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Fire Lily

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Beneath the early morning sun, the church exterior was a treasure. The orange light remade the structure in rich, golden shades, with stained glass windows like glittering gems. Once he’d landed, Izuku stopped for a moment to gaze at the building in awe, silently cataloging each detail. It was truly magnificent. The top of the steeple had been broken off in all the chaos, but Izuku was sure that, had it still been there, it could’ve pierced straight through to Heaven.

The sound of an explosion from the east broke him out of his reverie, and Izuku hastily moved toward the church, folding his wings down against his back as he went. As much as he’d like to take his time admiring the building’s architecture, he had a job to do, one he’d sworn to carry out. Still, as Izuku brushed his fingers along the engravings of the church’s vast, arched doorway, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss. In all likelihood, this was the last time he’d get to see it. The church, like all beautiful things, would be engulfed in flames soon enough.

Izuku put his hand on the doorknob and took one last breath before entering the building.

Inside the church, dozens of heads immediately popped up from behind the pews, their eyes widening as they looked at him. After the initial shock, many of them bowed their heads in silent reverence, though most still seemed tense, like they weren’t quite sure what the appropriate protocol was, when in the presence of an Angel.

Izuku offered a reassuring smile. “Don’t be afraid.” He said. “I’m Dekiriel, a servant of God. I’m here to escort you all to the Kingdom of—”

“—Dekiriel?” A rough voice interjected. Izuku tensed. “The fuck kinda name is that? Sounds like one of those drugs they give to human kids to force ‘em to sit still and pay attention.”

Izuku quickly turned around, and paled at what he found.

Across the room, sitting splay-legged on the altar with one muddy combat boot proper up on the edge, was a Demon. A freaking Demon. Spiky blond hair, angular features and deep, red eyes that appeared luminescent even in the morning light. He wasn’t fully shifted. Sharp, black horns peaked through his hair, a thin, pointed tail whipping around behind him. The Demon looked back at him and grinned, putting sharp, white canines on display. “You seem like you could use something like that.”

For a moment, he simply gaped. This was not supposed to happen, or if it was, no one had told him about it. What the hell was he supposed to do? He couldn’t fight him; he wasn’t certified for that, yet. And even if he could fight him, what good would it do? The Demon was clearly above his level. It didn’t take a genius to figure that out.

Izuku shook himself. The humans. He thought, Remember the humans. He steeled his expression and turned to face him head on.

“What business do you have here, Demon?” He asked, voice steady, yet cautious.

“I don’t have to answer that.” He shot back. “And don’t call me fuckin’ Demon, asshole, it’s Katsuki.”

“You do have to answer that. You’re trespassing on God’s property.”

“Trespassing? What’re you, a fuckin’ cop? “ He said, glaring. Then the expression dropped and he looked up in thought. “Well, actually yeah, guess you basically are.”

“What did you do to these people?” Izuku demanded.

“Do to them? I didn’t do shit.” The Demon hopped off the altar, and Izuku instinctively put his barrier up. “It’s your fault they’re scared. You’re the ones who fed them all that fucking fear-mongering bullshit about us.” He went down the steps and began a leisurely stroll down the aisle. 

“Just tell me why you’re here!”

The Demon, Katsuki, rolled his eyes.

“Same reason you’re here, Deku.”

“It’s Dekiriel.” Izuku sternly replied. “And I highly doubt that.”

“God, you assholes never change.” He muttered. “Look, if y’don’t believe me, why don’t you just do your little magic trick and see for yourself, huh? You can do that, right? I doubt God’s so big an idiot that he’d send some incompetent little dweeb down here.”

Izuku stared back at him for a moment.

“Well? Are you gonna fucking do it, or what?” Katsuki asked. “Here, I’ll even repeat myself for you. I’m here for the same reason you are, Deku. Evacuation.”

Izuku activated his Persentiscence as he met the Demon’s eyes.

He was telling the truth.

Izuku gaped at him, not quite able to believe it. He must’ve screwed things up. He was still a rookie, after all; he’d never attempted to use the power on a Demon before.

“Y’still don’t believe me, do you?” Katsuki said, monotone. He sighed. “You get your power from God, right?” He said, stepping closer, until there were only about three feet between them. “You really have so little faith in him?”

“It’s not that.” Izuku said. “I just… I mean, I thought—“

“What, you thought your powers were malfunctioning?” He snorted. “Y’wanna try turning it off and on again?”

