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Along Came a Spider

Chapter Text

Tsukauchi Naomasa liked to think of himself as a relatively normal man. He didn’t have fancy hair or an extraordinary eye color. His quirk was useful but hid under the radar. He was a Beta, nothing flashy like an Alpha or Omega. He graduated from high school with good grades and left college with the same marks. He preferred his coffee with a bit of cream and sugar, and his eggs scrambled in the morning. Baseball was his favorite sport, and he was partial to dogs more so than cats. He did his job well and took pride in it. All in all, a normal man living in Musutafu, a distinctly not normal Japanese city.

 

When he was younger, he dreamed of glory. Four-year-old Tsukauchi definitely didn’t imagine himself working in the police department as a detective at thirty-three. He wanted to be a superhero, but what kid didn’t? Children were practically spoonfed rhetoric about heroes since they could eat solid foods. No kid with a just-manifested quirk wanted a 9-5 job. They wanted to be on television, rescuing cities from mass destruction and punishing evil one villain at a time.

 

Thankfully Tsukauchi grew out of his hero phase pretty early. He was always a rational child, so he knew that such a passive quirk as Lie Detector wouldn’t get him to the top. It stung for a time, he could admit. Any job other than being a hero seemed lackluster and boring. But no matter how hard he tried, Tsukauchi’s quirk simply wasn’t meant for the heroics business. It was time he looked for another occupation, especially as a relatively mild-mannered Beta.

 

Nowadays he had a much firmer grasp on what it meant to be a hero. Children were only concerned with the flashing lights, shiny colors, and praise. That was why limelight heroes were so popular. But being a hero was more than cool costumes and punching a supervillain in the face.

 

Sometimes, being a hero meant doing the right thing and not receiving recognition.

 

That was why Tsukauchi was proud to work at a so-called “average” job as a detective. He may not get fan mail or flowers, but he saved lives in whatever way he could. He used his quirk to keep evil people at bay and to protect the innocent, even if no one recognized him on the streets. 

 

Tsukauchi didn’t give up on being a hero. He simply gave up seeking glory to be one.

 

Even on boring nights such as these, he did his best to help those around him. Hence why he was currently stuck doing the agonizing and always-maligned job of reorganizing police reports.

 

Everyone, including Tsukauchi himself, hated reorganizing reports. It was probably the most tedious job in the entire department, and it usually required at least three strong coffees to get through the task. It was originally Sansa’s turn, but he had been trying to work up the courage to ask out Agawa-san for ages, so Tsukauchi took over for him.

 

Sansa had nearly cried in relief, which was a little alarming for such a straight-laced officer as he, but reorganizing reports kind of warranted such a reaction in Tsukauchi’s opinion. The cat-headed policeman immediately raced towards Agawa-san’s desk, practically leaving dust in his wake. If asked why he did so, Tsukauchi would say it was because he was such a good friend. But if he was being honest, it was probably because Tsukauchi wasn’t immune to Sansa’s feline appearance. He preferred dogs, but there was something about the pitifully adorable way Sansa’s fuzzy ears were drooped that made Tsukauchi sigh and take the reports from his paws.

 

So here he was, sifting through each police report and filing them into their correct decisions, two coffees in and his eyes struggling to stay open. It didn’t help that it was the middle of the night and rain was pouring down onto the streets of Musutafu. It made Tsukauchi long for his bed and a good baseball rerun to watch. But he had taken the night shift, so he took another sip of his coffee and persevered forward.

 

“At least,” Tsukauchi thought, struggling to keep to his task, “It’s not a hectic night.”

 

Ah, famous last words.

 

He heard the police sirens before one of the junior detectives, by the surname of Honda, burst through his office door. He was just about to complain when he smelled the worry coming from the Beta.

 

“Tsukauchi-buchou!” Honda-san cried, her completely white eyes somehow conveying stress despite the lack of color. “They need you to question someone immediately!”

 

Tsukauchi was already rising from his chair before Honda entered. He quickly forgot his reorganizing task and left his office in a rush, Honda trailing not too far behind him. “What happened?” He asked sternly, although his mind was elsewhere. “Were there any injuries?”

 

“None that I know of, Tsukauchi-buchou,” Honda answered as the two of them swerved past a corner hallway heading to the main entrance. “Apparently we have finally caught Dangou Danjiro.”

 

Tsukauchi would’ve stumbled if he wasn’t a seasoned member of the police station. “Dangou?” He asked incredulously. “They’re bringing in Dangou for questioning?”

 

“Yes, Tsukauchi-buchou,” Honda stated grimly. 

 

The Lie Detector Detective gritted his teeth and continued on, a strange mixture of shock, satisfaction, and dread curdling in his stomach like rotten food.

 

Dangou Danjiro had been a wanted man for around three years. Originally, the Alpha had been wanted as a serial sex offender that mainly targeted young Beta women and Omegas in the poorer districts of Musutafu. The situation became even more harrowing when later intel revealed the man had begun meddling in human trafficking rings across the city. His quirk, See Me Not, had been baffling the police station for years, hence why Tsukauchi was so shocked at his capture.

 

It wasn’t the strongest quirk and definitely not one for combat in any form, but it was disgustingly fitting for such a vile member of society. It was not an invisibility or camouflaging quirk. Rather, it made everyone who saw him at first glance immediately forget he had ever been there. It was how the Alpha had performed all of his crimes, and how he managed to evade the law for so many years.

 

Once Tsukauchi entered the main entryway of the department, he caught sight of the upheaval currently happening. What seemed like twenty police officers were crowding the room, most of them surrounding the foul Alpha in question. Surprisingly, Dangou was not the only man in quirk-canceling handcuffs, as there were two other men under strict police supervision. More police officers were outside, with what seemed to be even more criminals, both inside the police vehicles and lying underneath the oppressing rainfall. 

 

Tsukauchi’s jaw dropped. He had been expecting one criminal, not what appeared to be six men in question!

 

An orange blur quickly ran to his side. “Tsukauchi-san!”

 

Said detective blinked, almost expecting the chaotic sight to disappear before his very eyes. It did not. “Sansa,” He asked breathlessly. “What the fuck --?”

 

“Ninth precinct’s Tanaka Ichigo received an anonymous tip from an unidentified caller at around 2:46 A.M. The caller, who seemed to be using a voice modulator due to the strange cadence, informed Tanaka-san that they had apprehended Dangou Danjiro and five other men,” Sansa answered stoically, his fur bristling. “There were two victims, both Omega females, that had to be taken to the hospital immediately due to what appeared to be a drug administered by Dangou to keep them complacent. The other men -- two Alphas and four Betas, all identified -- were hired by Dangou himself to kidnap these young women.”

 

“Someone else caught Dangou?” Tsukauchi couldn’t believe it. 

 

“Yes, Tsukauchi-san.” Sansa’s usually pleasant cat face was etched in harsh lines and flinty edges. “When Tanaka-san and his men arrived at the scene, Dangou and the other five men were unconscious due to blunt force trauma to the skull. Their arms and legs were zip tied as well. Whoever had called in, and whoever had apprehended the traffickers, were nowhere to be found.”

 

“Fucking hell,” Tsukauchi growled to himself. He was the typical tame Beta stereotype, but situations like these tested his patience like none other. “Where was this?”

 

“In an abandoned storage building near the shipping docks in District 10,” Sansa replied readily. “Men searched the building for any sign of a potential base or hideout location, but there was none. Dangou and his men must have chosen the building at random, but for what reason, we do not know yet.”

 

Tsukauchi could feel a migraine forming. “No footprints from the apprehender? Blood or DNA samples?”

 

“None.” Sansa shook his head. “It was as if there was no one there to begin with.”

 

“Damn it.” Tsukauchi stared at Dangou’s prone form. The miserable Alpha had been forced to sit on his knees, with his arms restrained behind his back by quirk suppressant cuffs. He also had a voice muzzler that worked splendidly, as no sound came from the man even though he looked to be spitting curses at everyone around him. “So we may have a vigilante on our hands.”

 

“Yes, Tsukauchi-san.” Sansa looked at Dangou as well and a low hiss erupted from his chest. “Although it was very strange. No one could connect the takedown method or voice to any vigilantes currently in District 10, so they must be relatively new to the scene.”

 

“New vigilantes usually like to leave calling cards.” Tsukauchi crossed his arms about his chest and watched as the police officers began dragging the men to the side of the building where questioning took place. “They like to announce their name and purpose the first chance they get. You said there was no evidence left from the apprehender?”

 

“Not a single thing.” Sansa’s right eye flicked, showing his annoyance and apprehension. The entryway was quickly beginning to fill up with sour aggressive pheromones, and it probably made Sansa’s enhanced sense of smell irritated. “If there was a way a regular civilian could have encountered the traffickers and defended the victims, I would believe it over a possible vigilante. But the fact of the matter is that no one on the right side of morality lurks around the shipping docks that late. This must have been a premeditated act. But how?”

 

“I don’t know, Sansa. At least we’ll get their face from one of the assholes,” Tsukauchi sighed. “I’m probably going to question Dangou first, so he’ll be able to give me something on this vigilante.”

 


 

Dangou gave him absolutely nothing .

 

And it wasn’t for lack of trying, unfortunately.

 

When Tsukauchi stepped into the questioning room, flanked by two police officers at his right and left side, his gaze immediately caught on the Alpha’s broken nose and bruised eye. Whoever had apprehended the criminal must have been a little upset with the human trafficker, and although Tsukauchi did not approve of vigilantism, he knew that a man like Dangou deserved such an attack.

 

As per protocol, Dangou was not allowed to have his hands free. They were firmly attached to the top of the plain white table by a pair of quirk canceling handcuffs. He was also not allowed to use any kind of pheromone suppressor. This was done so that any possible scent could be picked up by detectives in order to catalog potential truths or lies. Sometimes, the person in question could lie and their scent would reveal their deceit. A man like Tsukauchi, with such a quirk as Lie Detector, did not need such measures. He almost wanted to ask if Dangou could be given scent blockers, as the Alpha’s disgusting stench made his stomach roll.

 

The Alpha was bad news, even without his physical appearance. His scent gave off nothing but hostility and pervasive dominance. Add in his greasy blue hair and sallow complexion, Dangou Danjiro looked like the kind of man who’d attack innocents.

 

Tsukauchi didn’t let his appearance or scent affect him. He’d been a detective for many years, so controlling his expression of disgust was an easy feat.

 

Trying to give off an air of ease despite his hatred for such an evil man, Tsukauchi sat down across from the Alpha and nodded at him.

 

“Hello,” He began.

 

“Fuck you,” The Alpha in question said in response.

 

Tsukauchi didn’t let it deter him. He’d gotten gruffer men to talk. Dangou would be an easy task.

 

“My name is Tsukauchi Naomasa,” He introduced himself. “I am a detective, and I would like to ask you a few questions regarding yourself and the events of tonight.”

 

“You won’t get me saying shit, you motherfucker.”

 

“Before we begin the investigation,” Tsukauchi continued on as if the man hadn’t said anything, “I must inform you that my quirk is known as Lie Detector. Like its name says, it allows me to detect any lie you say to me, so if you speak truthfully in this investigation, it will make the entire thing run much more smoothly.”

 

“I don’t have to do shit!” Dangou sneered. His teeth were yellow, Tsukauchi noted.

 

“Let us begin the investigation.” Tsukauchi didn’t need to wait for permission. He knew his fellow officers would begin recording the interaction. “My name is Tsukauchi Naomasa. I am a detective working at the law enforcement department in district 5. My quirk is known as Lie Detector. It is currently 3:56 A.M. This investigation regards the events that occurred August 23, 2xxx, at roughly 2:46 A.M. What is your name?”

 

“Abe Yamato.” Lie .

 

“My quirk is Lie Detector if you do not remember.”

 

Dangou scowled. “Dangou Danjiro.” Truth .

 

“Thank you.” Tsukauchi didn’t want to thank a man like Dangou, but he had to be professional. “How old are you, Dangou?”

 

“I’m forty-five.” Truth .

 

“Truth. Dangou, do you know why you are under arrest?”

 

Dangou’s scent soured even further. “Because some bitches cried wolf.” Lie .

 

“Lie. Dangou, would you like to tell the truth or would you like me to say it?”

 

Dangou said nothing. His lip curled.

 

“Dangou Danjiro, you are under arrest for the rape of four women in the 8th and 9th District of Musutafu, and you are under investigation for your potential involvement in various sex trafficking rings around the Musutafu area.”

 

“I didn’t do shit they didn’t ask me to do,” Dangou growled. Lie .

 

“Lie,” Tsukauchi stated coldly. “Dangou, do you know the two Omega women we found drugged and restrained next to you and your men?”

 

“No.” Truth.

 

“Truth.” Tsukauchi was a little surprised. “Did you kidnap the two Omegas?”

 

“I didn’t kidnap the two Omegas.” Truth. And lie?

 

For a second, Tsukauchi was stumped before he narrowed his eyes at the scum of an Alpha. “Dangou, did you order any of the men found next to you in the storage building to kidnap the two Omegas?”

 

Dangou seemed to be getting the gist of what was occurring, as his face darkened dangerously. His fingernails practically dug into the table. “Yes,” He admitted. Truth . It seemed as though Dangou was beginning to accept his situation.

 

“Truth. Why did you want the two Omegas?”

 

“Omegas sell well.” Truth .

 

Tsukauchi fought the urge to punch the criminal. “Truth. Dangou, have you sold other people before?”

 

“Yes.” Truth .

 

Tsukauchi heard one of the police officers near him growl a bit, but it was silent enough not to be picked up on the recording. “Truth. Dangou, do you participate in human trafficking rings?”

 

“Yes.” Truth .

 

“Truth.” Tsukauchi took a deep breath to calm himself, although he ended up taking a gross whiff of the Alpha’s scent as well. “Do the men you hired participate in human trafficking rings?”

 

“Yes.” Truth .

 

“Truth.” Now that the heinous acts of Dangou Danjiro were recorded, Tsukauchi wanted to collapse onto himself. It was relieving to finally catch the man, but hearing him admit so freely to his crimes was horrible. But the questioning wasn’t over yet, and Tsukauchi had more questions.

 

“Dangou, the police found you and your men bound and unconscious in the storage building. The two drugged Omegas were put in the recovery position and their bindings were ripped. Can you identify who did both acts?”

 

The pheromones in the room smelled like hot garbage on a summer day. It almost made Tsukauchi gag, and he caught one of the police officers plugging his nose. Dangou began to hiss and growl under his breath.

 

“Dangou, can you identify who did both acts?” Tsukauchi asked again.

 

The Alpha in question growled threateningly, but Tsukauchi wasn’t deterred.

 

“Dangou --”

 

“No.” Truth . Dangou’s eyes were mere slits. 

 

“Truth. Was the person male or female?”

 

“You think I fucking know?” Dangou’s voice raised in volume. “It was dark as fuck in that building. I couldn’t see a damn thing!” Truth .

 

Tsukauchi fought the urge to rub his temple. “Truth. If you had to choose one, would you say the person presented themselves as more feminine or more masculine?”

 

“Well, they beat the shit out of me and my guys so I’d only assume a dude could do that. But they were small, so it might’ve been a bitch.” Truth . And also incredibly sexist, in Tsukauchi’s opinion.

 

“Truth. Could you identify the person’s secondary gender?”

 

“No. I couldn’t see or smell shit.” Truth .

 

Scent blockers. Damn it.

 

“Truth. Did any features stand out to you? Were they particularly tall? Was their hair brightly colored or not?” Tsukauchi asked.

 

“Did you not just fucking hear me?” Dangou asked. “I told you, I couldn’t see shit!” Truth .

 

“Truth. Were they taller than you or shorter, Dangou?”

 

Dangou sniffed loudly. “Shorter. By a lot. By a whole fucking lot.” Truth .

 

“Truth. How short?” Tsukauchi was curious.

 

“I dunno, I left high school.” Dangou shrugged. “Like … Like a kid, short.” Truth .

 

Tsukauchi shivered a little at the image of a child fighting against such a perverse criminal, but he was able to shake away the image fast. People in this day and age had the strangest quirks and mutations, so an adult being particularly short wasn’t unbelievable. 

 

“Truth. Did you see their face?”

 

“It was … fucking covered or something. Their mouth had some metal shit, and they had goggles, I think.” Truth .

 

That must be the voice modulator, Tsukauchi supposed to himself. It was smart to cover their face, but it made Tsukauchi’s job all the more hard.

 

“Truth. Did you see any hair?”

 

“No. Hood or something covered it up.” Truth .

 

“Truth. What clothes were they wearing, Dangou?”

 

“Like I said, dickhead, it was fucking dark,” Dangou hissed. “Something black, I dunno. Might’ve had some armor, cause they wouldn’t even flinch when they took hits.” Truth .

 

Kevlar, maybe? Tsukauchi wondered to himself.

 

“Truth. How did the person approach you?”

 

Dangou sneered, flashing his disgusting teeth. “What, you think they introduced themselves, or something? They yanked Maekawa into the fucking air, that’s how they approached us.” Truth.

 

Tsukauchi blinked in shock. Beside him, the two policemen shuffled in confusion. 

 

“T-Truth … They -- they had a flight quirk?” A flight quirk would explain their hasty departure from the scene of the crime.

 

“We thought that too.” Dangou spat beside the table, and the spittle was brown, to Tsukauchi’s disgust. “Then Shibata fell on his fucking ass, and Hori and Fujioka slammed into each other like freight trains. Fucking cracked Hori’s front teeth in.” Truth .

 

What the fuck? 

 

“Truth …  A telekinesis quirk then?” 

 

Dangou’s face was etched in anger, but Tsukauchi was surprised to find a little bit of fear in his gaze as well. A chill ran down Tsukauchi’s spine, and he began to wonder whether they were dealing with a regular vigilante case after all.

 

“No … the motherfucker had wires .” Truth .

 

Tsukauchi didn’t think the night could get any stranger. “T-Truth. Wires? Their quirk was some form of wire production or manipulation?”

 

“It sure fucking seemed like it.” Dangou scratched his jaw, and flakes of dried blood fell onto the floor. “They had the whole place fucking rigged, or some shit.” Truth .

 

“Truth …” Tsukauchi blinked rapidly, trying to force his brain to keep up with the information given to him. “Dangou, if you would, could you describe the events as best as you can from the moment you encountered the unknown person?”

 

There was nothing Tsukauchi hated more than having to play nice with criminals. Especially criminals like Dangou Danjiro. But there were too many strange events occurring, and if Tsukauchi was able to manipulate Dangou into thinking he was somehow on his side in any capacity, Tsukauchi might be able to piece together what had occurred that night.

 

“Well, like I said, me and the boys were talking about the Omegas,” Dangou drawled, apathetically recounting the kidnap of two innocent women. “Talking about who to send them to, all that shit. We didn’t hear nothing, not a single thing, then Maekawa flies up into the air, screaming like a fucking idiot.” Truth .

 

“Truth. How was Maekawa taken? Did the wire wrap around his waist?”

 

“No, it was his fucking leg. He ate shit on the ground first and then it pulled him up before we could even do anything. We couldn’t even fucking see where he went, it was so gods-damned dark. We just heard him screaming.” Truth .

 

“Truth. And then what happened?”

 

“Shibata fell on his ass like I said. First I thought he tripped, but then I saw the wire around his waist. Hori and Fujioka were the next to go. The wires had them by the arms, and then they were fucking -- yanked together. So fucking hard, I thought they’d get stuck together or some shit. Almost knocked them out right then and there.” Truth .

 

“Truth. What did you do next, Dangou?”

 

“What the fuck was I supposed to do?” Dangou barked incredulously. “I barely had time to fucking think, you dumbass. Me and Chinen were the only ones left, and Chinen’s a fucking pussy with his weak-ass quirk, so I got my fucking gun out!” Truth .

 

“Truth,” Tsukauchi murmured. Guns were illegal, but none was found in Dangou’s possession, so the only possible answer was that the vigilante had it. Great. “And then?”

 

“Maekawa fucking fell from the sky like some kind of fucked up angel,” Dangou spat. “Whoever the fuck did it -- they jumped down next. Then all hell broke loose.” Truth.

 

“Truth.” Quietly, Tsukauchi whispered, “Damn it,” as he motioned Dangou to keep going.

 

“Shot my pistol at the fucking psycho, but they dodged it like some fucking ninja and came at me. I shot again, but they just ducked from the bullet. Kicked me in the fucking side after, which hurt like a bitch. Short as hell, but it felt like getting hit by a sledgehammer. I tried to shoot again, but that motherfucker did some fucking jiu-jitsu shit and knocked the fucking gun away.” Truth . And holy fucking fuck, was this vigilante insane?

 

“Truth --” Tsukauchi said, but Dangou was on a roll, apparently.

 

“Little shit got behind me somehow and kicked in my fucking knees. I thought they were broken for a sec before the shitty wires wrapped around my godsdamned neck and yanked me to the floor. Almost fucking choked to death on that shit.” Truth .

 

Tsukauchi’s eyebrows couldn’t move further up his hairline. “Truth --”

 

“I don’t know what really happened next, ‘cause I was halfway choking to death, but when I got the wires off, Fujioka and Chinen were knocked out. That fucking asshole was somehow fighting Hori and Shibata at the same time. ‘Don’t know how, since Hori’s a fucking tank of an Alpha. Bastard somehow fucking grabs Shibata by the fucking head with their back turned to him and uses him to kick Hori in the face. Hori goes down like the brick shithouse he is, then the motherfucker -- who’s still fucking holding onto Shibata’s godsdamned head! -- twists the two of them around like a carousel. Shibata eats the pavement and that shitty asshole is the only one left.” Truth .

 

Truth.

 

All of it.

 

This wasn’t fucking good.

 

Vigilantes aren’t that common anymore. Law enforcement had cracked down on them far too many times for it to be considered a worthy job occupation, and it was simply easier to either join the force or go to some hero academy elsewhere. True -- in order to be an active vigilante, you had to be fucking good in order to both takedown criminals and heroes on occasion, but Tsukauchi had never seen a new , never-heard-of vigilante display such skills without years of experience.

 

“If they had those skills,” Tsukauchi thought to himself in horror and begrudging awe, “then something must have kept them from becoming a hero.”

 

And that?

 

That was terrifying .

 

Because if someone was that skilled and that motivated and wasn’t somehow allowed to be a hero , then what’s stopping them from attacking those very heroes that denied them?

 

This --

 

This was a bad situation.

 

And one that Tsukauchi needed to take care of effectively now .

 

Tsukauchi cleared his throat and attempted to keep his composure. “T-Truth … And then, Dangou, what … what did the unknown assailant do next?”

 

Dangou looked away from Tsukauchi and clenched his fists.

 

Tsukauchi waited, but the Alpha said nothing.

 

The Alpha’s pheromones filtered in Tsukauchi’s nostrils as fear .

 

“Dangou, what did they do?”

 

He didn’t know if he wanted the answer. Because if what Dangou said next was what Tsukauchi was afraid of, then Tsukauchi might have to call in some favors.

 

“Dangou.” Tsukauchi’s growl could almost have been taken as an Alpha’s.

 

“They just ..!” Dangou began but faltered. “They just … walked over to me.” Truth .

 

“And then?”

Dangou’s fists clenched tight, and the man shook just a little. “They … They didn’t say anything. They didn’t even let me say anything.” Truth .

 

Tsukauchi was even more concerned. Usually, proper vigilantes wanted their messages proclaimed to anyone who would listen. Tsukauchi often caught vigilantes just because of how much they loved to hear themselves talk.

 

“They just … kicked me. They kicked my fucking face in and knocked me out.” Truth .

 

And Tsukauchi visibly wilted.

 

This was what Tsukauchi was worried about.

 

Tsukauchi was annoyed by vigilantes who loved to boast their mission statements, screaming their self-pity to the entire city, and generally being fucking nuisances to hardworking cops and heroes alike.

 

Tsukauchi was afraid of vigilantes who fought crime in silence.

 

Because that meant that they didn’t care about what other people thought.

 

They didn’t care about how society might view them.

 

This vigilante had a mission, and Tsukauchi didn’t know a godsdamned thing about what it was and what it meant for the people of Musutafu.

 

And there was nothing more frightening than the unknown.

 

Musutafu had someone in its streets committing crimes by stopping crimes, and Tsukauchi didn’t even know why they were doing it.

 

Something had kept this obviously talented person from becoming a hero, and they could easily be bitter over that decision.

 

How long until someone on the wrong side of the law took that bitterness and twisted it into something uncontrollable?

 

Because every vigilante had a mission.

 

There was always a reason .

 

So how long until the vigilante decided to announce their reason?

 

How public -- how vocal was this outburst gonna be?

 

How long until the vigilante -- one who clearly didn’t give a fuck about committing crimes and savagely brutalizing criminals even if they deserved it -- chose to act on their bitterness?

 

“Thank you for your cooperation, Dangou Danjiro.” Tsukauchi leaped up from his seat, making his chair practically fall over from the force. “You are under arrest for rape and human trafficking as well as unlawful use of a firearm and quirk usage.”

 

Tsukauchi didn’t even wait to hear the disgusting man’s next words before he burst out from the questioning room and started hurrying down the hallway. He needed to get to his office, and he needed to get to his office fast. He had a call to make, and hopefully, whoever he called would be lenient enough to forgive him for the late hour.

 

Although Aizawa Shouta, AKA Underground Hero Eraserhead, and resident insomniac, was already probably awake.

 

Chapter Text

It had been two months in the making, but Izuku had finally gotten enough information to bring Morinaga Takeshi to justice.

 

Two months spent drilling into whatever dark web databases he could find that mentioned the drug known as Upgrade and digging into the backgrounds of every and any man that popped up alongside the drug.

 

Checking and then rechecking again through every last piece of intel until finally, Izuku had a name for the brains behind the operation.

 

It had been a grueling effort and one that turned his ordinary eyebags into designer-quality by the end of it.

 

Although Izuku mourned the sleepless nights spent peering into the shitty laptop he hoarded more possessively than his wallet, it had all been worth it in the end. 

 

Morinaga Takeshi.

 

The leader of the gang known as Seichourai, as well as the creator of Upgrade.

 

Seichourai were subtle, hence why it had taken Izuku so long to get their information. They rarely made it onto the news, and whenever they did, the leads weren’t conclusive enough to follow through. They dabbled in theft and racketeering, but they kept everything wrapped tight enough to pass by police unawares. It didn’t help that they focused their efforts on the outer district, so the police either didn’t care enough to fix the problem or were actively turning a blind eye to Seichourai due to bribery. 

 

It was one of the cardinal rules of the Musutafu underground, and one that Seichourai followed unfortunately well.

 

Want to do something illegal and get away with it?

 

Do it in the outer districts.

 

Everything was kept quiet in the outer districts. It was no man’s land, and no self-respecting hero patrolled through their crime-ridden streets.

 

Seichourai lived and breathed in the outer districts, and amongst the hustle and bustle of other, more influential gangs or villains, they flew under the radar.

 

In all honesty, Izuku may not have even heard about Seichourai if not for Upgrade.

 

It had been a relatively new development in the drug business, and it got some less-than-savory folks excited.

 

A drug that could momentarily enhance the capabilities of your quirk? People practically chomped at the bit to get a bite.

 

Izuku had first heard of Upgrade after he had apprehended some mugger in the streets.

 

He had been surprised by the shocking viciousness held by the mugger, so he questioned the man for a moment before he phoned in the police.

 

Thankfully, the mugger was clearly not in his right mind, so Izuku didn’t have to perform unnecessary violence to get the man to talk. He never felt much sympathy for those who harmed innocents, but he didn’t like to get his hands dirty if he could help it.

 

Upgrade, according to the high-as-balls mugger, was a newly-patented formula in the methamphetamine family. It latched onto the user’s quirk and briefly strengthened its qualities, as well as gave the usual adrenaline and euphoric effects of other meth products.

 

Methamphetamines already caused quirk-related issues in Musutafu, but methamphetamine that specifically targeted quirks?

 

Suffice it to say, Izuku started cracking down on Seichourai immediately.

 

A drug like that in the wrong person’s hands could lead to disasters. 

 

Izuku needed to put a stop to its production as quickly as possible.

 

The problem with Upgrade was how tight-lipped the situation surrounding it was.

 

Izuku had lucked out, apparently, with the inebriated mugger, even though he only gave out the name of the drug before he passed out in his own vomit. The higher-ups in Seichourai were picky about who they gave the drug to, and they covered their tracks well for such an under-the-radar gang.

 

If it had been anyone other than Izuku tracking them, Seichourai might have gotten away with it.

 

Sheer spite and stubbornness eventually lead Izuku right to Morinaga.

 

After that, it had only been an issue of compiling the evidence he had gathered both from trailing (stalking, more like) Seichourai members and digging into their databases before the fun began.

 

If Izuku’s calculations and intel were correct (and they were always correct), Morinaga and one other higher-up in Seichourai would be meeting between the streets of District 11 to discuss a potential partnership with an overseas shipping company to deliver packages of Upgrade to Taiwan.

 

Although Seichourai were sneaky sons of bitches and liked to live on the safer side, they clearly weren’t expecting anything wrong to happen.

 

Hence why they only brought around ten bodyguards to patrol the surrounding alleyways and streets whilst Morinaga and the other higher-up exchanged information.

 

Stupid of them, but lucky, once again, for Izuku.

 

The business meeting began only an hour ago, and Izuku guessed it would last for another two if Morinaga didn’t suspect anything. There were only four guards stationed by Morinaga, and the rest wandered, on the hunt for any sort of suspicious activity.

 

Clearly, they hadn’t been expecting someone else to be on the hunt that night.

 

Large and upfront confrontations weren’t Izuku’s favorite way to go about things, so the bodyguards splitting up worked right into his favor.

 

Already he had three henchmen unconscious and handcuffed to the myriad of open pipes or lampposts spackled in District 11’s alleyways. If the night continued to go well for Izuku, he’d have all six patrolling bodyguards done away with before he finally turned his attention to Morinaga and the other five men.

 

This hunt had to be quiet and fast. If any of the patrolling bodyguards were notified of the others’ disappearances and called Morinaga, then the hunt would be over. Morinaga was too far away for Izuku to successfully subdue him before the drug dealer vanished into the night.

 

Izuku had spent far too much of his time for the hunt to go awry. 

 

So he didn’t waste any more precious seconds once he had found his next target.

 

Ito Haruto, age 27. A beta, like most of the populace. His quirk was a mutant-type modeled after a porcupine, allowing him to both grow and shoot quills from any part of his body. He had been involved in Seichourai since high school, and he was known as one of the gang’s most skilled fighters. Hence why he patrolled without a partner, unlike the other bodyguards.

 

(Izuku noted potential arrogance for Ito when he researched the man. Clearly, Ito was well-versed in street fighting, but arrogance had certain drawbacks that Izuku could manipulate in his favor)

 

From most of the intel Izuku gathered about Ito, he preferred to attack from long-distance ranges and tended to fire a large volley from the get-go. His quills were not indestructible or made of particularly tough material, so firing them from a distance allowed their velocity to reach critical speeds to make up for it. 

 

Interestingly enough, Izuku theorized that the amount of quills Ito produced tired him. It would explain why the man shot vast amounts of them at the beginning of his various fights. The man liked to end the attacks as quickly as possible to reduce quirk exhaustion.

 

It was an interesting quirk with understandable drawbacks. When Izuku researched the bodyguards who were called to protect Morinaga, he had to practically restrain himself from analyzing Ito further.

 

So fascinated by Ito’s quirk, Izuku almost humored giving the gang member a fair fight just to see how it worked in action. 

 

Alas, now was not the time for fun and games.

 

Izuku was hunting, and no self-respecting hunter would ever allow their prey to get the upper hand.

 

So, when Ito turned the corner of a dark, filth-ridden alleyway, Izuku struck without hesitation.

 

With the grace of a trained predator and none of the awkwardness normal eleven-year-old possessed, Izuku dropped behind Ito from where he had been stalking the man along the rooftops. The only sound that alerted Ito of Izuku’s sudden presence was the splash his steel-toed shoes made against a puddle as he landed in a fluid crouch.

 

The gang member had only begun to whirl around when Izuku threw out his hands. Pressing the trigger mechanism located on his palms, Izuku aimed at Ito’s shoulders.

 

With barely a sound besides a just-audible whizz, carbon fiber wires burst out from the mechanical contraptions hidden safely on Izuku’s wrists, launching towards the unsuspecting Ito in two horizontal lines.

 

Once Izuku was sure the wires had made contact with Ito and were attached securely, a firm yank was all it took before Ito was launched backward, landing on the unforgiving ground in a move that clearly knocked the wind out of him.

 

Izuku didn’t waste time listening to Ito wheeze. Another press to his palms made the wires simultaneously detach from Ito’s body and stream back to Izuku until they were coiled safely back within his wrists. 

 

Without hesitating, Izuku ran to Ito’s prone body. He grabbed Ito by the collar and lifted his upper body from the ground. Ito’s eyes focused just in time to watch as Izuku rammed his glove-covered knuckles into his nose.

 

With a single punch, Ito was knocked unconscious. 

 

Izuku was almost disappointed. 

 

He had heard so much about Ito’s fighting prowess, and his quirk was so interesting, so Izuku was momentarily bummed out by the lack of struggle.

 

Although he did manipulate the odds into his favor from the get-go if he was being honest. Obviously, Ito was more well-suited for long-distance fights in quick, aggressive bursts. Attacking the man whilst his back was turned in close combat probably didn’t give Ito that much of a fair fight.

 

Izuku allowed himself to sigh, briefly regretting the wasted chance of seeing Ito’s quirk in action before he turned the man around. He grabbed Ito underneath his arms and lugged him over to the wall of the alleyway. There was a rather large fire escape nearby, so Izuku dragged Ito over to it and handcuffed the man to it. Hopefully, Izuku would be finished with the night quickly, so Ito or the other handcuffed men wouldn’t wake up.

 

Once Ito was secure to the fire escape, Izuku took a brief sweep of the alleyway. After every one of his takedowns, he had to make sure that there was no physical evidence of Izuku left behind. Because Ito’s takedown was so quick, there was none, so Izuku prepared to launch himself back onto the rooftops using his wires.

 

Funny enough, it was only due to Izuku’s “disability” that he managed to evade the sudden attack of what appeared to be a sentient scarf.

 

The hairs on the back of Izuku’s neck -- a remnant of pre-Quirk humans, one that had been evolved out of the gene pool for centuries -- stood on end.

 

Quickly ducking down and rolling backward, Izuku avoided the strange weapon with ease. But once he stood back on his two feet, he had to jump backward yet again to avoid a second attack. This time, the scarf seemed to predict the move, as it flew towards Izuku’s legs, obviously hellbent on wrapping itself around them.

 

With an inaudible growl of frustration, Izuku lunged forward, jumping over the scarf and rolling along the alley floor. He didn’t wait for the scarf’s -- Izuku was being attacked by a scarf, what the hell was his life? -- next move, aiming back at the rooftops and allowing his wires to act as a grappling hook.

 

The scarf didn’t seem to anticipate this, as Izuku was propelled onto the rooftop without interference. 

 

Once on the safety of the rooftops, Izuku turned around and widened his stance. He had a feeling that whatever had just occurred wasn’t the end of it.

 

And Izuku was right, as he always was, as he watched Eraserhead, one of the most infamous Underground heroes in Japan, fly onto the rooftop using his capture scarf in a similar method to Izuku’s wires.

 

Izuku’s thoughts were simultaneously filled with curses and battle tactics. 

 

Thankfully, he already knew some about the Underground hero, having researched him years ago. Therefore Izuku knew he could hold his own against Eraserhead.

 

But the odds were even between them. A truly equal match.

 

That meant that, if Izuku wasn’t smart about this, he could very well be arrested.

 

Damn it. And Izuku thought this night was going to go well.

 

Of all Heroes that had to ruin Izuku’s night, why the fuck did it have to be Eraserhead?

 

Izuku needed to glean as much information on Eraserhead as he could. If he could manage to find even a single helpful theory, then Izuku might be able to leave the rooftops without handcuffs around his wrists.

 

All right. Time to start with the basics then.

 

Izuku’s mind burst into life as he began to analyze the figure in front of him.

 

Underground heroes existed separately from Limelight heroes. Limelight heroes were practically celebrities and zero privacy was guaranteed in that line of work. Underground Heroes kept their names, quirks, and private lives under strict lock and key, mainly due to the sheer danger involving the job. 

 

Limelight heroes looked good on TV.

 

Underground heroes got the job done.

 

Both Hero occupations had their own sort of “notoriety” scale, and Eraserhead was one of the number one Underground heroes.

 

Limelight heroes had their Billboard Charts, which were basically just beauty pageants for pro heroes, but Underground heroes were notorious based on their efficiency.

 

And Eraserhead was one of the most efficient Underground heroes in the business.

 

That meant that Izuku needed to step up his game. There was no time for holding back against an opponent like Eraserhead. If Izuku underestimated the man once, he was done for.

 

Thankfully, he happened to have some interesting analyses on the man -- ones that may help him in the potential brawl between them.

 

Izuku knew that rushing someone like Eraserhead wouldn’t help in this situation, so he stood still and waited for the man’s next move.

 

Unfortunately for Izuku and his time limit, Eraserhead didn’t say a word. The man’s capture scarf, lovingly crafted with carbon fiber and actual DNA from the man, floated ominously above him.

 

Izuku didn’t have all night, so he chose to take one for the team and speak first.

 

“Can I help you?” Izuku asked, the voice modulator making his voice sound unrecognizable even to him.

 

Eraserhead’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Yes. I’m a Pro Hero, and you’re under arrest. Don’t resist.”

 

When the capture scarf raced towards Izuku’s face, he was prepared. He spun to the side to avoid the attack, then aimed his wires at the rooftop across from them. Before the capture scarf could recalibrate and attack again, Izuku was already flying over to safety.

 

Izuku knew that Eraserhead’s main method of attack was pursuit and capture techniques, so he already dodged the roundhouse kick aimed at him as the man followed not too far behind.

 

Eraserhead was undoubtedly skilled in hand-to-hand combat, as one had to be a jack-of-all-trades in the Underground business, but he was more comfortable in long-distance, surprise attacks, so Izuku took advantage of that fact and began to attack in full.

 

With Eraserhead’s side left unprotected due to the missed kick, Izuku rammed his elbow near the man’s kidneys. Eraserhead grunted in pain and spun back, his knee dangerously close to Izuku’s chest. Izuku moved to the side to avoid the attack but his momentary distraction ended with a capture scarf wrapped tightly around his right wrist.

 

Izuku didn’t let it get the better of him, however, and grabbed the capture scarf with both of his hands. Yanking on the weapon not unlike what Izuku had done in the alleyway to Ito with his wires, Eraserhead flew forwards against his own volition. Once the man was close enough, Izuku jumped into the air, still gripping the capture scarf tightly, and pushed both of his feet into Eraserhead’s stomach. 

 

The force of the kick made the capture scarf release his wrists as well as force Eraserhead to fall backward, grunting in pain from the kick.

 

Once Eraserhead was momentarily out of commission, Izuku aimed his wires and was flown right back to the rooftop they had started the brawl on.

 

At a safe enough distance from the Underground hero, Izuku turned back to the man, just in time to watch the Hero already preparing to follow after him once again.

 

But the time limit was running up, and Izuku needed Upgrade out of Musutafu’s streets.

 

That meant that Izuku had to do the one thing he didn't want to do.

 

Taking a chance and praying that his theory that Eraserhead sometimes begrudgingly worked alongside well-meaning vigilantes, Izuku opened his mouth and said, “Stop!”

 

“Not gonna happen,” Eraserhead growled, his eyes beginning to glow a feral red. Although the gaze did nothing to Izuku, it still made him shiver a little. “Stop resisting and come quietly.”

 

“What do you know about Upgrade?” Izuku asked instead.

 

Eraserhead’s body still seemed ready to launch itself into yet another series of attacks against Izuku, but he wasn’t attacking him just yet, so maybe there was hope?

 

“The hell is Upgrade?”

 

Izuku grimaced. “An illegal methamphetamine created by Morinaga Takeshi, the leader of Seichourai, a gang that works primarily in drug dealing, racketeering, and theft.”

 

Izuku almost sighed in relief as Eraserhead seemed to slowly relax his stance. The man still seemed willing and able to kick Izuku’s ass, but at least he seemed open to hearing him out.

 

“Why are you telling me this?” Eraserhead asked after a moment. His voice was deep and gravelly like he enjoyed swallowing small, sharp stones for breakfast.

 

If Izuku hadn’t known that the Underground hero was an Omega, like him, he would have assumed Eraserhead was an Alpha simply for his voice alone.

 

“Morinaga and Watanabe Ichimo, another high-ranking member of Seichourai, are currently discussing a potential business deal in Taiwan in the alleyway along 15th street,” Izuku answered promptly. “Upgrade is a new drug that not only gives the same side-effects of meth but also briefly enhances one’s quirk.”

 

Eraserhead blinked in shock, his red glare vanishing as a result. “A quirk-enhancing drug?”

 

Izuku nodded.

 

The man eyed Izuku warily. “How do you know about this?”

 

“I’ve been researching Seichourai and Upgrade for the past two months. I have enough evidence to put Morinaga behind bars and for Upgrade to never fall into the wrong hands. I was supposed to apprehend them tonight.”

 

Eraserhead huffed in frustration. “And what? You’re telling me this so that I’ll let you go? Still not gonna happen. You’ve been causing enough trouble as it is, and you’re currently breaking the law for unregistered quirk usage. I’m gonna bring you in, so stop making this harder on the both of us.”

 

Izuku sighed heavily. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy persuading someone like Eraserhead, but they were already running out of time. “I’m not breaking any laws. As you could probably already tell, Eraserhead, I’m not using any quirk.”

 

That made Eraserhead jolt. For a brief second, Izuku wondered if Eraserhead was going to attack him anyways, information be damned. 

 

“How the hell do you know who I am?”

 

Izuku allowed himself to give a brief snigger. “I know a lot more than that.”

 

“That’s not helping your case, I hope you realize.”

 

“I’m not helping my case,” Izuku said, “because there is no case to begin with.”

 

Eraserhead growled, and his capture scarf started swirling around again. Perhaps it was connected to his emotions in some way? Izuku would have to research it further. “Even if you aren’t using your quirk, you’re still acting as a vigilante.”

 

“Fucking hell,” Izuku groaned, a headache beginning to build near his temples. “We don’t have time for this, Eraserhead. You can’t arrest me for vigilantism because I have not been using my quirk in any capacity.”

 

“Then why are you telling me all of this?” Eraserhead barked angrily. “What’s the point?”

 

“I’m telling you this so you can fucking arrest Morinaga.” Izuku glared at the Underground hero, even though the man could not see it through his tinted eye goggles. “Obviously you aren’t going to let me do it, so you’ll need to do it instead. And quickly.”

 

Eraserhead’s lip curled into a sneer. “And what makes you think I’ll do it? I can’t arrest someone without any real charges against them. I won’t trust the words of some random vigilante playing hero without evidence.”

 

“You want evidence?” Izuku dug into his back pocket for a moment before he tossed the hard drive containing every last bit of information Izuku had gathered on Seichourai and Upgrade. “Fine. Everything I found is in there, so go do your fucking job and arrest those motherfuckers.”

 

Eraserhead caught the hard drive easily and stared at it critically. Izuku had just started to get a bit huffy when he finally pocketed the damn thing.

 

“Fine. I’ll see what I can do,” Eraserhead answered with an icy hiss.

 

“That’s all I ask,” Izuku bit back. He didn’t want to be so emotional around the Underground hero, but damn it, Izuku had spent two fucking months on this case only for Eraserhead to blow it to smithereens.  “Morinaga has four guards stationed with him, and six others patrolling the streets. I took down four of them, so you may be able to detain Morinaga without much hassle.”

 

“This is a one-time thing, I hope you understand.” Eraserhead’s eyes flashed red once again, but only as a warning. “Next time I catch you out here trying to start shit, I’m dragging your ass to the police station whether you like it or not.”

 

“I’d like to see you try,” Izuku couldn’t help but sneer. 

 

Eraserhead laughed cruelly. “You think a couple of fancy tools will keep you from me? Trust me, I’ve arrested bigger and badder vigilantes than the likes of you. Next time I see you doing this kind of shit again, I’m not letting you get off the hook again.”

 

“Oh, Eraserhead,” Izuku cooed meanly, aiming his hands to a rooftop a sizable enough distance away from the Underground hero where he could escape without distractions, “you’re acting like I’m ever letting us meet again after this.”

 

Then, with a flash, Izuku’s wires launched to their destination, Izuku flying with the momentum of them into the open air.

 

When he landed safely on the rooftop, he turned back to where he had last seen Eraserhead. The Underground hero was gone, hopefully, to arrest Morinaga. If Izuku was a better person, he would have insisted on helping the hero. But dealing with heroes gave Izuku headaches, so he vowed never to come into contact with Eraserhead again. 

 

Aiming his wires once again, Izuku vanished into the night.

 

Chapter Text

Autonomy was a concept foreign to Izuku. He’d read about it in books, yet he’d never experienced it his entire life. Now that he had it, he was unsure what to do with it, or even how to feel about the matter. 

 

Freedom, in a lot of ways, … didn’t suit Izuku well.

 

 It didn’t fit, much like a stiff new coat that hung far past his wrists. 

 

Like he was playing make-believe. 

 

Autonomy chafed at Izuku, and he didn’t like it. 

 

He was a little angry, if he was being honest with himself.

 

Izuku had spent years imagining freedom.

 

It was the only thing that kept him sane -- kept him good -- in that fucking cell.

 

He used to lie awake at night, eyes straining in the darkness, slowly petting his arms in a self-soothing manner, and think to himself, “It’s okay. It’s fine. I’m leaving soon, so I’ll be fine.”

 

Now here he was.

 

At long last, Izuku had his freedom.

 

And he had no idea what to do with it.

 

He’d never experienced what having full control over his body, his mind, his life was like.

 

Ever since he had been a child, he’d known that his body was not his own. It belonged to his father. Everything he did, therefore, was dictated by the man.

 

He woke up when his father wanted.

 

He ate what his father gave him.

 

Every job, every mission … 

 

All of it was ordered by him.

 

There was a part of Izuku that missed it, in some sick, twisted way.

 

He missed following orders.

 

Autonomy was hard .

 

For the first time in his life, Izuku made choices.

 

He had to decide, all by himself, how to live.

 

It was the hardest thing he had ever accomplished in his life. And that wasn’t an easy thing to say, coming from the kid who, at eight-years-old, hacked into the Chinese government -- yet another mission from his father.

 

Izuku was a human being now, and it fucking nauseated him.

 

He sometimes missed the simplicity of being a tool.

 

A weapon.

 

Humans were so complicated.

 

From the moment they got up in the morning, humans consciously, unconsciously, and subconsciously made choices.

 

Hell -- even getting up in the morning was a choice, and most humans barely recognized it as such!

 

Izuku never had to make those choices before. Everything had been decided for him.

 

He didn’t …

 

He didn’t understand.

 

It was scary.

 

It hurt.

 

How could someone who, their entire lives, had their choices made by someone else somehow make decisions for themselves?

 

Izuku could answer that question now.

 

With great difficulty, and eventually, with none at all.

 

That wasn’t to say the process was easy, however.

 

As stated before, it was the hardest thing Izuku had ever done in his life.

 

Those two weeks after he had escaped were spent huddled into the small alcove Izuku had made his shelter in the sewer system, damn-near comatose with panic.

 

How could a tool, a weapon, a machine be a human?

 

Izuku was smart. 

 

If he was allowing himself to brag, he’d admit he was probably one of the smartest people in Japan.

 

But he didn’t know the answer to that question.

 

At least, not yet.

 

So he huddled into that damp little alcove and struggled to breathe.

 

Everything made him panic in those first few months after he’d escaped.

 

Izuku had been outside his cell before. He’d gone wherever his father mandated him to go in that prison-like building, and, once he was old enough, he even went on missions, although he was always accompanied by a handler.

 

He’d seen the outside world.

 

He’d spoken to people from the outside world.

 

(Of course, he only ever spoke to the people he needed to speak to, and those were usually his targets --)

 

But Izuku hadn’t journeyed to the outside world as a human being.

 

He’d been a tool, held in the cold hands of his father.

 

He’d been a gun, firing whenever his father pulled his trigger.

 

The outside world was a different place, unfamiliar and frightening, after he’d emancipated himself. That was partly why he’d chosen the sewers as his hideaway.

 

There was no excess stimuli in the sewers. Only the foul stench of trash, mildew, and the occasional rat for company.

 

One day, Izuku knew he had enough.

 

He’d collapsed into a panic attack for the third time that morning, simply over the question of whether he'd rather eat a granola bar or a fruit-flavored jelly pouch.

 

Enough was enough, and Izuku knew he was far too smart to allow himself to continue on like that. He had a job to do, and if he couldn’t stop flying off the rails whenever he had to give a fucking opinion on something, he’d never accomplish it.

 

And because Izuku was so smart, he knew that he couldn’t possibly solve his problem by himself.

 

He was smart , so he recognized his fallacy. 

 

He had been the living, breathing equivalent of a damn robot his entire life, and how could a robot become a human without any outside help?

 

So he forced himself out of the nest of ratty-ass blankets he’d called a bed and turned on his old dinosaur of a laptop.

 

A few days later, breathing stabilized and armed with over thirty different self-help books he’d pirated off the internet, Izuku could semi-confidently say that, although he didn’t know how to answer the question yet, he was off to a pretty good start.

 

Each of the books instructed him to focus on the little choices first.

 

Worrying over the large questions, those lovely existential sons-of-bitches, would only bring him back down to his knees.

 

Little choices.

 

Little decisions.

 

That was how he’d become a human being.

 

Or, at least, as close as to one someone like Izuku could be.

 

So, with a heavy heart and trembling hands, Izuku ate the jelly pouch.

 

His first real step towards reentering the outside world since he’d escaped.

 

Learning how to be human sucked ass in the beginning.

 

He started to resent his freedom -- the one thing that had kept him afloat all those years under his father’s thumb.

 

Izuku didn’t know how to make decisions, so learning how to do so was … tricky.

 

There were quite a few times that Izuku wanted to throw in the towel.

 

His progress was so stilted. For every decision he triumphantly made, another choice would freeze his entire body like a rabbit in car headlights. During particularly bad episodes, he’d entertain the idea of returning back to his father.

 

Thankfully, he always berated himself severely whenever he had those thoughts.

 

If he returned to his father, then everything would have been for nought. 

 

Back in his cell, the far-off dream of freedom was the only thing simultaneously keeping him from dissociating from life completely or putting a bullet in his mouth once and for all.

 

If he gave up his freedom now, after all of the sweat, tears, and blood he’d poured into escaping, he’d never forgive himself.

 

If Izuku went back to his father, then all of his new freedom-induced existential questions would be answered.

 

( Am I a villain? )

 

Yes.

 

If Izuku went back to his father, then Izuku was a villain.

 

(It was a simple equation, really. Izuku’s father was a villain -- to be completely honest, the villain of all villains -- so if Izuku willingly returned to him, back to the jobs , the missions , the assignments ..?)

 

(Well.)

 

(A lot of things were said about Izuku, but never once was he accused of not being smart.)

 

So Izuku resigned himself for the next few aching months and ate his fruit pouches none-too glumly.

 

Still -- Izuku’s intelligence was good for something, in the end.

 

He’d always been clever and quick at picking up new skills.

 

He’d taught himself how to calculate physics equations when he was only six, after all.

 

He could teach himself how to be human with varying success.

 

It only took Izuku a week and a half to stop thinking of himself as an it and rather a he .

 

Progress was progress, even if his choices often left him feeling nauseated and with a keen desire to scratch the skin off of his arms.

 

Every decision, however, was heavily analyzed and methodical.

 

Rationally, he’d pit two choices against each other and determine their various pros and cons. Only the decision with the most necessary pros was allowed, whilst the other was discarded.

 

(That was how he’d chosen the fruit pouch, after all.)

 

(His granola bars were far more filling in nature, so they’d be better suited for a later meal.)

 

It was five months after Izuku escaped his father that things changed.

 

It had been a slow night, and the streets of Musutafu were quiet for once.

 

He worked as somewhat of an information broker as well as a quirk analyst on his laptop to get money, and he’d finished a quirk analyst essay he’d written for a young woman in med school for a couple thousand yen, so he made a mental grocery list as he jumped from rooftop to rooftop. He’d begun patrolling the streets after he’d been assured he wouldn’t collapse into a panic attack over the slightest decision, and nothing of note had occurred aside from breaking up one drunken brawl.

 

It was after he’d started to head back to the sewers that he thought to himself, I want to buy a lychee jelly pouch, and stopped cold in his tracks.

 

He wanted to buy a lychee-flavored jelly pouch.

 

He wanted to buy a lychee-flavored jelly pouch.

 

Izuku …

 

Izuku liked the taste of lychee.

 

And …

 

And he wanted to eat more of it .

 

For the first time since he’d escaped his father, Izuku smiled.

 

And it was a real smile. It was so fucking big, it almost hurt his face behind his voice modulator. 

 

Izuku liked something.

 

Izuku wanted.

 

Never before had Izuku genuinely wanted something besides the abstract concept of freedom.

 

And even then, Izuku hadn’t truly known what freedom was or what it detailed.

 

But now?

 

Izuku was teaching himself how to be a human.

 

And Izuku wanted .

 

Even the colossal panic attack that occurred after he’d managed to find his way back to the sewers hadn’t been enough to dampen the smile on his face. Thankfully no one else was in the sewers besides him, otherwise they might have assumed he was insane. Only the rats saw him grinning, and they kept their opinions to themselves.

 

The floodgates seemed to open after that.

 

Whereas before, the process of choosing and deciding had been nearly debilitating for Izuku. His overly-rational, admittedly apathetic brain had to constantly think and then re-think his decisions, and the act of forming an opinion on something made his stomach churn.

 

Now?

 

Izuku could barely sleep at night. 

 

He was far too busy thinking .

 

It was as if every question he’d ever thought in his life had been locked away in some secret part of his brain, and finally, the barrier had broken.

 

Did he prefer blue or pink?

 

Did he enjoy the taste of fish?

 

What was his favorite instrument?

 

Was he a dog-person or a cat-person?

 

Izuku had to know .

 

Forming a personality was the most exciting thing he had ever created in his life, and Izuku had created both his voice modulator and his beloved wires.

 

His laptop became his greatest ally as he poured hours upon hours into researching who Izuku was. Everything was tested, and things that did not exactly stick were subsequently dropped.

 

Finally, nine months after he’d escaped his father and taught himself how to be human, Izuku -- the real Izuku, not that fucking automaton -- was born.

 

Izuku was eleven-years-old when he was born.

 

He was a male with the second gender Omega, although he kept the latter fact a secret.

 

He was Quirkless.

 

Izuku liked learning. He liked thinking and analyzing everything .

 

Izuku liked every animal, although he was partial to cats.

 

Izuku liked nesting , which he’d discovered was a common Omega trait after one of his arduous Internet binges, and he liked soft things .

 

Izuku liked the taste of lychee, and he hated the taste of mackerel.

 

Izuku did not like crowded places, and touch made him nervous.

 

He liked to methodically plan his actions, but he could sometimes be reckless.

 

He enjoyed verbal sparring, although the Internet said he was ‘sassy’.

 

Izuku loved his wires. He liked how versatile they were, but, above all, how they let him fly .

 

He liked having long hair. His father always ordered for his hair to be buzzed in order to prevent any unnecessary hassle, so Izuku partly grew it out just to spite the man. The other part of him liked how bouncy his green curls were.

 

Izuku did not like Alphas all too much. They reminded him of his father, and they were always too loud for his opinion.

 

Izuku liked being a vigilante. At first, he patrolled the streets out of guilt. Under his father’s control, Izuku had done some awful things. Although he had no control over himself at the time, he still felt responsible for his actions and became a vigilante in an attempt to alleviate it. He knew he could not erase his past actions or make up for them in any way, but he had to do something.

 

Now, Izuku was a vigilante because he genuinely wanted to help people.

 

Izuku was a ‘night owl’, according to the Internet.

 

Izuku … didn’t trust heroes.

 

He studied them voraciously. The way they honed their quirks was fascinating , and he’d begun to fill hard drive after hard drive with encoded analysis on them. Some of them did honest good, like Ingenium, the Turbo Hero, or Thirteen, the Space Hero, but Izuku had been patrolling the outer districts of Musutafu for quite some time and he knew that good, honest heroes were kind of the exception nowadays.

 

For a while, it confused Izuku. According to the Internet, heroes brought criminals to justice and protected innocent people. There were a lot of criminals in the outer districts, and half of the people living there needed help. So why weren’t the Heroes helping?

 

Then he researched Mt. Lady, the Mineyama Hero, and the Flame Hero, Endeavor.

 

If Izuku was being honest, that led into a bit of an existential crisis that lasted for about a half week until he forced himself out of it.

 

Weren’t Heroes supposed to be good?

 

That was why they were Heroes!

 

It was simple! Heroes were good and villains were bad.

 

So why were people like Mt. Lady and Endeavor calling themselves heroes when they did bad?

 

Izuku left his father because he wanted his freedom.

 

But if Izuku was being specific on the matter, he left his father because he did not have the freedom to do good .

 

When Izuku was with his father, Izuku was … 

 

Izuku was bad .

 

Now Izuku was trying to do good , but what did it mean if people like Mt. Lady and Endeavor were called good yet did bad?

 

So --

 

Yeah.

 

Izuku didn’t trust heroes all too much.

 

Thankfully he didn’t have to face too many heroes in the outer districts, although that was kind of the problem.

 

And onto the most important characteristic of Izuku.

 

The only thing that had started his entire personality , if he was being honest.

 

Izuku detested things that hurt innocent people.

 

He despised them.

 

His blood boiled whenever he witnessed them, and he wanted to rip them apart with his fucking teeth .

 

It didn’t have to be a person.

 

It could be a law.

 

It could be an opinion.

 

It could be anything, really.

 

He hated them.

 

Izuku had never hated before his emancipation.

 

Just as love was a foreign concept, so was hate.

 

Izuku had been a machine, and machines weren’t made to have feelings.

 

But now Izuku wasn’t a machine!

 

He wasn’t a machine anymore, because he taught himself how to be human! And humans had emotions, so Izuku taught himself how to have emotions as well!

 

But love and hate were the strongest emotions.

 

Therefore, whenever he experienced those two emotions, he tended to go a bit …

 

Overboard.

 

The first time Izuku loved something, it had been his wires.

 

He’d made them back when he was still with his father, but he’d never loved them. They were tools to him, just like he was a tool to his father. He’d never enjoyed them; they were used to kill people, not for enjoyment .

 

But then Izuku left his father and learned how to be human.

 

Humans, Izuku discovered, had the strangest desires.

 

Some of them were completely intangible, yet they still had urges for them anyways.

 

One of them, Izuku learned, was flying .

 

Even before Quirks emerged and some were granted the gift of flight, humans took to the skies, even though their bodies were meant for stable ground.

 

Even now, so long after the invention of Orville and Wilbur Wright, humans still loved to fly.

 

In an effort to further shed his machinery, Izuku grabbed his wires and walked to the tallest building in the outer districts.

 

After all, in order to fly --

 

One must fall .

 

And fall Izuku did.

 

He fell.

 

Arms spread.

 

His back to the ground and his face to the sky.

 

Just before his body would reach terminal velocity and break into pieces on the ground, Izuku aimed his wires and pressed the trigger. He launched himself to a nearby rooftop.

 

And promptly collapsed, shaking like when he was in the depths of his worst panic attacks.

 

But he wasn’t scared.

 

He was laughing.

 

Giddy and half-crazy with jubilee, Izuku fainted on that rooftop. He didn’t even care about the risks of doing so.

 

Izuku knew what love was after that night.

 

And not long after that, Izuku learned what hate was too.

 

He’d been patrolling when he’d heard it.

 

A scream. Feminine.

 

Izuku flew over to the location of the sound.

 

A deserted alleyway in District 10. One of many, and without any distinguishing features.

 

The only thing that separated this alleyway from the myriad of others in District 10 were the people inside it.

 

An Alpha male. Dark hair, with an average height and build.

 

A Beta female. Her vivid red hair seemed to have a mind of its own, as each strand formed a tendril that moved as fluidly as an octopus’ tentacle.

 

And each tendril was currently trying to push the Alpha male away from where he had crowded the Beta female against the wall of the alleyway.

 

It was no use, however. The tendrils didn’t seem to have any sort of enhanced strength, so they did nothing against the assailant. 

 

“Stop it! Stop it!” The Beta female screamed, furiously punching at the man’s back. “Help! Someone help!”

 

“Shut up!” The Alpha male shouted, pressing even closer to her. Izuku watched as his hands yanked the woman’s jeans down her legs. “Shut up, shut up! You wanted this! Shut up!”

 

The woman seemed even more panicked as he started groping the flesh of her thighs. “St-Stop! Stop! Please, stop it!” She tried to move away from him, but there was no room. “Help me! Someone, help me! Help me!”

 

Later, he would remark on the potency of his dissociation. Ever since he’d left his father, he fought against his dissociative habits, paranoid that he’d be left vulnerable to an attack. It had been quite some time since he’d allowed his ever-racing brain to turn off and for the ever-familiar numbness to course through his body.

 

He came back to awareness with a jolt, with his teeth bared in a hidden snarl and his fists dripping with hot viscera.

 

He had jumped into the alleyway and pulled the Alpha male away. Then, if the way he was currently straddling the man held any indication, he’d begun to beat him within an inch of his life.

 

The Alpha’s face was swollen and bruised. His nose was practically nonexistent at that point, and blood streamed from his nostrils, painting his face like a particularly gory painting. His cheeks were so swollen and bruised that his eyes couldn’t even open, although the man was clearly unconscious at that point. His lips were split, and Izuku could see the various cracked and missing teeth in his blood-filled mouth.

 

Izuku didn’t know what the Alpha male looked like previously, but he knew that no human being looked like that .

 

For a moment, Izuku wondered if he’d killed him.

 

Numbly, Izuku wondered if he particularly cared to find out.

 

But no.

 

The man’s chest, though faintly and with a lot of stuttering, continued to rise up and down. Each breath was an awful, wet-sounding rattle.

 

After roughly placing the Alpha in a recovery position, Izuku turned back to the woman, slumped against the alley wall during the events of his dissociation and weeping.

 

“Call the police,” Izuku ordered. “I’ll stay with you until they arrive.”

 

Izuku knew what hate was after that.

 

If you wanted to make a generalization of Izuku, you could probably describe him based on those two emotions. 

 

They encompassed most of what he had learned in the months after he’d escaped his father.

 

Izuku loved to fly.

 

And Izuku hated things that hurt innocent people.

 

Quite simple, really, for a boy who’d only just begun to be human.

 

Quite sad, really, for a boy who’d been a tool his entire life.

 

But Izuku was done being a tool.

 

He was human now.

 

He wasn’t exactly a good human being, but he did good things.

 

That was all he wanted to do. 

 

He wanted to do good.

 

He had escaped his father in order to choose good, after all.

 

And Izuku liked to think that he did good. 

 

Maybe the way he accomplished things was a little … brutal , and maybe his methods were a little underhanded, but could you really blame the boy who had to teach himself how to be human in under twelve months?

 

No.

 

No, you could not.

 

Izuku, as flawed as he was, just wanted to do some good after having spent his entire life forced to do bad.

 

Now if someone could tell Aizawa Shouta, AKA Eraserhead, AKA the Most Infamous Underground Hero in Japan, AKA The Biggest Pain in Izuku’s Ass, that all he wanted to do was a little bit of good, he’d very much appreciate it.

 

Because really , Izuku thought, ducking as Eraserhead’s capture scarf lunged dangerously close to his scalp as he yet again raced across Musutafu’s rooftops in an effort to escape the hero, this is getting a little bit tedious.

Chapter Text

Aizawa Shouta was a man acquainted with regret.

 

Some days he used to wonder if everything in his life was accomplished because of regret.

 

He was a hero because of regret.

 

He was a teacher because of regret.

 

Shouta regretted so much it practically became his drive.

 

The source of his determination.

 

On those days, there was nothing Shouta wanted to do more than lie in bed and wish to never open his eyes again.

 

Survivor’s guilt , Inui would call it.

 

But Shouta thought it was more akin to penance .

 

Thankfully he had Hizashi now.

 

When he was younger, all he had was himself. 

 

And Shouta didn’t like himself that much when he was younger, so he practically relished in his own suffering. He deserved it. It was karma, or fate, or whatever bullshit people tried to explain their lives by.

 

When Shouta was young, he would wallow in his regret.

 

If I was strong enough --

 

If I was fast enough --

 

If I was smart enough --

 

He’d berate himself over and over again until the weight of his sins practically made him immobile.

 

Shouta would lie there, in his cold, lonely bed, and stare up at the ceiling.

 

On those regretful days, Shouta likened his old apartment’s single bedroom to a cell.

 

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t escape from his bed.

 

Sometimes, Shouta would even wonder if it was worth it to even try.

 

Why was he allowed to wake up, to continue on with his day, when so many weren’t given the same privilege?

 

Why was Shouta allowed to get up from his bed when others could never get up again?

 

Why was Shouta allowed to live when Oboro wasn’t?

 

When Shouta was young, he allowed himself to think this way.

 

He allowed himself to believe it.

 

But now he had Hizashi.

 

He had Hizashi, and that was all that really mattered when it came down to it.

 

And Hizashi had him .

 

Shouta’s regret ...

 

It was … different now.

 

The flavor had changed.

 

Milder.

 

The pain had softened as well.

 

Still a sting, but not the same bone-weary ache from before.

 

Because when Shouta had his regretful days, he wasn’t alone.

 

When Shouta had his regretful days, Hizashi was right there next to him. 

 

More specifically, he was already latched onto Shouta like a limpet, because the Alpha was a goddamn octopus when it came to napping.

 

And when Shouta was so tired he couldn’t even open his mouth to say good morning, Hizashi, in his remarkable perceptiveness, would smile and say it for him instead.

 

He’d help Shouta out of bed.

 

He’d make him breakfast because Shouta was a shit cook who burnt water on multiple occasions, and his favorite coffee, the ridiculously-expensive blend Nedzu had gotten him from Colombia, would always be waiting in a full pot, freshly brewed and steaming, even though Hizashi hated the taste of the drink (the heathen ).

 

And once they had finished their breakfast, Hizashi would smile at him again, maybe nudge him a little bit with his shoulder if he was being a little shit, and ask if he would rather nap or grade papers.

 

It showed how well Hizashi knew him.

 

On Shouta’s regretful days, he needed guidance, and he wouldn’t accept it from anyone other than his mate.

 

So Shouta would answer what choice he preferred that day, and Hizashi would smile again. His alpha would then stand up, clear the table, and then walk with Shouta to wherever he decided to go, whether it be their bed or their shared office.

 

And Hizashi would always reward him with a kiss on the forehead, tender and affectionate, and a nuzzle to the bond mark on Shouta’s neck. Then he’d leave to do whatever he needed for the day because he trusted Shouta to know that if he needed his presence close by, he’d tell him that.

 

God -- 

 

Shouta was still amazed to this day that he had that.

 

He had Hizashi’s trust, not just his love, and that was a remarkable thing.

 

Many looked at Hizashi (Or, more accurately, looked at Present Mic ) and assumed that their first impression of the Alpha was the correct one.

 

It wasn’t.

 

Not by a long shot.

 

Hizashi was smart, smarter than anyone gave him credit for. 

 

He saw things. He was so observant it was almost scary.

 

He just understood people. His empathy was off the charts.

 

He’d been through things that most people would never experience in their entire lives.

 

Things that would leave people broken and brittle and angry , and for good-fucking-reason too.

 

And Hizashi came out of it hurt and confused and still fucking smiled when he saw a teenaged Aizawa Shouta, hiding in the corner of that U.A. classroom, desperately avoiding anyone’s eye.

 

Hizashi had so much shit done to him, and he still walked up to a teenaged Aizawa Shouta and asked if they could be friends.

 

Yamada Hizashi was a goddamn marvel , a fucking exercise in goodness even if the world didn’t deserve it, and Shouta still found himself breathless from time to time when he was reminded of the fact that Yamada Hizashi was his alpha .

