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Maybe Bakugou was cursed.

That was the only logical conclusion he could come to, staring up at the dark, raining sky dimly illuminated by the city lights.

Maybe he had been cursed somewhere along the way, maybe it was a ‘bad luck’ quirk or something.

The rain would have been beautiful, calming, if he was looking at it through a window. Instead he was sitting barely-sheltered under the overhanging roof of his house. The lights were on but the door was locked. He figured, distantly, that it would be locked to him for a long, long time.

“You could’ve just come home instead of making yourself a nuisance for your teachers.”

Bakugou said nothing.

“Honestly, you better not pull that shit with anyone who doesn’t love you. We give you everything you could ever want! we pay for your school, we’ve gotten you that stupid workout equipment, and we let you go out with your friends., but still you disrespect us every chance you get.”

Feet shoulder-width apart, arms crossed, back straight.

“What did you do? Did you act like you needed help? Did you try to get them to pity you? You act so fucking useless all the time to get out of things, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Bakugou did not respond.

His mother stared him down, relaxed and at ease as if her words meant nothing. They fell from her like rain, acidic and poisoned by the fire in her eyes. Bakugou looked away, ever the coward.

There was a moment of silence, his mother observing him and coming up with some new thing to say to him, when Bakugou snapped. In his head, he heard someone’s voice urging him to defend himself, telling him to get up, keep fighting, protect yourself and know your weaknesses. Come on, get on your feet. A hero can always stand back up again.

“Geez, mom, that’s a really cool thing to say to your son. What next, are you gonna call me a failure too?”

He never had been good with words.

One second he saw fury in his mother’s face, the next he was on the ground, ears ringing from a well-placed explosive slap.

“How dare you talk to me like that? Get out of my house and don’t come back until you’ve learned some goddamn respect.” She kept ranting, but Bakugou couldn’t hear it. His brain was chanting at him to get out, get out, run away. The still-healing cut on his forehead throbbed to the beat of his heart.

He stumbled to his feet, ignoring his mother’s voice picking up behind him, her sparking hands hot at his heels as he walked towards the door.

In less than a minute, he was alone. Quiet rain splashed at his feet, just out from under the rooftop. Bakugou breathed. His legs felt weak.

Distantly, he panicked about the situation, all emotions held at an arm’s length. Distantly, he knew that he had nothing on him but his phone and his wallet. Distantly, he could feel the bricks of the house digging into his skin.

Distantly, he could feel the rain hit his shoulder and flatten down his hair as he walked out from under the roof and onto the street. The street names were still familiar from the last time he had done this, even the rain and the night were the same. His teacher’s apartment was nearly in view already, the building not too far from the small residential area that the Bakugou household was a part of. Unfortunately for him, the location and setting were not the only familiar details.

Standing on the sidewalk before him was a familiar old man, face in shadow from the streetlight. His smile glowed from the darkness.

“Ah, it’s the hero boy! How are you, Katsuki?”

“Don’t say my fuckin name, I don’t know you”

The man was middle-aged with a plain-looking face. His smile seemed to be carved into his face as he stood in Bakugou’s way. The alleyway to his left seemed to seep light away from the street and he could so easily picture being pushed down it, never to be seen again. All he could see was the darkness for a second, swirling purple and green and reaching hands. Bakugou took a step back.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you tonight, but I’m not complaining. Why don’t you stick around for a while?” The smile widened. Bakugou felt small.

“Get the fuck out of my way, geezer.” God, his head hurt. He felt like he was still stumbling from when his mom hit him. He knew that he should be running, fighting the guy off, and getting away, but his body wouldn’t move the way he wanted. He took another step toward the old man, hands raised and sparking off in a way he hoped looked intimidating. “You recognize me from the festival. That means you know exactly what I’m capable of. I’ll fucking kill you before you can lay a hand on me. Now step the fuck off before I tear you apart.”

“Don’t be like that, sweetheart.” In the darkness, the man seemed to be ten times larger, looming over him backlit by the streetlight like a horror movie. Bakugou quailed, all of his courage locked inside a house he had been kicked out of, all of his hope down the street in an apartment building that suddenly felt so, so far away.

Bakugou took another step away and the alleyway’s darkness pulled at his shoulders, wrapped itself around his forearms.

No matter how many steps he took to get away, the old man loomed over him, body cast in shadow. The man took one more step forward and…

He changed. His face seemed to melt from an unassuming old man to something dark and twisted. The cheeks sunk in so far that he could see light reflecting off of where sharp teeth tented up the skin. His eyes, once wrinkled and unsettling, became blackened pits with pinpoints of sickly orange light glowing in the darkness.

Where the old man had been only a second before, a twisted, blackened creature stood grinning at him mere inches away from his face. It grinned, baring the sharp teeth that dragged under loose skin. “It’s a hell of a quirk, ain’t it.” The thing spoke in multiple voices, but the mocking tone was clear. “I appear as what is least threatening to my prey until it’s too late. That’s not good news for you, little hero.” A clawed finger stroked across Bakugou’s cheek. He couldn’t move, frozen in the orange glow of the eyes boring into him.

The quiet, tense moment ended with an explosion, rocketing the villain backwards and into the wall. Bakugou panted, half fear and half exertion, taking a few steps away and further into the glow of the streetlights. Where the creature had fallen, the old man appeared again, laughing as the plain, non-threatening features crept back over blackened skin and glowing eyes.

“Not bad, Katsuki, you’re so powerful.” The old man’s voice shook as he laughed. The air between them felt sticky and foul as if the sunken, blackened skin had poisoned it.

His mind flickered to safety, four cats and two weird old heroes and cooking dinner. The old man in front of him flickered at the same time, sprouting black hair and a terrifyingly familiar grin.

“Oh, how interesting. Is this what you find comforting? Funny, funny.” A deep, steady voice bled through the darkness. Bakugou stumbled backwards. “Come here, Katsuki.” It sounded like him, every inch like the teacher he trusted so much. Aizawa stood at the other side of the alleyway, walking slowly toward him. The scar on his cheek, proof of his love for his students, caught the meager light of the city. Waves of synthetic relief passed through him against his will. No, it wasn’t him. The man in front of him was a monster, a villain. He took a step back, pressing himself into the wall.

His mind was swimming. He knew what was happening, but the rationality and logic was floating away, warping into something unfamiliar. The darkness crept into the edges of his vision, cold seeping into his skin from the wet concrete. The fight between his will and the fog invading on his consciousness drained him. It reminded him distantly of Midnight’s perfume.

“C’mon kid, let’s get out of here.” A hand drifted into his line of sight. Familiar scars traced the skin. It was familiar, safe. He reached for it, his own hand shaking in the wind before being caught by Aizawa. “It’s gonna be okay, let me help you.”

Bakugou nodded, and the darkness swallowed him whole.