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The Maiden and the Monster

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“Let’s split up,” Magne announced as she sauntered up the steps. “Clean out the rats faster.” Spinner frowned, adjusting his hold on his dagger.

“You sure? We don’t know how many there are.”

“Pft.” Magne lazily flicked her hand over her shoulder. “I’ve cleaned out manors before. I ain’t afraid of some prissy staff.” She grabbed the handle and shoved, then made a surprised noise when it didn’t budge. She struggled with it for a few more seconds until Dabi spoke up.

“Have you tried pulling?”

“Haha,” she grunted, then gave it a discreet tug. “Of course I did, numbskull! Hang on.” She stepped back and gestured they all give her some space. With a yell she charged, shoulder forward to ram. The doors swung open a moment before she touched them, causing her to pitch forward and go skidding into the foyer. Skinner hid a snicker as the rest came in after her.

“Interesting house they’ve got, here.” Dabi flexed one hand as he gazed around the darkened hall. “Maybe I should just burn it all down, kill the rats that way.”

“Shigaraki would throw a fit,” Spinner pointed out, “This is gonna be his mansion, soon.”

“Yeah!” Muscular grinned and beat his fists together, “And that takes all the fun out of killing them! C’mon! I’m getting more bodies than all of you combined!” With that, he went charging off down the nearest hallway. Dabi sighed and ran a hand over his hair.

“No stopping his rampage. Let’s see-” He flicked on the light switch nearby, and his eyes narrowed when the room remained dark. He tried it a few more times, then shrugged and raised one fist. Blue flames burst from his hands, bathing the area in an eerie light. “Hm, guess Shigaraki’s going to have to call in some technicians.”

He headed off down another hallway, not waiting for the others. Spinner scowled and drew another knife out with his other hand.

“Anyone else getting bad vibes out of this?”

“Bah,” Magne grabbed the metal pipe she had clipped to her back. “Forget vibes, I’m ready to bust some heads.”

She marched off down another hall, with Spinner dogging after her. They found themselves in a small study. Magne tried the lights, and they flickered on, then immediately turned themselves off again. She growled and flipped them back on. Again, they shut off a second later, and she smacked the wall in frustration.

“At least the AC works,” Spinner hissed and rubbed at the goosebumps riddling down his arm, “It’s freezing in here.”

“We just gotta get some exercise to warm us up!” Magne swung her pipe around a few times. “So where is everyone? Rude of them to not come out and greet us.”

“Hey,” Spinner spoke up. “You hear a vacuum?”

“So what?” Magne pulled up her sunglasses to squint through the darkness. “I ain’t afraid of no-shit!” She swore and jerked down to clutch at her ankle. “Something just fucking stung me!”

“What?” Spinner looked down at his feet. “They’ve got bugs?”

“No light, bugs…” Magne fumed as she rubbed her ankle. “Why’s Shigaraki even want this crappy place?”

“Yipe!” Spinner yelped and spun around, knives out. “That ain’t a bug! I know a blade when I feel it.” He hissed and rubbed at his ankle with his other foot. “Enough tricks! Come out!” Nothing answered him. Save for the soft sounds of a vacuum, somewhere in the room. Then-

“En garde!”

Magne yelped as something rammed a pointy edge into her shin. She looked down just in time to see what appeared to be a Roomba with several knives strapped to its top zip past her.

“Are you shitting me?” She whispered.

“Have at thee!” Iida swerved around to go charging at them once more. Spinner growled and tried to stomp on him, but Iida proved to be far more maneuverable than expected, as he zoomed around to get Spinner in the back of the heel, making him squawk and fall backward.

“For fuck’s sake-!” Magne snatched at the vacuum zipping around, and finally managed to pull off the biggest knife, one with a bright red handle. The knife then immediately transformed into a vice that twisted around and clamped down on her hand. “GAh!” She yelled and swung her hand around, trying to free it. Meanwhile, Spinner had decided the best way to counter the fencing Roomba was with his own blades, as he viciously stabbed at Iida while hopping away from his jabs. The close quarters of the study were providing a challenge however, as Spinner kept bumping into furniture and chairs while Iida deftly zipped around an area that he had cleaned many times before.

“RrrrrAGH!” Spinner grabbed the table and hurled it out of the way, having it crash against the wall. Iida skittered away from the flying pieces of wood, then spun and went running off through another doorway. Spinner snarled and drew a long katana out of his belt, stalking after him.