 

That Yamada Hizashi not only loved him but trusted him.

 

And if someone like Yamada Hizashi believed that Shouta was worthy enough to get out of bed during his regretful days, then it was the written truth.

 

Hizashi changed everything for Shouta, and he’d never be able to repay the man.

 

Of course, whenever he’d try to say that to the silly Alpha, he’d just laugh it off.

 

“You don’t need to repay me for something like that. I love doing this! It makes me feel … well, I guess complete would be the right word?”

 

Stupid, silly man.

 

And if the Alpha was being especially stupid and ridiculously attractive, he’d wink at Shouta.

 

“If you really think I should be repaid for something like that, then letting me mark you was payment enough.”

 

See?

 

Stupid.

 

---

 

… Of course, he kissed the Alpha senseless after he said that.

 

Shouta’s regret was different now.

 

Shouta was different now.

 

Aizawa Shouta was a man acquainted with regret, but his regret wasn’t what drove him now.

 

That was why he was having a hard time with this new vigilante case.

 

When Tsukauchi first called, Shouta genuinely played with the idea of letting it go to voicemail.

 

Days where he was free from working at both of his jobs were rare enough as it was, but it was practically a message from the beyond when Hizashi was also allowed a day off as well, seeing how the stupid Alpha had three jobs that demanded his attention constantly.

 

They were a hardworking pair, and they took respites in any way possible. Sometimes there were weeks where the two of them barely had a moment with each other and had to satisfy themselves with quick affectionate gestures or heartfelt passing words.

 

Off-days were coveted, and the two of them made the most of it, their mate bonds practically singing with glee by the time they left for bed.

 

It was around three in the morning that Shouta’s phone started ringing, and Shouta wasn’t ashamed to admit that he was tempted to toss it out a window.

 

He was sleeping , goddamnit. Underground Heroes gave up consistent sleep schedules because of the night patrols and random hours, but Shouta was a teacher as well. Underground Heroes usually took advantage of the day to recover, but Shouta had to work yet again. Usually, he’d attempt to make up for his deficiency by taking naps any chance he’d get (Nem gave him his yellow sleeping bag as a prank, but who’s laughing now?) , but it still left him perpetually exhausted.

 

Even when Shouta grabbed the device and saw the caller ID after practically wrestling to get out of Hizashi’s vice-like sleep grip, he debated just silencing it and calling the detective back by morning.

 

But – and fuck his logical mind – he hesitated.

 

Tsukauchi wasn’t dramatic, so he would only ever call Shouta outside of patrol hours if it was really urgent. Plus, the Lie Detector Detective knew how much Shouta valued sleep, seeing as how his own sleep schedule was pretty fucked as well.

 

Not a lot of people knew about the partnership between Shouta and Tsukauchi. Heroes often saw Tsukauchi arrive to pick up and question whatever criminals Shouta had apprehended, but they assumed that was the end of their relationship. 

 

Just an Underground Hero saving the day, with a detective coming to pick up the mess.

 

Maybe it was because of the biases held by most Limelight Heroes. 

 

They tended to view the police force in a negative light, seeing them as weaker forms of law enforcement. To a lot of Limelight Heroes, police officers and detectives were just people who had too weak of Quirks to get into the hero industry and chose the next best thing. Additionally, a lot of heroes disliked police officers because the force wasn’t overly fond of all the pomp and circumstance that heroes reveled in. 

 

More times than he could count, Shouta had seen Tsukauchi or Officer Sansa pulling Limelight Heroes away from the adoring crowds and dragging them back to the scene for questioning, completely unconcerned with the annoyed glares the heroes would give them for ruining their little publicity stunts.

 

Underground Heroes were very different in that regard.

 

Perhaps it was due to the relation of the work, seeing as how Underground Heroes worked on the cases involved in seedier, disturbing plots. 

 

Underground Heroics dealt more in stealth missions, ones that took a lot of careful consideration and planning. They weren’t centered around the inner districts – that was Limelight Hero territory – and patrolled the dark, crime-ridden streets of the outer districts. The jobs in question weren’t suited for publicity, and Shouta had seen more than his fair share of fucked up shit on the job. Some of the missions involved going undercover for months at a time or even stalking people, as fucked up as that sounded.

 

Underground Heroes needed intel for their missions, but more than that, they needed good intel from people who really knew what the streets of Musutafu were like outside of the shining inner districts and the glamour of the Limelight Hero lifestyle.

 

They also needed to be familiar with the various police departments around the city. Connections were crucial, and Underground Heroics was a tricky business, so quick getaways were sought after.

 

That was why it was kind of a running gag for Underground Heroes to have their “favorite” officer.

 

And —

 

Well.

 

Tsukauchi Naomasa was Shouta’s favorite.

 

They were men of a similar breed, after all. 

 

Both of them weren’t fussy, and they valued their jobs more than their general health and wellbeing, much to their friends’ horror. 

 

Tsukauchi was a damn good detective, even outside of his handy Quirk, Lie Detector, and Shouta knew that he could get the best information from the mild-mannered Beta. He trusted Tsukauchi to provide him honest intel for his missions, and Tsukauchi trusted him to get the job done efficiently and effectively. 

 

Plus, it didn’t help that Shouta genuinely liked Tsukauchi.

 

He was a good man, and there weren’t a lot of people like that anymore.

 

And it was because Tsukauchi was a good detective, because he was a good man, that Shouta answered the phone.

 

And now here Shouta was.

 

Stuck on a wild goose chase and trying desperately hard not to regret his decision to help his friend.

 

The goose chase in question?

 

Find whoever this new vigilante was and put them in handcuffs before they gave Tsukauchi and the rest of his precinct ulcers .

 

The reason why he was trying not to regret helping Tsukauchi?

 

There wasn’t a single fucking thing about this vigilante to go from.

 

The only thing that might have helped the case was the vigilante’s Quirk.

 

It was some kind of wire production or manipulation Quirk. Many eyewitnesses or criminals spoke about the vigilante appearing out of nowhere and using their Quirk before quickly vanishing into the night, the wires both acting as offensive weapons as well as defensive, judging from the way the vigilante used them as some kind of grappling hook.

 

But that was it .

 

No more information.

 

Tsukauchi had checked, double-checked, and triple-checked his records, scouring for someone registered with some variation of a wire Quirk – but nope .

 

There were only three people who were currently living in the Musutafu area with a wire Quirk, and each one of them didn’t fit the bill for the vigilante.

 

Two were already elderly, and one of them was currently in the hospital, suffering from liver failure.

 

The third option was in her twenties, but she didn’t match up either.

 

For starters, she was currently a doctor working in District 2 for wealthy upper-class clients, so there was no logical reason for her to be side-hustling as a vigilante in the outer districts.

 

She was also six feet tall .

 

Oh, yeah .

 

That was another clue to the vigilante’s identity.

 

They were short as fuck , apparently.

 

So, if the records were correct, it was legally impossible for anyone living in Musutafu to be the vigilante.

 

Hence, wild goose chase .

 

The vigilante, as much as it pained Shouta to say, was good at keeping their secrets.

 

They worked predominantly in the outer districts, and the police supervision over there was laughably terrible. So much so that they hadn’t even realized they had a new vigilante roaming their streets until Tsukauchi called them, asking for more information on the mysterious suspect. If it wasn’t for a criminal Tsukauchi and his precinct were tracking for months getting their literal shit rocked by the said vigilante, Tsukauchi might have never heard about them to begin with.

 

In all honesty, this case technically didn’t belong to Tsukauchi’s precinct.

 

The vigilante worked in the outer districts, so, if they were being technical on the matter, it was up to them to uncover and bring this new vigilante in.

 

Shouta had told Tsukauchi so, four weeks into their investigation, after watching Tsukauchi groan and rub his temples for the eighth time that night after, yet again, finding nothing on the little shit.

 

But the detective simply shook his head and started brewing his fifth cup of coffee.

 

When Shouta pushed, Tsukauchi blew up.

 

Or, as much as such a mind-mannered Beta could blow up.

 

“I know! Okay? I fucking know that, Shouta! You know what else I know?” The Beta’s scent was tinged with exhaustion and frustration, but Shouta knew that the man wasn’t mad at him, not really. “The departments in the outer districts are shit . They’ll never find out who this vigilante is, and they won’t even fucking try, so it’s up to me! It’s up to me, okay?!”

 

Shouta watched as the man pressed his palms into his eyes, straining against his obvious migraine. “I just – I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Shouta. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because they aren’t acting like a typical vigilante at all , but I just – … I feel like there’s something more to this. Something … Something is wrong about this vigilante, and I have to figure out what it is before someone gets hurt.”

 

The silence that passed between the two of them was tense, and Tsukauchi’s shoulders raised higher and higher. Finally, Shouta sighed.

 

“Alright,” He relented gruffly. “Get the coffee pot started. I’ll keep looking over these reports.”

 

And that was that.

 

As much as this case truly and deeply frustrated Shouta, he knew that it was affecting his favorite detective, and the Beta had done far too much for Shouta for him to try not to repay him in some capacity.

 

But it wasn’t easy.

 

Little flashes of regret started popping up more and more as the case continued to get colder and colder each day.

 

Shouta sacrificed time with Hizashi for the Beta.

 

And this case wasn’t going anywhere …

 

But –

 

That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try , however.

 

Tsukauchi was right. The Beta often was.

 

There was something off about the vigilante.

 

The way they acted – it was completely unlike any vigilante Shouta had encountered.

 

And Shouta had encountered a lot of vigilantes in his career.

 

He even worked with a few, from time to time.

 

Vigilantes, in Shouta’s opinion, were like the unholy offspring of an Underground Hero and a Limelight Hero.

 

(Basically, what Shouta and Hizashi’s biological kid would’ve been, had they not decided that having a biological child wasn't on their agenda.)

 

They worked much like Underground Heroes, dealing with the scummy parts of crime and villainy. Stealthy, patient, and just a bit too brutal for television.

 

But they had the dramatics of Limelight Heroes. They had purposes and opinions and they wanted everyone to fucking know. 

 

They’d spraypaint their various calling cards or mottos above their apprehended criminals, and some would even wait for the local heroes or police forces to arrive at the scene, just to start shouting at them for whatever fucking reason.

 

But this vigilante had none of that.

 

They were quiet.

 

They never spoke to criminals or villains, and they only spoke to witnesses or victims if it was absolutely necessary. Even then, they kept their voice hidden with a voice modulator and spoke in short fragments.

 

They usually fled right after informing the police of the apprehended, but there were a few cases where they stayed at the scene for a bit longer.

 

Those cases always involved emotionally or physically vulnerable victims, however.

 

The victims later admitted that the vigilante asked if he or she wanted them to stay with them until the police arrived. They didn’t attempt to engage with the victim, and eventually, the vigilante would inform him or her that the police were only minutes away, but they’d stay close enough to watch over them until they were completely safe.

 

Then the vigilante would use their wire Quirk to propel them up onto the rooftops and promptly vanish.

 

That wasn’t typical vigilante behavior.

 

Vigilantes often had a habit of being highly empathetic individuals because they understood how terrible the streets could be, and a lot of them could be found at the scene just talking with the victims after they’d apprehended the criminals. Yes – vigilantes had a habit of being dramatic because they wanted to let the world know their mission statement, but they were oftentimes just decent people who wanted to do some good in the world, even if they went about it a little screwed.

 

Hence why Shouta would team up with some during cases, even if Tsukauchi didn’t approve.

 

But a silent vigilante? 

 

One that hadn’t even given themself a name?

 

Shouta could understand why Tsukauchi was so damn uncomfortable about this case.

 

Hell – even he was starting to get a little wary about the unknown vigilante.

 

The criminals and victims alike all professed to the vigilante being well-versed in combat.

 

Scarily so.

 

And the little shit was brutal , apparently.

 

Underground Heroes tended to have a bit of a mean streak that Limelight Heroes didn’t have. It was probably because the criminals they apprehended were some of the lowest scum on the planet, and Shouta himself wasn’t averse to dishing out a bit of extra punishment.

 

But the vigilante seemed to take it one step further.

 

Each report shared the same common theme.

 

This vigilante was really, really dangerous.

 

Although they never killed anyone (At least to Shouta and Tsukauchi’s knowledge), the way they apprehended criminals almost seemed like they were planning on it.

 

The extent of the injuries only increased if the criminal or villain was hurting Beta women, Omegas, or children. Clearly, the vigilante had a vendetta against people who targeted those often marginalized or abused groups. There was one account of a Beta woman in the outer districts who had almost been sexually assaulted by a coworker – one who had been stalking her for months – and was saved by the vigilante.

 

When Shouta read the medical report of the Alpha coworker, he’d felt a strange mix of satisfaction and dread in his stomach.

 

The vigilante had beaten the Alpha half to death, and the Alpha’s face was left unrecognizable by the end of the ordeal. 

 

Shouta didn’t like to commit unnecessary violence, but as an Omega himself, he was glad that the son of a bitch got the shit kicked out of him.

 

But even though he was secretly pleased by the account, it didn't take away from his overall suspicion about the vigilante.

 

Who the hell was this vigilante?

 

What did they want?

 

And who the hell trained them to be this crafty and yet so brutal?

 

Regardless of Shouta and Tsukauchi’s questions, the case remained cold.

 

There simply wasn’t enough evidence yet to start tracking the vigilante, and Tsukauchi began to store what meager info they had away in the police files for later investigation if anything new came up.

 

Still – Shouta continued to patrol the outer districts.

 

As an Underground Hero, he’d found himself working in the outer districts on occasion. He usually worked on more high-stakes missions that weren’t far from the city center, but he’d ventured into the criminal underbelly more than a handful of times.

 

It truly was a shitty place to live, and it always made Shouta angry to see how many people were still forced to live in poverty in such a “modern” city as Musutafu. District 9 was the city’s metaphorical passage into hell – once you got further past 9, the last three existed as one massive red-light district. 

 

The police there was a joke, and they often caused as many problems to the civilians as villains and criminals, so justice was out of the question.

 

Everything and anything was allowed in the outer districts.

 

Gang violence.

 

Prostitution.

 

Drugs.

 

Human trafficking.

 

Everything was fair game in the outer districts, and the place seemed to be crumbling apart from the inside out because of it.

 

Limelight Heroes wouldn’t step a foot past District 9, and only the most hardened Underground Heroes were able to patrol its streets.

 

But Shouta was skilled enough to handle its crime-ridden streets.

 

Or, to be more specific, Eraserhead was.

 

It was only due to pure dumb luck that Shouta found his first real lead on the vigilante on one of those patrols.

 

Tsukauchi was beginning to look wearier and wearier as each day passed without any evidence, so Shouta took it upon himself to increase the number of patrols he had. After all, Tsukauchi was his favorite detective, so he’d make it some kind of birthday present to the guy if he managed to find anything of substance.

 

He wasn’t expecting to find the fucking vigilante mid-takedown though!

 

He had just been ready to call it a night and start heading home when he’d heard just the slightest bit of noise coming from one of the many alleyways of District 11. Being a seasoned Underground Hero, he trusted his gut and followed after the sound, expecting a drug deal or a drunken brawl.

 

Instead, Shouta froze and watched as a dark-colored blur thrust their hands out at an unsuspecting man. Then a sharp metallic whizzing sound erupted from their hands, followed next by what he almost thought for a moment to be webs shooting out from the figure’s wrists and attaching themselves to the back of the unsuspecting man in record speed.

 

No –

 

Not webs.

 

Wires.

 

Shouta stared in shock as the vigilante swiftly pulled the wires, causing the man to fall backward and crack the back of his skull against the alley’s floor. Without a wasted second, the vigilante knocked the man unconscious with a single punch.

 

Thankfully, he was able to get over his surprise fast due to years of Heroics work. When the vigilante’s back was turned, Shouta unraveled his capture scarf and shot one of its tendrils forward, aiming for the vigilante’s throat.

 

The vigilante must have felt Shouta’s presence because they flipped backward out of the scarf’s reach.

 

Annoyingly enough, the next attempt to restrain the vigilante failed as well, and Shouta growled as the little shit used their wires to fly up onto a nearby roof.

 

Not wanting to be outdone or to lose a chance at apprehending the little fucker that had caused him and Tsukauchi so many headaches, Shouta followed not too far behind. It was up on that rooftop that he got his first real look of the vigilante he had been investigating for around two months.

 

Shouta felt sick.

 

The reports weren’t kidding.

 

The vigilante was small .

 

Really small.

 

Shouta himself was around six feet, and the vigilante didn’t even look five feet .

 

They came up to his chest .

 

His first initial thought was that the vigilante he had been investigating was a fucking kid .

 

And holy fuck wasn’t that a scary thought.

 

He almost got queasy at the thought of a fucking child vigilante .

 

Most vigilantes Shouta worked with were in their twenties or thirties. There were teenage vigilantes, but they were almost always caught by law enforcement within two to three months of their activity and swiftly placed in better care.

 

They were so small …

 

He was able to dismiss that thought though. There were plenty of Quirks that shrunk someone’s size, and even mutations or side-affects that did the same. Just because the vigilante he was pursuing was short didn’t automatically mean they were still in grade school .

 

Shouta remembered the Minoru family that was on U.A.'s Board of Directors and often frequent donors to the school. Their Quirks had nothing to do with size manipulation, yet some of them looked like they barely came up to Shouta’s hips .

 

Sleazy bastards, the Minoru family, but that was beside the point.

 

The vigilante’s outfit wasn’t anything like Shouta had ever seen, but then again, what room did he have to judge? He wore a black jumpsuit with his capture scarf, goggles, and utility belt, and that was it.

 

It almost looked like a trench coat mixed with a hoodie. It went down to the vigilante’s knees, and, judging by the fabric covering their legs, their entire body was probably covered in a skinsuit-like material underneath it. The hood of the coat was pulled over the vigilante’s hair, concealing it from Shouta’s view, and the entire outfit was pitch-black. Probably to better blend in the dark. Even their boots, which clearly had steel toes, were black.

 

Strangely enough, the outfit didn’t seem to fit the vigilante’s size well. On someone with an average height and build, the coat might have fallen to their waist or thighs, but not their knees . The sleeves were too wide, although they didn’t hang over their wrists too badly. The collar of the hood itself seemed massive on the vigilante, the fabric reaching their chin .

 

Or what would have been the vigilante’s chin, had it not been for the mouthguard that Shouta suspected worked doubly as a voice modulator. 

 

It was made of both metal and dark plastic, and Shouta noticed that there was a filtration device on it as well. The glinting metal parts almost looked like teeth, and Shouta was uncomfortable by how it almost looked like a snarling mouth.

 

The goggles didn’t help either. They were two connected circles made tinted so Shouta had no clue as to the color of their eyes. The goggles caught a bit of light from a nearby streetlamp and flashed like an animal’s reflective gaze. Shouta fought against a shiver.

 

“Can I help you?” The vigilante asked – and god , was that mechanical voice fucking creepy .

 

The next few minutes weren’t some of Shouta’s finest moments if he was being honest with himself.

 

Thinking back on it, he might have been caught off guard due to the small stature of the vigilante, thus allowing the vigilante to practically run circles around him when he was usually adept enough to handle these kinds of situations. But the fact of the matter was that the vigilante was shockingly – alarmingly good at deflecting Shouta’s attacks.

 

Too good , in fact.

 

It was almost like they knew what he was going to do before he did it. 

 

Creepy little shit – did they study him, or something?

 

Shouta got his answer to that question. 

 

The vigilante called him Eraserhead .

 

The vigilante knew his fucking hero name.

 

It was becoming a pattern that night for Shouta to be shocked stiff.

 

Only a select number of people were allowed to know Shouta’s hero name, and, by default, his given name.

 

Underground Heroics was one of the riskiest jobs out there, and it was imperative to keep yourself as anonymous as possible. 

 

Limelight Heroes had their nemeses , and all that glamourized bullshit, but Underground Heroes spent their days making enemies out of the sickest, most sadistic bastards in Musutafu, and those motherfuckers would sell their left kidney to get the name of the hero who put them in handcuffs.

 

Shouta had a lot of people after him.

 

People who would salivate over the idea of getting their filthy hands on the people Shouta loved.

 

Underground Heroes kept their names under lock and key, but Shouta practically had his locked in Tartarus.

 

If Shouta’s name – his identity – got into the wrong hands …

 

And yet —

 

This little shit of a vigilante knew his goddamn hero name.

 

And then had the fucking gall to laugh and admit that they knew more .

 

Fuck his capture scarf.

 

Shouta wanted to choke the little fucker with his bare fucking hands.

 

They knew his name.

 

They said they knew more.

 

Hizashi.

 

Nemuri.

 

Tensei.

 

Hizashi .

 

Hizashi, Hizashi, Hizashi, Hizashi, HizashiHizashiHizashiHizashiHizashiHizashiHizashi —

 

It was only because of Shouta’s training and sheer fucking will that he didn’t strangle the vigilante right there on that rooftop.

 

Instead, the motherfucker started twisting him a tale about a drug called Upgrade.

 

And a gang called Seichourai.

 

As if he hadn’t just upended his entire fucking career, uncovered his most important secret, and basically threatened the lives of everyone he held dear in his life.

 

It was only because Shouta knew it was his duty as an Underground Hero to apprehend Morinaga and his gang before Upgrade got out of hand that he let the vigilante go.

 

The little bit of intel the vigilante had given him about the bodyguards was helpful, to Shouta’s disgust.

 

Still a little numb, Shouta phoned the police after he’d dealt with Seichourai and waited for them to arrive. He called the fifth precinct, even though he was currently dealing with district 11’s criminals.

 

When Tsukauchi saw Shouta’s face, he hastened to get past the police tape to his side. Shouta could smell the Beta’s scent of freshly-cut grass and ink and leaned just a bit closer to him, the only visible affection he’d allow out in public.

 

Knowing this, Tsukauchi’s eyes softened and his scent became all the more pronounced. Comforting. Reassuring. Concerned.

 

Aizawa sighed.

 

Tsukauchi really was a good guy.

 

“What happened, Eraserhead?” Tsukauchi asked, and although his face shared nothing but professionalism, his scent stayed the same. Out on the field, they couldn’t act friendly, but Shouta was thankful all the same.

 

“It was our vigilante,” He answered grimly, hissing slightly when his eyes flared up with pain. He could already tell that he was gonna get the migraine of a century after tonight.

 

“Wha – What?” Tsukauchi’s eyes bugged, and his brows shot into his forehead. “D-Did you see them? Did you make contact? Did you attempt to arrest them?”

 

“All three, Detective Naomasa,” Shouta stated, rubbing his eyes from underneath his goggles.

 

Tsukauchi’s excitement seemed to wear off when he realized how grim Shouta was behaving. His scent slowly reflected his wariness and trepidation, although he made sure not to make it too heavy for Shouta’s headache’s sake. Said Underground Hero watched as the Beta dropped his previous persona and shifted into the Lie Detector Detective of Musutafu .

 

“What happened, Eraserhead?” Tsukauchi asked again after a moment passed between them, his dark eyes staring into Shouta’s own. “What did they do?”

 

Shouta huffed out another sigh and lifted his head to stare up into the night sky. Smoke threatened to choke out most of the outer districts, but Shouta could swear he saw a star or two.

 

“They’re good, Detective.” Shouta began to rub the back of his neck. His distress was making his bond mark ache a little, and he could already sense the fuss that Hizashi was going to put him through once he made it home. If Shouta was being honest, there was nothing he wanted more at the moment. “They’re really fucking good.”

 

“They escaped you?”

 

“They almost fucking beat me,” Shouta hissed just a little at the admission. It was mostly due to his earlier shock over the vigilante’s height, but still . If the vigilante hadn’t chosen to go on the defensive up on those rooftops, then he might have been in serious trouble.

 

Tsukauchi’s eyes widened yet again. “Beat you? How?”

 

Shouta’s lips twitched into a dark little smirk, although his eyes must have revealed his hidden wrath. “Little shit’s skilled. Trained. They were hunting down Seichourai for two months and were gonna strike before I found them.”

 

The Beta detective looked troubled. “Eraserhead, did they injure you?”

 

“Mostly my pride,” Shouta said truthfully. “The rest is just bruises. Nothing serious.”

 

Tsukauchi pursed his lips and shifted from one foot to another. “That’s not all that happened, I assume?”

 

“You assume right.” 

 

Shouta inhaled deeply, hoping to settle that anxiety that was building up in his chest but only got a whiff of the disgusting stench of the alleyway around him. He squeezed his eyes shut, hard enough to make lights burst behind his eyelids before he opened them.

 

“Detective, they called me Eraserhead.” His voice was low so as to avoid any unnecessary attention. “They said they knew more about me.”

 

Shouta heard Tsukauchi inhale sharply.

 

The Beta’s scent soured.

 

“You don’t think ..?” The detective began. 

 

Shouta didn’t know how he was going to finish his question, but his answer probably could fit them all.

 

“I don’t know, Naomasa. I really don’t fucking know.”

Chapter Text

It was shortly after Izuku’s quote-unquote “birth” that he decided the sewers might not be the best place to live after all.

 

Don’t get Izuku wrong — he loved the sewers.

 

He didn’t want to leave them.

 

They were his first home after he’d gotten his freedom.

 

His favorite alcove was in the sewers. He made his first nest (He had to look on the Internet for instructions on that — never before had he made one in his cell, and it was a trial and error process even with the Internet’s help) in that little alcove. It was sentimental , and his self-help books said that he was allowed to have sentimental things.

 

But the sewers didn’t have the best WIFI services, even after he tinkered with the routers.

 

And Izuku was kind of addicted to his laptop, so that was a problem.

 

He had felt so frustrated with the slow connection when he was finding his personality that sometimes he wanted to tear his hair out at its snail-like speed.

 

Of course, if he was given a bit of time, he would have been able to create a semi-stable connection within the sewer systems. 

 

He was smart, after all.

 

But if he was being honest …

 

The sewers kind of smell.

 

As an Omega, Izuku’s sense of smell was more enhanced than the other two second genders.

 

He had been trained by his father how to ignore irritating or disgusting smells — he was even taught how to track certain scents when necessary — so he could have easily brushed it aside and continued living down there.

 

But he had been so used to the sterile scent of his cell … 

 

And the WIFI connection was ass

 

Plus the rats were starting to get fucking annoying

 

So —

 

Izuku decided to look into apartments.

 

He’d miss the sewers for their sentimental value, but he wasn’t going to shed any tears over leaving them.

 

(Metaphorically of course — he didn’t really have the ability to cry)

 

Besides —

 

They were too vulnerable.

 

Although he’d made sure to make his base far enough away from gullies or other openings, he was painfully aware of the fact that he wasn’t the only vagabond to make the sewers their home.

 

Homeless people often walked through the vast pipelines, and gangs often met up in its depths or stashed illegal substances within.

 

The sewers were his first home, but they weren’t safe .

 

No matter how smart he could be.

 

Nothing was scented in his base to avoid detection. It wasn’t too hard to resist, since he had never scented anything before. But he was still wary over possible intruders lurking near his hideout, potentially tracking him despite his use of scent blockers making that literally impossible.

 

It still wasn’t enough .

 

There were no doors in the sewers.

 

No locks .

 

When Izuku lived with his father, everything was locked.

 

Every steel-covered door.

 

Every bulletproof window.

 

Even Izuku’s cell was locked — albeit from the outside.

 

He liked doors.

 

Doors kept unwanted things out.

 

Or unwanted things in , in the case of Izuku’s cell.

 

If there weren’t any doors in Izuku’s base, that meant anyone could just stroll inside.

 

So he decided to look into available apartments in the 11th District.

 

Setting up a new base there was a conscious decision. 

 

It was right in the thick of the outer districts, so he’d never be too far away from his patrol routes. Barely any heroes lurked in the outer districts besides a couple of Undergrounders, and the police departments were laughably impotent. He’d be able to continue with his work whilst avoiding pesky law enforcement.

 

Of course — he knew the apartments in District 11 weren’t high quality.

 

None of its buildings could be considered that.

 

But Izuku was trained to be satisfied with the bare minimum.

 

Nothing surprised him anymore.

 

He lived in the outer district’s sewers for a full year.

 

Before that, he lived in a cell .

 

Izuku was perfectly content with a shitty apartment.

 

From doing odd jobs on the side, like information broking and Quirk analysis, he had been able to rent one of those shitty apartments in the west side of District 11 — with more than enough money to spare to fund some of his … future endeavors.

 

It had taken a while, but eventually, he found the perfect apartment to set up base in.

 

It wasn’t as rundown as some other apartment complexes but not fancy enough to warrant any burglary attempts. 

 

The room Izuku rented was right across from another building’s rooftop, so he’d be able to make quick entries or escapes. The rooftop itself was covered in ventilation appliances so he wouldn’t be easily spotted if he traversed across it unlike with an open, barren plot.

 

It was a simple apartment. Two rooms. A larger space that worked as a bedroom, sitting room, and kitchen at the same time, with a small bathroom including a toilet, sink, and cramped shower hidden away.

 

It was incredibly cramped. There were water stains along the walls. The shower only gave out ice-cold water. Most of the kitchen appliances didn’t work.

 

It certainly wasn’t five-star.

 

Despite it all, Izuku loved it.

 

And the best part about it was —

 

It had a door.

 

And the door had a lock .

 

Izuku was practically giddy when he noticed that.

 

A lock .

 

A lock that could keep unwanted things out of Izuku’s stuff.

 

Perfect.

 

(Although he had to change the locks merely a day or two after moving in — they were rusting, after all. But that didn’t lessen any of Izuku’s excitement. It just meant he got the chance to be creative with his new locks)

 

And that led right into Izuku’s other attempts at …

 

Creativity .

 

As established prior, Izuku was smart.

 

He liked knowing things.

 

And oftentimes, that meant knowing how things worked .

 

And once you knew how something worked, it wasn’t a big leap of logic to start making that very same thing yourself.

 

Izuku’s mind was his strongest asset.

 

But his hands were quite clever as well.

 

Just as his brain liked to push and prod for every fact he could glean, so did his fingers loved to pick and poke at every bit of machinery he could get his hands on. 

 

Izuku loved creating just as much as he loved thinking .

 

He had created his wires and his voice modulator back when he was still working with his father.

 

And they were some of his most prized possessions.

 

Especially his beloved wires.

 

Even if their conception partly came from a certain vigilante-chasing Underground Hero.

 

It was embarrassing to admit, seeing how much the man irritated Izuku after meeting him, but he’d gotten their inspiration from Eraserhead’s capture scarf. Not that he’d ever admit that to the Quirk-cancelling Hero.

 

It had been nearly a full month after meeting Eraserhead during the Seichourai bust, and the man was still chasing after him at every chance he got.

 

Like — damn .

 

Didn’t the Underground Hero have anything better to do?

 

The man seemed so insistent on catching Izuku that he wondered if it was something of a personal grudge. 

 

Was he that upset that Izuku knew his identity?

 

Did he think Izuku was tracking him or something?

 

He knew some vigilantes liked to have beef with certain heroes, but that wasn’t Izuku’s style. Izuku wanted nothing to do with heroes!

 

And yet — there Eraserhead was. Flinging his capture scarf around and growling at Izuku as if he’d personally maimed the man’s cats (Which he’d never do, by the way — from the way Present Mic’s Instagram presented them as, Bastard, Bimbus, and Beefcake were angels ), trying desperately hard to make Izuku out to be his nemesis or something.

 

As if .

 

Eraserhead wasn’t special .

 

Izuku knew practically everyone’s identity.

 

Needing to get Eraserhead’s attention during the Seichourai bust didn’t mean Izuku suddenly wanted to be saddled with playing babysitter to an Underground Hero.

 

He tried to avoid the man. He’d uncovered the times and patterns of Eraserhead’s patrols and avoided them as often as possible, but even then, the man liked to prove himself as a thorn in Izuku’s side and randomly appear when he was least expecting it.

 

No matter how many times Izuku insisted that he wasn’t breaking any of Musutafu’s laws, the Underground Hero persisted.

 

It was a good thing the man’s personal bias kept him from discovering anything important. Eraserhead seemed dead set on finding out Izuku’s Quirk — probably to find him in the databases and unmask his identity in revenge.

 

There were a couple of problems with that quest, but Izuku kept his mouth shut. Admittedly, it was a little entertaining to watch the man practically froth at the mouth for any piece of evidence that would never appear.

 

He had even begun to make a list of the veins that inevitably appeared on Eraserhead’s skull whenever they crossed paths.

 

The big one near the man’s temple was his favorite.

 

He named it Mully .

 

Still — despite how funny it was to watch the seasoned Pro-Hero flounder around a preteen vigilante, Izuku didn’t like the attention.

 

He had business to attend to.

 

That was why he chose to crack down on a child trafficking auction on one of Eraserhead’s off-days.

 

The outer districts were rife with all types of depravity — and some Izuku indulged in, like information brokering — but he drew the line when it came to children.

 

He had discovered this particular case only a few weeks prior. 

 

After only a bit of digging, its information practically fell into his lap.

 

Being a regular peruser of the dark web had its perks, after all.

 

A lot of his intel came from its web forums, and his information brokering clientele was located within its depths.

 

Izuku had long since become desensitized to the sort of things he’d find on the dark web, having grown used to it after years and years of scrolling through it back when he was still working with his father, but there were certain things that still made him pause .

 

Some of the outer district’s criminal higher-ups were hosting a party in the 12th District.

 

A big one.

 

It was an auction .

 

For fucking children .

 

Its location was in one of the last decent buildings in the 12th District. One that only the richest fucks in the outer districts could afford. The place was called The Bird’s Nest . It used to be some sort of massive library, but now it was being used as a gathering place for some of the sickest perverts in Musutafu.

 

A lot of rich fucks were gonna be there.

 

Including their —

 

Wares.

 

Izuku wasn’t too used to smiling yet, so he knew the grin he gave was chilling .

 

He was going to burn that fucking place to the ground .

 

But Izuku was smart enough to know that a job this big was going to need help .

 

It was a bit of a gamble, but sending that little anonymous tip was well worth it.

 

If Izuku wanted these fuckers to burn , he’d need to enlist the help of someone who knew fire all too well .

 

Therefore, when Izuku spotted a looming shadow near his vantage point overlooking The Bird’s Nest, he knew he had made the right decision.

 

He’d heard whispers about an anti-hero rising in infamy throughout the outer districts. One that wasn’t above theft, murder, and drug dealing, but rained hellfire down on abusers. One known by his devastating Quirk and his horrifying face.

 

The night was beginning. The sky was already pitch-black, and fancy cars were cruising up to The Bird’s Nest's large entrance, illuminating the streets in brilliant beams of yellow. This part of District 12 was one of its last well-kept areas, but even its past splendor had fallen on some hard times. The surrounding buildings loomed over the streets like giant grotesque gargoyles. 

 

The Bird’s Nest itself was a bit dilapidated despite it being one of the fanciest buildings in the outer districts. Its dark bricks were cracked, and the stained-glass windows were smudged. Despite that, Izuku could see remnants of its former glory. It wasn’t hard to believe that it had once been a central feature in Musutafu’s historical beginnings, with its gothic mixed with art nouveau architecture. Its most outstanding feature was probably the massive glass dome that formed the top of the building, glowing golden like a beacon despite its obvious wear and tear.

 

The differences between the outer and inner districts never failed to amaze Izuku. The outer districts were considerably older than the constant remodeling inner districts and tended to favor rather dark color palettes splashed in with stained glass and streetlamps, whilst the inner districts revealed the decadency of modern Japan, with its massive skyscrapers and shiny electronics. It was like someone attempted to Frankenstein two entirely different cities together but failed in the synthesizing process.

 

If Izuku was being honest, he almost liked the aesthetic of the outer districts better than the chrome and over-the-top color palette of the inner. Although most of the outer districts were trash-filled and falling apart, there was still an echo left of its long-forgotten splendor.

 

It was the sad truth for most of the outer districts. When Musutafu was first created, Izuku read that its main appeal was its art movements. It was even called the Paris of Japan during the height of its fame. But as Musutafu started focusing its enterprises on the Hero Industry within the central districts, the outer districts were left to rot.

 

Izuku had climbed up one of those very buildings overlooking The Bird’s Nest and waited for company. This was going to be his biggest endeavor since he’d escaped his father, and he needed to keep a close watch on everything.

 

One strange thing to note was that every guest seemed to be wearing a mask. To no one’s surprise, the theme was birds.

 

Finally, after Izuku counted around one hundred guests excluding guards entering the building, he caught sight of his partner in crime climbing up the building where he’d chosen his vantage point for the night. In the anonymous tip, he’d instructed the man to meet him, but there was still the off-chance that he wouldn’t come.

 

Thankfully, the anti-hero’s hatred for child abusers seemed to win out.

 

“I’m glad you came,” Izuku called out, seeing as how the man didn’t seem to notice him.

 

The anti-hero known as Blueflame turned around slowly and looked up at where Izuku was perched. 

 

Finally, after a long moment, the anti-hero said, “Didn’t give me much of a choice.” 

 

His voice was low , lower than Eraserhead’s, but less gravelly. Smoother

 

It didn’t make him sound any less dangerous.

 

And Blueflame was dangerous. Standing in front of him was the equivalent of putting yourself in the direct field of vision of a predator, and every move had to be calculated if you wanted to make it out alive.

 

Eraserhead was a challenge , but Blueflame was a threat .

 

A true Alpha, if there ever was such a thing.

 

The anti-hero didn’t bother hiding his second gender. There were no scent blockers diluting his pheromones, so Izuku caught it at full strength. A roaring campfire, blazing and strong , oh-so strong . It almost made Izuku wrinkle his nose at the intensity. There was no outright aggression towards Izuku’s presence in his scent, which was good, but he couldn’t be too hasty. He had to proceed with caution.

 

There were other ways that Blueflame displayed his second gender. As an Alpha, he had more strength in his upper body than the other second genders, and he reveled in the fact, seeing as how he wore a plain t-shirt underneath his trenchcoat that was obviously too small on him. His facial features were strong, with a sharp jawline and a straight nose. Even without his patchwork scars and piercings, Blueflame radiated dominance. Just his eyes alone could make someone fall over themselves to follow his orders.

 

He was an Alpha. There was no doubt about that.

 

The real question was if Blueflame was going to act like an Alpha.

 

Because if he did, then job or no job — 

 

Izuku would take him out .

 

Izuku considered Blueflame’s statement, and within seconds, his brain calculated the best way to approach this situation.

 

Alphas don’t respond well to intimidation, but Blueflame was a different breed. He didn’t have time for spineless cowards, so Izuku would just have to play up his devil-may-care attitude. Easy enough, considering he lived and breathed sarcasm,

 

“Well, I figured this sort of thing would be right up your alley anyway.” Izuku stood up and took a lazy step forward, falling off his perch before landing in front of Blueflame in a crouch. He stood up again and made a show of dusting off fake dirt from the front of his coat. “I didn’t want you to miss out on all the fun.”

 

“You’re a little too young to be doing shit like this,” Blueflame drawled slowly. He looked Izuku up and down, obviously taking in his small stature.

 

Izuku smiled behind his mask. “What makes you say that?”

 

He didn’t move as Blueflame sauntered close, even as the anti-hero leaned down to get right in his face. Izuku just continued to grin and breathe steadily as the Alpha smirked.

 

“You don’t even come up to my fucking shoulders ,” He started slowly as if savoring the words. Izuku felt his hot breath skim across the few exposed parts of his face. “And you’re trying to tell me that you’re the one who threatened me?”

 

“Threaten is such a harsh word,” Izuku sighed. “I prefer gentle persuasion , instead.”

 

“You told me that you’d rat out my drug deals to the nearest police station if I didn’t meet your scrawny ass here by tonight.” Blueflame’s vivid eyes flashed maniacally.

 

Izuku couldn’t help but laugh a little. “Yes, and here you are. So what’s your point?”

 

Blueflame’s lips stretched into a smile, but there wasn’t anything particularly kind about it. Izuku watched in slight fascination as his piercings shifted to accommodate the movement, pulling the skin taut . “The point is I could crack you in half like a toothpick, pipsqueak.”

 

“And I could send every last bit of your information down to your favorite breakfast meal and your fucking z odiac sign to the nearest police station before you could even try.” Izuku tilted his head to the side, staring unblinkingly up at Blueflame behind his goggles. “Now tell me your real point now that you’re done trying to intimidate me into leaving.”

 

Blueflame’s eyes flickered from one of Izuku’s goggles to the next, obviously trying to find his eyes. Eventually, the anti-hero moved his face away from Izuku’s, allowing him his much-appreciated personal space.

 

Finally — he could breathe without the stench of smoke .

 

“You’re one creepy little shit,” The anti-hero muttered. “Kids like you should be doing their fucking homework .”

 

Izuku desperately wanted to retort and missing person cases like you should be fucking dead , but that kind of reply would have gotten him roasted on the spot, so he kept that tidbit of knowledge to himself for now.

 

“Not a kid, but you can believe whatever you want.”

 

The Alpha scoffed. “That won’t work on me. I’ve taken care of too many younger siblings to not recognize a fucking toddler when I see one.”

 

“As I said, believe whatever you want. It doesn’t matter to me.” Izuku shrugged gleefully. “Are you in or not?”

 

Blueflame raised a thin eyebrow. “What’s in it for me?”

 

“The name of my firstborn,” Izuku deadpanned. “What the fuck do you think?”

 

Blueflame husked out a low laugh, and Izuku watched as smoke curled past his lips. “You’d give me information? Pipsqueak, do you know who you’re talking to? The police have labeled me as an anti-hero . ‘M not exactly an upstanding citizen .”

 

“I’m not so law-abiding either,” Izuku chuckled.

 

“I’ve killed people before,” Blueflame admitted, smiling sadistically once again. “If you give me information, I’ll use it to kill more.”

 

Izuku returned his grin. “So have I. And the people you kill tend to deserve it, so whatever you do with my information doesn’t matter much.”

 

Blueflame stared at him then laughed, although it was a little appreciative this time. “Goddamn, pipsqueak. I thought vigilantes had codes of honor and shit.”

 

Izuku shrugged. “Mine is a little warped. I just prefer not to do it anymore.”

 

“If I go in there with you, I’m killing a lot of those motherfuckers,” Blueflame warned, although he didn’t look too stressed about the dilemma. “Is your moral code cool with that?”

 

“Blueflame, I invited you here for a reason,” Izuku drawled, excitement beginning to thrum in his veins. “Just don’t injure any of the kids, and you can burn this shithole to the ground for all I care.”

 

“And you’ll give me whatever information I want?”

 

“As long as it won’t hurt innocent people, sure.” Izuku held out his hand. “Do we have a deal, Blueflame?”

 

“Call me Dabi, you creepy little shit. And yeah, we fucking do.”

 

Izuku smiled from ear to ear from behind his mask. "Fine by me. Let me tell you the plan, Dabi."

Chapter Text

When Dabi received that anonymous message two days ago, he weighed the pros and cons of yet another act of first-degree murder.

 

He’d done it before.

 

He could do it again no problem.

 

No one acted this cocky to him and survived .

 

Not now, when everything was just falling into place.

 

After two grueling years, Dabi had finally secured his control in the 11th District. 

 

He’d made a name for himself.

 

Blueflame .

 

One that inspired fear and awe in every gangster and villain’s heart in the underworld of Musutafu.

 

It had taken so much fucking work but he’d done it.

 

Blueflame controlled the 11th District, even if he didn’t partake in any gang or villain politics. 

 

Blueflame made the rules and maintained them with an iron fist.

 

Blueflame was the judge, jury, and motherfucking executioner of District 11.

 

He wasn’t a king .

 

He was the goddamn emperor .

 

He’d done that.

 

Dabi did that.

 

Without anyone’s shitty fucking help! He wasn't useless anymore.

 

And —

 

This shitheel of a vigilante thought they could come in between that?

 

Thought they could take down the fucking empire that Dabi had established in the drug kingdom of the outer districts?

 

That fucker had another thing coming if they thought they could take this from him.

 

When he’d clicked the link of the message, he had to open up every damn window in his apartment because of the sheer volume of smoke that erupted from his skin patches.

 

Dabi had to beat three gangsters unconscious just to calm himself down enough to read through the rest.

 

And when he did, he was even more pissed off than before.

 

A group of rich fucks — gangs that he knew operated in parts of 11 — were trying to sell pups and get away with it?

 

Why the fuck didn’t he know about this?

 

Dabi made it a goddamn point to know about shit like this!

 

Finally — District 11 was starting to clean up its shitty fucking act when it came to children, and then 12 decided to pull shit like this?

 

Dabi was fucking livid .

 

The Alpha in him — the part that he reveled in and hated at the same time — wanted to tear those rich fuckers apart with his teeth .

 

Wanted to burn them alive .

 

No one hurt kids under his watch.

 

(Not anymore)

 

But —

 

He didn’t know.

 

A bunch of pups was going to be sold to wealthy molesters, and —

 

Dabi didn’t know about it.

 

Until that fucking message.

 

And that was why Dabi decided to be merciful and give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

Because —

 

Dabi hated arrogant little shits who thought they could get in the way of what Dabi was owed .

But —

 

He hated those rich perverts more .

 

So he waited until September 23, the night of the auction, and journeyed to District 12.

 

Just to annoy the fucker, Dabi arrived a little late.

 

Little shit deserved it for trying to mess with him.

 

When he arrived at The Bird’s Nest, the auction was in full swing. Fancy cars were rolling up, illuminating everything with their headlights. It would be impossible to sneak in through the front entrance, and Dabi didn’t even entertain the thought.

 

He had a vigilante to scare.

 

Using the training his dear old dad beat into him, Dabi easily avoided detection from the guards stationed at every entrance.

 

The vigilante, who didn’t name themself, had told Dabi to meet him on top of the building to the left of The Bird’s Nest. Sighing to himself, Dabi started to scale up the walls, using parts of exposed pipelines and windowsills to aid him.

 

Vigilantes .

 

Always so dramatic.

 

Thankfully, none of the guests seemed to notice the black figure climbing the building next to their venue. Everyone was hurrying inside, probably to get out of the disgusting streets. Most of them were gangsters, but Dabi spied a villain or two lurking among the crowd. The Bird’s Nest was one of the last non-shitty buildings in the outer districts, so a lot of fancy fuckers liked to rent it out for galas — or, in this case, auctions .

 

The first creepy part of the night —

 

Everyone was wearing some kind of fucked up bird mask.

 

The second creepy part of the night —

 

The fucking vigilante themself.

 

And — 

 

Dabi has met a few vigilantes himself before.

 

Talked with some of them, worked with some of them, beat the everloving living shit out of some of them

 

But none of them were quite like this freaky little fucker.

 

For starters, Dabi was expecting someone older .

 

The vigilante had perched themself up on some higher vantage point like a fucking gargoyle , so Dabi didn’t get a good read on their height until they dropped down to his level.

 

Dabi wanted to laugh out loud when he first saw them.

 

The vigilante didn’t even go up to his shoulders , and they were expecting Dabi to be intimidated by them?

 

He could practically smell the bratty energy wafting from the pup.

 

This was the little shit that threatened to out him to the police?

 

This was the vigilante?

 

This was a child playing dress-up , not someone who should be trying to crash a human auction with a well-known criminal .

 

So —

 

Here’s the thing …

 

Dabi was a piece of shit, and he knew it.

 

He liked to think that most of it came from his dad, but some of it was purely Dabi .

 

He wasn’t the same kid who would stare up at his mom with starry eyes.

 

He killed people.

 

He sold drugs.

 

And yeah — 

 

He may punish child abusers, but that didn’t make up for the myriad of other sins he carried.

 

Dabi wasn’t a good guy.

 

But when he looked down at that pipsqueak of a vigilante, he felt the last burning embers of his old self rise up.

 

Dabi used to be an older brother.

 

And he hated people who hurt children.

 

There was no way he was going to let an underprepared pup throw themselves into the viper’s nest out of some crazed sense of civic duty .

 

So Dabi let his Alpha side rise to the surface to intimidate the kid.

 

He wasn’t actually going to hurt the pup, don’t get him wrong.

 

He’d rather die than become an Alpha like his father.

 

But he had to get the little shit out of here somehow .

 

It was annoying that he couldn’t see the pup’s expressions underneath their mask and goggles, nor could he smell any emotion coming from them. They must have been using a high-strength scent blocker because Dabi couldn’t even sniff out the milky tinge all pups had before puberty.

 

At the moment, Dabi hoped the vigilante wasn’t a prepubescent Alpha. 

 

Alpha pups nearing puberty were always a wild mix of hormones that often made them simultaneously sensitive and aggressive. Anything could be seen as a slight against them, and tantrums were frighteningly common.

 

Dabi would know. He often babysat his younger siblings, all of whom were Alphas as well.

 

If this vigilante was an Alpha in the making, they’d respond aggressively to Dabi’s intimidation. Their raging hormones couldn’t handle such a “slight” against them.

 

And the pup did stand their ground against Dabi.

 

But —

 

Not in the typical compensating preteen Alpha way.

 

They laughed at Dabi.

 

Teased him.

 

Like —

 

Like this was all some kind of fucking game .

 

Dabi … didn’t like it.

 

He was a scary-looking motherfucker, and an Alpha anti-hero to boot. So why wasn’t this vigilante shitting their pants like everyone else did when he laid on his pheromones a little too thick?

 

Didn’t they know who they were talking to?

 

Didn’t they know what they were getting into?

 

Dabi tried to threaten them once more, but it seemed like they lost their patience somehow. 

 

He still felt the urge to shiver when he remembered that creepy little head tilt.

 

It wasn’t human .

 

“And I could send every last bit of your information down to your favorite breakfast meal and your fucking zodiac sign to the nearest police station before you could even try. Now tell me your real point now that you’re done trying to intimidate me into leaving.”

 

How did they know Dabi was trying to make them leave The Bird’s Nest?

 

To begin with, how did they even know who Blueflame was?

 

How’d they send him that message?

 

Who was this creepy little shit?

 

And then they openly admit to murder?

 

And practically encouraged Dabi to kill the perverts at the auction?

 

The pup was tiny!

 

They looked ten years old!

 

Where the fuck were their parents?

 

If Dabi was their father (And fuck no, to that), he’d put them on a goddamn leash .

 

No matter what he did, the vigilante wouldn’t stand down. They wouldn’t even admit to their age , like Dabi didn’t already know they probably still sat in a fucking high-chair.

 

Even when Dabi demanded information in return, they continued on with the deal.

 

By that point, Dabi knew his pheromones were practically oozing frustration and protectiveness. The mask covering the little shit’s nose must have neutralized the odor because they didn’t seem to react to it. Either that or they were really shit at recognizing emotive pheromones.

 

So —

 

Dabi resigned himself to yet another babysitting job and shook the pup’s hand, sealing the deal.

 

“As you’ve probably noticed, every entryway to The Bird’s Nest is heavily guarded,” The vigilante fucking ruining Dabi’s night said far too calmly. “They are also linked to the alarm system. If we open it up without the specific barcode, it’ll trigger the system.”

 

“What’s the barcode?” Dabi asked, reluctantly listening to the plans of a literal toddler .

 

“Nothing too special,” The vigilante murmured. They were near the edge of the rooftop, looking into the illuminated domed ceiling of The Bird’s Nest. But where Dabi was being reasonable and standing a few feet away, the creepy little shit was sitting along the railing and swinging their legs back and forth. “Every guard has one.”

 

“So we grab the barcode and get in,” Dabi grunted. He eyed the vigilante warily, but they didn’t make any sudden moves. “Sounds easy.”

 

“It’s on their tongue,” The vigilante said, patting a strange beat onto their thighs.

 

Dabi did a double-take. “Wait, what?”

 

The vigilante turned their head to look at him, and Dabi got the distinct feeling that they were smiling at him from underneath their disturbing mouthguard.

 

“The barcode,” They repeated. “It’s tattooed onto their tongue.”

 

“The fuck?” Dabi hissed incredulously.

 

The vigilante hummed happily, but the mechanic voice changer distorted the noise. “Yep!”

 

“So how the fuck are we gonna get it?” Just as Dabi finished asking the question, he wanted to slap himself at his surprising obliviousness.

 

Suddenly, the vigilante was holding a large knife with a serrated edge. “I’ll use this!”

 

Dabi almost choked. “You’re going to cut off someone’s tongue?”

 

“Do you have a better idea?”

 

“God, you sadistic little freak.” Dabi ran a hand through his hair, noting that he’d have to redye it soon. “Alright, we get the tongue — then what?”

 

“I’m going to head upstairs.” They looked away, and the vigilante’s glove-covered fingers toyed with the blade. “I have a bug that’ll disable their entire camera system for fifteen minutes. I’ll plant it on the nearest camera and run to the surveillance room. Then I’ll shut everything down for good and gather up some evidence from their computers.”

 

“There’s gonna be guards in that room,” Dabi muttered slowly, staring at the vigilante from the corner of his eye. He didn’t want the little shit to think he was worried about them, but — “I should come with you.”

 

At that, the pup fucking giggled . Its warped nature made a chill run down his spine.

 

“No, no, Dabi-san,” The vigilante chuckled. “You’re too loud. In order to get into the surveillance room without tipping off the guards, I’ll need to be especially quiet. If you come, you’ll alert every guard at the auction.”

 

“The fuck?” His Alpha side couldn’t help but feel a bit offended. “I’m not loud , shrimpy.”

 

The vigilante tapped the tip of the knife against their guarded chin, making the two metals clink together. “Dabi-san, I didn’t mean to offend you. What I meant was that you rely heavily on your Quirk in fights, and it’s a rather destructive one at that. It wouldn’t work well in enclosed spaces or stealth operations.”

 

Dabi’s lip curled. “And what the hell do you know about my Quirk?”

 

The vigilante turned to face him again, and Dabi struggled to find any sign of their eyes behind their tinted goggles to no avail. “We’re partners for tonight, Dabi-san. Shouldn’t I know the strengths and weaknesses of my partner?”

 

The anti-hero felt his skin crawl at the insinuation. It hit far too close to home, and Dabi began to wonder what other things the vigilante may know about him. They couldn’t know everything about Dabi, right? Surely not …

 

“If that’s true, and we’re really partners ,” Dabi spat out the word with disgust, “then shouldn’t I know more about you?”

 

The vigilante did that creepy fucking head tilt again. “What do you want to know, Dabi-san?”

 

“How do you know about me?”

 

The vigilante seemed to perk up a bit. “That was easy. You’re the talk of District 11, Dabi-san.”

 

Dabi rolled his eyes. “I know that, but how does a pup know about me?”

 

“I’m not a pup,” The vigilante said slowly, as if unused to the word. Maybe they were. Modern families didn’t use the old terminology all that much. “And I patrol through the outer districts. Your name comes up often.”

 

“What’s your name then?” Dabi asked sharply. It felt like no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get a read on the kid. No scent. Mask and goggles. Too smart. It was starting to irritate him.

 

“Call me Jibun,” The vigilante answered promptly.

 

Dabi didn’t believe that for a second. That word literally meant myself . “What’s your real name?”

 

Dabi couldn’t detect anything from the masked vigilante, aside from the aura of amusement. “What’s yours?” They retorted sardonically.

 

The anti-hero reared back, his hand raising instinctively. It had just begun to warm up before he remembered that he was still talking with a child .

 

A pup .

 

And Dabi didn’t hurt pups.

 

Even if they scared the shit out of him.

 

Still —

 

“Don’t,” He growled, hoping that his eyes were locked onto theirs from behind those goggles. “I’m being lenient with you right now, kid, but I’ve got thin patience .”

 

The air smelled of ash .

 

Neither one moved.

 

Then —

 

The vigilante nodded their head in a slight bow. “Of course,” they murmured. “Excuse my manners, Dabi-san.”

 

Dabi was still for a moment longer, his body tense and poised for a fight. Then he lowered his shoulders, allowing himself to relax and breathe, and exhaled smoke past his mismatched lips.

 

He couldn’t get this worked up over the pup. They weren’t old enough to know what they were doing, just like when his siblings would say hurtful things to him in the midst of their tantrums. The pup didn’t deserve his anger, so he swallowed it down like always.

 

The vigilante hadn’t moved, even in the face of his aggression, but Dabi got the feeling they would bolt at the smallest hint of violence.

 

Breathe, sweetheart, an achingly familiar voice whispered to him. Take a deep breath for me, Tou-chan.

 

Finally, he asked in a low, almost inaudible voice, “What’s your Quirk?”

 

The vigilante hummed, then — “Oh, I know! Since I upset you, I’ll make it up to you by telling the truth about this question!”

 

Dabi narrowed his eyes. “So you were planning on lying to me the whole fucking time?”

 

“Everyone lies, Dabi-san, but that’s not the point.” The vigilante leaned a bit closer to him, holding up the hand with the knife near their mouth like they were whispering to him a secret. “I’m Quirkless, Dabi-san.”

 

And —

 

Quirkless.

 

Dabi’s eyes widened.

 

Quirkless.

 

He blinked.

 

Once.

 

Twice.

 

Dabi … had only met two Quirkless people in his entire life.

 

One of them was an old woman who had helped him out after he ran from his dad at fifteen years old. 

 

The other he had just met whilst wandering the streets.

 

She committed suicide right in front of him.

 

Quirkless.

 

The pup was Quirkless.

 

The noises of the 12th District fizzled out, and a strangely eerie silence followed.

 

Numbly, he watched as the vigilante began to move their knife, twirling it and gently dragging it along the curves of their mouthguard, as if it were a fucking toy.

 

“Does that surprise you, Dabi-san?” The vigilante questioned softly.

 

Dabi didn’t move, still in shock, as the vigilante dropped their hands to the railing and hoisted themself upright. They stood on the railing, directly in front of Dabi, and blocked his view of The Bird’s Nest. For once, the pipsqueak was taller than him, and he lifted his head up to face them.

 

( “Everyone looks down on me like I’m some — some parasite!” The Quirkless woman had shouted at him from the edge of the bridge. He didn’t even know her name . “ I-I can’t do anything! Anything! Just because of my fucking feet!”

 

Her red sneakers had been taken off and neatly placed along the side of the railing.

 

They were called Primordial Shoes .

 

Everyone was taught that wearing them meant you were Quirkless.

 

Dabi still remembered hearing his father instruct him —

 

“Don’t touch anyone wearing those shoes, Touya. They’ll infect you with their uselessness.” )

 

Quirkless.

 

“Does that bother you, Dabi-san?” The vigilante asked, their silhouette obscured by the shining lights behind them. Their entire figure was cast in shadows, with only the glint of their goggles, mouthguard, and knife flashing in the darkness of their visage. “Do you think less of me now?”

 

He opened his mouth, but he didn’t know what to say.

 

The vigilante’s head tilted. 

 

They waited a moment.

 

Dabi felt — caught .

 

Blueflame was the biggest threat in District 11.

 

And Dabi felt — threatened.

 

Like a fly who’d only just realized they’d flown into a web.

 

The vigilante didn’t seem like a child anymore.

 

All of Dabi’s instincts registered them as a threat .

 

“Mou ~” The vigilante simpered slowly. There was no inflection in their tone. Gone was their previous amusement. In its place was pure apathy . “How disappointing, Dabi-san.”

 

Dabi watched as the vigilante started — twisting the tip of the knife between their fingers.

 

“What will you do now, Dabi-san?” The vigilante murmured. “A Quirkless vigilante threatened you. What is Dabi-san’s next move?”

 

“Kid —” Dabi’s mouth shut with a click when they crouched suddenly, their faces directly in front of one another in a method of intimidation shockingly similar to the one Dabi did what felt like hours earlier.

 

He —

 

He couldn’t see anything through those goggles.

 

Nothing.

 

“The Quirkless can’t be kids , Dabi-san,” The vigilante reminded softly, so softly. “We are not human. We are worthless. We are useless.”

 

Dabi’s scars itched.

 

( — “infect you with their uselessness.” — )

 

Useless.

 

“So what will you do? Will you help me tonight, Dabi-san?”

 

Useless.

 

That was his dad’s favorite word.

 

His dad called those without Quirks useless.

 

“Or will you leave?”

 

And then —

 

He called Dabi useless too.

 

Useless —

 

No.

 

“I’m staying,” Dabi whispered. 

 

His voice sounded faint. Scratchy.

 

The vigilante didn’t fucking move .

 

They just — stared .

 

“Why.”

 

It wasn’t a question.

 

“Because –” Dabi fought for something of value to say. He remembered the Quirkless old woman who saved his life, then the Quirkless woman whose life ended right in front of him. He was unable to say anything to either of those women then. Now he had a chance.

 

Useless, Touya! A horribly familiar voice barked in his mind, so different from the other. How are you unable to do this one simple thing? You’re useless, boy! Useless!

 

No.

 

Dabi wasn’t useless.

 

Dabi was Blueflame , and he fucking ran District 11.

 

He wasn’t useless , because —

 

“No one is fucking useless,” He finally stated, growling his words in his frustration. Was he even talking to the vigilante at this point? “No one.”

 

A pause.

 

Dabi wished he knew what the pup was thinking.

 

Because even if they were fucking terrifying, and the creepiest little shit in Musutafu —

 

They were still a pup.

 

And Dabi never hurt pups.

 

He wasn’t his dad.

 

Then —

 

The vigilante sprang upright and hopped down to the rooftop to the left of him.

 

Dabi whirled around to face them, just as they did the same.

 

“Perfect!” Even with the mask and goggles, Dabi could tell they were beaming . “I’m so glad you think that way, Dabi-san!”

 

Dabi’s head hurt. “What the fuck ..?”

 

“I would’ve had to do something messy if you thought otherwise!” The vigilante laughed, even going as far as to lift their arms and spin in a circle. The knife was still in their motherfucking hand! “Now that’s all over, and we know where we both stand, we should get going! We already wasted a bit of time, so let’s hurry up!”

 

“Pipsqueak, the hell do you mean by messy?” Dabi lifted up his fingers and did air quotes for good measure, staring deadpan at the alarmingly jubilant psychopath. “And what the fuck is going on?”

 

“Nothing you need to worry about now!” The vigilante stopped spinning and took a few steps closer to him. Reluctantly, Dabi stayed still, although he arched as far away as possible. “And, to answer your question, we’re partnering up to burn this place to the ground!”

 

Dabi wasn’t sure how to respond to the pup’s erratic behavior. He’d never met someone so … chaotic , but the kid was obviously intelligent enough to hold their ground. Were they nuts or something? Was Dabi planning on violently interrupting a child trafficking auction with a scarily-smart child who just so happened to have a couple of screws loose?

 

“I’m … so lost.”

 

The vigilante waved their knife, and Dabi wondered if they’d honestly forgotten they were still fucking holding it. “That’s why you’ve got me, Dabi-san! We’re partners for real now, so I’ll tell you the rest of the plan. Okay?”

 

Dabi glared down at the little shit, who he just fucking knew was smiling up at him, all innocent like they hadn’t just scared the living shit out of him.

 

He felt a migraine forming.

 

He really didn’t want to do this.

 

But —

 

The psychopathic little shit was right.

 

They had a job to do.

 

So —

 

“Alright, alright!” Dabi threw up his hands in exasperation. “Tell me the rest of the plans, you little freak. And make it quick! I want this night to be fucking over with as soon as possible.”

 

“Mou ~” The vigilante was probably pouting, the fucking brat . He was too much of an older sibling for this shit. “Be a little nicer, Dabi-san! We’re partners now.”

 

“Plans. Now.”


The vigilante sighed as if they were the ones being harassed. “Fine, fine. So, I’ll start working my way upstairs. Meanwhile, I need you to follow …”

Chapter Text

At first glance, the plan for the bust seemed simple.

 

Cut off a tongue to get inside, and Izuku would disable the system from the top floor while Dabi took care of business in the basement.

 

Then, when everything was completed, they’d meet in the middle for the final event.

 

Simple.

 

That was until the time was added to the equation.

 

Time was Izuku’s true enemy for now.

 

Forget the guards.

 

Forget the guests.

 

Time.

 

Everything had to be fast, at least for the first half of the plan.

 

Fast.

 

Quick.

 

Quick, quick, quick.

 

Run, rabbit, run.

 

And boy oh boy was he ready to run .

 

Izuku’s veins felt like they were being injected with lightning .

 

Already, his body was twitching .

 

Excitement rushed through him — the best drug there was on the market. Whatever Dabi was selling had nothing on this. He had to clench and unclench his fists once, twice, three times, just to keep his fingers from shaking.

 

It wasn’t happiness.

 

No — not exactly.

 

He wasn’t happy about the auction in The Bird’s Nest.

 

Rather —

 

He was simply excited.

 

Excited to burn this place down.

 

Izuku licked his lips behind his mouthguard. Interesting , he thought to himself.

 

Maybe Dabi was right in his obvious lust for arson?

 

Never before had Izuku felt so giddy about setting a building on fire.

 

This was a new experience for him.

 

A new way to make him feel alive .

 

He’d taken down lots of criminals before, so there had to be something different about tonight.

 

A new variable was added to the equation.

 

Izuku felt …

 

Amazing.

 

It reminded him of when he let himself fall from that building a few months ago.

 

That —

 

Pure, unadulterated rush that coursed through his body.

 

Like he had touched a live powerline.

 

Fight or flight instincts were activated.

 

Why?

 

Izuku needed to know what the variable was.

 

He wanted to feel like this all the fucking time.

 

Izuku was the furthest thing from a robot now.

 

A robot couldn’t feel like this.

 

Izuku was alive .

 

He wanted to bottle up this feeling.

 

Preserve it forever.

 

What was it?

 

What was the variable?

 

Was it adrenaline?

 

Was he finally feeling adrenaline for once in his life?

 

If it was, then Izuku understood why so many fell victim to drug abuse.

 

He felt euphoric .

 

He felt alive —!

 

Izuku blinked.

 

His fingers were twitching.

 

He couldn’t aim with shaky fingers.

 

Steady now.

 

Izuku clenched his hands into fists and inhaled.

 

A beat passed.

 

Exhale.

 

“Do you remember what the plan is, Dabi-san?” Izuku asked quietly, crouched on the edge of the rooftop. His eyes were trained on the two burly guards stationed outside the plain metal door on the side of The Bird’s Nest. The door was further inside the alleyway separating their vantage point from the auction center itself, so no one would be able to see or hear any commotion from the main entrance.

 

Izuku heard the man snort. “Yeah, I remember. Why’re you sending me down to the pups again? Wouldn’t it be better if you went? Bond over pacifiers, and shit?”

 

“Funny,” Izuku remarked airily. “But I need to shut down the system. My bug loops the cameras’ footage back from an hour ago, but that will only last for fifteen minutes. I need to get to the surveillance room before that time runs out.”

 

“And if you can’t get there in time?”

 

“Then we’re fucked, Dabi-san.” Izuku turned his head to smile at the Alpha from behind his mask. “Don’t worry. I’ll get there. You just worry about the kids.”

 

Dabi huffed, and Izuku was delighted to hear the genuine annoyance in the noise. “I still don’t like the idea of just … stuffing them inside those semi boxes. Haven’t they had enough cages?”

 

Izuku rolled his eyes, although Dabi couldn’t see it. Ever since Izuku told the Alpha the plan to hide the children inside the semi-trucks near the back of The Bird’s Nest, he’d been rather finicky about it since. “They can handle it for a couple more hours. Then they’ll be free. Besides, they’ll be safe there.”

 

And Izuku genuinely believed that. These were children who more than likely grew up in some form of captivity, one way or another. They were used to cages. If they were anything like Izuku, they wouldn’t mind waiting just a few moments longer until they’re freed. 

 

Anywhere inside The Bird’s Nest wasn’t safe. 

 

Unbeknownst to Dabi, Izuku was kind of banking on his theory that the man’s second gender and his rather unnatural appearance would influence the children into complacency. It wouldn’t be good for the children to start going rogue when the bust was still ongoing, right?

 

For all of their sake, Izuku needed them to be quiet and submissive . At least for a few hours.

 

And hopefully, Dabi would inspire that level of subserviency. 

 

Was it … callous of Izuku to manipulate them based on their trauma?

 

Izuku —

 

Izuku didn’t think so.

 

Not necessarily.

