Izuku opened the door as quietly as he could and peeked his head through to see what was going on in the hallway.
Just as he was doing so, Dabi's own head popped out of the room they were hiding in before and he glared at the boy. "What took you so long!?" He whisper-yelled across the hallway.
"Doesn't matter, I've got the girl, let's go!" Izuku whisper-yelled back and rolled his eyes when Toga popped her head out of the room and waved excitedly at Izuku.
The three of them walked out into the open and conversed as to how they were going to get out of here. Once they figured out their escape route, they took off, Dabi and Toga in front and Izuku at the back, clutching onto the little girl in his arms like his life depended on it.
As they made their way, Izuku found himself whispering encouragements to the girl and telling her of some of the things that made him feel the most at ease. He ended up going on about Eraser and Mic and Toshi to which Eri really enjoyed hearing about and asked all about them and their superpowers.
Every now and then, they would have to duck into a room or take out a villain, but overall things seemed to be going well. Too well…
Just as the thought crossed Izuku's mind an alarm went off and the three of them stopped in their tracks. "Of course…" Izuku groaned.
Eri twisted her head to look in his eyes and gave him a weary look, "What's wrong?"
He shook his head and put on a soft smile for her even though he felt like doing everything but smiling. "It's fine, I just think that they found out you aren't in your room anymore."
"What's going to happen now?"
"Now, we're going to run, come on!" Dabi interrupted, grabbing Izuku's wrist and pulling him forward.
"Don't worry Eri, I won't let anything happen to you, I promise."
"It's not me I'm worried about-"
Her soft words were cut off as the hallway suddenly lurched and began to ripple. "What the-"
"It's Mimic, one of Overhaul's lackies. His quirk lets him merge his body with an object and take control of it, but he shouldn't be able to do it to this-" Dabi's words were cut off when a wall suddenly separated him from the group with a second one separating Toga soon after.
"Dabi? Toga?" Izuku called out, his voice bouncing off of the still rippling walls. He received no response and instinctually took a step backward that he regretted because he ended up falling into a hole in the floor.
He let out a yelp and clutched Eri closer to his chest as she screamed. Soon they hit the ground, Izuku curling so that he took the brunt of the impact and letting out a strangled noise at the pain. He laid on the ground, just trying to catch his breath that had been knocked out of him with Eri leaning over him shaking him and asking him if he was okay.
He managed to get out a weak assurance that he was okay and even was able to smile slightly but that smile fell when a deep voice chuckled behind him.
Immediately he shot up, ignoring how his body screamed and cried at the movement, and pushed Eri behind him as he glared at the man who stood at the other end of the room.
The man was not as tall as Izuku thought he'd be. He was thin and lanky, his jacket sleeves not quite reaching the ends of his arms or the bottom of his torso, but that might’ve just been a really unfortunate fashion decision. His pants didn't meet his ankles either…this man wasn't even that tall, he had no right wearing this ill-fitted clothing.
Izuku already knew he was a villain due to his horrendous style, but the large bird mask on his face told him exactly who he was looking at.
"You are quite the perceptive one, All For One was correct. Too bad he failed at killing you, now his mess becomes my own…such a shame."
"Where's Shigaraki?" Izuku demanded as he kept his grip on Eri's tiny hand that held onto his own for dear life. He could feel her shaking and tried his best to block her view of the man before them.
"Oh, that child?" Overhaul adjusted the gloves on his hands and looked back at Izuku, "He's off doing God knows what, I honestly couldn't care less."
"I thought you two were working together."
"Business, but that doesn't mean I have to like the guy."
Izuku shrugged, "Eh, yeah…he's really not that likable."
"Anyway, I see that you have something of mine, and I would like it back."
"She" Izuku corrected, "Is coming with me." His eyes narrowed as the anger in his chest began to bubble.
Overhaul let out a soft chuckle before taking a step forward to which caused Eri to flinch behind Izuku. "Is that so? Well, I guess I'll just have to take care of you then. Such a pity, I know of how your quirk was stolen and I thought that you’d be quite the ally to my cause."
"Like hell would I ever help you."
"Truly is such a shame…Oh well." The man carefully removed his gloves and stretched out his hands and Izuku could feel Eri fighting behind his back.
He turned around and the fear he saw in her eyes made him flinch back. "Eri?"
"Please! Please don't hurt him! I'm begging you; I'll-I'll do what you want. I'll stay and help you, just please don't kill him!"
