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Shouta’s always known he has a soulmate.

When he was younger, he got all the typical soulmarks--scraped knees and elbows, random cuts here and there. It’s usually rare for a bruise to transfer, but for years Shouta would regularly get them along his shins. His soulmate was an avid football player, it seemed.

Shouta didn’t think much of it. It’s been researched that more people never meet their soulmate than those who do, so he never bothered to get his hopes up. His parents aren’t soulmates, and they seem happy enough.

So he’s always known he’s had a soulmate, and he’s never put much weight into that. With that, it understandably came as a bit of a shock when he met his soulmate at the U.A. entrance exam.

“Hey--hey! You, hey, what’s your name?”

Shouta pauses in his steps where he’d been trying to find his seat and turns, frowning. He spots the source of the voice—a kid with wild eyes and wilder hair that’s blowing atop his head, as if in an unseen wind. Shouta blinks.

“....Yes?”

“What’s that on your nose?”

For a second, Shouta almost asks what the kid means, before he realizes what he must be referring to. His frown deepens.

“What? My soulmark?”

“That’s what I thought you were gonna say,” the boy says with an unreadable grin. Slowly he reaches towards his own face, and pulls aside the bandage covering the bridge of his nose.

Again Shouta blinks, feeling his eyes widen as he’s met with the exact same scar he woke up to four years ago.

--------

It’s not until a month later, when he’s in the midst of anxiously awaiting his exam results, that Shouta discovers his second soulmate.

It's ...different, this time. Each mark he’s gotten from Shirakumo he’s never felt, but this time there’s a light tingling, almost itching sensation. He happens to be in bed at the time, idly glossing through his phone as he has no other weekend plans. Scratching at his abdomen he frowns--he can feel himself scratching, but it doesn’t feel like he’s scratching at the itch. It’s as if the feeling is coming from underneath his skin.

Switching on his lamp he pulls off the covers and up on his shirt. He blinks down at himself, and stares blankly in the shock of seeing a new soulmark form right over his belly button.

Right ...over his…

Oh. Oh fuck.

--------

The first person he tells is Yamada.

It’s months later, almost a year--their first year at U.A. is close to ending, and Shouta is still internally grinning like an idiot over the fact that he’ll be transferred to the hero course next semester. After winning the Sports Festival and beating the crowd-favorite loud-mouthed 1-A student, he was invited to participate in a lot more hero training activities. And, after apologizing for his likely harder-than-necessary finishing punch, he and Yamada became, well--something of friends. Shouta was reluctant at first, to let him in. In fact he actively pushed him away, citing excuses such as needing to focus on his hero work.

And that was true, to a degree. But it was mostly how scared he was--scared of how much he liked Yamada after only really knowing him for a few months. Scared because it usually took him so long to form a connection with anybody. Even Shirakumo….he still feels it to be a bit hard, bonding with him. But with Yamada it’s just....it's so easy, somehow. It’s frightening how easy it is.

But eventually, Shouta realized he couldn’t deny himself the friendship he wants from Yamada. Even if it’s all he can have, it’s more than he probably deserves.

“Can I tell you something?” Yamada asks him after school one day. They’re at Yamada’s house, his classmate trying to assist him with studying for his English final. However, as Shouta figured, they both keep finding themselves distracted with anything that isn’t studying.

Usually these study sessions devolve into Hizashi showing him some new Western artist he just discovered, or insist on having him listen to a new riff he just learned, to get his opinion on it. Shouta would first insist that they keep studying but would always eventually concede, more happy than he’s willing to admit to just listen while Yamada plays guitar for him

This time, Shouta doesn’t bother trying to get them back on track. Partially because he hates English, but mostly because Yamada sounds uncharacteristically serious.

“Of course you can.”

His friend looks at him for a long moment, before ducking his head. He appears genuinely nervous, and that too is such a rare look on Yamada that it makes Shouta nervous himself.

“I….I think I might have a soulmate.”

Shouta exhales, before blurting out, “Really?”

Shouta doesn’t mean for it to come out so blunt, but mercifully Yamada doesn’t seem to notice, he just nods. “Yeah. I mean, I think so?”

It’s not as if Shouta is put off by this, not at all. It’s just a bit of a shock, considering he remembers Yamada telling him how he doesn’t have any soulmarks.

Yamada sighs, running a hand through his spiked hair. “I--a few months ago, I felt this strange feeling on my belly button? And when I looked down, I saw a scar covering it, but it wasn’t a scar, it was like--”

“A shadow of a scar,” Shouta cuts in, immediately blushing after realizing he’d opened his lips. Yamada just chuckles, although the sound of it is slightly off.