 

He was doing it for their own good. And he knew Dabi wouldn’t hurt them, especially after he’d purposefully goaded the anti-hero a few times on the rooftop just to see how he’d react.

 

Dabi was aggressive, ambiguous, and riddled with trauma.

 

But he didn’t hurt children.

 

Besides — 

 

If Izuku’s Internet searches on family dynamics were correct, Dabi was the quintessential Oldest Sibling type.

 

Regardless of his warning that he had “thin patience”, Izuku knew Dabi would take care of the kids.

 

So, yes —

 

Izuku was kind of doing a bad thing by using the childrens’ traumas against them.

 

But it was all for a good result!

 

They’d be safe.

 

They’d get their freedom.

 

So it worked itself out.

 

Kind of.

 

Sort of.

 

“Do I have to wear the mask though?” Dabi’s aggravated mutter broke into Izuku’s thought process.

 

He was momentarily confused until he remembered that part of the plan. Then he snickered just a bit. “Mm! You’ll be able to make it past most of the ground floor to the basement with it, Dabi-san.”

 

“Christ,” Dabi growled to himself. “Those things look ridiculous.”

 

Alphas were always so stupid with their pride. He giggled. “Does your earpiece work, Dabi-san?”

 

The anti-hero in question raised a patchwork finger and tapped it against the tiny piece of electronics Izuku had given him. As he tapped it, a dull echo ringed out in Izuku’s own. “Sure seems like it,” The Alpha answered gruffly.

 

“Good.” Izuku’s mind sang gleefully at another successful creation. “I’ll contact you after I disable the cameras and communications. Remember, there are eight guards patrolling the ground floor, and they rotate to patrol the hallways every twenty minutes. Avoid them to not risk any detection, and head straight down to the basement. It is located on the far east segment of the building. There will be —”

 

“Six guards in the basement,” Dabi drawled. “Two will be stationed at the entrance, one will be patrolling the hallway, and the rest will be positioned near the kids. Take out the first three as quickly as possible and surprise the rest to avoid any sort of hostage situation.”

 

“And then what, Dabi-san?” Izuku asked playfully.

 

The Alpha tilted his head back to look at the smog-covered sky and sighed. “Round up the kids and take them up the stairway leading to the back exit. Leave them in the semi-trucks in the back alley and head back upstairs for the final event. I got it already, pipsqueak. You told me this before.”

 

“Just making sure you remembered.” Izuku shuffled a little, tensing his legs in preparation. “Are you ready to begin?”

 

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” was the reply.

 

“Excellent.” Izuku grinned and grabbed a small gun-like weapon from the holster wrapped around his right thigh. He aimed. “Let’s burn this place to the fucking ground.”

 

With barely a sound, the weapon fired the tiny electronic device at the unmistakable surveillance camera pointed directly at the side door. Izuku grinned when neither of the two guards even noticed, still continuing to stand side-by-side motionlessly.

 

If Izuku’s creation worked (And they always did), every camera inside The Bird’s Nest would now be playing the footage an hour previous on a loop for fifteen minutes.

 

Now it was a race against the clock.

 

Run, rabbit, run.

 

Izuku aimed his wires at a small window ledge on The Bird’s Nest’s side. Silently, Izuku allowed his wires to carry him across the alleyway towards his destination. Nestled in the space, only around fifteen feet away from the door, Izuku was completely out of sight from the two men.

 

Now at a better location, he reached into his pocket and pulled out two small hypodermic needles filled to the brim with anesthetics. Izuku loaded them into the air gun and took aim once again, this time at the neck of Big Burly Guard #1.

 

The air gun made a tiny popping sound as it fired.

 

Big Burly Guard #1 jolted just a bit at the sensation of a hypodermic needle shooting into his exposed neck. The man raised his hand to cup the area as if trying to swat a pesky fly, but it was already too late.

 

The drugs infiltrated his bloodstream, and the man dropped to the floor.

 

It was barely a moment after Izuku fired his first shot that he aimed at Big Burly Guard #2.

 

His aim was true, and both men fell victim to the tranquilizers. 

 

Izuku dropped to the ground in a fluid roll just as Dabi landed beside him, his blue flames bolstering his weight and softening the descent. Izuku felt the intense warmth of the man’s Quirk as he holstered the air gun.

 

Izuku stood up and hurried over to Big Burly Guard #1 just as Dabi asked, “You’re really about to cut off someone’s tongue?”

 

Izuku knelt to the ground and rolled over the guard, who had fallen flat on his face. He pulled off his plain black bird mask and threw it behind him, trusting that Dabi would catch it. It was satisfying to note that the guard — an Alpha as well — had broken his nose on the descent. “Mm!”

 

“You’re so fucking creepy,” Dabi muttered, but Izuku took no offense as he opened the guard’s mouth and reached inside. Just as he expected, the barcode was tattooed across his tongue in black ink. “How long will they be unconscious?”

 

Izuku couldn’t help but giggle just a bit as he pulled his knife out of the sheath tied to his leg. With his free hand, he pinched the slimy muscle between his index finger and thumb. He pulled the tongue taut, placing the serrated edge of the knife against the inner half. He turned his head to look over at Dabi.

 

“No, no, Dabi-san,” Izuku giggled in amusement. “My drugs haven’t sedated them. They’re paralytic tranquilizers.”

 

Dabi’s pierced eyebrows furrowed in momentary confusion before they raised in astonishment. Izuku turned back to the paralyzed guard, watching his eyes move rapidly in slight fascination. “They’re still conscious?” Dabi choked.

 

Izuku nodded in confirmation just as he began to saw off Big Burly Guard #1’s tongue, mindful not to cut into the barcode tattoo.

 

He didn’t want to ruin it, after all.

 

When Izuku was finished, he stood up. “When I tested them, they lasted for two and a half hours. My size might have extended the duration, so I’d say the effects will last for an hour or so.”

 

“You tested them on yourself?” Izuku was mildly surprised to hear a growl in Dabi’s voice, but he blamed it on the man’s shock and innate Big Alpha Brother instincts. “Are you fucking insane?”

 

“Of course not.” Izuku frowned in confusion behind his mask. Hadn’t the Alpha ever heard of the Scientific Method? “The tranquilizer wouldn’t have killed me. I formulated it myself.”

 

“Fucking hell, you creepy little weirdo.” Dabi scowled, his eyes still tracking the muscle held in Izuku’s tight grip.

 

Izuku raised an eyebrow, although he doubted Dabi could see it through the goggles. “Pot, meet kettle. Your skin is literally held together by staples and prayer, you ugly fuck.”

 

Dabi’s face twisted in anger, and Izuku didn’t have the heart to tell him that it made him look even uglier. “Psychopathic brat,” He hissed, his turquoise eyes blazing. “If I was smarter, I’d punt you into the fucking sun.”

 

“I’m terrified,” Izuku chirped, moving past him to raise the tongue in front of the scanning device just outside the door. The scanning device flashed green, and the door was unlocked. “Remember, put on the mask and don’t alert the ground floor guards. Meet you at the main event, Dabi-san!”

 

Just to be a dick, Izuku threw away the tongue in Dabi’s direction, hearing the man duck away from the muscle with a choked-off yelp.

 

Then Izuku opened the door and raced inside The Bird’s Nest, just as Dabi began to grumble about ‘crazy little shits’ that were ‘ruining his fucking night’.

 

Rude.

 

Izuku was a fucking delight.

 

Entering into The Bird’s Nest was a bit like taking a leap through time.

 

The entrance they’d broken into was located in the innermost parts of the building. If Izuku had to guess, this area probably would have been cut off from the general populace back when The Bird’s Nest still existed as a library of sorts. The wallpapers were a strange gothic mixed with art nouveau design, and the stained glass lamps seemed to be gas-powered. 

 

The designers were clearly intending to follow 1920’s ideals.

 

There would be no guests located in these corridors of The Bird’s Nest, so Izuku was free to run, granted he kept an eye out for patrolling guards.

 

The Bird’s Nest had three stories total. The basement, the ground floor, and the second floor. In the middle of the ground floor was where the auction would take place, directly underneath the glass dome ceiling that gave the building its bird-cage appearance. The auction space was only accessed from two parts. One was where the guests entered, and the other was a small walkway connected to the basement. They had set up a stage for the event, concealed by a massive red curtain until the auction officially began. 

 

As of right now, the guests were being served dinner in the auction space. Being the rich fucks they were, they’d socialize and gossip for a while longer.

 

The auction was supposed to begin in about thirty minutes. Ten minutes before the event, the guards in the basement were supposed to bring the children through the hidden walkway and onto the backstage to wait for the auction to begin.

 

Hopefully, Dabi would be able to get to the basement before then. 

 

It was crucial to their plans for the children to be out of The Bird’s Nest, and especially nowhere near the auction stage.

 

Dabi’s job was a bit tricky, hence why Izuku instructed him to wear a bird mask. In order to make it to the other entrance to the basement, Dabi would have to cross through hallways where guests could potentially lurk. They would instantly be alarmed by Dabi’s patchwork, so Izuku theorized that wearing the mask only worn by guards would tip the scales in his favor.

 

Izuku, on the other hand, was working his way upstairs rather than down .

 

The second floor was where the surveillance room was located. The second floor was split into two segments, each with its own rooms, and a large gap separated them. The two segments overlooked the atrium-like space where the auction was held, held up by massive ornate pillars. One of the rooms hidden on the left side of the second floor was the surveillance and computer room where Izuku was headed. Thankfully, that was the side of The Bird’s Nest where Izuku was closest. He needed to find one of the two stairways leading up to the second floor.

 

Izuku was about to turn a corner when he caught sight of a figure moving towards his location from the other end of the hallway.

 

Quickly, Izuku ducked backward and pressed himself against the wall.

 

Time to assess the situation.

 

If he had to guess, Izuku would say that he still had ten minutes to spare since he’d fired the bug. 

 

It was one guard, patrolling alone. Izuku could not hear anyone close by, and the hallways they were in were still a fair distance from the main auction room, so there wouldn’t be any witnesses.

 

The guard was big, but not nearly as big as the ones stationed outside. A Beta. Lean, so speed was probably favored more than strength in his case. Izuku couldn’t see any mutation quirk on him, so his abilities were a gamble.

 

It probably wouldn’t be in Izuku’s best interest to prolong the fight. 

 

The solution was clear.

 

Izuku pulled out his air gun and inserted a tranquilizer dart in. He only had one left after this, so it had to be worth it.

 

Run, rabbit, run.

 

Adrenaline.

 

It felt spectacular.

 

Just as the Beta guard turned the corner, Izuku raised the gun and fired at his neck.

 

He didn’t even wait before grabbing the man and tossing him into a nearby room, shutting the door behind him.

 

Izuku ran past the corner, simultaneously reloading the last dart into the gun. Who knows if he’d meet another guard on the way to the stairs?

 

He was glad the anesthesia worked well. He’d synthesized it himself after he’d ordered some of the chemicals, although he tweaked the recipe a bit for extra endurance against Quirks. When he’d injected himself with it, he’d collapsed immediately. Not to worry, however. He secured his apartment beforehand, so he wasn’t especially vulnerable, and he knew the chemicals he was working with weren’t lethal.

 

But he had to test them out on someone.

 

The third step to the Scientific Method was experimentation, after all.

 

After racing past three more corners, Izuku finally spotted the staircase leading to the second floor. Judging by the amount of time that had passed after Izuku had taken out the patrolling guard, he’d say he’d have around five minutes before the guard he was meant to meet grew suspicious over his disappearance. 

 

Great!

 

He’d just have to make it to the surveillance room and plant another one of his bugs into the computers before then!

 

Easy! 

 

Especially considering Izuku found the surveillance room only two minutes after he’d raced up the staircase.

 

It was a rather unassuming door, but Izuku could hear the hum of electronics from the inside.

 

He also heard voices, although he couldn’t make out what they were saying.

 

If Izuku had to guess, he’d say there were probably two guards stationed inside.

 

Sitting ducks, the lot of them.

 

Izuku twisted a camouflaged dial on his mouthguard, and the mask immediately began its ventilation process. With his free hand, he dug his pockets before pulling out a circular ball. He held it gingerly, almost reverently. He only had one of these bad boys created, after all. They were precious .

 

Izuku opened the door a crack, pressed the top button on the ball, and threw it inside the surveillance room.

 

Immediately, the room began to fill up with black-colored smoke, cleverly obscuring the guards’ fields of vision whilst simultaneously knocking them unconscious with nitrous oxide gas.

 

Once Izuku was sure the guards had dropped to the floor and were sufficiently out of commission, he ran inside the room and closed the door behind him.

 

He was right in his hypothesis.

 

Two guards lay passed out before him. One of them was slumped over a swivel chair, whilst the other seemed to have gotten to investigate the ball before inevitably falling like a fly. Izuku hopped over his prostrated figure and rushed over to the large computer system displaying all of the various cameras in The Bird’s Nest.

 

They were still repeating the last hour’s footage due to Izuku’s bug.

 

It wouldn’t last for much longer though.

 

Without hesitation, Izuku slammed a hard drive into one of the computer’s USB ports and let out an inaudible sigh of relief when the computer screens began fuzzing.

 

Izuku had done it.

 

That hard drive was one of Izuku’s more complicated creations. It had taken quite a few days to figure out the kinks in its machinery until it was a success.

 

With that hard drive, Izuku was not only shutting off all camera and communication systems in The Bird’s Nest, but he was also sucking up all of their computer’s systems data.

 

All of the data regarding their auction.

 

All of its bidders.

 

And all of its wares .

 

Izuku grinned with success once the hard drive began flashing green, alerting Izuku that it had finished its duty. He pulled it out from the USB port and placed it in his pocket, zipping it up for further protection.

 

Excellent!

 

Manic pride surged through him.

 

All of his creations were working perfectly .

 

Speaking of his creations …

 

He tapped on his earpiece once, then twice.

 

“Dabi-san, I’ve shut down the system,” Izuku informed him.

 

Now was the moment of truth.

 

By this point, Dabi should have overtaken the basement guards and would be loading the children into the semi-trucks. 

 

Then the final stage could commence.

 

The earpiece made a fuzzy sound. Suddenly, Dabi’s voice could be heard, although it was partially being drowned out by static and yelling. It was a good thing the basement was so far underground, otherwise, all of that noise would have surely alerted the ground floor of the commotion.

 

Izuku jolted just a bit. Was Dabi still fighting?

 

No —

 

He was supposed to be taking the children outside by now.

 

“Good for you, you little shit!” Dabi growled. His voice was strained, and it seemed like he was paying attention to something else. Izuku heard the signature whoosh and crackle that he had begun to associate the anti-hero’s blue flames with. A scream followed not long after. “Some of us are fucking busy though!”

 

Izuku pretended he didn’t hear the Alpha’s complaints. He rested his palms on the computer table, and his fingers instantly started curling — digging into the wood. “How far have you gotten in the basement?”

 

“What the everloving f–!” Dabi’s voice was cut off. All Izuku could hear was the whooshing and crackling of his quirk and the pained cries of its victims. “I’m fucking busy, you brat!”

 

“You should have already gotten the kids out,” Izuku reminded the man. He was starting to feel rather jittery. It was like the adrenaline rush from earlier, just …

 

Not as pleasant.

 

Dabi growled loudly, accompanied by more sounds of aggressive fighting. “And you don’t think I fucking know that?”

 

One side of Izuku’s lip curled upward in a sneer. He had researched most if not every guard in The Bird’s Nest, and the ones stationed in the basement weren’t supposed to be such a difficult challenge for Dabi to overtake. From the sound of it, the anti-hero was having a hard time putting them down, and it made Izuku feel —

 

Not good.

 

He didn’t pay any mind to the Alpha’s threatening tone. After he’d been reassured of the anti-hero’s reluctance to harm children, Izuku felt secure enough to ridicule the man within reason.

 

“Dabi-san, we’re running a tight schedule,” He recalled mockingly, trying not to let too much of his annoyance seep into his words. “Do you need my help?”

 

“What I need is for you to shut the fuck up!” Dabi barked, grunting in pain only a second later. “I’m taking care of the last guard, you crazy fucker! Is that what you wanted to hear?”

 

Izuku frowned.

 

“Dabi-san, are you injured?”

 

Izuku hoped he wasn’t.

 

“I said shut up!” A growl. The whoosh and crackle of his quirk.

 

Izuku’s fingers dug into the table, and he wouldn’t be surprised if he had created indentations of his fingernails on the surface.

 

It wouldn’t bode well if Dabi was injured so early on.

 

Izuku still needed his quirk for the final event.

 

If Dabi was put out of commission, then the entire bust would be ruined.

 

That was why Izuku felt uncomfortable after hearing the Alpha’s grunt of pain.

 

Only that.

 

Izuku needed his quirk.

 

Another grunt of pain. This one sounded worse.

 

“Dabi-san, what happened?”

 

No response.

 

Then —

 

“Motherfucker got me in the side with a goddamn laser quirk — I’ll fucking kill you!” The anti-hero roared in vengeance, unleashing his fire in what sounded like a truly decimating blow. After that, the only sound that echoed through Izuku’s earpiece was panting. It must have come from Dabi.

 

Izuku waited, but the man didn’t respond.

 

Finally, he asked, “Dabi-san?”

 

Panting.

 

Just panting.

 

Why wasn’t he answering?

 

Izuku’s lips thinned. “Dabi-san, are you there?”

 

He was supposed to answer.

 

Dabi wasn’t supposed to be injured .

 

Not so early in the night —

 

“Dabi!”

 

— Because if Dabi was injured, then the final stage wouldn’t come to pass.

 

And the final stage needed to happen.

 

Izuku planned for it to happen.

 

Izuku planned for Dabi to be a part of the final stage, and now Dabi wasn’t fucking answering.

 

The night was going so well.

 

Everything was following the plan, and then Dabi had to fucking ruin it all.

 

Dabi was injured. He was put out of commission, and now he was unable to participate in the final stage of Izuku’s plans. But the final stage of Izuku’s plans revolved around the anti-hero, so now Izuku’s plans were fucking ruined.

 

He ruined them!

 

What was Izuku going to do?

 

Dabi ruined Izuku’s plans!

 

Izuku — didn’t know what to do.

 

He had felt so good earlier!

 

The adrenaline!

 

The euphoria!

 

Everything had been going so well!

 

And now it was ruined!

 

Izuku was smart he was smart, he was smart, he was smart — so he knew he wasn’t strong enough for the final stage on his own!

 

Now what?

 

Now, what was he going to do? How was he going to pull off the final stage of the plans without Dabi’s quirk? The plan was ruined. Dabi was probably fucking dead by now because of some shitty fucking laser quirk, and now Izuku’s plans were fucking ruined —!

 

“ — just grazed my side.” Izuku’s head snapped up, unaware that he’d even dropped it in the first place. “Thanks for fucking distracting me, you little shit.”

 

Izuku’s ears were ringing a little.

 

Was it coming from the static of the earpiece?

 

Tinnitus?

 

“You’re okay?” He asked slowly.

 

The world seemed —

 

Fuzzy.

 

His breathing was unsteady.

 

Izuku’s fingers hurt, and —

 

He needed Dabi to be okay.

 

“Yeah?” Dabi seemed offended that he even asked. “You think a little quirk like that’ll take me down? Shut the fuck up.”

 

Dabi was okay.

 

Izuku’s plans were okay.

 

They could still move onto the final stage.

 

“Perfect!” Izuku shoved himself away from the computer table, a large smile stretching across his lips underneath his mask. “Hurry the fuck up and get those kids out of there. All of the guests should be in the auction room by now, so I’ll meet you there! See ya, dickhead!”

 

“Kiss my ass, shitbird!”

 

Izuku shook his head at the alpha’s reply and laughed.

 

He continued laughing for a solid minute.

 

Everything was okay again.

 

He had gotten worked up over nothing.

 

The final stage could still commence.

 

Izuku turned around to face the door. There had to be at least three guards patrolling the second floor where Izuku was currently located. Because Dabi was preoccupied with the children, Izuku had some time to spare until the auction began.

 

His smile grew sharper.

 

Teethier.

 

It would be helpful to take care of those few second-floor guards before the auction.

 

And Izuku just loved being helpful .

 

He cracked his knuckles, relishing in the loud snap , one by one.

 

No time like the present, right?

 

Run, rabbit, run.

 


 

“Hey, shithead, you there?” Izuku visibly perked up when he heard Dabi’s voice reach him through the earpiece. “The kids are secure. Are you ready to get a move on, or what?”

 

The vigilante grinned menacingly. “Almost, Dabi-san!”

 

Once again, Izuku’s hypothesis had been correct. Three guards had been patrolling the second floor of The Bird’s Nest, but Izuku picked them off relatively easily. Since they had been relegated to the unpopulated second floor, it was obvious that they were less skilled than the guards on the first or basement floor. Izuku’s skills were no match for theirs.

 

“Ssh, ssh,” Izuku shushed to the last of the second-floor guards. He had knocked the Beta to the ground in a matter of seconds, quickly dodging the man’s strange oil quirk, before he had begun to perform a chokehold on him. At first, the guard had resisted and tried pulling Izuku away from his neck, but the hypoxia was already taking over, and his movements were slowing rapidly.

 

At last, the guard succumbed to the chokehold, slumping over in Izuku’s arms. 

 

Izuku quickly released his grip, not too keen on killing the man and let him fall to the ground. He sighed at the pathetic sight before standing up.

 

“All done, Dabi-san!” He chirped, hopping over the man’s unconscious body to walk towards the stairs. “No injuries?”

 

“Aside from my fucking side?” Dabi asked sardonically. “None. The kids are malnourished but nothing life-threatening.”

 

Izuku found the stairway. He paused, waiting for the telltale sound of thudding footfalls, but could hear none. After being assured that no guard was waiting to ambush him, he hurried down the steps, making sure to be as quiet as possible.

 

This part of the plan was a little delicate, after all.

 

“Were they drugged?” Izuku’s voice was barely a whisper as he rushed through the ground floor halls. At every corner, he stopped and waited for any noise. There was none, and he wondered if that was because most of the guards were stationed inside the auction room.

 

He could hear the sound of Dabi running through the earpiece. 

 

“Not sure,” The Alpha answered truthfully. “They seemed aware enough, but I couldn’t wait outside for much longer.”

 

Yeah —

 

Because Dabi had to waste precious time getting injured by a fucking laser quirk .

 

Izuku was still annoyed by that.

 

He didn’t like his precious plans getting ruined.

 

“And your injury?” He had to ask, although his mouth tasted sour in remembrance.

 

Dabi’s low chuckle was staticky from the earpiece. “Don’t get your panties in a fucking twist. I can still fight.”

 

“How well?” Izuku’s tone was a bit harsh. “We need a good performance, Dabi-san.”

 

A beat passed in silence between the two. Izuku was so focused on running to the auction room without being detected that he almost missed Dabi’s soft reply.

 

“I’ve fought through worse,” was all the alpha admitted.

 

To Izuku’s credit, he didn’t make any sort of outward reaction to the confession. He didn’t wince or gasp in response. He just continued making his way to the auction room.

 

Yes —

 

Dabi had definitely fought through worse.

 

His scars were a testament to that.

 

Izuku could relate to that.

 

Dads really were the worst, weren’t they?

 

“You remember what you have to do?” Izuku murmured stoically.

 

There was another pause, and Izuku suspected that the alpha was reminiscing on past memories. 

 

But then —

 

“Yeah,” He answered gravely. “And you?”

 

Izuku stopped running just as the main entryway to the auction room came into his field of vision. Besides the small walkway behind the stage that led into the basement, the large, gilded doorway was the only way to get into the auction space. 

 

It was also the only way to get out.

 

Whilst Dabi was entering through the basement walkway, Izuku would enter in through the main doors — the two of them effectively choking out both the guards and the guests.

 

“Mou~, Dabi-san,” Izuku purred as his eyes locked onto the two guards stationed outside the golden doors. “Don’t patronize me. Give me five minutes, and then I’ll signal you in.”

 

“It’s still fucking creepy that you’re just — okay with me killing these people,” Dabi growled frustratingly.

 

Izuku smiled and looked around the hallway he was currently hiding in. He found a large blue vase that would work perfectly as a distraction.

 

“These people ,” Izuku stressed pleasantly, “are pedophiles. I prefer not to kill, but I’m not going to grieve over them.”

 

“Aren’t you, like, five or something?”

 

“Still not a child,” Izuku sing-songed as he tipped over the vase. It made a satisfying noise when it cracked on the carpeted floor. “Now will you shut the fuck up for a second? I’ve got some vermin to take care of.”

 

Dabi grumbled on the other line but thankfully got the message. At the same time that the earpiece was silenced, Izuku heard one of the guards walking towards where he was stationed.

 

Izuku waited patiently.

 

Come into my parlor.

 

The guard was clearly hired just for sheer stature alone. He was easily over six feet, and he towered over Izuku’s 4’5” height. 

 

That didn’t bother him, however.

 

The bigger they were, the harder they fell.

 

The man was an alpha, and he had some mutation quirk that transformed his arms into large green tentacles. As he wandered closer to Izuku’s hiding spot, Izuku noticed that there were about two limbs that protruded from each arm socket, thus giving him four tentacles in total.

 

His mouth was also a beak, and even from afar, Izuku could see how wickedly sharp it was.

 

For a brief second, Izuku debated engaging with the man. 

 

He was genuinely interested to see how the man handled his extra limbs, and how his beak might be incorporated into his fighting style.

 

But it was clear to see that the guard was strong, and whilst Izuku could certainly take him down, it would be far too time-consuming. It would also be a relatively noisy fight, and Izuku didn’t want to lure the second guard in for a potential second opponent. Disappointing, but Izuku reassured himself with the fact that he’d be able to see many different quirks engaged in combat later on in the night.

 

With a heavy heart, Izuku reloaded his airgun with the last tranquilizer dart. Once the alpha had wandered just a bit further into the hallways and was successfully out of the second guard’s line of sight, Izuku fired.

 

Much like Big Burly Guard #1 in the alleyway, Tentacle Man jolted in surprise when the dart attached itself firmly to his neck. His legs buckled, and his knees met the floor.

 

Just when his beak opened — probably to call out a warning to the second guard — Izuku jumped out from his hiding place and yanked the guard towards him. The man’s back met Izuku’s front, and he pressed his glove-covered hand against his beak. He wasn’t too worried about getting bitten or cut by the beak, as the drugs were already incapacitating the alpha.

 

The guard’s massive size kept the drugs from knocking him unconscious immediately, but Izuku could see the haze starting to enter his fearful eyes.

 

Izuku leaned in over the alpha’s shoulder and coo, “It’s okay. Everything’s alright. Just go to sleep for me, okay?”

 

The alpha blinked, and Izuku saw how sluggish the movement was. Just before his eyes fluttered shut, Izuku couldn’t help but give the piece of shit one last scare before the final stage of his plans occurred. 

 

He deserved it after all, for participating in such a fucked-up auction.

 

They all deserved what was coming for them.

 

“Your eyes are so pretty, Alpha-san,” Izuku whispered adoringly, watching with pleasure as the alpha’s hazy eyes filled with tears. “So big and brown. Can I keep them, Alpha-san? Can I? I promise I’ll take care of them.”

 

The alpha weakly shook his head, but Izuku just held on tighter.

 

“I’ll put them in a jar, and I’ll watch them all day.” Izuku even rubbed his head against the alpha’s hair in a perverse show of comfort just as the guard finally fell unconscious with one last muffled whimper. “Isn’t that nice? Instead of watching this fucking auction, your eyes can forever watch me . Isn’t that nice, Alpha-san!”

 

Once he was certain the alpha had passed out, Izuku shoved his body away and stood back up, already preparing to attack the second guard.

 

He wasn’t being serious about taking the guard’s eyeballs, so no worries!

 

There was no time for that sort of stuff after all.

 

The alpha’s eyes weren’t even that pretty.

 

But it was fun to see how scared he got before he finally passed out.

 

Thankfully, the man hadn’t heard any of the commotions and was standing stoically at the auction room entrance by himself. He wasn’t nearly as big as the first, but his quirk was yet another fascinating mutation. Each of his fingers was sharpened into lethal claws. 

 

Izuku didn’t know if the quirk was some form of animal mutation, as the man had no other animal characteristics in sight, so he made a mental note to stay away from them. With Izuku’s luck, they’d probably be poisoned.

 

It would probably be better for the fight to be as far away from the guests’ hearing range as possible, so Izuku aimed his wrists at the man. The entrance to The Bird’s Nest was one of the most spacious places outside of the auction room itself, so Izuku could use his wires without any kind of interference. 

 

The second guard had barely any time to react before the ends of the wires clamped themselves down on his shoulders with a bruising grip.

 

Izuku tugged the wires back, and the man was forced to follow them, flying through the air with a choked grunt of surprise. As the man flew closer, Izuku released his wires, allowing them to coil back into his wrist mechanics. Just before the man was about to collide with him, Izuku crouched then leaped forward, using the momentum of his jump to send his curled fist firmly into the man’s vulnerable stomach in an uppercut.

 

The man crumpled around Izuku’s fists with a loud groan of pain, giving Izuku enough time to use his distraction against him.

 

With the hand he had just uppercut the man with, he grabbed his shirt and swiped the man’s legs out from underneath him. Using the material he had gripped in a tight fist, he was able to slam the guard to the ground in a breath-stealing move.

 

The man’s eyes widened in shock, and Izuku was surprised to see that they were bright pink.

 

Now, these were eyes that Izuku would happily steal and keep in a jar.

 

But alas.

 

Run, rabbit, run.

 

Izuku raised his leg and sent it hurtling down towards the man’s chest in an ax stomp. He practically shivered in delight when he heard a rib crack underneath his foot.

 

It reminded him of when he would crack his own knuckles.

 

Gasping in agony, the man recovered fairly impressively and tried to slash out with his claws. Izuku jumped to avoid the claws ripping into his heels, then used both of his heels to perform a bronco stomp on the man. 

 

More ribs cracked underneath, and the man wheezed, grabbing onto his injured rib cage.

 

Izuku frowned in distaste as the man huffed and puffed for air.

 

Why wouldn’t this guy just pass out already?

 

He rolled his eyes when the man growled at him. The sound was pathetic, as he couldn’t seem to get enough air to push out the noise. Izuku readied his stance then kicked the man’s chin in a move that faintly reminded him of the soccer match he had watched online a few weeks ago.

 

His head was knocked forward, and the second guard fainted immediately.

 

Izuku pouted a little and puffed up his cheeks.

 

These guards were boring.

 

Izuku hoped that the guards in the auction room would be a bit more fun.

 

Speaking of which …

 

“Ne, ne, Dabi-san?” Izuku pressed on his earpiece. “You there?”

 

A static crackle.

 

Then —

 

“Yeah? You finally fucking done?”

 

Izuku’s lips did a strange mixture of a sneer and a smile. “Funny. Who was it that got their shit rocked by a laser quirk, thus losing us precious time?”

 

“Kiss my ass,” The alpha shot back.

 

Izuku gasped playfully. “Ew! Who knows where that’s been?”

 

“I bet you still have tongue juice on your fucking hand, you sadistic little shit. If anyone’s the gross one here, it’s you.”

 

“You’re still upset by that?” Izuku raised an eyebrow.

 

Izuku’s earpiece filled up with nonsensical static growls. “You fucking threw it at me , you goddamn creep!”

 

“Well.” Izuku walked towards the doors leading into the auction room. “Would you forgive me if I got you a present?”

 

Dabi scoffed. “I wouldn’t forgive you if you gave me the motherfucking crown jewels.”

 

Izuku smiled sweetly, gently petting the gilded wood. “How about a room full of wealthy molesters?” He asked.

 

Dabi paused. Then he started to laugh, a slow, awful thing that started in his throat then ended up in his belly. Izuku bet that the guests could hear it from the other side of the red fabric shielding the alpha from view.

 

“Just for me?” The alpha wondered aloud, his voice heavy with anticipation. 

 

Izuku grinned. “Just for you. Would you mind terribly if I also got to have a bit of fun, Dabi-san? I promise I’ll save you the best for last.”

 

“Aww, pup,” The anti-hero crowed with delight just as Izuku pushed open the door. “Have as much fun as you’d like.”

 

Izuku strolled into the crowded auction room, fighting to keep from laughing outright as the guests closest to him gasped and started to call for security. One man even fell backward, spilling his champagne glass all over himself as he did so.

 

For a moment, Izuku wondered why his visage caused so much fear.

 

He looked down at himself.

 

Oh, yeah —

 

He cut off a man’s tongue earlier.

 

He hadn’t honestly noticed the amount of blood that stained his arms and front.

 

What a shame, he thought as he took in the room around him, that The Bird’s Nest had fallen so low.

 

The auction room was gorgeous . All 1920’s grandeur, with beautifully designed tiled floors and large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. As someone who appreciated good craftsmanship, Izuku had to give props to the long-dead men who built it.

 

But now it was being converted into a playground for pedophiles .

 

If the original architects were still alive, they’d probably thank Izuku for burning it to the ground.

 

No longer did The Bird’s Nest have to host such terrible people.

 

It could finally rest in peace after tonight.

 

“Dabi-san!” Izuku called out to the large red curtain separating the backstage from view, ignoring the crowd’s gasps. “Come on out!”

 

“Who the hell are you?” A brave gangster cried out. “How the hell did you get in?”

 

Izuku giggled, raising a blood-covered finger to his mouthguard. “That’s a secret, sir! Why don’t you just sit back and enjoy the show?”

 

“Guards! Guards!” Another guest yelled, his skin a deep purple tone. “Grab the little shit!”

 

It seemed as though the guards had been frozen in shock, but they jolted out of it when they were called to attention. The ones closest to Izuku started to move towards him, brandishing their weapons or quirks threateningly.

 

“There’s no need for that!” Izuku waved away their complaints, laughing loudly.

 

All of the sudden, a surprisingly bold guard ran forward to grab onto Izuku’s shoulder. 

 

Not even pausing for a breath, Izuku grabbed his wrist with a punishing grip and slung him over his shoulder.

 

The crowd screamed in shock.

 

“Mou~” Izuku pouted down at the guard, still holding onto his arm. “You’re going to ruin the surprise!”

 

Then Izuku rammed his foot into the man’s arm, breaking his limb in full view of the crowd around him.

 

It was almost providential, the way that Izuku broke the man’s arm just as the red curtain caught on fire with bright blue flames.

 

“Guards!” A female guest screamed in fear. “Help!”

 

Izuku looked up at the woman and smiled, even though she couldn’t see it. “I’m afraid no one can help you now, miss.”

 

The red curtain was eaten up by the blue flames, and, like a vision out of a horror movie, Dabi stepped out from the shadows and onto the stage.

 

It was at that moment that Izuku knew he had made the right choice in contacting Dabi.

 

Even if he was an alpha.

 

Even if he was an asshole.

 

Even if he almost ruined their plans.

 

(A motherfucking laser quirk? Really?)

 

Because the anti-hero looked ready for slaughter .

 

His turquoise-blue eyes glowed with malice, matching the flames covering his hands.

 

His pierced lips curled into a sadistic smile.

 

The crowd fell silent. At least half of them had heard of Blueflame, but every single one of them knew that the alpha meant trouble .

 

Even the guards stopped short, fear oozing from their scents.

 

The auction room waited for the verdict of the judge, jury, and executioner of District 11.

 

Blueflame had arrived.

 

And everyone knew that Blueflame hated sick fucks who hurt kids.

 

Blueflame was practically a ghost story in the outer districts.

 

Everyone had heard tales of his victims.

 

Stories full of burning flesh.

 

Stories full of death that had arrived on swift, blue wings.

 

The smell of ash filled the air until all everyone could smell was tinged with smoke .

 

It smelled like hell.

 

And Dabi, clothed in black, with his hands ablaze and his eyes burning , looked like the devil in all his pierced and patchwork glory.

 

Izuku grinned back at him and jumped, throwing out his arms.

 

“Happy birthday!” He yelled excitedly, his mechanical voice echoing in the silence.

 

A pause.

 

Izuku waited, even waving his hands for emphasis.

 

The crowd stared at the two of them in open horror and confusion.

 

Izuku watched as the anti-hero’s eyebrows furrowed at his antics.

 

Then —

 

 Dabi threw his head back and laughed.

 

The crowd didn’t seem to know who to run away from — Dabi laughing on the stage, or Izuku blocking the entrance.

 

“Don’t ruin this for me, you little shit,” Dabi said after he’d recovered from his laughing fit.

 

Izuku giggled, bouncing from one foot to another. “Sorry, Dabi-san! I just got so excited!”

 

“You’re a couple of months early,” Dabi mused, quirking a pierced eyebrow. “And stop dancing around when you’re still covered in blood. You’re freaking me out.”

 

“Consider it an early birthday present then,” Izuku huffed, placing his hands on his hips. “I couldn’t wait until January to do this bust, now could I?”

 

“How the fuck do you know —” Dabi shook his head, making his black hair whizz about. Izuku spotted a bit of white near the roots and made a note to remind the alpha to buy more black hair dye later. “Never mind. I don’t even want to fucking know.”

 

“You probably don’t,” Izuku agreed. “I found —”

 

Just then, movement appeared from the corner of Izuku’s eye. It was one of the guards, who, having gotten over his fear of seeing both Izuku and Dabi, pointed his assault rifle at his chest in some kind of last-ditch effort to take him down, even after his earlier feat of strength.

 

Izuku braced himself and prepared to jump away from the volley of bullets.

 

And stopped short, finding that he didn’t have to.

 

Because Dabi incinerated the guard.

 

Izuku felt the blistering heat on his cheeks.

 

One moment —

 

The guard was there.

 

And the next —

 

Fire .

 

Izuku didn’t know how long it took before the flames died out. When they did, all that was left of the man was his charred corpse — almost burnt to the bone.

 

Izuku stared at the remains of the man in shock.

 

“Don’t fucking interrupt him,” Dabi hissed menacingly.

 

Izuku turned back to Dabi. “That was a bit overdramatic, Dabi-san.”

 

The anti-hero in question scoffed. “It’s less than what that fucker deserved.”

 

Izuku thought about that, then recalled his previous thoughts when terrifying the unconscious guards. He shrugged placidly. “Yeah, I guess so. Time to commence the final stage of the plans?”

 

“On your word, kid,” Dabi said, raising his hands in preparation.

 

Izuku looked around at the crowd. Gangsters stared back at him in fright, trembling in their fancy boots. Some of them were clutching onto each other, whilst others were too shocked to move. Everyone seemed to be waiting for Izuku’s final say.

 

For the first time since he’d donned the mask, Izuku wished everyone could see his smile.

 

“Burn it, Dabi-san,” Izuku ordered gently, euphoria coursing through his veins, “Burn it all.”

 

Dabi grinned, and his arms were encased in blue fire.

 

And Izuku laughed as The Bird’s Nest was set aflame.

 


 

Izuku didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that it had begun to rain so severely.

 

On one hand —

 

It was good that the fires had been put out before they were allowed to spread to other innocent buildings.

 

And on the other —

 

It was rather unfortunate that The Bird’s Nest wasn’t allowed a proper cremation.

 

The entire second story, including the brilliant dome, had been decimated. Only the exoskeletons of the building remained standing, covered in blackened ash.

 

How disappointingly fitting for the outer districts.

 

No one, not even a building, was given true justice.

 

Still —

 

Izuku had to give it to the anti-hero.

 

His quirk was truly marvelous.

 

A gift meant for pure destruction.

 

If only Dabi hadn't inherited his mother’s cold resistance. 

 

He would’ve been godlike.

 

But —

 

Fate wasn’t kind to kids like Dabi or Izuku. They were both given a bad hand, even if their circumstances were completely different.

 

He’d never say it to the alpha, but even Izuku had to admit that it was sadly ironic.

 

A cremation quirk —

 

And cold resistance .

 

If Izuku ever joked about that with Dabi, the anti-hero would probably incinerate him on the spot.

 

But Izuku didn’t mean it mockingly.

 

Izuku’s life was pretty ironic too.

 

A Greek tragedy in the making.

 

Sired by a monster with more quirks than he could keep track of.

 

And born a quirkless runt .

 

Both Dabi and Izuku were failures to their fathers.

 

Useless from the day they were born.

 

Izuku made a mental note to research Endeavour further.

 

He had a pretty sizable amount of evidence against the Flame Hero already, but Izuku wanted more.

 

Something more —

 

Yielding.

 

Izuku never liked Endeavour.

 

He wouldn’t lose sleep over the idea of incriminating the abusive asshole.

 

“Dabi-san, have you thought of what information you want?” Izuku asked quietly, still watching the smoldering remains of what used to be the fanciest building left in the outer districts.

 

Izuku felt more than heard the anti-hero’s presence behind him.

 

“You know what,” The alpha finally said, “I think I’ll pass.”

 

Izuku turned around.

 

He must have sensed Izuku’s question because he smiled wryly.

 

“You’re just a kid,” He said calmly. “You don’t need to be fighting my battles for me.”

 

Izuku’s eyebrows furrowed.

 

“But —” He faltered at the notion of the anti-hero not cashing in on their favor. “We made a deal.”

 

The man huffed out a quick laugh and ducked his head as he slowly walked over to Izuku’s side. “I should’ve known about this shit from the start, but I didn’t. If you hadn't contacted me … Well, let’s just say the deal was paid in full. Okay, pup?”

 

“Don’t call me that,” Izuku found himself snapping automatically, although his mind was still a little slow at the moment. 

 

Dabi shrugged with one arm. “It’s what you are, right?”

 

Izuku stared up at the man. 

 

The alpha raised his hands to show the palms of his blistering hands in a peaceful gesture. “I mean, I’m not gonna look down on you just because you’re a pup or because you’re quirkless. But you’re just a kid. And kids like you shouldn’t be getting involved in my shitty business.”

 

Izuku stared at the man, trying to find answers for his unasked questions within his gaze, but found nothing but uncomfortable honesty. Izuku looked away, trying not to let the alpha’s weird behavior get to him.

 

“What’re we gonna do about the pups?” Dabi asked after a short moment.

 

Izuku snorted a little under his breath. “Call the police? What else, Dabi-san? Or were you planning on taking them in, since you care so much about children?”

 

The anti-hero huffed. “Of course not. I ain’t taking any fucking kids back to my place. But I don’t want any outer district policemen around them. Those fuckers are shit at their jobs.”

 

“You really think I trust District 12’s with this case?” Izuku laughed meanly. “No way. I’m getting real police officers.”

 

With that, Izuku dug into one of his many coat pockets and pulled out a small flip phone he had stolen from a drug dealer a couple of days ago. With ease, Izuku dialed a number into the phone and held it up to his ear, smiling at Dabi’s confused expression.

 

The phone rang then picked up.

 

“Hello? Who is this?” A tired, world-weary voice said from the other end of the line. 

 

“Hello, hello!” Izuku chirped, ignoring Dabi in favor of the phone conversation.

 

“I …” The voice sounded groggy. Izuku wondered if he had been sleeping before picking up the phone. Hopefully not, as the man was supposed to be working late tonight. “I think you have the wrong number?”

 

“Oh, no!” Izuku giggled, and even he could admit that it sounded a bit eerie due to his voice modulator. “I have the correct number, Tsukauchi-san!”

 

There was a muffled sound coming from the other end of the line as if the detective had fumbled with an object in his hand. “Do I know you? How do you have this number?” The detective demanded sharply.

 

“Does that really matter, Tsukauchi-san?” Izuku had to ask. “I have a case for you~!”

 

“What the fuck are you doing, kid?” Dabi groaned to himself, rubbing the back of his hands against his eyes, seeing as how his palms were far too blistered.

 

“Who the hell are you?” The detective’s voice raised in alarming urgency. “What case?”

 

“A case in District 12!” Izuku exclaimed happily, assured that the beta was following along despite his obvious confusion. “There are over thirty dead, and The Bird’s Nest has burned down! Bummer, right?”

 

“Th-The Bird’s Nest?” The detective repeated in horror. “Over thirty? District 12? What the hell? Who am I speaking to? Did you cause the fire?”

 

Izuku shook his head, although the detective couldn’t possibly see it. “Nope. But don’t feel too bad! All of the deceased were pedophile gangsters participating at a child trafficking auction.”

 

“Child trafficking auction?!”

 

“Mm!” Izuku was so glad that the detective believed him. “All of the children are safe and relatively unharmed, although I would send an ambulance to check them over. They are currently located near the back of The Bird’s Nest — or what’s left of it — in one of the semi-trucks.”

 

“T-This … but — did no one call District 12’s force?” The detective rambled, and Izuku imagined the beta anxiously running his hands through his short hair. “Their fire department? And you still haven’t told me who the hell you are!”

 

Izuku made a disgruntled face. “Tsukauchi-san … why would I call District 12’s anything? They’re incompetent, so I called you!”

 

“I — I have to notify District 12 immediately —”

 

“Tsukauchi-san!” Izuku barked, losing just a modicum of patience with the detective. “I called you. So get your men over here . And don’t forget an ambulance!”

 

“How … How do I know you’re telling the truth?” Tsukauchi asked slowly. Izuku guessed that the man was probably a bit sleep-deprived, which would explain his erratic behavior. He probably knew why he was sleep-deprived too. “Who are you? How did you even get my private number in the first place?”

 

“Tsukauchi-san,” Izuku purred. “I’m hurt. And here I thought that we had a connection. Although that might be more Eraserhead , seeing as how the man hasn’t stopped bothering me for weeks …”

 

Another fumbling sound from the other end of the line.

 

“No, it can’t be …” Tsukauchi began, horror filling his voice. “You’re ..?”

 

“I’m ..?” Izuku prompted, smiling despite himself.

 

“You’re Spider?” Tsukauchi thundered.

 

Izuku blanked. “Eh?”

 

Spider.

 

( “You’re Spider?” )

 

Spider.

 

What.

 

What?

 

Izuku heard Dabi snicker, having obviously heard the detective’s loud exclamation through the phone, and shot the anti-hero a glare.

 

Izuku didn’t even pay attention to the threats and accusations pouring out through the stolen phone from Tsukauchi, too stuck on that one single word.

 

Spider?

 

Why Spider?

 

“Did you really name me Spider?” Izuku blurted out, interrupting Tsukauchi’s righteous spiel about the unlawfulness of vigilantism. “That’s really stupid. Bring your men over, and don’t forget the ambulance. Also, tell Eraserhead to get off my fucking ass . Thanks, goodbye!”

 

Izuku hung up the phone.

 

Dabi smothered a giggle.

 

Izuku glared at him.


“Don’t,” He warned. “Not a fucking word.”

 

“Oh, I won’t, I promise!” Dabi raised his hands in a non-confrontational manner, still holding in his chuckles. “I won’t say a single thing, Spider!”

 

“Fuck you.” Izuku flipped the alpha off.

 

Dabi huffed out another laugh, and Izuku was put somewhat off-guard by how vulnerable the man looked.

 

“Who was that guy anyway?” Dabi asked curiously, although Izuku bet it was just to find more ways to make fun of him.

 

Izuku waved his hand in the air. “Just some inner district detective who’s been driving himself insane trying to find out my identity.”

 

“And was that smart?” Dabi questioned wryly. “You know, to call him and basically bait him over?”

 

“I’m always smart,” Izuku answered promptly. “For as much as the guy annoys me, he’s good at his job. He’ll take care of everything. Even if he didn’t have my hard drive, he’d probably figure out what happened tonight.”

 

“Your hard drive?” Dabi’s nose wrinkled.

 

Izuku pulled out the device with his free hand and flashed it to the anti-hero. “My hard drive. It shut down the surveillance cameras and communication. It also saved all of their computer data. All of the auction’s information is found inside it. There’s no way these rich fucks will get away with what they’ve done tonight with this.”

 

Dabi whistled and nodded appreciatively. “Goddamn, little vigilante. You’re a fucking psycho, but you sure managed to think of everything, huh?”

 

“Always do.” Izuku grinned cheekily.

 

Dabi took a step closer, and Izuku allowed him to. The alpha looked over the small, unassuming device in Izuku’s hands. “And how will this Tsubaba-Tsukika guy find this? You gonna hand it to the fucker?” He asked dryly. “Get a nice pair of handcuffs in exchange?”

 

“You’re patronizing me again, Dabi-san!” Izuku sang. He waved the stolen phone in front of Dabi’s face, giggling when the anti-hero ducked away when it got too close. “Tsukauchi-san isn’t stupid, even if he does annoy me. He’ll track this in an effort to find me.”

 

Izuku tiptoed around the alpha and found a relatively safe location away from the rainfall. He placed the two electronic devices there and even covered them up with a bit of plastic for good measure. “However, he won’t be able to find me. Just this hard drive, unfortunately.”

 

Dabi stared at Izuku then laughed again. “Damn. Three steps ahead of the game, aren’t you?”

 

Izuku spun around just a bit, relishing in the sound of the rain and the feeling of a job well done. “And a couple more steps after that. Just in case, Dabi-san!”

 

“You’re one creepy pup. You know that, right?”

 

Izuku stopped twirling and put his hands on his hips. “Mou~, Dabi-san! So mean! We went through such a bonding experience tonight, and this is how you treat your partner-in-crime?” 

 

“Little shit,” Dabi snarked right back. “Instead of handcuffs, you should be put in a straightjacket.” 

 

“Been there, done that!” Izuku chuckled. “Surprisingly comfortable too.”

 

“That’s extremely fucking concerning,” Dabi noted stoically.

 

“Pot, meet kettle,” Izuku bit back. “You just torched over thirty people.”

 

“Semantics.” Dabi waved away the comment.

 

Izuku laughed for another moment before his eyes fell once again on the ashen heap of The Bird’s Nest. He sighed happily before turning back to the alpha.

 

“We need to get going,” Izuku stated. “Tsukauchi-san will have already called his men to District 12.”

 

Dabi was staring back at The Bird’s Nest too. Eventually, he said, “You go on without me, pup.”

 

Izuku was startled.

 

What was the alpha doing?

 

Did he want to get arrested?

 

“Dabi-san,” Izuku fought for something to say. “You …”

 

Dabi must have heard the concern in Izuku’s tone because he shook his head. “Nah, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m not going to jail anytime soon.”

 

“Then why ..?” Izuku didn’t understand.

 

Dabi nodded towards the semi-trucks a ways away from where they were standing. “I’m gonna stay with them for a bit. Then I’ll head out.”

 

Izuku furrowed his eyebrows.

 

“Dabi-san, they’re fine ,” He stressed. “But we need to go .”

 

Dabi looked at Izuku with a strange expression.

 

Izuku didn’t know how to interpret it.

 

He looked —

 

Sad?

 

“Don’t worry about me, you little shit.” Dabi stuffed his injured hands into his trench coat pockets. “Some hotshot inner-city detective can’t catch me. I’ll stay with the kids for a bit then I’ll escape before anyone arrives. Got it?”

 

No.

 

No, Izuku didn’t get it.

 

Dabi was acting irrationally.

 

The children were fine .

 

They had probably lived in cages for most of their lives after all!

 

They could handle it.

 

Izuku handled it.

 

So why couldn’t they?

 

Dabi could be arrested, all because of his stupid bleeding heart!

 

“But —” Izuku tried to argue, and the alpha simply shook his head.

 

“Go,” Dabi ordered. “The detective’s looking for you. I’ll be fine.”

 

Izuku —

 

Izuku didn’t want to leave Dabi.

 

They were —

 

Partners-in-crime.

 

“They don’t need you!” He burst out the exclamation.

 

They don’t need you, Dabi-san.

 

They don’t need you.

 

I need —

 

“Maybe, maybe not.” Dabi shrugged. “They’ve been alone for a long time, pup. I don’t want them to feel like that any more than they have to.”

 

Izuku faltered.

 

“But …,” Izuku didn’t know what to say.

 

He still didn’t think it was logical to stay behind with the children —

 

But Dabi …

 

“Get back to your web, Spider,” Dabi joked dryly. “I’ll see you soon, so quit your fucking worrying.”

 

Izuku glared at the man for the comment.

 

For a moment, he debated knocking the alpha unconscious and physically carrying him out of harms’ way.

 

But that was just a pipedream. 

 

And Izuku really needed to leave.

 

If he knew Tsukauchi as well as he thought he did, then he probably sent Eraserhead too.

 

Still —

 

“If you get caught, I’m breaking you out of jail just to kill you myself,” Izuku warned.

 

Dabi wrinkled his nose. “What the fuck?”

 

“I think you’re being an idiot right now,” He stated matter-of-factly. “But I can’t do anything about it. Don’t get fucking caught, you stupid alpha or I’ll harvest your organs to sell on the black market.”

 

“Yeah, I wasn’t fucking planning on it.” Dabi scowled. “Any other parting words, you psychotic little shit?”

 

Izuku blinked.

 

He thought about it for a moment.

 

Then decided —

 

Fuck it.

 

“I — thanks. For tonight. I … appreciated your help.”

 

Dabi paused. His turquoise eyes widened.

 

The anti-hero smiled just a bit, and Izuku was suddenly struck by how handsome the alpha was.

 

Just not to Izuku.

 

But to some other poor, pathetic schmuck with a Frankenstein kink.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” the man drawled. “We’re partners-in-crime, aren’t we?”

 

Izuku smiled just a bit as well. “Yeah. Yeah, we are.”

 

Maybe Dabi wasn’t so bad after all?

 

“Good,” Dabi said. “Now get the fuck out of here, pup. I still haven’t forgiven you for throwing that fucking tongue at me.”

 

Nevermind.

 

Izuku rolled his eyes and aimed his wires up at the building next to them.

 

Typical alpha.

 

“I’ll see you soon, dumbass!” Izuku hollered as his wires carried him off into the night.

 

“I never want to see your face again, you little shit!” was the alpha’s response.

 

Izuku laughed gleefully as he began to fly through the air, aiming his wires this way and that way — out of the sickening environment of District 12.

 

Too bad, Dabi.

 

Izuku had the feeling this was the start of a long and prosperous friendship.

Chapter Text

For once, District 11 was quiet.

 

That rarely ever happened.

 

As the outer district’s most residential area, District 11 was always bursting at the seams with energy.

 

Since 11 had the most apartment complexes in the outer districts, there was always some form of human activity occurring on the streets — day or night.

 

Men and women hurrying home after work.

 

Kids playing in the streets with broken toys.

 

There was always some form of movement in District 11.

 

Hence why Izuku felt a little disconcerted.

 

The outer districts had a delicately-maintained symbiotic relationship with its human residents.

 

Izuku likened it to the anatomy of a person.

 

The outer districts were like veins in a body.

 

Blood needed to be continuously pumped in order for the body to live.

 

People — blood vessels, in the metaphor — needed to flow throughout them.

 

Otherwise, the body would die.

 

And yet —

 

The streets were empty for Izuku’s patrol that night.

 

It felt weird.

 

Wrong — in a way.

 

He had lived in the outer districts for a full year — lived in its sewer systems — and liked to think that he knew enough about them to say that a peaceful night was a once in a blue moon opportunity.

 

And even though each district was different, Izuku knew that it was the one thing they shared with each other aside from crime and poverty.

 

People from the inner districts always thought of the outer districts as a single, uniform entity.

 

They couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

It hadn’t taken Izuku very long to figure out that the districts of Musutafu weren’t identical to one another.

 

Each district had its own purpose.

 

The outer districts showed these distinctions clearer than that of the inner districts, however.

 

In an ironic way, the outer districts reminded Izuku of Dante’s Inferno , an ancient, pre-quirk book he’d read a few months ago on a literature binge.

 

In the book, the titular main character, Dante, journeyed through the various stages of hell, going further and further down until he reached the devil himself.

 

Musutafu’s outer districts existed much like hell in that regard.

 

Technically, District 10 was the first stage into the inferno.

 

Rich fucks from the inner districts liked that technicality. 

 

After all —

 

If less of Musutafu consisted of a conglomerate red-light district, then Musutafu could still maintain its shiny, gem-studded appearance to the outside world.

 

But everyone really knew that District 9 was hell’s entrance.

 

Safer than the rest of the outer districts —

 

But still dangerous if you weren’t cautious.

 

It was the outer district’s purgatory, although it followed a different location than that of the original book.

 

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

 

Once you entered through the gates, the true underbelly of Musutafu revealed itself.

 

The stinking rot that corrupted the entire city.

 

District 10 was all about business.

 

Most of the outer district’s work could be found there.

 

The legality of that work changed from person to person, however.

 

It all depended on how desperate you were.

 

(And everyone in the outer districts was desperate)

 

10 had regular businesses, like restaurants, mechanic shops, and shitty low-budget hospitals.

 

And seedier work too  — brothels, gambling dens, and racketeering schemes.

 

10 was insane — full of huge crowds and disorientating streetlights.

 

You could never seem to catch a fucking break in District 10.

 

When Izuku still lived in the sewers, he could barely last more than an hour in 10 before he had to flee, shaking like a damn leaf from overstimulation.

 

That was probably why he chose to live in District 11.

 

Despite its criminal activities, District 11 was less obnoxious than 10 — no dizzying streetlights or overbearing hordes of people.

 

Most of the outer district’s population fled to 11 after work.

 

11 was the “home sweet home” of the outer districts.

 

(Health hazards and OSHA violations from the apartment buildings aside)

 

Since many lived in District 11’s apartments, the streets were always full.

 

And crimes were always underway, albeit more subtle than 10’s.

 

Or —

 

There should have been crimes.

 

And there wasn’t.

 

Which was why Izuku felt more than a little uncomfortable as he patrolled across its rooftops and alleyways, finding not a single trace of criminal activity.

 

He’d expect to find this kind of eerie silence from District 12, not 11.

 

12 was the furthermost district in Musutafu, and — despite what Izuku’s previous thought may have described — it was far from abandoned.

 

District 12 was villain territory.

 

The streets were quiet because villains made them quiet.

 

Entering 12 unprepareds was like stepping into a minefield with high-heels.

 

All of the most powerful gangs and villain organizations roamed District 12.

 

10’s manic voracity was nothing compared to District 12’s cold ruthlessness.

 

Izuku was still pleasantly surprised that he’d gotten away with burning down The Bird’s Nest — after all, it was one of 12’s most iconic attractions.

 

It had been two weeks since Dabi and Izuku had transformed that place into ruins .

 

And aside from a few days spent lying low after an increase in police and underground hero patrol, Izuku could say with 72% certainty that they would face zero repercussions for their actions.

 

Izuku would say those were pretty good odds.

 

Besides —

 

He’d gotten away with worse.

 

And who the fuck was going to seek revenge from Dabi?

 

They would have to be certifiably —

 

Wait.

 

Izuku’s mind halted as it processed new information.

 

Speak of the devil, and he shall appear …

 

Mid-leap across a rooftop, his night-vision goggles captured a familiar spark of azure fire coming from a nearby alleyway.

 

Izuku grinned and effortlessly changed course, redirecting himself without trouble.

 

Dabi.

 

It only took a few more jumps across some apartment roofs before he was standing directly above that son of a bitch. Once he’d gotten close enough, he’d slowed his pace until his footsteps became practically nonexistent. He wanted to surprise the man after all.

 

At the very edge of the rooftop, overlooking the alleyway, Izuku crouched low and watched the scene.

 

The alleyway was deserted aside from the black-haired anti-hero and some random guy Izuku had never seen before. Dabi was brandishing his hand, which was currently engulfed in blue flames, and his voice was rising more and more by the second.

 

Izuku caught the last bit of Dabi’s words.

 

“ — think I’m fucking playing, Nishikawa?” The alpha hissed dangerously, edging closer and closer to who Izuku assumed was Nishikawa himself. “I said ten thousand . Are you trying to cheat me out, asshole?”

 

Izuku switched his curious gaze to that of Nishikawa.

 

He’d never seen the man before, but that might not have been Izuku’s fault. Nishikawa seemed to be the most average person in Musutafu. Nothing made him indistinguishable. He seemed like the type of guy who’d be forgotten about at his own birthday party. The only feature that partly stood out was the sweat on his sallow skin.

 

He looked sickly, Izuku noted pleasantly.

 

There wasn’t a single quirk feature in sight. Probably a passive one, considering that Nishikawa didn’t seem like he stood out in any regard.

 

He was as skinny as a rake. He’d probably break his arm trying to land a punch.

 

There were deep-set bags under the man’s eyes, and although Izuku had dark circles of his own, he didn’t think Nishikawa’s were the result of late-night Internet binges and vigilante patrol hours.

 

Drug abuse.

 

Either meth or cocaine probably.

 

“I-I’m sorry,” Nishikawa stuttered, his dull brown eyes flicking about to avoid Dabi’s intense gaze. “I-I just — my boss laid me off. I p-promise I’ll get you the rest. P-Please, just give me another week, Dabi-san!”

 

Dabi chuckled, and it wasn’t lighthearted to no one’s surprise.

 

“You told me that last time, you fucking idiot.” The alpha’s steps were slow and deliberate, like a lion on the prowl. “You think I’m that stupid to fall for your bullshit again?”

 

Nishikawa pressed himself against the wall across from Dabi. “N-No, Dabi-san!” The man cried pitifully. “I-I swear, I’m telling the truth! I-I’ll get you the money, I-I just need more time! I need more time!”

 

“Time ran out two fucking weeks ago , you goddamn bitch.” Dabi sneered and raised his other hand. Suddenly, both of his arms were set ablaze, and Izuku could feel the heat of his cremation quirk from all the way up on the rooftop. “I think I need to remind you that I’m an impatient man, Nishikawa. Maybe with something a little more permanent than your last lesson.”

 

The drug abuser yelped, throwing up his hands as if his noodle arms would protect him from Dabi’s aggressive flames.

 

Izuku decided to intervene.

 

“Dabi-san, are you terrorizing innocent crackheads again?” He called down to the alpha in question, his voice musical and lilting despite the voice changer. 

 

Dabi whirled around, his bright blue eyes instantly latching onto Izuku’s form, which was perched on the very edge of the roof. He didn’t extinguish his flames, although their intensity seemed to lower.

 

“What the fuck!” Dabi shouted angrily. “I told you, don’t fucking bother me when I’m working, damn it!”

 

Izuku giggled, pressing his hand over his mask as if it were his bare mouth.

 

“I never agreed to that, remember?”

 

Dabi looked like he was about to explode. “What the hell are you even doing here? Get out! I’m in the middle of a deal, you crazy little shit.”

 

Izuku looked over at Nishikawa, who seemed to be frozen stiff against the wall, like a rabbit caught in headlights. He turned back to Dabi. “I don’t think he’s going anywhere,” He remarked airily, already losing interest in the boring drug addict in favor of the anti-hero below him. “I’m bored , Dabi-san.”

 

“And?” The alpha raised an eyebrow, his lips curling enough to flash his canines. “How the fuck is that my problem?”

 

“We’re partners!” Izuku insisted. He sat tailor style on the edge of the roof. “Entertain me.”

 

“I ain’t doing shit ,” Dabi spat bitterly. “You’ve already interrupted four of my deals. I’m not letting you fuck up this one!”

 

“You know,” Izuku mused playfully, “technically, I should intervene right now. I am a vigilante, and this is a drug deal after all.”

 

“You’re a pain in my fucking ass , that’s what you are!” Izuku watched as Dabi’s patchwork face contorted in various emotions, looking like he was particularly constipated. “And you aren’t intervening with shit!”

 

“Was that an order?” Izuku gasped mockingly. 

 

Dabi scowled up at Izuku, and he was delighted to see that the alpha was irritated; the anti-hero had to look up at him for a change. “More like a fucking threat . Do you want me to put you in time-out again?”

 

Izuku rested his head in his hands. “Mou ~! Why are you being so mean to me?”

 

“Because ~” Dabi cooed just like Izuku — a disturbing feat  — before his face returned back to its signature snarl, “you won’t leave me the fuck alone!”

 

Izuku huffed at the aggressive tone before he placed his hands on his knees and pushed himself back to standing.

 

“Fine, fine,” He said, faking a mournful tone. “I’ll leave, Dabi-san.”

 

“Fucking finally ,” was the alpha’s groaned reply.

 

Izuku turned his back to the man, glad that his mouthguard hid his smile. “I guess I’ll just have to eat this melon pan by myself then …”

 

He took a step forward just as he heard Dabi yell, “Wait, what? Get back here, you little shit!”

 

“No, no, no!” Izuku waved his hand as if he was saying goodbye. “I’m just irritating you, Dabi-san, so I’ll just take myself and the melon pan away.”

 

“You didn’t say anything about a melon pan!” Dabi roared up at him. “I want my fucking melon pan, shitbird!”

 

“Um, should I go?” Came Nishikawa’s hesitant request.

 

“You —!” Dabi growled in frustration. “Just –!”

 

Izuku could just imagine the alpha tearing his hair out.

 

“Be back here in a week,” Dabi snarled. “And you better have my fucking money, otherwise I’ll turn you into a fucking chalk outline.”

 

“Y-Yes, Dabi-san!” Nishikawa didn’t waste any time as he hurried out of the alleyway, tripping over himself multiple times while doing so. 

 

The only people left were the anti-hero and the vigilante. For a moment, the two were silent — listening to Nishikawa’s footsteps grow fainter and fainter. Finally, they vanished altogether. 

 

Then Dabi hissed up at Izuku, “There! Are you happy now, asshole?”

 

Izuku twirled around, already reaching into his pocket to pull out the saran-wrapped melon pan he had stored in there at the beginning of his patrol on the off chance he would see the anti-hero again. “Ecstatic!”

 

“Good.” Dabi’s expression was dark, but Izuku wasn’t particularly worried for his safety. The man only had three moods after all — angry, angrier, and angriest. “Now give me my fucking melon pan.”

 

Izuku shook the sweet bun like he was trying to entice a stray dog. “Come up here and get it yourself then.”

 

He took a step back from the edge just as Dabi blasted himself up onto the rooftop using his blue flames. The warmth of his flames felt wonderful on such a cold early October night.

 

Briefly, Izuku entertained the idea of asking Dabi if he could use him as a personal space heater. He brushed away the thought, knowing that Dabi would turn him into a piece of charcoal in response.

 

Once Dabi was securely standing on the roof with Izuku, he didn’t waste any time and threw the baked good at the older man. Izuku found out that the anti-hero had the strangest affinity towards the cantaloupe-inspired bun only a week ago, and he had taken advantage of that fact ever since.

 

Immediately, Dabi started shoving the bread into his mouth.

 

Izuku was reminded of his previous stray dog comparison and grimaced in faint disgust.

 

“God, it’s like you’re fucking starved,” Izuku mused grimly.

 

Dabi flipped him off with his free hand, using the other to push the bun further down his throat. “Fuck off, Spider. These things are the shit.”

 

Izuku’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t call me that.”

 

“Don’t interrupt my fucking deals,” Dabi retorted. “Are you trying to make me lose my business, you vigilante bitch?”

 

Izuku sighed in annoyance. “Dabi-san, I don’t give a fuck that you’re a drug dealer. I only intervene when you’re about to take it too far. You know — because it’s my job?”

 

“So why don’t you just call the police on me?” Dabi snarked, laughing under his breath. “You’ve done it to other dealers.”

 

“Because,” Izuku explained slowly, feeling like he was talking to a child instead of a grown adult, “we’re partners, Dabi-san. And you do some good in District 11. Taking you out would create a power vacuum, and some of your policies have helped around here.”

 

“Don’t make me out to be some kind of fucking hero, pup,” Dabi warned lightly. His eyes looked a little distant like he was remembering some hazy past memories.

 

Izuku shook his head. “I’m not. I’m just doing the logical thing in this situation.”

 

“Always gotta be three steps ahead,” Dabi said, his expression softening just a bit. 

 

Izuku grinned at him. “And a couple more steps after that.”

 

“Creepy little shit.”

 

But — 

 

And dare Izuku say it — 

 

Dabi sounded a little fond.

 

Never before had someone been fond of Izuku.

 

He didn’t know how to take it.

 

But —

 

He liked it.

 

The two were quiet as Dabi finished his snack. Musutafu was encased in inky darkness, and the outer districts’ stars were being choked out by smog. As he looked up into the murkiness, Izuku wondered if he would ever see a night sky as wonderful as the one he saw when he escaped from his father. Perhaps it was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

He could still remember it.

 

He had never seen anything so beautiful in his entire life.

 

The stars were so colorful.

 

So amazing

 

Not the desolated remains of his prison could compare.