Izuku stared at him for a moment. He loathed to admit it, but he was right. For whatever reason, Katsuki was, indeed, telling the truth. Izuku wasn’t foolish enough to believe his intentions to be benevolent, of course, but so long as he wasn’t interfering with his duties, he figured it’d be best not to press him any further.

He sighed.

“I have a job to do.” He said. “I’ll deal with you later.”

The Demon raised his eyebrows mockingly. “Sure,” he snorted. “We’ll see how that goes.”

Izuku narrowed his eyes, but proceeded nonetheless. Turning back to the humans, he smiled reassuringly as he told them, “You have nothing to worry about. As long as I’m here, you’re safe.” The humans seemed to visibly relax. “Now, then.” He began again, “As I was saying before, I’m here to escort you all to the Kingdom of God. In return, I only need one thing from you.” He paced down the aisle. “When I reach you, I ask that you look me in the eyes and repeat the phrase I tell you, and when I offer my hand to you, you take it. Understand?” Everyone nodded.

Izuku then directed his attention toward a woman with dark hair, huddled up with two small children under her arms. He knelt in front of a girl no more than six years old, and offered a warm smile as she seemed to give him her full intention.

“Look into my eyes and repeat after me.” He said. “‘I am a child of God.’”

She looked up at him with big, blue eyes, and Izuku activated his Persentiscence. “I am a child of God.” She said.

And she was.

So Izuku extended his hand and waited for her to take it, and wrapped his fingers around her small hand with a grip both gentle and firm.

And within seconds, all that remained of her on this Earth was a pile of clothing on the floor.

Izuku proceeded in this manner, and remained quietly baffled at the fact that the Demon had been silent throughout the process, leaning against one of the pews somewhere off to the side. He didn’t dare question it, lest he jinx the whole thing, but he still kept an eye on him throughout the ritual, in case he were to try something. It wasn’t until the very end that the Demon finally decided to break his silence. By then only one man remained: A kind-faced man in his late forties.

Izuku smiled at him. “Repeat after me.” He said. “‘I am a man of God.’”

“I am a man of God.” He said.

And he was.

So Izuku held his hand out toward him, only to falter with the sound of the Demon’s voice cut through the peaceful atmosphere.

“Him? Really?” He asked incredulously, strolling over with his hands shoved in his pockets. He clicked his tongue. “Yeah, I’d rethink that one, if I were you.”

Izuku’s eyes widened. “What on Earth are you talking about?”

“He’s not a good person.” Katsuki stated, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Izuku gaped at him, but after a moment, he felt a sense of anger steadily beginning to bubble to the surface.

“And just what do you suppose makes you an authority on that?”

Katsuki quirked an eyebrow.

“Damn, they really don’t teach you guys shit, huh?”

“About what?”

“Uh, basic Demonic abilities?” He sneered. “The term “insidious cryptospection" ring a bell? Or as I call it, the shame detector?”

“This man is not lying.”

“I never said he was.”

“Then I fail to see the issue, here.” Izuku said, narrowing his eyes. “This man is a man of God. That’s all there is to it.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes.

“Seriously, is that really all that matters to you assholes? Obedience?” He scoffed. “So, what? Do you think believing in God and being a piece of shit are, like, fuckin’ mutually exclusive properties?”

Izuku opened his mouth to respond, but no words came out.

Katsuki smirked, and took it as a cue to continue, beginning a casual stroll, slowly circling the man.

“Again, feel free to use your little magic trick on me if you don’t believe me, but I’m not kidding. This guy’s a piece of shit.”

“You’re gonna have to be more specific than that.” Izuku spat.

“He beats his wife and kids.” Katsuki announced. “Used to, anyway. Probably would still be doin’ it, if not for the— well.” He gestured toward a window, where towers of smoke could be seen billowing on the horizon.

Izuku stared at him for what felt like hours, frozen in shock, unsure how to proceed. He activated his Persentiscence and looked the Demon in the eye.

He wasn’t lying.

But he had to be, didn’t he?

He turned his attention toward the man again.

“Sir, I’m going to need you to repeat after me, again.” He said. “Say, ‘I am a man of God.’”

“I am a man on God!” He replied emphatically, gazing into Izuku’s eyes imploringly.

“You’re an abusive piece of shit, actually.” Katsuki interjected, and for a moment, Izuku saw a spark of fear in the man’s eyes just before he turned toward Katsuki

“No, I’m a man of God! I’m a man of faith!”

