bowl a rice, topped with a sunny side up egg, in his lap. They curl up on the couch together, the morning news droning on about the weather forecast.

“Really?” Izuku’s eyes are big, hopeful with a side of disbelief.

“Really. I wish finding your bliss wasn’t quite so dangerous, but I’m happy if you’re happy. You’ve got so much good coming to you. It’s… inspiring.”

“You don’t have to say all this. I’m not going to have a meltdown because of last night,” he mutters around a bit of egg.

“I know. I’m saying it because it’s true. How many parents can say their kid is a regular feature on the nightly news, or that their kid has a UA recommendation?”

Izuku snorts, but he looks pleased in that bashful way of his. Inko strokes his wild curls with careful fondness, and he leans into her touch.

“How many kids can say their mom is cool enough to let them jump across buildings and take down bad guys in the middle of the night?”

“A fair few, I’m sure. We’re a good team.”

“Yeah,” he says softly. “Dabi doesn’t believe me, but I don’t want to be a hero anymore. I mean, not really. It’d be cool, but it’s just not in the cards. I’m mostly at peace with that now.”

“Being at peace is good enough. I’m trying to get there too. Like I said, you’ve inspired me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I just realized that I should be doing more for myself—enjoying things. I’ve been working out, and reading more, getting back into old hobbies. Things like that.”

“Really?” Izuku smiles at her, and she realizes how symbiotic they are. Their happiness is directly linked to one another’s. It’s a beautiful thing.

“Mhmm. I’m down a belt loop, already. The old grannies I work out with still run circles around me, though.”

Izuku barks a laugh, and takes both their empty bowls to the sink. He collapses back on the couch, nuzzling into her side. He doesn’t fit like he used to. He’s so much bigger, bulkier—but he’s still her baby.

“That’s great, Mom. I’m happy if you’re happy.”

“Can you do something for me, then?”

Izuku stiffens, just a bit, but nods.

“Lay low this week as Yami. Focus on your entrance exam. I want Izuku’s future to be just as important and successful as Yamikumo’s.”

“I’m ready for it! UA won’t know what hit them. I’m going to get in.”

“Yes, you are. Just promise me when you’re a big time inventor you won’t take off to I-Island the first chance you get.” She laughs, but it’s just a tad bitter on her tongue. She can’t imagine Izuku being as hard to reach as Hisashi.

“I won’t. Dad left me too, remember? I won’t do that. And… well,” he pauses, sitting up just a bit. He looks slightly flustered.

“What?”

“Don’t you think it’s time you went on a date or something? It’s been years.”

Inko laughs, softly at first, but then the ridiculousness of the situation hits her—her teenage son giving her dating advice—and then she’s doubling over in hysterics. Maybe he’s right.

“We’ll see,” she says, wiping giddy tears from her eyes.

They spend the rest of the day camped out on the couch, watching old movies, feeling lighter and closer than they have in months.

Chapter Text

“I’m Shota Aizawa, and I’ll be proctoring the written exam. Let’s not waste any time.”

Izuku feels that familiar voice like an ice cold drop of water sliding down his back, and immediately he slumps down in his seat in a foolish attempt to hide a face Eraserhead has never actually seen.

What god did he piss off to put him so close to the hero that's gunning for him? Izuku can’t fathom the depths of his abysmal luck. He runs a hand down his face, attempting to take calming breaths.

He doesn’t know you. There’s no way he’d ever recognize you. Focus.

He promised his mom he’d do well today. He promised he’d care about Izuku. Today has nothing to do with Yami, and everything to do with Izuku’s future. Eraserhead reads a series of proctored instructions in a bored voice designed to put people to sleep. His tired eyes haven’t landed on him once. He’s okay. He can do this.

Even if he can’t find it in himself to care much for his own future, he’ll do this for his mom. He’ll give her something she can boast about to her coworkers, or the friends she’s steadily making during her morning workouts. Making his mom proud is the least he can do for all the hell he’s put her through. Fourteen years of worrying over him, working double time to replace his school uniforms, bending over backwards to make sure he feels loved.

Aizawa instructs them to open their test booklets and begin, and Izuku finds that he can answer the questions easily. It’s like muscle memory, the way his pencil flies across the page. He hardly has to think. Confidence surges through him—a rare, exhilarating feeling—and he knows without a doubt that, if he doesn’t get into UA, it won’t be because he was too dumb for the written test.

Time flies in a series of questions and bubbled in answers, and before he knows it, the test is over. Aizawa announces that those taking the support recommendation test will have an hour break for lunch, and everyone else can leave. He’s surprised by the amount of people that stick around. He doesn’t know much about support, or how many people he’ll have to beat to make it in, but the sheer number of kids with recommendations makes his stomach hurt. Thirteen people. Thirteen people with Quirks that will most likely give them an edge. He tries not to look at them as he pulls out the bento his mother left for him this morning.

“Hey, you!”

Izuku nearly jumps out of his skin when an energetic girl with pink hair shoves a pointed finger in his face. He looks up at her. She’s leaning over his desk, and it reminds him of Kacchan in the way that neither of them care about personal space, or boundaries.

“You mumble a lot! Better not do that in the support exam, or you’ll be helping out the competition,” she says—practically screeching, though she’s uncomfortably close to his face.