“YAH!” Magne finally managed to fling the vice off of her and straight through the window. She scowled as she rubbed her bruised hand, then looked around.

“Spinner? Oh come on!” She huffed and kicked at the remains of a table leg, then went striding off through the other door after him.

 

000

 

“Alright you little shits!” Muscular grinned as he charged into the living room. “I know you’re here!” He paused by a display shelf of dishes to scan around the darkened room, unaware of Yaoyorozu hiding up on top. “C’mon, where ya hidin-?”

Yaoyorozu tipped forward, pouring out a stream of boiling hot tea right onto his head. He shrieked and slammed his arm into the display shelf, crushing it as Yaoyorozu hopped down from the top.

“Oh funny trick!” He snarled up at the ceiling, trying to find the source. “How about you face me for real, ya coward?!”

“HEY ASSHOLE!”

He spun around to see Kaminari standing on the table, who immediately flicked on his light at full power directly into his good eye.

“Gah!” He slapped his hand over his eye and stumbled back, where his heel caught on a taut cord and he went crashing to the ground. His head came to rest right beside Jirou’s speaker, as she whipped her cord back around to smack him in the head.

“Eat metal, dickhead.”

Her speakers blasted out a deafening screech of guitar and heavy bass. Muscular howled and rolled away, one arm swinging out to knock her over. Something wrapped around his wrist and he looked over to see a tape dispenser up on the windowsill above him.

“Seriously?!” Muscular growled and yanked Sero off the sill, standing up. “I don’t know what the fuck this is and I don’t care!” He kicked at Jirou under the table, clipping her on the side so she toppled over, then snarled in annoyance at Kaminari’s frantic flashing in his eyes. “You little-!” He snatched him up. Glaring at the tiny face on the handle, he was met with a cheeky grin.

“Gotcha, asshole.”

A torrent of electricity went pumping into Muscular’s arm, making his hand spasm and lock around Kaminari as he shrieked and flailed, stumbling around the room as the others cheered and threw tape and cords at his legs.

He finally managed to fling Kaminari across the room where he hit the wall with a hard bang. He bared his teeth and shook his hand out, scanning around.

“Alright which one of you freaks is next?!”

His answer was a steady *thump thump thump* behind him. He stunned to see a footstool galloping across the long dining table right at him.

“The fuck-?” He started right before Midoriya leapt off to slam into his face. His hit the floor with Midoriya landing on his chest. Midoriya hesitantly poked him with one wooden leg, and when he didn’t stir he gave a cheer of joy and hopped off.

“Kaminari!” Jirou bounced as fast as she could over to where Kaminari was lying on the floor. “Oh shit, are you ok!?” Kaminari rolled around in a small arc, giggling to himself.

“Wheeee...” he mumbled, “let’s go agaaaain...” Jirou gave a short huff and poked at him as Sero hopped over.

“Does he need some tape?”

“Nah, I think he’s good. Why don’t you go tape up that asshole over there?”

 

000

 

Dabi strolled down the hallways, scanning around with a bored expression. “Not much for interior decorating, hm?” He mused to himself. “Bare stone walls, how boring.” He flexed his hands. Like Shigaraki, he wore a pair of gloves, laced with designs in blue ink that glowed faintly in the darkness. He tugged at these gloves, then reached up to drag his fingers through a pair of curtains as he passed. Bright blue fire flared up from his touch and began to greedily eat away at the cloth. Dabi sighed and continued on.

“Nothing to burn here,” he muttered, “I wonder if they have a library…?”

“Stop that.”

He whirled around, but there was no one there. Dabi scowled, hands raised and glowing.

“Who said that?” His eyes flickered around the hall. “Why don’t you come on out?”

There was nothing in the area to hide behind, but he did note some detail on the far wall. He moved closer to inspect it, but found only an ordinary thermostat.

“Hmph.” He traced his hand over the cold stone, searching for some kind of irregularity. A secret passage, or some kind of radio, perhaps?

Dabi looked up as the sound of a different, much louder voice, calling out from the speakers in the corner. “Heeeeeeey thanks for tuning in dear listeners!” Whoever it was had the hype of an announcer, rather out of place for a heist on a spooky old mansion. “How’s that weather huh? Bleh! Anyway, here’s an update on our intruders. The muscle bastard is KO! Not getting up anytime soon!” 

Dabi grimaced and rubbed at his temple. What a grating tone. So Muscular got taken down, then? That guy was all talk, not enough brains. “The big lady and her knife friend have gone their separate ways, and are now prowling about the west wing. Meanwhile, our fire guest has decided to set aflame some perfectly nice curtains over on our east wing, first floor.” Dabi whipped his head around, searching for whatever, whoever had provided his position. Again, the hall was eerily silent.