“And you’re also an abusive piece of shit, and not just to your family.” Katsuki snarled, a dangerous glint in his eye as he stepped closer, towering over the man. His pointed tail whipped around behind him, cat-like pupils contracting to mere slits, exuding a perilous aura as he stared down at the man with a look that Izuku could only describe as complete and utter revulsion. “You think you deserve to be with them, now? That they deserve to be with you?” He sneered. “Why? One lifetime wasn’t enough?”

The man abruptly turned back to Izuku.

“Please, he’s lying!” He cried, face pale and panic-stricken. “I went to church every Sunday!”

That was true.

“I’m a man of God!”

That was true.

“I’ve lived a proper life!”

Izuku tensed.

“I’ve been good to others!”

That…

“I’m a good person!”

That was a lie.

Izuku stared at the man in silence, and deactivated his Persentiscence.

He didn’t need to hear any more from him.

He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, trying to clear his head enough to consider his options. He almost wanted to laugh at the dry, cynical feeling rising inside him, because of course. Of course his very first time carrying out duties alone in the Rapture Zone he’d be forced to make a decision like this — because of a Demon, no less! The bitter irony of the situation hit him like the downpour of rain, soaking through his robes, so the mess would follow him wherever he went. Of course it had to happen this way, but Izuku was careful to keep his expression neutral.

As far as he knew, there weren't any explicit rules about refusing passage to a true believer, but the consequences for any failure to adhere to the guidelines, if discovered, could be severe.

Still, when he thought about the man’s wife and children, about the pain he’d be exposing them to if he were to let the man through… he couldn’t do it. Maybe there was something wrong with his Persentiscence, and this man wasn’t actually a man of God at all. It certainly seemed more likely than what the Demon was suggesting. But in either case, he still couldn’t do it, not in good conscience.

Izuku looked around the church, checking to make sure it was really just him, the man and Katsuki. It was.

No one would have to know.

Steeling himself, he turned toward Katsuki again.

“What will you do with him if I leave him here?” He asked carefully.

Both the man and the Demon seemed shocked. The man dropped to his knees and began pleading for mercy, but Izuku clenched his teeth and ignored it, staring into the Demon’s wide, glowing, red eyes, awaiting his response.

“Well?” He prompted.

Katsuki cleared his throat. “I mean, I’d just take him with me. It’s not my area really, but I can transport a few people on my own.”

Izuku nodded, side-eying the man, and suddenly realizing just how transparent he truly was as he knelt there, looking up at him with his hands clasped together, spewing empty words and promises he should’ve never had to make.

He couldn’t bare to look at him any longer.

“Alright.” He said, meeting Katsuki’s eyes. “I’ll leave that to you, then.”

“Seriously?” Katsuki raised his eyebrows.

“Yes.” Izuku nodded. “Believer or not, Heaven has no place for those who would seek to make it unsafe for others.”

Katsuki seemed speechless for a moment, but after a while, a grin spread across his face, and he laughed.

“You’re really somethin’ else, aren’tcha, Deku?”

“Not really.” Izuku muttered. “I would think anyone else would do the same, given the situation.

“That’s cute.” Katsuki shot back, sticking his hands in his pockets again as he strolled over to the man, now kneeling on the floor in shock. He lightly kicked him in his side. “Get up, dipshit. You’re comin’ with me.” The man didn’t move, just sat there with his head bowed, staring dejectedly at the floor. After a moment, Katsuki clicked his tongue and grabbed the back of the man’s shirt collar, yanking him up off the floor. “God, I gotta do fuckin’ everything around here.”

“No, please…” The man said, quiet and broken.

He scoffed. “Shut the fuck up, you heard the nerd.”

Nerd?

Izuku blinked several times in confusion, but opted not to say anything as Katsuki began dragging the man toward the door. It was only when he was turning the handle that Izuku gathered his thoughts enough to get one last word in.

“Wait!” He called out.

“What?”

“What…” He hesitated. “What’ll you do after this?”

Katsuki stared at him for a moment, then smirked.

“I don’t have to answer that.” He replied.

The sound of the door falling shut echoed within the church, and he was gone.