 

It had been snowing that night, Izuku distantly remembered as he stared up into District 11’s night sky. An early December flurry.

 

Everything had been so bright .

 

So —

 

Contrasting.

 

A black sky filled with rainbow stars.

 

White snow mixing with red fire.

 

The result of his most brilliant plan.

 

The plan that took him years to create.

 

The plan that he risked everything for.

 

Izuku died for that plan.

 

Or —

 

The weapon Izuku had been died for that plan.

 

( — “I’m gonna call you Izuku.” — )

 

That Izuku had died in the same explosion that crippled his father’s empire.

 

The explosion he rigged.

 

And the weapon had died — had rusted at long last.

 

He was finally at peace — or whatever peace an inanimate object could hope for.

 

And the real Izuku had been born only a month ago, in the late afternoon of a warm September day.

 

Never again would he revert back to the Izuku he had once been.

 

He had made that promise to himself at the very beginning of his escape.

 

That Izuku was dead .

 

And the new Izuku had been reborn in his ashes.

 

He was human now.

 

Living.

 

Breathing.

 

Not just existing.

 

“Kid?” Izuku heard Dabi ask in a cautious tone.

 

Izuku turned to the man. “Hmm?”

 

Izuku was human.

 

He was alive.

 

— alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive —

 

The anti-hero stared at him for a long moment, his eyes flitting from one tinted goggle to the other. He must have found whatever he was looking for, because he finally said, “ … Nevermind, pup. Forgot what I wanted to ask.”

 

Izuku didn’t believe that, but he didn’t care enough to persist.

 

It was Dabi’s business after all.

 

The two of them had met up quite a few times after The Bird’s Nest bust, and while Izuku tentatively believed there was rapport growing between them, they were still strangers.

 

They joked around with each other, but their interactions never went further than that.

 

There was a distance between them.

 

A wall that hadn’t crumbled.

 

Izuku didn’t trust Dabi just yet, and Dabi didn’t trust Izuku either.

 

They understood each other, and that was it for now.

 

An alliance, rather than a friendship.

 

Dabi wasn’t a danger to Izuku, but that was only because Izuku was still a pup.

 

Izuku didn’t turn Dabi in, but that was only because Dabi was still useful.

 

And that was —

 

Fine.

 

Izuku didn’t need anything more.

 

An alliance was —

 

Necessary.

 

“Any rival dealers I should know about?” Izuku asked, changing the subject quickly.

 

Dabi walked to the edge of the rooftop and leaned over, resting his arms on the railing. “What did I tell you about getting involved in my shit?”

 

Izuku smiled. “Not to?”

 

Dabi nodded. “There’s your answer.”

 

Izuku groaned. “Come on, Dabi-san! I’m bored! It can be our little secret.”

 

The anti-hero scoffed, his blue eyes trailing over the skyline of District 11. “I don’t make deals with babies, shithead,” He stated firmly.

 

Izuku huffed at the insult, hurrying over to Dabi’s side. He stood only a few feet away from the man, with his back against the railing, and gazed entreatingly up at Dabi.

 

“But there’s nothing going on tonight!”

 

Dabi eyed him suspiciously. “It’s like you want criminals in this district.”

 

The vigilante threw his hands up in the air. “I don’t want criminals! I just want to stop being bored . There’s no activity in 11, and it’s making me feel weird.”

 

“Sounds like you’ve got an adrenaline addiction,” Dabi said pleasantly. “Ever tried speed?”

 

Izuku barked out a laugh. “I’m not buying anything from you, Dabi-san.”

 

The alpha shook his head. “As if I’d sell anything to your freaky ass. You already act too much like a crack baby for me.”

 

“Rude,” Izuku remarked happily. “I get all the adrenaline I need from fighting and flying.”

 

“And since there’s no fighting,” Dabi acknowledged, “you’re itching for a new fix?”

 

“I’m bored!” He wailed in response. “I’ve been patrolling since nine, and there’s literally nothing going on!”

 

“You know,” Dabi nagged, “you could just try going back home and sleeping for once?”

 

Izuku waved that away. “Not a chance. Besides, you get just as much sleep as I do.”

 

“Babies should always get at least ten hours of sleep,” Dabi cooed annoyingly.

 

“Stop being so mean to me.” Izuku pouted. “You won’t even give me a hint?”

 

“I am not telling you the names of my rivals just to cure your boredom,” Dabi grunted. “Find something else to entertain yourself with. Start a new hobby, or whatever.”

 

“I have hobbies,” Izuku pointed out.

 

“Cutting off tongues, drugging yourself with paralytics, and stalking drug dealers are not hobbies,” Dabi insisted, glaring down at Izuku with bright blue eyes.

 

Izuku rolled his eyes. “You cut off one tongue, and suddenly it’s all everyone ever talks about. I have other hobbies, asshole.”

 

“Like what?” Dabi challenged.

 

Izuku beamed up at him. “Fireworks.”

 

“Fireworks?” Dabi repeated in confusion. “I mean, okay? A little weird, but that’s not so bad.”

 

“I’ve been adding enough explosive materials to blow up a two-story building with them.”

 

“And you fucking ruined it.” Dabi rubbed his face, groaning loudly as Izuku laughed. “I should have known, damn it.”

 

Izuku giggled at the man’s long-suffering expression.

 

“Why don’t you have normal hobbies?” Dabi begged desperately. “Like — hobbies actual children should have? Something nonlethal?”

 

“Well, do you have any normal hobbies, Dabi-san?” Izuku asked, genuinely curious about the man’s answer.

 

Dabi looked down at Izuku and raised an eyebrow. “I thought you knew everything about me, you creepy little shit?”

 

Izuku chuckled, shaking his head. “Not everything, Dabi-san.”

 

“Alright.” Dabi accepted the answer and raised his arms above his head, stretching them with a grunt. “If you wanna know so fucking badly, I like motorcycles.”

 

Izuku scrunched his eyebrows together underneath his goggles.

 

He — honestly hadn’t expected that answer.

 

But the more he thought about it —

 

It kind of fit Dabi in a way.

 

“Motorcycles?” Izuku repeated questioningly. “What about them?”

 

Dabi shrugged. “They’re just cool, I guess. I fix them up for my day job sometimes.”

 

Izuku nodded slowly, pondering over Dabi’s response. 

 

This conversation seemed … oddly personal, in a way.

 

Izuku knew a lot about Dabi.

 

He had run a background check on the anti-hero before they’d joined up for The Bird’s Nest bust.

 

He knew a lot of the man’s secrets, and if push came to shove, he’d use them accordingly.

 

But —

 

Izuku didn’t know everything about Dabi, and the excitement over learning something new surprised him. Like how he’d been delighted to discover Dabi’s favoritism towards melon pans or even his hobby in fixing up motorcycles.

 

It felt nice to learn these things.

 

This wasn’t information Izuku stored up in case he may have to use them against Dabi.

 

This was just —

 

Harmless knowledge.

 

“Do you own one?” Izuku asked honestly.

 

Dabi smirked at him. “Technically, not yet. I found one a few days ago — busted up to shit. I’ve been working on it though. It’ll be a thing of beauty once I’m done with it.”

 

Izuku found his lips curling into a genuine smile. “How long until it's finished?”

 

Dabi waved a patchwork hand. “Probably another week or two. It looked ready for the junkyard when I first got my hands on it, so it’ll be a while until it runs smoothly.”

 

“Can I ride it?” Izuku chirped.

 

He’d never ridden a motorcycle before. It sounded like fun.

 

“No fucking way,” Dabi laughed. “Not until you’re at least 5’5’’. Which will probably never happen.”

 

“Mou ~” Izuku stuck out his lower lip, even though Dabi couldn’t see. “You’re such a fucking buzzkill, Dabi-san.”

 

“Deal with it,” Dabi retorted meanly. “Maybe my semi-normal hobby will inspire you to try one of your own for a change.”

 

Hah.

 

As if.

 

He liked his creations, even if they were a bit menacing in concept.

 

They had duality .

 

Like his wires, for instance.

 

His wires made people a little easier to attack, but they also made it easier to fly .

 

And speaking of attacking people …

 

Izuku sighed, knowing that he’d have to get a move on soon. Even though he wasn’t able to find any sign of crime out on the streets, he couldn’t just abandon his position as a vigilante. His patrols needed to continue, so he shoved himself away from the rooftop edge and stretched a little to limber out.

 

“You heading out?” Dabi questioned, watching Izuku lazily.

 

Izuku cracked his neck and smirked when he saw Dabi flinch in disgust. “Mm.”

 

Dabi made a shoo-ing motion with his hands. “Go bother some other dealer, pup. Find your fix, you adrenaline junkie.”

 

“I’ll try,” Izuku replied. “Be careful out there, Dabi-san. The police are still looking for us. They’ve calmed down for now, but I’d still be cautious.”

 

Dabi raised an eyebrow and gestured to himself. “You don’t think I can take some shitty outer district cop?”

 

Izuku smirked wryly. “Maybe so,” He agreed. “But there’s also Eraserhead to worry about.”

 

Izuku watched as the anti-hero scoffed, tossing his head back as if the idea physically affected him. 

 

“I’ve been dealing with undergrounders since I was fifteen,” Dabi declared. “I can handle Eraserhead. Besides, isn’t he after your scrawny ass?”

 

Izuku nodded. “Yes, but Tsukauchi is smart enough to know that I had an accomplice. With all of the evidence, they’ll assume it’s Blueflame. So don’t get too comfortable, Dabi-san.”

 

“Shit.” Dabi’s brilliant blue eyes widened theatrically. He pressed a hand against his heart. “Are you worried about me, Spider? Is that what this is?”

 

“You know what.” Izuku narrowed his eyes. He hated that fucking vigilante name, and one day Tsukauchi would get what was coming to him for assigning him that moniker. “I hope Eraserhead arrests your dumbass. It’s what you fucking deserve.”

 

“You don’t mean that!” Dabi crowed delightfully. “You’re too concerned . Aww, that’s so fucking lame.”

 

“Eat shit.” Izuku flipped the anti-hero off and jumped onto the railing. Using his momentum for support, Izuku pushed himself forward and leaped into the air. As he was sailing towards the rooftop of the building near theirs, Izuku yelled out to Dabi, “Next time I find you abusing burnouts, I’ll steal your left kidney!”

 

“What kind of fucking threat is that?” Dabi shouted back at him. “Are you aware of how fucking disturbed your head is?”

 

“Blame the Internet!” Izuku cackled as he jumped to the next rooftop.

 

Izuku continued running and hopping across District 11’s rooftops until he couldn’t see Dabi’s figure in the distance any longer. Throughout the entirety of the journey, a smile was stuck like glue on Izuku’s lips.

 

He couldn’t stop grinning.

 

Dabi had that effect on him, it seemed.

 

The more Izuku bothered the man, the more Izuku seemed to smile.

 

Dabi’s responses were so —

 

Amusing .

 

Izuku felt like he’d never grow tired of their banter.

 

The anti-hero fascinated him. Every new tidbit of information about Dabi just drove Izuku’s curiosity further and further. 

 

Dabi was just so fucking interesting , and rarely had Izuku been interested in a human being before outside of actively hunting them down.

 

He didn’t want to hunt Dabi.

 

(At least, he was 89% sure he didn’t want to hunt Dabi)

 

He just wanted …

 

Izuku wanted to know everything about him.

 

When Izuku first heard about Blueflame through word of mouth in the streets, he’d been intrigued by the anti-hero’s refusal to hurt children.

 

All of the adults in Izuku’s life had zero qualms against using or abusing kids.

 

And although Izuku didn’t exactly count the emotionless thing he had been as a child, he himself was technically on that list.

 

So to hear that one of the deadliest anti-heroes in the outer districts had a soft spot for youths was —

 

Surprising.

 

Then he’d learned about the auction at The Bird’s Nest and knew he’d need a helping hand in burning that place to the ground. 

 

Never one to put himself into situations where he was unsure of all of the variables, Izuku researched Blueflame for four days straight. 

 

Once he’d started uncovering Dabi’s past, he couldn’t stop .

 

Izuku hadn’t left his apartment once during that four-day span. He’d barely gotten up from his seat and that was only to use the restroom or to dunk his head under the faucet for a drink of water. When he’d finally learned all there was about the infamous Blueflame, Izuku had been dizzy from sleep deprivation and lack of food — but still so fucking intrigued .

 

In a way, Dabi had become one of Izuku’s newest fixes.

 

During the bust at The Bird’s Nest, Izuku had been captivated by the anti-hero, even if he irritated him sometimes with his weird fixation on Izuku’s age and irrational bleeding heart.

 

Dabi was the textbook definition of a sun going supernova.

 

The son of one of the most powerful heroes in Japan — thrown to the wolves like trash just because of his imperfections.

 

Breaking apart at the seams from the betrayal and refashioning himself into Dabi to prove his worth — his power .

 

And the anti-hero proved it, alright.

 

Blueflame was the boogeyman of the 11th District.

 

Dabi tore the person he used to be into shreds and lit the remains on fire, swearing to burn anyone who stood in his way as well.

 

Izuku had never related to someone more in his entire life.

 

They were so similar.

 

Just a pair of stars.

 

Breaking apart at their cores.

 

Izuku wanted to know everything about Dabi.

 

What used to be his dreams when he was young?

 

Did he like the taste of lychee?

 

Why did he choose District 11 as his base of operations?

 

Did he ever miss his family?

 

Izuku wanted — no.

 

He needed to know.

 

That was why he continued harassing the anti-hero, long after their team up at The Bird’s Nest.

 

It was supposed to be a one-off thing, their alliance.

 

But Izuku had been so damn mesmerized witnessing the glory of Dabi’s supernova.

 

He didn’t think he’d ever get enough of the anti-hero.

 

Izuku stopped running just before he got to the edge of a building.

 

He paused, allowing himself a brief moment to gasp in the air that was sorely needed after that vicious sprint. His head felt a little dizzy, but he didn’t think it was caused by a lack of oxygen.

 

No —

 

He was simply giddy.

 

Izuku had found another fix.

 

Another way to feel alive, aside from swinging around on his wires or punching criminals in the face.

 

Dabi.

 

He licked his lips akin to a leopard licking its chops before sinking their fangs into their kill.

 

Yes …

 

Dabi made Izuku feel alive.

 

— alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive, alive —

 

But Izuku wasn’t alone during his musings.

 

Someone else was on the rooftop with him.

 

So overcome with euphoria, Izuku ducked only a split second before Eraserhead’s capture scarf lunged towards the space where his head had once been.

 

Not wasting any precious time, Izuku backflipped to distance himself from the material.

 

He jumped to his left and into a crouch when the capture scarf followed, baring his teeth behind his mouthguard when his eyes caught on the Underground Hero standing a few meters away from him.

 

“Eraserhead,” Izuku growled, angry that his newfound elation had been interrupted. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

 

“You’re under arrest, Spider,” The Pro Hero hissed, his eyes flashing neon red behind his ridiculous-looking shades.

 

(That fucking vigilante name … Damn you, Tsukauchi)

 

Izuku smirked cruelly. “And for what?”

 

“For the murder of over thirty people,” The hero replied with a scowl. “And for being a pain in my ass.”

 

Izuku, as a general rule of thumb, tended to distrust a lot of Pro Heroes. 

 

During his first year of freedom, he’d uncovered quite a bit of dirt on them that society looked on as celebrities.

 

Endeavor, of course, being one of them.

 

Not every Pro Hero was a good person, Izuku learned.

 

That was why Izuku was so damn annoyed by Eraserhead.

 

Because for all Izuku despised the son of a bitch who interrupted his patrols (Maybe he could understand Dabi’s frustrations), Eraserhead was a decent human being.

 

No scandals swept under the rug or anything!

 

Izuku hated that because that meant Izuku felt unsure of himself whenever he interacted with the Erasure Hero.

 

Because if Eraserhead was a good person , then why was he hunting down Izuku?

 

Izuku was —

 

Well.

 

Izuku was trying to be a good person.

 

He just wanted to do some good.

 

Didn’t that count for something?

 

“Correction.” Izuku raised a finger, still crouched low and prepared to bolt at a moment’s notice. “I didn’t kill anyone. So you’re wrong about that.”

 

Eraserhead’s face contorted into a sneer that if Izuku was anyone other than himself he’d be shitting his pants right now. “You were an accomplice to the murders. That’s grounds enough for me to take you in. So stop resisting and make this easier for the both of us.”

 

With that, Eraserhead lunged.

 

As an omega, Eraserhead’s strength was not found in his upper body. In principle, omegas are less strong than the other two second genders, but oftentimes quicker and with higher endurance levels. As such, the power of an omega tended to rest within their legs — a fact that the Underground Hero obviously took advantage of.

 

He was no longer put off guard by Izuku like the first time they fought.

 

No —

 

Eraserhead was ready for battle.

 

And he seemed pissed .

 

Izuku rolled to his right, narrowly missing Eraserhead’s roundhouse kick. He felt the air swish by his face and knew that he’d have to treat this fight seriously.

 

He swiped out his leg, trying to knock Eraserhead off his feet, but the man jumped to dodge them, grabbing a tendril of his capture scarf and launching it at Izuku. Izuku avoided the fabric but couldn’t escape Eraserhead’s next kick.

 

Air whooshed out from Izuku’s lungs as the Pro Hero’s foot connected with his stomach. 

 

Fucking hell .

 

Izuku winced underneath his facial coverings.

 

Eraserhead really wasn’t fucking around this time, was he?

 

That felt like being hit by a fucking truck , what the hell?

 

Izuku wrapped both of his arms around the leg and yanked the man towards him. Once at a close enough range, Izuku released the leg in favor of grabbing Eraserhead’s shoulder. He pulled his shoulders down just in time to slam his knee into the man’s gut.

 

Quickly, Izuku jumped back away and slugged the man, connecting his covered fist with Eraserhead’s cheek.

 

He tried to land another hit, but Eraserhead seemed to expect that, as he caught Izuku’s hand.

 

Izuku hissed when Eraserhead twisted his arm, forcing him to fall onto his knees with one of his arms trapped behind his back in Eraserhead’s brutal grip.

 

Before the Underground Hero could attempt to restrain Izuku further, Izuku threw his elbow back, colliding it with the man’s nose.

 

Eraserhead grunted in pain, stepping back and releasing his grip on Izuku as a result.

 

Taking advantage of this, Izuku spun and kicked the man in the chest.

 

He watched in annoyance as the older man fell to the floor only to perform a kip-up with the kind of fluid grace only an acrobat would have.

 

Eraserhead glared at Izuku, and his black eyes were fiery behind his goggles. Blood dripped from his nose, and the Underground Hero simply swiped it away with his thumb. Then he fell into a fighting stance, with his legs bent and his fists held near his face. His glare was filled with violence, and his brutality reflected that.

 

Ugh.

 

Great .

 

This was not the kind of action that Izuku had wanted tonight.

 

Didn’t he tell Tsukauchi to get Eraserhead off his ass two weeks ago?

 

This was the opposite of what he had asked the detective!

 

“I’m not exactly sure what your problem is with me, Eraserhead.” Izuku jabbed out with his left hand. The man easily deflected it, but the motion was only a fake-out so that Izuku could successfully kick at one of Eraserhead’s legs with his right.

 

Eraserhead buckled but recovered, using his uninjured leg to knee Izuku in the side. “Shut up,” The man gritted out as he tried to get him in a grappling hold to force him to the ground.

 

Izuku knocked away Eraserhead’s grip and jumped behind the man. Before the Pro Hero could spin around, Izuku jumped up and kicked at the man’s back with both of his legs, sending Eraserhead flying forward from the force of the attack.

 

Just as Izuku was about to fall to the ground, he angled his body until he fell with his arms first. Once his hands connected with the ground, he pushed up, flipping backward until he landed safely on his legs, facing Eraserhead once again. He watched as the man countered the force of Izuku’s kick by rolling with it until he jumped back to his feet again.

 

Izuku didn’t waste any time, throwing his arms out and firing his wires at Eraserhead’s shoulders. “You usually don’t mind vigilantes, I mean.” Instead of making the wires carry Eraserhead to Izuku, he decided to do the opposite — flying through the air until he was close enough to release the wires and perform a butterfly kick.

 

Eraserhead threw up his arms, blocking the kicks from hitting his face, although Izuku guessed that the blows didn’t feel nice on his arms either.

 

“Stop talking,” The Pro Hero barked out, attempting to lunge forward with a lunge punch that he ducked to escape from, only to catch Izuku with a brutal stomp to his exposed ankle.

 

Izuku crumbled from the force of it, grimacing in pain when lightning seemed to shoot through his nerves. He took advantage of his lowered height however and punched the man’s gut as hard as he could, making Eraserhead buckle just a bit with a choked groan.

 

Desperate not to be the only way on the floor, Izuku hooked one of Eraserhead’s ankles with the leg that wasn’t smarting and swiped him to the ground.

 

Izuku jumped away from the man to put some distance between them, gasping as quietly as possible from exertion.

 

Damn it.

 

Damn it!

 

Fuck you, Eraserhead.

 

Izuku’s ankle hurt like a bitch .

 

Thank fuck it wasn’t broken.

 

“You seem to hold a lot of unnecessary aggression against me,” Izuku pointed out as calmly as possible, recalling the knife hidden on his other leg. He’d use it if needed, hero be damned. “Have I done something that offended you?”

 

Eraserhead’s hair floated in the air, mimicking his capture scarf. Izuku wondered why he didn’t invest in a hair tie. “You murdered over thirty people.”

 

Izuku jumped into a somersault to avoid the capture scarf’s next attack. “We already went over this. And you were already hunting me before that.”

 

Dodging the scarf’s greedy fabric, Izuku aimed one of his wires at Eraserhead’s legs. The man was knocked to the ground before being forcibly dragged against the rooftop as the wires pulled him closer. However, Eraserhead stabilized himself and used his capture scarf to swipe at Izuku once again, forcing him to release his wires to jump away.

 

“You’re a vigilante!” The Underground Hero growled, rushing towards Izuku with a punch.

 

Izuku deflected the punch then threw out one of his own, sending an uppercut into Eraserhead’s solar plexus. He relished in the man’s groan as he struggled for air from the pressure. “And? You’ve worked with quite a few vigilantes, remember?”

 

Knowing that the man would recover fast, Izuku grabbed onto the fabric of his black jumpsuit as tight as he could and fell backward onto the rooftop, dragging Eraserhead with him. Once Izuku’s back made contact with the ground, he lifted his leg and dug his foot into his stomach, kicking Eraserhead backward from the force.

 

The Pro Hero flipped onto the ground with a shout, making a rather satisfying crack as some of his ribs must have broken from the impact.

 

Izuku got back onto his feet, staring down at a wheezing Eraserhead.

 

The hero tried to lift himself up, but the effort seemed agonizing , to Izuku’s delight. “You ..,” the man rasped, “want a … f-fucking job?”

 

“I want you to leave me alone,” Izuku stressed angrily. “And if that’s what’ll make you get out of my fucking business , then I’ll do it.”

 

The injured Pro Hero was able to force himself into a kneeling position, holding his chest with one arm whilst balancing with the other. “And what … makes you think I’ll take your offer?”

 

Izuku shifted from one foot to the other, testing out his ankle. It flared in pain when he put pressure on it, so he assumed it was sprained. 

 

“I know you’ll take my offer,” Izuku grinned behind his mask, a nasty part of him just itching to stab the motherfucker and be done with it. “You’re fucking desperate.”

 

Eraserhead raised his head enough to glare up at Izuku through his black bangs. “You sound pretty confident,” he croaked.

 

“You work with Tsukauchi,” Izuku remarked pleasantly, watching the man’s eyes narrow dangerously at the mention of his close friend and colleague. “You must know at least some of the issues regarding villain attacks in recent times.”

 

The man didn’t seem convinced. Izuku wondered if that was him being stubborn or just plain petty. “Where are you going with this?” 

 

Izuku rolled his eyes. No one had any fucking patience anymore, did they?

 

“Villain activity has risen dramatically in the past two years,” Izuku stated matter-of-factly. “Groups are forming left and right, especially in the Musutafu region. There’s obviously been a power vacuum, and everyone’s trying to establish themselves — but they aren’t making contact with any Limelight Heroes. They aren't making the news.”

 

“So?” Eraserhead spat a glob of blood on the floor. Izuku really must have cracked a couple of ribs then.

 

“So,” Izuku drawled, “they’re being smart, and you’re fumbling as a result. You and your little Limelight buddies.”

 

Eraserhead jolted, and a truly dangerous glare made his eyes light up red. 

 

Something Izuku said must have pissed him off even more than usual.

 

He wondered what it was until he remembered the Underground Hero was married to a Limelight — Present Mic .

 

“You need help. Just admit it, Eraserhead.”

 

The Erasure Hero seemed like he’d rather throw himself off the roof than do that.

 

“So what?” He sneered, shifting until he managed to stand on both legs. “You think I’m just gonna accept the help from a fucking murderer? I don’t know anything about you! Why should I fucking trust you?”

 

Izuku huffed in frustration. “That’s the goddamn point, asshole. We can team up for a few months; you learn to trust me enough to get off my ass, and I help you solve some cases in return. Boom. Problem solved.”

 

“And how can I be so sure you won’t just stab me in the back the first chance you’ve got?” Eraserhead snapped angrily.

 

“I told you, I didn’t murder those people,” Izuku gritted out. “And need I remind you that they were pedophile gangsters? Are you seriously upset by their deaths?”

 

“Hell no,” The Pro Hero was quick to say. “I’m upset that a vigilante who I know next to fucking nothing about has been roaming the outer districts without any repercussions for their actions.”

 

“You have your secrets, and I have mine,” Izuku admitted easily. “I’ve proven time and time again that all I want to do is help people. Shouldn’t that be enough?”

 

“No, it isn’t.” Eraserhead took a step forward, his hair rising yet again, although his capture scarf stayed dormant. “No one knows a single goddamn thing about you. No one knows your name, your quirk, your age — not even your fucking genders . We don’t know what you fucking want, Spider!”

 

“I want,” Izuku forced out lowly, “to help.

 

— just wanna help, just let me help, wanna help, wanna be good, wanna be good —

 

“Why?” Eraserhead asked desperately, his face contorted in frustration. “Why do you want to help? No one fucking knows because you haven’t fucking told us!”

 

“Does there have to be a reason?” Izuku asked softly.

 

Eraserhead faltered just a bit, although he picked back up where he started. “Yes. We have to know at least that . Even if we don’t know anything else, we just need to know why you’re doing this.”

 

Izuku froze.

 

Well.

 

That was relatively easy to admit.

 

“It began as penance,” Izuku found himself declaring honestly.

 

Eraserhead’s eyebrows furrowed together, and Mully , Izuku’s favorite forehead vein, popped up to say hello. “Penance for what?”

 

bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad —

 

Izuku shook his head. “That’s not the point, Eraserhead. The point is that I’m willing to propose a deal that will help both of us. Will you take it?”

 

“What kind of deal?” Eraserhead demanded suspiciously.

 

“Patrol with me for a few months,” Izuku bargained. “Figure out that I’m trustworthy enough, and I’ll solve some of your cases for you.”

 

Eraserhead scowled, frustrated at the idea of working with the vigilante who he obviously held a grudge towards. “If not? What happens if I decide you’re too much of a loose cannon?” He questioned.

 

“You won’t.” Izuku was certain of that. “But if you do, then you can arrest me. I’ll go quietly.”

 

“How am I supposed to trust that?” The man’s black hair shifted in the wind, revealing more of his heavy gaze. “What are you even supposed to gain in this deal?”

 

“You work with vigilantes on occasion, Eraserhead. I know that you ask Tsukauchi to shield some of them from law enforcement.” Izuku watched as Eraserhead’s eyes widened.

 

“How the hell do you know that?” His voice was breathy from shock. Or his damaged rib cage — either one worked.

 

“I’m smart,” Izuku smirked, tilting his head to the side. “We each win from this deal. You get to figure out if I’m cut out for vigilantism and solve a couple of cases. I get you to stop interfering with my business and get protection against sneaky little detectives.”

 

“If you’re so smart,” Eraserhead narrowed his eyes. “Then why don’t you just kill me right now?”

 

Izuku smiled, although Eraserhead couldn’t see it underneath the mouthguard. “You’ll trust me enough later to believe this, but I genuinely just want to do some good, Eraserhead. I’m not too fond of heroes, but you’re a decent man.”

 

“Thanks,” Said hero responded wryly. “But you’re acting as if I’ve already accepted the deal.”

 

Izuku giggled, making the Underground Hero flinch at the distorted sound.

 

“Haven’t you, Eraserhead?” He asked lightly.

 

Izuku held out his hand.

 

Eraserhead stared into his goggles distastefully, then his eyes lowered to the offered hand.

 

His lip curled like he’d tasted a sour lemon.

 

Then —

 

Eraserhead shook Izuku’s hand.

 

The deal was made.

 

“We’ll patrol together for four months,” Eraserhead stated. “If either of us can’t fulfill our sides of the bargain, then the deal is off effective immediately.”

 

Izuku nodded languidly.

 

He’d known Eraserhead would take the offer.

 

So predictable.

 

“We’ll start next week,” Eraserhead grunted, looking like he’d rather be anywhere than here. “Monday through Thursday. Meet me here at 7.”

 

“It’s a pleasure doing business with you, Eraserhead,” Izuku purred, releasing the man’s hand and immediately aiming his wrist at the side of a taller building across the street. He had just enough time to hear Eraserhead’s gasp of surprise before Izuku was yanked through the air towards his new destination.

 

And then Izuku was flying off into the night.

 

Another escape from the dastardly clutches of Eraserhead.

 

Izuku giggled, aiming his wires at yet another building as he swung through the air.

 

He could only imagine the headaches he could give to the Pro Hero.

 

Sweet revenge.

 

This was going to be interesting.

 


 

“Ne, ne, Dabi-san! I’ve gotten Eraserhead to leave me alone!”

 

“ … How did you get into my apartment.”

 

“That's not as important as Eraserhead and I working together for the next four months~!”

 

“What the fuck?!”

Chapter Text

Out of everything Izuku had done in his life, breaking and entering into Dabi’s apartment was one of the easiest tasks he’d accomplished.

 

Admittedly, it was a little alarming how simple it was.

 

There were no extra security measures aside from a shitty lock that Izuku picked open in less than a minute. He probably could have just kicked it open, but that would’ve ended with Dabi threatening to turn him into barbecue, so he resisted the urge.

 

Izuku told Dabi this to prove his innocence, but Dabi still looked like he wanted to throttle him.

 

Boy, oh boy, was Dabi fucking mad .

 

Not even the times when Izuku interrupted his drug deals was Dabi ever as pissed as he was when he got into his apartment.

 

For a split second, Izuku was sure that Dabi was going to light him on fire —

 

But the man only yelled at him for a bit.

 

Fucking weird , right?

 

Whenever an adult was mad at Izuku, they’d try to kill him.

 

If they were feeling lenient, they’d just hit him a couple of times.

 

Yet — Dabi never raised his hands to hurt Izuku.

 

In fact, the anti-hero seemed more concerned about Izuku than upset with him, especially after he revealed his bargain with Eraserhead.

 

He’d even stopped shouting at him after a while. His vivid blue eyes grew wide as he seemed to come to some conclusion within himself after watching Izuku cautiously take a step back to the open window, not exactly wary of Dabi, but still being careful.

 

The alpha’s mouth shut with a click.

 

Then Dabi spoke with a new lowered tone.

 

It was odd.

 

Never before had Dabi acted like this when Izuku irritated him.

 

He would always just shout at him for a bit, maybe threaten him if needed, but he wouldn’t ever treat Izuku like he was a fucking child.

 

Which — well, Izuku was technically a preteen, but he wasn’t really , yeah?

 

Izuku didn’t like this new side of Dabi.

 

He wanted the old one back.

 

Thankfully the man still fumed over Izuku’s lack of personal space.

 

Apparently, normal people didn’t break into their ally’s apartments.

 

That was considered invasive , to mundane society.

 

But when had either of them ever conformed to what the world told them to?

 

Izuku could practically smell that Dabi wasn’t telling him the full truth.

 

He said that he wanted to ‘protect his identity' as Blueflame by keeping his base a secret, but Izuku didn’t believe his bullshit one bit.

 

Dabi was probably just embarrassed that he hadn’t cleaned up his room before a guest arrived.

 

In all honesty, though, there was nothing about the man’s apartment that screamed ‘anti-hero run away with a troubled past’.

 

It just seemed like an ordinary guy’s apartment.

 

(Until you took a closer look, however)

 

Dabi’s apartment was located, obviously, in District 11. It wasn’t any different from the various other buildings in the area, nor did it stand out in any particular way aside from the myriad of drugs the anti-hero stashed inside his room.

 

It was a simple bachelor’s pad with one bedroom, bathroom, and small kitchenette. Most of the apartment was indistinguishable from any other apartment in District 11, but there were a couple of things that Dabi added to give the room his own flair. There were posters detailing either rock bands or political statements, as well as a neon purple sign hanging on the wall above the man’s bed that promoted a laundromat (Stolen, obviously). It was also slightly messy inside. Not disgustingly so, but enough to establish it as a single man’s living space.

 

The only thing that seemed to reveal Dabi’s nighttime activities was the Crack Cocaine Couch.

 

Oh, yeah

 

Dabi had a Crack Cocaine Couch .

 

Never before had Izuku laughed harder than when he discovered that little fact.

 

When Izuku had snuck into Dabi’s apartment to inform him of his bargain with Eraserhead, he’d tried to rest on the single, ratty sofa that had been pushed against the wall — his ankle had been throbbing and his stomach ached something terrible after his brawl with the Underground Hero, so he needed some respite in addition to Dabi’s migraine-inducing chastisement.

 

He had been ignoring most of what the alpha had been spewing — just another mindless spiel about Izuku’s apparent ‘insanity’ or something — and missed when the man started to caution, “No, no! Wait —!”

 

Izuku sat down on the couch.

 

The fabric ripped under the pressure —

 

And out spilled over twenty baggies stuffed full of cocaine.

 

Apparently, that sofa had been transformed into Dabi’s main hiding place for his drugs.

 

Hence the nickname —

 

Crack Cocaine Couch.

 

There were other little hidey-holes in Dabi’s apartment that he stored his wares in. A tile in the bathroom wall blocked off a hollow space where more illegal substances were found, as well as where some had been stashed into the furthest space in one of Dabi’s cupboards. 

 

The apartment was filled with drugs.

 

Izuku was delighted .

 

He’d made fun of Dabi that entire night, effectively shutting the man up after he’d verbally ripped Izuku a new one for proposing a deal with the Underground Hero who had literally been trying to throw him in jail for half a year.

 

As it turned out, the anti-hero didn’t use any of the drugs he sold besides pot on occasion.

 

Izuku joked that Dabi’s patchwork hid his track marks, however.

 

He was surprised to feel a little guilty though. It wasn’t an emotion familiar to him, and he didn’t like how it sat in his stomach — all heavy and acidic.

 

Dabi hadn’t been pleased that Izuku had not only found his apartment but broke inside.

 

According to the guy, Dabi’s entire apartment complex was pretty shady.

 

Most of the rooms were converted into drug dens, and Dabi even warned that his next-door neighbor might be villainous, as he’d always hear strange noises and banging sounds coming from across the wall.

 

Izuku, in Dabi’s opinion, shouldn’t be anywhere near his apartment. Much less inside .

 

He didn’t have the heart to tell him that he’d snuck inside Dabi’s apartment before.

 

Okay

 

That sounded bad.

 

But it was super quick.

 

It had been before the bust at The Bird’s Nest.

 

Izuku had researched Dabi in preparation for the event … and got just a little bit intrigued?

 

Like, come on.

 

Endeavour’s long-lost eldest son who’d run away only to become an anti-hero/drug lord in the outer districts?

 

How could Izuku not investigate further?

 

Dabi hadn’t even been in his apartment at the time!

 

He’d only snooped around for a little bit then hurried away just as fast.

 

And finding Dabi’s apartment hadn’t been difficult at all.

 

Breaking in was somehow less of a challenge.

 

So much so that before Izuku left to meet up with Eraserhead for the first time, he’d decided to stop by Dabi’s motorcycle shop and give him something to fix that.

 

Hopefully, the gift would get him back in Dabi’s favor.

 

After he’d told him about the Eraserhead thing, Dabi had been — finicky, for lack of a better word. Obviously the alpha didn’t trust Pro Heroes, from the way he constantly urged Izuku to give up the deal. Then he got pissed off when Izuku said no.

 

Maybe a gift would change things?

 

It wouldn’t hurt to try.

 

Hopefully, the man would see the sentiment — after all, it was one of the few things that made Izuku feel safe , so why not share it with his only ally?

 

But when he showed it to the alpha, he looked more confused than happy.

 

Maybe he didn’t understand its personal meaning?

 

But —

 

“What the fuck is that?” Dabi demanded warily, staring down at the object presented in Izuku’s hand like it was a particularly large and lethal bomb.

 

Izuku smiled up at Dabi, positive that he’d gotten the alpha the perfect ‘I’m sorry, but also not, P.S. fuck you’ gift. “It’s a new lock.”

 

Dabi looked down at the gift then glanced up at Izuku. “Why.”

 

It wasn’t worded like a question.

 

Guess Izuku had to explain it after all …

 

He sighed. “Your door’s lock is atrocious . Anyone could get in, Dabi-san! So I made you a new one. It’s really easy to install, and it fits with your old keys, so you won’t have to buy new ones.”

 

“How did you get it to fit my keys?” Dabi’s eyes narrowed.

 

Oh —

 

Oh, no.

 

Izuku’s smile wobbled a little. “Um …”

 

Damn it … Dabi had gotten so mad at Izuku for sneaking into his apartment the first time …

 

“Spider …,” Dabi asked slowly, his tone growing dangerous. “How did you get it to fit my keys?”

 

Izuku laughed, and he wasn’t excited for what was about to come next. “Would you believe it was luck?”

 

Dabi didn’t even blink. “No.”

 

Izuku sighed as he was backed into the metaphorical corner. “Okay … I stole your apartment keys and took a print of its shape.”

 

“God –!” Dabi cut himself off to stare up at the ceiling of the empty mechanics' shop. He squeezed his eyes shut, and it looked like he was doing breathing exercises. A bit of smoke escaped from the seams of his facial scars, and the room smelled intensely like a campfire.

 

His pheromones were crystal clear.

 

Dabi was a pissed-off alpha . And it was all directed at Izuku.

 

The vigilante winced at his anger and tried to think of a way to fix the problem he had unfortunately created when trying to be helpful.

 

It was just — Izuku liked locks.

 

And all of his self-help books said that giving a heartfelt gift was a good olive branch.

 

Locks were important to Izuku, and he wanted to give one he’d made to Dabi as a peace offering — an apology for sometimes going too far in his tricks.

 

After he’d gotten attacked by Eraserhead, Izuku had kind of realized that his own annoyance towards the man might mirror Dabi and Izuku’s situation. And while he still enjoyed teasing the anti-hero, Izuku didn’t want the man to be completely irritated with him.

 

There were moments when Dabi would act fond of Izuku, and although it felt kind of odd and Izuku wasn’t used to it … 

 

It was still nice.

 

But — 

 

If Izuku kept making Dabi angry , then he’d stop acting like that.

 

He’d stop talking to Izuku.

 

Izuku … didn’t want that.

 

Izuku liked talking with Dabi.

 

He didn’t want Dabi to hate him.

 

Which was weird and totally strange, and Izuku didn’t understand why at all , because they were just allies, right?

 

Allies weren’t friends , so it shouldn’t matter if Dabi disliked Izuku.

 

Izuku shouldn’t care so much about this.

 

They were just allies!

 

Nothing more! Nothing less!

 

It shouldn’t matter!

 

But — well …

 

If Dabi did hate Izuku, then wouldn’t that make Dabi a bad ally?

 

If Dabi hated Izuku, then it would be much easier for Dabi to betray him!

 

So …

 

It did matter if Dabi hated Izuku.

 

And Dabi was still a useful ally.

 

He was powerful. Izuku could still use his strength.

 

Therefore … Izuku shouldn’t make Dabi hate him.

 

That — was probably why Izuku was so worried about making Dabi so angry all of the time.

 

Izuku didn’t want to lose such a strong ally.

 

They were partners, remember?

 

Yeah.

 

Yeah, that sounded right.

 

Also, Izuku was kind of becoming aware of his dependence on Dabi for certain kinds of adrenaline rushes, so losing that fix wouldn’t probably feel too good either. But how could Izuku prevent Dabi from leaving him?

 

He had looked up online not too long ago how to make someone like you.

 

Most of the searches came back for dating advice , which Izuku felt … kind of unsure about.

 

But another article suggested a couple of tips for friendships , and he clicked on them. He couldn’t find any websites for allyship , so friendship would have to suffice.

 

One of the tips was being nice , which was obviously bullshit.

 

Izuku was currently trying to be nice — he’d made Dabi a whole new lock completely free, and the man practically spat in his face for it.

 

Another tip said to apologize when you did wrong.

 

But … What did Izuku do wrong?

 

(Aside from breaking and entering, which was strange, because Dabi was an anti-hero and Izuku was a vigilante. They shouldn’t be concerned with those things)

 

“Okay.” Dabi pressed his palms together and put them to his lips, looking as if he was praying to some unseen god for patience. His eyes were squeezed shut, and he was still doing breathing exercises. “Okay, okay. Don’t yell at the kid. Don’t yell. Just a fucking pup. Remember, Dabi? Just a pup. Crazy? Yes. Pain in my ass? Fuck yes. But still a pup. So … don’t yell.”

 

Izuku didn’t know why Dabi didn’t want to yell at him. It would make Dabi feel better, so why not?

 

“Just a kid … just a kid …” The man repeated it like a mantra.

 

But Izuku wasn’t just a kid.

 

He was a vigilante. He was Dabi’s partner.

 

Why was Dabi treating him like this?

 

Like he was fragile or something?

 

“You can yell, Dabi-san,” Izuku offered. If he yelled at Izuku, maybe he would exhaust himself and forgive Izuku quicker. Izuku obviously did something wrong, so it was fine if Dabi wanted to shout at him. He wasn’t scared.

 

The anti-hero didn’t look angry enough to hit him this time unlike when he’d snuck in through his window, so Izuku didn’t feel particularly wary over a stray punch or burn.

 

Even then, it didn’t matter much to him. For all the alpha’s aggression and scary appearance, he didn’t seem like the type of guy for prolonged corporal punishments. 

 

Izuku could handle a punch or a kick. He’d been trained to endure most kinds of pain by his father, so it wasn’t like Izuku was afraid of getting hurt.

 

Fire might sting for a couple of days, but Izuku had more burn scars than he could count.

 

He could outlast any kind of punishment Dabi wanted to deal out.

 

Dabi’s eyes opened, but his irises were focused on the ceiling. Izuku could see how tense his shoulders were, as he’d ditched his signature black trench coat for a simple white tank top, which was stained in grease and dirt.

 

“No,” Dabi eventually stated, albeit shakily. “No, I’m not gonna yell.”

 

Why not?

 

Dabi had threatened him before, so why couldn’t he do it now?

 

They had, in the law’s eyes, murdered over thirty people together.

 

Dabi watched him cut off someone’s fucking tongue while they were still conscious.

 

Why wouldn’t he yell at him?

 

Izuku’s eyebrows furrowed. “You should. It’ll make you feel better.”

 

The alpha’s gaze fixed itself on Izuku’s goggles. There was something in his eyes that screamed violence, but it wasn’t directed at Izuku.

 

“No, it won’t.” Dabi breathed in more gasoline-tinted air, and Izuku wondered how it affected his breathing exercises. “It never does.”

 

Oh.

 

Dabi was talking about Endeavour. That was probably why he stopped yelling at Izuku that night — he must’ve felt too much like his father at that moment.

 

Still, Izuku wasn’t content. If Dabi wasn’t going to scold or hit him, then how could Izuku make things better?

 

“It really is fine if you want to yell at me,” Izuku insisted, becoming a little desperate. He didn’t want to lose Dabi, not yet. “I can take it, Dabi-san.”

 

Dabi’s eyes flashed dangerously. “I’m not going to fucking yell at you for something you clearly don’t understand. You’re just a pup.”

 

Now Izuku was really confused.

 

And just a little panicky.

 

“Why does that matter?” Izuku asked honestly. In his personal experience, his age never mattered, so he continued on.

 

“I did something bad,” He explained slowly in an attempt to make Dabi understand. “I did something bad, so you can yell at me.”

 

The workshop went quiet after that.

 

Izuku wondered why and tried analyzing Dabi’s face, hoping to discover any clues that may help him fix the problem.

 

Dabi looked scared .

 

His breathing quickened.

 

He was blinking rapidly.

 

Dabi was afraid.

 

Soon enough, his pheromones began thickening again. The smell of smoke filled the workshop, tinged with something sour. Izuku recognized it from his childhood as distress. The people his father ordered him to hunt often smelled like that.

 

“No …,” Dabi muttered, taking a step back almost unconsciously. His blue eyes shifted from side to side, avoiding Izuku’s goggle-covered gaze. “No, that’s not —”

 

Izuku stepped forward, undeterred. “You’re mad at me, Dabi-san. How can I fix it? You won’t tell me the names of your rivals, and you won’t yell at me. So how can I fix it?!”

 

He needed to fix this.

 

He couldn’t lose Dabi just because he’d been bad.

 

bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad

 

Dabi held out one of his hands.

 

Izuku waited for the flames.

 

He didn’t like being burnt, but he’d take it if Dabi wanted.

 

But — 

 

No fire came.

 

The alpha had only held out his hand to prevent Izuku from getting closer.

 

“Stop,” He said quietly. “Just — stop.”

 

What was Dabi doing? Why wasn’t he using his quirk?

 

Izuku didn’t understand, and —

 

He hated it.

 

He was smart , so why didn’t he understand?

 

Why was Dabi angry with him?

 

Why hadn’t Dabi liked his gift?

 

Why wouldn’t Dabi yell at Izuku?

 

Why?

 

Why?

 

he was supposed to be smart, he was supposed to be smart, so why didn’t he understand, why, why, whywhywhy whywhy

 

A handful of emotions flickered across the black-haired man’s face. Dabi’s breathing was unstable, and smoke continued to pour out from between his patchwork scars, mixing with his natural campfire smell. The textbook sign of an alpha in distress.

 

whywhywhywhywhywhywhywhywhy

 

“Spider …” Dabi ran a shaky hand through his hair. “I …”

 

Izuku waited.

 

It was all he could do until Dabi fucking explained himself.

 

This was a new equation.

 

There were different variables.

 

Izuku didn’t fucking understand.

 

He was bad.

 

Dabi was angry with him because he was bad.

 

He was bad, bad, bad!

 

Hit me , Izuku wanted to scream. Hit me so I can understand.

 

He needed the punishment.

 

He was bad, and bad people deserved punishment.

 

But Dabi —

 

“Why do you want me to … to yell at you?” The alpha asked finally. He looked at Izuku like he’d never had before. Like he was something delicate .

 

The alpha’s eyes were imploring. Dabi’s patchwork hand, still held in the air, twitched .

 

Izuku froze.

 

He hated when people thought he was weak.

 

He wasn’t fucking weak.

 

“What?” Izuku questioned slowly, dangerously.

 

Dabi slowly lowered his hand and rhythmically clenched and unclenched his fists by his side.

 

“You …” The anti-hero paused and tried to find the correct words. He looked frustrated, until he finally asked, “You … don’t understand why I’m — why I was mad … right?”

 

His eyebrows were furrowed together, and his mouth kept opening and closing like he was trying to speak but couldn’t.

 

Izuku needed to answer his question. He always had to answer whatever questions his father asked.

 

But …

 

“I … don’t,” Izuku admitted reluctantly. This was usually the part where his father would punish him because Izuku didn’t understand.

 

He knew Dabi was mad , but he didn’t really know why.

 

whywhywhywhywhywhy

 

And Izuku was smart , so he should know, but he just fucking couldn’t.

 

“Yeah,” Dabi breathed out, still staring at Izuku with some strange wild-eyed expression. “Yeah … I thought so.”

 

Izuku felt sick, he realized absentmindedly.

 

His stomach hurt. 

 

His guts were beginning to cramp.

 

“Spider,” The alpha said tensely, making Izuku rankle at the piteous tone, “it’s not your fault.”

 

Izuku instantly shook his head.

 

That was bullshit.

 

Dabi was lying to him.

 

“You’re mad at me,” Izuku repeated desperately. “You’re mad at me because I did something bad. Just tell me what I did, Dabi-san.”

 

“You didn’t do anything!” Dabi insisted shortly, his nostrils beginning to flare.

 

Fucking liar .

 

Izuku shook his head bitterly. “You’re hiding from me. Why? Why are you treating me like I’m some fucking child instead of telling me what I did wrong like a fucking adult?”

 

Dabi blinked in shock. His face contorted into angered disbelief. “Wha — What? What the fuck? Are you serious?” He laughed in frustration. “You are a fucking child, Spider!”

 

“Don’t call me that.” Izuku’s lip curled. “You know I hate that name.”

 

“Don’t change the fucking subject!” Dabi interjected in vexation.

 

What was happening?

 

Why was Dabi doing this?

 

Izuku felt hot. The air was stifling.

 

“What subject?” Izuku demanded, throwing up his hands. “You’re just running around in circles because you don’t have the fucking balls to tell me what I did wrong!”

 

“The subject of you being a motherfucking child , you asswipe!” Dabi’s teeth began to bare unconsciously as he started running his fingers through his hair to calm himself. It wasn’t working, and the alpha was just getting more and more worked up. “I’m not going to — to fucking punish you for being a goddamn child!”

 

“Then how can I fix this?!” Izuku hissed, his eyes wide and flashing behind his goggles. “You’re mad at me, but you won’t tell me what I did bad or punish me! I’m smart, but I can’t read minds, Dabi!”

 

Everything was going wrong, wrong, wrong.

 

Izuku just wanted to fix things, but he just made it worse.

 

His stomach hurt.

 

Izuku didn’t know how to solve this.

 

“You didn’t do anything fucking bad!” Dabi growled out, looking almost offended on Izuku’s behalf.

 

liarliarliarliarliarliarbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbad

 

“Then why are you mad at me?!” Izuku shrieked.

 

Dabi stepped forward, yelling, “I just told you, it’s not your fucking fault!”

 

Liar!

 

Liar!

 

“Stop lying to me!” Izuku shrieked, and his voice modulator caused the sound to be amplified.

 

Dabi reared back at the noise, and his scent rapidly filled up with aggression, an alpha’s natural response to any sort of insubordination. 

 

Good.

 

Hit me! Izuku screamed in his mind. Yell at me! Hit me!

 

And then —

 

“I’m not fucking lying to you!”

 

Caught in the passion of the argument, Dabi slashed out at the air, and —

 

His hand caught fire.

 

Blue flames lit up the dim workshop in a dazzling display of color.

 

And Izuku —

 

Izuku had said that he wanted Dabi to hurt him.

 

In a strange way, the whole situation would have made more sense to Izuku if the anti-hero had just fucking hit him.

 

Izuku understood angry alphas.

 

His fucking father was an angry alpha.

 

Izuku knew that alphas hurt things when they were angry. But then they’d calm down.

 

So —

 

Izuku wanted Dabi to hurt him. 

 

Because then Dabi would calm down and stop being mad at him. They could go back to the way it used to be. Those blissful three weeks where Izuku and Dabi just coexisted with each other, snarking and sassing and not overcomplicating things .

 

Where Izuku could irritate the alpha, and Dabi would irritate him back, not tense up and try to pity him.

 

Izuku didn’t like that.

 

He wished Dabi would just hit him and get it over with so they could move on with their dynamics.

 

So when Dabi unleashed his quirk —

 

Izuku should have been happy.

 

He should have accepted it stoically the way he’d always done.

 

It wasn’t like Dabi was going to kill him.

 

At the very worst, he’d get 2nd-degree burns.

 

He could handle that. They always healed after ten days.

 

And then Dabi wouldn’t be angry with him.

 

Izuku and Dabi could be allies again. Partners-in-crime.

 

They could talk again.

 

Izuku could tease him, and Dabi would tease him back.

 

He’d get his adrenaline rush from vexing the alpha, and he’d get Dabi’s powerful quirk too.

 

A win-win situation.

 

All would be well.

 

And yet —

 

When Dabi’s hand lit up, and the flames grew closer and closer —

 

He ran.

 


 

Izuku realized distantly that he was dissociating again.

 

It had been a while since he’d fallen into that state.

 

Ever since he’d met Dabi, he hadn’t felt that familiar pull towards apathy.

 

The alpha made Izuku feel present. His blood pumped whenever they traded insults, and he’d never felt more euphoric than when they’d burned down The Bird’s Nest together. When he was with Dabi, Izuku was finally human. Alive. 

 

He could joke around, using memes or funny quips he’d found on the Internet, or tease Dabi about his rage problems or his drug dealing. He could fight next to the man, assured that Dabi wouldn’t turn on him due to their partnership, and know that Dabi not only believed Izuku was capable and worthy of respect but sometimes feared Izuku as well.

 

To Dabi, Izuku was an equal.

 

He liked that.

 

All his life, Izuku had been inferior to the people around him.

 

To his father’s enemies, Izuku was feared, but to his father and the rest of his empire, Izuku was just a tool.

 

A weapon.

 

Powerful, but ultimately less than .

 

He’d thought Dabi was different.

 

Dabi was a dangerous anti-hero, revered by many due to his deadly quirk, and thought that Izuku, a quirkless preteen, was his equal.

 

Or —

 

He used to think Izuku was his equal.

 

Because now Dabi thought he was lesser.

 

Why? Izuku thought quietly, swinging from building to building to get to the meeting place. He’d be a couple of minutes late, but at this moment, he didn’t care.

 

Dabi seemed so insistent on Izuku’s age.

 

Why did it matter?

 

Izuku was just as capable as Dabi despite that.

 

They used to be partners.

 

They burned down a building and killed over thirty people using the plan Izuku created.

 

How could Dabi think Izuku was deficient after that?

 

If Dabi had told Izuku what he had done wrong in the first place, this never would have happened.

 

Izuku would be able to fix it, and then everything would be normal again.

 

But Dabi thought Izuku was too inferior to him, so he wouldn’t admit the truth.

 

And now Izuku was alone.

 

It was the right thing to do.

 

Izuku wasn’t inferior because of his age or lack of quirk.

 

Izuku was smart . He was smart , and he fixed things. 

 

He used to be a living weapon underneath his father’s thumb.

 

Izuku wasn’t weak, so he left.

 

It was the only option, but —

 

He didn’t like it.

 

Dabi was so interesting.

 

Everything about him was so painfully human, and Izuku wanted to bask in his glory for just a chance to uncover how someone so similar to Izuku could be so alive when Izuku struggled with that concept every day.


Dabi was his favorite adrenaline fix. He made Izuku feel real.

 

But then Dabi thought Izuku wasn’t his equal anymore, so Izuku had to leave.

 

Bereft of the alpha’s influence, Izuku easily fell back into that all too familiar numbness that carried him throughout his life under his father’s control.

 

The world was so far away from him now.

 

He knew his wires were pulling him through the air, but he couldn’t feel them.

 

It was a windy October night, but Izuku couldn’t register the chill that seeped in through his clothes.

 

How far did he have to fly until he made it to the meeting place?

 

How long had it been since Izuku ran away from Dabi?

 

Izuku didn’t know, but unlike before, he wasn’t afraid of not knowing.

 

He wasn’t able to be afraid when he dissociated. Probably why it was so common back with his father. No matter what happened to Izuku, he wasn’t able to feel it.

 

Still, so far away from existence, Izuku knew that he needed to break out of this dissociation.

 

He would be meeting with Eraserhead soon.

 

Eraserhead, despite making a deal with Izuku, was still an unknown variable.

 

Izuku couldn’t afford to be vulnerable.

 

So he used up whatever willpower was left in this feeble state of mind and clenched his molars as hard as he could against the skin of his inner cheek.

 

The pain usually knocked him out of his dissociation.

 

Usually, he would bang his head against a wall or cut a bit of his flesh with a knife, but he was currently in mid-flight, so his hands were occupied.

 

The skin in his mouth would have to do. 

 

It wasn’t Izuku’s preferred way to force himself out of dissociation, as it didn’t trigger his pain responses easily, but it was the only thing he could possibly do with both of his arms being used to aim his wires.

 

His teeth broke into his skin.

 

It wasn’t enough. Izuku still felt fuzzy.

 

He could see the meeting place now. The rooftop in District 11 where he’d stumbled upon the Underground Hero and proposed the deal was empty aside from one shadowed figure perched along its railing. Izuku needed to stop dissociating and fast .

 

Impatient as ever, Izuku sucked a large portion of his cheek into the space between his back teeth and crunched.

 

Blood poured into his mouth, and a piece of the flesh lay on his tongue, bitten away and cut off.

 

Nerve endings flared in response.

 

Izuku blinked —

 

And he was back down to earth.

 

He aimed his wires and landed a considerable distance away from Eraserhead. 

 

If the man suddenly decided to betray him, he’d be able to have a running start.

 

“You’re late,” The Pro Hero scolded harshly, glaring at him from between his yellow goggles.

 

Izuku swallowed the puddle currently filling up his mouth, along with the serrated chunk of skin.

 

“Caught up with a friend,” Izuku explained mildly.

 

The Erasure Hero hopped down from his perch and stood back to his full height.

 

“Other vigilantes?” The man asked dryly. His body was tense, although he tried to hide it. “Maybe even an anti-hero?”

 

Izuku smiled behind his mask, casually gulping down yet another mouthful of blood. “Clever,” He remarked, his tone making it quite obvious he believed the opposite. “But you won’t get anything from me, Eraserhead.”

 

“We know you worked with Blueflame,” Eraserhead accused. “Decided to leave vigilantism behind? You’re already skirting the line.”

 

Izuku huffed out air through his nostrils, amused by the man’s indignation. “No, no. I’m content with my occupation.”

 

“I’ve worked with vigilantes,” Eraserhead sneered, “and none of them behave like you, Spider.”

 

“There’s no one like me but me,” Izuku claimed pleasantly. “Yes, I’m a bit more off-putting than some of your colleagues, but at the end of the day, our deeds are the same.”

 

“Vigilantes work outside the law, but they still uphold it.” Eraserhead’s eyes flashed red for a brief second. “How would you explain The Bird’s Nest then?”

 

“I didn’t murder anyone that night.” Izuku waved away the comment. He’d heard this spiel before, and it was still as boring and thoughtless as it used to be. “It was more an act of self-defense in that regard.”

 

“So Blueflame killed them.” Eraserhead nodded his head, but he didn’t look pleased. “It wouldn’t be the first time he’s committed acts of murder.”

 

Izuku fought to relax his posture at the mention of Dabi. “I can neither confirm nor deny those charges. I was attacked by a guard and defended myself accordingly, so I’m afraid I was unable to see most of what happened that night. Like I said before, you won’t get anything from me, Eraserhead.”

 

The man gritted his teeth in annoyance. “How convenient. And here I thought you knew everything.”

 

Izuku giggled at the idea, and Eraserhead tensed even more at the sound. “I don’t know everything, Eraserhead. That’s impossible.”

 

“Then how do you know who I am?” The Pro Hero snapped, stepping forward threateningly. 

 

Eraserhead seemed quite upset with him.

 

He was still mad about that?

 

“I told you, I’m smart.”

 

He was.

 

No matter what Dabi thought.

 

“There’s no way you were able to find that out by yourself,” Eraserhead scowled, and his hair began to sway due to his aggression. “Blueflame doesn’t hack, so do you have other little psycho friends helping you, Spider?”

 

Izuku was somewhat insulted by the idea.

 

“I work alone,” Izuku stated blandly. “Why do you think otherwise?”

 

“Because my files were encrypted by Nezu himself,” The Underground Hero hissed in outrage. “It’s literally impossible for you to have hacked it alone!”

 

… Nezu, huh?

 

“Oh, that explains why it took me a month …” Izuku cupped his masked chin, humming thoughtfully. “Interesting.”

 

“Interesting?” Eraserhead repeated incredulously. “You’re trying to convince me that hacking into Nezu’s handiwork was interesting?”

 

Izuku nodded absentmindedly. “I should have known that it was his encryptions … I guess I was too concerned with the final result. My bad.”

 

“I can’t fucking believe you.” The dark-haired man shook his head firmly. “How did you figure out my alias? Does Blueflame have something to do with this?”

 

Izuku scowled at the thought. “Blueflame has nothing to do with this. It took me around a month to hack into your files, Eraserhead, and I worked alone.”

 

“How am I supposed to believe that?” Eraserhead barked. “Nezu is the smartest being in Japan. It’s illogical for some random vigilante to crack his code!”

 

Izuku tilted his head, trying not to remember how Dabi once remarked on how ominous the action looked. “One , Eraserhead. Nezu is one of the smartest beings in Japan.”

 

“And you’re trying to tell me that you’re just as smart as the creature with a literal intelligence quirk?”

 

“How else can I know?” Izuku asked honestly. “I’m not exactly pressured to convince you, but I do know the relationship between you and Tsukauchi-san. That’s not on your files if you remember.”

 

“Guesswork,” Eraserhead gritted out, eyes flashing red once again. “I often call Tsukauchi to handle my arrests. We’ve spoken before at crime scenes. It isn’t a leap of logic to assume a partnership between us.”

 

“Yeah, yeah. We’re partners-in-crime, aren’t we?”

 

Izuku brushed away the momentary lapse in concentration. “What else do you want, Eraserhead? I’m genuinely confused as to what you want from me, exactly.”

 

“Something concrete, damn it!” Eraserhead exclaimed, his fists clenched tight.

 

Alright then.


If he said so, then —

 

“Aizawa Shouta. Age 27. First gender: male, with the secondary designation omega. Pro Underground Hero known as Eraserhead. Quirk: Erasure, which nullifies someone’s quirk for as long as you stare at them. It does not work on mutation-type quirks. You failed the U.A. Entrance Exam and were placed in General Studies until you transferred due to your win in the Sports Festival. Your win caught the attention of Nezu, the homeroom teacher for Class I-A at the time, and he mentored you for the duration of your high school experience. You graduated summa cum laude and worked for Phantom Agency, an agency solely for Underground Heroics. This is your second year teaching Class I-A as their homeroom teacher, and you have already failed forty-seven of your students. You were born in District 8 and were given up for foster care when your quirk registered at age five. You currently live in District 3 on the third floor of the Matasumi Condominiums.”

 

There it was.

 

The answer to Eraserhead’s unasked question. 

 

The Pro Hero had desperately wanted to see what else Izuku gleaned from him, obviously terrified that he may have known more than just his hero name. Unfortunately, Izuku knew even more than what he had just admitted. He chose not to say it, certain that telling the man that he knew about his husband and friends wouldn’t endear him to the Underground Hero.

 

Eraserhead froze when Izuku said his name, and he hadn’t moved an inch since.

 

The rooftop was silent.

 

Elsewhere, a car started blaring its horn.

 

Eraserhead and Izuku stared at one another, assessing each other, waiting to see what the other would do next.

 

Izuku said and did nothing.

 

He’d done all he’d needed to.

 

Finally, Eraserhead said —

 

“What do you want from me.”

 

It wasn’t a question.

 

Eraserhead’s dark eyes were pained as if each admission from Izuku had physically hurt him.

 

Izuku quickly realized what the Underground Hero meant.

 

“I don’t want anything from you aside from what we agreed in our deal,” Izuku explained calmly, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible, which was, admittedly, a little hard. “I’ve known your identity for four years, Eraserhead — and I’ve never told a soul.”

 

“How can I trust that.” The man looked defeated .

 

And —

 

Izuku may have severely disliked Eraserhead, but he didn’t want him dead .

 

Eraserhead did a lot of good in Musutafu.

 

“Have you or your loved ones recently been attacked by any of your enemies outside of hero work?” Izuku questioned gently.

 

Eraserhead apathetically shook his head. He was almost childish in the action.

 

Izuku noticed the darkness ringing his eyes.

 

How long had Eraserhead been dreading this moment?

 

Had he stayed up at night wondering this?

 

That —

 

That seemed pretty bad .

 

“Then there you go,” Izuku quietly said. “I haven’t revealed any of your information, and I don’t plan to in the near future.”

 

“But … why?” Eraserhead asked, exhaustion clinging to his words.

 

Izuku smiled, and it was just a little bit sad.

 

Why, indeed.

 

Why was Izuku doing any of this?

 

Even when Izuku tried to do good, he ended up being bad.

 

Take Dabi for example.

 

Izuku tried to give the man something that meant safety and comfort to Izuku and ended up screwing over their entire partnership.

 

And although he didn’t regret a single moment burning down The Bird’s Nest, his life had become increasingly more difficult since he’d done so.

 

Before The Bird’s Nest, Izuku had been just another nameless vigilante cruising through the outer districts.

 

He’d punch a couple of criminals, save a few people, then eventually crawl back down into the sewers — back to that little alcove where he made his first nest.

 

And before even that —

 

Izuku had been with his father.

 

Not human.

 

Not alive.

 

Just existing.

 

For a split second, Izuku yearned once again for that simplicity.

 

The world had become so complicated again.

 

Izuku had just been born around two months ago! He thought that he was done being confused about himself.

 

Was this what being human entailed?

 

All of this — stress? Never knowing what the right decision was?

 

Everything was so difficult again.

 

It felt like he had been pushed right back to the start, worrying about whether to eat a fruit pouch or a granola bar.

 

This —

 

This fucking sucked.

 

Izuku’s mouth stung, and his stomach hurt.

 

He didn’t feel good.

 

Dabi was angry with him for some unknown reason and thought Izuku was inferior.

 

Eraserhead kept causing problems for him on patrols and always made him question his morality.

 

Why couldn’t they just stop?

 

Izuku was smart, but he didn’t know everything!

 

He was trying , god fucking damn it!

 

He wanted to be good.

 

Why couldn’t they see that he was just trying to be good?

 

He just wanted to be good …

 

Please …

 

Please let him be good …

 

“Do you not have a name?”

 

“Okay … I’m gonna call you Izuku! It’s a good name, huh?”

 

“You don’t have to be lonely anymore. I’m here, okay?”

 

“Have you ever seen the Tokyo Tower? That’s alright, I’ll take you there when we get older.”

 

“Can I hold your hand, Izuku? I promise I’ll be careful!”

 

“You’re really pretty, Izuku … Do you know that?”

 

“Everyone says that you’re useless, but that doesn’t matter to me. You’re mine, remember?”

 

“I’ll take care of you when we grow up. I’ll be in charge, and I’ll make sure you’re happy. I’ll be a good alpha, and you’ll be my good omega.”

 

“You promise you won’t leave me, right? Everyone leaves me.”

 

“I love you, Izuku. You’re mine, okay? That means you can’t leave me.”

 

“You’re mine, Izuku. Say it. Say you’re mine or I’ll get angry.”

 

“I’m gonna be in charge, so you can’t leave me. You can’t leave.”

 

“I’ll make you happy, Izuku. You’re so good to me.”

 

“I love you so, so much …”

 

“Say you’re mine? I don’t mean to get angry … I just love you so much, and I get scared.”

 

“You’re mine, Izuku. You can’t leave me, and I’ll never leave you.”

 

“Back in the old days, alphas used to give their omegas collars. It would show everyone that the omega was theirs.”

 

“Hold still.”

 

“I love you, remember?! I love you so much, Izuku. I love you so, so much.”

 

“Look … I gave you the perfect collar.”

 

“Isn’t it pretty, Izuku?”