“Sorry. It’s a bad habit of mine.” Izuku tries to lean back in his chair as subtly as possible. He needs some space. The girl completely ignores everything he said.

“I’m Hatsume Mei, soon-to-be number one UA support student, and future owner of Hatsume Industries—the best support company around!”

Izuku is dumbfounded in the wake of her overbearing confidence. The sheer energy she emits is exhausting. Izuku gives a weak smile, looking anywhere he can to avoid her bright, golden eyes.

“I’ve never heard of Hatsume Industries…” he says lamely. He wishes he had his mask. It’s so much easier to talk to people when no one can see his face—when he doesn’t have to be Izuku. She gives a manic laugh in return.

“That’s because I haven’t started it yet! I’m only fourteen!”

“Oh. That's great.”

Hatsume seems vaguely put off by his lack of enthusiasm, eyeing him skeptically. He hates when people do this—when they size him up. He can always see the exact moment they decide he isn’t worth much.

“How’d you get a support rec acting like this? Don’t you care?”

Not really, he thinks. If he’s being honest, the support track is a means to an end. It’s a way to be able to build his own gear… and maybe to find a common interest with his dad. They’ve been talking more lately. It’s all about spec inventions, and his support studies, and the prototypes he wants to get a hold of for his Yami suit, but it’s something. It’s more than they’ve had in years. Hatsume is still staring at him, unnerving him with her eyes. Her pupils are shaped like crosshairs, and he feels like he’s under fire.

“Um, my dad works on I-Island,” he says, because it’s all he can muster. He wishes she would leave. Hatsume narrows her eyes slightly, finally standing back to give him some much-needed personal space. She crosses her arms, and literally turns up her nose at him.

“Thought you’d be good competition. A rival, you know? I didn’t realize you’re just some legacy.”

The way she looks at him cuts clean through him. Irritation buzzes under his skin, and he realizes that being capable isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to do this so his mom will be proud, so his dad will have a reason to call. He has to do this because he has something to prove to the world. He stands stiffly, bracing his hands on the desktop.

“I am competition,” he barks, feeling as powerful as he does behind his mask. “You’ll see. And I’ll do it without announcing it to anyone who’ll listen. You’ll remember my name whether I tell it to you, or not.”

He packs up his uneaten bento and moves to the hall, righteous anger radiating through him, burning him from the inside out. He’s sick and tired of being nothing. Yami isn’t nothing, and neither is Izuku. Izuku made Yami because he was tired of sitting idly by while the world misjudged his worth. He may not be a hero, but he’ll show the world exactly what he’s made of.

 

Izuku stands at a workstation in one of the larger labs in the support building. On the desk in front of him lay every tool known to man—even if they aren’t known to Izuku—and a roll of blueprints with an orange tape seal. It reads: do not open before exam. Izuku takes a calming breath, allowing his previous anger to shift to a determined zeal—a need to succeed. Hatsume is, unfortunately, set up at the workstation directly to his left, but she doesn’t speak to him. Good. He doesn’t need any distractions. Power Loader stands in the middle of the room, his support gear taking up ample space even if his physical body does not.

“If you have questions, or need to run something by me, don’t hesitate to ask for help. This exam is more theoretical than practical, so just show what you know. You’ll have five hours. Begin.”

Izuku rips the orange seal and spreads the blueprints out across the table. There’s an exam prompt in the middle of the blueprints, which Izuku finds are completely blank. He takes it in hand, determined to do well.

Included with the blueprints is the costume design for Prospective Hero Student, No. 198, [name redacted]. Quirk: Explosion.

Izuku rolls his eyes. What are the chances? He shakes his head and resolves to read the prompt in its entirety, even if he knows exactly how this Quirk works.

The user sweats a substance similar to nitroglycerin that ignites in their palms. PHS No. 198 requests moisture wicking bracers and gauntlets, stylized to fit a grenade aesthetic. PHS No. 198 has included their own sketches. Fulfill the request to the best of your abilities.

Izuku flips the sheet to find photocopies of Kacchan’s original sketch, and Izuku can’t hold back his shocked gasp. Everyone in the room spares him a glance, and Izuku reddens, tilting his head to hide in his curls. Kacchan’s sketch is ripped straight from one of Izuku’s notebooks. He can see the edges of the ripped page, and the gray lines of his notebook. Kacchan has added his own things here and there, complete with angry little notes like kill with my knees and badass, but the costume stays true to Izuku’s original design. How on earth did he get this? Izuku can hardly remember which notebook it’s from. He’s not sure whether to be pissed or flattered that Kacchan likes his design enough to steal it. For now, he’ll go with flattered because it means Izuku has a knack for the very thing he’s being tested on.

Power Loader said the test was theoretical. It appears they won’t be asking them to actually make the design, so Izuku goes all out, making sure to add adjustments where he sees fit while still staying true to what Kacchan— no, the client— wants. He does all his math and measurements on a sheet of scratch paper, labeling every step as he goes, so whoever grades him will know exactly how he worked everything out. He tries to be neat, but eventually his stream of consciousness style bleeds through, and the sheet is a mess, but it’s beyond thorough. He supposes he’ll just have to be extra neat on the final blueprint.

At the three hour mark, Hatsume barks out a demand for a welding rig.

“How do you expect me to build this without a welder, and the proper materials?”