At the shrill cry of the whistle, Izuku shot into the air. With his arms firmly at his sides, he kept his gaze locked on the center of the first hoop, ensuring a clean goal as he cleared it. It was all muscle memory at this point. His body knew exactly what to do, those subtle shifts in his center of gravity which had once confounded him were now second nature. The wind whipped his hair as he picked up speed, body twisting and turning as he zigzagged through each ring. The last ones were always the trickiest, at least as far as accuracy was concerned. With ten hoops stacked vertically from the ground up, they sent you into a nose dive from start to finish, only made more intimidating due to the rings’ decreasing diameter, which forced you to pull your wings inward. As Izuku’s body torpedoed through those final hoops, he silently cursed himself as he felt the tips of his wings hit the last few rings, but he still managed to make the final, crucial landing, extending his wings as soon as he cleared the last hoop and twisting his body upright just before his feet touched the ground.

“Thirty-six-point-eight seconds,” The instructor announced. “Forty-six out of fifty. Up next, Iida!”

Izuku quickly stumbled off the landing block, panting as he moved to rejoin Uraraka on the sidelines.

“You beat your record,” she said, patting his shoulder.

Izuku offered a small, sheepish smile. “Only by a second, though. And last week I had forty-seven out of fifty.”

She shrugged. “Accuracy isn’t everything.”

Izuku laughed. “Says the girl who’s gotten fifty out of fifty every week for the past two months.”

She rolled her eyes and grinned. “At a minimum time of forty-four seconds, Izuku.”

“Yeah, well—“ He began, but stopped at the sound of the instructor’s booming voice.

“Thirty-one seconds, even!” He shouted. “Forty-nine out of fifty!”

Panting slightly, Iida made his way toward them.

“Congratulations, Iida!” Izuku beamed.

“That last hoop,” Iida muttered. “It’s always that last hoop…”

Uraraka smirked, waving her hand in front of his his face. “Hello? Anyone there?” 

“Ah— my apologies!” He sputtered. “Thank you, Midoriya.” He smiled.

Izuku shook his head and grinned. “You really are your own worst critic, Iida. You have the best record in the class!”

He averted his eyes. “Other than Todoroki, you mean.”

“Oh, for—“ Uraraka scoffed. “Todoroki’s not in this class, anymore!”

“That’s why he was the first to ascend.” Izuku chimed in. “And that’s why you’ll be the second!”

“Well, I don’t know about that.” He replied, cheeks dusted red. “We’re all passing with flying colors…”

“Up next, Shinsou!” The instructor shouted.

“Ah. You might’ve spoken too soon.”

Izuku winced. “Uraraka, don’t say that.” He chided.

But she wasn’t wrong, as was made evident by the way Shinsou clumsily landed, almost a full minute later.

“Fifty-eight seconds.” The instructor said. “Twenty-six out of fifty.”

Shinsou made his way over to them with a sour look on his face. Izuku patted his arm.

“You’ll get the hang of it. You’ve only been here two months.” He consoled him. “It took me almost three just to get to twenty-five.”

Shinsou smiled slightly, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.


It was early evening by the time class ended, and Izuku resisted the urge to yawn as he stared into space, doing his best to keep his eyes open while All Might passed out their weekly progress reports. He perked up slightly when he received his, looking over it silently at his desk. There wasn’t anything incredibly novel about it — mostly the same suggestions he’d been receiving for the past few months, more or less. Defensive flying, weight training, logging progress. He slid the paper into his bag after a minute and stood, bowing and offering his thanks to All Might as he prepared to leave, only to stop in his tracks upon feeling a heavy hand on his shoulder.

“Ah!” All Might said, suddenly reaching into his pocket and retrieving a scrap of paper. “Sorry to trouble you, Midoriya, but would you mind dropping by the library? There’s this book I really need for tomorrow. I’d go there myself, but the administration has called a meeting this evening.”

Izuku accepted the piece of paper, smiling. “Of course, All Might. It’s no trouble at all, though…”  Izuku glanced down at the paper, squinting at the hastily scrawled directions. “Which level is it?”

“Six.” All Might replied, with an air of apology. “You shouldn’t have any trouble carrying it, though.”

He nodded. “I’ll go right away!”

“Thank you,” he said, putting his hands together. “I really appreciate it. You can just leave it in my office in the morning, if that works.”

“No problem!” He smiled.

“I might go with you, actually.” Shinsou then said. “I’d like to see if I can find any useful books on flight control. If that’s alright.”

“Of course, Shinsou.” He beamed.

Shinsou averted his eyes.


The trek to the library was never a very long one.