 

“You’re so good, Izuku … so, so good … all mine, okay? All of you belongs to me …”

 

 

i̸̜̠̖̱̩̻͆̆̃̃̊̓͆̿̈́͝ť̴̢̧̗̭͍̗̠̦͓̟͌͌̍̓̈́́̈̄͌̃͂͝ ̵̹͓̳̤̥͖͎͙̲͇͈̯͍̔̍͒̍̓͋̍͑̎͗͜͠ḧ̸̬́̊̅͜͠u̴̯̅̑̾̎̽̒͑̕̕͝͠r̴̨̰̥̹̠̪̠̹̯̯̩̣͓͛̀͘ṱ̶̥̯̮̝̬̤̼̑̽̈̆̅̈́̑̆̋͝͝s̵̢̲̥̆̂͆̓̿̋͛̍͗̽̋̿̚ ̵͇̬̪̳̰̭̏̒͆͜į̸̛̛̬͈̲͍͈̲̻̣̑̅͐̾̍̋͛̄̿̄͛̕͠t̶̡̧̪̹͙̰͍͕͓̖̠͍̳̦̦̐ ̶̮̝̗̯̥͇̾͒͘ͅh̸͇̓͗̉͌͘u̴̧̼̲̺̘̯̩͕̟̮̅̓̓̿̓̽̆̾̌̾͋͊̎͝ŗ̸̛̻̰̘̠̰̮͖͈̝͂͂͑͠͝ṭ̵̢̧̥̺̲̼̣̣̇͑̅̑̋͛̈́͛̈́̓͑͝͝s̵̛̳͙̹̽̿͒͑̉͋̇̉̚̚ ̶͇͛̉̀́̿̓̿̊̃͝ͅḭ̴̧͚̍͆͛̆̏͑̇͌̂̂̈́͒̚͝ţ̶̨͎̲̱̣̰̤̥͇̦̜̈́̎̂̓̈͆̃̕͘̚̚͜͜ ̴̧͚̪͖̭̩̪͎͚̖̥͋̅h̸̝̱̩͂͆͋̅̋̒̇̽̋̅̽̒ư̵̮̰̘͇̠̪̏̓̄̍͗̃͒͒̑̾͂̆r̷͖͇̖͖̰̗̘̭͇̲͓̯͛̑̈́̋̉̌̏̚͝ţ̷͕̠͙̜̙͓͈͚̥͓̓̕ş̷̢̧̪͍̫̩̳͕̰̦̘̰͇͑́̄͗͒͝ͅ ̵̡̣̱͕̹̝͖̜̇̋̋̔͝i̸̙̜̼̫̜̺̥̹̰̳̬͚̇͒̄̾͛̓̍̽͗͐̚̕t̶̡̛̛̖͍̜̺͇̤̜̬̲͗́̌̃͋̎̔̈́͠ ̴̖̂̇̈́̆̂͐̇͌͝͝ḧ̷̼̰̠̲̝͙̳͚͙́̑͂̉͠u̷̧̩̲͓͂̑̔̿̒̆͋̈́̂̑͒̚͝͠r̶̡̨͈̩͉͚̗̙͕̯̞̻̀̑̑̀͂͜͜t̵̢̫͇̯͇̭̦̗̦̗̫͜ș̷̨̣̦̯̬̠͖͊͋͆͐͂͊͆̂̌̅͑̿̚̕͜͜ ̵͙̯̥̫̙͚͉̩͕́̍̎̿̃͗̋̎̊̑̽͂͝i̸̘̦̗̎̇͛̓͑̋̏͑͗̈́͐̀̈́͘t̸͇̅̓̋̎̊̚͝ ̵̢͎̬͔̯͉͇̩̙̤̱̼̎ͅḩ̶̛̤̬͒́̈́̽̑͊͌̋̽̕͜͝ų̵̱͎̩̭̗̓̏̓̽͠ͅr̶̤͈̼̮͉̈́t̶̩̲͙͕̩̝̫̻̘͓͕̘̎̈́̏͒́͋̚̕͘͜͝͠s̴̢̯̥̲͔̱̞̗̘̯̥͙̒̄̓͠͝




Izuku sighed.

 

His neck was beginning to hurt again.

 

Winter must be coming sooner than later.

 

“Because it’s the right thing to do, Eraserhead,” He answered quietly, ignoring the way his skin felt like it wanted to crawl off from his body. “Because it’s good.”

 

Eraserhead stared at him mutely.

 

Izuku waited for him to say something more, but the man didn’t open his mouth.

 

Izuku shook his head, too tired to press.

 

“Come on, then. Let’s begin the patrol.”

Chapter Text

Either Eraserhead was a naturally quiet man, or the admission of Izuku’s genius was a little too startling for the man’s brain to comprehend.

 

He hadn’t spoken a single word since Izuku and he had taken off into the night.

 

If Izuku couldn’t hear the man’s footfalls or breathing, he’d have assumed the Pro Hero had simply vanished into thin air. And when Izuku would glance back at him for the confirmation of his existence, it honestly looked like Eraserhead wanted to disappear too.

 

His face was pinched into tight displeasure, and he seemed to apply a little extra force when flinging out his capture scarf, much akin to a boxer attacking a punching bag when they had a rough day at work.

 

He looked a little constipated too, but Izuku wasn’t able to say that out loud.

 

It most likely wouldn’t endear him to the Underground Hero, if the way his eyes were trained on Izuku’s form, waiting for a backstab that wouldn’t happen. Eraserhead was probably itching for any excuse to call their deal off and handcuff Izuku once and for all.

 

It was almost like the hero wanted Izuku to turn on him.

 

Well — too bad.

 

Izuku’s entire life revolved around disappointing shitty adults.

 

He was proud to do it again.

 

If Eraserhead wanted this patrol to proceed in silence, then Izuku would grant his wish.

 

Besides, it gave him more time to analyze the hero without interruptions.

 

For an omega, Eraserhead was incredibly tall. Most omegas tended to be around 5’2’’-5’6’’, but the man was up to 6’’ tall. Abnormal for his biology, especially when paired with the sparse scruff lining his jaw and upper lip.

 

Most omegas couldn’t grow facial hair at all. For Eraserhead to not only have the capacity to grow facial hair but to sport a decent scruff around his face was … kind of surprising, to be honest.

 

It must have had something to do with the amount of testosterone and dynasterone in the man’s body, Izuku pondered to himself. If the two gender hormones were imbalanced in Eraserhead’s body, then it would explain his uncommon height and facial hair.

 

When quirks first evolved some three hundred to four hundred years ago, doctors noticed a new hormone originating as well. It closely resembled that of testosterone and estrogen, although it seemed to produce new physical traits that were completely opposed to that of the previous sex hormones. After further investigation, doctors and scientists deduced that there were three sub-categories within the newly-christened dynasterone hormone.

 

They decided to refer to the sub-categories as A-dynasterone, B-dynasterone, and O-dynasterone, after their strange similarities to the alpha, beta, and omega dynamics within canine packs. When speaking in broad terms, the word dynasterone was commonly used to identify all three sub-categories.

 

(Izuku honestly wondered what those scientists and doctors were thinking, naming the new hormone after a study that had been proven false as long as the 1980’s — there was no such thing as alpha, beta, or omega wolves in the wild, as the wolves that propelled the theory of dynamics were captive wolves in zoo enclosures)

 

As quirks persisted, so too did the dynasterone hormone. The two were originally mild and often fell under the radar, with the first public quirk simply being that of a baby glowing in the dark and the first case of dynasterone starting off as a highly-developed sense of smell. Their moderate side effects did not last for long, however, and both quirks and so-called “second genders” became prevalent on a wide scale.

 

Eventually, the dynasterone hormone completely changed the regular genome of humanity. In the blink of an eye, people not only gained meta-human abilities from quirks but also sub-genders from dynasterone.

 

It hadn’t been an easy change, however. 

 

People with quirks and second genders were heavily discriminated against during the start of their evolution. Hate crimes and bigotry were commonplace during that time period. It was only after most of mankind developed a quirk or a second gender did the prejudicial laws change for the better. Even then some hatred was still left behind, mutating to fit with the changing society around them.

 

Omegas were the most common target.

 

It was relatively easy for some backwater fucks to shift their senseless hatred of women towards those with the O-dynasterone. Although O-dynasterone was a separate hormone from estrogen, the effects of O-dynasterone were similar enough to estrogen to produce stereotypically “feminine” traits in the holder.

 

Those with the O-dynasterone hormone tended to be the shortest out of the three sub-categories. Most were unable to grow facial hair, as the growth migrated to the hair follicles on their scalps. Their bodies were physically less strong than the others and their emotional sensitivity was heightened due to the effects within the body. Increased fertility was another trait found within the O-dynasterone hormone, eventually leading up to what was called a heat cycle .

 

Most damning of all, males carrying the O-dynasterone hormone, or omegas for short, had reproductive organs and sterile semen.

 

Clearly — read the sarcasm — that exposed the unnatural existence of omegas!

 

Omegas faced severe discrimination in the early beginnings of their evolution. They were either seen as disgusting abominations of hell or submissive baby machines. Omegas were not allowed to attend any sort of higher education outside of grade school in order to perfect their housekeeping duties, and some were even imprisoned for walking outside in “shameful” attire that exposed “unnecessary” skin.

 

It became an omega’s sole duty to find a responsible mate (Preferably an alpha — the sub-gender with the most “masculine” traits) and raise their litter. Without a mate, an omega was either worthless or open for the taking.

 

Claiming marks became the new engagement/wedding rings. A single bite on someone’s scent glands — usually on the neck — would change the pheromones of the receiver, forever mixing them with the scent of whoever marked them and leaving behind a permanent scar. Every second gender was able to mark, although it was heavily discouraged for omegas to. Apparently, its effects gave too much power.

 

There were other ways to establish control over an omega.

 

Back in the early start of dynasterone evolution, omegas were often collared.

 

It was a step above a regular claiming mark.

 

It signified total domination over the omega in question.

 

Complete submission.

 

Absolute rule.

 

It went out of style once pro-omega laws and activism started gaining popularity.

 

Nowadays omegas were treated pretty similarly to pre-quirk era women.

 

Not a crime to exist, but not without its difficulties. 

 

Most had forgotten the existence of collars due to the passing of time.

 

Only history books kept their mentions …

 

“Isn’t it pretty, Izuku?”




s̶̟̳̦̯̼͓͕̪̠͛̐͒͛̅͌̇̊͜t̸̡̛͔̥͈̖̹̱͍̟̦̬̻͎̯͓̅̏͑̍̾͌̀͠ö̸̙͈͍̦͍̀̐͐p̷̡̣̠̣̖̜̼̠̣̺̃̈̅̍̊̐̊̎̈́͐̍̿̎ ̴̧̘̽̂̍͂į̸̧̹͕͍͕̪̼̩̗̹͔̓̅̈̇̈̿͋͜ͅt̵̛̖͔̝̱̮̬͉͈̹̐̂̇̀͂̋̽̏̆̇͘͠ ̷̛̘̯̥̖͎͛͑̐̒̏̾͗̾̍̇͛̚͘ͅͅl̷̨̮̮̱̜͍͓̪̜͚̹̉̐̐͌̈́̋́e̸̖̔̎͛̄̌̊̃̐̀̏̏̀͠t̴̨̨̛̩̘͔͕̗̪̲̩̠͙̑̈̈͊̑̉̿̓̑̉͠͠ ̵̛̯̬͔̗̥͌͗̍̍̒̉̄̄̈́̔̍̚͘m̶̢̧̢̡̫͙͙͓͙͚̝͖̠̒̇̈̊̔̄͊͆͑̍ë̶̗́͗̄̇̄͗́̆̉̃̽̈́͂ ̷̛̦͔̃̓͑̔̄̿̍̍̈́̎͝g̵̟̜̰̩̖̟̖͖̪̑̏̉́̆̏̇̔́͝o̵̡̢̡̳̙̤͕̙̬̬͆͐͂͊͝͠ ̴̡͖̩͈̖͇̪̻̪̱̯͔̉̑̎ͅl̸̙̭̣̖̺͎̘̹͙͖̗̺̰̒͗͋͂̉͜͝ͅę̸̝̯̪̙͇̪͎̠͌̏t̶̡̘͉̮͍̼̖̱̦̫̙̞̘̆͊̒͒͆̽̈̃̓̏͂͋͘͘ ̴̧̨̡̖̲̻̳̣͇͖̂̃͐͒͋̈́͊̂ͅm̵̢̡̦̗͎͍͔̝͇̼̼̖̻͉̿͂͆͜͝e̸̗̩̟̔͑̑̉̈́̈́̽͘͠ ̸̨̨̖̙̦̬̲̙̆̽̃̍̆͐̌̾̽͌ǵ̵̢̝ȯ̶̡͝͝ ̶̫̭͚̳͕̅͌̆͋̐͌̕ͅi̷̧̢̙̝̭̙̝̘̣̹̪͌̑̋͜ͅṯ̵͈͕͚̞̮͇͙̯̼̠̟̭̬̈́ͅ ̴̼͎̝̝̻̺̥̻̺̜̭̙̂̓͜h̴̝̲̝̜̙͈̼̭̠̙͍̙̱̗͒̈́̽̂̒ͅu̴̧̧̡̗̮͇͙̙̱̝̻͗̔͑̓̐̇͐̿̈r̴̠̟̽͌͊̉̄̄̇̒̾͛̋̈́t̸̫͓͈͎̻̃̃s̷͔̯͇̺̭͈̰͖͔̦̰̿͑́̃̂͜͝ ̴̢̀͑̅s̶̛̙̮̩̠͉͓̤̣̣̠̯͍̾͒͐̈́̉͒̾̍̍̈̕͘͜͠ͅt̶̪̲̠͕̉̄́͐̆̑̔̀͒̈́͆̕ơ̷̲͚̺̝͍̩͕͎̬̋͐̊̏̑͗̓̒p̷͔̰͔̳̝͔̅̽̈́͊̀̾̏̚ ̵̨͈̟͓̼̯̈́̔̆͊̈́̈̊̂͊̕͠͝s̶͙̘̘͔͆̌͋̿̾̆̌̎̾͒̈́͘t̷̢̧̡̺̘͍̲̯̹̹̭̍̏̔͝ộ̴̟͔̺͐̈̈͊̿̓̿͆̈́̚͠͠͝p̵̨̛͙͉̙̘̃͑͋̍̊͘͠ ̴̡̼͊̈͛̎̌͗̉̈́̇̅͠s̶̛͍̫̞̬̝̺͚̹̰͉͔̥͐̽͌t̷̠̬̗͖̤͕͔̻̫͚͌͑̒͌͌̈͑͐̀̒͑͘ͅȍ̸͔̖̰͉̯͎͎̱̍̅͑̏̊̈́͋͑̈́̈́̕͝p̵̡̰̹̲̳̞͔̆͜

 

 

Focus, Izuku!

 

For a brief second, the call of the void seemed deliciously tempting. He felt it whispering to him, urging him to sink back into the murky depths of dissociation. He resisted it.

 

Not now.

 

Izuku was still too vulnerable.

 

Gnawing on the broken skin of his cheek helped somewhat.

 

Still, he swallowed unconsciously mid-swing. His throat was spasming a bit.

 

Phantom pain, probably.

 

Winter was definitely coming at a much faster rate than last year. The ache always got worse in the cold …

 

He’d have to warm up a water bottle when he got back to his apartment. Maybe if he wrapped it up in a sock and placed it on his neck, the heat would soothe some of the winter’s effects.

 

Yeah.

 

Yeah, that sounded smart.

 

What had he been thinking about again?

 

Oh, right. Eraserhead’s atypical omega traits.

 

He must have lost his train of thought …

 

Moving on

 

If Eraserhead had an imbalance of testosterone and dynasterone in his system, that would explain some of his unconventional physical traits.

 

The biology of second genders had never really interested Izuku as much as quirks, but he was still intrigued enough by his theory to calculate the probability of Eraserhead acquiescing to donate a bit of his blood to Izuku for further investigation.

 

Less than 15%, most likely.

 

Damn.

 

No use crying over spilled milk, though!

 

Aside from some of Eraserhead’s unique attributes regarding his second gender, he was an incredibly normal-looking Japanese man. His hair was shaggy, reaching past his shoulders, and a natural black. His eyes were sharply angled and dark brown whenever he wasn’t emitting his quirk, which painted them an intense glowing red. His skin was so pale Izuku wondered if he had ever seen the light of day.

 

He wasn’t as alluring as most omegas tended to be (His features were a bit too sharp for that), but he would’ve been a decently attractive man had it not been for his obvious exhaustion.

 

Now, make no mistake!

 

Izuku was well-versed in the art of insomnia. 

 

His eye-bags were designer-made, remember?

 

He knew he didn’t look fresh as a daisy underneath his goggles, but he had been trained to sleep less than an ordinary person out on the streets. On good nights, Izuku had about three to four hours of sleep interspersed with some naps throughout the day without feeling any sort of withdrawal. In all honesty, Izuku probably could handle less sleep with the training he endured, but he knew it was healthier to include an extra one or two-hour duration.

 

But Eraserhead just looked tired.

 

His eyelids were sunken in, dusted in purple and blue circles, with reddened, irritated sclera. 

 

Pair that with his baggy jumpsuit, and Eraserhead ended up looking like a particularly pissed-off homeless dude who’d look more at home sticking a needle in his arm in some shitty alleyway than jumping from rooftop-to-rooftop as a Pro Underground Hero.

 

Izuku was a bit surprised at how modest the man’s clothing was though. Society had come such a long way since the beginning of the hormone evolution that it wasn’t completely uncommon for an omega to become a Pro Hero, but it was especially rare in the Underground scene. The work was extremely hazardous, even for betas and alphas, and most omegas in the Underground tended to focus on honeypot missions.

 

Not Eraserhead, obviously. The omega was a capture-and-pursuit hero.

 

And besides, Izuku respectfully didn’t believe that Eraserhead’s current appearance was up-to-date on the sexy scale. He thought this whilst he eyed the omega’s jumpsuit, noticing a stain on his arm of what could have been either ketchup or blood.

 

Yeah … Izuku didn’t think Eraserhead was the seducing type.

 

He barely even noticed when the man opened his mouth, his head strangely lost in the clouds.

 

“How did you get Tsukauchi’s phone number?” The Pro Hero asked, breaking through the silence of their patrol. “You work in the outer districts. How do you know so much about a District 5 detective?”

 

Izuku briefly turned his head to glance at the man, but his onyx eyes didn’t shift towards Izuku, too focused on the swing of his capture scarf. Izuku hummed in response and aimed his wrists at an exposed pipe on the next building, feeling the cold air bite into his cheeks as he sailed with his wires’ motions.

 

“Hmm ~” He didn’t turn back again, as he was certain the Underground Hero was following after him. “Well, I figured out you and Tsukauchi-san had history early enough. Undergrounders are possessive over their favorite officers, yeah? And at that time, no other police department knew I existed until you started hunting me down …”

 

Eraserhead grunted as he jumped to the next roof. “So?”

 

“It wasn’t a logical leap to assume that you were working on the orders of someone else,” Izuku remarked casually, deftly dodging some stray air conditioning vent.

 

Eraserhead huffed in frustration as the two continued running through the rooftops of District 11. “Quite a bold assumption.”

 

“Actually, it wasn’t very bold at all.” Izuku was happy to point out, relishing in the effect of his words on Eraserhead’s pinched face. “You aren’t some low-level patroller. As the most infamous Underground Hero, your services are needed for sensitive missions in Musutafu central or abroad. You’ve dabbled in the outer districts, Eraserhead, but you definitely aren’t a familiar face. So why on earth would you suddenly decide to chase down an innocent vigilante in the slums?”

 

“You are not innocent by any means of the word,” Eraserhead gritted out and swung his scarf out to follow him across an alleyway.

 

“Potato-potahto.” Izuku waved the man’s words away. “Before you so rudely cut me off, the point was that you had to be instructed by someone else to catch me. And since that would take time out of your oh-so-busy schedule, it had to be someone you trusted. Someone you believed you owed.”

 

“And you automatically thought that it was Tsukauchi?”

 

“Don’t undermine my genius.” Izuku’s grin was sharp behind his mask. “No other police department knew about my existence, but District 5’s was connected to one of my cases. Kudos to Tsukauchi-san for figuring out there was a new vigilante in the outer districts, by the way. That was remarkably clever of him.”

 

“Dangou Danjiro,” Eraserhead breathed out, shock lacing his words.

 

Izuku chuckled low, ducking underneath an awning as he soared through the October air. “That’s the one. What a piece of shit, right?”

 

Izuku laughed a bit, whilst Eraserhead was silent beside him, still processing the new information. “Dangou got what was coming for him in the end though. Such a fucking weakling.”

 

The word was snarled for emphasis, and it came across particularly sinister through his voice modulator. 

 

“ … Then I led you right to Tsukauchi.” The man’s voice was riddled with guilt. Like Izuku was already writing down the detective’s obituary.

 

God fucking —!

 

When was this guy going to stop making Izuku out to be some fucking villain?

 

He had told Eraserhead time and time again that he was in no way interested in using his knowledge against the man unprompted.

 

He had patrolled the outer districts’ streets for a full year, fighting against its criminal underbelly and protecting innocent people from becoming victim statistics .

 

The one-time Izuku had, in a roundabout way, killed since his emancipation was with The Bird’s Nest.

 

And, if it wasn’t stressed enough —

 

They were fucking pedophile murderers actively participating in a child trafficking auction!

 

But, no!

 

Izuku was still just a villain!

 

badbadbadbadbadbadbadbad

 

No matter how many times he tried to be good, Izuku was always bad.

 

wannabegoodgoodgoodbutstillbadbad 

 

He was just some stupid fucking villain who only ruined peoples’ lives by trying to fucking atone for his past actions through vigilantism, by burning down a building that held goddamn child molesters, and by giving his closest and only ally one of the only fucking things that actually made him feel fucking safe in the world —!

 

Izuku clamped down on the flesh of his lips and tore through the skin easily.

 

Blood spurted from the injury in response.

 

Izuku’s next breath was shaky but stable.

 

Good enough.

 

Focus, Izuku.

 

Just breathe …

 

“You didn’t lead me to shit,” Izuku snapped harshly. “You’re not as important as you think you are, Mr. Pro Hero. If Tsukauchi-san continued to investigate me, I’d have found him regardless of your involvement. You’re not my priority; your connections to Tsukauchi-san are.

 

“Then why are you out making deals with me when you have the ability to just call the detective on his damn cellphone?” Eraserhead bit back, glaring at him briefly before his capture scarf pulled him forward.

 

“Maybe because Tsukauchi-san works in District fucking 5, you goddamn moron?” Izuku bared his teeth in an enraged smile. “Besides, he hates vigilantes, but he’ll still shield me from police and hero involvement on your call.”

 

“Don’t sound so fucking confident,” Eraserhead warned angrily. “From the way I see it, you’re a lost cause. You’re too much of a pain in the ass for me to ever trust.”

 

“I’m sure I’ll endear myself to you,” Izuku simpered. “Don’t act like this is going to be a fucking bonding experience for the two of us. We don’t have to be friends for you to trust me enough to continue my work.”

 

“I’ll never befriend someone as fucking psycho as you, Spider,” Eraserhead snarled, his eyes flashing red like a streetlight.

 

“Good! Then we’re at an understanding,” Izuku cooed in rebuttal. “You’ve been nothing but a hindrance to me, Eraserhead. An annoying fucking rat , sticking his nose into other people’s business. And speaking of rats —”

 

“I still don’t fucking believe that you hacked Nezu’s files without outside help. Just tell me that you were working with a team, and I’ll drop it.”

 

Okay — that’s it!

 

“I don’t fucking care anymore.” Izuku stopped his wires and landed on a nearby rooftop. Eraserhead, following not too far behind, settled on top of it as well. Once the Underground Hero was firmly situated on top of the building, Izuku whirled around to face him. “You’re just a hobo with a stick the size of Hokkaido shoved up his stubborn ass. You’re nothing to me but a means to an end, Eraserhead. I don’t need you to believe me right now, because you’ll find out soon enough.”

 

“So you admit you’ll betray me the second I’m not useful to you?” Eraserhead looked so fucking smug when he spoke.

 

Izuku’s blood fucking boiled.

 

Who did this motherfucker think he was?

 

He thought he was so fucking smart, didn’t he?

 

Clearly, his mentor in high school had left him an arrogant jackass, convinced he had some superior intellect despite probably only receiving education perfectly designed to fit his puny brain by Nezu himself!

 

Eraserhead wasn’t playing in the same league as Izuku and Nezu, despite how hard the chimera probably tried to train him so.

 

Fucking hell, Eraserhead wasn’t even in the same ballpark .

 

He was a goddamn minnow trying his very fucking hardest to act tough in the presence of sharks.

 

“You’re either the most stubborn man in the world or you’re having a stroke,” Izuku hissed incredulously. “You obviously need a reminder since your old ass is going senile. We have a deal. I’m not going to try anything, and even if we didn’t make an agreement, you’re still useful enough as a Pro Hero for me to leave you be.”

 

“So what am I to you?” Eraserhead threw up his hands in exasperation. “You’ve made a deal with me, but your goals are with Tsukauchi. Why me then? Who am I supposed to fucking be in this deal?”

 

“You’re my fucking homing pigeon , you spiteful son of a bitch.” Izuku grinned maliciously. “You’re nothing but a messenger to me. We patrol together, and you report back to Tsukauchi-san like the good little bird you are. And then, once you finally realize how illogical your behavior is, I’ll set you free to fly back to the inner districts where you belong.”

 

“You goddamn motherfucking piece of shit —!” Eraserhead started towards him, his eyes turning red and his hair floating upward. His capture scarf began twisting and weaving in the air like an octopus’ tentacle.

 

Izuku danced away, perched precariously on the edge of the roof.

 

“Ah, ah, ah!” He wagged a finger in the air. “Don’t forget our deal, Eraserhead. You need me, remember?”

 

“What I need is for you to shut your fucking mouth!” Eraserhead bared his teeth. “I don’t tolerate disrespect, you psychotic little shit!”

 

“Ditto,” Izuku deadpanned. “So how about you turn off those little nightlights of yours and stop ridiculing me at every chance you get, hypocrite?”

 

“What, did I hurt your feelings?” Eraserhead’s words were bitter, but his eyes did change back. “Honestly, I didn't know you had those.”

 

Izuku gritted his teeth.

 

shutupshutshutupshutupshutupshutup

 

Eraserhead didn’t know anything.

 

He was an idiot!

 

He was just spewing bullshit like an opportunistic attention whore.

 

not a robot, not a robot, not a robot

 

What a fucking dick.

 

“Is it so strange to meet someone ruled by logic instead of emotions?” Izuku grinned meanly.

 

Eraserhead sneered. “You’re not as smart as you think you are if you believe I’m sensitive.”

 

Izuku threw his head back and laughed.

 

“Eraserhead ~” Izuku cooed after his giggling fit subsided. “Every act you’ve done since our first meeting has been illogical. You’re so terrified of my existence that your stubbornness has completely overridden your judgment.”

 

“I am not scared of you, Spider.” The Pro Hero’s face was dark and serious. It honestly looked like the man believed what he was saying.

 

But alas — his subconscious was hiding the truth from him.

 

Eraserhead was scared stiff at the mere thought of him.

 

Izuku tilted his head and stared unblinkingly at the various emotions flashing across the man’s face. “Playing coy doesn’t suit you. I’ve assured you that I am no threat to you or your loved ones, but your incessant need for control cannot allow an unknown variable. You want me to be a villain, because only then would I make sense to you.”

 

The Pro Hero’s eyes widened, and he stumbled back a step. His hair dropped back down to his shoulders, and his capture scarf became immobile once more. His severe expression slackened into abrupt shock.

 

Finally, Izuku was getting somewhere with him.

 

“So until you get it through your thick skull that I don’t give a flying fuck about your silly inner district friends, this deal will never be equal,” Izuku stressed firmly. “You will constantly be searching for nefarious motives behind everything I do when, in actuality, there is none.”

 

To get his point further across, Izuku took a step forward. To his mild surprise, Eraserhead didn’t move backward. He simply watched him warily, which Izuku took as a good sign.

 

“I’m a vigilante, Eraserhead,” Izuku implored slowly, hoping for the man to see some sense in what he was saying because the migraine this Pro Hero was giving him was practically unbearable. “I just want to do some good.”

 

For a long while, Eraserhead was silent.

 

His dark eyes searched past Izuku’s goggles as if he was desperate to meet his eyes.

 

Finally, the man said —

 

“Where did you even come from?”

 

Izuku snorted a little bit in response.

 

“I crawled up from hell. Turns out, the outer districts’ sewer systems are the openings.”

 

Eraserhead scowled tiredly. “Be serious, for god’s sake. Who the hell trained you?”

 

Izuku’s mind flashed to images of curly white hair and freckles.

 

He lifted his hands and wiggled his fingers mockingly, pitching his voice high. “The devil himself ~!”

 

“It makes sense that you’d be the spawn of Satan.” Eraserhead frowned. “Let me guess. Intelligence quirk?”

 

Izuku shook his head. “Nope. Just hard work and talent. I don’t use my quirk in vigilantism.”

 

“A convenient loophole,” Eraserhead sighed, rubbing his temples.

 

“It really is,” Izuku remarked mildly. “Now, I believe I had attempted to bring the conversation back to Nezu earlier …”

 

“What do you want with the rat?” Eraserhead questioned suspiciously. “Even if you are as smart as you say, you won’t be able to mess with him. He’s on a whole different level. I can’t believe I’m actually warning you, Spider, but I’d steer clear of Nezu. He’ll eat you alive.”

 

“Or maybe I’ll eat him?” Izuku pondered aloud. “I’ve never had stoat before.”

 

“Stoat?” Eraserhead repeated in confusion. “What the hell are you even talking about?”

 

“It’s irrelevant,” Izuku waved away the comment. “Besides, I’m not looking to interact with him yet.”

 

“Then why’d you bring him up?” The Pro Hero looked exhausted . Their verbal sparring clearly didn’t amuse him.

 

Izuku felt a slight pang in his stomach.

 

… Dabi always quipped back to Izuku.

 

“I’m not fucking lying to you!”

 

Well, he once did ...

 

“Just for a little insurance,” Izuku mused calmly. “I’d prefer it if you didn’t mention me to him. I don’t want him sniffing around and causing more messes for me to pick up. When I meet Nezu, I want it to be on my own terms.”

 

“When you meet Nezu?” Eraserhead’s eyes narrowed until they were two hard stones behind his atrocious goggles.

 

“Mm!” Izuku agreed. “For now, we’re just existing in orbit with each other. We will have to interact at some point though. I just want it to be on an equal playing field, yes?”

 

Eraserhead huffed. “Fine. But don’t get too cocky. Nezu doesn’t play by the same rules we do. Even if he’s a Pro Hero, his goals are always for himself.”

 

“We’re similar creatures then,” Izuku giggled. “It’ll be an exciting day when we meet …”

 

“God, you’re fucking creepy.” Eraserhead shivered.

 

“I’ve heard that before. Figure out better comebacks, okay?”

 

“Why does that not surprise me?” The Underground Hero looked up at the sky, begging the heavens for patience.

 

The conversation slowed for a bit as the two obviously tried to calm down from their heated exchange.

 

Izuku breathed in the smoggy air of District 11. “Have you figured out what case you want my help in, Eraserhead?”

 

Eraserhead’s gaze flicked towards his before turning away to watch over the skyline. “Yes. Ishizaki Nozomi. A thief with some form of technology quirk. She’s been evading capture for around seven years now. She mostly steals jewelry or artwork. The Tokunaji Museum was broken into a few weeks ago on the night before they unveiled their finest exhibit: a necklace that costs 1,151,200,000 yen, named the Romingo. We checked the footage, but the video was manipulated despite the only ones in the surveillance room being security workers.”

 

“I see …” Izuku cupped his guarded chin in thought. “Could you give me a flash drive of the footage? I may be able to find some more clues from the distorted wavelengths.”

 

The man sighed again, and Izuku wondered if that was going to be his general response for everything Izuku said. “I’ll get it to you tomorrow night. I’ll also get you some copies of what evidence we’ve collected so far.”

 

Izuku watched how Eraserhead shifted from foot to foot and decided to tease him more, just to be a dick.

 

“See how helpful I can be?” Izuku simpered, batting his eyelashes despite the Underground Hero being unable to see the motion through his goggles. “I’m a good vigilante, I swear ~!”

 

“The only thing you’re good for is raising my blood pressure.”

 

“Mou ~” He pouted at the lackluster response. “Would you rather I be mean to you again?”

 

“I’d rather you not speak at all,” Eraserhead snapped, glaring at him. “I want to get these nights over with as fast as possible.”

 

“Believe it or not, I was content patrolling in silence.” Izuku raised his hands and showed his palms. “You, on the other hand, started this conversation.”

 

The Hero groaned. “Let’s just get going, okay? I’m going to check my transmitter to see if Tsukauchi has any patrol updates.”

 

“Alright, alright.” Izuku spun around whilst the man dug into his utility belt to pull out the cellphone-looking device.

 

After a while, Eraserhead sighed and stuffed the transmitter back.

 

“Any news?” Izuku piped up, trying not to sound too hopeful. He wasn’t about to say it out loud to the man, but the idea of spending another minute debating with Eraserhead on top of the roof made him want to jump into a woodchipper.

 

“Small bank robbery near the edge of District 11 and 10. Tsumugi Bank, apparently. Tsukauchi reports that there may be three people involved, although they were unidentified.”

 

Izuku nodded, his blood beginning to pump at the thought of a fight.

 

alivealivealivealive

 

“I’ll meet you there then, Mr. Pro Hero.”

 

He didn’t even wait for Eraserhead’s response, aiming his wires and letting them fly him out into the sky.

 

He’d enjoy letting out some of his frustrations on the criminals.

 

alivealivealiveali vealivealive

 


 

“Would it have killed you to wait a minute before running off?” was Eraserhead’s first hissed question after Izuku heard him land beside him in the dank alleyway near the left of the Tsumugi Bank.

 

Izuku didn’t turn to look at him and crept closer to the street. “Don’t blame me for your arthritis, old man.”

 

“Take this seriously,” The Pro Hero scolded in a hushed tone, uncomfortably close to Izuku as the two shuffled along the alleyway, trying to make as little noise as possible so as to not alert anyone present.

 

Izuku pressed his back against the brick walls and peeked his head out a bit, eyes scanning for any sort of lifeforms on the streets. “Stop spitting in my fucking ear, and maybe I’ll try.”

 

The Underground Hero grumbled various complaints, but Izuku was pleased to feel him take a step back, successfully removing himself from Izuku’s personal space.

 

Izuku didn’t like it when other people intruded into his bubble. He liked doing it to them but found it irritating when the tables were turned. Somewhat hypocritical of him, he knew, but he wasn’t about to feel guilty about that on top of everything else going on in his life.

 

Tsumugi Bank was, as Eraserhead stated, right on the invisible boundary line of Districts 10 and 11. It was a small bank, only taking up the ground floor of a dark brick building that probably existed as apartments for some of the workers. In true outer district fashion, it was rundown and not very reputable. The red neon sign hanging across its fabric awning was flickering so bad Izuku wondered if it was a seizure hazard, and beer cans and other detritus decorated its entrance. Clearly, there was some kind of commotion inside the building, as there were sounds of yelling and objects being shoved over.

 

Thankfully, all of the robbers seemed to be located within the bank itself. The street in front of Tsumugi Bank was clear, as most of the citizens of 11 had scurried back into their homes for the night.

 

Fewer distractions, Izuku thought happily.

 

What a nice night to beat the shit out of some burglars!

 

“Cost is clear outside,” Izuku whispered, knowing that Eraserhead could hear him even from a distance. “Everyone’s located inside the building.”

 

“Both of our weapons are better suited for open spaces,” The Underground Hero muttered grimly. “We’ll have to use hand-to-hand combat. Are you up for that?”

 

“I seem to remember kicking your ass on multiple occasions without using melee weapons,” Izuku wondered aloud, making Eraserhead hiss in response. “The better question is are you ready for that?”

 

Eraserhead’s teeth would be ground down to the gums if he kept clenching his jaw like that.

 

“I’ll go in first,” The man growled out. “I have more experience with things like this.”

 

“Yeah, no,” Izuku pleasantly dismissed as he reached into his pockets to pull out a pair of brass knuckles, slipping them onto his gloved fingers with ease. “Head in after my signal, Eraserhead.”

 

“What the hell?” Eraserhead demanded incredulously. “What do you think you’re doing?”

 

Izuku fished around in another pocket, pulling out a skinny cylindrical object with a glaring red button on the top. He looked behind him to face Eraserhead, seeing the confusion wrought across his severe features. Izuku waved the device teasingly.

 

“Don’t worry ~” He purred. “This is one of my nonlethal creations!”

 

“Why don’t you have normal hobbies?”

 

Eraserhead’s face twisted into shock and horror, but it was already too late.

 

Izuku bolted out into the street and ran right up to the glass bank entrance. He felt Eraserhead’s hand reach out to try and grab him by the scruff of his hoodie to stop him, but Izuku ducked low to avoid it and swung open the clear door, making it bang against the wall from the force.

 

At the jarring sound, everyone located inside the bank froze and whirled around to find the source of the noise.

 

Izuku’s trained gaze switched between each person, categorizing them in the split second of silence that rang through the building.

 

Three robbers, as Tsukauchi predicted.

 

Each of them was wearing scruffy-looking clothes, making Izuku presume they were unskilled and relatively low-grade criminals. A quick sniff of the air concluded that they were all betas, which wasn’t surprising, seeing as how the B-dynasterone was the most common sub-gender.

 

One of them was located closer to the entrance. He had some form of mutation quirk, which sucked for Eraserhead, and it turned his head into that of a lizard with vivid green scales. In offense, the man probably used his claws to attack, but aside from that, Izuku didn’t see anything particularly threatening about him.

 

The other two were standing near the back of the bank, directly across from the counter where they had obviously been threatening the bank teller. One of them had a knife floating in the air near the bank teller’s face, meaning he had a possible telekinesis quirk, while the other’s quirk was undefinable at a first glance, aside from his entirely blue eyes.

 

The bank teller was obviously shitting bricks, thinking that Izuku and Eraserhead were just more criminals coming to harass him. When the robbers turned away from him, he took the first chance he got and ran into the room behind the counter, slamming it shut behind him.

 

It was a little rude for him to just abandon his saviors like that, but Izuku blamed it on stress. He wouldn’t hold it against the man.

 

In fact, Izuku was happy the bank teller had left the room so hastily.

 

It made what he was about to do next much less difficult.

 

Izuku lifted up the device in his hand. His thumb pressed into the red button, and he tossed it out in front of him, aiming directly at the feet of Lizard Guy. 

 

“Bombs away ~!” Izuku cried gleefully, squeezing his eyes shut and spinning on his heels to face the Underground Hero directly behind him. The man was too surprised to dodge Izuku’s hands as he grabbed him by his capture scarf, allowing Izuku to firmly tug him down. Eraserhead’s face was shielded in Izuku’s chest just as his flash bomb hit the floor.

 

Tsumugi Bank erupted into blinding white light.

 

Everyone unprepared for the attack screamed in agony as their corneas burned from the exposure.

 

Thankfully, Izuku’s goggles were designed to react to the amount of light present and dimmed the shades accordingly.

 

Even still, the flash bomb left a considerable effect, deafening Izuku’s eardrums for a split second.

 

Thankfully, Izuku had the good sense to protect Eraserhead from the blast.

 

And here the guy was trying to make Izuku out to be a villain

 

That kind of light could’ve blinded someone with as sensitive eyes as the Pro Hero.

 

Izuku hoped that the man understood that, at the very least.

 

Even if he and Eraserhead never got along, Izuku wasn’t out to kill him.

 

But that didn’t mean he wanted to be in such close proximity with the man for any more time than what was needed. Once Izuku was assured the flash bomb had worn off, he ripped himself away from the annoying Pro Hero and turned back to the burglars.

 

Then he paused, just a bit fascinated.

 

Telekinesis Dude and Blue Eyes were stumbling about, blinking rapidly to clear their eyesight, and moaning in pain — but Lizard Guy seemed a bit … dopey .

 

His yellow, slitted eyes were slightly crossed, and his shoulders were slumped. He was shuffling around like the other two burglars, but his movements were slothful in appearance. His hairless, scaled head leaned back just a tad, and Izuku swore he saw his forked tongue lolling out from his mouth. 

 

Izuku tilted his head in confusion.

 

What the fu —? Oh, the guy was a lizard!

 

The thermal energy from the flash bomb must have affected his reptile traits!

 

In the wild, lizards often bask in the sun to raise their body temperature and become languid as a result of reducing the energy needed to thermoregulate themselves!

 

The flash bomb’s momentary heat release from the light triggered the burglar to become more sluggish like a natural lizard in the wild!

 

How fascinating!

 

This was just more evidence in favor of the theory that people with animalistic quirks tended to share the traits of their counterparts!

 

Oh, if only Izuku had some sort of freezing agent to test it even more!

 

If cold enough, would the burglar go into diapause or the state in which reptiles slow their bodily functions until they are completely dormant in response to chilly weather?

 

How did the burglar behave in winter?

 

His entire face was that of a lizard, so did that mean his reptile traits were even stronger than other people who simply shared claws or fangs?

 

Did he go dormant?

 

What kind of lizard was he? He looked like a monitor

 

Maybe a semiaquatic type …? The spots on his face seemed to suggest that, although Izuku couldn’t be sure until he ran a few tests —

 

He blinked.

 

Tsumugi’s Bank swam back into focus.

 

Whoops.

 

He’d lost his train of thought again.

 

Well — back to business!

 

Izuku raced towards Lizard Guy. Once he was at a close enough distance, he jumped up, shifting his body mid-air to become horizontal. His thighs latched themselves around Lizard Guy’s throat, pinning his head between them. Before the burglar could react, Izuku twisted his body, using the momentum of his jump to curve to the side, swinging Lizard Guy with him.

 

Once Lizard Guy was effectively dizzy, Izuku released him, landing on his feet as the burglar connected with the floor headfirst, knocking him unconscious.

 

Without pausing, Izuku raced towards Blue Eyes. He figured that taking out the man with the unidentified quirk when he was still disorientated from the flash bomb was a smart option, seeing as how he didn’t want the burglar to suddenly have an extremely volatile quirk mid-fight.

 

Blue Eyes had just shaken himself out of his blinded stupor when Izuku’s steel-toed boots slammed into the back of his leg.

 

Blue Eyes yelped in pain and fell onto one knee.

 

The only thing his solid blue eyes saw next was Izuku’s brass-knuckled fist slamming straight into his unprotected nose. He fell backward, out cold from the attack.

 

Someone shouted from behind Izuku, “You little shit!”

 

Izuku spun around just in time to see a knife sailing straight at him. He was about to jump to the side when the blade faltered in mid-air and dropped to the ground, lifeless and inanimate. Izuku looked to the bank’s entrance, seeing Eraserhead glaring at Telekinesis Dude with piercing red eyes.

 

Telekinesis Dude choked in surprise and stared down at his own hands. “What the fuck —?”

 

Izuku didn’t waste any more time. With Telekinesis Dude’s quirk neutralized by the Underground Hero, he was defenseless against Izuku’s attacks.

 

He raced towards the burglar, gaze intent. The man’s head snapped up to see Izuku sprinting towards him and quickly got into a fighting stance, raising his fists and bending his knees in preparation for whatever Izuku was about to give him.

 

Unfortunately for him, that didn’t slow Izuku down one bit.

 

Izuku slid between the man’s spread legs, jabbing upward at Telekinesis Dude’s crotch when he passed underneath.

 

The burglar cried out in pain, clutching his junk just as Izuku darted up to his feet behind him.

 

Eraserhead had said that their weapons were rendered useless in tight spaces and cautioned against using them — but when did Izuku ever listen to adult figures in his life?

 

The answer was simple.

 

Never.

 

Izuku pressed the trigger on his right palm, releasing his wires. Before the weapon could shoot out any further than a foot in front of Izuku, he grabbed it and pressed another trigger button, pausing the flow of the mechanism.

 

Now with a handy-dandy makeshift garrote wire in his hands, Izuku threw the wire over Telekinesis Dude’s neck and turned backward, yanking the burglar over his shoulder. He performed a donkey kick to the man’s legs, knocking him off the floor to aid with the movement of his wires.

 

With a crash, Telekinesis Dude was slammed onto the ground front-first, yet another successful takedown for Izuku.

 

None of the three burglars got up from their prone positions on the floor.

 

Izuku sighed and looked up from his crouched position at Eraserhead.

 

The Pro Hero simply stared at him.

 

Izuku furrowed his eyebrows, although the man could not see it.

 

“What?” He asked after a moment passed. “Is there something on my face?”

 

“I …” Eraserhead seemed like he was trying to figure out what to say.

 

“You …?” Izuku prompted helpfully.

 

“I … Where the hell did you learn that?” The Underground Hero finally got out.

 

Izuku smiled a little in confusion and stood up. He swiped his hands across his coat, wiping off the dust that probably wasn’t even there. “What did you mean, Eraserhead?”

 

“That!” Eraserhead gestured to the entire room.

 

Izuku … didn’t know what the man was referring to.

 

“My flash bomb?” He asked slowly.

 

“What? No! I mean, yes .” Was Eraserhead actually having a stroke? Was his face slackened in any way? “But I meant everything!”

 

“Everything?” Izuku repeated, then hummed. “Well … I’m just smart. I suppose that’s my answer.”

 

“You’re something else, Spider.” There was a strange expression dawning on Eraserhead’s face. “I’ve never met a vigilante like you. Never in my entire life. Seriously, who the hell are you?”

 

Who ... was Izuku?

 

Who was he ...

 

red eyes, white hair, dark freckles

 

fatherfatherfatherfatherfatherfatherfatherfather

 

a twelve-year-old boy with dried lips and a mole right underneath

 

“Please, love me, Izuku … Don’t ever leave me …”

 

 cradling of the test subjects’ heads, mockingly gentle, before they started s̴̡̢̡̨͕̣̺̪̯̱̟̋̎͛͌̿̽̏͊͋͒̊͘͘c̷̡̡̢̨͈̼̜̯̰̻̰͊̿͗͒ͅͅr̴̝͋̅̓̈́͠e̵̥̾͛̔̔͛͂͑̊̓̌̋̕a̷͖̣̝͎̹̦͒ͅm̷͖̝͕̩̳͕̟̥̺̭̰͖̻̜̓̇̒͐̽̽͛̈́͋͂̃͊͝͝ͅį̶̨̮̪̟̙͖͕̱̮̣̯̗͒̽͛̚̚͜n̷̹̲̟̳̬͎̰̾́g̶̨͉̦͙̮̪̭͇̗̙̱̫͙̈́́͆̌̔̀̉͑̆̄͋̊͜͠͝  —

 

“He won’t see it coming … All Might will finally be m̷̧̧̼̻̺̻̞̈́͂̒̍̋̂͝͠ǐ̴̡̛̳̬̬̦̠̙̠̦̔̆̂̿͠n̴̨̩̦̠̯̮̖̞̗̪̙̄̾͌̇͂̏̾̈́͜͠e̶̩̯̳͔̻͍̗̥̖̖̖͔͇̮̓̽.”

 

diamond snow, ruby flames, and a prison crumbling to ash

 

wannabegoodgoodgoodpleaseletmebegoodnotbadnotbadgoodgood

 

not a robot not a robot not a robot goodgoodgoodwannabe good

 

“We’re partners-in-crime, aren’t we?”

 

I ran. Why did I run? Hit me. Just hit me. Why didn’t I let him hit me?

 

“Always gotta be three steps ahead.”

 

soft soft soft fond why fond why why why

 

smoke it smells like smoke smoke smoke

 

I like the smell   of    s    m    o   k    e     —

 

Izuku's stomach hurt.

 

His throat was itching again.

 

“No one, Eraserhead. I’m no one.”

 

He missed Dabi.

Chapter Text

When Dabi’s first rut ended after its three-day cycle, he’d made a promise to himself in the midst of his fevered daze.

 

It had been a hectic week, and he’d been exhausted by the time his cycle had finally stopped.

 

All he wanted to do was sleep and forget the rest of the world existed for just a couple of hours.

 

Dabi had been feeling pre-rut symptoms since the month began. He had never felt that irritable in his entire life, and it actually got so strong that he’d snapped at his dad more than a few times. At first, Endeavour treated his behavior the same way he always treated insubordination — a beating thinly disguised as a “training session”. But as Dabi’s condition worsened, Endeavour and the rest of the family seemed to realize what was happening.

 

Increased irritability …

 

Sensitivity to touch and smell …

 

“Hoarding” behaviors, and frequent self-isolation …

 

Dabi was about to enter his first rut.

 

That was one of the few times in Dabi’s life that his dad had ever been proud of him.

 

He could count those moments with one hand.

 

The first time was when Dabi manifested Endeavour’s quirk at five-years-old.

 

Then it had been when he aced his tutors’ exams, just as Endeavour did when he was a child.

 

And then Dabi entered into his first rut, becoming a true alpha just like his dad.

 

(Why was Endeavour only proud of Dabi when he acted just like him …?)

 

When Endeavour discovered Dabi’s pre-rut symptoms, the man had been overjoyed.

 

“There’s still some use in you yet, boy!”

 

His mom cried and kissed him on the forehead.

 

Fuyumi and Natsuo cheered. Shouto had been too little to fully understand what was happening but still shrieked with glee.

 

His mom was given permission to dismiss their cooks for the night, and she made cold soba for the kids. Rarely was she ever allowed to prepare a meal for their family, as Endeavour believed that her social status was too high for her to do such “menial” labor, so when she made cold soba with her special recipe, they were ecstatic.

 

Endeavour was gone. He had a mission out in Nagoya, so they had the mansion to themselves. They didn’t have to worry about raising their voices or looking over their shoulders. Their dad was gone, and it was only Dabi, his mom, and his little brothers and sister.

 

For the first time in years, the Todoroki household was happy.

 

Endeavour even allowed his mother and siblings to help him prepare his den for the cycle. Dabi didn’t have to train that day, so he relished in the attention and comfort that his family brought him. His heart had never felt so full. It had grown so large that night it almost hurt .

 

But it was a sweet ache, one that he wanted to relish for the rest of his life.

 

Each of their scents mingled into the blankets, soothing Dabi’s pre-rut hindbrain. 

 

To this day, Dabi would recount their pheromone signatures before he slept.

 

It was like his own personal lullaby.

 

His mom’s winter rose …

 

Fuyumi’s eucalyptus …

 

Natsuo’s slightly-sweet menthol …

 

Little Shouto’s pine smoke and snow …

 

Dabi never wanted to forget their scents.

 

He’d die before he let that happen.

 

He remembered Fuyumi slapping Natsuo in the face with a pillow, making the seven-year-old bellow a war cry and strike back. The Todoroki children began a play fight that ended with all of them exhausted but giddy as they laid on Dabi’s newly-furnished den. Then they all hugged and kissed him before they left the room, as Dabi’s symptoms were worsening.

 

The old shoji door slid shut, and all at once, Dabi felt dread curdling in his stomach.

 

He was becoming an alpha.

 

All of his siblings were alphas too, but … 

 

Dabi was Endeavour’s greatest creation.

 

And Dabi was becoming an alpha, just like his dad.

 

He should have been happy.

 

His family was happy.

 

(Later, Dabi realized that while he, Fuyumi, Natsuo, and Shouto didn’t know any better, his mom had been happy because it was one less thing Endeavour would abuse him for. Her cries were tears of relief, not particularly joy)

 

Dabi was finally morphing into the picture-perfect child Endeavour had wanted. His mirror image.

 

And Dabi wanted to vomit all over his bed.

 

He didn’t want to be like Endeavour.

 

He didn’t want to be anything like Endeavour.

 

So when Dabi’s rut had ended after a grueling three days, he made a vow with himself.

 

He was never going to be an alpha, a man , like Endeavour.

 

Dabi was going to be the pack alpha of the Todoroki’s, and he was going to be a good one , unlike his dear old fucking dad .

 

Alphas were supposed to take care of the people in their pack, not hurt them.

 

He’d fulfilled that promise as best he could.

 

When Shouto played too loud and made Endeavour shout at him, Dabi made Fuyumi or Natsuo take the boy and stood in his dad’s way.

 

When Endeavour berated Fuyumi and Natsuo as they trained in the family dojo, Dabi purposefully made a mistake so his dad would hit him instead.

 

And when his mom — his gentle, sweet, omega mom — was screamed at for her inadequacy at the dining room table, Dabi spilled his tea so the attention was driven to him.

 

He tried his absolute hardest to be the real alpha of the Todoroki family.

 

A good one. The one his family deserved.

 

Even when he left, Dabi did it for the good of his pack.

 

When Shouto turned five, his quirk manifested itself in a breathtaking mix of crimson hellfire and a dazzling blizzard.

 

And all at once, Endeavour’s gaze latched itself on Shouto’s tiny head and never left.

 

Dabi was a failure.

 

Where once he had held promise despite his setbacks, he was now a lost cause.

 

Shouto was Endeavour’s legacy — his key to knocking All Might off his throne.

 

Before Shouto could properly add and subtract, he was being groomed for heroism.

 

The rest of the family was shuffled away. There was no room for distractions in Shouto’s training regiment. Dabi, Fuyumi, and Natsuo were no longer allowed in the dojo; their incompetence could rub off on the golden child.

 

For a brief moment, Dabi resented his baby brother.

 

Everything that would have made Dabi perfect, Shouto had in spades.

 

Dabi was no longer the future pack leader for the Todoroki’s.

 

Five-year-old Shouto , who still wet the bed after Endeavour had yelled at him too much, was the future alpha of the family.

 

Dabi’s promise became irrelevant. How could he be a good alpha to his family if Shouto , the golden child, became their leader instead?

 

Whenever he thought about his baby brother, his quirk boiled underneath his skin.

 

His useless fucking quirk.

 

And then —

 

His shoji doors creaked open one night.

 

Dabi, being trained to wake up at the slightest noise, had instantly sat up in bed and tensed his body. He wasn’t afraid of a robber — the Todoroki’s had too much security in their sequestered Japanese mansion — but he was afraid of his dad.

 

But when Dabi saw who opened his bedroom doors, it wasn’t Endeavour.

 

It was his baby brother, with tears streaming down his face and failing to properly sniff up the snot that drained from his nose.

 

“T-Tou-chan …! C-Can I sleep with you? I had a n-nightmare …”

 

In that split second, Dabi struggled.

 

His room, his den , had become his one safe space from Endeavour.

 

Dabi was raised in a traditional Japanese household, so entering into an alpha’s den without permission was considered a deep offense.

 

In his bedroom, Dabi was safe.

 

Even Endeavour never stepped inside, not that he ever wanted to.

 

In his den, Dabi could breathe. His bedroom walls weren’t as stifling as the ones throughout the rest of the Todoroki mansion. Outside, all Dabi heard was Endeavour’s growl echoing through the hallways, hissing to him about his failures. Inside, all Dabi could hear was his own breathing.

 

He could say no to Shouto.

 

He could reject the baby alpha, make him deal with his fears by himself for the slightest chance he might taste a shred of the pain Dabi felt his entire life.

 

It was well within his right to do so.

 

After all, Shouto was Endeavour’s greatest creation now, having taken everything away from Dabi, so why should he help him?

 

Why should Dabi let him in?

 

(Because he was Dabi’s baby brother. His little peppermint stick, who cried in Dabi’s eight-year-old arms when he was born and made him whisper sweet nothings of love and safety and adoration until his pudgy face stopped sobbing.

 

The little baby whose first word was Tou and who always pressed a sloppy kiss to his bruises whenever Endeavour beat him a bit too hard in the dojo and cooed Tou, ouchie! All better! And who Dabi carried around the mansion even after he’d grown a bit too big for it. The kid who Fuyumi would dress up in fancy yukatas before festivals, and the boy who would copy everything Natsuo did because he thought Natsuo was simply cool , for lack of a better word.

 

The baby brother who wailed when Endeavour dragged him to the dojo by himself for the first time. The brother who whined quietly whenever their mom would wrap bandages around his aching, sore knuckles. The little kid who had nightmares of his dad and could never properly look the man in the eye, despite how many times Endeavour shouted at him for it.

 

Dabi’s baby brother who, despite his own misplaced anger, didn’t deserve to be Endeavour’s greatest creation either)

 

And the answer became so fucking simple.

 

Dabi let Shouto into his den. He wrapped him in the fluffiest, coziest blankets he had, and cuddled his baby brother until his whimpering morphed into sleepy snuffles.

 

Dabi cried that night whilst he protected his baby brother from his nightmares.

 

“I’m so sorry, little peppermint … I didn’t mean it … I’m so sorry …”

 

But things didn’t get any easier after their reconciliation.

 

Shouto, with a heart too big and kind for this world, began to fight back against their forced separation.

 

He demanded to see his family, despite quivering underneath Endeavour’s venomous glare. He refused to take no for an answer, even when Endeavour snapped at him.

 

And Dabi watched in horror as the bruises that once littered his face began migrating onto Shouto’s chubby little cheeks instead.

 

Behind the closed door of Dabi’s den, he begged his baby brother to stop. That it wasn’t worth the price of Shouto’s safety. That Dabi wasn’t worth it.

 

After all, Dabi had hated Shouto, even for a split second.

 

He’d hated his innocent little brother, who never did anything wrong in his life and was abused despite that. Dabi didn’t deserve Shouto, so he pleaded for the little boy to stop.

 

And Shouto, only seven-years-old, still deathly afraid of their dad, hands covered in bandaids, and heart too fucking good for the likes of Dabi and Endeavour, refused.

 

And Dabi knew what he had to do.

 

Shouto wasn’t going to stop. His baby brother was too kind for that.

 

Endeavour was getting angrier and angrier every day. Shouto’s insubordination was infuriating the Pro Hero until he’d begun to lash out at the entire family, not just the little boy.

 

Shouto’s body was always bruised …

 

Fuyumi and Natsuo wandered the hallways like ghosts , their eyes always frantically scanning each room before they entered, fearful of their dad’s presence …

 

God — his mom looked so tired

 

Dabi couldn’t take it anymore.

 

No matter what Endeavour liked to think of himself as Dabi was the true alpha of the Todoroki pack. He had protected his family his entire life. Like hell was he going to stop now.

 

Not when they needed him most.

 

There was a massive Pro Hero gala happening in District 1, and Endeavour and his family were invited to come, being so prestigious in hero work. It was located on the top floor of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Musutafu, and only the richest and most influential people were invited.

 

Dabi was left behind at the mansion. Endeavour refused to be shamed at such a public event by bringing his greatest failure along with.

 

Dabi hugged each one of his siblings, dressed to the nines in their finest designer clothing. He kissed his mother and watched as they walked out the door, dutifully hopping into a sleek limousine. They all looked extraordinary, and Dabi engraved the image of their splendor into his mind.

 

Just as Endeavour was about to shut the door, the Pro Hero’s gaze lifted and his eyes met Dabi’s from across the silent hallway.

 

Turquoise met turquoise.

 

Endeavour’s eyes narrowed. He must have seen something in Dabi that night, as they entered into a battle of wills — the first time they’d sparred in years, even if the fight was only mental.

 

Endeavour’s aura blazed just like his quirk that night.

 

But Dabi’s flames had always burned brighter, burned stronger, burned angrier than that of his dad’s, even if the man could never admit it.

 

For how could Endeavour, the #2 Hero, fail to produce better flames than his defective son?

 

Dabi could practically hear Endeavour’s teeth grinding into dust.

 

His dad always hated when Dabi stood up to him.

 

And then —

 

Endeavour blinked.

 

Endeavour looked away first, and the older alpha locked the door behind him, quiet for what might have been the first time in the man’s life.

 

Dabi had won. Finally, Dabi had won.

 

The mansion was empty. Endeavour had dismissed each of their maids and security guards for the night, giving them an impromptu holiday break. Dabi was alone, and he had the house to himself. It only took a single hit of a crowbar to the security office to enter the padlocked room and turn off the surveillance cameras.

 

Perfect. He had complete privacy.

 

For a brief moment, he considered stepping into the dojo. It would’ve been fitting, as the dojo held the most memories of the Todoroki children’s pain and suffering. If they could, the tatami mats would scream their history of abuse and bloodshed under the tyrannical dictatorship of their Pro Hero dad.

 

But if he chose the dojo, the fire might spread to the other sections of the house. 

 

Dabi thought of the calligraphy set Fuyumi would pour hours over, training her handwriting to be as neat and beautiful as possible. He knew there was a stuffed white tiger stuffed in the back of Natsuo’s closet, although the ten-year-old swore up and down that he got rid of it, as he was “too old” for plushies. His mother still treasured the flower Dabi gave her years ago, pressed between the pages of an old poetry book, and hidden in their family library. Shouto, the little peppermint stick, hoarded his childhood blanket away from their dad’s stern gaze.

 

There were still items of comfort stashed within the Todoroki mansion.

 

And although Dabi knew he was doing the right thing, he also knew that his pack was going to be devastated by his decision.

 

They wouldn’t understand it, so they would need every last bit of comfort they had to withstand the weight of his choice.

 

With that in mind, Dabi turned away from the dojo and walked outside after a couple of hours had passed.

 

Thank god the mansion was sequestered so far away in the lush green mountains above Musutafu. It was private and completely cut off from the rest of civilization.

 

That was good. If anyone saw what Dabi was about to do, they’d probably call the police.

 

And the nearest Hero agency, probably.

 

Stepping into the Todoroki manor probably felt like falling into a time machine. It was extremely large and styled with ancient Japanese architecture. A large cement wall surrounded it, making it look like a piece of preserved history hidden among the mountains. They even had their own private forest near the edges of the back wall, although it was obviously manufactured to be as tame and pristine as possible.

 

Dabi avoided the garden. There was an island in the center of their koi and lotus pond, only accessible by a wooden bridge, that his mom loved to relax on. Whenever the stress of Endeavour got too great, she’d often be found sitting underneath the island’s lone cherry tree in silence.

 

Most of the Todoroki children knew to leave her alone when she sat beneath the cherry tree, but sometimes they couldn’t help themselves and joined her. They were never too loud though. Cherry tree time was sacred for the Todoroki’s, and it was a silent rule to never roughhouse on the island. After all, it was their mom’s special place.

 

She taught Dabi breathing exercises underneath the cherry tree, he remembered. Whenever his dad pushed him too hard, or his quirk burnt him again, he’d hurry to sit with her underneath that cherry tree, begging for the peace that only his mom could give him. She’d press her cool lips on the center of his forehead, and Dabi would lean in as close as possible, the cold momentarily soothing the inferno raging beneath his skin.

 

“Focus your breathing low, Tou-chan … Let it fill your belly. Picture it slowly spreading across your body, and then … let it go, my love. Let it go.”

 

Dabi couldn’t take away her garden. Just the thought of incinerating the cherry tree that meant so much to his mom made his stomach churn.

 

Instead, he moved further back — into the depths of their miniature forest.

 

The pine trees hugged the very edge of the walls. When he stepped inside, everything grew quiet and still. The tall, dark trees muted the rest of the world from Dabi’s ears.

 

It would have been a perfect place to contemplate, but in all honesty, Dabi had made up his mind already.

 

Dabi was the true alpha of the Todoroki pack.

 

Protecting his family meant the entire world to him.

 

If protecting his family meant taking himself out of the equation, then he’d do it in a heartbeat.

 

Dabi’s presence was hurting his pack, even if they didn’t see it that way.

 

Shouto was too good to realize that Endeavour would never stop. That some people were just plain evil , even if the rest of the world didn’t see it that way.

 

His dad was even beginning to punish Fuyumi and Natsuo again. His fiery anger burnt red-hot, and nobody was safe from his wrath. Every time his mom tried to stand up for them, Endeavour would spit insults at her or slap their gentle, kind omega mother right in front of them.

 

And it was all because of Dabi.

 

Shouto was standing up to Endeavour because of Dabi. All of their pain and suffering was happening because of Dabi.

 

He was the failure of the Todoroki family. The one who could have been Endeavour’s greatest creation if not for his weaknesses. It was because of Dabi that his pack was receiving the brunt of their dad’s abuse. Dabi was indirectly hurting his family every minute he stayed within their presence, and he would be damned to hell if he allowed his selfishness to continue any longer.

 

He knew that there was a great chance he would die that night.

 

His quirk had never been suited for his body, despite how hard Endeavour tried to beat it into submission. If he unleashed it at full power, it was practically a death sentence.

 

But — Dabi didn’t care.

 

He was the true head of the Todoroki family.

 

He had made a vow to himself to be a good man, a good alpha, to the people he loved.

 

He would protect them until his last dying breath.

 

And with that in mind, Dabi stood in between two pine trees and fulfilled his most important promise in life — to protect the people he loved.

 

The last thing Dabi saw was the world erupting into blue-tinted hellfire.

 

The last thing Dabi felt was pain.

 

He thought he would die that night.

 

… He wanted to die that night.

 

Dabi had caused nothing but pain for his family. His faulty quirk was probably the powder keg for Endeavour’s unyielding abuse. His failures resulted in his mom’s heartache, Shouto’s torment, Fuyumi’s neglect, and Natsuo’s fear.

 

Dabi deserved to die that night.

 

But —

 

He didn’t.

 

He didn’t remember much of what occurred after he’d essentially turned himself into an atom bomb in the backyard of his family’s mansion. Only brief snippets of agony and the feeling of leaves crunching underneath his bare, scorched feet. In his frenzied suffering, he must have run out of the manor and into the wilderness outside its walls.

 

He didn’t know how far he’d walked until he opened his eyes two months later only to see an old, wrinkled woman staring judgmentally down at him from the side of the bed he’d been laid on. If he had any capacity to open his jaw, he’d scream.

 

Dabi didn’t know if it was the gods playing a cruel joke on him or if he truly had the shittiest luck in the world that he’d been found by a retired army doctor who lived in a secluded little shack in the depths of the Musutafu mountains.

 

He had never met the old beta before in his life, and her cabin had no internet service, so she didn’t know jackshit about him or his identity either. The crazy old bat had just seen a naked, injured teenager stumbling through the forest and decided to take him in.

 

Later, when the effects of Dabi’s two-month-long coma had lessened, she had joked that she thought he was some kind of reanimated corpse. When he’d seen the full scale of his injuries, he had to begrudgingly agree with her. Whole sections of his skin had been seared off by the strength of his quirk, and he’d essentially wandered the forest for days, the exposed sections of his body becoming infected and oozing pus.

 

He was surprised he hadn’t died or even lost a limb from the extent of his trauma. Whenever he asked the old lady how she’d saved him, she would croak out that she was simply just a really fucking good doctor.

 

And she was.

 

Holy fuck, he’d never met a better doctor than that crazy old bitch.

 

He even bet that her skills were on par with Recovery Girl.

 

And just to further impress her genius, the woman was quirkless.

 

She explained that back in her day, those born without quirks were treated much better than they were now. She was allowed to join the military, although she never mentioned what branch, making Dabi theorize that she was probably some form of black ops due to her sheer skill, and became one of their most elite doctors on the force. 

 

When the lady admitted offhandedly that she was quirkless months into Dabi’s recovery, he … didn’t know what to think.

 

He’d never met anyone quirkless before. Even though his dad hated his guts, Dabi was still a Todoroki, and thus, was a member of the elite in society. He was a Legacy, and there was no way a Legacy would interact with the quirkless.

 

They were rare too. His dad always said it was just social darwinism at work — that they were so weak and useless that even nature was attempting to eradicate their existence. 

 

By law, those without quirks were ordered to wear special shoes that not only fit their strange feet but also announced to the world their status in society. If a shopkeeper saw those iconic red sneakers, they could refuse service. Some businesses even refused to allow entry if they caught you wearing them, just to add insult to injury.

 

Only a few job occupations accepted quirkless employees, and each one was well below minimum wage. It was increasingly common to look on the news and find a new incident of quirkless mass suicide. They were the lowest members of society, and hate crimes were, unfortunately, the norm. Most of them had to flee to the outer districts of Musutafu, as the inner districts discriminated against them too much to continue living there.

 

There was an unspoken rule that dictated that most quirkless didn’t live past 18. Suicide was the most common reason, but murder was another.

 

It was so fucking shameful to admit it, but when Dabi found out she was quirkless, he didn’t know what to think about the old woman.

 

It didn’t matter that she’d saved his life — his dad had ingrained in his head for years that those with lesser quirks were to be looked down upon. The quirkless were not even fully human to his dad — just useless relics of a society long since past — and he told Dabi that as well.

 

Thankfully, he managed to snap himself out of his own stupidity pretty damn fast.