“Yeah, kinda like that. And it happened again, just this morning. So I--I think they were, like, umbilical cords? And there were two of them? So now I went from having no soulmates to having two in the span of, like, four months? Plus they must be so young, I mean they were just born, and---”

“Yamada,” Shouta states, pressing a hand gently into his shoulder. Hizashi groans, again shaking his head.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry,” he says. “I just ...it's so weird, you know? I don’t really know how to feel about it.”

“I...know what you mean.”

Yamada blinks. “You do?”

Shouta tried to swallow the lump in his throat, and fails. “I, yeah. I do. The same thing happened to me, less than a year ago.”

Silence grows thick between them, before Yamada sputters out a laugh. “Really? No way! No, nope, there’s no way, you have to be making that up.”

“I’m not.”

Yamada must’ve heard the bite in his tone that Shouta was trying to hide, because his laughs cut off immediately.

“I--I’m sorry, Aizawa. That was rude of me, I’m just….”

“It’s okay,” Shouta says, much softer now. “I know you’re probably in shock and think it’s such a rare thing. But I looked into it a bit, and I guess it’s not. Platonic soulmates are actually much more common, but the media only hypes up any romantic ones.”

“....Huh.”

“So don’t worry about it, yeah? It’s a crazy thing, but, well. We’re in it together, right?”

Yamada’s smile is blinding, and Shouta prays the heat in his cheeks isn’t too visible. “Right!”

Shouta’s faze can’t help but linger for a bit as he quirks a grin, before looking back down at his notes.

He won’t admit it, but....confiding in Yamada about his own recently-born soulmate feels like an intense weight lifted from his chest. And to know that his best friend is going through the same thing--he’s not happy about it, necessarily, since Yamada is also so clearly stressed out about it, but it’s still something of a relief to not feel so alone.

(He doesn’t mention, however, that he looked so much into platonic soulmates when he felt so utterly confused by his attraction to Yamada, and lack thereof towards Shirakumo.

It’s not like Yamada needs to know that.)

--------

“Leave him alone!”

The words almost rattle Izuku’s teeth, clenching down on his jaw after he shouts them. His arms are trembling as he holds them out by his sides in a feeble attempt to protect their new middle school classmate from Kacchan’s rage.

The boy in question just laughs, sparks flying from his fingertips. Izuku’s eyes narrow.

“What, you think you’re going to protect him? With what quirk?”

Izuku shakes his head, willing away the tears threatening his eyes. “I don’t care. I’ll help him without a quirk.”

Again Kacchan laughs, smirking. “It’s his own damn fault he can’t stand up for himself. Just another quirkless wannabe, you should all just give up now! What’s the point?”

“No.”

Kacchan’s grin falls, eyes narrowing. “Yeah? You think you can take me, Deku?”

“I don’t care. I’m not going to give up.”

“He’s just going to hurt you,” the boy behind him whimpers, still on the ground, still clutching his scraped knee. They’re far enough away from the school now that there’s no one he can run to for help. They’re in a deserted side street--just them, Kacchan, and his snickering friends.

Kacchan raises his fist, but this time Izuku doesn’t wince, doesn’t turn, doesn’t run away. Instead, he stands and he stares.

It’s like--it’s like pulling from a force he didn’t know existed--but also not. He knows he’s always felt that connection, but he’s never been able to grasp at it like this before.

Izuku feels his eyes widen instinctively, and absently notices a stiff breeze against the back of his bare neck. He watches, amazed, as Kacchan attempts to unleash an explosion directly into his face, and yet they’re both met with nothing.

As soon as the connection is there, however, it’s gone--untethered to anything with Izuku unable to keep his hold.

Both of them look down at Kacchan’s hand, blinking, until his childhood friend meets him with furious, piercing eyes.

“What did you do to me?!”

This time it’s Izuku who blinks--the action stings, and he moves to rub at his now-dry eyes.

Kacchan doesn’t even give him time to answer, instead leaving him with with a lingering scowl before turning back to his friends.

Izuku can only stand there in shock, the boy behind him breathing in shaky relief, as he watches Kacchan walk off without another word.

--------

“Where have you been, boy?”

Izuku doesn’t meet his father's eyes, instead just walks past him towards his room.

“Out.”

As expected, Izuku feels a firm hand tug on his shoulder that stops him in his tracks. He turns and scowls.

“I got caught up walking home.”

“What the hell does that mean?” his dad asks, flames playing at the edge of his mouth. Izuku forces down a shudder.