Though the four concentric, circular walls of heaven kept the different classes of Angels divided, the library was one of the few truly communal spaces, unless one counted the outermost ring, wherein all were welcome, but only the lowest would typically live. Still, although the walk was objectively short, the cold bite of the December air made it feel like an eternity. Izuku shivered, rubbing his arms as he shuffled down the stone pathway.

“Are you alright?” Shinsou asked. “You didn’t bring a coat, did you?”

Izuku laughed. “I didn’t. Guess I just didn’t expect it to get this cold, tonight.”

He hummed, pushing the fur-lined hood of his coat off his head. “You could wear mine, if you want.” He offered.

“Oh!” Izuku squeaked. “No, no, that’s okay. We’re almost there, anyway. Thank you, though!” He said.

He shrugged. “If you’re sure.”

“Thank you,” Izuku repeated, before looking up at the lavender sky, the color fading as the night creeped closer. He could see the library up ahead, the vast walls stretching far in both directions, forming a perpendicular intersection with the second ring, and indeed, all the others. As they grew closer, he picked up his pace until they stood before the massive entryway, and breathed a sigh of relief once they were out of the cold.

“He said it was level six, didn’t he?”

“Yeah. Don’t worry, though. I know where to find it. You said you wanted to look at flight books, right?”

Shinsou smiled lightly, and nodded. “See you in a bit, then.” He said, and with that, the two of them parted ways into the labyrinth of bookshelves.

Izuku paced down the aisles between the vast rows of books, though he didn’t pay them any mind, instead focused on the sparse furniture surrounding him. He searched until he found a potted plant with silver-tipped leaves and lavender flowers, and after a quick glance over his shoulder, he reached down into the corner behind it. Sure enough, there was a book stashed away there, and though it was a bit heavy, it was nothing he couldn’t handle. Izuku shook his head, smiling nostalgically as he recalled the first time he’d been asked to do this. “It’s to keep other people from taking it if I need it!” All Might had said. “You’ll understand when you’re at my level, Midoriya. Everyone does it!”

He laughed softly, leaning back against one of the shelves, examining the cover. He narrowed his eyes a bit. Selected Fairytales, it read.

He blinked.

This is level six?

With a slight frown, Izuku tried to open the book, but sure enough, the cover remained firmly closed, and on the spine, a large number six began to glow in response to his attempt. He pursed his lips, turning the book over in his hands. There wasn’t any sort of description on the back, though he couldn’t say he was surprised.

Just what kind of fairytales are these? He wondered, but after a moment, he sighed, sliding the book into his bag. Maybe I’ll ask All Might about it later.

Glancing around the aisle, Izuku yawned as the exhaustion started to catch up to him again.

I should probably go find Shinsou, he thought, but he made no move to follow through with it. Leaning back against the shelves, he instead allowed his gaze to wander lazily over the rows of books until a flash of red caught his eye. It was a pretty hefty book, and he leaned forward slightly as he read the bold lettering.

The Demonic Code: Morality and Ethics for the Godless

Izuku’s breath hitched. He looked around nervously, confirming he was alone before reaching out toward it, his hand trembling slightly as he grabbed the spine and pulled. But it wouldn’t budge. As if it were a permanent fixture on the shelf, it remained exactly as it was. As Izuku retracted his hand, he squinted at the number that illuminated the spine.

Nine.

He frowned.

Well, I guess I won’t be reading that one anytime soon. Or ever.

Izuku sighed—

“Midoriya?”

—then nearly jumped out of his skin. Quickly turning around, he found Shinsou standing about five feet away.

“Ah, sorry about that.” He said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“No, no, you’re fine!” He replied, though his heart was still racing. Shinsou looked him up and down.

“Did you find it?”

It took a second for Izuku to remember what he was talking about.

“Y-Yeah!” He eventually replied. “Yeah, it’s, um, it’s in my bag.” He laughed awkwardly. “Did you… uhh, find what you were looking for?”

He nodded toward the small stack of books in his arms. “Found a couple. Figured I’d try them all out, see what works.”

“Makes sense. You ready to head out, then?”

Shinsou nodded again.

 

The walk back to the school was mostly quiet. Izuku shifted his bag a few times from shoulder to shoulder, trying to ease the burden. Shinsou offered to carry it for him, but Izuku insisted it was alright, staring down at his feet as he walked.

Eventually, against his better judgement, he spoke.

“Um…” He murmured. “So, I know this is kind of out of the blue, but… have you even seen a Demon, Shinsou?”

He turned to him and stared as though Izuku had spontaneously grown three heads.