 

Why was he considering listening to anything Endeavour said? He was an abusive, hateful asshole and Dabi had made a vow to be nothing like him, so why was he even entertaining one of the Pro Hero’s beliefs?

 

Fucking hell — his dad believed that omegas were weak, and Dabi had never met anyone stronger than his mom.

 

She could have divorced his father a long time ago. They were put in an arranged quirk marriage, but if an omega wished to separate from their mate, it was well within their rights. It would have been a difficult, painstaking legal process because of Endeavour’s social status and wealth, but she would have won in the end. Despite being forced into their mateship, she was still a prestigious woman in her own right; before she’d married Endeavour, she’d been Yuki-Onna, the Ice Heroine, and was high in the Billboard charts.

 

She could have left her abusive relationship a long time ago, but she endured Endeavour’s torment for her children.

 

It was a disgusting, archaic law that Dabi wanted to burn to ash — an omega could gain separation from their mate, but the courts would refuse to allow them to take whatever offspring they had in their previous relationship.

 

Himura Rei could have left Todoroki Enji years ago, but she stayed in order to protect and raise her children as best she could in their awful situation.

 

She was the strongest person Dabi knew.

 

Fuck whatever his dad said about omegas.

 

Endeavour was a fucking idiotic bastard, and Dabi wouldn’t believe a single fucking thing he said.

 

So when the old lady revealed her quirklessness to him, he’d quickly snapped out of his dad’s rotten influence and said fuck yeah with a decisive nod. Not the most eloquent thing Dabi had ever done, but it seemed to please the crazy bat, as she’d barked out a hoarse, croaking laugh in response.

 

Dabi spent almost a full year with that lady. His recovery was arduous. He was essentially wrapped up like a mummy for half of the time, as the exposed portions of his body needed to regrow skin without any form of disturbance. It wasn’t easy nor was it painless, but eventually, his flesh grew back, albeit purple due to the dead cells. 

 

The patches of dead skin refused to reattach to the uninjured sections, so the old lady stapled the sections together to encourage future fusion. However, she still warned Dabi that it was unlikely his living skin cells would ever merge into the dead, so he’d probably remain Frankenstein’s Monster for his entire life.

 

He didn’t mind it though. His wounds made him look unrecognizable, especially after he’d decided to dye it black after he spontaneously splattered his previously-white locks with the old lady’s shoe polish one night.

 

Dabi needed anonymity. He’d fully expected to die that night at the Todoroki manor, but for some reason, he was brought back from the brink of death. There had to be a reason why. He didn’t know what it was until he’d stumbled across one of the few newspapers the old lady would stock up on every now and then.

 

Endeavour and Family Spotted At Might Tower For Its 14th Anniversary!

 

When he saw that, Dabi almost experienced a repeat of his sacrifice. It took an hour-long meditation full of his mom’s breathing exercises before smoke stopped curling out from between his stapled skin.

 

He knew everyone thought he was dead, so he knew that his loved ones were grieving that fact, just like how he knew the sky was blue and the grass was green.

 

And there Endeavour was — prancing Dabi’s pack around like it hadn’t been less than a year since his “death/suicide”.

 

After seeing that newspaper article, Dabi knew why he hadn’t died that night.

 

Although leaving was the best thing for his pack, Endeavour was still out there. Dabi wasn’t naive enough to believe that his dad’s tyranny would stop cold-turkey after his eldest son seemingly killed himself in a blaze of glory. And there, right there , was the reason why he was left on this earth.

 

Endeavour was still out there, and he was still hurting Dabi’s family. 

 

Dabi was still alive because someone needed to stop the Flame Hero.

 

It was an easy equation with an even easier answer.

 

Endeavour was hurting the people Dabi loved, so Dabi was going to murder his fucking dad.

 

With such a goal in mind, Dabi needed to lay low for a couple of years and plan accordingly.

 

The outer districts of Musutafu were his destination. 

 

Dabi needed to get stronger and fast. Endeavour, despite his true nature, was a famous Pro Hero — #2 in the Billboards — so Dabi couldn’t possibly kill the man in the state he was in after he’d burned himself alive. He needed to be smart about it. Somehow, Dabi needed to accumulate enough power to take down his dad.

 

And although he had never stepped foot in the outer districts, he had heard enough stories about the place to know they were his only option for success.

 

Saying goodbye to the old lady was harder than Dabi expected.

 

He’d lived with her for almost an entire year. She’d nursed him back to health and indirectly gave him a new purpose in life. Although she was a crotchety old bitch, he genuinely enjoyed the banter they’d exchange. He would miss her presence in his life, and he told her that before he left, albeit a bit gruffly.

 

She simply swatted him on the arm for acting like a baby and told him to get the fuck out of her cabin before his pheromones stunk up the place for good.

 

Yeah — she was a bitch.

 

He’d miss her.

 

Before he walked out her door, she grabbed him by the sleeve of the fire-resistant trench coat she’d given him and tugged him down to her tiny, minuscule height. He let her, a bit confused and wondering if she was about to clobber him on the head as she’d often been prone to do whenever he irritated her.

 

But no — she simply pressed a wrinkled kiss to his forehead and shooed him out the door only a second later.

 

His eyes watered at the feeling of her lips against his skin.

 

It made him remember his mom, and he wanted to cry.

 

The Todoroki’s were a quiet bunch. Incessant talking or increased volume was often followed by an intense scolding session or a slap from their dad, and each one of them learned to hold their tongues and exist as quietly as possible to avoid Endeavour’s ire. Every word uttered had to be completely necessary, otherwise, they would risk attention from the man, so verbally expressing their love for one another was too much of a gamble.

 

Inaudible forms of affection were used instead. 

 

Touch was the most common.

 

No one would believe it when they saw how rigid and reserved the Todoroki’s acted in public, but the moment their dad stepped out of view, they immediately rushed to comfort and reassure each other through hugs, kisses, or cuddles. Whenever they had a minute to themselves, they latched onto each other like limpets, wildly scenting each other in the process.

 

The Todoroki’s were touchy, and Dabi had gone almost an entire year without feeling physical contact due to his injuries. The lack of touch felt like withdrawal symptoms, so when the old lady touched him for the first and last time with the forehead kiss, he greedily sucked up as much of the affection as possible.

 

He knew there was more to the old lady than what meets the eye. How was she so skilled that she basically brought Dabi back from the dead? What branch of the military was she in? Where did she come from and why did she move to the Musutafu mountains? Hell, Dabi didn’t even know her fucking name ; whenever he asked, she always told him to call her Daremo .

 

It meant no one in Japanese, so he didn’t believe her. Still, he respected her privacy and didn’t ask further. She didn’t ask for his name either, so he let the subject drop. She referred to him as Dabi, the name he’d chosen for his new life, and he called her Daremo just the same.

 

Living in the outer districts was harder than Dabi had originally expected.

 

Embarrassing to admit, but it took a while for him to understand the ropes. His dad was abusive, but he’d still grown up in luxury. He had to go through many trials and errors whilst he settled in Musutafu’s underbelly, and only the brutal Hero training his dad put him through kept him from getting murdered in one of the alleyways. 

 

It was a slow ordeal, but he’d gotten through it. Dabi had always been a resilient kid, after all.

 

Eventually, his drug deals and violent takedowns had established him as one of the strongest kingpins in the outer districts. District 11 became his territory, and he ruled it with an iron fist — all the while training and building up enough resources for the day when he’d finally meet his dad on the battlefield.

 

He was Blueflame , the Cremation Anti-Hero.

 

His dad was wrong about him.

 

He wasn’t useless.

 

He was powerful and out for Endeavour’s blood.

 

And yet — despite his successes, he still couldn’t help but grimace whenever he looked at himself in the mirror.

 

He wasn’t insecure over his appearance, but it made him a little ill whenever he thought about how much he’d changed.

 

No longer was he the little Todoroki Touya he had been all those years ago. He could never be that little boy again because he’d been burned to ash in the backyard of his family’s estate.

 

He was Dabi now. 

 

And Dabi he’d remain.

 

The ghost of Touya hadn’t left, however. The little white-haired boy still poked back up from the grave every now and then, such as when he practiced his mom’s breathing exercises when he was stressed or when he’d ache for the touch of his siblings on lonely nights. He wasn’t the same kid, but his presence remained regardless.

 

He wasn’t capable of being a good man anymore — not with the sins he’d committed — but he tried to be a decent one.

 

Just little ways he’d maintain a fraction of the vow he’d once made with himself as a twelve-year-old boy.

 

Dabi killed people, but hurting innocents was a line he’d never cross, even if he was an outer district drug lord now. He struck fear into the hearts of abusers and molesters.

 

He’d always help the old man who lived in his apartment complex up the stairs, and he’d leave some of his leftovers out for the homeless people squatting in the nearby alleyway.

 

He wasn’t a Hero by any means, nor did he want to be, but at least he wasn’t evil.

 

At least he wasn’t Endeavour.

 

Whenever the red in his ledger started bleeding into his psyche, he’d assure himself with that.

 

No matter who he was now, at least he wasn’t Endeavour.

 

It was one of his only comforts until he’d let his flames out on Spider nearly two weeks ago.

 

“You can yell, Dabi-san.”

 

God, just hearing the pup say that made Dabi sick to his fucking stomach.

 

What kid wanted someone to yell at them?

 

He knew something was wrong with Spider from the moment he met them, but he didn’t know to what extent .

 

No matter what Spider claimed otherwise, Dabi knew they were young. Probably 13-14 years old, if he was being honest. And there was no fucking way a kid with a normal background would patrol the outer districts as a vigilante in their free time. Spider had to have some messed-up history for them to think that vigilantism was a proper career path.

 

The first time he met Spider at The Bird’s Nest, he’d been creeped out by them. 

 

It was so fucking uncomfortable to watch a child plan out the murder of over thirty child molesters with a genius that was probably on par with Nezu , one of the smartest creatures in Japan — and maybe the world.

 

The way they moved, the way they acted — it screamed unstable to Dabi.

 

(And that was coming from him, who probably had enough baggage to fill the entirety of the sea of Japan.)

 

Spider was unhinged and unpredictable.  

 

They freaked Dabi the fuck out when they started talking about shit no ordinary person would know about him. He’d only been more assured of their demented nature when they cut a guard’s tongue off with such a pleasant tone in their voice that they may have been discussing the fucking weather rather than torturing someone before Dabi’s very eyes.

 

His opinion on the vigilante had only changed when they’d burnt The Bird’s Nest down.

 

Dabi had unleashed his flames on the masses, and he relished in their screams of agony and fear. It was always a nice day when he got to burn child abusers alive. He’d always imagine Endeavour standing in their place. It just made their squeals more delicious to him, and he’d picture his dad’s future demise with a shiver.

 

But in the midst of the shouts and chaos, he’d heard Spider laugh.

 

For a brief moment, his flames faltered.

 

Dabi’s quirk, as defective as it was, was still a force to be reckoned with in its sheer destructiveness. When he had just manifested it, his younger self had been terrified by its potential for damage. He’d quickly learned that his hands were never meant to create like his siblings could when they’d form ice sculptures or snowmen with their quirks, but to destroy.

 

It wasn’t a pretty quirk.

 

It didn’t protect or heal.

 

It was scary and utterly lethal even at its lowest degree.

 

And yet —

 

Spider laughed when they saw Dabi’s flames.

 

It might have just been their craziness shining through at the sign of chaos, but Dabi had been well and truly stumped regardless.

 

For the first time since he’d left his pack, someone had looked at Dabi’s quirk without fear.

 

It made Dabi — soften .

 

Just a bit.

 

He didn’t really know why.

 

The strange feeling only grew once Dabi refused to cash in on his side of the deal.

 

The little pipsqueak of a pup sounded so confused. Like they didn’t understand how someone could simply help them without asking for a favor in return.

 

They were just so small … They couldn’t be much older than Shouto, the baby of the Todoroki pack. How could a child believe that an adult’s help had to be repaid somehow?

 

Was it the result of their quirklessness?

 

Then they were concerned with Dabi when he stayed behind with the kids?

 

And thanked him in that awkward, stilted manner?

 

Fucking hell

 

Spider really was just a kid.

 

A kid who, Dabi was certain, had gone through a lot of shit in their life to make them the way they were now.

 

And Dabi never hurt kids. He kept kids safe.

 

Sure — Spider was still strange as hell.

 

They were fucking annoying and still weirded him out more often than nought, but when they kept reappearing in Dabi’s life, he knew that, underneath all of their psycho behaviors and sadistic tendencies, Spider was just kid who’d been dealt a bad hand in life and needed some form of safety.

 

And Dabi took that pup’s subconscious yearning for stability and crushed it underneath his fucking boots.

 

 — “I’m not fucking lying to you!”

 

Dabi wasn’t a good man.

 

He wasn’t even a decent one.

 

Dabi was just like his fucking dad.

 

He’d scared Spider.

 

Spider, the only person besides his family who hadn’t been afraid of Dabi’s quirk, was afraid of him.

 

He didn’t mean to lose control.

 

He’d been just so angry and scared and so fucking confused — but it wasn’t the kid’s fault!

 

They clearly didn’t understand a single damn thing about second genders outside of the obvious.

 

They didn’t know that entering into an alpha’s den without permission was an offensive invasion of privacy. That dens were sacred to alphas and meant security and protection .

 

They would have had no way to know that to Dabi, dens meant even more  because they reminded him of the family he had to leave behind.

 

Spider obviously didn’t have a good childhood, otherwise, they wouldn’t be a vigilante, so no one probably taught them about the old traditions.

 

And Dabi hadn’t lied when he said he wasn’t mad at them. It was just his alpha instincts, screaming to him that an intruder had broken into their safe space and that he was unprotected as a result. It was just his hormones going out of whack, not real anger toward the pup for an honest to god mistake.

 

He tried to let Spider know that, he tried so fucking hard, but everything was moving too fast for him. Every time the kid opened their mouth, they’d say something that triggered the ghost of Todoroki Touya into fearful submission. His instincts were screaming at him notsafenotsafenotsafe , the pup was upsethelpthebabyhelp , their deal with Eraserhead ( Notsafenotsafeprotectpup ) was fucking with his head, so Dabi’s arm struck at the air in the midst of his confusion and —

 

His hand caught fire.

 

Dabi broke his vow.

 

He was angry at a pup — a baby really — and lashed out with his vicious quirk.

 

He was just like Endeavour.

 

Dabi spent the entire night in the workshop.

 

If he’d left, he would’ve killed someone.

 

Spider didn’t like unnecessary bloodshed, so he did one thing right by them and cooled off until he was safe to head home. He tried to ignore the way his mind automatically conjured an image of the tiny vigilante patting his head like he was a dog and saying, “Good job, Dabi-san ~!”

 

Even though the pup never outright admitted their distaste, they always interrupted Dabi coincidentally when he was about to use his quirk with murderous intent on people who didn’t necessarily deserve it. Spider didn’t care about the deaths of those who did deserve it, making it even more obvious to Dabi.

 

He’d left the workshop in shambles.

 

After the vigilante had fled at the sight of his flames, he’d only been frozen for a minute before he started screaming and throwing shit.

 

It had been around two weeks since Dabi had last seen Spider.

 

He was surprised by how much that fact hurt.

 

Fucking hell, he missed the kid.

 

He really fucking did. He missed their mania. He missed their genius. He missed the way they seemed to look at him behind their goggles like they actually knew who Dabi was, and just — accepted him despite that.

 

Dabi was worried about them.

 

He thought about them almost every day, and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it.

 

He’d spooked the kid just as they were about to head off for their first patrol with Eraserhead. What if the Pro Hero had arrested them? What if the kid was off their game because of Dabi’s actions, and Eraserhead took advantage of that? And even if the Hero wasn’t as much of a dick as other Pros tended to be, what if Spider had gotten hurt on one of their own patrols?

 

Shit — what if they were hurt?

 

What if they were dead?

 

Dabi honest to god vomited one night when he considered that. He’d drunk too much whiskey and smoked too many blunts, laying in a haze when the thought struck him. He’d been unable to get the image of Spider’s broken body out of his head and leaned over his bed, spewing out bile onto his floor.

 

He wasn’t able to get any outside info about the vigilante either. No one other than Dabi himself really knew Spider even existed.

 

Dabi had scared the kid and didn’t know whether they were even still alive.

 

He felt like the biggest piece of shit on the planet.

 

He barely got out of bed some days, wracked with painful memories of his dad and filled with so much fucking shame over his actions. Those two weeks were spent in a daze , wandering from place to place like some kind of fucking machine.

 

Due to his self-hatred and guilt, he didn’t even realize when he walked out of the workshop one night that he’d been ambushed. 

 

By the time he did, it was too late to escape.

 

“Heeeeey, Blueflame,” A greasy-looking motherfucker drawled as he stepped out from the shadows of the alleyway. “Long time no see, eh?”

 

As if on cue, other ugly fucks started crawling out of the darkness like rats.

 

Dabi narrowed his eyes at him and the rest of his buddies. He counted around maybe twenty guys, all of them either brandishing weapons or their quirks. “Do I know you?”

 

The main guy scowled, offended by Dabi’s honest question. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

 

“Not in the slightest.” Dabi stuffed his hands into his pockets, clenching and unclenching them into fists to warm them up in preparation for an attack. “Should I?”

 

The rest of the gang shuffled a bit uncomfortably as the guy spat out, “It’s Kanzaki , asshole. Remember?”

 

Dabi recognized the guy in an instant. Kanzaki had been the leader of a small-time gang that Dabi had driven out of District 11 after reports came in of his members robbing quirkless businesses. It had been before he’d met Spider, but he still remembered the old quirkless lady who saved his life and did it in her memory.

 

“Oh, yeah.” Dabi nodded thoughtfully. “I remember you now. Didn’t I tell you to stay the fuck out of 11?”

 

“I don’t listen to pompous fucks like you,” Kanzaki growled, twisting his body into a battle stance. The rest of his gang started tensing up as well.

 

Dabi remained unperturbed. He didn’t move a muscle as he stood in front of the backdoor of the workshop, lazily scanning each and every member of Kanzaki’s crew. “So your balls finally dropped after your two-year exile?” He asked sarcastically.

 

“Shut the fuck up, dick!” Kanzaki yowled, his eyes frantic. “Do you not even fucking realize you’re surrounded?”

 

“I am?” Dabi raised a pierced eyebrow. “Oh, no.”

 

“I’m gonna fucking kill you, Blueflame!” Kanzaki’s hands grew into two, mega-sized fists from his quirk. “I’m gonna take back what you fucking stole from me, asshole!”

 

“So you brought your fucking girlfriends to help?” Dabi motioned to the men standing behind the gangster. “I thought this was between you and me, Kugisaki? Or are you too pussy to go one-on-one?”

 

“It’s Kanzaki!” Like a child throwing a tantrum, the guy stomped his feet on the ground.

 

“Do you think I give a fuck?” All at once, Dabi’s tone became icy. He allowed his pheromones to pump out more, making the air smell like ash and marking his anger. “Kawasaki, I let you go last time. Try me again, and I’ll fucking cremate you.”

 

His words rang throughout the alleyway in a chilling echo.

 

And Dabi meant it.

 

He was way too pent-up to resist his own bloodlust.

 

If these motherfuckers tempted him, he’d kill each and every one of them without hesitation.

 

Kanzaki’s horse-like face twitched, a fixed expression of manic desperation plastered on his ugly features. The gangster was sweating real bad, and Dabi wondered if his sudden aggression and perspiration were a sign of drug abuse. It wouldn’t surprise him — only someone clinically insane or on drugs would try to ambush Dabi in his own fucking territory.

 

“You took everything from me,” Kanzaki hissed menacingly. His brown eyes were firmly attached to Dabi’s own. “You ruined me.”

 

Dabi felt no sympathy for the discriminatory asshole. Kanzaki and the rest of his cronies decided to be dicks and they had to pay the pied piper as a result.

 

Except Dabi wasn’t a musician in this scenario.

 

No — he was an executioner.

 

It would do these pussies well if they remembered that.

 

Maybe Dabi just needed to remind them a bit.

 

“And I’ll fucking kill you if you don’t get the fuck out of District 11 in under ten minutes,” Dabi warned lowly, a growl beginning to rumble in his chest. “Last time I scorched you, you cried like a little bitch. I wonder how you’ll cry when I melt your fucking eyeballs .”

 

“Fuck you!” Kanzaki shrieked psychotically. “I’ll fucking kill you, bastard!”

 

“You wanna go, Kawaguchi?” Dabi took his hands out of his pockets and spread his arms wide, beckoning the gangsters forward. “You wanna fucking do this, shithead? Come on! Come on! I’ll burn you all alive, motherfuckers!”

 

With that, Kanzaki screamed a battle cry and ran forward, his gang of men following right behind him, weapons at the ready and quirks surging forth.

 

And the fight began.

 

Dabi despised his dad, longed for the day he’d finally kill the man once and for all, but he had to admit that his brutal Hero training was one of the ways he established control so quickly and efficiently in the outer districts. He’d not only trained his quirk to be the strongest it could possibly be despite its effects on his body but he’d also been taught battle tactics and strategies to help in whatever fights he’d land himself in had he actually become a Hero.

 

He was expertly trained and showed his pedigree with sheer devastation.

 

With a single burst of his blue-tinted quirk, at least seven in Kanzaki’s gang caught fire.

 

He didn’t care about the ramifications of such a display of power, even if his hands flared in red hot agony. It was a little foolish to unleash so much of his quirk, as it cooked his insides, but he didn’t fucking care.

 

He hadn’t realized how much he needed this fight until it started.

 

Excuse the pun, but he needed to work off some steam.

 

The past few weeks had been shit, even if it was his own damn fault, so he wasn’t about to go easy on anyone trying to start something with Blueflame.

 

Dabi’s patchwork lips spread into a grin , the first one since he ran off Spider.

 

Ducking and dodging Kanzaki’s fists was laughably easy . Kanzaki’s quirk was moderately powerful on its own, but the gangster had no formal training and seemed to only rely on brute strength.

 

He had nothing on Dabi.

 

With a single kick, Dabi had the greasy motherfucker flying backwards, knocking his head into the brick alley walls.

 

With Kanzaki out of the way for now, he focused on the rest of the men surrounding him.

 

A dude with a lion’s mane of hair jumped forward and threw his hands into the air. A barrage of fucking nails flew towards his face, sharp and deadly, and Dabi reared back in shock and disgust. His hands blistered as his wall of blue fire incinerated the quirk, protecting him from any damage.

 

Once the guy stopped firing his nails (Fucking gross , by the way), Dabi aimed one of his own hands at the guy. His quirk burst forth, engulfing the guy in fire whilst he wailed in agony.

 

It was only due to Endeavour’s training that Dabi sensed the next attack before it happened.

 

He quickly ducked just before a metal bat swung at the place his skull had just been.

 

If it would have connected, he surely would’ve been knocked unconscious and probably concussed as well.

 

Crouched low from avoiding the attack, Dabi saw the offender was a man with a pompadour hairstyle, looming not too far behind him. He took advantage of the pompadour guy’s momentary surprise when Dabi avoided his bat and aimed his quirk right at him.

 

His hands felt like they were melting a little, but he ignored the pain.

 

He’d been through much worse, and honestly, he deserved it.

 

The blue flames of Dabi’s quirk weren’t able to completely surround the guy with the pompadour. Someone attempted to roundhouse kick him in the face, so he had to focus his attention back in front of him to block. 

 

The pompadour guy didn’t try anything else, so Dabi assumed they had run away after brushing with death a bit too close for comfort. He was able to pay more mind to the gangster in front of him without the unnecessary distraction.

 

What was up with Kanzaki’s goons having weird-ass hair?

 

There was lion mane guy, pompadour dude, and the gangster who tried to roundhouse him had freakishly-long blond hair!

 

In addition to the hair falling down to his fucking feet , the blond guy’s hair was also really fucking sticky.

 

Like — gorilla glue kind of sticky.

 

(So, Kanzaki’s gang had weird hair and nasty quirks?)

 

In order to block the guy’s kick, Dabi had stopped his quirk and held his arms in front of his face in an ‘x’ position. At that exact moment, the blond gangster struck again — grabbing as much of his own hair as he could and piling it onto Dabi’s exposed arms.

 

He’d tried to pull away, but his arms were fucking stuck.

 

He couldn’t fucking move.

 

That motherfucking son of a bitch —!

 

In his struggle, another gangster snuck up on Dabi’s side and kicked in his legs. He fell to his knees with a grunt of pain.

 

Then his head snapped to the side when the sticky-haired guy punched him, allowing him to get a glance of who had knocked him to the ground in the first place.

 

It was the pompadour gangster, and Dabi fought the urge to roll his eyes in frustration.

 

Guess that guy wasn’t as smart as Dabi thought he was and didn’t run away, choosing to bide his time in the shadows instead.

 

The little fucking coward.

 

Bitch, bitch, bitch, motherfucking asshole —!

 

“I’ve got him!” The guy with the sticky hair shouted. “Hit him!”

 

The pompadour gangster raised his metal bat in the air to crush it down on his skull.

 

And —

 

Dabi needed to avoid that by any means necessary.

 

As loathe as he was to admit weakness, a metal bat to the noggin would definitely incapacitate him.

 

Plan B, then.

 

Inferno time, dickweeds.

 

His body started heating up in preparation to explode into a cyclone of flames. 

 

He chose to ignore the voice in the back of his mind (Sounding uncomfortably like Spider, now that he thought about it) telling him that this was a stupid fucking idea.

 

But god damn it, Spider wasn’t here.

 

It was only Dabi, and Dabi wasn’t some kind of fucking supergenius like they were.

 

He couldn’t think his way out of this with so little time to spare.

 

He needed to act.

 

But then —

 

Just as he closed his eyes to protect them from the incoming fire —

 

The gangster with the pompadour hair flew into the air.

 

What …

 

What the fuck?

 

Dabi’s eyebrows furrowed together, and his jaw dropped just a bit.

 

What was Pompadour Gangster even doing?

 

Was this the guy’s finishing move, or something?

 

Was he preparing to do some kind of ninjutsu shit with his metal bat?

 

But it couldn’t be —

 

Because the gangster with the pompadour hair started screaming.

 

And it wasn’t a battle cry or even a scream of anger.

 

It was a scream of fear.

 

And then he fell to the ground.

 

From what was probably eighteen feet in the air.

 

The crack of his legs splintering on the impact made Dabi and the sticky-haired guy still holding onto him gasp in surprise.

 

“Wha …?!” The sticky-haired gangster trailed off.

 

An achingly-familiar figure hopped down from the rooftop above with fluid grace.

 

“Wha — Who the fuck are you?” The gangster screamed in shock once they had gotten over their momentary muteness.

 

Dabi couldn’t believe it.

 

It — no , it couldn’t be.

 

It just couldn’t

 

But then the black-clad newcomer ran towards the gangster, jumping up and unleashing a devastating flying kick that seemed to instantly knock the much-taller and broader man unconscious.

 

The gangster made a final wheezing noise as he collapsed to the ground in a heap, his quirk instantly nullifying once he fainted.

 

Dabi’s arms were released, and —

 

It was Spider.

 

It was Spider.

 

He recognized their mouthguard instantly!

 

Holy fuck — Spider was alive .

 

They were okay —!

 

“Kid —!” Dabi tried to choke out, still kneeling on the dirty ground in front of the vigilante.

 

He needed to tell them he was sorry.

 

He — fuck, he needed to apologize!

 

He didn’t mean to scare them!

 

He needed to assure them that he would never hurt them, no matter how mad he’d get.

 

But before he could finish what he was about to say — and probably grovel for forgiveness too — the kid was already running to face off against the next gangster.

 

Which — he understood why.

 

The two of them were still vulnerable.

 

It made sense for the vigilante to focus on the fight first and foremost.

 

The little shit was always so driven, after all. Almost to a scary extent.

 

But —

 

God, Dabi just wanted to apologize to them.

 

He’d made himself miserable the past two weeks, wondering if they were okay or not.

 

He wanted to make things right between them.

 

He needed to make things between them.

 

They were just a kid …

 

Regardless of the sentiment, the fight wasn’t over.

 

There were still five gangsters left in the alleyway, and Dabi wasn’t about to let the kid fight them off all by themself.

 

So Dabi did what he did best.

 

He buried his emotions deep and continued fighting.

 

Thankfully, the last five guys weren’t much of a hassle to beat.

 

There was one guy with some mild form of water manipulation that gave Dabi a bit of trouble, but he got rid of him before he gave Dabi too much damage.

 

Other than that, the remaining goons were easy pickings.

 

Their quirks were passive, and it only took a little measure of Dabi’s training to dodge their knives and bats.

 

In a short amount of time, all of them were lying on the ground. The unconscious ones belonged to Spider. The dead ones belonged to Dabi.

 

Finally —

 

The fight was over.

 

It was almost funny, Dabi had to admit.

 

In the beginning, he’d been so excited for a chance to roast the gangsters.

 

Now he just wanted them all to fuck off so he could apologize to his partner-in-crime.

 

But when he turned to face Spider, the kid had their back turned to him.

 

Which — ouch.

 

He understood why, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.

 

He’d hurt them, even if he didn’t mean to.

 

Fucking hell — the last time the vigilante saw Dabi, he’d unleashed his fucking catastrophic quirk at them!

 

Dabi should have been grateful Spider even stayed behind after the fight and not zipped away on their wires.

 

It still stung though.

 

“Spider …”

 

Fuck.

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

 

Why was he drawing a fucking blank?

 

Why was his head so fucking stupid right now?

 

Dabi had planned this for days.

 

He’d laid awake at night, unable to sleep, practicing what he needed to fucking say to the kid when he saw them again.

 

Why was he forgetting it all?

 

Why wasn’t his mouth moving, god damn it?!

 

“I … I told you to stay out of my business.”

 

No!

 

No, no, no!

 

That wasn’t what he wanted to fucking say!

 

That wasn’t it at all!

 

He wanted to apologize!

 

He wanted to grovel for forgiveness!

 

What the fuck was Dabi doing?

 

“I just — you shouldn’t have come. I — I could’ve handled this by myself, I mean.”

 

What the fuck.

 

What the fuck was wrong with his fucking head, he was such a fucking idiot —!

 

“Uh —  thanks though. I … that was a sticky situation there, so thanks …”

 

Puns.

 

Dabi was making fucking puns.

 

Why was he making puns again?

 

The last time he said a pun was when he was still Touya and trying to make his siblings laugh!

 

He was the biggest fucking dumbass alive.

 

Embarrassed by his own fucking self, Dabi spun on his heels and started moving towards the motorcycle he’d chained to the side of the workshop.

 

If half of his face wasn’t made up of dead skin cells, he would’ve been blushing like an idiot.

 

He unlocked his motorcycle and ignored the way his hands shook. “So — uh, yeah … It’s … It’s kind of fucking late. I’m — I mean, I was heading home until these asswipes jumped me, but I … I’m leaving now.”

 

Spider hadn’t said a fucking word since he started talking.

 

They were probably fuming with anger right now.

 

He was honestly making things worse.

 

Still, he kept trying — even though he wished the old lady who’d rescued him all those years ago had stapled his fucking mouth shut.

 

“I’m going home,” he announced like he hadn’t just repeated himself three times now. “I — you — I think you might’ve left something at my apartment. Like, some kind of fucking … whatever , I dunno, I just — you should probably come get it. I — I don’t want your fucking psycho stuff up in my shit.”

 

Oh, great.

 

He was bullshitting now.

 

There was absolutely nothing the vigilante had left in his apartment, but he was so fucking desperate he’d made up a fucking lie just to get the kid to come to his place.

 

Why he couldn’t just apologize was beyond him, at this point.

 

“So you should come to get it,” Dabi stated weakly, moving his motorcycle away from the side of the wall. “And — uh, it’d probably be quicker to ride with me. I mean, I don’t want to spend all fucking night waiting for your ass to wire up to my apartment, and shit. So — you should just ride with me. On my motorcycle. Yeah, it would — yeah.”

 

Dabi closed his mouth with a snap.

 

Lord, help his dumbass …

 

He was an idiot.

 

He was the biggest idiot in the world.

 

God — he was fucking Dabi.

 

He was Blueflame.

 

He was the strongest, deadliest kingpin in District 11, for god’s sake!

 

So —

 

Why couldn’t he just apologize properly to the vigilante?!

 

The alleyway was quiet.

 

Dabi didn’t move a muscle. He didn’t even turn around, so fucking afraid of seeing derision on Spider’s masked face, or — even worse — seeing that they had left.

 

He barely even breathed, his body was so tense.

 

Spider didn’t say anything.

 

Dabi was fucking petrified.

 

He waited for a second —

 

Then two.

 

Then three.

 

Still, the pup hadn’t said a single fucking thing.

 

His mind instantly started working against him, pouring so much self-hatred into him that he felt like it was practically spilling over the edges of his psyche.

 

They probably hated him.

 

They probably thought Dabi was a lost cause.

 

That no matter how strong he looked, Dabi was still weak, weak, still so fucking weak!

 

They probably thought he was just as bad as Endeavour.

 

They probably thought Dabi —!

 

Dabi smelled flowers in the air.

 

He blinked.

 

He … recognized the scent.

 

It triggered some old memories in the back of his mind …

 

The cool brush of his mom’s lips on his forehead …

 

Quiet breezes …

 

The gentle knock-knock of a shishi-odoshi in the distance …

 

Cherry blossoms.

 

It smelled like cherry blossoms.

 

Dabi turned around, his nose subconsciously following the scent —

 

And his eyes fell upon Spider, lying face down on the ground, silent and still, as blood slowly trickled out from a wound on their side.

 

“Kid …?”

Chapter Text

The image of an injured Spider lying on the ground would stay with Dabi forever.

 

It was just — wrong.

 

It wasn’t what Spider was supposed to be.

 

Spider was a genius.

 

They always came up with brilliant plans that surprised Dabi time and time again.

 

They could think their way out of anything.

 

Spider was strong too.

 

The pup’s small stature was disarming; Dabi saw them break a full-grown man’s arm with just a single stomp. They went toe-to-toe with Eraserhead, the best Underground Hero in Japan, and beat tank despite their puny frame, and Dabi knew not to underestimate them in any way.

 

That was why an image of an unmoving, uncommunicative Spider was so sickening in his mind.

 

It wasn’t right.

 

Spider was always whipping out sarcastic comments left and right.

 

They were so clever and powerful — nothing seemed to beat them.

 

Until …

 

“Kid …?” Dabi whispered.

 

This wasn’t real.

 

Spider was faking it, or something.

 

They were trying to get back at Dabi for scaring them.

 

They were just pretending …

 

So why weren’t they getting up?

 

“Spider?” Dabi asked again, his voice barely a whisper.

 

Get up.

 

Get up.

 

Dabi was done playing pretend.

 

They’d gotten back at him for scaring them, so the game was over.

 

So —

 

Get up.

 

But —

 

The vigilante didn’t.

 

They just laid on the ground, still as a corpse.

 

(   d    e   a   d   ?  )

 

Dead …

 

Pup?

 

Pup was … dead?

 

Baby.

 

Dead?

 

(   p  r  o  t  e  c  t    )

 

“Spider!”

 

Dabi lunged forward, practically sliding his knees on the damp, rain-soaked ground. He abandoned his motorcycle without a second thought and dove towards the unmoving vigilante. He landed near their side and instantly put his hands on their shoulders.

 

He couldn’t even stop to think how it was probably the first time he’d ever touched the kid.

 

They were so small …

 

Dabi gripped their tiny shoulders, forced them onto their back, and —

 

Spider was hurt.

 

He already knew that, but —

 

Seeing it was different.

 

It was scarier.

 

Dabi’s gaze narrowed on their right side where the fabric of their oversized black coat had been shredded. Crimson red blood sluggishly poured out from the wound, slowly but surely filling up a decent-sized pool around Spider’s prone body.

 

Fuck.

 

Fuck!

 

“Spider!” Dabi repeated in desperation. 

 

He didn’t know if they were unconscious; he couldn’t see their eyes behind their tinted goggles.

 

But —

 

He couldn’t remove their goggles to check.

 

They kept their identity a secret!

 

Dabi didn’t even know their fucking name.

 

He couldn’t invade their privacy, regardless of how his hands itched to unveil them just to see if they were still breathing.

 

Instead, Dabi tried placing his inflamed palms on the sides of the vigilante’s face.

 

The metal of their mouthguard cut into his blisters, but he didn’t care.

 

He lifted their head a bit off the ground, and it lolled in his grip.

 

“Spider! Answer me!” Dabi shouted, his voice echoing in the empty alleyway. “Come on! Spider!”

 

Dabi looked lower at the injury on their side. He couldn’t see how big the wound was underneath the bulky fabric of their coat, but the way it dripped blood gave enough evidence. One of his hands let go of the kid’s head and frantically pressed down on the injury, hoping to cull the flow.

 

The moment he touched Spider’s side, Dabi’s wrist was locked in a bone-crushing grip.

 

Dabi gasped in shock and snapped up to look at the vigilante, finding their goggles locked onto his eyes.

 

He repressed a shiver at the fervency. 

 

“Don’t touch …,” Spider gritted out in a warble. Dabi didn’t know if it was the voice changer making the kid’s voice sound extra distorted or if it was from the pain.

 

“Kid!” Dabi gasped, trying to get as close as possible. The air in the alleyway felt thin, and Dabi knew he was probably releasing pheromones at an intense rate due to his own stress and worry. “Holy fuck! What the hell happened?”

 

The grip on his wrist relaxed but didn’t let go.

 

“Got stabbed …?” The vigilante raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t it — obvious?”

 

Their tone was laced with discomfort, but Dabi couldn’t focus on it, as anger was starting to fill his stomach with acid.

 

“You little shit!” Dabi spat out in the face of their sarcasm, frustrated by their lack of concern. “I fucking know that, asshole! Why the fuck didn’t you dodge?”

 

“‘Was a lil’ busy, I guess …” Dabi watched incredulously as Spider attempted to lift their upper body off the ground, hissing in agony as the movement seemed to pull at their wound.

 

“Don’t —!” Dabi rushed to place both of his hands on Spider’s chest, forcing them back onto the ground. “Don’t fucking move! Are you insane?!”

 

“Apparently,” Spider groaned.

 

“I’ve seen you dodge bullets,” Dabi insisted aggressively. “Why couldn’t you dodge some dumbfuck gangster’s knife?”

 

“I told you, Dabi-san …” Spider pressed down on their own wound to staunch the blood flow and grimaced in pain. “I was a lil’ busy, okay?”

 

“Busy with what, supergenius?” Dabi’s eyes were wide and probably more than a bit crazed.

 

The vigilante seemed to glance up at him for a split second, and their gaze was obviously full of judgment. “Saving your ass, maybe?”

 

“I told you before,” Dabi growled, “I didn’t need your help. I told you not to get involved in my business, goddamn it!”

 

“You were about to burst into flames, which would injure over 67% of your body,” Spider’s voice hissed with derision. “Yeah, you definitely didn’t need my help.”

 

“I still didn’t need your help!” Dabi yelled, ignoring how his face felt just a little warm at the reminder of his less-than-stellar plan earlier. “And how is this any better? You got fucking stabbed! You’re bleeding out in the back alley behind my workshop!”

 

“It’s — not that bad.” The exposed parts of Spider’s face contorted in agony.

 

“Not that bad?” Dabi repeated in horror. “You’re sitting in a puddle of your own blood!”

 

“Not the f-first time,” The vigilante pointed out weakly.

 

Dabi wanted to pull out his own hair, but in doing so, he would have to release Spider, which he didn’t want to do by the way. “Holy shit, you’re insane! That doesn’t make me feel any better!”

 

“Sorry,” Spider intoned dryly, “your comfort is the most important thing right now, after all …”

 

Dabi yelled wordlessly. “Do you not understand what the fuck is going on right now, kid? Y-You’re bleeding out! You’ve been stabbed . I … I need to get you to the hospital —!”

 

“No!” Spider snapped, releasing their injury to grab Dabi’s wrists in another iron-clad grip. “No hospitals, Dabi-san!”

 

His eyebrows furrowed at the response. “Wha —? What the fuck? You’re bleeding out , Spider! We have to bring you to a fucking hospital!”

 

“No!” The vigilante shook their head violently, and Dabi pressed his palms onto their cheeks to slow the motion so they wouldn’t potentially hurt themself more.

 

“Woah, Woah, Woah!” Dabi yelled worriedly. “Stop that! Stop!”

 

“No hospitals!” Spider rambled. “You can’t bring me to a hospital!”

 

“Kid, come on!” Dabi pleaded. “You’re hurt! You — You need stitches . We gotta —”

 

“No!” Dabi reared back in shock at the kid’s sudden wail. He’d never heard such panic from the usually-composed supergenius. “I’ll fucking run. I swear to god, I’ll fucking run. Don’t bring me to the hospital!”

 

Dabi was trembling. “Kid, it’s okay! I — I know a couple of places. They — they don’t ask any questions! You’ll be safe! They won’t ask for your identi —”

 

“No!” They insisted sharply. “I don’t fucking care! Don’t, Dabi-san! Swear you won’t bring me! Swear, or I’ll leave!”

 

“Spider!” His composure was slipping away like sand in an hourglass as he watched the vigilante try to shove themself away from Dabi. “Spider, stop! You — You’re gonna hurt yourself! Stop!”

 

“Swear you won’t bring me to the hospital!” The kid gasped hoarsely. “Swear it, or I’ll fucking run! I’ll fucking do it!”

 

Dabi, afraid that they’d somehow injure themself more in their frenzy, acquiesced. “Okay! Okay, okay! No hospitals! No hospitals! Just — just stop!”

 

“No hospitals,” Spider chanted breathlessly. “No hospitals …”

 

“No hospitals,” Dabi agreed, although his stomach churned at the deal. No matter what fear the kid had of hospitals, they needed to see a doctor.

 

What was he going to do?

 

Fuck.

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

 

His instincts were going wild.

 

puppuppuppuppuppuppup

 

hurthurthurthurtprotectprotectpuppup

 

Dabi squeezed his eyes shut and tried to breathe in from his stomach as his mom taught.

 

He couldn’t afford to lose himself right now.

 

He needed to focus on the kid.

 

But his instincts were getting so loud

 

“Spider,” Dabi began warily, “I won’t take you to a hospital … but you need stitches. You’re hurt, really fucking bad.”

 

The vigilante’s breathing was strained. “No … no hospital …”

 

“I won’t take you to a hospital,” Dabi swore firmly. “I promise, okay? But — you’re hurt . Do you understand?”

 

Spider groaned. “I’m not stupid …

 

Dabi winced as he briefly glanced at the puddle of blood soaking into his jeans. “God … fuck, Spider. Are you okay?”

 

The vigilante looked up at him, and Dabi could practically taste the judgment in their gaze. “What the fuck?” They asked. “Oh, no … I’m peachy -fucking- keen , Dabi-san …”

 

“Shut the fuck up.” Dabi glared down at them. “You know what I fucking meant.”

 

Spider laughed a bit, and Dabi was terrified at how wet it sounded. Were they coughing up blood? “Je — sus … So touchy , Dabi-san …”

 

Dabi’s hands fluttered in the air. He didn’t know where to exactly place them. “I … fuck. Fuck , kid, I don’t know what to do …”

 

Spider started whispering something, but their voice changer was gargling it up too much for Dabi to understand. He knelt closer, trying to pick up as much as he could, and caught the strange scent of cherry blossoms again. More potent, this time.

 

Suddenly, all thoughts regarding the kid’s injury seemed to purge from Dabi’s brain.

 

The alleyway seemed to vanish around him.

 

He wasn’t in District 11 anymore …

 

Instead, he was somewhere else.

 

Somewhere familiar, in the furthest reach of his mind …

 

Like a memory

 

Cherry blossoms.

 

Why did it smell like cherry blossoms?

 

Dabi’s eyes widened.

 

It smelled sweet .

 

Slightly bitter , in the way the flowers always tended to be.

 

Pleasant.

 

Really pleasant.

 

It reminded Dabi of his mom and her garden …

 

What could possibly smell like cherry blossoms in the middle of an outer district alleyway?

 

He pressed himself closer to the vigilante.

 

The smell … seemed to be coming from them?

 

Was it — perfume?

 

Dabi’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. He sniffed deeper, trying to discern where the smell was coming from.

 

No …

 

It couldn’t be perfume. It didn’t have the slightly-chemical scent all artificial fragrances tended to carry.

 

Then … where was it coming from …?

 

“Dabi … -san …?”

 

Dabi’s nose followed the scent’s trail until he made it to where it was the strongest.

 

Before he even realized what he was doing, Dabi’s nose was just above Spider’s neck. Their coat was covering their skin, but Dabi could still smell it underneath what must have been the kid’s scent blockers.

 

There.

 

There it was …

 

Cherry blossoms …

 

“ … Let it go, my love. Let it go.”

 

Mom …?

 

“Dabi-san!”

 

Like he’d been submerged in ice water and had finally come up for air, Dabi’s mind snapped back to him in an instant.

 

His gaze locked onto the vigilante’s, whose face was only inches away from Dabi’s own.

 

He recognized that smell.

 

He recognized that slightly-cloying sweetness that clung to it.

 

He knew what it meant.

 

“You’re in heat,” Dabi heard himself muttering slowly. 

 

Spider stared up at him, and he didn’t need to take away their goggles and mouthguard to know what expression they had.

 

Fear .

 

“Dabi-san …,” The kid voiced carefully. “Back away.”

 

It was an order —

 

And one that Dabi refused.

 

“You’re in heat,” He emphasized. His own mind was struggling to focus on the knowledge he’d gained.

 

Spider was — an omega?

 

An omega vigilante?

 

“Dabi-san, I’m telling you right now,” Spider uttered in a slow, dangerous drawl, “back away. Or I’ll be forced to do something distasteful.”

 

An omega …

 

Spider was an omega.

 

They were an omega … and a vigilante.

 

“Spider …” Dabi’s chest started to rumble with the start of a ferocious growl.

 

They were in heat.

 

They were an omega vigilante, and they were in heat.

 

Just a pup …

 

A baby.

 

Pup was in heat.

 

Dabi’s mind swam as his instincts pulled him under their influence.

 

Pup was in heat!

 

Pup needed —

 

Pup needed nest, nest, comfort, safety, safe, safe, safe!

 

But —

 

Pup …

 

Pup was hurt?

 

Pup was — unsafe.

 

Pup was vulnerable.

 

notsafenotsafenotsafenotsafenotsafenotsafe

 

p  r  o  t  e  c  t  )

 

P  R  O  T  E  C  T )

 

(   A  L  P  H  A       P  R  O  T  E  C  T   )

 

 

“ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID?!”

 

Spider flinched in surprise. “Wha —?”

 

“I thought you were the smartest person I fucking know!” Dabi continued shrieking as if he didn’t just cut them off. “But no! You’re just as much of a dumbass as the rest of us!”

 

He couldn’t believe this.

 

All this time, Dabi thought Spider was a genius.

 

Guess he was fucking wrong.

 

Spider’s eyebrows furrowed. “Dabi-san ..?”

 

“No!” Dabi spat violently. “No! You don’t get to act all naive and shit! You’re fucking stupid!”

 

“What the fuck?” Spider gasped.

 

How could they act so surprised?

 

They knew what they were doing, going outside and fucking patrolling at a time like this.

 

They didn’t get to act innocent.

 

“How do you know how to hack computers and shit but don’t know the simplest fucking things?” Dabi raged. Smoke curled out from between his skin.

 

“C-Calm down!” The vigilante tried to say.

 

“Calm down?” Dabi repeated, actually going as far as to pull on his own hair this time. “Calm down? Are you fucking kidding me? Did you get concussed as well in the fight, you fucking idiot? Calm down?!”

 

“Dabi-san!” The kid shouted in frustration. “What the fuck are you talking about?!”

 

Dabi laughed psychotically at the vigilante’s cluelessness.

 

“You’re in heat , you goddamn moron!”

 

Heat — the omega version of a rut, just all the more dangerous.

 

They shared similar symptoms, like hoarding behaviors, self-isolation, the three-day cycle during the seasons, and deliriousness —

 

But heats were much more extreme.

 

Without proper care, omegas could get really sick during heats.

 

They could even die.

 

Spider halted in their questions.

 

“ … Heat?” They whispered.

 

Spider had ventured outside during their most vulnerable time and had the gall to act surprised.

 

God — Dabi was fucking pissed.

 

How stupid could they be?

 

Dabi grinned meanly. “Yeah? You get it now? You get how much of a fucking dumbass you are?!”

 

Spider stared up at Dabi. “ … I’m in heat?”

 

They sounded … confused.

 

A little shocked, to be honest.

 

Why would they —?

 

Oh.

 

Oh, no.

 

Dabi froze.

 

“Wait …” His mouth opened and closed like a fish gasping for air. “You … you didn’t fucking know?!”

 

This was worse.

 

This was so much worse.

 

They weren’t just a dumbass —

 

They were clinically brain-dead .

 

Spider shrank back and trembled just a bit. Blood was continuing to pour out of their wound, so they held onto the injury tightly. “I just … I thought …”

 

“No! No, you didn’t think!” Dabi laughed harshly. “That’s the whole damn problem! For once in your goddamn life, you didn’t fucking think!”

 

All at once, anger seemed to surge back into Spider’s composure. 

 

“I thought it was a fucking stomach ache, you dick!”

 

It echoed throughout the dank alleyway.

 

Dabi gaped.

 

No.

 

No, no, no.

 

Spider was an idiot.

 

For all of their genius, they were an idiot.

 

He suspected that the kid wasn’t taught about second genders and their dynamics, but he hadn’t thought it was this fucking bad.

 

Oh, god.

 

Spider was an idiot.

 

And apparently, Dabi was an idiot too, seeing how he fumbled for an apology only a couple of minutes earlier.

 

They were fucked.

 

They were well and truly fucked.

 

Dabi wanted to cry.

 

Or burst into flames.

 

Either one would work.

 

Instead, he just screamed —

 

“Stomach ache?! You thought it was just a fucking stomach ache?!”

 

Spider tried to lift themself up from the ground but fell back again. “I don’t know everything, Dabi-san!”

 

“Oh, my god,” Dabi moaned, tugging at his bangs. “Did you not even suspect anything was wrong?”

 

Spider huffed. “I told you, I thought it was just a stomach ache. Sue me, asshole.”

 

“What about hoarding?” Dabi questioned agitatedly. “Sensitivities? Scenting?”

 

“I don’t really think this shit matters right now,” Spider gritted out, “considering the fact that I have just been stabbed in the fucking side.”

 

“Of course, it matters!” Dabi shouted. “You’re what, thirteen? Fourteen? Unsupervised heats can be fucking deadly, you know!”

 

Spider seemed confused as well as frustrated. And probably in a shit ton of pain as well.

 

“Deadly?” They repeated. “Why the fuck is it deadly? They said you should just remember to eat and drink during a cycle. And to stay away from strangers.”

 

What the fuck.

 

Did this kid know anything about second genders aside from the very basics?

 

And who the fuck was telling them that shit?!

 

“Who said that?” Dabi demanded furiously.

 

For once, the vigilante looked a little sheepish behind their masked appearance. “ … The Internet?”

 

No.

 

“Oh, my fucking god!” He shrieked in horror. “Why are you listening to the fucking Internet about heat advice?!”

 

“The Internet is great —!” Spider tried to defend.

 

“I once scraped my ankle on a bit of metal and the Internet told me I had two hours to live!” Dabi stressed. “Did your fucking parents teach you anything?!”

 

Dabi knew he had made a mistake before he even finished speaking.

 

He knew the pup couldn’t have had the best family situation if they were a vigilante.

 

From the way they reacted to Dabi’s anger during their previous argument, that became all the more clear.

 

If Dabi was guessing — although he wished it wasn’t so — they were probably abused.

 

Why else would they try to goad Dabi into screaming at them?

 

Why else would they act so confused when Dabi tried to treat them like the child they were?

 

He messed up.

 

Of course Spider’s parents, if they had any, didn’t teach them about second genders.

 

They had the bare minimum knowledge on the subject, after all.

 

Bringing up their parentage was a mistake and one that Dabi regretted instantly when he watched Spider press themself against the alleyway floor and turn their head away.

 

He wouldn’t like his parents being involved in an argument either.

 

The cherry blossom scent soured pretty damn fast.

 

Dabi floundered trying to find what to say.

 

“I … I didn’t …” He bit his lip and didn’t feel anything besides pressure on the dead skin. “I just — how do you not know?”

 

“I just don’t, okay?!” The vigilante cried out angrily, as they tried pushing themself up again. They actually sat up this time, albeit painfully. “Fucking hell, I’m quirkless, remember? Not psychic!”

 

“Woah, Woah!” Dabi didn’t know where to put his hands. “What the fuck are you doing?”

 

“I’m getting the fuck out of here, dipshit.” The vigilante’s face grimaced as they placed one of their blood-soaked hands on the ground. “You’re no help, so I’m gonna fix this shit by myself.”

 

“No way!” He grabbed the kid’s skinny arm. “You’re injured, dumbass! You think you’re gonna just walk it off, or something? Don’t tell me you’re planning on wiring .”

 

“So what?” Spider shot out. “So fucking what? I don’t see you making some bright-eyed ideas!”

 

“You’re the one that doesn’t want to go to a fucking hospital!” Dabi refuted.

 

The kid tried to launch themself to Dabi but stopped after a bout of pain seemed to wrack through their tiny body. “No hospitals!” They barked harshly. “You promised! No hospitals!”

 

“Goddamn it!” Dabi threw up his hands. “I told you I wasn’t gonna fucking — but you need stitches! You’re injured and in heat .”

 

“I have shit at home,” The vigilante waved away Dabi’s concern. “I’m so sorry this is such a fucking bother for you, Dabi-san. I’ll get out of your hair and you won’t have to deal with my stupidity any longer —!”

 

“Stop putting fucking words in my mouth!” He snapped. “And you’re not going anywhere!”

 

“Oh?” Spider hummed dangerously. “Then what’s your brilliant plan, Dabi-san?”

 

Dabi’s mouth opened to answer —

 

Then shut it with a snap of his teeth just a second later.

 

What was his plan?

 

Dabi strained himself.

 

What was he going to do?

 

The kid was refusing a doctor, for whatever fucking reason.

 

But they needed stitches.

 

Excessive stress during heats could injure omegas. Heats caused intense flu-like symptoms like fevers and stomach cramps, and if left untreated, it could weaken an omega’s immune system, leaving them susceptible to other illnesses or viruses. It could even kill them as Dabi said.

 

Spider didn’t seem to know a single thing about second genders, aside from the random bullshit said on the Internet. If Dabi let them go, then they’d probably crawl back into whatever cave their troll-ass self lived in and try to just sweat it out or some shit. They’d be left alone to suffer through their fever by themself. 

 

Who would feed them?

 

Who would bring them water?

 

Who would make sure their temperature didn’t rise too high?

 

Omegas needed support during their heats.

 

Dabi tried to remember what his mom would do during her cycles.

 

Endeavour never cared for her during her heats. It was too beneath him, so the rest of the Todoroki’s would assist her. Their maids were in charge of bringing basic necessities like food and water to her nest, whilst the pack took care of her emotional state.

 

His mom was always very touchy during her cycle, Dabi remembered. She’d scent them every ten minutes, it seemed, and even when she was satisfied by their shared smells, she’d always keep them within arms reach to hug or cuddle every now and then. The closeness of the pack comforted her and kept her stress levels at a minimum, allowing her cycle to pass smoothly.

 

Pack …

 

An omega needed their pack during heat cycles.

 

But —

 

Where was Spider’s pack?

 

“Spider, is there anyone I can call for you?” Dabi asked pleadingly. “Someone you — I don’t know. Someone you trust? Someone who can patch you up?”

 

The vigilante stared up at him in silence.

 

They shook her head slowly. They seemed more confused by the question itself than upset.

 

Dabi sighed.

 

He was honestly expecting that answer.

 

Didn’t mean it hurt any less.

 

“You’re alone?” Dabi tried to make his voice sound as gentle as possible, but it was difficult, seeing as how his throat still rumbled with low growls.

 

The idea that a preteen — a child — was prancing through the crime-ridden streets of the outer districts without any sort of supervision was horrifying.

 

God — did Spider even have a place to stay?

 

They said they’d been stabbed before — who healed their injuries then?

 

Fucking hell, did the kid have anyone in this world?

 

Spider furrowed their eyebrows. “ … Why does that matter?”

 

Listen closely —

 

Hear that?

 

That was the sound of Dabi’s heart splitting in two.

 

“It matters,” Dabi breathed. “It really matters, pup.”

 

“Oh, I see.” The exposed parts of the vigilante’s face twisted in anger. “You’re looking down on me again. Fuck you too.”

 

“Wha — you think I’m looking down on you?” Dabi’s tone was incredulous.

 

“You think less of me because I’m young,” Spider spat venomously. “Like that somehow makes me incompetent. I’m not going to deal with your bullshit for a second time.”

 

“I don’t think less of you!” Dabi shouted in disbelief. The very idea was ridiculous to him.

 

“Then why are you treating me like a goddamn child?!” Spider shouted.

 

“You are a goddamn child!” He yelled right back. “That doesn’t mean I think you’re incompetent though!”

 

“Then why the hell are you acting so weird?!” The kid shrieked in frustration.

 

He couldn’t take this anymore.

 

Did Spider actually think Dabi thought they were inept?

 

When they first met, Dabi was terrified of Spider!

 

He still was!

 

He wasn’t acting weird because he thought Spider was a child, he was acting weird because —

 

“I’m fucking worried about you!”

 

Spider went still.

 

The two stared at each other as it echoed through the alley.

 

Dabi continued.

 

“There’s your answer, dipshit!” He roared, eyes wide and spittle flying in his rage. “I’m worried about you! I'm motherfucking concerned, asshole! That doesn’t mean I think you can’t kick my fucking ass, because I’m pretty sure you fucking can. It means that I fucking upchucked on my goddamn floor five days ago because I didn’t know whether you were dead or alive! It means that I’m fucking upset that you don’t have anyone to rely on! It means that I don’t want you to be alone anymore! Goddamn it, Spider! God-fucking-damn it!”

 

There.

 

There it was.

 

The truth behind everything.

 

Dabi didn’t want to yell or hurt Spider because he thought the vigilante was too weak to handle it.

 

He didn’t want to yell or hurt Spider because he was worried about the fact that they could.

 

And no kid should ever be okay with that.

 

No one should.

 

Not even Dabi himself, with regards to his dad.

 

“Dabi-san …” Spider’s words trailed off. “I’m fine. You shouldn’t … worry about me. I know what I’m doing. I can take care of myself —”

 

“I know you can take care of yourself,” Dabi interrupted grimly. “But you shouldn’t have to.”

 

“That’s just the way it is.” Dabi knew the kid had a smile on their face, despite how gut-wrenching their words were. “I … don’t think I’m supposed to be around people.”

 

“Do you really think so, or have you just never tried?” He implored gently.

 

Spider huffed quietly, but it wasn’t in anger. “I’m not meant for it, Dabi-san. Just … believe me.”

 

“How can you know that if you’ve never tried?” Dabi tried recalling the lessons his tutors gave him all those years ago. “It’s like, uh — It’s — fuck. What is it … The … The Science … Manner? The shit about … testing? Hypothesis, whatever the fuck?”

 

The vigilante’s voice was a bit amused. “The Scientific Method?”

 

“Yeah! Yeah, that shit!” Dabi nodded firmly. “The Scientific Method. I was always better at history.”

 

“Don’t worry, Dabi-san,” Spider placated. “I’m the brains of this operation anyway. You just need to stand by the sidelines and look pretty.”

 

“Ha, fuck you — wait, wait. I’m getting sidetracked.” Dabi shook his head frantically. “Okay, so — Scientific Method says you gotta test your experiment, yeah? And you’re all smart and shit, so why don’t you test the theory?”

 

“Stop trying to tempt me with science experiments,” They groaned lightly. “I don’t even know what the point you’re trying to make is.”

 

“I … I wanna help you, Spider.” Dabi stared at the vigilante’s goggles and distantly wished he knew what was lurking behind them. “I want you to rely on me.”

 

Spider shook a little.

 

God — he wanted to know what they were thinking.

 

“I’m sorry, Dabi-san,” they admitted hoarsely. “I’m sorry, but … I can’t. I — I don’t think I can trust —?”

 

Every word that came out of the kid’s mouth hurt.

 

They were injured.

 

They needed help, but they couldn’t trust anyone else to give it.

 

“Then let me try,” He pleaded quietly. “Let me try to convince you. I — I promise , Spider … I won’t hurt you. I swear on my life. I swear on my family. I won’t hurt you. I won’t betray you.”

 

Dabi watched the vigilante carefully then said —

 

“If I break that promise —” He gulped. His voice cracked a little, so he cleared his throat and continued. “If I break that promise, kid … you can … you can contact Eraserhead. You can tell him everything.”

 

And Dabi meant it.

 

Everything.

 

Even if he didn’t trust the Pro Hero far enough to throw him, he knew the man would happily throw him in jail.

 

Especially if Eraserhead found out about Dabi’s secrets.

 

He’d always known in the back of his mind that Spider knew more about him than what they admitted.

 

He knew they knew who he was.

 

He knew they knew about Todoroki Touya.

 

It made him super fucking terrified at first because he didn’t trust the kid, but now it was … a little comforting if he was being honest. It made something in his gut soften when he saw how the kid regarded him.

 

They knew about Todoroki Touya.

 

They probably knew about his dad too, and yet — they didn’t see a failure.

 

They didn’t see a ghost.

 

They only saw who he was now.

 

Dabi.

 

Blueflame.

 

He didn’t know jackshit about Spider, but Dabi knew he could trust them.

 

The kid made it very clear, albeit subtly.

 

They wouldn’t tell anyone about his past unless he hurt them.

 

And Dabi never hurt kids.

 

“Please, Spider. I’ll leave you alone if that’s what you really want, but —” Dabi was literally about to beg on his hands and knees. He was already about halfway there. “Please just let me help you. At least for tonight. I have supplies at my place. You’ll be safe there, and — Please, kid. Please. Just let me help you.”

 

The vigilante stared at him in shocked silence.

 

Please, say yes.

 

Please.

 

Dabi didn’t know what he’d do if they refused him.

 

He wished he didn’t care about the kid so much, because then he could simply try and force them to accept his help.

 

He’d get his ass whooped for sure, but it was the principle of it all.

 

But Dabi was powerless right now. He’d submit to whatever Spider decided.

 

It was the only way he could get the kid to understand that Dabi meant no harm.

 

They obviously had issues with control and power imbalances, so Dabi willfully handed himself over and made himself purposefully weak.

 

It was all up to them now.

 

Dabi heard a noise coming from Spider’s mouthguard — what he learned was their breathing picking up as a sign of incoming communication — and braced himself for impact. He even closed his eyes in tense preparation, readying himself for disappointment.

 

And then —

 

“Izuku.”

 

Dabi’s eyes blinked open.

 

Huh?

 

Did Dabi miss something?

 

“ … What?” He whispered in confusion.

 

The vigilante sighed for a long time, then replied, “My name. It’s Izuku.”

 

Dabi’s jaw dropped.

 

Izuku.

 

Spider’s name was Izuku.

 

They —

 

They told him their name.

 

Izuku.

 

Dabi knew their name now.

 

But what …

 

What did that mean?

 

Dabi furrowed his eyebrows and stared at the kid, trying to make sense of everything.

 

Spider — Izuku — sighed even longer this time.

 

“Fucking hell — take me to your apartment, dumbass. I’m still bleeding out, remember?” They sassed as if nothing potentially surprising or life-changing had happened between the two of them. “I don’t want to pass out before I can ride on a motorcycle for the first time.”

 

Dabi was stunned.

 

Izuku — Izuku! — hadn’t refused his offer.

 

They’d accepted it.

 

At least for tonight.

 

At least for tonight.

 

Dabi was satisfied with that.

 

He was content for once in a long, long time.

 

That was until Izuku chirped —

 

“By the way … how are you planning on getting me on your motorcycle?”

 

Dabi glanced down at their injured side. 

 

They couldn’t even get up from the ground.

 

“Shit.”

 


 

“Uh,” Dabi said eloquently after he’d kicked in his door. “Welcome to my crib?”

 

He could feel the anger radiating from Spider — Izuku! — and winced, knowing it was kind of his fault, to begin with.

 

It had been a long drive.

 

It was a little hard to explain …

 

“Already been here, remember?” The vigilante hissed from behind him, their tone infused with acid. “You sure you want me to come in? Don’t want you to get all pissy again.”

 

“We’ll discuss that later.” Dabi took a step inside and slammed the door shut with his foot. “We gotta deal with the important shit first. I’ve got a medkit in —”

 

“You didn’t change your locks.” The kid — They told Dabi their name! — sounded angry and, dare he say it, hurt by their discovery.

 

Dabi’s hindbrain whimpered.

 

Pup is sad.

 

Fix, fix, fix, fix!

 

Heat! Help! Pup is sad!

 

Damn it.

 

Dabi quickly tried to reassure the kid.

 

He didn’t want them to be stressed during such a sensitive time.

 

What if they got sick?

 

“I was going to!” He tried to explain in a panic. “I fucking swear, I was, I just —”

 

“It smells like shit in here,” Spider — Izuku, Izuku, Izuku — stated coldly.

 

Dabi sniffed briefly and grimaced in agreement. “I — yeah, it kind of does, but, uh — remember when I told you I threw up a couple of days ago?”

 

“Don’t fucking tell me you didn’t clean it up …,” Izuku warned lowly.

 

( Izuku , their name was Izuku , holy fuck — they gave Dabi their name! )

 

Focus!

 

“No!” Dabi vehemently denied. “No, fucking gross! I cleaned the puke up, but — uh … I was … I kind of … went off on a bender when you left?”

 

“It smells like pot,” Izuku prompted.

 

Dabi nervously laughed. “Had a couple blunts too …”

 

The vigilante sighed. “Mou … at least I know you have plenty of alcohol then.”

 

Dabi eyed the row of empty liquor bottles lining his counter. He only had some vodka left. “Uh … right.”

 

“You still haven’t locked your door,” Izuku pointed out.

 

They sounded upset.

 

Upset pup!

 

Help!

 

“Oh!” Dabi perked up. Finally, he could do something to make the kid happy. He guessed they had some weird obsession with doors or something. The protective alpha side of his brain was practically screaming at him to comfort the vigilante. Before he even knew what he was doing, he automatically bent his knees. “Go ahead.”

 

Izuku, currently tied to Dabi’s back using their wires, growled in response.

 

“Oh, fuck!” Dabi cursed, squeezing his eyes shut in embarrassment. “Uh … sorry?”

 

Back at the alley behind Dabi’s shop, it had become quickly apparent to the both of them that there was no way in hell that the kid would be able to get up on their own, much less stay attached to Dabi’s motorcycle long enough to ride it. 

 

Izuku immediately proposed their wires, and Dabi gave a firm fuck no to that.

 

They would’ve dropped out of the sky from blood loss the moment they tried it.

 

But the mention of their wires did give Dabi an idea.

 

A remarkably stupid and probably infantalizing idea —

 

But an idea nonetheless.

 

It had only taken a little bit of elbow grease and some quick dodges from Izuku’s teeth before Dabi had tied the little shit to him back-to-back.

 

It made sure the vigilante wouldn’t fall off his motorcycle, but it didn’t make the kid too happy either.

 

“We never speak of this again,” Izuku hissed before they reached out and locked the door with his admittedly flimsy lock. “Now get me on a fucking table.”

 

Dabi obeyed, partly because he knew the kid needed someplace stable and partly because he was terrified to find out what they’d do to him if he refused. He moved to the counter, quickly wiping it clean, and turning his back to it.

 

In an instant, the wires surrounding Dabi in a vice-like grip disappeared, and Izuku’s weight dropped down onto the flat surface.

 

For a brief moment, Dabi missed it.

 

The Todoroki’s were always so touchy …

 

He missed the warm comfort of another person —

 

Focus!

 

“I’ll grab the medkit,” Dabi said to the kid and pointed to the tiny bathroom only a few steps away. “It’s right over there.”