Izuku clenches his teeth, angry because he didn’t even think to attempt building the design. From the terrified looks on everyone’s faces—no one else did, either.

“We don’t,” Power Loader says simply. “UA’s insurance is high enough without inexperienced test-takers blowing up the lab. Remember, theoretical.”

Izuku breathes a sigh of relief, while putting the finishing touches on his blueprints. He doesn’t want to be the first to finish, so he awkwardly looks around the room, trying to gauge everyone’s progress. Was he supposed to fill up the entire five hours? His dad says the worst thing he can do is over-design. Kacchan’s request is already heavily detailed, and he’s already included ideas for joint supports to relieve the strain on his arms. Adding anything else would make the design too cumbersome. He decides to go with his gut, and rolls the blueprints up again, sealing it with green tape that reads: Midoriya Izuku, Prospective Support Student (Recommended), No. 6. He feels a surge of pride as he cleans up his workstation and puts the blueprints in Power Loader’s waiting hand. He does his best not to crumble under the other prospective students’ gazes.

“Thank you for the opportunity, Sensei. I look forward to hearing from you.” He bows, and takes his leave, heart beating a mile a minute, a beaming smile on his face.

He’s in. He knows it.

 

He practically sprints off the campus, backpack bobbing around with his pace. In his haste, he trips over absolutely nothing. Muscle memory kicks in, and he’s prepared to break his fall with a roll, when a familiar weapon wraps around his waist, and his momentum halts. Against his will, he lets out a pathetic squeal as Eraserhead sets him back on his feet.

“Careful, kid,” he says, sounding even more tired than he did during the exam. Izuku feels like he has a horrified, dumbstruck expression on his face, but he can’t find the will or the motor function to correct it.

“Eraserhead,” he squeaks out, and Izuku wants to slap himself.

“Not many students recognize me. You were going to roll out of that fall. Where’d you learn that?”

“P-parkour,” he stutters, somehow unable to lie to the man who threatened to put him behind bars less than a week ago. Don’t get caught. Don’t get caught. Run, run, run away, he thinks, a frantic mantra in his head. “I...have to go home!” He says, at an obscene volume that actually makes Eraserhead wince. Izuku shakily goes to walk away, only to remember that the capture weapon is still securely around his waist. It yanks him back like a fish on a hook. Eraserhead lets his capture weapon go limp.

“What’s your name?”

Izuku actually considers pretending he didn’t hear him, but that would be extremely suspicious. Izuku berates his penchant for falling victim to his crippling anxiety. He tries his best to beat his paranoia down with logic. He has no idea who you are. Relax.

“Midoriya Izuku.”

“Support rec?”

“Y-yes, Sensei.” Stop stuttering, idiot.

“Ever thought about the hero track?”

Izuku’s eyes tighten with distrust. What is he playing at? There’s no way he can know who Izuku really is. His paranoia ratchets up another degree, but Izuku does his best to look meek and unassuming.

“I can’t. I really do have to get home. My mom worries,” he says, ducking his head, looking at the gate like it’s his only chance for salvation.

“Hmm. Go on, then.”

Breathless with relief, Izuku runs.

 

Shota watches the odd child run away like his feet are on fire. He’s a nervous, little thing, but Shota saw something in him when he stood up to that insufferable girl during the lunch break. He saw fire and determination peek through, like the sun through the clouds after a rainstorm, and Shota decided he was someone worth keeping an eye on. Despite the nervous stutter, the lack of coordination, and middling awareness, Shota can see the wiry muscle under his long sleeve shirt, the lithe way he carried himself before his fall.

When he learned about the parkour, he saw the kid for what he was—a hero fanatic reality almost certainly crushed. Luckily, he had a support recommendation to fall back on, and, if the fact that he was the first one to finish the exam is a sign of talent, and not hubris, a good head on his shoulders. He wanted to ask about his Quirk, but a name will do.

 

A week later, after proctoring the last set of written exams, Shota heads to the support labs, where Maijima is combing through a sheaf of papers, blueprints spread out on his desk.

“I need the file for Midoriya Izuku,” Shota says, wasting no time with pleasantries. Maijima’s face is obstructed by his support gear, but the way he crosses his arms hints at slight annoyance.

“You’re kidding,” he says.

“You know I don’t kid.” Shota takes the liberty of leafing through the other files on the desk. Maijima puts a possessive, steel covered hand on the stack.

“You are not poaching one of my most talented recommendations.”

“You recommended him?”

“No. His father did. Midoriya Hisashi, head of security on I-Island. Support is in his blood,” Maijima says, without even acknowledging how ridiculous he sounds.

“The file, Maijima. It’s important.”

“So is the future of the support industry!” Maijima throws himself on top of the files like a beached whale. “He’s Quirkless, anyway!”

Shota stops short of manhandling the files out from under him. Suddenly, the kid’s nerves make more sense, his downright refusal at the idea of the hero course. Shota smiles, big and broad, and wrestles the files away. Maijima grunts, grabbing for the files, but Shota has already moved clear across the room.

“Ugh, I hate that creepy smile! No wonder you’re Nezu’s favorite.”

Shota thumbs through the files, searching for the correct M.

“I’m Nexu’s favorite because I’m driven by logic… and because he likes how warm my capture weapon is,” he mutters coolly, just as he finds the file. He fights the urge to let out an illogical aha!