“Meanwhile!” The blasted voice went on. “The jerk with the white hair and his butler decided to sneak in through the back, and have moved on to the second floor. Everyone look alive!” The voice paused for a moment, then continued at a somewhat quieter, almost sinister tone. “-or don’t, until their back is turned.” The speech ended with a soft click. Dabi rolled his eyes. As if a half-assed attempt to scare them would affect him in the least. In all honesty, the cold was getting to him more.

He huffed and, glancing back at the thermostat, reached over and twisted the temperature dial several degrees higher. The dial then proceeded to all on its own flip back to its original, if not lower, position. Dabi’s eyes narrowed, then he slammed his hand against the wall in frustration before turning to go stalking off down the corridor.

As soon as he was gone the sprinklers on the ceiling hissed to life to put out the fire on the curtains. The thermostat huffed.

“That guy gives me a bad feeling.”

 

000

 

“There’s nothing!” Shiozaki cried out in frustration as she heaved another box off to the side. Hiding in the basement, her frantic search had yielded little in the ways of potential weapons, and a lot in the ways of dust and coughing.

“T-Try that one on the right!” Hagakure offered from the ceiling. “I think there’s something heavy in there.” Shiozaki rolled her sleeves back and pried the cover off. She pulled out some large device, then sighed when she realized it was a vacuum.

“Not very necessary with Iida around.” She grumbled and stored it away again.

“There is a sword up in my quarters,” Tokoyami muttered from where he was tucked up against the wall. “But that is several floors above us, and it was more for ceremonial use anyway.”

“At this point I’d be happy with a table leg,” Shiozaki huffed, looking around for boxes she hadn’t uncovered. “Hagakure, how are things going up above?”

“We’re managing!” Hagakure answered. “We’ve got the jump on them. You don’t need to worry!”

“I am glad to hear it,” Shiozaki glared at the boxes, her hands fisted at her sides, “but I cannot abide simply hiding down here without helping!”

“We only need a little longer to recover,” Tokoyami muttered, “Dark Shadow and I…we will not be caught unprepared again.” Shiozaki turned back to him with a worried expression.

“Is he, strong? Dark Shadow?”

“He has some ability,” Tokoyami answered, “You will see for yourself soon enough.” He opened one eye, noticed the glower Shiozaki was shooting him, and hunkered down a bit. “…He is strong,” he amended himself. “But it depends on the light levels. Down here in the basement he would have no trouble, but outside, or with fire…” He led off, then cleared his throat. “And what of you?” He asked. “You could potentially use your hair to fight, if you cannot find another weapon.”

“My hair?” Shiozaki bit her lip and curled one finger into the thick strands, mindful of the thorns. “I’m not sure, I mean it’s sharp but…”

“You, Shouji, and I,” Tokoyami crossed his arms and sat back, “The way the curse touched us, it is somewhat different to the others. And a curse it may be, but it comes with certain boons as well.” He nodded up toward the ceiling, where they could hear the occasional thump or bang. “Shouji’s extra arms give him incredible strength and senses, and Dark Shadow is quite versatile. Perhaps your hair is the same.”

“Perhaps,” she tugged at her hair, “I can make it move to an extent…but this is hardly the time to figure it out!” She winced as some sort of explosion shook the walls around them. “Goodness what was that?”

“Hopefully just Bakugo,” Tokoyami murmured. Shiozaki looked up at the ceiling.

“Hagakure?” She called out, but got no answer. “Oh…that does it!” She spun around and went marching off toward the door.

“Shiozaki-” Tokoyami halfheartedly called after her, then sighed as she disappeared out into the hall. He closed his eyes and ruffled his hands through his feathers. “Just a few more minutes,” he muttered. 

 

000

 

“Oy Spinner!” Magne called out as she stalked down the hall. “Where the hell did you go?!” Her own voice bounced off the stone walls back at her. “Bah, that little idiot.” She huffed and rolled her shoulders back. It was really starting to creep her out how...empty this mansion was. Deranged vacuum aside, there was no sign of a single soul. That weirdo’s announcement over the PA system had almost been a relief. It meant someone was here, at least.

She paused, hearing a soft shuffling coming from a room up ahead, then hushed voices. A wide smirk crawled across her face as she crept forward, pipe ready. The voices continued, but just as she was almost close enough to make out what they were saying, they abruptly died. Magne took that as her cue, and kicked the door open.