 

Izuku gave a thumbs up, barely paying attention to him in favor of inspecting their wound. The entire side of their oversized coat was soaked in dark red blood. Little audible hitches and groans came out from behind their voice modulator.

 

Dabi took that as an agreement and hurried over to grab the first aid.

 

It only took him a second before he tore open his medicine cabinet and yanked out the box of supplies, probably knocking over other shit in the process.

 

When he ran back to the main room, he’d almost stumbled in surprise.

 

Izuku had shed their massive black coat whilst Dabi was in the bathroom. They were still sitting placidly on top of Dabi’s countertop, their legs not even reaching halfway to the ground. Their entire body was covered in a dark, padded skinsuit that went up to their neck. Their knees and elbows were even more padded for protection.

 

Dabi’s attention was drawn to Izuku’s frame once he’d seen their clothing.

 

They were fucking small, holy shit?

 

Like — 

 

Dabi knew they were little.

 

They barely reached his chest, after all.

 

But goddamn, Izuku was fucking tiny.

 

Almost unhealthily so.

 

Were they even eating properly?

 

Dabi would have automatically thought they were smart enough to understand the importance of their health, but then he remembered they were currently in heat and thought it was a good fucking idea to go outside patrolling — so he thought better of it.

 

The stupid little shit …

 

Feed pup, feed, feed, feed!

 

Pup hurt! Pup hurt!

 

Dabi inwardly groaned at his incessant instincts and shook his head to clear his thoughts. His eyes unconsciously trailed away from Izuku’s slight form and slowly migrated upward.

 

He nearly gasped when he saw their hair, uncovered for the first time from their hood.

 

Honest, he didn’t know why he didn’t notice it first before their clothes.

 

Izuku’s hair was pretty eye-catching after all.

 

It was super fucking curly and reached the vigilante’s chin. The roots were stark white, reminding Dabi of his own, whilst the strands ended green.

 

Then Dabi's gaze landed on the bottle of vodka they had obviously cleaned their wound with.

 

“Uh …,” Dabi said intelligently. “What’re you doing?”

 

Izuku looked up at Dabi. “What the fuck does it look it?”

 

Dabi nodded numbly as his eyes remained latched onto the kid’s odd hair. “Right, right.”

 

The vigilante’s ungloved fingers, pale and freckled, touched their side. “Goddamn it …” They groaned.

 

“What happened?” Dabi asked nervously.

 

God — his sweaty palms were irritating his blisters …

 

“Nothing really,” The kid sighed heavily. “Just aches a little. Do you have a needle and some surgical thread?”

 

“Wait.” Dabi’s mind drew a blank. “Are you planning on stitching yourself up?”

 

Izuku’s goggles were fixated on Dabi’s eyes. “Of course. I’ve done this before, remember?”

 

“And do you remember when I told you that knowledge doesn’t fucking help me?” Dabi howled incredulously, waving his arms a bit for emphasis.

 

“Mou ~” For the first time that night, Izuku sounded recognizable to Dabi; they were the same sassy and chaotic individual they used to be. “Don’t pussy out on me now, Dabi-san!”

 

“How do you even know how to stitch a wound?” Dabi asked in horror.

 

“Probably something you don’t want the answer to,” was the vigilante’s reply.

 

“God —!” Dabi rubbed his temple with his free hand. “You’re gonna give me a fucking stroke, you hear me?”

 

“Loud and clear,” Izuku said pleasantly. “I need to stop the bleeding first, however. So do you have the needle and thread?”

 

Dabi set the supplies down on a nearby counter and opened them.

 

Bandages.

 

More bandages.

 

Some Neosporin.

 

Aspirin.

 

No needle and thread.

 

He was an idiot.

 

Izuku was an idiot too —

 

But Dabi was the king of all idiots.

 

“Fuck!” Dabi shouted suddenly, grabbing his hair in a tight grip. “Fucking — goddamn it!”

 

“Let me guess,” Izuku drawled, “you don’t have it?”

 

“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” He yowled, tugging and pulling until he was certain a few strands would yank out. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit!”

 

“Oh, calm down, you big bitch,” Izuku snapped. “It’s not the end of the world.”

 

“What the fuck?” Dabi whirled around to face them. “Are you fucking blind? Spi — Izuku, you need stitches! You’re gonna bleed out!”

 

“I would have preferred stitches,” The kid pointed out calmly. “I can make do without.”

 

“Well, unless your new talent is pulling a needle and thread out of your goddamn asshole, then we’re fucked!” Dabi shrieked loudly. He’d probably have gotten a noise complaint from his mysterious neighbor (He’d never seen them, but he was certain they were into some villainous shit) had they not been remarkably silent for a while.

 

“Nope,” They laughed, regaining some of their previous maniacal tendencies. “I just need one more favor, partner.”

 

Dabi’s anxiety was starting to fuck up his breathing, but he still answered. “What is it?”

 

“Hold out your hand for me.”

 

He obeyed, albeit a bit warily.

 

Most of the kid’s plans were extremely fucked-up, now that he thought about it.

 

What were they planning now?

 

“Light it on fire for me?” They asked innocently.

 

Dabi almost fell backward.

 

“What the fuck?” His eyes widened. “What the fuck? Why the fuck do you —!”

 

“Just do it, dumbass!” Their voice hardened.

 

Dabi obeyed.

 

Like the damn dog  he apparently was.

 

Immediately, his hand was enveloped in blue flames.

 

For a moment, Dabi was afraid Izuku was going to run again.

 

He’d scared the kid with his quirk before.

 

What if he scared them again?

 

But no —

 

The kid remained sitting.

 

Instead of running, their hands lifted up to their face.

 

Dabi watched their movement, almost mesmerized, as the fire danced in their goggles.

 

With one hand, Izuku pushed up their goggles.

 

With the other, they pulled down their mouthguard.

 

Dabi froze, and his heartbeat thundered in his ears.

 

“Hello, Dabi-san,” Izuku whispered quietly. Their mouth, covered in small abrasions, seemed to form his name with extra care.

 

They sounded so odd without the voice changer.

 

Their voice was airy and high-pitched.

 

Nothing like the gravelly, low-tone Dabi associated with them.

 

He stared into their eyes for the first time — bright green and framed by snow-white lashes.

 

“Izuku …,” He murmured in shock.

 

They were so small …

 

They really didn’t look any older than Shouto.

 

Their face was covered in freckles and small pale scars.

 

Dabi wondered where they came from.

 

Who would hurt a kid that small …?

 

“I want to try,” They admitted carefully. “I want to try to rely on you.”

 

Dabi gulped down the lump that formed in his throat.

 

“I can’t tell you a lot.” Their eyes were so big and green. Dabi could see his fire reflected in them. “You have to be okay with that.”

 

“I am.” Dabi nodded slowly. He hadn’t blinked once since they’d unmasked themself.

 

“I’m not good with people.” Izuku’s pure white lashes fluttered a bit.

 

Dabi hoarsely replied, “Me neither.”

 

“I … I think I have some problems,” They said, almost shamefully.

 

“I have a couple too.” Dabi couldn’t even feel the burn of his quirk on his hand. He was too busy staring down at the vigilante who’d somehow crawled into his fire-blackened heart and dug themself a home there.

 

“I’m involved in some deep shit.” Izuku’s obviously-gnawed on lips quirked up just a bit.

 

Dabi smiled despite himself. “I’m kind of a criminal.”

 

“I’m probably gonna fuck up a lot,” They ventured on.

 

He shrugged in response. “I’ve always been a fuck up.”

 

“What do you want from me, Dabi-san?” The vigilante’s eyebrow raised in mild curiosity. “What do you want to be to me?”

 

Dabi fought for a good reason.

 

What did Dabi really want from Izuku?

 

Why was he doing all of this?

 

He remembered what he felt after Izuku announced their deal with Eraserhead.

 

He remembered what he felt after Izuku ran from him.

 

The fear.

 

The worry.

 

The constant questions —

 

Are they safe? Are they unhurt? Are they alive?

 

His alpha brain only seemed to mirror those thoughts.

 

“I guess …,” Dabi sighed tiredly, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand. “I think I just wanna keep you safe, I guess. What do you want from me?”

 

“Someone I can trust.” Izuku’s eyes were imploring, and their answer was prompt.

 

“Then there we go.” Dabi nodded. “That’s who we’ll be to each other.”

 

“You’re a good brother, Dabi-san.” Their scarred mouth stretched into a tiny, almost melancholy smile. “You know that, right?”

 

You’re a good brother, Dabi-san.

 

Dabi wanted to weep.

 

God — he missed his siblings so much.

 

Every day he missed them.

 

He yearned to hold them in his arms again.

 

Some nights he’d wake up sobbing , arms stretched out and longing to feel their touch again.

 

But Dabi had work to do.

 

He had to grow stronger.

 

He had to kill Endeavour.

 

He wasn’t —

 

He wasn’t Todoroki Touya anymore.

 

He’d done so many bad things.

 

He could never be that little kid again. 

 

He could never be the older brother his siblings remembered.

 

They didn’t deserve to get the image of their steadfast, kindhearted older brother destroyed by the man he’d become.

 

He wouldn’t subject them to that.

 

They had mourned Todoroki Touya.

 

He wasn’t going to make them do that again.

 

But —

 

Izuku never saw Todoroki Touya when they looked at him.

 

For some reason, the kid understood that, although Touya still remained to haunt him, Dabi was a completely separate entity now.

 

They knew he was Dabi now.

 

And they didn’t judge him for that.

 

They really never judged Dabi for anything , now that he thought about it.

 

And Izuku had no one.

 

They were alone, and something in Dabi’s brain said fuck no to that.

 

Because Dabi didn’t hurt kids.

 

He kept them safe .

 

“Then I’ll be your brother,” Dabi found himself saying. “I’ll be your brother, and we’ll be a pack. I’ll help you, and you’ll never have to worry if I’d betray you. Because we’ll be a family.”

 

“Family …,” Izuku repeated in an almost dream-like fashion. “Will it be a good one?”

 

“It’ll be the best one,” Dabi affirmed. “Because it’ll be ours, yeah?”

 

“I think I want to be your family, Dabi-san.” Izuku’s eyes danced in the firelight.

 

“Good.” Dabi snorted a little. His eyes were suspiciously wet. “‘Cause I want to be yours.”

 

“Can you teach me how to be a family?” Their question was painfully earnest.

 

Dabi tried to will the tears back into his eyes. “Yeah, I will.”

 

“I’m glad.” Izuku seemed to beam brighter than his quirk. “I really fucking am.”

 

“Me too, kid.” Dabi’s chest felt warm at the sight. “Me too.”

 

Suddenly, a glint of metal caught his eye.

 

He looked down and saw the knife Izuku had been heating up in his inflamed hands without his knowledge.

 

“Izuku, what —?” Dabi tried to ask, but the vigilante’s eyes were still transfixed on his own.

 

“Don’t panic, Dabi-san,” They soothed gently. “I know what I’m doing, remember? Besides, I took a couple of sips from the alcohol while you were in the bathroom. I won't even feel a thing ~”

 

And before Dabi could even think to stop them —

 

Izuku pressed the flat of the blade against their injured side, effectively cauterizing the wound.

 

"Oh, my fucking god!"

Chapter Text

Unsurprisingly, Izuku discovered he detested heats with a passion.

 

Everything about them seemed to be fundamentally opposed to who Izuku wanted to be in his new life.

 

Thank fuck they only lasted three days.

 

If Izuku had to spend any more time lazing about like a damn invalid, he’d end up tearing out his own reproductive organs just to be rid of the whole experience for good.

 

He honestly considered doing it more than once.

 

Unfortunately, he didn’t have the right tools to go through with the surgery.

 

Dabi’s apartment was full of drugs, not medical supplies.

 

So Izuku had to stew in his wrath and dream of the day when he’d finally take revenge on his body for cursing him with his seasonal cycles.

 

Heats were just so — inconvenient.

 

He knew it was simply his natural biology entering into its maturation process and that everyone went through the cycles eventually, but it still irritated him. Izuku was busy , goddamn it! He had jobs to do, and he didn’t have time to waste acting idly in Dabi’s drug den apartment.

 

But no matter how many times he tried to escape or, god forbid, do some of his work , patchwork hands would hustle him back into bed or force canned soup down his fucking throat.

 

Dabi was weird about heats, Izuku found out.

 

Some primitive part of the man’s hindbrain seemed to take charge, and the only thing it insisted upon was Izuku’s health.

 

At first, it was funny to watch the gruff arsonist putter around his own apartment, desperately searching for more blankets to pile on Izuku or simultaneously guarding the windows and doors (It wasn’t especially needed, seeing as Dabi finally replaced his damn lock with the one Izuku made him). Izuku got a kick out of it, laughing and mocking the older man for his silly behavior.

 

The alpha tried to act all tough and intimidating, but Izuku knew better.

 

Dabi was fucking pitiful.

 

It was hilarious!

 

His personality had done a complete 180, and Izuku was going to tease the guy to hell and back for his sappy attitude. Here was Blueflame, the most dangerous drug lord in District 11, heating up Konbini store chicken noodle soup for Izuku just because he shivered one time!

 

Still, even though it was funny to watch Dabi act like a proper housewife, Izuku could see clear as day that the guy knew what he was doing when it came to heats.

 

It was probably because of the anti-hero’s mother, the retired Pro Hero, Todoroki née Himura Rei, being an omega as well.

 

Izuku didn’t doubt that Dabi probably had experience helping his mother during her heats, seeing as Endeavour didn’t seem like the kind of man to help his mate, arranged or not, during her seasonal cycles. Loath as Izuku was to admit his lack of knowledge in anything , he had to concede to the fact that Dabi, as of now, knew more about the idiosyncrasies of the second genders than he did.

 

Not for long though.

 

Izuku had been … foolish to not study up his biology, but he wouldn’t make that mistake again. He’d control his second gender so that he wouldn’t be humiliated again, getting stabbed by a mere gangster during the midst of his fever.

 

Fuck — that was pathetic of him.

 

It ended alright, but he wouldn’t always get that lucky. Izuku needed to be smarter, so he promised himself to brush up on more … reputable sources than simple Internet searches on heats and other omega facts.

 

Of course — Dabi would argue that it hadn’t ended alright , seeing as how Izuku ended up having to cauterize his own stab wound without local anesthesia, but Dabi wouldn’t know what he was talking about anyways.

 

Izuku had cauterized his own injuries many times, so he was basically a pro at it.

 

He’d also gotten stabbed before.

 

Although it was embarrassing that Izuku had fallen so heavily into his fever that he’d been stabbed in the first place, he had everything under control.

 

Dabi, despite not owning needles or surgical thread — which Izuku made sure to berate him over — did own pretty high-grade antibiotic burn cream, which smoothed everything over perfectly. Izuku wrapped his wound and applied the ointment every now and then, and before he knew it, he was no longer in any danger of sepsis.

 

The alpha was still upset over the matter, but Izuku waved it off as the man being over-emotional again. Izuku’s heat symptoms had triggered Dabi’s own protective instincts, so the fact that Izuku was even injured in the first place seemed to bring them closer to the surface than ever before.

 

Finally, though, Izuku’s fever broke after three days. No longer was he stuck in Dabi’s cramped, pot-smelling apartment with his internal organs feeling like they were being squeezed by a particularly rageful fist and his head stuffed full with metaphorical cotton.

 

Plus, Izuku smelled like shit by the time it was over. He’d refused to change out of his skinsuit, regardless of the fact that it was torn and bloody on one side, and it smelled like roadkill. Dabi had tried to offer some of his own spare clothes at the beginning of the heat cycle, but Izuku firmly refused, so the man never brought it up again.

 

All Izuku wanted was to fly to his own apartment, take a damn shower, and sleep , despite feeling like he’d done nothing but rest during his cycle.

 

It was lucky of Izuku that his heat started on Friday and ended on Sunday. Mondays through Thursdays were spent patrolling with Eraserhead, and Izuku did not want to think about what could have happened if Izuku had started his heat with Eraserhead of all people.

 

But the world seemed to realize that Izuku’s life was already shitty enough because his cycle began and ended on his days off.

 

Fate was a bitch , but it gave Izuku some respite every now and then.

 

Unfortunately, his days off couldn’t last forever.

 

Come Monday, Izuku had to patrol with the Underground Hero once more.

 

Hopefully, the files containing all of Ishizaki Nozomi’s information would keep Eraserhead from finally strangling Izuku with his capture scarf once and for all.

 

Things with Eraserhead were, to absolutely fucking no one’s surprise, testy.

 

They both agreed not to kill each other for the deal’s sake, but that didn’t mean either one of them didn’t dream about it.

 

Despite working together and patrolling for two weeks, Eraserhead continued to view Izuku as the devil reincarnate. He stopped constantly voicing his stupid, baseless opinions, but Izuku could see how badly the guy still wanted to.

 

Whatever Izuku did, the Pro Hero seemed to think that it was diabolical in nature.

 

And — yes.

 

Izuku did provoke the Underground Hero sometimes.

 

(Many times)

 

But it was all in good fun!

 

(Not really)

 

But regardless of what he said or did, Eraserhead did not believe in his good intentions.

 

Fucking hell — Izuku could run inside a burning orphanage and save every single kid inside, and Eraserhead would still question Izuku if he was the one who started the fire in the first place.

 

He was so judgemental and so self-righteous!

 

It made Izuku want to punch him in his stupid red eyes.

 

Excuse Izuku’s French, but Eraserhead was a cunt.

 

That was why Izuku wasn’t exactly stoked for their next meeting, despite having solved the Romingo case.

 

To avoid being emotionally compromised due to his frustration (Eraserhead could learn a thing or two about that), Izuku decided to blow off some steam before he went toe-to-toe with the Underground Hero again.

 

And the best place to do that was Dabi’s nasty-ass drug den.

 

Two hours before he needed to head out, Izuku quickly stopped by the anti-hero’s abode.

 

Dabi had informed him during his heat that the reason why he had gotten angry (yet “not” angry for some weird reason) at Izuku in the first place was because he was sensitive about his privacy or some alpha tradition shit like that, so instead of barging in like he always did, Izuku wired up to the man’s balcony and knocked on his window like a good little vigilante.

 

It was a little weird, seeing as Izuku usually just broke into whatever home he was raiding, but Dabi seemed delighted, so he just accepted it.

 

He didn’t want to rock the proverbial boat of his and Dabi’s budding relationship any more than he had.

 

He needed to be …

 

Careful.

 

Everything was still so new with Dabi.

 

Izuku had to be cautious as he made his way through their interactions.

 

He was a little uncertain about Dabi if he was being honest.

 

Dabi and Izuku were similar in many ways, but they differed in a lot of ways as well.

 

Two halves of the same fucked up coin if you will.

 

Sometimes Dabi did or said things that just made zero sense to Izuku’s logic-driven brain.

 

And it drove him nuts when he couldn’t understand things.

 

It made his body itch .

 

It made him want to hit something.

 

Usually, his own body sufficed, but the itch wouldn’t go away .

 

Izuku didn’t understand Dabi many times.

 

Dabi had seemed so … afraid when Izuku had been stabbed.

 

He said that it was because he was worried about Izuku, but he didn’t know what to feel about that statement.

 

No one had ever been worried about Izuku before, so he didn’t know what it exactly entailed. If Dabi’s strange behavior was due to being worried about Izuku, then Izuku didn’t know if he liked it.

 

He liked their old partnership — it was easier.

 

They bantered, made fun of each other, and burnt down child molester establishments. 

 

There wasn’t any room for worrying about each other, and that was how Izuku liked it.

 

When Izuku contemplated what worrying about something/someone meant, it usually entailed thinking of that something or someone as incapable to some extent.

 

Dabi said he believed Izuku was capable, but —

 

Then it didn’t make any sense .

 

If Dabi believed Izuku was capable, then why would he be worried about him?

 

If Izuku was capable, that meant that he could take care of himself.

 

So why was Dabi so upset about Izuku not having “anyone to rely on”?

 

Izuku didn’t need anyone to rely on, because he was capable of taking care of himself!

 

So —

 

Why?

 

Dabi said that he didn’t want Izuku to be alone anymore.

 

But —

 

Izuku liked being alone.

 

Moreover, Izuku needed to be alone.

 

It was becoming increasingly obvious through all of Izuku’s interactions with people outside of hunting them down and beating them unconscious in alleyways that he wasn’t meant for …

 

Well — people.

 

Izuku wasn’t meant to be around people.

 

He wasn’t made for that.

 

Izuku was human now, but there were still some things that Izuku couldn’t reach, no matter how many websites or books he researched.

 

One of those things was people.

 

Oh, Izuku understood biology and psychology.

 

But understanding people was a different beast.

 

Whenever Izuku was around people, he ruined things.

 

He ruined things with Eraserhead, and he ruined them with Dabi, even though the alpha still maintained that it wasn’t his fault, which Izuku called bullshit on.

 

(Dabi said that he was upset that Izuku had broken into his “den” so that meant it was Izuku’s fault! Of course, Dabi refuted that argument by saying that Izuku hadn’t been taught second gender traditions, but then it would still be Izuku’s fault because he hadn’t studied them on his own time! God — Dabi made no sense sometimes!)

 

It was a pretty simple answer to a pretty simple equation.

 

When Izuku was around people without the intent to incapacitate them, he ruined things.

 

Therefore, Izuku shouldn’t be around people.

 

And Dabi, for some godforsaken reason, thought that that statement was wrong.

 

But whenever Izuku brought it up, Dabi always got this weird expression on his face — like he was constipated or some straining shit like that, so Izuku let it go.

 

Besides —

 

Izuku and Dabi had a new partnership between them.

 

Or — rather — they were family now.

 

Brothers.

 

Whenever Izuku thought about it, he couldn’t help but cringe.

 

It was a nice thought … but maybe not so much in practice.

 

He never had a family before.

 

He had biological parents but never a family.

 

Izuku didn’t know who his mother or dam (The official term for an omega parent) was, and quite frankly, Izuku never viewed their existence as important in any regard, seeing as how he’d been given up the moment he exited the womb, and Izuku’s father was …

 

Well.

 

Izuku’s father made it pretty clear that the relationship between them was strictly business in nature from the time Izuku could comprehend speech.

 

Izuku didn’t know what a real family was, but he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be the greatest at it, with the kind of environment he had grown up in.

 

Dabi told him he’d teach him, but even then, Izuku wasn’t reassured.

 

“I’ll be your brother, and we’ll be a pack.”

 

What did that mean though?

 

When Izuku researched what a pack was, having never heard of the phrase before, the Internet told him that it was just old slang for a unit of friends and or family.

 

Which — were Izuku and Dabi even friends?

 

Dabi seemed to think so, seeing as how he immediately decided Izuku was his brother.

 

And that was a big can of worms that Izuku didn’t even know where to start comprehending.

 

He could easily admit to himself that he had grown attached to Dabi. The man had become like a drug to Izuku, and he was constantly itching for a new fix. They’d burnt down The Bird’s Nest together, and Izuku decided to follow the man afterward, his interest piqued.

 

They were allies.

 

Partners-in-crime.

 

But … they weren’t friends.

 

At least — Izuku didn’t think they were.

 

Friends were for — normal people, right?

 

And Izuku and Dabi certainly weren’t normal people.

 

But then Dabi decided Izuku and him were friends? Close enough to be a pack?

 

Izuku didn’t even really have parents before , and now, all of the sudden, he had a brother?

 

What the fuck did that mean?

 

How the fuck had that happened?

 

Izuku knew the basics of ordinary family dynamics, but how would that explain Dabi and Izuku’s complex relationship?

 

Izuku didn’t even want a brother, in actuality. 

 

The idea of everlasting trust because of a pack/family bond sounded nice, but he didn’t have the slightest clue as to what it all entailed. If it meant more of Dabi’s overprotective coddling, then Izuku didn’t want to touch it with a ten-foot pole.

 

But Dabi seemed so earnest , and the offer of never being betrayed by the alpha, as well as being allowed to exist within close proximity with the man after he’d fucked everything up with the lock situation sounded too sweet to pass up on. He’d accepted the agreement, in spite of his apprehension.

 

Dabi was one of Izuku’s most favorite adrenaline sources, and he’d do anything to keep that fix — even be the anti-hero’s younger brother if that was what it meant.

 

Besides, Izuku still owed Dabi for helping out with The Bird’s Nest, as well as for causing issues with the locks. Accepting the alpha’s offer was his payment for all of that, even if he didn’t necessarily want a familial figure in his life.

 

He knew it was manipulative of him to think that way. Dabi obviously missed his siblings and wanted them back in his life — so it was relatively easy for him to place his affections and protective instincts on the closest outlet available, which was Izuku in this case. And Izuku was using that for his own gain because he knew that having someone as powerful as Blueflame in his pocket would help him in the long run.

 

Izuku didn’t want an older brother.

 

He wanted a business partner who wouldn’t betray him.

 

He wanted an adrenaline fix that wouldn’t stop supplying him.

 

So — it wasn’t right.

 

It wasn’t good of Izuku to accept Dabi’s offer of family and pack when he was planning on using all of the benefits for his own profit when he didn’t actually trust the alpha aside from not actively killing him or betraying him.

 

It was bad.

 

badbadbadbadbadbad

 

But —

 

Izuku hadn’t been lying when he said he wanted to try.

 

Izuku was manipulating Dabi right now. He was using the man’s trauma against him.

 

The alpha had probably been forced away from his family, and he missed them so much that any opportunity to be an older brother again was tantalizing for the alpha. And Izuku was using this opportunity for his own benefit, yes, but —

 

He wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to try to trust Dabi that night.

 

And maybe that was all that mattered in the end.

 

Yes — Izuku was manipulating Dabi right now.

 

But he wanted to try to trust him.

 

And maybe … just maybe …

 

As time goes on …

 

Maybe Izuku would get there.

 

Maybe he would actually trust Dabi.

 

Maybe they could actually be a family.

 

Brothers.

 

For real this time.

 

That was Izuku’s only consolation right now.

 

That while he was manipulating Dabi right now, things could actually change between them. Maybe Izuku could learn how to be good.

 

“Hey, Izuku?”

 

Izuku suppressed the instinct to jump when Dabi’s voice sounded right behind him. He had gotten so lost in thought he hadn’t registered the man walking up behind him whilst he was absentmindedly tinkering with one of his flash bombs.

 

Once he’d gotten over his surprise, Izuku sighed and relaxed his momentarily tensed shoulders. Not turning around, he hummed, “Mm?”

 

“What the hell is that?” Dabi questioned dryly. 

 

Not missing a beat, Izuku answered, “A bomb.”

 

“And didn’t I tell you not to bring your creepy-ass shit into my apartment?” The alpha’s voice was strained, but Izuku couldn’t detect any real aggression in the tone.

 

His pheromones were lax as well, further cementing that the man wasn’t as angry as he seemed to be.

 

“Yeah, you did,” Izuku replied, using a tiny screwdriver to tighten up one of the latches on the device, “I elected to ignore you.”

 

Dabi groaned, and Izuku heard him slap his patchwork hands to his face. “You’re messing with a bomb in my fucking apartment! What if it, I don’t know, blows up?! It could blow up my damn apartment!”

 

“Oh, no,” Izuku drawled, bringing the flash bomb closer to his eyes to inspect it, “not your damn apartment!”

 

“I live here, you little shit!” Dabi accused.

 

“Your point?” He’d modified his flash bombs to emit light for a far longer time, and he was certain they were in perfect working condition. “Stop getting your panties in a twist, Dabi-san. These bombs are non-explosive!”

 

“And why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place?” Dabi protested.

 

Izuku looked over his shoulder to face the black-haired alpha and smiled just a bit. “Gonna be real with you — I wanted to see how fast you could get huffy.”

 

The anti-hero stared at him in astonishment before he said, “You. You will be the cause of my death one of these days.”

 

Izuku chuckled at the thought. “It’s so funny though! You get worked up so fast, Dabi-san!”

 

“Because of you!” Dabi gestured to him and his creation. “Because of you and your weirdo experiments!”

 

“You need to get laid,” Izuku noted pleasantly. “See? You’re so frustrated all the time! A boyfriend or girlfriend would help.”

 

Immediately, Dabi’s face twisted in disgust. “Wha —! Fucking — ew . Ew! I am not talking about that kind of shit with you!”

 

“Are you not getting laid because no one likes you, Dabi-san?” Izuku asked innocently.

 

“I just told you, I am not talking about this stuff with you!” Dabi hissed, his face pinched as if he’d just eaten a lemon. “That’s — gross! Fucking gross!”

 

“You’re not disagreeing though,” Izuku pointed out. “Don’t worry. A lot of people are single. You don’t have to be ashamed ~!”

 

“I’m not single ,” Dabi denied aggressively. “And what did I just say? I’m not discussing my relationship status with a fucking toddler!”

 

“Mou ~” Izuku pouted and stretched his arms across the counter he was sitting beside. He laid his cheek on the ceramic tiles and glared up at Dabi. “I’m just trying to help you, Dabi-san! Sure, your appearance and personality leave a lot to be desired, but everyone deserves love in their life!”

 

“Fuck you,” The anti-hero spat with his nose turned up. “My love life is none of your business, shithead.”

 

“But we’re partners!” Izuku insisted, puffing out his cheeks on the cold tile. “If you really need some relationship advice, a lot of hookers would be willing to help you with that. All you have to do is put a bag over your ugly-ass head and offer them some cash.”

 

“Why is a two-year-old telling me to hire a fucking prostitute?” Dabi threw up his arms. “This is the weirdest discussion I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

 

“Do you prefer omega hookers, Dabi-san?” Izuku asked innocently. “There’s a brothel on 32nd Ave. that primarily services them. I could buy you a night with one if you’re low on money —”

 

“You are not going into a fucking brothel,” Dabi interrupted sternly. His blue eyes flashed, and the smell of smoke filled the kitchen. “Got it?”

 

Alphas and their overprotectiveness.

 

There he went again — acting like Izuku was something delicate.

 

It made his skin crawl.

 

“I’ve been in brothels before.” Izuku rolled his eyes at the alpha.

 

“Once again, that does not fucking help.” Dabi pinched the bridge of his nose. “Do you not realize how fucking wrong that sounds?”

 

“Dabi-san, we live in the outer districts,” Izuku drawled. “You’re an anti-hero, and I’m a vigilante. We’ve both seen much, much worse than brothels.”

 

“We’re moving this topic along!” Dabi said loudly. “For the last time, I am not discussing my love life and prostitutes with a fucking eleven-year-old boy.”

 

Izuku sighed remorsefully. “I should have never told you my age. Now the mystery is gone …”

 

“I already knew you were underage,” The alpha protested with an eye roll. “To hell with your mystery bullshit.”

 

“Well, you didn’t know my gender until two days ago,” Izuku muttered grumpily. “So that’s one mystery point for me …”

 

Dabi’s pierced eyebrows scrunched together. “How the hell was I supposed to know? You never told me!”

 

“You could have asked?” Izuku wondered aloud.

 

“It never came up in conversation!” Dabi yelled in astonishment. “So, no! That’s not a point! And when the hell did your identity become a game?”

 

“I’m still counting it,” Izuku crowed, ignoring the man’s last comment. “Don’t worry, though, Dabi-san. If I feel like changing my gender, you’ll be the first one to know.”

 

Dabi slapped his hands over his face and dragged them down, pulling his flesh while he did so. “Goddamn it. Just — don’t go to any more brothels, okay? It’s dangerous for omegas.”

 

Izuku’s face twisted a little. “I wear scent blockers, dumbass. And I’ll go into whatever brothel I fucking want.”

 

“Why would you even want to go into one in the first place?!” Dabi exclaimed.

 

“For the buffet menu, Dabi-san.” Izuku glared at him. “For fucking information! Why the hell would I go otherwise?”

 

“I don’t fucking know!” Dabi crossed his arms around his chest defensively. “But that doesn’t matter! I don’t want you going into any more brothels, okay? No more of that shit. You’re way too young.”

 

Wait.

 

No.

 

That didn’t sound right.

 

Was …

 

Was that an order?

 

Izuku stared up at Dabi, blank-faced.

 

It was .

 

Dabi was trying to order Izuku.

 

But — that wasn’t right.

 

Dabi didn’t have the authority to order Izuku.

 

Izuku was the one in charge here — not Dabi.

 

Dabi was behaving wrong.

 

He was behaving like …

 

Like …

 

Izuku’s eyes narrowed.

 

For a split second, Dabi seemed to flash between himself and a figure with curly white hair and red eyes.

 

fatherfatherfatherfatherfatherfather

 

Do this, Izuku.

 

Don’t do that, Izuku.

 

Be my good little tool, Izuku.

 

He ground his teeth together.

 

not a robot, not a robot, not a tool, not a tool

 

Yeah, fuck that.

 

Izuku could warily say he liked Dabi, but he wasn’t about to let this kind of behavior happen to him again.

 

Time to pull out the big guns, then.

 

If Dabi wanted to be bad and order Izuku around, then Izuku would be bad right back.

 

— wait … —

 

— don’t be too hasty … —

 

“Dabi-san,” Izuku widened his eyes and made himself look wary, “I thought you said I was capable?”

 

— this isn’t right either … —

 

“I did, but that doesn’t —!” Dabi tried to argue.

 

— you’re taking this too far … —

 

Izuku cut him off. “And didn’t I ask for a big brother I can trust?”

 

— you said you wanted to try , remember? —

 

Dabi’s expression pulled itself into one of abject hurt.

 

The anti-hero seemed to falter, his scent stuttering in the air.

 

This was new territory between them.

 

Ever since that night, neither one of them had ever mentioned the exact “terms and conditions” of the new deal made between them.

 

Then I’ll be your brother.”

 

“Because we’ll be a family.”

 

“Will it be a good one?”

 

“It’ll be the best one. Because it’ll be ours, yeah?”

 

Izuku knew that the alpha wanted to bring it up again — about them being brothers and family — but was giving Izuku space. It was nice of Dabi to do that, seeing as how Izuku wanted to cringe every time he thought about it, but Izuku could see how badly he yearned for a new platonic relationship in his life.

 

But Dabi was being a bit insufferable with his overprotectiveness, and Izuku was aware of the fact that while he accepted the deal and promised to actually try at being a real pack with the drug dealer, he’d also agreed to the deal in order to reap his own benefits. And while Izuku didn’t particularly enjoy the idea of manipulating Dabi, he wasn’t above it either.

 

And one of Dabi’s weaknesses was his longing for a pack — to be an older sibling again.

 

And according to the Internet, older siblings were always suckers for their younger siblings …

 

Especially cute ones.

 

— why are you doing this? —

 

“Can’t you trust me, Dabi-san?” Izuku asked gently, making sure to soften his face and appear as earnest as possible. “I’m a fucking vigilante — I just … you don’t seem to think I’m strong enough anymore. Is it because I’m … an omega?”

 

— stop it, Izuku —

 

He had to play this carefully though.

 

Dabi was used to the playful, teasing side of Izuku that he preferred to show to others. Pretending to be meeker in order to pull at an alpha’s natural instincts was the easiest method of manipulation an omega naturally had. But if Izuku played this act too heavy-handed, Dabi would immediately realize that he wasn’t being honest with him.

 

He had to make it believable.

 

One of the ways to ensure his success was to use his age against the older man.

 

Dabi was obviously still caught up on Izuku’s age, no matter how many times he tried to insist otherwise, so pretending to act his age would help in the matter. All he had to do was gentle his face a bit and make his expression as cute as possible.

 

And that wasn’t hard at all.

 

He could be fucking adorable if he wanted.

 

Although he had been instructed on how to use his looks for honeypot missions (Only after he hit puberty, of course), it wasn’t difficult to modify some of his teachings for a more platonic, innocent setting, seeing as how Dabi thought of Izuku like a brother.

 

And little brothers were supposed to be cute, right?

 

Dabi, for all that he bantered with him and called him names, obviously thought Izuku was cute. Little brothers were supposed to be cute for their older brothers, or so the Internet said, and Izuku was already attractive.

 

The first person he’d met outside of his father’s circle had said so as well at the tender age of six.

 

A deal had been proposed with a Russian gang. If they supplied weaponry, his father would take out a politician who’d been bothering them for years. Of course, seeing as Izuku had been the assassin meant to carry out said hit, his father had paraded him in front of the Russians during their introductions.

 

Izuku remembered the leader stepping closer to him and grabbing him by the chin. The man smelled of bourbon and cigars, and Izuku did not move and simply stared ahead as the leader inspected him.

 

“Ты симпатичная мелочь, не так ли?” The man had murmured in Russian, using his grip on Izuku’s chin to turn his face from side to side.

 

You’re a cute little thing, aren’t you?

 

“You’re really pretty, Izuku …”

 

i̷̡̲̣̫͔̐̐̋͂̑͠t̶̨̛̛̠̥̗̱͙͚̻̭̤̲̰͇̐̑́̑̑͂̔͌̏̎͘̚ ̶̛̯̄̅͒̓̇͑̊̍͋͠h̴̡̪̠̟̖͉̦̓̅̌̄͌͊̑̍̐̏͋u̵̧̢̨̻͖͕̻͈͋͌̌̂͂̀̐̈́͂͘͜ͅŗ̴̧̰̣̙̦̝̜̼̲̯̻͔͘͜t̶̮̳͇̣̠͎̦̲̠̖̿̊́̍̇͝͝ş̵͈̳͚͖̝̱̦̺͉̞͎̱́̆̃̊̚ͅ



No.

 

Stop.

 

Stop thinking about that, Izuku.

 

It wouldn’t be good to dwell on something like that.

 

He needed to focus.

 

With his body still facing away from the alpha, Izuku pinched the meat of his thigh hard.

 

It wasn’t even close to the same amount of pressure he’d inflict when he was by himself, but since Izuku was still Dabi’s apartment, he had to make do with what he could.

 

Thankfully, he’d caught himself before he could spiral into another dissociation episode.

 

He couldn’t think about those things right now.

 

He still had to visit Eraserhead later, and he needed to be in tiptop shape before he delivered the hard drive containing the Romingo case.

 

Besides, he had to get back at Dabi.

 

No one ordered Izuku around anymore.

 

— he wasn’t trying to control you —

 

Izuku focused on the anti-hero’s face and ignored the thoughts in his mind.

 

They didn’t matter right now.

 

“I … Izuku ,” Dabi said weakly. “I didn’t mean … It’s not because you’re an omega, I just …”

 

— he’s upset —

 

— you’re making him upset, Izuku —

 

“Fine, Dabi-san.” Izuku made sure to turn his face away from the alpha as if he was ashamed and hurt . “I never really thought you were bothered so much about me being an omega.”

 

Dabi’s blue eyes were wide and almost glistening. “Izuku, that’s not it at all! … I just want to keep you safe, okay?”

 

“And I wanted trust!” Izuku snapped, making his voice sound wet. “But I guess that was all a lie.”

 

“Stop lying to me!”

 

“I’m not fucking lying to you!”

 

— he was just trying to help —

 

—   y o u   a r e   a   b a d   p e r s o n   —

 

Izuku shut down those thoughts immediately.

 

They served no purpose here.

 

It was time to play the game, Izuku.

 

And he resolved to play it good.

 

“It wasn’t a lie!” Dabi insisted, his voice twisted in concern.

 

“But you still don’t trust me,” Izuku whispered, even scratching at the countertop wistfully. “You don’t think I’m strong enough. Because I’m a kid and an omega.” 

 

He made sure to spit out the word like it was disgraceful.

 

Like he was actually embarrassed over his second gender.

 

“I do think you’re strong,” The anti-hero argued, stepping closer to Izuku. He stood next to him and set his arms down, leaning towards Izuku but thankfully leaving some much-needed space between them. “Izuku, I fucking swear, you’re the strongest person I know. And I’m not trying to go all … alpha on you. It’s just — beating up criminals is fine, yeah? But going into brothels? When you’re an underage omega? That’s different shit, kid. It’s … It’s really fucking dangerous.”

 

“I know it is!” Izuku looked up at the older man and pouted a bit. “That’s why I’m careful, Dabi-san. Can’t you just — trust me? Trust me that I’m careful?”

 

“I don’t know, kid …” Dabi’s eyebrows scrunched together. “Some pimps wouldn’t think twice before trying to snatch omegas up … I don’t want that to happen to you.”

 

“And it wouldn’t!” Izuku exclaimed passionately. He steeled up his nerves and even placed a quivering hand on Dabi’s nearby arm. The alpha jumped a bit at the touch, and Izuku felt heat radiate from his skin. “Because I’m strong , Dabi-san. You’ve seen me fight! Just because I’m a young omega, doesn’t mean I’m weak.”

 

“You’re not weak, Izuku.” Dabi’s arm twitched uncontrollably under Izuku’s hand, and the man seemed to be fighting against himself not to lean into the touch. Was he potentially touch-starved? “You’re the farthest thing from that.”

 

“Then trust me, Dabi-san,” Izuku purred quietly. It felt weird, trying to play the role of an innocent, earnest little brother, but he’d done stranger things to get his way. “I want trust in our relationship, okay? It goes both ways, you know.”

 

“Izuku —” Dabi tried to insist, his expression torn.

 

His resolve was failing.

 

Just a bit further …

 

Hook, line, and sinker.

 

Izuku quickly pressed closer, going as far as to place his other hand on Dabi’s. The texture of the man’s patchwork hand felt interesting, even though he almost felt the urge to vomit at the touch of another human being. “Please, Dabi-san? Please? I just want you to trust me … can you do that? I promised to try, so why can’t you?”

 

“I …” Dabi’s eyes squeezed shut as his natural alpha and older sibling instincts seemed to fight against each other — his alpha instincts wanting him to protect the pack at any cost, and his big brother instincts wanting to give in to whatever Izuku wanted. His smoke-tinged pheromones were curling about, all doting affection and frustrating protection mixing together. “Pup …”

 

Izuku squeezed and ignored the way his body wanted to fling itself out of the nearest window.

 

He didn’t like touching other people without his gloves on.

 

It felt gross.

 

“Please, Dabi-san?” Izuku cooed, blinking and making sure to flutter his eyelashes.

 

“I — fine,” The alpha finally relented in a huff. “I’ll back off. But you gotta promise to be careful when you’re doing shady shit, okay?! I won’t keep bothering you so long as you are cautious, you got that?!”

 

Gotcha.

 

Izuku smiled in satisfaction.

 

He’d said he’d try to be an actual brother to Dabi.

 

He never promised to start trying immediately.

 

“Loud and clear, Dabi-san. Loud and clear.”

 

Now —

 

Izuku had an Underground Hero to meet.

Chapter Text

It hadn’t taken Izuku all that long before he realized that something was amiss in the outer districts.

 

He had noticed it on the night his deal with Eraserhead was made, after all.

 

That strange, tense air. Like the world was holding its breath.

 

But for what?

 

For almost the entire month of October, Izuku’s patrols were laughably tame in comparison to his earliest escapades.

 

November wasn’t much better, now that he was thinking about it. 

 

November, Izuku decided, was probably the weirdest month of his entire life. After all, that was when he and Dabi weren’t speaking with each other until his first heat came.

 

Then there was all of the weirdness with his heat.

 

Then there was the little spat between him and Dabi on Monday where they had some … differing opinions on control and instincts.

 

So, yeah. 

 

November was weird.

 

To make it worse, since the outer districts were so quiet lately, there was nothing to buffer the interactions between Eraserhead and Izuku, so things were especially awkward between them, even when Izuku basically solved the Underground Hero’s Romingo thief for him.

 

Sure, the man seemed reluctantly relieved to have finally cracked the case, but he didn’t even say a simple thank you , which offended Izuku greatly.

 

For the most part, their shared patrols were filled with silence. Eraserhead refused to talk to Izuku outside of grilling him on his oh-so-tragic backstory, and once Izuku proved himself to be very tightlipped on that subject, thank-you-very-much, Eraserhead seemed to want nothing to do with him outside of business.

 

Which was perfectly fine for Izuku, seeing as how he explicitly referred to Eraserhead as just a means to an end for him, but holy fucking shit, were things awkward between them without any sort of crime-fighting activity to tide things over.

 

Their patrols were so uncomfortable, and it made him twitchy. They usually ended up either on stakeout missions by order of Detective Tsukauchi that never went anywhere or jumping from rooftop to rooftop trying to ignore each other’s existence.

 

The silence was enjoyable at first, seeing as how the other alternative would be more useless vitriol from the Hero, but as the weeks droned on, Izuku almost preferred a shouting match for just a drop of stimulation.

 

But no.

 

The outer districts were tense and under some kind of pressure unknown to Izuku as of yet.

 

There were still some moderate amounts of gang activity or burglary attempts to be found, but certainly not to their usual degree of violence. To add to the strangeness of it all, there wasn’t a single peep of villainy, which was usually commonplace in each of the outer districts.

 

Izuku had been a little too busy to focus on it at the time, as he’d been preoccupied by the shit involving Eraserhead and Dabi, but now that things were a bit calmer with both situations almost a full month later, he was able to place all of his attention on the mystery — and boy, oh boy, was it a fucking mystery.

 

Because Izuku was practically forced to patrol with Eraserhead, he wasn’t able to collect as much information from criminals as he used to. The Hero was unbearably stiffnecked when it came to questionings, and it had lead to more than one argument where the night ended with Eraserhead spitting in his face about the “immorality of physical interrogations when you are not recognized as a professional in the eyes of the law”. After the third time, he had tried to rough up a random gang member for more info only to have Eraserhead start screaming at him, Izuku gave up on interrogating people in front of the mulish man.

 

That, unfortunately, left three days out of the week for Izuku to proceed with his usual routine of collecting information for his mental database. A significantly less amount of time than he was used to.

 

And, to add insult to injury, there were even fewer criminals roaming through the outer districts as of late.

 

And fewer criminals meant fewer interrogations — and fewer interrogations meant less information.

 

So Izuku was in a bit of a pickle if you’d believe it.

 

As per usual, the feeling of not knowing something made him break out in metaphorical hives.

 

It was nearing December, goddamn it, and Izuku still didn’t have the slightest clue as to why the outer districts seemed to be calming down for some reason!

 

It was the outer districts! They never calmed down! Their entire purpose was chaotic, so why was the chaos — dwindling?

 

Why didn’t Izuku understand yet?

 

God, he felt like he was about to go insane.

 

December was supposed to be his month!

 

His perfect month. The month to forget about all of the weirdness of November and to relax from all of the backbreaking effort Izuku partook the rest of the year to effectively humanize himself.

 

December was the month he escaped , and certain important events were supposed to be honored each year, or so the Internet said. Naturally, the month of his emancipation was to become his celebration.

 

But if he couldn’t answer the question before his celebration month began …

 

Well.

 

Izuku would be very pissed off.

 

Things had been so shitty for him lately, so a nice month was practically owed to him, right?

 

A nice month where Izuku was allowed to punch criminals and gather up as much information as his greedy brain could contain without any interruptions.

 

He couldn’t have a celebration month if there were no criminals.

 

He couldn’t have a celebration month if there was no information.

 

Whenever he tried to bring up his frustration to Dabi, the man would simply wave away his concerns and say that a “break” would bode well for Izuku. That it was a little hypocritical for a vigilante to wish for lawbreakers, and to just focus on making sure Eraserhead wasn’t going to arrest him mid-patrol, or whatever dramatic scenario Dabi’s paranoid, Hero-hating mind made up.

 

Izuku promptly flipped the anti-hero off.

 

He didn’t want a goddamn break.

 

He wanted action.

 

Stimulation!

 

Dabi was becoming so weird lately, with all of his talks about “packs” and “brotherhood”, and Izuku was too uncomfortable with the subject to try and leech off his usual adrenaline fix when the guy was still so held up on the whole “overprotective alpha” schtick.

 

He’d wait a week or two for the excitement to wear off, and then he’d go back to Dabi’s side again. Hopefully, by then, the man would have relaxed his strange behavior and his incessant need to control everything Izuku did with regards to his vigilantism.

 

(Izuku wasn’t stupid. Factually speaking, it was morally wrong for an ordinary underage kid to enter a brothel, and especially an underage omega kid at that.

 

But Izuku wasn’t an ordinary underage kid. He was Spider, even though he still hated that moniker. He wasn’t going to brothels to purchase anything, and if a creep tried to mess with him, he’d cut their hand off. Izuku was always prepared for the worst, and he could handle anything that came his way.

 

Dabi’s concern was both unfounded and unappreciated, and no matter how many times Izuku tried to tell him that, the man wouldn’t listen — too stuck in his instincts to notice he was overstepping boundaries.

 

So Izuku had to manipulate him a bit.

 

He didn’t like doing it, don’t get him wrong.

 

Izuku was fascinated by Dabi and enjoyed his presence as a good ally.

 

He didn’t like using his intellect — the thing he was most proud of — against his ally.

 

But if Izuku hadn’t stood his ground, then what could have happened?

 

The anti-hero would have thought he could just force Izuku to do whatever he wanted!

 

His alpha instincts had gotten the better of him due to the heat, and he had forgotten Izuku’s capabilities in the midst of them.

 

It had started off as Dabi pressuring him to not enter into brothels, which Izuku could somewhat understand if Izuku was just some random kid on the block, but what about if Dabi wanted Izuku to stop creating semi-dangerous experiments later on?

 

What about if Dabi wanted Izuku to end his deal with Eraserhead? 

 

What if Dabi wanted Izuku to stop his vigilantism?

 

What if Dabi wanted Izuku to tell him his past?

 

No way could Izuku allow that kind of patronizing, domineering behavior to persist without punishment.

 

So, yeah.

 

Izuku did manipulate Dabi, his closest and only ally.

 

But Dabi was the one who violated the terms and conditions of their agreement first.

 

Izuku told the anti-hero that he wanted trust.

 

It went without saying that the trust was supposed to go both ways.

 

Dabi was allowed to protect Izuku on occasion, but if he refused to trust Izuku’s prowess then the deal was breached.

 

It was a bit like a dog wearing a shock collar. 

 

If the dog tried to run past the invisible fence, a little jolt of electricity would enforce the rules, similar to Izuku and Dabi’s case.

 

Izuku’s boundaries had set perimeters around, and if Dabi tried to push those perimeters, then it was within Izuku’s rights to push him back.

 

And, worst of all, and what probably made Izuku so angry with the alpha in the first place, was the fact that Dabi seemed to know that Izuku wanted his respect — and yet, he continued to treat Izuku as something less.

 

Dabi knew that it bothered Izuku.

 

And yet, he did it anyway.

 

So, no.

 

Izuku did not enjoy manipulating Dabi.

 

But if he didn’t, then what else would the alpha think he could get away with in the future?)

 

Unfortunately, since Dabi was busy being fucking annoying , and Eraserhead was busy being a fucking cunt, Izuku was left on his lonesome for most of the time.

 

Oh, well.

 

More time for science then.

 

Come Wednesday, Izuku’s apartment was practically littered with explosive devices and tranquilizing materials.

 

He’d worked on his flash bombs before he’d delivered the Romingo file to Eraserhead, so he focused all of his attention on more lethal experiments.

 

Now he had an entire pile of explosives that he’d manufactured from fireworks. Some of them would only create tiny explosives to divert attention or to momentarily stun, but others were powerful enough to topple buildings.

 

He’d also made quite a few more paralytics and tranquilizers, as well as a lot more nitrous oxide bombs for fast and easy sedation.

 

It was fucking beautiful.

 

But none of them held a candle to what Izuku had created afterward.

 

If his bombs, tranquilizers, and paralytics were beautiful, then his final creation was a goddamn masterpiece.

 

It had taken him nearly the entire month to finish it, but here it was, and it was glorious.

 

The pièce de résistance —

 

His wires.

 

Or —

 

Better yet —

 

His modified wires.

 

 

Holy fuck, he wanted to scream.

 

You see, Izuku had realized that his wires, although beautiful and extraordinary, were lacking just one key component. 

 

During The Bird’s Nest bust, Izuku had to constantly switch between using his wires or pulling out his tranquilizer gun from its holster.

 

How inconvenient, right?

 

All of that extra time pulling out his gun — a waste , to put it in simple terms.

 

So —

 

Wouldn’t it just make sense if Izuku found a way to somehow interweave the two devices together?

 

And interweave Izuku did.

 

(Huh … He kind of understood why he was called Spider now)

 

Izuku’s wires came from a contraption attached to his forearms. When Izuku pressed a specific button located on his palm, the wires would surge from the mechanics on his wrist. If the wires made contact with something, they would automatically attach themselves to it using the titanium alloy clamps located on the end. Once the wires were attached, Izuku was basically allowed to either pull the object towards him or vice versa. If he pressed the trigger button again, the wires would release their clamps and return back to the contraption.

 

His wires needed the entire space of his inner wrist to work properly, and he didn’t want to add anything else in case it got jammed.

 

But that left the entirety of his outer forearm completely free!

 

And so, Izuku’s marvelous creation was born!

 

On the inner part of Izuku’s arms were his wire devices, and, connected to his wires on the outer side, Izuku had attached an air pressure device that acted as a gun, wherein he could load paralytics or tranquilizers if he so desired! He only needed to press a specific button on his outer forearm for it to fire!

 

It was …

 

It was miraculous. 

 

Superb.


Splendid!

 

Izuku hated the media, but he would go on the closest news channel just to rant about the brilliance of his creation.

 

Now, this was going to make his December a whole lot better.

 

Not even the reality of going out on yet another boring patrol with Eraserhead would get him down.

 

Speaking of which …

 

“What’s got you in such a good mood?” The Underground Hero asked tersely. He swung his arm back before flinging his capture scarf forward. The material tangled in a nearby building’s rooftop fence, allowing the man to yank himself up onto the surface with ease. 

 

Izuku quickly followed behind him, aiming his wires at the same fence to keep up with his pace. Each time he used his wires, he couldn’t help but linger over the pressure device attached to his arm.

 

He ignored Eraserhead’s grumpy tone and answered honestly.

 

“Just a little invention of mine.” Izuku ran across the rooftop before using his momentum to jump onto the fence and hop over to another rooftop. He could hear Eraserhead running behind him. “Why are you asking?”

 

“I can sense your creepy smile,” The man replied, using his scarf to fly to their next location. “‘Was thinking you burned down yet another building.”

 

“Aw, were you worried about me, Eraserhead ~?” Izuku cooed sarcastically. His wires flew him wherever he directed them towards. “That’s sweet.”

 

“Haha,” The Underground Hero said harshly. “In your dreams, freak.”

 

“So mean ~!” Izuku cried. He jumped to a rooftop further below him and rolled to prevent any impact injuries. “One day, you’ll really hurt my feelings.”

 

“I’m surprised you have any,” Eraserhead retorted.

 

Izuku’s playful smile quickly tightened behind his mouthguard.

 

Like Izuku said —

 

Eraserhead could be a cunt.

 

“Funny,” He said with an acidic voice. “How many times have you used that quip again? Five? Fifteen times?”

 

“It’s never been a joke,” Eraserhead gritted out, jumping to yet another rooftop.

 

“Then it’s the opposite of your personality?” Izuku asked pleasantly.

 

Izuku felt the man’s piercing red eyes glare at him. 

 

“Fuck you.”

 

“No thanks,” Izuku giggled and aimed his wires.

 

“God, you infuriate me,” The Hero hissed under his breath, obviously wanting Izuku to hear it.

 

“It’s one of my many, many skills ~” Izuku purred, flashing his goggles at the man. 

 

“Besides murder and being a general pain in my ass?” Eraserhead looked away from him, choosing instead to focus on their patrol route.

 

“Why, of course!” Izuku laughed, adding a hint of mania just to watch the Hero squirm. “Since patrols have become so boring, bothering you has become my only source of entertainment.”

 

“Lucky me,” Eraserhead grumbled sourly.

 

“Lucky you,” Izuku agreed.

 

Whilst swinging from his wires, Izuku watched as the man pressed a finger to his ear, wherein laid a communication device. He seemed to be picking up a call from Tsukauchi, judging from his hushed tone and the totally-disguised glances towards Izuku.

 

He waited until Eraserhead lowered his hand, then asked, “What news does the good detective have for us tonight, Eraserhead?”

 

“Nothing,” Eraserhead answered, although even he looked a little frustrated with it. “He was informing me on a later mission I’m assisting in.”

 

“Ooh!” Izuku brightened at the news. Even if it had to do with Eraserhead, Izuku was eager for any sort of stimulation. “Tell me more!”

 

“Not a fucking chance,” The Underground Hero growled. “I don’t want someone like you getting involved with my life any more than necessary.”

 

“Mou ~” Izuku pouted, although the Hero could not possibly see it behind his mask. “You’re such a hardass, Eraserhead.”

 

“For good reason,” Eraserhead argued back.

 

“Not really,” Izuku pointed out. “It’s not like I want to get mixed up with your inner district nonsense.”

 

“Then why did you even ask?” Eraserhead sounded exhausted.

 

“Because I’m bored?” Izuku responded dryly. “Why else?”

 

“I wouldn’t put it past you to sabotage my missions,” Eraserhead spat out. “You seem psychotic enough to do that.”

 

Izuku scrunched his nose in annoyance. “I just told you, dumbass — I want nothing to do with your inner district drama.”

 

“It’s not drama .” Eraserhead threw his capture scarf, and it caught onto a nearby pole, allowing the man to vault himself across. 

 

“If it’s the inner districts,” Izuku said, “it’s always drama.”

 

“So handling high-risk villainy is considered petty to you?” Eraserhead fought. “I shouldn’t be fucking surprised.”

 

Izuku pointed his wires and felt the air whizz by as they pulled him through the sky. “Of course, I don’t think that. However, I do know that the way you inner district types tend to solve issues is just televised, marketable bullshit.”

 

“We’re saving lives,” Eraserhead said with a thunderous tone. “You, of all people, don’t get to fucking judge.”

 

“More often than not, your precious Limelight Heroes kill more than save .” Izuku saw the way Eraserhead’s face immediately twisted into outraged. “Just look at your ridiculous Billboard Charts. The top contestants sometimes act no better than common thugs.

 

Izuku barely finished speaking before Eraserhead was spitting acid.

 

“You’re seriously accusing every Limelight of the sins of a few?” Eraserhead sounded furious.

 

Izuku rolled his eyes. Obviously, Eraserhead was pissy just because his husband was a Limelight. “Not every. Just most.

 

“I happen to know a couple of those so-called thugs ,” Eraserhead growled, his eyes flashing red, “and they’ve done more good than you’ll ever achieve in your miserable life, Spider.”

 

“Eraserhead, you’re letting your emotions get the better of you again,” Izuku sing-songed with a dark edge. “There are a few Limelight Heroes that I happen to think very highly of, but even you can’t deny that the Billboard Charts are fucked.”

 

“We try our goddamn best .”

 

“If the Billboard Charts are your best, then I’m seriously concerned for the future of Japan,” Izuku huffed. “It’s a popularity contest at best, and an outright sham at worst. The inner districts are only focused on appearances .”

 

“What’s your problem with the fucking inner districts?” Eraserhead blurted out aggressively. “You shit talk about it every time they’re mentioned.”

 

What’s his problem with the inner districts?

 

What’s his problem?

 

Oh, Izuku would tell him his problem.

 

Immediately, Izuku stopped running across a rooftop and stared blankly at Eraserhead, who stopped only a few feet away from him. Once he was sure the man was watching him, Izuku gestured around him to the smog-filled streets around them.

 

“Are you fucking serious, Eraserhead?” Izuku asked tersely. “I’m a vigilante from the outer districts. Does it not get clearer than that?”

 

“I’ve worked in the outer districts, and I have —”

 

Oh, no fucking way was Eraserhead trying to pull something like that.

 

“And I live in the outer districts, asshole,” Izuku interrupted with a hiss. “Don’t fucking act like you know what it’s like. You commute here, punch a gangster or two, then skip back home to your lovely District 3 apartment. You don’t know a goddamn thing about the outer districts, so don’t try and act like you do when you only come here for business purposes.

 

Eraserhead seemed to be shocked into silence from Izuku’s potent rage.

 

But Izuku wasn’t finished.

 

Not even close.

 

“Those Billboard Charts that you’re trying so miserably to defend are one of the direct causes of this fucking place,” Izuku continued on. “Your Limelight and inner district buddies have turned quirks into marketable commodities, and anyone that doesn’t fit the bill gets sent here. Can you even begin to understand that, E – ra – ser – head?”

 

The man in question was frozen stiff.

 

“Limelight Heroes don’t even step foot inside of this place,” Izuku growled, his eyes wide and inflamed. “It is rotting from the inside out because of the negligence and discrimination of you stupid fucking inners. And you won’t even admit to it, won’t you?”

 

Izuku turned up his nose and glared at Eraserhead in judgment. 

 

“I detest a lot of Limelight Heroes,” Izuku said slowly. “But I genuinely pity you Undergrounders sometimes. You must think you’re so badass, traipsing these streets and thinking you’re the top brass. But the truth of the matter is this — at the end of the day, you go back home to your wealth and comfort —”

 

Izuku pointed at himself. “But we —? We don’t get that same luxury .”

 

Eraserhead’s eyes had automatically flashed back to their regular dark color once Izuku started talking, and now they were simply staring at him in shock.

 

“Huh?” Izuku took a step forward, but the man did not step away — probably due to his surprise. “You don’t have anything left to say? That’s weird. I thought your stubbornness doesn’t allow any kind of differing opinion.”

 

Izuku scoffed. “I shouldn’t have expected anything less from a government lackey.”

 

His words echoed across the abandoned rooftop. Above them, the sky was covered by a thick layer of smoke, as usual. Around them, the sounds of the city seemed to be muted, creating a strange impression of being trapped within a bubble up on the building. The two omegas stood apart from each other, waiting for the other to speak up.

 

Finally, Eraserhead opened his mouth.

 

“Is that why you hate Heroes?” The man asked, his dark eyes warily watching Izuku’s goggles. “We haven’t abandoned the outer districts though.”

 

Oh, my fucking god.

 

Did Eraserhead just tune out everything Izuku said?

 

“You seem to have the amazing ability to forget every single word that comes out of my mouth, Eraserhead.” Izuku crossed his arms around his chest and shifted his weight onto his other leg. “I just fucking told you, I don’t hate every Hero. Only the ones who deserve it.”

 

“On what fucking grounds do you get to judge?” Eraserhead accused.

 

“On the grounds of fucking living in this goddamn city, dipshit,” Izuku tossed right back.

 

“You’re a criminal, Spider.” Eraserhead’s posture tensed. “Criminals don’t get the right.”

 

Izuku narrowed his eyes. “I’m a vigilante. There’s a difference.”

 

“I don’t see a fucking difference!” Eraserhead yelled passionately. “You’ve murdered people and escaped justice. Just because you slapped a vigilante title on yourself doesn’t take away from the fact that you’ve killed people before!”

 

“And so have you!” Izuku shouted in disbelief. “So have most of your Limelight pals!”

 

“In self-defense ,” The Underground Hero argued disdainfully.

 

Izuku laughed derisively. “That’s a broad term if I ever heard one. And a motherfucking cop-out .”

 

“How is that a cop-out?” Eraserhead asked in astonishment. 

 

Izuku tilted his head back to look up at the sky and inhale sharply. “You’re avoiding my point , yet again. I’m trying to show you that you hold me to different standards — just to incriminate me.”

 

“That’s illogical —” Eraserhead tried to press.

 

“In what way?” Izuku interrupted sternly. “Really, Eraserhead. Look past your stubbornness for one moment. Thirty pedophile gangsters are dead, and no one will fucking miss them. In fact, the world is a better place now that they are gone. You’ve committed similar murders. Your friends have committed similar murders. So why, pray tell, are you trying to villainize me for something you’ve quite literally swept under the table for your allies on multiple occasions?”

 

Eraserhead’s eyes seemed to widen, yet narrow at the same time — a weird dichotomy that somehow worked on his otherwise severe face.

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” The man demanded weakly.

 

“Your deal with Tsukauchi-san,” Izuku explained quietly, but no less harshly. “Your vigilante pals aren’t incarcerated all because of that deal. Even when they’ve committed crimes similar to mine.”

 

Izuku stepped closer to Eraserhead.

 

“In the end, it all comes down to this,” Izuku murmured, tilting his head to the side. “You’re a hypocrite, Eraserhead. Plain and simple.”

 

“Don’t fucking call me that,” The Pro Hero barked, his eyes flashing red.

 

“What else should I call you?” Izuku asked. “The shoe fits, Eraserhead. You might as well wear it.”

 

“I don’t have to listen to a single goddamn thing you say,” Eraserhead spat. 

 

“You don’t,” Izuku agreed honestly. “And I don’t have to listen to you ridicule me either.”

 

“It isn’t ridicule when it’s the truth.”

 

“You claim you aren’t a hypocrite, but you basically define it for me in your words.” Izuku turned away from the bullheaded man and stretched his arms out at his sides. He began using them as balances, pretending he was on a tightrope and placing one foot right after the other.

 

“I’m not a hypocrite,” Eraserhead stated firmly.

 

“You’re trying to argue with a genius here,” Izuku pointed out helpfully as he continued with his game of tightrope walking.

 

“Then explain .” The man’s voice sounded unbearably smug, and Izuku wanted to punch it right out of him.

 

Knowing it would make the Hero even more pissed off, Izuku chose to verbally assault him instead.

 

“The bust at The Bird’s Nest is your grounds for accusing me, yes?” 

 

The Pro Hero nodded, glaring judgmentally at Izuku as he played about on the rooftop. 

 

Izuku hopped up onto the very edge of the building and continued the tightrope game. On his left side were the rooftop and Eraserhead. On his right was a forty-foot drop to the alleyways below.

 

“But you can’t deny that the people there deserved to die,” Izuku chimed. “They were the lowest of the low. Scum. Sick perverts who enjoyed torturing innocents all for their own pleasure.”

 

He carefully placed his right foot in front of his left and said, “People like that don’t deserve to live. Don’t you agree, E – ra – ser – head?”

 

“No single person has the right to play god,” Eraserhead denied.

 

“Nagohano Street, on the twenty-eighth of April,” Izuku said calmly. To add more suspense, he allowed himself to purposefully wobble, knowing that if he became unbalanced — which was unlikely — he’d be able to catch himself with his wires if need be.

 

From the corner of his eye, Izuku watched Eraserhead freeze in place.

 

“What …,” The man whispered under his breath. His face slackened.

 

Izuku briefly turned his head to look at the Underground Hero and knew that his goggles flashed in the dim light. “Nagohano Street, on the twenty-eighth of April,” Izuku repeated. “Hasegawa Hijiri and Hirote. Twin brothers. Died due to strangulation.”

 

Eraserhead looked agonized. “How do you …?”

 

“You killed them, Eraserhead.” Izuku looked back to his feet and hummed a random song to himself. “They sexually assaulted then murdered ten children under the age of eight. You were called in to apprehend them on the twenty-eighth of April and bring them to prison. Instead, you choked them to death with your capture scarf after a physical confrontation occurred.”

 

Izuku continued on.

 

“Knuckleduster, February 2nd. Apprehended the terrorist, Unforeseen , who had intended on detonating a pipe bomb in a primary school. Knuckleduster beat Unforeseen to death.”

 

He looked up at the sky, raising the stakes of his tightrope game even higher.

 

“Tsukauchi Naomasa, October 17. Involved in a shootout with a gang of thugs who held eighteen people hostage in a supermarket. Tsukauchi shot the gang leader in the temple from point-blank range.”

 

Izuku looked over at Eraserhead and watched the man struggle for words, opening and closing his mouth like a goldfish. “Ryukyu, August 30. A villain known as Jane Doe was attempting to destroy a 50-story building. In the midst of their battle, Ryukyu’s claws punctured Jane Doe’s lungs, leading her to bleed out —”

 

“Stop! Stop!” Eraserhead cried, throwing up his hands as if he could physically shield himself from Izuku’s words. “Just — fucking stop.

 

Izuku stared at the man as he ran his fingers through his hair with shaky hands.

 

He could hear how unsteady his breathing was.

 

“Each one of them, including you, are killers just like me,” Izuku said gently, seeing how nerve-wracked the adult man seemed to be.

 

“I don’t —” Eraserhead shook his head a bit.

 

“You favor Tsukauchi-san,” Izuku brought up unrepentantly. “You made a deal with Tsukauchi-san to protect Knuckleduster from police arrest. You’ve worked with Ryukyu on occasion.”