“It’s illogical to try to put a Quirkless support prodigy in the hero course!” Maijima is literally chasing him around the room at this point, and Shota decides enough is enough. He makes a break for his office on the other side of the building.

By the time, Maijima catches up, Shota’s already behind his desk, stamp in hand. Maijima stands in the doorway just as Shota brings the rubber stamp down. When he lifts it, Midoriya Izuku’s file officially reads Prospective Hero Candidate.

“I hate you.”

“He’s all yours until the sports festival,” Shota says, smug. He closes the file, and holds it out for Maijima.

Chapter Text

“You won’t believe the day I had,” Izuku says, speaking loudly enough for his mother to hear wherever she may be in their small apartment.

“Ugh, preach,” a voice that is distinctly not his mom responds. Izuku yelps in shock, jumping so high he nearly collapses against the front door, a hand clutched to his chest. Dabi, the bastard, snorts loudly, spitting the leftover katsudon he pilfered from the fridge back into his bowl.

“Wha—! How did you get in here?”

“Key under the mat. Your mom is such a mom. Coincidentally, she’s also the love of my life,” he says, reverently clutching the bowl of massacred food to his chest. Izuku rolls his eyes, while he gives his heart a moment to restart.

“You’ve never even met her. And she’s too good for you!” Izuku tugs off his shoes in the genkan, and places his belongings in the cubby by the door. Dabi resolutely ignores everything he says.

“Tell me about your day, son,” he says, affecting a deep, fatherly voice that makes Izuku grimace.

“I don’t have time for your nonsense, Dabi. I have a revenge plot to map out.”

“Ah, boyfriend troubles. What’d he do now?”

Izuku throws his keys at Dabi’s head, but he manages to duck in time. Dabi cackles, but it’s clear he’s waiting for Izuku to regale him with the tale of his weird day.

“Okay, whatever. So, I had my support course test today. It was proctored by Eraserhead, of all people,” Izuku says, slowly wading into the story.

“Go on,” Dabi says, leaning forward to appear engaged, while also stuffing his face with Izuku’s leftovers.

“And the support exam… well, I had to design some prototype gear for one of the prospective hero candidates. It was his—Kacchan’s—and he ripped the design from one of my notebooks!” Izuku’s getting worked up over it again. He didn’t allow himself to feel angry when he found out—he was too focused on passing the exam, but now the annoyance slowly builds. It’s flattering, sure, and Izuku drew it with the intention of impressing Kacchan, but the way Kacchan went about it just isn’t right. Dabi whistles.

“That blows. Call his ass out on it.”

“I plan to. I’m just not sure how to do it.” Izuku bites his lip, working through possible scenarios. First, he needs to find the notebook the page was ripped from. Kacchan is a feature in just about every hero notebook he’s ever made, so the task is a bit daunting. Dabi finishes his food, while Izuku mumbles about this or that. Dabi’s good like that. He never interrupts Izuku’s inner monologue. When the mumbling abates, and the leftovers are gone, Dabi speaks.

“You passed your test, though, right?”

It’s such a brotherly question, laced with casual concern and support that it breaks through Izuku’s turbulent thoughts easily. He grins.

“Yeah. I’m almost positive.”

Izuku tells Dabi just about everything that happened with great detail. The only part he left out was Eraserhead’s casual questioning of whether or not he ever thought about the hero track. It’s a sore subject he doesn’t want to poke and prod at with Dabi. He doesn’t want to fight about heroes again.

 

Going to school after his test is like crashing after an intense high. All that confidence he felt while handing in his blueprint disappears, as if he were in a dream and none of it really happened. He spent most of the previous night going through his notebooks, searching for a ripped out page. He eventually found it between the crumpled, singed cover of number thirteen. It’s in his backpack now. Originally, he planned to confront Kacchan, but he can’t really muster the will to do so anymore.

He’s so tired. Sometimes it feels like he’ll never be able to escape the walls of Orudera Middle School with all his indifferent teachers and sneering peers. He thinks that maybe confronting Kacchan is just another needless fight he has no hope of winning. Even worse, Izuku starts to feel like maybe he didn’t do as well on that test as he originally thought. What if the three hours he spent on the project wasn’t enough to pass? What if he confronts Kacchan, thereby telling him about the support exam, only to be rejected by the school? He doesn’t need to give his enemies more ammo to torture him with. He decides to wait for the letter. Like most things that bring him joy in his life, he holds onto it with ferocity, determined to keep it a secret because if he never tells a soul about it, it can’t be used against him if he loses it.

His mom is home when he saunters in from a long day of being ignored. She had an overnight shift, so they never got to talk about the exam. He feels warm when he enters the kitchen, and sees her bustling around in a certifiable mess of kitchen supplies and ingredients.

“Welcome home, my little genius!” She tilts a homemade cake in his direction, UA’s logo printed in frosting along the top. Izuku is struck by that odd feeling that makes him want to burst into tears and beam with a smile at the same time.

“We don’t even know if I got in yet,” he says, shirking off his belongings and putting them in the proper place. He hates that he feels the need to temper her excitement, but the nagging uncertainty compels him.

“I refuse to believe you didn’t pass. We’re celebrating tonight, and the night you get your acceptance letter because you deserve it,” she says firmly, placing the cake back on the table.