“It means Kacchan stopped me on my way home and I had to deal with him before he would let me leave.”

(He doesn’t bother telling his dad the details of Kacchan’s abuse anymore. There’s no point.)

“Hmph,” his dad lets out, before roughly letting go of his shoulder. “Fine. I’m going out tonight, so you’re on your own.”

Izuku wonders why his dad bothers to tell him when he’s going out; it’d save them both the time if he just told Izuku when he wasn’t going out.

Thus, he doesn’t respond. He just nods and finishes making his way to his room.

--------

Kacchan doesn’t bother him much after that day.

True, his calls of quirkless and worthless and Deku Deku Deku Deku never actually stop, but after the....incident, Kacchan doesn’t try to lay a hand on him again.

His dad, however, is a different story.

“What the hell are you doing up so late?”

Frowning, Izuku looks up from his textbooks and notes sprawled across the floor. His father slams the door shut behind him, staggering into the cramped apartment. He doesn’t even bother to take his shoes off.

“I’m studying,” is all Izuku says, already starting to pack away his things. If his dad gave half a damn, he would know tomorrow are his Grade Eight midterms.

And besides, even though it’s nearly 1 AM, it’s not even that late--well, not for his dad. Usually, he doesn’t get home until well past three.

Before Izuku can even register his father move, he finds himself slumped over into the carpet, the left side of his face screaming and throbbing. He sniffs and nearly chokes on the blood already spilling from his nose.

Still caught up in his shock, he finds his body being lifted up and off the ground, a large, firm hand clenching down on his windpipe. Again Izuku gasps for air, his dad just glowering in disgust as crimson splatters across his forearm.

“Studying? For what? It’s not like you’ll ever amount to fuck-all, without a quirk.”

Izuku winces, eyes watering at both the lack of oxygen and the alcohol on his father’s breath.

Usually--usually Izuku would do nothing. He wouldn’t fight back, he wouldn’t kick, he wouldn’t scream. He would just take it, knowing that it’ll be over quicker, knowing that it’ll be much easier if he doesn’t struggle.

But this time Izuku doesn’t grin and bear it. No, not this time--he can feel the years of repressed anger finally bubbling to the surface, sloshing at his edges and threatening to spill.

And so they do--because this time, this time Izuku snaps.

Or rather, he feels something snap into place.

Like invisible marionette strings Izuku tugs at that familiar connection, desperate for something, anything, to help him out here. That incident with Bakugou months ago--whatever happened then, he knows it isn’t going to be of any help if his dad isn’t using his quirk.

Thankfully, that’s not what he gets.

With a fumbling, desperate hand, Izuku grabs hold of his father’s wrist, scraping at the fingers wringing his neck. Before he can stop himself he tugs at the strings, harsh, and let's go.

What he finds, is his left arm engulfed in flames.

And despite his own quirk, even his father isn’t fireproof.

With a cry, Izuku’s dad rips his arm away, fingers loosening in their grip and Izuku falling to is knees with a thump.

Groaning, Izuku blinks up at his dad, barely registering the shock smearing his face before looking down at his own arm.

He can only blink again, as he looks over just in time to catch the flames receding back into his skin.

Not his father’s flames, no. Flames--flames that he created.

Again he looks to his father, who’s now staring at him with narrowed, yet unreadable eyes.

“What the fuck was that?”

He shakes his head. “I--I don’t--“

“You know what?” his dad says, already walking off. There’s a small handle of whiskey visible in his back pocket, and he grabs for it with a visibly shaking hand. “I don’t care. Go the fuck to sleep. Or don’t, I don’t actually give a shit what you do.”

Izuku doesn’t argue with him. Instead he gathers his books and papers with his right arm, and retreats to his room.

--------

Izuku has few certainties in his life. One of them used to be that he didn’t have a quirk.

Now he’s not so sure.

It--it doesn’t make any sense, though. The two incidents, they were completely different from each other. During one, he somehow managed to stop Bakugou from using his quirk. The other ...he used a quirk. Somehow, he managed to tap into something, some literal, gut-wrenching feeling. It wasn’t like the quirk was coming from him, no. It felt like borrowed power.

But both incidents....during both, he felt some kind of immediate threat. With Kacchan, he knew he’d hurt their classmate, and Izuku knew he had to stop him. The other, with his father….

Izuku sighs, curling himself deeper into his mattress. He pads lightly on the bruises already forming at his neck. He’ll have to buy more foundation.