No one there, but someone had obviously left in a hurry; there was a broom and mop lying abandoned on the floor. Magne grinned as she circled around the furniture. There were no other doorways out, so they were here somewhere.

“Why don’t you come on out?” She drawled in a sing-song voice. “I’ll even let you get a hit in for free. One each.” She wasn’t so heartless that she would murder a couple of cleaning staff, so maybe she would just beat them up a bit, scare them silly.

A wooden handle smacked against the back of her head. She grunted and whirled around just in time to get a face-full of broom. She stumbled back, sputtering and spitting straw from her mouth.

“Alright!” She fixed her shades and grinned as her other hand gripped her pipe. “Those were your two hits! Now-” She broke off, then lifted her glasses up to squint at what was in front of her. The broom and mop that had been on the floor were now standing up on their own. Just...standing there, in the middle of the room.

“What in the…?” She came over to wave a hand over them, looking for strings. “What kind of parlor trick-” The mop lunged forward to jab its handle into her eye. She screeched in enraged surprise and swung her pipe at the mop, which hopped back out of her range.

“Aoyama!” Asui called out as Ojiro swung himself around to bap Magne again. “Now!”

The mirror in the corner sprung to life and hurried across the room. It stopped and faced Magne, standing in just the right place. All the lights in the room flashed on at full power, and the light reflected off Aoyama directly into Magne’s eyes. She flinched, then snarled and blindly hurled her pipe in his direction. Her aim was true despite the light, and it hit him on the corner of his glass pane, creating a spider-web crack across the surface. He toppled over with a squeak while Magne scrubbed at her eyes.

“Blasted-ack!” She yelped as Asui’s handle stabbed into her back and Ojiro swept her feet out from under her. Before she could get back up something heavy, big, and gooey landed on top of her and twisted around to roll her up.

“The fuck?!” Magne’s lip curled back in disgust as she tried to wriggle free of a damp, shaggy pink carpet. “Ew! What is this?!” She froze as the carpet itself shook with a low, menacing laughter.

“This is the end!” Ashido declared.  “I’ve soaked myself in acid! The ultimate sacrifice. Do you feel it burning? Soon we will dissolve together!” There was a beat of horrified silence, then Ashido continued, “Just kidding. It’s glue. You’re sticky stuck.”

“Aoyama!” Asui and Ojiro hurried over to where Aoyama had fallen over. The crack took up a large portion of his surface on one side. “Are you ok? Does it...hurt?”

“I…” Aoyama answered back faintly, “I am just, going to lay here for a moment, if that is ok?”

“Oh gee…” Ojiro bent forward to look down at him. “Ashido, do you have any of that glue leftover?”

 

000

 

“Guh!” Spinner stumbled out of the kitchen as black smoke, jets of water, and hurled dishware followed him. He swung his knife to parry a fork heading for his head, then kicked the door shut. It stayed for once, thank God.

“The fuck is with this crazy place!?” He hissed. His eyes darted around the hallway, waiting for some OTHER object to start attacking him. He was this close to saying “screw it” to Shigaraki’s whole dumb mission and getting out of here while he still could. Frankly, the only thing keeping him here was his pride. Running without meeting a single enemy? Hell no, he needed to stab at least one person before he could call it quits.

He prowled down the halls, katana gripped in one hand and ready to stab anyone or anyTHING that so much as moved.

He froze in his step. Someone...was playing classical music nearby.

“Hey!” Spinner barked and raised his katana. “Who’s there?!”

The music stopped for a second, then started up again, this time a bit louder and faster. Spinner scowled as he inched down the hallway, following where it was coming from.

“You mocking me?!”

The music stopped again. Spinner crept around the corner. There was a small door at the end of the hallway, just barely ajar.

Spinner squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. He wasn’t scared of no crazy-ass mansion.

The music began again. Spinner kicked the door open and leapt in, swinging his sword in a wide slash as he did. It was a small storage room, no windows. His eyes darted around the dim shapes against the wall. He spotted the source of the music: an old phonograph sitting on a footstool near the door. He gave it an experimental poke. Could it have just been malfunctioning?

He scanned the junk sitting inert around him, trying to figure out what could be hidden behind. The only thing decently big enough was that generator sitting in the corner. He slowly inched toward it, weapons in both hands. He didn’t notice the footstool tiptoeing out the door behind him with the phonograph on its cushion.