Overhaul looked up slightly at the girl and gave her a pitying smile, "Oh little one, it's far too late for that."
"No!" She thrashed in Izuku's grip as he tried to hold her back from running towards that monster.
"Just remember, this is what happens when people try to help you. They get hurt. They get killed. All you do is hurt those around you, that's why me using you to cure people of the sickness that is quirks is really a pitying thing."
"I-" The girl faltered, his words clearly striking home with her.
Izuku watched as the tears welled in her soft eyes and that anger that was boiling inside of him pour over. "You bastard!" He yelled at the man before turning his attention back to the girl, "Eri? Eri look at me. What he's saying is not true, okay? You are not to blame for any of this, he is. You do not hurt those around you, you are a light and-" He was cut off when his chest suddenly erupted with pain and his words choked up in his throat that seemed to be filling with liquid.
Eri screamed as he stumbled forward and fell to his knees. Izuku looked down and watched as his shirt had begun to stain red that was quickly growing outward from his chest. He turned his head to look at Overhaul and the man simply looked bored and was bringing back a bloody-tipped spike that had emerged from the ground.
"You talk too much. It's pointless feeding her lies when she knows just how much of a burden she is."
"Shut up!" Izuku gurgled out, his hate growing stronger even as he grew weaker and weaker.
"Shh," Izuku shushed the young girl, looking at her and giving her one of his small smiles that she seemed to like so much. "Don't listen to him Eri, you are not a burden. Not in the slightest."
A yawn sounded behind them and Overhaul's voice rang out bored as ever. "This is getting hard to watch. Eri, come back to me and leave that boy to die as he should've a long time ago."
"It's okay Eri, everything is going to be okay, I promise…"
"Do not give her empty promises, now you're just being cruel."
"It's not empty. There will always be good in the world and those who believe in helping others even if it means sacrificing themselves. You will not win Overhaul. I can promise you that."
"Ugh, now you're just spouting nonsense," The man faked a gag and shook his head, "Come now Eri, it's time to get back to your room."
The girl refused to take her eyes off of the boy in front of her. The boy who came into her room and smiled at her and told her about superpowers. The boy who said he was going to save her and held her close.
He looked tired. He had before, but he looked a lot more tired now. Maybe he wanted to go to sleep, she hoped that was all that was going to happen, but she had watched Overhaul kill so many people that she knew that wasn't what was going to happen.
Izuku was going to die, and it was her fault.
He wouldn't be here if it weren’t for her, if he hadn't tried to save her…it was all her fault. Overhaul was right, she was a burden and only hurt those around her.
But wait, Izuku said that she wasn't. He said that Overhaul was wrong. She trusted Izuku, but she also knew that what Overhaul said was true…so what did that mean? Was Izuku wrong? No. No, he couldn't be, so did that mean that Overhaul was?
He must be if Izuku said so.
"What was that?"
"NO!" Eri's voice hurt her throat as it came out, but she couldn't help it. That feeling in her chest had grown so big that she couldn’t do anything but scream. Her body grew hot all over and she clutched onto the boy who had tried his best to save her but ended up dying instead. Hot tears ran down her face as she screamed and all other noises around her disappeared.
Things were happening, she could tell, but she was too upset to care. All she could feel was the boy's pulse under her hand growing slower and his words getting softer until…they just stopped.
The hot feel of her skin exploded into a scorching heat as her screams echoed even louder throughout the space. Light spilled out all around her and Eri began to fly into a panic. She knew what was going on, she was growing sicker, using her superpower. The same superpower that Overhaul said hurt everyone around her. She didn't want to hurt Izuku, but she couldn't stop, and she couldn't let go.
Overhaul's yells sounded around her, but she couldn't hear them, all she knew was the growing pain in her body and the feel of Izuku's beneath her.
That was what Izuku awoke in. And then, it was light.
All around him was blinding white for as far as the eye could see. The only discernible thing in the space was himself. As he looked down, he saw his body and clothes. He was uninjured, no blood or bruises, even his scars were gone, and his clothes looked cleaner than he had ever seen them.
What had happened?
He remembered being with Eri and then encountering Overhaul and…oh.
And then he died.
So that's what this was huh? Guess things finally came full circle. Now that he thought about it, everything was so familiar to that very first time. Maybe this would finally-
Suddenly, a somehow even brighter light shone before him that caused him to squint his eyes closed and cover his face. When he opened his eyes again, his breath hitched, and his body locked up at the sight before him.