What happened, with his dad. Hisashi. Hisashi, because he doesn’t think of the man as his dad, despite what blood may try and tell him. And still, this wasn’t as rough as Hisashi had ever been with him. The burn marks and varied scars across his palms, arms, and back will likely agree.

….Still. Normally, he’s so passive. But something--something after being able to stop Kacchan. It felt....good. More than good. To be able to do something.

And maybe, now he can. Because now he has a quirk.

Well. It seems that way. He has to have something, but what? He can’t see how stopping quirks and emitting flames would be related….

….Unless. Unless it’s not the powers that are related, but how he got them! And both times, he’d been in some sort of danger, he felt desperate, trapped, or moreso with Bakugou, determined to help. But even with his dad, he was determined to do something.

So maybe....maybe it’s some sort of lifeline quirk? Something he can only manifest when he’s in danger.

Potentially good for a hero, but still too risky. Yet, if he could tap into that power somehow….

Say, putting himself in danger to activate it, and try to tap into that power….

Quirks strengthen all the time, he’s read up on it. Some kids go into high school and come out with almost evolved powers. It’s not that outlandish to think that he could learn to summon the quirk at will.

Maybe. Maybe learning what danger feels like, and tricking his body into feeling that way?

Izuku rolls onto his back, splaying his limbs and shaking his limbs. He stares up unseeingly into the darkness above him. It’s still a stupid plan--a stupid, dangerous plan.

But if there’s any chance he could become a hero.

Still, despite the situation of it all, Izuku can’t help but feel giddy. He has a quirk. He has a quirk!

He can become a hero. He has to become a hero.

Again he sighs, letting his eyes fall shut. If he’s going to go out, putting himself in danger, he needs to prepare first.

He needs to get stronger. And he needs to learn how to fight.

--------

Shouta sighs as he crouches down atop the grimey, shit-splattered roof, pulling out his phone.

It’s nearly 2 AM, and it’s been a slow night. He checks his messages, seeing if Hizashi had sent him anything--he’s been sending him random cat gifs, as he often does on nights like these. But the last one had been about an hour ago; his husband likely fell asleep, and Shouta can’t blame him. He hasn’t been taking as many of these night shifts, not since he started his teaching job a few years ago now, but they’d been short-staffed and it’s likely Shouta wasn’t going to be getting any sleep either way.

There’d been one bust tonight, an armless corner store robbery. The kid had his hand in his jacket like it was a gun--Shouta’s not sure if he even had a quirk.

But besides that, nothing much. A few rowdy Tuesday-night drunks, but as long as they’re not heaving over or throwing punches, Shouta doesn’t intervene.

Tucking his phone back into his belt, Shouta leaps across to the next roof, squatting behind the ledge. He scans the alleyways, most of them empty besides the trash and other--

Wait. Shouta turns, leaning over the roof’s edge as he focuses in on the movement he caught.

It’s….it’s a kid.

At least it seems to be, both judging by his height, and his body language each time he tries to kick off one of the alleyway walls and onto the next, and fails. Working with budding heroes, Shouta is all too familiar with that look of teenage frustration.

Shouta knows he should intervene ...but he doesn’t. If he’s being honest, the kid’s form is quite good. He’s attempting a wall run to grab onto the fire escape above him. And despite how the situation looks, Shouta has a gut feeling this kid isn’t trying to break into the apartment above. For one thing, he’s wearing an obnoxiously bright All Might sweatshirt--not exactly something one would want to wear while trying to be stealthy. That, along with the elbow and knee pads are a dead giveaway.

Also....the kid’s moves are very deliberate, and it looks like it’s technique that he’s practicing. He’s attempting to kick off one alley wall onto the other, in order to get the height needed to catch onto the bottom of the ladder.

So far, though, he’s had no luck. Just a fair amount of falls and scraped palms. But damn if he isn’t close….

Just as Shouta is about to jump down the kid makes it, managing the few meters of height he needed to get a grip onto the ladder. Shouta assumes he’s just going to drop back down, but no--instead, in an impressive show of upper body strength for a kid his age he pulls himself completely up, swinging and climbing up the ladder with apparent ease.

As soon as he’s on the fire escape proper he lets out a silent whoop, pumping his fists into the air.

Again Shouta sighs. As much as the kid doesn’t look like a burglar….

He lets loose his capture weapon, snagging onto the fire escape on his side of the alleway before lowering himself down. He doesn’t go unnoticed, and Shouta watches as the kid freezes, victory falling from his features.

“Hey, kid,” Shouta calls once he’s on his feet, weapon at the ready and flaring his quirk for good measure. “Why don’t you come down from there?”

