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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