“No.” He said, firmly. “I haven’t gone on any missions in war zones yet, so I’m not sure how I would have, anyway.”

“Right! Right,” Izuku said, internally hitting himself. “Of course. Sorry.”

For a few seconds, it was silent.

“Have you?” Shinsou asked.

Izuku looked at him, blinking rapidly. “Have I what?”

“Seen a Demon.” He supplied, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh!” Izuku laughed, eyes darting around. He already regretted saying anything. “Y-Yeah, I mean… once.” He replied.

“And you got away unscathed?” He incredulously asked.

Izuku laughed nervously again. “Yeah, uhm. It was… strange.”

“Strange how?”

“He didn’t try to attack me.”

“So it saw you, too.” He stated. “Must’ve been a pretty close encounter.”

“Yeah.”

“...What was it like?”

“Um…” Izuku hesitated. “He was…” Surprisingly decent, he wanted to say. But he couldn’t say that, so instead he said, “…Crass.”

Shinsou snorted. “Guess I’m not too surprised.” He said, pausing. “Be careful, Midoriya. Don’t let them fool you. Even if they seem non-combative, don’t turn your back on them. They’ll try to trick you, catch you off guard.”

“Oh, of course. I’m always very cautious, don’t worry!” He assured him. “It was an isolated incident, anyway.”

Shinsou hummed. “To think they’d even dare to speak to you. Bastards. Can’t let them get close to you.” He muttered. “Can’t let them out of your sight.”

As they passed in front of the gates to the third circle, the lanterns on either side automatically glowed red in the darkness, denying them entry, despite them not seeking it. The lanterns returned to their regular, golden glow as soon as they moved out of range, but for a moment, he felt the glow of red bleed through his skin, revealing, like a paper doll pressed up against the window.


After a couple of relatively uneventful rescue missions, Izuku was beginning to think he’d truly seen the last of Katsuki.

He’d settled into a routine, more or less. Every other day, Izuku would wake up before dawn, get dressed and make his way outside. He’d walk from the dormitory in Heaven’s second circle to the golden gate on the edge of the first, where he’d be given a map marked with all the churches he would be tasked with evacuating that day. He’d then fly down to the surface and get to work, and, if he acted efficiently, he’d finish by around six o’clock in the evening, at which point he’d return the exact same way he’d come, and then promptly pass out in exhaustion.

It wasn’t that Izuku was bored, per se. He enjoyed what he did — he was helping people! But still, every time he sent up someone who seemed just a little too reluctant to look him in the eye, he couldn’t help but think of the Demon. That sense that there was something there, some dark secret hiding behind that well-kept exterior lingered long after the clothes hit the floor, and he wanted to ask what exactly they’d done to cause it, but he wouldn’t know what to ask.

It was a fantastic ability, insidious cryptospection. To be able to see into the souls of humans and instantly know each and every shameful thing they had ever done. It made sense for Demons to have such an ability, but Izuku had to wonder why he’d never heard of such a thing among Angels. It’d certainly make the job much easier, make the screening process far more comprehensive.

These were the thoughts that populated Izuku’s mind one Sunday, as he wandered from place to place in a daze, his exhaustion gradually getting the better of him. He wasn’t sure why they’d assigned him so many locations that day. Frankly, it was sort of unreasonable, and he would’ve been angry about it, had the work not been so important. Maybe it was because things had gotten worse on Earth, or maybe it was because they’d noticed him working hard and elected to give him extra work as a result. Either way, it was an unfortunate situation, but he didn’t know how to be upset about it without feeling bad for being upset.

By the time Izuku finished clearing out the last church, it was nighttime. The stars above lit the sky up brightly, but the hulking structure of the buildings around him cut deep, jagged shadows into the cityscape.

He was tired, yawning as he flapped his wings, preparing to take off, only to be harshly jerked back into full-alertness at a sudden flash of red light in his peripheral. He sharply turned around, searching for the source, but found nothing.

Then he took a step back, and his wings collided with something solid.

“Such a hard worker.” A familiar voice said, deep and husky and right behind him.

Izuku almost choked, viscerally aware, yet frozen in place.

Close.

Really, really close.

That same voice chuckled.

“Let me know if you ever feel like takin’ a dive,” he rasped, before leaning in further, his breath hot against the side of his face, sending shivers down his spine as he whispered, “Deku.”

Izuku moved quickly, his heart pounding as he spun around on his heel.

But by the time he'd made the turn, he was gone.