Izuku doesn’t answer her, but he makes his way to the kitchen to help her clean up. He barely has the time to seal up a bag of flour before she smacks his hand with a frosting covered spatula.

“Nope! I’ve got this. Go do what you need to do to put yourself in a better mood.”

“That would involve me putting on black spandex and shimmying out the window,” he says, swiping a finger through the leftover frosting in the mixing bowl.

“It’s not even dark yet. Wait until after dinner. Do you want to invite Dabi over?”

Izuku pauses, his frosting covered finger halfway to his mouth, to gape at her.

“Huh?”

“Oh, don’t look so shocked. I think it’s time I met him,” she says, wiping her hands on a tea towel.

“But Dabi’s awful!” He’s all but forgotten about his frosted finger now. It hangs limply by his side, in danger of getting on his school pants. His mom lets out a bewildered laugh.

“Excuse me?”

“He’s terrible! As soon as you meet him you’ll ban him from ever coming back here, and then I really won’t have any friends,” Izuku says, a frantic edge creeping into his tone. “I’m serious. There’s a reason you haven’t met him.”

“That seems like a bit of an exaggeration. I’m sure he’s lovely.”

Izuku feels slightly nauseous. He can’t imagine his mom and Dabi in the same room. He can’t imagine anyone calling Dabi lovely, and meaning it. All he can say at this point is a stuttered, ineloquent um.

“Go call him, and invite him over for a celebratory dinner,” she says, her gaze pressing on him in such a way that brooks no argument.

Chapter Text

“Not only am I not emotionally prepared to meet the love of my life right now, but I’m also pretty fucking busy at the moment.”

Izuku scoffs, but he’d be lying if the breath he let out wasn’t tinged with relief. There was a lot happening on the other end of the line. He could hear it—loud banging, the whoosh of Dabi’s Quirk, and a lot of angry grunting.

“What are you doing?” Izuku asks, fascinated. “You know if you melt your phone, you’re not getting another one.”

“First of all, the manual said it’s resistant to extreme temperatures. Didn’t you read it? Some Support student you are.” Dabi scoffs.

“And second of all?”

“Huh?” There’s a clang, and the sound of running footsteps.

“What’s the second part?”

“I’m working! Can we do this later?” Another whoosh of fire, even louder this time, and a lot of yelling. He’s surprised Dabi hasn’t hung up on him yet. Mom comes into Izuku’s room, looking expectantly from the doorway.

“Don’t get arrested,” Izuku mumbles, hoping his mom doesn’t hear him say it. The line goes dead without a proper goodbye, but that’s not really a surprise. Izuku turns to his mom.

“He can’t make it. He’s working.” Izuku tries not to smile smugly at her.

“Are you lying?” Mom pouts, her eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“Would I lie to you?” He asks, feigning innocence. She rolls her eyes, most likely thinking of the six month span of time he spent as a secret vigilante, though honestly, he never really lied to her in that time. He just skirted the truth like it was his day job.

“Well, dinner is read. I have a short shift at the hospital tonight. Are you going out?”

There’s no way he isn’t going out, and she knows it. Honestly, he’s considering getting in on whatever Dabi’s got himself into. He could use some excitement to keep his mind off the impending letter from UA.

 

They just keep coming. When Dabi took the job for a pittance he didn’t realize how exhausting it would be to keep an eye on a damn warehouse. The shady owners failed to mention they were in trouble with the yakuza. At this point, he hardly cares if the warehouse goes up in flames, though it won’t be great for his pockets. The yakuza may be all but defunct in the age of heroes and villains, but they still have an annoying amount of bodies to throw at their problems.

He lights up another thug—probably the tenth one tonight—ready to be done with the job. As per usual, at least five more find their way into the warehouse. Dabi sighs, the smoke radiating off his overheated body trembling around him. He’s burning up from the inside out, and he knows he can’t keep this up much longer. He changes tack, resorting to hand to hand. He falls into the defensive stance his father quite literally beat into him long ago, and prepares for the onslaught.

Just as one of his opponents rushes in, a compact body falls from the rafters, laying the guy out.

Yamikumo stands, rolling his shoulder and wiggling his fingers—his nervous way of psyching himself up for a fight.

“Wow, it’s hot in here!” Yami waves away the ever present smoke and ash swirling in the air, and falls into a similar—though less perfect—fighting stance beside him. Dabi has to resist the urge to cuff him on the back of his head and send him home. That’ll just make the stubborn little shit cling harder to the problem at hand.

“How the fuck did you find me?” Dabi throws a ball of blue fire at their assailants in an attempt to buy them some time. The act hurts as if it’s burning his soul, but if Endeavor taught him anything, it’s how to push through that pain to keep fighting.

“The GPS in our phones are linked. Didn’t you read the manual?” He snarks in what should be a mocking, nasal tone but the voice modulator in his suit just makes his ridiculous baritone just a tad higher.

“You should go,” he grumbles. He’ll admit he could use the back up, but he’s not sure Yami is ready for this. Dabi hates himself for the thought that lights up in his head—a blinking sign that says Quirkless.

“Don’t be stupid.”

“I could say the same thing to you.”

The first of their assailants have made it through the wall of fire, only slightly singed and begin to rush them.

“Your scars are smoking. You need help.”

Dabi doesn’t even have time to sigh before their attacker is too close—clearly some lowly agility Quirk at work.