He does, swiftly and immediately. He then walks up to Shouta, and even in the dim lighting Shouta can see the nervousness in his eyes.

“Wanna tell me what you were doing up there?”

“I--I’m so sorry, sir. I know how it must’ve looked, me climbing up there and I swear I wasn’t trying to do anything--”

“Kid, kid,” Shouta placates, holding up his hands. The boy heaves a sigh. “Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. Just be honest and tell me what you were doing.”

“I was....training, I guess. Practicing. I wanna be a hero some day, and I can’t afford to go to a gym or anything, so I’ve been doing this.”

Shouta hums. “That’s what I thought you were going to say.”

The kid blinks, his face visibility brightening. But before he can speak, Shouta holds up his hands again.

“That being said, I’m not going to bring you down to the station, but I am still a pro hero, and I’m going to have to take you home.”

“I understand, sir, I--wait, you’re a pro hero?!”

Somehow the kid’s smile becomes impossibly brighter, grinning with all teeth now.

“Wait, of course! The yellow goggles, the scarf--you’re the Pro Hero Eraserhead!”

Shouta blinks, looking down to the goggles slung around his neck and then to his capture weapon, still caught around one of the fire escape bars.

“Good eye, kid,” he states as the pulls the weapon down, again wrapping it around his neck. “Mind telling me your name?”

“It’s Midoriya Izuku, Eraserhead, sir.”

“Thank you, Midoriya. But now, I really need to walk you home.”

Glum, Midoriya nods, but he still seems pleasantly excited about the prospect of meeting a hero. It's....a bit odd if he’s being honest, considering it’s so rare that he’s actually recognized, and this kid is acting just like Hizashi’s fans do.

….But somehow, Shouta doesn’t seem to mind. That much, anyways.

The questions about how exactly his weapon works are also surprising, and Shouta tries to give it the best explanation that he can. He can’t recall anyone being curious about his weapon, other than a few of his classmates in high school. And even then, it was just Hizashi.

….And Oboro, of course.

“Wait, so it’s tagged with your DNA, so only you can use it properly?” Midoriya states as they walk under the streetlights, eyes nearly sparkling. Shouta nods.

“Wow, that’s so cool! So smart, too, especially if someone were to somehow get it from you during battle.”

Shouta pauses, before nodding. “That’s exactly the idea, kid.”

Midoriya nods, still rambling about the logistics of the capture weapon, but more so to himself than anything, it seems.

Now on the main roads where the lighting is much better, Shouta can’t help but notice the thick makeup that’s applied across the kid’s skin. He’s not one to judge, of course, but he can’t help but notice the consistency of it is pretty much on par with what would be used to cover up soulmarks.

….So the kid has a secret, and wants to be a hero.

That’s not uncommon, but what is uncommon is finding a young teenager out training in the middle of the night on a Tuesday, unsupervised, and decently far from home, considering the amount of time he and Shouta have been walking.

Or so he thinks, until a few minutes later when Shouta realizes they’re walking in circles.

“Kid,” he states, gentle tugging on his shoulder. He stops, turning to face him with wide eyes. Guilty eyes, too. And Shouta….it hurts him to see this kid like this. It would hurt him to see any kid like this, out this late and so clearly trying to avoid going home.

But something about this kid….

Shouta sighs. “If there’s a reason you’re not leading me to your house, you know you can tell me, right?”

Midoriya ducks his gaze, shaking his head. “No, no, I'm sorry, I’ll….”

He trails off, but starts walking again with Shouta tagging behind him. It’s only a minute later that they reach an apartment block, Midoriya leading him two flights up the walk-up before stopping in front of a door.

“Midoriya. If there’s another reason you’re out so late--”

“There’s not,” Midoriya states, firm. Although, he won’t meet Shouta’s eyes. “I just....my dad doesn’t want me to be a hero, so I have to train in secret. That’s all.”

“....I see. And you’re sure that’s it?”

He nods, pulling out a key. “I’m sorry again for bothering you tonight, and....thank you.”

Shouta shakes his head. “It was no bother at all. Just stay safe, okay? And you can call my agency, if you need anything. I promise, we’re here to help.”

“I know, but I’m fine, really,” Midoriya says, tone unreadable. He turns the knob. “Thank you, again.”

“You’re welcome, kid.”

--------

The next morning, Shouta wakes up with soulmarks on his palms--it’s what appears to be light scraping, small thin lines dotting across the flesh of his hands.

Shouta sighs, shaking his head as he pulls off the covers. He’s just thankful that they aren’t burn marks, this time.