In all of her glory, the woman who had been the sole person to love and care for him until her last moments stood in front of him. She wore white and shone like an angel. Her skin was bright and unblemished, her hair full and perfectly in place, and her eyes…they were full of life-no. They were full of more than that.
She gave him that smile he thought he'd never see again, and he lurched forward into her warm embrace.
Sobs racked his body as he fell into her arms and let out everything he had been feeling in that moment. How was she here? Why was she here? Did this mean it really was the end for him?
"Shh, shh baby, it's okay. I'm here, I'm here now."
He sniffled as he brought his face up to look into her too kind eyes. "But how-"
She brought her hand from where they laid at his back to the sides of his face as she looked over every feature. "Oh, my baby," She breathed out, "I missed you so much."
"I-I missed you too mom."
"Look at you," She pulled back to get a good look at Izuku, her eyes trailing down and back up, her smile never faltering, "You've gotten so big. I guess you're not my baby boy anymore, huh?"
"Oh mom, I'll always be your baby boy."
She continued to look over him until her expression changed for a split second. Izuku looked down to see what she was looking at and saw it.
His body…it looked awful.
His skin was pale and covered in bruises, blood, and scars. His clothes were tattered and dirty, and in the middle of his chest was a large bloodstain that covered the fresh hole in it. He looked back up at his mother and was met with her tear-filled eyes.
"It's okay mom, hey, it's-I'm fine. See?" He held her face and forced her to look at him, his form flickering between the clean and unblemished one and the broken and tattered one. "Look, I'm okay."
She shook her head lightly as she took his hands in her own and removed them from her face. "No sweetie…no, you're not. You're dead."
"Do you remember what I said to you the first time you visited this place?"
Izuku nodded slowly, his heart sinking further and further down as he tried his best to hold back a sob.
"I told you that it wasn't your time yet." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, "Well, now I-I think it is."
Izuku took it in for a moment and his eyes slowly filled with tears that spilled down his face as he met her eyes once again. "No…"
"I'm so sorry baby."
"No-no, I can't be here, this can't be it. I still have so much to do! There's…there's this child, this little girl-her name is Eri, and I have to-I have to get back and save her. And then there's Eraser and…oh my god Eraser…"
The boy began to spiral down as everything hit it at once. He had broken his promise and failed in his mission. How could he have done that? He was an awful person, he should've-should've done more, fought harder, I don’t know, done better.
"Izuku?" Inko grabbed the sides of her son's face. "Izuku, look at me. Breathe. In, and out. Come on, in and out."
"I have to-oh mom, they're waiting for me, and I have to get back and save her, if I don't she'll-"
Inko's own tears continued to fall as she watched her son break down. This was very different from his first time here and she wasn't sure if she was thankful or not. She was happy that he didn't want to die anymore and that he had found people who actually loved and cared for him, but now here he was, and he didn't want to die anymore.
How cruel the world was that right when he found his reason to live, his life was ripped away from him.
"I know baby, I know…I'm so sorry." She held her son tight in her arms as he continued to sob and sob at the life he had lost.
"I don't want to go yet mom…"
"Izuku-" Her voice was cut off by her own sob and she pulled him closer into her. "I'm so sorry baby."
Just then, a brilliant golden light broke through the whiteness. The light was soft and warm like an embrace and Inko didn't know if she had ever experienced something so peaceful or beautiful in her human life.
Izuku looked up and couldn't help but bask at the light in front of him. "Um, mom? What's that?"
"I'm-I don't know."
"It feels familiar somehow…" Izuku stepped out of his mother's embrace and got closer to the light. The light that felt like a warm hug that felt like coming home, that brought fresh tears to his eyes when he reached out to it. It curled around his hand and up his arm, overwhelming him with a sense of warmth and peace until his eyes snapped open, "…Eri."
It was Eri. He didn't know how, or why, but it was her, and she was reaching out to him. He turned back to his mother, tears streaming down his face and a new hope in his eyes.
"Go." She stepped forward and laid a soft kiss on her son's forehead before pulling back and cupping his face. "I just want you to know that I am so…so proud of you Izuku, and I am so thankful that you have finally found a reason to live."
Izuku smiled at his mother, but that smile quickly faltered. "Mom…if I go then-" She nodded softly and gave him the brightest smile he had ever seen. "I-I love you."
"I love you too, Izuku."
He tore himself away from her bright light and stepped into the warmth of Eri's light. Even though he was leaving, he knew he was going home, and he had a job to do.