“Speed enhancement,” Yami says, presumably to himself as he ducks under a swinging arm.

Dabi throws another ball of fire to keep anyone from surprising them. He’s about to deal with their attacker, but Yami beats him to it, sending a vicious roundhouse kick to the back of the guy’s head. He goes down, his face smacking mercilessly into the concrete floors of the warehouse.

“Shit,” Dabi says, a little impressed. He’s come a long way since the first time they ran into each other on a job.

“Told you I could handle it! Oh, on your left!”

On instinct, Dabi throws a flaming fist into someone's stomach. In his periphery, he can make out Yami taking on two other people. He hears the familiar pop of his taser, and desperate hopes he can hold his own because the guy he just punched must have some sort of hardening Quirk. His punch hardly did anything.

He pushes himself to his limits, using his Quirk despite the searing pain. The fire seems to do more damage, and he needs to get this over with. The last of the yakuza thugs runs toward Yami—shouting his name—and he throws another fireball to head him off, but he dodges most of it. All he gets for trying to be a good fucking person is a punch to the face, the staples along his cheek flaying open.

“Shit!” Yami screeches, and it throws Dabi into overdrive. Despite his bloody face and his sagging, open scars and the pain of igniting his Quirk, he lights himself up. He screams in an attempt to separate himself from the agony. His opponent’s screams are only slightly comforting.

He can hardly stand once he releases his Quirk. The pain is blinding, but at least he’s not the half-charred body on the ground. He staggers around, trying to keep his head on straight, so he can help Yami. He spits a mouthful of blood on the ground, finally spotting Yami—still standing—through the smoke and ash in the air.

He’s managed to take out two more foes, but the last one is giving him trouble. Dabi summons his flames, determined to throw one more fireball, when it happens. The last opponent standing sprouts saber-like blades on his forearms, and Yami is wide open. The blade skates smoothly along his chest, Yami’s blood spraying across his face.

He sends a steady stream of deadly fire in his opponent’s direction, but he’s too late.

Yami’s already lying in a steadily growing pool of blood.


Inko’s pager pings three times and it’s no exaggeration to say she’s panicking. Three pages means he’s in bad shape. Can he even get himself to the hospital? Once he gets to the hospital, what will she do with him? She regrets not plotting this out sooner. What kind of mother is she, letting her son out to go gallivanting around without a contingency plan? Should she call him? It’s been ten minutes since he paged and she hasn’t heard anything else. She can’t focus. She needs to do something.

“I’m going on break. I need to call my son,” she says to no one in particular and leaves. She grabs her purse from her locker and hurries to the single stall bathroom. Inko fiddles with her phone, shaking hands making the process that much harder. Before she can make the call, her phone lights up, and she answers it with little hesitation.

“What’s happened?” Her tone is taut, but she makes an effort to whisper, lest anyone be around to overhear her.

“Is this Yami’s mom?” The voice is deep and unfamiliar. He sounds winded, and concerned. It takes her a second to respond. Not hearing Izuku’s voice only makes her more frantic.

“D-Dabi?”

“Uh, yeah. Hi, Midoriya-san.”

Judging by the awkward tinge to his words, this isn’t how he wanted to introduce himself. Inko can’t help but agree, but that’s a problem for another day.

“Where is he? Is he alright?” The urgency in her tone is unmistakable.

“I’m taking him back to the apartment. He’s lucid, I think. I’m almost there now. The little fucker’s heavier than he looks—oh, shit —ah, sorry, ma’am.”

Well, at least she knows where her son picked up his new, colorful vocabulary. Her mind is racing. She has another two hours of her shift, but there’s no way she’s working another second.

“What happened?” Inko barks, no longer able to keep a lid on her stress. She bursts out of the bathroom to change her shoes. She’ll just have to call in to the front desk and let them know she had a family emergency, consequences be damned.

“Blade Quirk. It’s a laceration to the chest, not a stab wound. He’s lost blood, but not too much”

Her stomach plunges, cold with dread. Her baby is bleeding. She forces herself to take a deep, albeit shaky, breath.

“Okay,” she says, trying her damndest to mimic Dabi’s freakishly calm tone. “I’m coming. Just try to stop the bleeding. There’s a med bag in the hall closet. I’m coming.”

She cuts off the call and hastens toward the exit, but something stops her. Her med bag at home is little more than a first aid kit. She needs more than bandaids and gauze, and she’s surely almost out of sutures from the last time she had to stitch him up.

“Fuck,” she hisses. She can’t remember the last time she uttered that word—probably not since she gave birth, but if there were ever a time to be swearing like a sailor, this is it.

Decisively, she grabs her purse and sneaks into the nearest supply closet when she’s sure there’s no one in the hall to catch her. She steals packages of butterfly bandages and sutures and needles—things no one would miss. She stuffs her bag with rolls of cottony gauze and the thin tubing she’ll need it she has to perform a transfusion. It’s unlikely, but it could come in handy in the future. She never wants to be left unprepared again.

When she’s sufficiently robbed her workplace blind, she all but sprints home, cutting her usual ten minute walk to a hasty six minutes.

 

Inko bursts through the door to find her son splayed out on the tiles of their small kitchenette, his Yami suit in tatters, cut away at the top with scissors. She flings off her shoes, paying little mind to the stranger on his knees above Izuku, pressing stained gauze into his chest with gloved hands. She dumps her purse out on the kitchen counter, taking quick inventory of her supplies, and effectively scrubbing in by aggressively washing her hands in the sink.