Nothing behind the generator. He kicked it just to make sure there was no one hiding inside, then jumped as it roared to life.

“Gah! Piece of junk,” he grimaced and turned around to search the rest of the room. A snarling voice behind him made him freeze.

“Oy fucker, I wouldn’t turn your back if I were you.”

The door shut behind him, and the lock clicked.

Outside, Midoriya winced as a series of explosions shook the hallway, followed by a panicked scream and the sound of someone frantically trying to stab Bakugo’s metal exterior.

“I almost feel kind of bad,” he murmured. Kouda gave a soft squeak in response.

 

000

 

“Butler, hm?” Kurogiri rubbed at his chin, scowling. “I suppose they meant me.”

“Were you listening to the rest of them?” Shigaraki dragged his hand past the stone wall as they ascended the stairs. “Butler was the nicest of those.”

“I suppose.”

Shigaraki led the way, his footsteps echoing around the spiral staircase, and though Kurogiri kept pace with him a few feet behind, he made no sound as he walked on the worn stones.

“Where is everyone?” Shigaraki muttered in annoyance. He flexed his hand, then ran his fingers over the gems inlaid in the wrist. They lit up under his touch, and he reached out for the wall again.

As the fingertips of his gloves touched the stone, it began to crack and crumble. In just a few moments the thick cut rock was nothing but sand, sprinkling down to the floor under their feet.

“I would recommend against causing too much damage,” Kurogiri noted, “This is to be your castle, is it not? And it would be troublesome if the walls collapsed in on us in this moment.

“Bah,” Shigaraki shook his hand out as they came up to the second floor. “A few stones here and there should be fine, or else this whole manor is shoddy.” He flexed his fingers as his eyes swept over the hallway. “I need to get myself warmed up for the boss fight.”

“It would be best to exercise caution, my lord.” Kurogiri tried to warn him. “We do not know how many we face, and inside, we are at a disadvantage-”

Shouji rushed out from another corridor, tackling Kurogiri into a bear hug and taking a running leap down the staircase. Shigaraki glanced over his shoulder.

“Kurogiri?”

Shouji pinned Kurogiri against the wall, his arms making a solid barrier around him. “You,” Shouji said, “You’re the one who knows something about the curse. How did you get in, and how are you going to get out?”

Kurogiri did not bother to struggle. Indeed, he seemed perfectly calm in his situation. He tilted his chin up, staring back at Shouji with an even expression.

 “I know far more about spatial magics than you could ever fathom,” he answered, “for instance-”

All at once the man vanished into a swirling mass of black fog that slipped out of Shouji’s arms. Shouji staggered back in surprise, then whirled around as the smoke coalesced behind him. It shifted around to take the approximate form of the man it had been before, but instead of a face, there were only two yellow lights to indicate eyes.

Shouji stared at him for a moment, then he spoke, slowly, “You...Have you been cursed as well?”

“Cursed is a harsh word.” The mass of smoke almost seemed to tilt its head to the side. “Perhaps if I remembered who I was before, I would feel different. But you, you wish to be free of your situation...and I believe I could have given you that.” Shouji didn’t say anything, and he didn’t relax out of his fighter’s stance either. Kurogiri sighed.

“Perhaps we could have come to some sort of agreement.”

“Your master doesn’t seem interested in that.”

“Indeed.” The yellow eyes narrowed into slits. “Unfortunately, it seems I should just kill you.”

The smoke rushed forward toward him, and Shouji dove off to the side. Kurogiri expanded to fill the hall, evidentially planning to cut him off and engulf him, but all of a sudden the sprinklers hissed to life and the lights began to flick on and off frantically. Kurogiri stalled for a moment, looking around to find the source of the commotion.

“Shouji!” Hagakure hissed down at him while Kurogiri was distracted. “Run! Run toward Uraraka! She has a plan!”

Shouji didn’t ask, he just turned and went sprinting off down the hall. He looked over his shoulder with one eye to see the torrent of smoke chasing after him. He wasn’t sure what the other was capable off, but right now didn’t seem the time to find out.

He spotted Uraraka up ahead, already wide open, but no sooner was Shouji halfway down the hall that a mass of black smoke manifested in front of her doors. Shouji screeched to a stop as Kurogiri rose up, now in front of him.

