Midoriya awoke to the one-two beat of migraine dancing in his brain. It wasn't the 'pushed too hard during a martial arts lesson' kind of pain, either. This was 'one of the kids at school got jealous a weak, Quirkless nerd like Midoriya has All Might for a dad and cornered him behind the cafeteria dumpsters' kind of pain.
Even though he was stirring back to consciousness, he resisted the urge to groan. "Evaluate your surroundings first before announcing ‘I am here!’" Dad had always said. So that's what he did. Ignoring the aching in his head, he listened for any hint of his location.
The surface beneath him was cold and smooth. He thought it might be metal, or maybe linoleum. He couldn’t feel wind or sun, and that struck him as odd. Indeed, the atmosphere around him was still, completely without the ever-present chaos of a schoolyard.
Why am I expecting to hear the schoolyard?
Oh yeah. That's the last place I remember being.
He remembered taking his sixth grade science textbook with him to recess so he could study under one of the trees. They were doing a unit on Quirks, so naturally he wanted to understand as much as possible. He remembered pressing his nose close to the book, hoping maybe it could tell him why. Why didn't he have a Quirk? His father was the most amazing hero in the world, and his mother has something . What was wrong with-
A clattering, creaking, splintering sound snapped him out of his spiralling thoughts. There were footsteps, the groan of wooden stairs being assaulted. Someone large. An adult.
Midoriya peeked out through pale green lashes, trying to get a look without giving himself away. What he saw was fire.
"Well?" a voice boomed, loud like a body falling down stairs. "Is he awake yet?"
Midoriya couldn’t make out much, but he had only heard one set of footsteps descending down the stairs. However, the voice clearly addressed someone else in the room. That meant a person had already been there, watching over Midoriya.
He didn't hear a response, but the voice acted as if it had received a one.
"Great. If those idiots accidentally killed our bargaining chip, I'll see if any of them volunteer their families as collateral."
Before Midoriya could process the statement, the cold implications, he heard a clanking and a metallic squeal. Then a sudden influx of heat, like walking by an open fireplace, and something latched onto his shirt and hauled him forward.
Midoriya gave up any pretense of being asleep. Letting out a pained gasp, he flailed his hands and collided with something solid.
"Oh good, we have a warm body for the photos," the man growled.
Midoriya opened his eyes and-
Oh. I know who he is.
It was a face he'd seen over his father's shoulder, painted across the screen of his laptop. The most notorious, wanted criminal in Japan.
Well. Second most notorious. The title of number one criminal still officially belonged to All For One, but he hadn't been seen in years, was presumed dead. The current threat terrorizing the nation was the King of Hellfire: Endeavor.
The man had a face that looked like it was carved from volcanic rock. A nose sharp enough to be a knife, eyes intense enough to cut, framed in fire. Midoriya felt the bottom drop out of his stomach.
If there was one thing he knew about Endeavor, it was that the man hated his dad. Most criminals resented the number one hero, but this was different. Endeavor didn't care about money or taking over the city or the typical villain motives. His declared mission statement was to bring down the symbol of peace.
He held Midoriya aloft one-handed, swinging him around so his feet flailed and kicked.
"Shouto!" he snapped. "Hand me the paper."
There was a rustle, and out of the corner of his eye Midoriya saw the white wings of newsprint, exchanging hands with a flutter.
"Here's how this works," Endeavor said, leaning in close so Izuku inhaled the curry spice of his breath. "You hold the paper and pose nicely with me for a picture, and you don't get hurt. Deal, runt?"
If Midoriya had a Quirk, maybe he would have fought back. But Endeavor burned bright enough to make his eyes sting, and he knew it was futile.
"Don't pick fights you can't win," his father's voice echoed in his head.
So Izuku just nodded, averting his eyes. That ripped an amused grunt from the man.
"Of course All Might's brat would be spineless," he sneered. "Inferior breeding. Rumor has it you don't even have a Quirk."
Midoriya said nothing. He didn't want to anger this man, and neither did he want him to know how deeply his words cut. So he was pliant as the man placed him into position, shoving the paper into his hands and telling him to hold it up for the camera.
The camera was operated by a boy that couldn't be any older than Midoriya. His features were lean and sharp like an unsheathed blade. It didn't take a genius to see the family resemblance. This boy was prettier than his father, but he had the same fire in his eyes. They were captivating, two different colors peeking out from unblemished skin. The boy looked at him too, and for a second they locked eyes. But then Endeavor barked more orders, and the boy focused on positioning the camera correctly.
"Make sure I'm in the picture too," he said. "I want All Might to know exactly who has his son."
The shutter snapped, and as soon as the picture was confirmed Endeavor stuffed him back in his cell. It looked like an oversized dog crate, barely enough room for him to stand up.
Endeavor crouched down, peering through the metal bars. His gaze made Izuku squirm. The man always looked like he was one wrong word away from inferno, and Midoriya knew he didn't want to be the focus.
"I need you alive as blackmail, but if you cause trouble, I won't hesitate to get rid of a few appendages. Understand?"
Midoriya understood. Perfectly. He was a tool to these people, and if he didn't work as intended, he'd be discarded. So he nodded, mute with horror, and Endeavor smirked. The man was even more terrifying when he smiled.
Rising from his crouch, he called to the boy with the camera, "Come on, Shouto, we have work to do."
Endeavor strode towards the stairs, but Shouto lingered. He looked at Midoriya, huddled in his cage. Again their eyes locked, and Midoriya couldn't begin to decipher his ice-wall stare.
Shouto turned and followed his father up the stairs. They turned the light off behind them, leaving Midoriya alone in the dark.