She sees things like this every day in the hospital—nasty cuts, internal bleeding, broken bones jutting from red, raw skin—but she’s never seen Izuku like this, and it’s hard to separate herself from that. He’s pale, freckles stark against pallid skin. She wills herself to snap out of mom mode with a sharp shake of her head as she falls to her knees.

“Alright. Let me see it,” she says, trying to affect a calm demeanor. Dabi jolts when she addresses him, but he does as he’s told.

The gash in Izuku’s chest is dark with blood, both old and new. Dabi did a good job of stemming the blood flow. She sets to work, cleaning the edges with antiseptic. She’ll have to find a way to get him meds later, to stave off infection. Painkillers will be easy enough to find, but those will be a bit trickier.

“How long has he been out?”

“In and out for the last forty-five minutes. An hour at most.”

Inko nods while expertly preparing the sutures. She’s surprised to find her hands don’t shake. She must be running purely on muscle memory.

“Is there anything I can do?” Dabi asks, just as she sinks the hooked needle of the suture in Izuku’s skin. The sharp prodding elicits a groan from him, but that’s about it. It’s best that he doesn’t move too much while she’s closing the wound. It’s not quite as dire as the scene her panicked mind conjured up on the way over here, but dread still strikes her like a bolt of lightning.

She looks up at Dabi for the first time since she entered the apartment, but only for a moment. That small moment is enough to see that he’s exhausted. Burn scars cover half his face, but they look old, held up by shoddy staples. The left side of his face sags, the staples ripped and bloody. How did Izuku come to meet this mysterious, rough hewn person? Izuku has a soft spot for strays, always coming home with dirty kittens and goopy-eyed puppies when he was younger, but Dabi doesn’t look like the type to want to be rescued.

“Probably not. If you’d like, you can go clean yourself up. You might be able to find some clothes that fit you in Izuku’s room.”

“That’s okay,” he says quickly. She takes her eyes off her work again to stare sharply at him.

“You’re covered in blood—some of it your own, I’m sure,” she says, her voice scolding and motherly. “Go clean up, and I’ll help you with your injuries when you get back.”

Dabi sighs, lazily pushing himself to standing. From the corner of her eye, it appears to be much harder than it ought to.

What did they get themselves into tonight?

“Yes, ma’am,” he mutters, tired and defeated, and trudges off down the hall, as if he knows their apartment intimately. With the amount of food that goes missing from the fridge, she suspects that he’s spent a great deal of time here.

Izuku starts twitching more towards the end of her suturing, and it’s clear he’s awake and trying not to move. His face tenses up, and he makes a fist every now and then.

“Izuku?” Her voice is low and tentative. She wants to be soothing, but she feels like she’s about to break under the pressure of her terror as she ties off the last stitch.

“Ma,” is all he can manage to say, and it breaks her heart. She wants to scream at him just as much as she wants to gather him in her lap and hug the life out of him. She wipes her teary eyes in the crook of her elbow, careful not to touch her bloody, sterile gloves.

“You’re going to be okay. How are you feeling?”

She covers the wound in gauze, talking him through her ministrations. Hot tears pool in her eyes, and she lets them fall.

“Lucky,” he mumbles. “Hurts, though.”

“Of course it hurts. You got stabbed,” she says harshly, letting all her panic and pain and fury leak out through voice. She can’t believe this happened. It’s one thing to theoretically imagine how dangerous vigilantism is—it’s another thing entirely to see the toll it takes in front of her.

“Not stabbed. It was more like a… a swoosh.”

“I’ll try to find you some painkillers soon.”

“Where’s Dabi?”

“I’m here,” Dabi says, skulking back to the kitchen in fresh clothes—one of Izuku’s baggier sweatshirts, and a pair of gym shorts that ride far too high up on Dabi’s longer legs. His arms stick out too far as well, the sleeves stopping high above his wrists.

“Did you get paid for the job?” Izuku asks, albeit woozily.

“Too busy carrying your dumbass across town,” Dabi says, and then he looks very much like he’d like to rewind the last few seconds. His vaguely startled eyes pull to Inko’s. “I mean—”

“See, Mom? Told you he’s awful.”

That forces a laugh out of her, and her head starts to feel the slightest bit dizzy as her adrenaline leaves her. What a stressful night.

“Thank you for saving my dumbass son, Dabi.” She gives him her best smile, and Izuku groans, displeased with being ganged up on.

Chapter Text

“My suit is ruined,” Izuku says, pouting, eyeing the blood-soaked tatters across the room that he hadn’t had the heart to get rid of yet. He’s hardly moved from his bed in the last two days, only getting up for bathroom breaks. His mom—or Dabi, when she’s at work—bring all his meals to him.

It’s surreal to see Dabi in the role of caretaker, even if he’s only nice about it when his mom is watching.

Today, Dabi has no qualms about abusing him while he spoon feeds him soup. Izuku has tried to tell everyone that spoon feeding him is overkill, but the fact remains that the slightest movement of his arms pulls uncomfortably at his slowly healing skin. He’s going stir crazy. Dabi contacted a less than legal healer yesterday, but he hasn’t heard anything back yet.