“This is my talent,” Kurogiri told him, “I appear where I wish-” he coiled up to strike, “and disappear who I wish. Farewell-”

Shiozaki charged out from around the corner and swung a fire poker straight into Kurogiri’s mass. It passed right through him, but distracted him enough to buy Shouji a few seconds. Shouji tackled him into the elevator, then jumped back out into the hallway as the doors slammed shut. Before Kurogiri could react Uraraka went rocketing up to the attic, throwing him off balance. No sooner had he hit the carpeted floor that she went rushing back down all the way to the basement. The maniacal dinging of her bell echoed around him as she went up, down, up, down, up, up, down, up, down, down...

“Uraraka says he definitely has some mass somewhere,” Hagakure reported to Shouji and Shiozaki, “Because something is stuck sprawled on her floor, probably feeling quite sick!”

“Can she hold him?” Shouji asked, eying the slit between the doors.

“As long as she keeps shaking him like a milkshake!”

“And inelegant solution…” Shiozaki rested her cheek in one hand, watching the shut doors with a troubled expression. “But, if it’s effective…”

“Shiozaki,” Shouji turned to her, eyes crinkled in concern. “I thought you were- Where’s Tokoyami?”

“He’s fine!” Shiozaki hastily assured him. “I mean, he’s still hiding in the basement, I think. I...” She looked down at the fire poker in her hand. “I couldn’t stand by.”

“It’s not safe here,” Shouji rubbed his arm and looked around, even as his eyes and ears scanned for any danger nearby. “You shouldn’t-”

“Shouji! Shiozaki!” Hagakure’s shout cut into any possibility of further conversation. “That white-haired guy! He’s-” Shouji whipped his head around to scan the hall, tensed for a fight, but Hagakure went on. “He’s in the attic, in the study-!” Shouji’s eyes went wide, and for the first time Shiozaki saw him look truly afraid.

The elevator was obviously out of the question. Shouji looked from the stairs to Shiozaki, then held out his hand.

“It will be faster if I carry you.”

Shiozaki nodded and took the hand. In a blur of movement Shouji had scooped her up and she found herself perched up on his back, held snug by his arms. She peeked over her shoulder to see the stairs zipping by below them. Faster indeed.

 They came to the attic, and Shouji walked swiftly down the hall. He paused at the door to let Shiozaki down. Shouji looked to her, and she nodded in response, gripping her fire poker tight with a resolute expression.

Shouji grabbed the knob and pushed the door open. The study was deserted, and on the table was the glass dome, empty.

Shouji lifted the glass with an alarmed expression. “Why did he-?” He turned his attention to the window. The frame was gone, with a strange dust scattered around the edges. Shouji’s eyes narrowed as he set the dome down and turned back to Shiozaki.

“The stairs to the roof are down the hall,” he said, “Do you-”

“I’m coming,” Shiozaki said firmly. Shouji just nodded.

“Fine, this way.”

Shouji led the way two doors down to a narrow staircase. He had to squeeze in a bit to make it through, and Shiozaki fiddled with the fire poker as she followed. If Shigaraki attacked them here, there wouldn’t be any way to swing it at him.

“Here we go,” She heard the lock click ahead of them, then Shouji pushed the door open and they stepped out into the pelting rain.

Shigaraki was there, standing near the edge of the roof. He twirled Shiozaki’s rose in one hand as he turned to face them, then cocked an eyebrow in surprise. 

“Hm, Monster, there you are. And my princess too.”

“Shigaraki,” Shiozaki’s voice shook from containing her fury. “shut your mouth.”

“What are you doing with that?” Shouji pointed at the rose in his hand. Shigaraki tilted his head toward it.

“This? Well, it looked so important, I couldn’t resist.” He spun it around his fingers. “Looks like it’s just a rose, care to enlighten me?”

“It isn’t anything important to you,” Shouji answered. “Leave it alone, it’s Shizoaki’s.”

“Oh?” Shigaraki’s eyes lit up in interest. “Dear Shiozaki, you know I could have gotten you so many flowers, prettier than this one.” He reached over to pinch one of the petals on the rose, then yanked it free.

Shiozaki felt her chest go tight and a wave of dizziness washed over her. She stumbled, and Shouji grabbed her arm with an alarmed expression.

“Shiozaki?!”

“I’m fine!” She gasped. She was already recovering. Grasping Shouji’s wrist, she pulled herself back to her feet. Shigaraki’s eyes went wide in surprise.

“Well, that’s interesting.”

Shouji set his feet and faced Shigaraki’s again. His eyes glinted with something dark: anger. “Give it back,” he growled. Shigaraki’s grin spread wide across his face, and he tucked the rose away into his coat pocket.

“Come and get it.”