“You needed an upgrade, anyway. You need more protective lining if you’re going to get stabbed all the time.” Dabi smacks his forehead with the flat back of the spoon, errant drops of miso splattering Izuku’s cheeks.

“It was one time! And I didn’t get stabbed. It was a swoosh!”

“You nearly gave your mother a heart attack.”

“Ugh.” Izuku throws his head back against his pillows, and a small lance of pain shoots through his chest. His painkillers must be wearing off. How does Dabi walk around with staples all over his body so casually? “You sound like my dad.”

His dad had, in fact, said the very same thing when they talked yesterday. It was strange. Izuku couldn’t remember the last time his father had sounded so strict with him, so worried about his safety. Izuku didn’t want to admit that part of him was glad for his injury because even if his dad was reaming him out for being reckless, at least it proved he cared. He’d never share that thought with anyone, though.

“I’m your new dad. I’ve practically moved in,” he says smugly.

“Pervert. I can’t believe you’re still saying all this now that you’ve met my mom.”

“Why not? She’s a fucking treasure.”

Izuku seriously considers ripping his stitches and tackling Dabi to the ground, but before he can summon the will to injure himself further, there’s a knock at the door. They both freeze, as if even breathing too heavily will alert the person on the other side of the door of their presence.

“Ignore it,” Izuku whispers. Whoever it is is unexpected, and therefore, unwelcome. Dabi nods, but the knocking turns into banging, and suddenly Izuku knows exactly who it is.

“I know you’re in there, Deku!”

Izuku sighs, smacking his head against his pillow again.

“Think he’ll leave if we just don’t answer?”

“Not a chance. Kacchan’s stubborn.”

Dabi stands and pushes Izuku’s bedding up to his chin, then he crosses the room to hide any traces of illicit vigilante activity.

“Look sick and pathetic. We’ll nip this shit in the bud, once and for all.”

Izuku is slightly panicking, but he does as he’s told. It’s a good thing that his skin is still a little pallid, his hair a bit greasy. It lends credence to the story his mom fed the school—that he’s home sick with the flu.

 

“What?” Dabi barks the second he opens the door. Bakugo stands, somehow looking smug without actually doing anything, a few school books in his hand. The déjà vu of the moment isn’t lost on either of them.

“Where the hell is Deku? Why are you always here?”

“Izuku is sick,” he says, emphasizing his given name, mostly to piss off his little boyfriend, but also because he had to remind himself not to call him Yami. It seems he over-corrected. Bakugo looks momentarily dumbstruck at the sound of his name. “Told you, I’m his damn babysitter. Those books for him?”

“I’m not leaving until I see him,” Bakugo growls, puffing his chest out and standing his ground.

“Why? You worried?” Dabi smirks at Bakugo’s scowl. “That’s cute.”

Bakugo takes a deep breath, presumably to yell a long string of expletives, but Yami makes a show of coughing loud enough that they both hear it.

“Just let him in! I want my homework.”

Without another word, Bakugo shoves past Dabi and makes a bee line for Yami’s bedroom, like he’s familiar with the apartment. He can’t say he’s surprised, but it does make him wonder. Dabi isn’t one to concern himself with the dramatics of twelve year olds, but he’s never seen a relationship as strange as theirs. It makes protectiveness rise in his chest—a wholly unwelcome emotion. He saunters after the blonde, rolling his eyes.

“Thanks for my books. Can we skip the interrogation, though? I’m tired,” Yami says tightly, his fists gripping the top edge of the comforter, pulling it closer to his chin.

Bakugo huffs, and in one quick movement yanks Yami’s covers completely off the bed, only to reveal Yami’s dumb tuxedo t-shirt and his plaid boxers. Yami gives a jolt in surprise, and Dabi notes that he hides the pain that movement caused pretty well.

“K-Kacchan! What the hell?” Yami shrieks, his face the shade of a ripe tomato. Bakugo’s not faring much better. Dabi can see the tips of his ears turning pink. He’d be a fool not to capitalize on all the awkward, hormonal teen embarrassment around him.

“You could cut the sexual tension in here with a knife.” He fans himself, really hamming it up. “Try to keep it in your pants til he’s feeling better, kid.”

Yami makes a sound like an ancient dial-up connection, and Bakugo tosses the wadded up comforter in his fists back on the bed.

“Fuck off!” The high blush on his cheeks does little to make him look threatening, and Dabi chuckles.

“I’ll let Miss Inko know you brought his homework. Now, beat it.”

Bakugo, for once, doesn’t need to be told twice, his embarrassment propelling him to the door at a breakneck pace. He shoves the booksat Dabi’s chest, and gets the hell out of dodge. He gives Yami a thumbs up, smirking at the please, kill me look on his face before he escorts Bakugo out the door.

 

BONUS

Katsuki walks home in a state of shock, his face still warm and probably a gross shade of blotchy pink. He thought for sure Deku’s absence at school was because of something nefarious. He hates being wrong.

What he hates even more is that he’s unable to get the visual of Deku’s legs out of his head. It’s been a long time since he’s seen him out of his school uniform, but he wasn’t prepared for the thick cords of muscle in his thighs and calves. He knew he was training for something, but he never imagined he was training hard enough to grow out of his skinny, little nerd body.

Katsuki huffs, pissed that finding out what Deku’s up to has proven to be more difficult than he previously thought.