 

“What are you trying to —?” The Pro Hero’s bleary dark eyes glared up at Izuku with a painful gaze.

 

“Tell me why you have a personal vendetta against me,” Izuku ordered resolutely, refusing to move an inch from his rooftop perch. “And you can’t say it’s because I’m a murderer when each and every one of us has committed the same crime. Tell me the real reason, Eraserhead.”

 

Just admit it.

 

It’ll be easier for you to acknowledge it.

 

Eraserhead’s eyes were ringed with shadows.

 

His skin looked clammy and pale.

 

He looked … ill.

 

Izuku pursed his lips behind his mouthguard.

 

“I … don’t …” The man floundered for words.

 

“You do ,” Izuku insisted. “I’ve told you before. Just admit it.”

 

“I — can’t.” Eraserhead’s face scrunched up like he’d eaten a sour lemon. “I won’t. No. That’s —”

 

Just admit it already.

 

You look ill, Eraserhead — all because of your stubbornness.

 

“Why not?” Izuku wondered aloud. “I already know why. All you have to do is say it.”

 

“If — if you know, then why do you want me —?!” Izuku noticed the bloodshot look to the man’s quirked eyes.

 

“Because I want you to admit it,” Izuku answered honestly. “Because it’s the only way you’ll realize it. You don’t believe me, so just believe your own words.”

 

Do it.

 

Say it.

 

“I …” Eraserhead stared up at Izuku with a troubled gaze.

 

Say.

 

It.

 

The man’s jaw clenched hard enough Izuku got a clear look of Mully, his favorite temple vein, again.

 

“Fine.” The Hero spat out the words like they were particularly vile-tasting. “Fine. You happy, you sick son of a bitch? I’ll fucking say it. Get ready to gloat.”

 

“Not this time, Eraserhead.” Izuku shook his head slowly. “Not this time.”

 

“I’m …” Eraserhead’s apprehensive composure steeled, and for the first time, Izuku genuinely respected the man.

 

He was finally accepting things.

 

“I’m scared of you,” The Pro Hero admitted quietly. “You … You fucking terrify me.”

 

Scared.

 

—  s  c  a  r  e  d  ? —

 

Eraserhead was scared.

 

But …

 

But why?

 

Izuku furrowed his eyebrows.

 

He was honest to god confused, even though he was fully expecting the answer.

 

“Why?” He asked after a moment of silence, a bit baffled.

 

Eraserhead’s expression turned to incredulity.

 

“Wha —? Why?” He repeated, gaping. “Spider, it seems like you know everything about me. I’m a goddamn Underground Hero. That isn’t supposed to just — happen.

 

“But —” Izuku fought for something to say. “I told you … I’m not going to leak any of your information.”

 

“Why not?” Eraserhead asked desperately. “You hate me.”

 

Izuku chewed on his bottom lip behind his mask.

 

“Well … that’s …” Izuku pulled on his fingers one by one. “I … don’t hate you as a Hero, Eraserhead. I just — hate your personality, is all.”

 

“My personality?” Eraserhead’s jaw dropped.

 

Izuku nodded at Eraserhead’s helpful hint. “Yeah! Like, you’re irritating and stuff. You constantly accuse me of being a villain without true evidence, and you’ve interrupted one too many of my patrols … But I don’t want you dead , you know?”

 

“And … why?” The Underground Hero asked once more. 

 

“Why do I not want you dead?” Izuku raised an eyebrow in nervous confusion.

 

“Yes!” Eraserhead exclaimed in frustration.

 

“That’s … that’s simple.” Izuku shrugged his shoulders. “I want to do some good for this city. And, as much as it pains me to admit it, you’ve done your fair share.”

 

“But … Why do you want to do good?” Eraserhead blinked rapidly. “Spider, you’re a complete unknown. I don’t know your age, your genders, your quirk. Goddamn it, you don’t even have a real vigilante name — we had to give one to you! How can we know that you’re on our side when we know absolutely nothing about you?!”

 

Izuku continued to pull on his fingers and became a bit more aggressive about it as Eraserhead’s questions started feeling a little too overwhelming for his tastes.

 

“Why would I tell you anything?” Izuku questioned, trying to force the nervousness out of his tone. “I’m a vigilante. My identity is supposed to be a secret.”

 

“Fucking hell, Spider.” Eraserhead walked closer to the edge of the building where he was standing and raised his hands, palms up. It looked like he was begging. “Just give me something. Something concrete. Just so we can know you aren’t a threat. B – Because I’m not the only one scared, okay?”

 

Not the only one?

 

“Who’s –?” Izuku almost finished asking, but his words trailed off.

 

“Tsukauchi,” Eraserhead answered, his voice raw. “The rest of his precinct. They’re scared. We’re scared. Just … we don’t know whether you’re on our side or not, Spider. We’re scared . Do you … do you understand that?”

 

Izuku felt his face twitch.

 

He wanted to step away from Eraserhead, but if he did, he would have fallen off the side of the building.

 

There was something churning in his stomach.

 

It didn’t feel good.

 

It felt … bad.

 

Scared.

 

People were scared of him.

 

And — usually, that felt good.

 

He liked it when people were scared of him.

 

That meant they were less likely to hurt him.

 

If people were scared of Izuku, they wouldn’t try anything.

 

They avoided him.

 

Just how he liked it.

 

And Izuku knew Eraserhead was scared of him.

 

Just like he told the man earlier — he knew what Eraserhead was going to admit when he asked him for the real reason behind the vendetta.

 

But —

 

It didn’t feel as nice as he expected — to hear Eraserhead, a Pro Underground Hero who had only done good in Japan, was terrified of Izuku.

 

That other people were terrified of him, also.

 

It didn’t feel nice.

 

It didn’t feel good.

 

Because … people were only supposed to be scared of bad guys.

 

But if people were scared of Izuku, then …?

 

No.

 

Izuku’s face pinched.

 

Izuku wasn’t bad.

 

He — couldn’t be .

 

Right?

 

Because he was doing good things!

 

He saved people!

 

That was good of him.

 

So — Izuku was good.

 

Or — he was trying to be.

 

Was he —?

 

Did he make a mistake?

 

No.

 

He couldn’t have.

 

What mistake could he have made?

 

Izuku saved people!

 

He did good things!

 

He was …

 

He was a good person.

 

Izuku —

 

He was …

 

Abruptly, Izuku remembered his argument with Dabi.

 

“And I wanted trust! But I guess that was all a lie.”

 

“Izuku, I fucking swear, you’re the strongest person I know.”

 

“Can’t you just — trust me?”

 

“You’re not weak, Izuku.”

 

“It goes both ways, you know.”

 

“I — fine. I’ll back off.”

 

Did he make a mistake with Dabi …?

 

No.

 

No he didn’t. 

 

If he hadn’t have manipulated Dabi, then Dabi would have —

 

Dabi would have —

 

 

Would he have?

 

Izuku thought of Dabi, and every last bit of information he gleaned from the alpha.

 

Family-oriented.

 

Protective.

 

Traumatized.

 

Hurt.

 

Hurt.

 

Hurt.

 

hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt

 

Izuku was afraid Dabi would have hurt him.

 

That was why he manipulated him, after all.

 

But —

 

Dabi … wouldn’t have hurt Izuku.

 

That wasn’t who Dabi was.

 

So —

 

Izuku manipulated Dabi — for no good reason.

 

Izuku recognized what the churning in his stomach meant.

 

Izuku was …

 

His lips quirked just a bit behind his mouthguard.

 

He wanted to laugh, but he forced it down.

 

Scared.

Izuku was scared.

 

And people were scared of Izuku.

 

And Izuku —

 

Izuku might have hurt Dabi.

 

He might have scared Dabi.

 

Scared.

 

Izuku was scared.

 

He pulled on his fingers harsher, feeling his knuckles pop from the force.

 

Crack.

 

Crack.

 

Crack.

 

Crack.

 

Scared.

 

Izuku was scared.

 

His face felt hot.

 

His back was all sweaty, and — and gross.

 

gross, gross, gross, gross

 

It felt bad.

 

badbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbad

 

It felt bad.

 

badbadbadbadbadbadbad

 

It felt bad.

 

badbadbadbadbadbadbadbadbad

 

It felt bad.

 

badbadbadbadbadbadbad

 

Why —

 

He —

 

He wasn’t breathing right.

 

Izuku … 

 

Izuku wasn’t breathing right.

 

Could he breathe?

 

Something was wrong with his mask.

 

Something must have gotten jammed inside it, because — he couldn’t breathe.

 

Did — did someone touch his mask?

 

Did they break it?

 

How did they find it?

 

Who did it?

 

How did they get inside his apartment?

 

He had locks on his doors and windows!

 

He made the locks!

 

How could someone have gotten inside?

 

Izuku couldn’t breathe.

 

There — there was something wrong with his mask!

 

Izuku started chewing on his lip harder.

 

Blood —

 

He tasted blood —

 

There was blood in his mouth —

 

He couldn’t —

 

Breathe.

 

Izuku whirled away from Eraserhead and stared down at the alleyway below him. His back, covered in sweat and grossgrossgross , was ramrod straight. He kept trying to pull at his fingers, but his knuckles weren’t popping anymore. Instead, they began to ache from the friction.

 

His —

 

His mask

 

Izuku scared Dabi.

 

And he —

 

He might have hurt Dabi —

 

And only —

 

Only bad people

 

People were only scared of bad people .

 

So —

 

Izuku

 

“Spider …?” A distant, distorted voice came from behind him. It sounded like he was underwater, and it was muffled in his eardrums. “Spider, what — …”

 

No.

 

No.

 

Izuku wasn’t bad.

 

He was good.

 

He was good goodgoodgoodgood.

 

He was trying to be —

 

But —

 

“Spider —?” 

 

There was someone behind him.

 

Someone was walking up to him.

 

Izuku couldn’t see them. His back was turned.

 

Who —?

 

Were they the one who — broke his mask?

 

There was blood in his mouth.

 

“Whenever I get scared, I scratch my neck.”

 

Was it —?

 

Izuku chewed harder, just like he taught him to.

 

His eyes frantically scanned the alleyway below him.

 

He didn’t know what he was looking for —

 

But he looked nonetheless.

 

He — couldn’t breathe.

 

“ — Spider!”

 

Was there —

 

Was there someone in the alleyway below?

 

Izuku stared down with a manic gaze.

 

There was.

 

There was someone in the alleyway.

 

There was blood in his mouth.

 

An enemy.

 

A criminal.

 

A gangster.

 

Izuku had to fight them.

 

They were badbadbadbad and Izuku was good — so Izuku had to fight them.

 

Izuku’s chest felt tight.

 

He ignored it in favor of his fight or flight instincts.

 

Fight.

 

Fight, fight, fight!

 

Izuku’s adrenaline started pumping.

 

Alive.

 

He felt alive again.

 

There was someone in the alleyway.

 

Someone to fight.

 

Someone bad.

And if Izuku fought someone bad

 

Then that meant Izuku was good.

 

There was blood in his mouth.

 

And Izuku felt alive again.

 

“Spider —!” Someone shouted behind him just as he pointed his wrists at a nearby fire escape.

 

Just as the presence behind him was within touching distance, Izuku was launched into the air and flew down from the rooftop. He didn’t even wait for the person to follow before he grabbed onto a pole and slid down until he could safely jump to the ground without snapping his ankles like toothpicks.

 

Izuku’s eyes snapped to the enemy.

 

They were just behind an alleyway corner. 

 

Fight, fight, fight.

 

Just as someone jumped to the ground beside him, yelling out words that Izuku ignored, he ran to the corner.

 

An enemy.

 

A bad person.

 

Fight or flight.

 

And Izuku’s instincts always leaned towards fight more often than not.

 

“Spider! Spider, goddamn it!” A gruff voice yelled near him, running only a few paces behind. “What the hell are you doing?!”

 

Izuku ignored their voice. Somehow, he knew they weren’t an active enemy —

 

Unlike the other.

 

The corner —!

 

Izuku was almost there —!

 

His arms started flexing in preparation. 

 

And —

 

His new invention!

 

He almost forgot about it!

 

He could use his pressure mechanics!

 

He could use his tranquilizers!

 

Perfect!


Perfect, perfect, perfect!

 

The perfect end for a crappy November!

 

And the perfect start for a perfect December!

 

There it was —!

 

The corner —!

 

A fight was about to begin.

 

And it would be fucking glorious.

 

Izuku slid around the corner and placed himself in the front row view of the enemy, his body crouched and his fists raised for a fight. Behind his mask, his bloodied and torn lips stretched into a manic grin as his body flooded itself with endorphins.

 

Then his smile abruptly dropped.

 

His fists fell to his sides.

 

He stared ahead of him at the person in the alleyway.

 

“Spider —!” Eraserhead thundered in anger, skidding to a stop. “What the fuck was that all about?! Are you fucking —?!”

 

Eraserhead must have seen the person in the alleyway as well because his mouth snapped shut so loud that Izuku could hear his teeth clack together.

 

Because —

 

There …

 

Spray painted on the red brick wall was the words —

 

C  H  E  C  K  M  A  T  E

 

And there —

 

Just below the words —

 

The person in the alleyway.

 

It was the Underground Hero, Penumbra , famous for his ability to control the movements of other people by using their shadows as puppets.

 

Or, more specifically , it was Penumbra’s corpse.

 

The man looked to have been dead for around five hours, as the blood in his body seemed to be pooling down to his feet, leaving his face an ashy grey.

 

A knife was embedded in each of his eyes. His arms were outstretched across the wall, and daggers were staked into his palms to keep him upright, making it look like a hideously macabre crucifixion scene.

 

The adrenaline flooded away from Izuku, leaving him bereft and numb.

 

“Shit …,” Eraserhead muttered from behind Izuku, staring transfixed at the scene in front of them. “Shit!”

 

Immediately, Eraserhead, a seasoned Pro, reached up to his ear and began calling Tsukauchi.

 

Izuku continued to stare at the murdered Hero as Eraserhead began to shout at Tsukauchi, ordering the detective to bring his unit over to investigate the crime scene.

 

Although Izuku was able to breathe again, the air entering into his lungs felt a little … musty.

 

Like the air was thick.

 

It might have just been his imagination though.

 

“Shit …,” Izuku repeated blankly.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t often that Tsukauchi Naomasa didn’t trust the opinion of one Aizawa Shouta.

 

They’d known each other for around twelve years now, and they’d been through some pretty heavy stuff together.

 

They’d gone through too much for Tsukauchi to not trust in Aizawa’s capabilities as not only a skilled fighter but also an incredibly logical man who always thought with his head rather than his emotions.

 

Tsukauchi trusted Aizawa to get the job done in an orderly and succinct manner.

 

But more than that, Tsukauchi trusted Aizawa with his life.

 

They were business partners, but they were also friends.

 

They spoke with each other almost every week, and twelve years was more than enough time to build a rapport between them.

 

Hell — Tsukauchi was one of Aizawa’s groomsmen at the Underground Hero’s wedding!

 

(Side note: Tsukauchi had never been to a crazier wedding than that of Aizawa’s. Midnight was Aizawa’s Best Woman and Ingenium was Yamada’s Best Man, and since the two Heroes were practically chaos magnets, things were practically destined to get a little messy.

 

Amongst the myriad of other childish pranks the two pulled throughout the ceremony, they had somehow managed to rig the entire place with hidden disco lights that started playing cringy pop music when the two newlyweds kissed.

 

Yamada looked delighted. 

 

Aizawa looked murderous.


Just to add to the madness, Nezu was the officiator of the wedding. Although he didn’t know the supergenius personally, he’d heard enough horror stories from Aizawa to be wary of the creature. But he never would have expected the chimera to literally break the ceiling of the building with one of his giant robots just for the machine to delicately drop the two wedding rings into his waiting paws.

 

For a brief moment, Tsukauchi thought it was a villain attack and nearly pulled his gun. Then he caught Aizawa’s long-suffering expression and realized that it was simply the Underground Hero’s mentor being batshit crazy like normal and doing things way too dramatically for the situation.

 

It was one of the nicest days of Tsukauchi’s life, despite that. He’d been close friends with Aizawa for years, and it brought him so much joy to see the genuine happiness on his friend’s usually-grave face as he and his longtime lover finally married. Tsukauchi wasn’t ashamed to admit that he shed a couple of tears during the ceremony — Yamada’s wedding vows made everyone sob, but Aizawa’s were something special.

 

Just hearing the honest to god love in his friend’s voice as he stated in typical Aizawa Shouta short and to the point fashion that he was in love with Yamada Hizashi and would spend the rest of their lives loving him with every fiber in his heart was something out of a damn romance novel.

 

It was a lovely wedding in spite of the insanity, and Tsukauchi was honored to attend it as one of Aizawa’s groomsmen.

 

… He could have lived without the after-party though.

 

Most of the night was a blur, and the last thing Tsukauchi saw before completely falling into intoxication was Ingenium doing what was probably the best pole dancing routine he had ever seen in his life.

 

He somehow woke up the next morning inside one of the building’s many restrooms, curled up next to a snoring Vlad King in the admittedly cozy bathtub.

 

It took Tsukauchi an entire week to get over his hangover.)

 

So, yes.

 

Tsukauchi trusted Aizawa.

 

Not just as a Hero, and not just as a logical, rational man.

 

But as a friend.

 

They were so incredibly close, in fact, that it wasn’t often that Tsukauchi didn’t trust Aizawa’s judgment.

 

This, however, was one of those few moments.

 

“You cannot be serious,” Tsukauchi stated firmly. He refused to even look at him and chose to keep his eyes fixed on the coffee machine, keeping his back turned to the man.

 

He heard Aizawa shuffle uncomfortably behind him and felt distantly proud of the way he could make the otherwise stern and proficient Underground Hero nervous .

 

Good , Tsukauchi thought.

 

Aizawa deserved to be uneasy right now.

 

Especially after he proposed what was probably the stupidest plan Tsukauchi had ever heard in his damn life .

 

“Tsukauchi,” Aizawa began, “you don’t understand —”

 

Tsukauchi pressed the button that made the coffee machine burst into life, filling his office with the obnoxiously-deafening sounds of coffee beans being crushed into dust, effectively cutting off whatever bullshit the Underground Hero tried to say. He knew that Aizawa hated being interrupted in any capacity, so he took advantage of the fact to purposefully irritate him.

 

A little bit of revenge, if you’d be willing to call it so.

 

“You’re actually right about that,” Tsukauchi said calmly as he waited for his drink. “I really don’t understand, Aizawa. Do you have any idea why?”

 

Aizawa huffed behind him, and Tsukauchi could easily picture the omega folding his arms across his chest like a disgruntled teenager.

 

“Listen,” Aizawa said. “Just hear me out —”

 

“I think I can answer my question,” Tsukauchi proposed and pressed the button for espresso to be added to his normal drip coffee. For a day like this, he deserved a red-eye blend. Most of the time, he’d only save red-eye (Brewed black coffee mixed with espresso) for his late, late work nights, but this called for it. “If that’s alright with you.”

 

“Tsukauchi —” The Underground Hero tried to say.

 

He quickly cut him off by spinning on his heels to face him. Keeping up an air of nonchalance that clashed brilliantly with his tensed shoulders, Tsukauchi leaned against the counter and stared at Aizawa with a blank gaze as he waited for the machine to finish preparing his coffee.

 

“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say, Aizawa,” Tsukauchi said, trying desperately to keep a placid expression on his face when he wanted to practically strangle the man in front of him with his own damn capture scarf, “because what you’re saying is the result of one too many sleepless nights. Don’t worry, though. I won’t hold your brief insanity against you. We all lose it every now and then. Just get some sleep, and we can forget this talk ever happened.”

 

Aizawa’s briefly-startled face immediately fell into indignation, cheeks flushed. “Fuck you,” he grumbled. “I know it might sound crazy, but I’m being serious.”

 

“It sounds crazy, because it is crazy,” Tsukauchi deadpanned. He took a page out of the Hero’s book and crossed his arms about his chest. “Us being friends is the only reason I haven’t immediately dragged you in for a psychiatric evaluation.”

 

“I know it sounds bad!” The man cried. “But you can’t deny the evidence, Tsukauchi.”

 

Tsukauchi shook his head in dismissal. “The evidence isn’t conclusive.”

 

“You’re lying to yourself, and you know it,” Aizawa fought with an upset tone. “I’m not happy about it either, but even I know that there’s something going on and that we don’t have all of the clues.”

 

“So?!” Tsukauchi fumed, feeling his patience wearing thin. He didn’t want to hear anything Aizawa said right now; the Underground Hero was obviously feeling under the weather and wasn’t in sound mind. “We’ve barely started this investigation. We have time , Aizawa! Why are you immediately resorting to —?”

 

“Because we don’t have time!” Aizawa shouted quickly, making Tsukauchi startle at the sudden volume increase. The noise rang throughout Tsukauchi’s office, but the Underground Hero barely seemed to notice. “Goddamn it — we’ve already found another victim only two weeks after the first. Whoever’s doing this is fast , and it’s only a matter of time before we find a third!”

 

Tsukauchi tried to hide his grimace.

 

That was true, as loathe as he was to admit it.

 

Penumbra had been their first casualty.

 

Found on November 27, the Underground Hero had been found near the border of District 11 and 12, in a deserted alleyway around 2:30 AM.

 

Penumbra hadn’t been a rookie Undergrounder, which made the situation more damning. He was a thirty-two-year-old Beta who’d been working in the outer districts for well over a decade. He was one of their best, as a matter of fact. His quirk control was unparalleled, and he wasn’t an unskilled fighter by any means.

 

That was what made his murder all the more terrifying.

 

The coroners concluded that Penumbra had been murdered five hours earlier, and each wound on his body seemed to scream the fact that his killer had been leagues ahead of him in terms of sheer viciousness and prowess.

 

The culprit must have had a message to tell as well as a personal vendetta against Penumbra, seeing as to how brutal the Hero’s murder had been set up. 

 

He’d been staked to the alleyway wall by knives, and his eyes had been stabbed by daggers as well. Above the Hero, written in spraypaint, was the murderer’s message, stating checkmate.

 

At first, it was easy to write off Penumbra’s demise as an unfortunate casualty. Underground Heroes, despite being experienced fighters, were often the targets of many angry villains and gangsters. It wasn’t uncommon for an Underground Hero to find themself overrun and put out of commission permanently.

 

But then there had been another victim.

 

Claustra had been her name.

 

She was a newer Underground Hero in the outer districts, but no less skilled than Penumbra. 

 

She was at the top of her classes and received glowing remarks from all of her mentors and teachers. Her quirk, Barrier, allowed her to create mini force fields around any object she came in contact with, including herself.

 

She had been found on the 4th of December in District 10, which was the starting point for new Underground Heroes. Her body had been found in an alleyway, although there were no knives left behind on the scene. 

 

Claustra had been eviscerated by what the coroners guessed was a dagger around the size and length of an old samurai’s tantō, not dissimilar to the blades found in Penumbra’s murder. Her eyes had been stabbed as well, although the knives were not left inside either.

 

Tsukauchi could have written it off as, yet again, another casualty, were it not for the spray-painted message above her gruesome corpse.

 

Checkmate.

 

“We don’t even know if it’s a single perpetrator,” Tsukauchi argued, albeit he could admit that his voice was a little weak after Aizawa’s outburst. He knew he was just spewing bullshit. “For all we know, this could just be another case of occupational hazards.”

 

“Stop lying to yourself,” Aizawa said, and although his words were growled, there was a pleading undertone to them. “You’re a good detective, Tsukauchi. You know that all of the signs are pointing towards a serial killer villain.”

 

“I thought you were a logical man, Aizawa!” Tsukauchi retorted as he was verbally backed into a corner. He couldn’t deny the facts — they were dealing with something much darker than the usual low-mortality rates of Underground Heroes, but he didn’t want to admit it, because of another variable in Aizawa’s equation that made him want to pull his hair out. “Even if I agree that we have a new villain, how can you even think to propose an alliance with Spider of all people?!”

 

There it was.

 

The real reason why Tsukauchi was angry.

 

Up until today, Tsukauchi had no idea that Aizawa had been in close proximity with the vigilante.

 

They’d been attempting to arrest them since January , since Dangou’s arrest. They’d both agreed, especially after Aizawa’s first meeting with them during the Seichourai case, that the vigilante was bad news . They would commiserate over how terrifying the vigilante was, but then Aizawa decided to pull a 180 out of the blue and ask Tsukauchi to trust them to solve this new case?

 

Hell no.

 

Tsukauchi severely disliked vigilantes on principle alone, and it was only due to his friendship with Aizawa that he didn’t arrest all of them on sight.

 

(Damn the Underground Hero for making him agree to that deal — yes, Tsukauchi could agree that vigilantes like Knuckleduster did some good for Musutafu, but that didn’t take away Tsukauchi’s disapproval!)

 

So why, in god’s green earth, would he willingly work with Spider?

 

“I thought I was a logical man too,” Aizawa admitted grimly. The omega’s dark eyes flicked away from Tsukauchi’s face almost shamefully. “But I’ve been increasingly made aware of the fact that even I let my emotions get the better of me sometimes.”

 

“And who said that to you?” Tsukauchi asked bitterly. “Let me guess. It was Spider .”

 

“Yes,” The Underground Hero agreed. “It was.”

 

Tsukauchi stepped away from the counter and closer to his friend. “Why are you even listening to them? Aizawa — Spider’s bad news !”

 

“You don’t think I know that?” Aizawa’s gaze flashed back to him. “I don’t trust the little freak as far as I can throw them.”

 

“If you don’t trust them, then why are you asking me to work with them?!” Tsukauchi cried out incredulously. “From the looks of it, they’d backstab us at the first chance they got! Hell, I wouldn’t be fucking surprised if they were the villain themself!”

 

“They’re not.” Aizawa’s dark eyes were firm.

 

“And how do you know that?” Tsukauchi asked. “We don’t know a single thing about them, and you’re suddenly asking me to trust them with such a high-risk case as this?!”

 

“I told you, I was with them on the night we found Penumbra,” Aizawa growled slowly, staring down at the slightly-shorter detective.

 

“Penumbra had been dead for a couple of hours,” Tsukauchi shot back. “More than enough time for Spider to kill him without you knowing.”

 

Aizawa shook his head, and a couple of strands from his hair started floating due to his heightened emotions. “Not possible. Penumbra had probably been murdered at the exact moment we started our patrol. Spider couldn’t have committed the murder in that short amount of time, especially when you look at the details surrounding the death in question.”

 

“Even if they didn’t kill Penumbra,” Tsukauchi argued, “they still killed over thirty people, Aizawa. How can we even think to trust them with this?”

 

“And we’ve killed more than that combined , Tsukauchi!” Aizawa roared, getting closer to Tsukauchi’s face and glaring down at the beta. Tsukauchi could faintly smell the angered pheromones of the omega, signaling that his emotions were so intense his scent blockers were starting to leak. The office began to smell faintly of dianthus flowers, which had a cinnamon-like fragrance. 

 

Tsukauchi gaped up at the Hero in shock. 

 

He hadn’t seen Aizawa this angry in a long time.

 

It really made him aware of the fact that, while he and Aizawa were friends and colleagues and Aizawa would never raise a hand against him, the Underground Hero was more than capable enough to beat Tsukauchi into a bloody pulp without much effort.

 

(And some people said that omegas weren’t scary …)

 

It was silent for a moment before Tsukauchi finally opened his mouth to ask, “What are you saying …?”

 

Aizawa sighed heavily and harshly rubbed his tired eyes. “I just — I’m not asking you to trust them. Fucking hell — I don’t even trust them. But they’re smart . Nezu -smart. If their intelligence could, in some way, prevent another Penumbra, then damn it, Tsukauchi, I’m willing to try anything.”

 

Tsukauchi noted the black circles ringing the Hero’s already-bloodshot eyes. Guilt flooded through him at creating yet another stressful situation for the overworked Hero, so when his coffee machine announced it was finished preparing his drink, he gave the first cup to Aizawa instead.

 

The man took it slowly and, after staring down into the darkness with an exhausted glare, seemed to inhale the entire thing in one gulp.

 

“Shit,” Tsukauchi said wisely, with not a small amount of awe. “This … this is really getting to you, huh?”

 

Aizawa looked down at Tsukauchi for a moment then snorted without humor. “Yeah. You could say that.”

 

“Do …” Tsukauchi struggled for words. “Do you — …”

 

Aizawa seemed more concerned with his coffee mug than Tsukauchi’s stutters.

 

At last, Tsukauchi could piece together his thought processes enough for a coherent sentence.

 

“What can you tell me about Spider?” He finally asked, albeit cautiously, a little apprehensive of Aizawa after his outburst. “You told me that you started patrolling with them around October, right?”

 

Tsukauchi waited for Aizawa’s nod, then continued, “Well, even if they haven’t revealed anything of note yet, you’ve still spent almost three months with them. What do you know?”

 

Aizawa finished his coffee with a sigh and set the mug down on Tsukauchi’s desk. He closed his eyes thoughtfully. “Well … They’re an asshole.”

 

Tsukauchi grimaced. “Noted.”

 

“Their mental health is obviously unstable,” Aizawa said gruffly. “Mood swings are worryingly common. One moment, they’re manic and almost childlike — the next, they’re almost ready to shank you and leave you in an alleyway to bleed out.”

 

Tsukauchi shivered at the image. It had only been today that Aizawa suddenly revealed to Tsukauchi that the number of patrols he had taken up in the outer districts had been shared with the very vigilante they had been tracking down since January. Then, as if that news hadn’t been horrifying enough, Aizawa had proposed an alliance between the three of them to catch whoever had begun murdering Underground Heroes in the outer districts.

 

(Tsukauchi was still seething that Aizawa had not only been in close proximity with the psycho but actively working with them under Tsukauchi’s nose.)

 

“I’m torn between possible BPD or Bipolar Disorder,” Aizawa acknowledged slowly. The Underground Hero walked away from Tsukauchi to sit down at the edge of the detective’s desk. “They think very highly of themself — too high in my opinion — but I haven’t seen a depressive episode, so I’m not too sure about Bipolarism.”

 

“Could it be that you simply aren’t present during those episodes?” Tsukauchi asked.

 

Aizawa shrugged. “Maybe. But we patrol for four days out of the week, and it’s been almost three months by now. You’d think I would witness at least one episode during that span of time.”

 

“True, true.” Tsukauchi nodded to himself and started fixing his own cup of coffee. He’d probably need it — and maybe five others.

 

“There’s definitely some self-destructive behaviors,” Aizawa said. “Vigilantism in general basically constitutes, in some manner, as self-destructive. We patrol during the night, so sleep deprivation might be possible as well.”

 

Tsukauchi briefly narrowed his eyes at his friend, noting the man’s deep eyebags and slouched shoulders. Pot calling the kettle black, perhaps?

 

“Their moods are short-lived though,” the Underground Hero pointed out. “As I said, they’re erratic. One moment they’re fine, the next they’re blowing a gasket. Then they go back to acting like a five-year-old as if nothing had happened.”

 

“Age regression, maybe?” Tsukauchi wondered aloud.

 

Aizawa bit his lip. “I’m not sure about that one. While they have shown childlike tendencies, it feels more … nuanced than that. Sometimes it’s like they’re purposefully trying to annoy me, while other times it’s … just odd .”

 

Tsukauchi took a sip of his coffee. “How so?”

 

“If I’m being honest, I don’t really fucking know.” The man glared at the carpeted floor. “Less like they’re reverting back to a past childlike headspace, and more like … ugh — I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that one more.”

 

“Have you seen how they interact with other people?” The beta detective asked.

 

“Well, they hate my fucking guts,” Aizawa snorted gracefully. “I’m still surprised they haven’t tried stabbing me yet.”

 

“I’m glad they haven’t,” Tsukauchi drawled. 

 

… Just a little bit, though.

 

He was still upset with the Hero, after all.

 

“Other than me, I don’t think they are connected to anyone.” Aizawa scratched the back of his neck and sighed. “They had that one stint at The Bird’s Nest with Blueflame, but I haven’t heard of the two of them meeting up ever since.”

 

“Why Blueflame though?” Tsukauchi had to ask. It had been bothering him for a while, especially after the creepy vigilante had somehow called him on his personal number to report the incident. “Those two, from the looks of it, wouldn’t seem to get along.”

 

Blueflame was one of the strongest anti-heroes in the outer districts, and for a strict flee-on-sight for most low-level or beginner Undergrounders and cops alike. 

 

The anti-hero/drug dealer was well known for his fits of rage, and from every account Tsukauchi gleaned on the man, did not take well to sass or impertinence.

 

And that seemed to be Spider’s main schtick, after all.

 

“All of the survivors said that they worked remarkably well with each other,” Aizawa said bitterly. “Some said that they even joked with each other on occasion.”

 

Tsukauchi’s face pinched in disgust.

 

Blueflame was another can of worms entirely.

 

Four years ago, the anti-hero appeared out of the depths of District 11. Nobody knew who he was, or where he came from — because he certainly hadn’t come from the outer districts.

 

Some said that Blueflame had clawed his way out of hell and that he’d somehow ended up in the outskirts of Musutafu. Others said that he was a monster, pieced together by diabolical hands to make a beast in patchwork human skin.

 

But Blueflame wasn’t always the threat he was today.

 

Although the anti-hero was a certifiable citizen of the outer districts now , every early account of the man seemed to scream that he was a foreign entity to the city’s underbelly.

 

Some reports even hinted at the man once belonging to the inner districts, seeing as how Blueflame’s accent used to be quite refined and his fighting style a bit too artful for the drawling lingo and brutality of the outer districts.

 

But regardless of this, the anti-hero quickly — alarmingly — rose up the ranks in District 11 until he became probably its most dangerous and prolific kingpin.

 

Probably due to the man’s devastating quirk.

 

Honestly, it was a stretch to even consider Blueflame an anti-hero at all.

 

He was a drug kingpin who roasted people alive on a weekly basis.

 

The only thing that kept Blueflame from being listed as a villain in the police databases was his contribution to the protection of children, beta women, and omegas in District 11.

 

(Even though Blueflame’s idea of protection usually involved incinerating the violent perpetrators)

 

“Spider does seem to have a sore spot for the marginalized like Blueflame,” Tsukauchi had to point out. “That could explain their brief alliance.”

 

“I think so as well,” Aizawa agreed. “But that still doesn’t give us much positive info towards Spider’s character though. One of the survivors had their tongue reportedly removed, and another said that Spider threatened to take their eyes.”

 

Tsukauchi shivered at the thought. “And you want me to team up with them regardless of that …,” He murmured under his breath, making sure to not alert the Hero.

 

“But,” Aizawa interrupted himself, “Spider and Blueflame did protect the trafficked children. They were taken far away from the building so as to avoid the later arson, and they said that Blueflame stayed with them for a while before your squad arrived on the scene.”

 

“But that was only Blueflame,” Tsukauchi had to remind him. “The children said they had no recollection of another vigilante helping them.”

 

Aizawa glared down at the floor with a conflicted expression. “Yes, that’s true. But Spider was the one who orchestrated the entire night, including the rescue.”

 

Tsukauchi’s eyebrows rose despite himself. “Are you sure of that, Aizawa?”

 

The Underground Hero nodded, almost to himself more than to Tsukauchi’s question. “Blueflame’s an intelligent anti-hero who has been known to run circles around more than a few Undergrounders, but he deals with District 11. He doesn’t cross into 12, and the auction at The Bird’s Nest was under strict lock-and-key. There’s no way he could have found the information without help.”

 

“So you’re saying Spider was the one who found it out and called in Blueflame’s help?” He asked, just a bit curious. It made sense, to be honest. When Tsukauchi and his team tracked the cellphone Spider used to call him that night, they’d found a hard drive containing an unheard-of amount of information regarding the various gangsters and villains participating in the vile event. Blueflame rarely left evidence (Besides ash), so it was only reasonable that Spider was the one who did it.

 

“Exactly,” Aizawa replied grimly. “Adding to that, the surveillance had been tampered with. It seemed to have stalled for ten to twenty minutes, only displaying the same audio and footage from the hour previous, until it shut off entirely. While the tape was repeating, Blueflame made his way to the basement, where the children were being held. Blueflame’s the type to go for immediate destruction, so someone must have reared in his more chaotic tendencies to make the rescue run as smoothly as possible. Someone must have planned the entire night out to a tee

 

“And the only person like that would be Spider,” Tsukauchi sighed tiredly. “Spider found out about The Bird’s Nest, god knows how, and called in Blueflame. Then the two of them worked together as efficiently as they could to rescue the children before they even attempted to attack most of the criminals. Great. Now everything about Spider is more conflicting than we thought.”

 

The corner of Aizawa’s lip quirked. “How so, detective?”

 

Tsukauchi pinched the bridge of his nose. “I mean, it’s easier to think of Spider as a crazed, off-the-rails lawbreaker rather than someone with actual morals.

 

The Underground Hero barked out a sharp laugh. “Crazed? Absolutely. But immoral …? No. No, I wouldn’t think so.”

 

Tsukauchi groaned at the confirmation. “Let me guess … they’re about to get even more confusing than I thought.”

 

“The night we found Penumbra,” Aizawa admitted honestly, “we were talking on a nearby rooftop before we discovered the crime scene. Well — arguing , more like.”

 

The man’s severe face darkened. His hands braced themselves on Tsukauchi’s desk, and the detective got the feeling the Underground Hero felt uncomfortable about what he was about to say.

 

“I …” Aizawa’s lips pursed into a thin line. Tsukauchi heard his desk creak a little as the man’s hands squeezed the wooden edge. “I think I scared them.”

 

Tsukauchi’s eyebrows furrowed together, and he couldn’t help his dumbfounded expression.

 

“What?” He asked. His tone was incredulous.

 

Aizawa’s face didn’t change, and he simply nodded in response.

 

Tsukauchi was …

 

Well, surprised wouldn’t be a strong enough word.

 

From every account, Spider seemed too insane to even have true human emotions.

 

This was the same vigilante that beat criminals until they were barely alive and laughed as over thirty men and women were burned alive.

 

Spider being scared seemed unheard of.

 

“What the hell were you two arguing about?” Tsukauchi asked breathlessly.

 

“At first, it seemed like our usual.” Aizawa ran his fingers through his hair, a nervous habit that Tsukauchi picked up on. “Then we got to arguing about Limelight Heroes and the outer districts.”

 

“Limelight Heroes?” Tsukauchi parroted back. “When did that come up in conversation?”

 

“They were shit-talking Limelighters,” Aizawa said. “‘Said that they were just marketable BS and that their casualties were more than their rescues. I got … upset and started fighting back.”

 

Tsukauchi nodded. If he had married a Limelighter and heard someone badmouthing their profession behind their back, he’d be a little angry as well. It was no wonder that Aizawa tried to defend his husband and alpha’s job.

 

“They said that Limelighters and their Billboard Charts caused the inequality of the inner and outer districts,” Aizawa explained carefully. “They got mad at me when I told them that the outer districts haven’t been completely abandoned. ‘Told me that we Undergrounders were just — commuters. ‘Coming in for a few hours then running away just as fast. ‘That we never actually fix the problem in the first place.”

 

“Damn,” Tsukauchi couldn’t help but say.

 

There was an undeniable part of the vigilante’s statement that rang true.

 

Tsukauchi, as a member of District 5’s precinct, wasn’t supposed to be involved with the outer districts by principle. But, considering his involvement with Aizawa and his … other Hero friends, he found himself tangling with their affairs more often than not.

 

He’d seen just how messed up the outer districts were.

 

And it was kind of an unspoken truth in law enforcement that not much was done to actually solve the root of the issues there.

 

Yes, occasionally they would come in and defeat a villain or two.

 

But there were never any reforms done.

 

Aizawa laughed under his breath, and it sounded defeated. “Yeah. It didn’t feel that good to hear that, I can admit it. When I tried to say that they didn’t get to judge, since they were legally a criminal, they blew up at me and called me a hypocrite.”

 

What?

 

“What?” Tsukauchi exclaimed in disbelief. “A hypocrite ? W-What — that little shit —!”

 

“Don’t, Tsukauchi,” Aizawa cautioned, albeit with an exhausted edge. “They were … They were right.”

 

Hell no.

 

Tsukauchi had never met a man as genuinely good as Aizawa Shouta.

 

No way was some psychotic vigilante going to call what was probably one of the greatest Heroes in their generation a hypocrite and get away with it.

 

Not on Tsukauchi’s watch.

 

“Aizawa, you can’t possibly believe that!” Tsukauchi demanded anxiously.

 

The man in question simply sighed through his nose and continued threading his fingers through his hair. “At first, I didn’t. But then …”

 

The Underground Hero closed his eyes for a brief second, and when he opened them again, their dark gaze was fixed on Tsukauchi’s. 

 

“Tsukauchi, how many murders have we committed?” Aizawa asked, and the detective jolted. “How many murders in this year alone?”

 

“Aizawa …,” Tsukauchi breathed. “That’s … those were different.

 

“In what way?” Aizawa asked pleadingly. “In what way is it different, really ?”

 

Tsukauchi opened his mouth to answer, but no words escaped him.

 

The office became silent at that moment.

 

Tsukauchi’s muteness answered the question, after all.

 

“We aren’t villains,” Aizawa stressed, his dark eyes wide and conflicted. “We don’t kill innocent people. But we do kill.”

 

“We don’t go out of our way though,” Tsukauchi whispered helplessly. “And … it’s only the people who really deserve it.”

 

Aizawa shook his head. “The people killed at The Bird’s Nest were pedophiles with more than their own fair share of murders. I — The Hasegawa brothers was the same, and Tsukauchi … I can’t deny that I wanted to kill them. I can’t because I did. I wanted them to die so fucking bad for what they did to those kids, so I killed them. How can I judge Spider for doing the same ?”

 

Tsukauchi wanted to vomit.

 

Because if he was being truthful with himself for once, he couldn’t.

 

He couldn’t judge the vigilante.

 

If he put aside all of his dislikes for vigilantism and his fear , then Tsukauchi could admit to himself that he couldn’t care less about the people murdered at The Bird’s Nest.

 

They were disgusting human beings.

 

Monsters.

 

And Tsukauchi …

 

Tsukauchi was glad they were dead.

 

“They … they were right.” Aizawa lowered his head. “I’m … I’m a hypocrite, Tsukauchi. Or, at the very least, I can be.”

 

The Hero laughed again, and the sound made Tsukauchi’s heart squeeze. “I pride myself on my rationality and my logic. And this one vigilante — this batshit crazy vigilante — has made me realize that it's all a fucking lie . A lie I tell myself to — to feel better about what I’ve done at the end of the day.”

 

Tsukauchi stared mournfully at the Underground Hero, at his friend , in front of him.

 

“They made me say it,” Aizawa revealed, raising his head to look up at Tsukauchi with deadened eyes. “‘Made me look at them straight in their creepy-ass goggles and admit that they scare the shit out of me. God, I wanted to fucking puke.”

 

Tsukauchi couldn’t help himself. He quickly stepped over to the Hero’s side and sat down at his desk next to him. There was nothing he could say to make the situation any better, so the detective simply placed a hand on the Hero’s shoulder. This close, the smell of dianthus flowers was much more concentrated.

 

Knowing that words wouldn’t help, Tsukauchi allowed his instincts to control him for a bit.

 

For most omegas, physical touch was extremely reassuring to them. It allowed scents to be mixed more efficiently and reminded that their pack was nearby. Touch starvation was a genuine illness for omegas, and a lack of touch could lead to many psychological and even physical problems, like a compromised immune system.

 

As a beta himself, Tsukauchi didn’t face many of the issues omegas or alphas had. As the closest sub-gender to that of the original pre-quirk human, betas didn’t fall into their instincts as easily as the other two.

 

That didn’t mean they had no instincts, however.

 

As of right now, Tsukauchi’s beta side was practically screaming at him to comfort his longtime friend. He forced his pheromones out in a higher quantity so that they would escape his scent patches and properly scent his colleague.

 

“They seemed …,” Aizawa fought for the right words after their long period of silence. “Confused, after I told them. Maybe even a little hurt. Like it was genuinely baffling to them that I was … that I was afraid of them.”

 

Tsukauchi gently rubbed the shoulder he was touching. Although Aizawa seemed like a stern man, he was surprisingly tactile. He hoped the man drew comfort from his touch.

 

Absent-mindedly, Tsukauchi reminded himself to send a little text over to Yamada once they had finished speaking.

 

Aizawa seemed exhausted and, more alarmingly, defeated , so it would be best to let his mate know and hopefully look after him in ways Tsukauchi could not.

 

“I’ve asked them so many times why they’re doing what they’re doing,” The Underground Hero stressed. “And they always give me the same fucking answer. Because it’s good , they say.”

 

Tsukauchi sighed wearily.

 

“They got nervous.” Aizawa clasped his hands in his lap and glared down at them. “Their words slowed, and they stuttered a bit. I told them that we just need to know something concrete so we know they aren’t a complete lost cause. I told them we were scared, and that seemed to set them off.”

 

Tsukauchi looked over at his friend. “But … they never seemed to care about our opinions before. Why would they care now?”

 

“I don’t know.” Aizawa smiled ruefully. “They went completely silent. I think their breathing might have picked up, but I couldn’t hear it clearly. I tried to ask them what was wrong, but they didn’t respond. They turned their back to me. I … I think I might have triggered a panic attack. Or a dissociation episode.”

 

Tsukauchi could just hear the self-incrimination in the Undergrounder’s voice.

 

“That’s not your fault,” Tsukauchi was quick to say. 

 

“Is it?” The Hero asked rhetorically. “They have this weird fixation on being good. At first, I thought it wasn’t all too important. But they would keep repeating it, so … I realized it was probably a trigger for them. It was always — because it’s good or I just want to do good . Whenever I questioned them, they’d get … huffy about it. Like they were somehow upset that I thought what they were doing wasn’t ‘good’ in some capacity. I … I’ve used it against them to see what they would do a couple of times.”

 

Tsukauchi’s eyebrows furrowed.

 

A vigilante fixated on being good seemed, in theory, to be a good idea.

 

But in Spider’s case?

 

It was a little more complex than that.

 

“Usually trigger words are created by repeated trauma,” Tsukauchi mused lowly to himself. “But … how would being good connect to vigilantism? Wouldn’t it point them more towards Hero work?”

 

“Spider’s too … unstable for Hero work, and I think they recognize that too,” Aizawa said. “They admitted to believing that some people didn’t deserve to live. And while Blueflame’s quirk was the true cause of the fatalities at The Bird’s Nest, it was probably Spider’s plan that dictated it.”

 

“So they just don’t want to get their hands dirty,” Tsukauchi muttered. His voice was laced in bitterness, however.

 

Aizawa huffed a little. “I wouldn’t say that, Tsukauchi. While I still believe Spider isn’t qualified for vigilante work, I can’t deny that they’ve mostly done some good.”

 

Tsukauchi would never admit to pouting at the Undergrounder’s words. “In what world is Spider doing things the right way?”

 

“Not right ,” Aizawa corrected. “Just good.”

 

“But why?” Tsukauchi asked, although it was a rhetorical question. “Why would someone like Spider be obsessed with doing good in Musutafu? Why would they be out in the streets as a vigilante? Who are they?”

 

“I have no fucking idea.” The Underground Hero scratched the back of his neck with a sigh. “I asked who trained them, and they joked that it was the ‘devil’. Probably just to piss me off.”

 

The devil.

 

Tsukauchi narrowed his eyes.

 

What if …

 

No.

 

That was impossible.

 

Not only was it completely insane, but it also didn’t make sense factually.

 

The vigilante never shared their quirk, after all.

 

It … didn’t add up.

 

Tsukauchi quickly erased that train of thought.

 

It was just his fear telling him lies.

 

But … just because it wasn’t that man didn’t mean that the hypothesis was completely absurd.

 

“What if it wasn’t though?” Tsukauchi wondered aloud.

 

Tsukauchi felt the man side-eye him. “Tsukauchi, that little shit has been irritating me since day-fucking-one.”

 

“But have they ever lied to you?” The detective stood up from his desk. A strangely giddy feeling started rushing over him, and Tsukauchi wondered if he’d added too much espresso to his coffee. “Even when they were angry with you?”

 

Aizawa stared up at Tsukauchi, and understanding began to dawn on his face.

 

“No,” The omega murmured. “They’ve never lied … Even when I asked them personal questions … they were always honest about keeping themself a secret.”

 

“So!” A smile danced its way to Tsukauchi’s cheeks. “What if they weren’t lying to you then?”

 

“But the devil?” Aizawa asked doubtfully. “It seems more like a mockery, to be honest.”

 

“What if it's both this time?” Tsukauchi exclaimed in his excitement. “Obviously they wouldn’t tell you the truth, but it doesn’t seem like they would lie either!”

 

“What’re you saying, detective?”

 

Tsukauchi grinned for the first time in days. “Aizawa, I think we might have another clue about Spider’s identity.”

 

“Which is …?” Tsukauchi didn’t blame Aizawa’s slow response. After all, the man probably hadn’t slept properly that entire night.

 

“Spider must have been a villain prior to their vigilantism,” Tsukauchi whispered, almost reverently. Finally, they might have had something on the lunatic.

 

Aizawa’s eyebrows immediately furrowed together. “What the hell?”

 

“Think about it, Aizawa!” Tsukauchi cried, opting to emote with his hands for emphasis. “Their obsession with being good , their crazed mentality, their brutality . Obviously, they’re trained. But all of their skills are geared towards what we’d expect from a villain.

 

The Underground Hero didn’t look too convinced. “I don’t know about that …”

 

“Hear me out!” Tsukauchi rushed to say. “And this isn’t me pulling at straws just to incriminate Spider. They’ve been trained by the so-called ‘devil’. They hate Heroes and the inner districts. Their willingness to kill. It all points to them being an ex-villain!”

 

“But Spider didn’t kill anyone,” Aizawa retorted, a bit hesitant.

 

“No,” Tsukauchi admitted. “But they did orchestrate the murders. Their trigger makes even more sense if you think about it that way!”

 

“How so?” The omega raised an eyebrow.

 

“They want to be good .” Tsukauchi made air-quotations about the word. “So they refuse to physically murder anyone. Why would they care about abstaining from killing when they told you they already believed some people deserved to die?”

 

“That … makes sense,” Aizawa admitted.

 

“Everything’s adding up,” Tsukauchi breathed out. “Spider’s ruthlessness … all points towards villainy. You implying that they weren’t ‘good’ anymore must have triggered a fight-or-flight response for them. It hits too close to home.

 

“Fuck,” Aizawa growled to himself. “Damn it … I should have known …”

 

“We’ll have to look through our records,” Tsukauchi said. “We might be able to find a link towards Spider somewhere there.”

 

“But …” Aizawa scrunched his eyebrows at Tsukauchi. “What about the case …?”

 

Tsukauchi sighed.

 

“As loathe as I am to say it, working with Spider on these murders might be our best shot,” He admitted tersely. “I’d be able to find more evidence on them as well while we work.”

 

“So you’re agreeing to the deal?” Aizawa questioned.

 

Tsukauchi nodded.

 

“You said so yourself. Our top priority is to prevent any more killings, and if that means employing Spider, then that settles it. With the close proximity, I’d also be able to observe Spider and see if I can find more about them.”

 

“Alright.” Aizawa nodded. “I’ll propose it to them the next time we meet.”

 

“I’m not ecstatic about this, Aizawa,” Tsukauchi made sure to warn. “I still think Spider’s bad news. Even more so with them possibly being an ex-villain.”

 

“I’m fine with that,” Aizawa replied honestly. “I don’t trust them whatsoever, but I don’t want any more victims being found.”

 

“I guess this means I’m going to be working with Spider.” Tsukauchi audibly groaned at the thought. “God help me.”

 

Aizawa smirked briefly at his despair.

 

“Don’t get too down, detective. This case will be solved quickly enough, so you won’t have to put up with them for a long time.”

 

Tsukauchi glared at the Underground Hero.

 

“You jinxed it. You son of a bitch, you actually jinxed it.”

Chapter Text

Tsukauchi Naomasa had never seen Spider in person.

 

Discounting their tense phone call on the night of the bust at The Bird’s Nest, Tsukauchi had never even heard the vigilante’s voice.

 

It was quite a monumental occasion when the two of them interacted for the first time.

 

Of course, Aizawa had told Tsukauchi everything he knew about Spider before their meeting took place to fully prepare the detective on what to expect about their foe-turned reluctant ally.

 

“Don’t show fear.”

 

Tsukauchi looked up from his paperwork to turn towards Aizawa with an incredulous expression. “What?” He asked, baffled.

 

Aizawa wasn’t even facing him. Instead, the Underground Hero was standing near Tsukauchi’s office window, staring pensively out into the streets as the sky turned from blue to gold as the day ended.

 

It was quite the picture.

 

A Hero, tired and worn and still standing regardless, staring out into the city that they swore to protect as it collapsed into the night’s sleepy clutches.

 

Looking back on it, Tsukauchi wanted to roll his eyes.

 

It doesn’t matter what kind they were. A ll Heroes were dramatic.

 

And Aizawa was one of the most dramatic of them all.

 

“Don’t show fear,” The omega repeated gravely.

 

Tsukauchi stared at the man for a moment then snickered under his breath. “‘Don’t show fear’?” The detective asked slowly. “Are we talking about a dog?”

 

“I’m serious,” Aizawa insisted.

 

“Oh, I’m sure.”

 

Tsukauchi went back to scanning over his papers. Aizawa was a serious man, but he could get lost in his dramatics just like any other human being. If it was anyone else, Tsukauchi would’ve been annoyed.

 

But since it was one of his closest friends, he was only faintly amused.

 

“Spider’s a different breed,” Aizawa stated.

 

Tsukauchi crossed off a name in his paperwork with bright red ink. “Still thinking we’re talking about a dog here.”

 

“Tsukauchi,” the Underground Hero said.

 

The detective in question looked up from his desk without another word. All at once, the lighthearted humor was batted away. 

 

Tsukauchi recognized that tone, and so, he knew he had to be serious.

 

He lifted his head.

 

Aizawa had turned away from the window. The golden-orange light of the setting sun hit him, outlining the man like a halo. Aizawa was looking at Tsukauchi with grave, dark eyes. They were ringed with intense circles, revealing his insomnia and many, many sleepless nights at Underground work.

 

Distantly, Tsukauchi wondered whether Yamada knew if something was happening with his mate.

 

Work confidentiality suggested that Aizawa and Tsukauchi’s partnership be kept from as many prying eyes as possible, but that certainly didn’t mean that Aizawa was forced to keep silent on his labors from fellow Heroes. It especially didn’t mean that Aizawa had to keep silent from his own alpha.

 

But Aizawa was a private man and believed in keeping his relationships and his work separate.

 

Tsukauchi knew that Aizawa had only told Yamada the bare minimum about Spider — both out of Spider’s request for privacy and out of fear for what Spider may do if Aizawa told anyone else about their existence. The vigilante had told Aizawa that they didn’t plan on hurting him or his loved ones, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

 

Spider profited on their reclusiveness. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that if Aizawa revealed their existence to anyone outside of strict necessity, the vigilante would respond with absolute violence in revenge.

 

But regardless of how little Aizawa told, Yamada was a perceptive man, and Tsukauchi didn’t doubt that the alpha knew there was more going on than a simple vigilante case in the outer districts.

 

Especially if his omega’s health was beginning to suffer for it.

 

But Yamada was a good man, as well as a perceptive one.

 

Tsukauchi had never seen a pair trust each other as much as the two did.

 

If Aizawa didn’t want to say more, then Yamada would leave it at that.

 

Tsukauchi trusted Yamada to trust his omega, no matter how bad his instincts may be telling him to press and push for answers.

 

“Spider’s dangerous,” Aizawa stated darkly. “No matter how many times they tell me they want me alive, I know that they could kill me without remorse. The same goes for you. And while I can defend myself to an extent, you’re no match for what Spider can do.”

 

Tsukauchi felt a chill run down his spine.

 

Abruptly, he thought of Penumbra and Claustra’s bodies.

 

Tsukauchi had seen many, many crime scenes in his line of work.

 

Hell — he’d even seen ones far more gruesome than that of the two Underground Heroes’.

 

But …

 

There was something else to it.

 

Something that curdled in Tsukauchi’s stomach whenever he thought about it.

 

It was clear as the daybreak that whoever killed Penumbra and Claustra was angry.

 

Penumbra’s eyes had been stabbed, and Claustra had been dismembered , for god’s sake.

 

Whoever could do that had to be furious.

 

But alongside that rage, there was a purpose.

 

It wasn’t just a crime of passion that ended the lives of two prominent Underground Heroes those nights.

 

There was a motive behind it all.

 

A motive that, somehow and someway, justified the brutality of the murder of two innocent people to whoever committed the deed.

 

Tsukauchi just didn’t know what it was yet.

 

Checkmate …

 

What did it mean …?

 

In any case, Tsukauchi knew about the severity of the circumstances.

 

Spider was an unknown variable, and although they insisted otherwise, Tsukauchi knew better than to think he was completely safe in any regard.

 

The vigilante, if Tsukauchi could even call them that, was unstable and out for blood .

 

If Tsukauchi wasn’t careful, that blood could very well be his.

 

“You don’t think I know that?” He had to ask. “Aizawa, they scare me shitless. If I had any say in this situation, I’d forget they ever existed and never step foot into the outer districts again. I’m well aware of their threat against me.”

 

Aizawa nodded. “I just wanted to say it. You’re my friend, Tsukauchi. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

 

Tsukauchi felt himself smile just a little, despite the brevity of his words. 

 

He couldn’t smell his friend’s pheromones, due to his scent blockers and their distance in proximity, but if he could, he knew that the omega’s dianthus scent would be sweetened in protectiveness — warm cinnamon and clove, like Christmas morning.

 

“I’ll be careful, Aizawa,” Tsukauchi reassured.

 

The Underground Hero stared at him before nodding once again. His face softened (A feat in and of itself), and Tsukauchi wished, not for the first time, he could smell his friend’s pheromones without the dulling of scent blockers.

 

Tsukauchi liked Aizawa’s scent.

 

Just like how Aizawa liked Tsukauchi’s.

 

Not in a romantic way, of course. The media loved to portray scent marking or sharing as this intense, emotional affair — especially when it came to the scents of omegas — but Tsukauchi didn’t see it that way at all.

 

Although society had come a long way from discriminating and abusing omegas, there were still hints of the old attitudes from days long since passed.

 

An omega’s scent was still thought of, to some, as something meant to be private or kept hidden away. Like it was only meant for their mates or something along those lines.

 

(More often than not, the same people who thought that omegas should hide away their natural pheromones were the same bastards who believed the archaic old wives’ tale that the scent of an omega in heat was some kind of — aphrodisiac , which was ridiculously untrue.

 

Yes, the scent of an omega was typically pleasing, but there was no scientific evidence to support the idea of it being some kind of sex drug.

 

The only time someone could be in any way sexually affected by the scent of an omega’s heat pheromones was if they were a mated pair. Otherwise, the scent did nothing to inhibit the mental capacities of the people around.

 

Of course, the old wives’ tale didn’t just end there, and neither did the discriminatory opinions.

 

Some sick, twisted people in the world genuinely believed that the idea protected them against rape charges.

 

Tsukauchi had arrested more than a couple of alphas who cried wolf when it came to being punished in the court of law due to sexual assault.

 

They believed that all because an omega omitted heat pheromones they were completely exempt from any charges because the scent simply “enticed” them against their own free will.

 

Dangou Danjiro was one of those people.

 

Tsukauchi enjoyed putting people like that behind bars.

 

What a bunch of sexist bullshit.)

 

Whenever Tsukauchi thought deeply about the relationship between him and Aizawa, he couldn’t help but remember the class he took in college about the history of second gender dynamics — more specifically, the history of packs.

 

Packs were a bit of an old-school idea, and many children were not even taught about them in primary school. Most people nowadays chose to reinvent them as simply involving family members or anyone blood-related, but Tsukauchi liked to remember the fact that, back in history, pack-dynamics could be with anyone you so desired — like close friends.

 

Tsukauchi liked to think of Aizawa as a pack member. 

 

It made sense, too.

 

Although it was unspoken, Tsukauchi and Aizawa received comfort from each other’s scents, just like true pack members. Tsukauchi was attuned to the different pheromone shifts in Aizawa’s dianthus scent, and he knew that Aizawa was attuned to his own cut-grass and coffee scent.

 

“Don’t try and aggravate them,” Aizawa instructed quietly. “I’ve already done enough of that.”

 

“I can’t pretend to be happy to see them,” Tsukauchi admitted.

 

“Then don’t,” Aizawa interrupted. “Just be honest with them, but don’t push their buttons. Besides, they’d probably know if you were bullshitting them and get even pissier.”

 

“Are they really as smart as they say they are?” He asked, genuinely curious about the answer. Aizawa had told him that Spider said they were as smart as Nedzu, but Tsukauchi was skeptical. He’d only spoken to the rat a few times, but even with that, he knew that Nedzu’s intelligence was incalculable.

 

Aizawa sighed and tugged on a strand of his hair. “I dunno,” he said. “I want to say no, but that may just be my … my stubbornness. They’ve … they’ve done and said things that show their intelligence is well above average.”

 

“But is it Nedzu’s level though?” Tsukauchi stressed.

 

“I don’t know,” Aizawa sighed. “Somehow they got through Nedzu’s firewalls to access my files, so that’s there.”

 

“How could they have done that anyway?” Tsukauchi wondered aloud.

 

Aizawa glared at him without heat. “You think I fucking know? All Underground Heroes are taught how to hack, and I’m better than most at it, but Nedzu’s coding is fucking Greek to me.”

 

“So what if we do have another Nedzu on our hands?” Tsukauchi asked.

 

Aizawa’s face pinched like he’d eaten a sour lemon.

 

“Never let them meet, I guess. Or run for the fucking hills.”

 

When Aizawa took Tsukauchi to their agreed meeting location a week after agreeing to their momentary truce, Tsukauchi had been more than a little skeptical.

 

“Here?” He asked in disbelief.

 

Aizawa had begun setting up various laptops and folders full of private paperwork and reports around once they’d gotten to their destination and did not even look up to give Tsukauchi a proper response.

 

“Yup,” The Underground Hero popped the ‘p’ with relish. “Right here.”

 

Tsukauchi spun in circles to get a true view of the location. According to Aizawa, the vigilante only agreed to come to this exact spot, and Tsukauchi had no idea why. If he was being honest with himself, he’d been expecting a secret lair or something more fitting to his admittedly nefarious opinion of Spider.

 

Instead, Aizawa brought Tsukauchi to a building that looked like it hadn’t had a single living soul inside of it for decades.

 

Outside of rats, of course.

 

By all accounts, it was simply an abandoned warehouse in one of the less populated areas of District 10. It had probably been used once upon a time to convert steam into power, as evidenced by the large turbine rusting away in the middle of the expansive building and the vents along the roof. Steam had been used only in the very beginning of Musutafu’s history, back when the outer districts weren’t nearly as decrepit as they were now, so the red brick warehouse must have been at least a hundred years old.

 

In a faraway part of Tsukauchi’s brain, he was a little thrilled, if he was being honest.

 

In college, he’d studied Musutafu, so it was fascinating to be standing in what was probably an artifact of its expansive past.

 

As a detective mainly stationed in District 5, Tsukauchi never really got to experience the history of the city outside of museums. He’d grown up in the inner districts, where everything was remodeled or rebuilt every ten years or so to keep up with the changing times or from villain attacks, so he was used to seeing holographic designs, technology, and skyscrapers made of reflective bullet-proof glass.

 

The outer districts were nothing like that.

 

Every time Tsukauchi journeyed past District 9, it was like stepping into a mini time machine.

 

All at once, the modernity of the world around him faded away. Compact steel skyscrapers, digital billboards, and artificial swathes of rainbow colors vanished. In its place were dark brick buildings, bold geometric designs, curling whiplash lines, and hazy stained glass.

 

Even District 10, which Aizawa had informed him earlier was the quote-unquote business center for the outer districts, looked completely foreign to what Tsukauchi was used to. Whenever he thought of business, he tended to think of Districts 1 and 2, where only the most important establishments like U.A. and Musutafu’s metropolitan government building were found within.

 

District 10 was nothing like them.

 

It was dark , to start with. The mass amounts of streetlights and neon signs did nothing to penetrate through the shadows.

 

It was also busy .

 

And while Districts 1 and 2 were just as if not busier, Tsukauchi had never seen so many people just — crowded into the streets. Whenever he had to travel to the outer districts for work, his driver always avoided 10, so he had never come into contact with it before.

 

Some people had even set up booths in the middle of the streets!

 

It was so — chaotic.

 

Disorientating.

 

It was almost nauseating …

 

Tsukauchi had never seen such a thing before in the inner districts. The streets were meant for cars , not congregating people , and yet, they went about their business without a vehicle in sight.

 

It was also dirty, which probably separated it the most from the glitz and glam of the inner districts.

 

Everywhere Tsukauchi looked, he found some form of trash on the ground.

 

The roads were bricked and didn’t seem to drain properly into the sewer system, so puddles of dank rainwater and other nasty liquids often soaked into the detritus lining the streets, making the entire place smell filthy.

 

There was also the issue with District 10’s wares

 

Tsukauchi wasn’t an innocent or naive man by any meaning of the words.

 

He was a thirty-two-year-old detective, after all.

 

He’d seen more than his fair share of messed-up things.

 

But a brothel advertising two-for-the-price-of-one deals standing right across from an elementary school was something Tsukauchi wasn’t prepared to deal with.

 

He knew the outer districts’ whole thing was that it existed as a massive red-light district outside of Musutafu proper, but still .

 

A brothel.

 

Across the street from a children’s school.

 

“I thought Spider chose to work in District 11,” Tsukauchi mused, touching the massive steam turbine. His hand came back red with rust, and he tried to ignore how much it looked like blood for the sake of his nerves. “Why here?”

 

“Spider still patrols 9 and 10,” Aizawa remarked.

 

Tsukauchi furrowed his eyebrows. “Not 12?”

 

Aizawa snorted a little. “After The Bird’s Nest? Even Spider’s not crazy enough to risk it so soon.”

 

“It’s that bad?” Tsukauchi asked, turning to his partner.

 

Aizawa nodded grimly. “Yeah. Most Undergrounders won’t even step a foot into that place.”

 

Tsukauchi felt confused. “But … I was able to investigate there, remember? Spider called for me and my team specifically.”

 

Aizawa smirked wryly. “I remember, Tsukauchi. I was there too. Try to remember how many officers came though.”

 

Tsukauchi searched through his memory about the event. Honestly, most of the night was a blur. He’d been so alarmed by Spider’s sudden phone call and the sheer brutality of Spider and Blueflame’s actions that most of his investigation seemed hard to recollect. 

 

Tsukauchi did remember seeing more than a handful of police accompany him …

 

And, to Tsukauchi’s surprise, he could even remember seeing an Undergrounder or two lurking not too far away.

 

All of those people …

 

Just in case.

 

“Oh, shit,” Tsukauchi breathed.

 

Aizawa’s smirk lengthened. “See it now? District 12’s a monster. If we hadn’t come with a damn militia , that night could’ve ended with a lot more bloodshed.”

 

“It’s that bad?” Tsukauchi repeated, still in shock over his latent memories.

 

“It’s that bad,” Aizawa answered firmly. “Place’s littered with villains. I’m still surprised Spider hasn’t been fucking assassinated yet because of what they did. Probably due to their anonymity, I guess.”

 

“Why would they even choose to do it in the first place then?” Tsukauchi asked. “If it was all that trouble.”

 

The Underground Hero shrugged nonchalantly. “Hell if I know. They’d probably say ‘because it was good’, or something along those lines.”

 

“Or because they’re batshit crazy,” Tsukauchi insisted nervously.

 

“That too,” said a mechanical voice from far above Tsukauchi and Aizawa’s heads.

 

Silence.

 

The voice echoed throughout the empty warehouse.

 

And then —

 

In an instant, Tsukauchi’s police training kicked in and he had already jumped a sizable distance away before he could take another breath. His Glock was in his hands, aimed directly at the dark shape perched in the rafters of the warehouse, with his index finger at the trigger.

 

“Stand down, Detective,” Aizawa said from behind him, his voice firm and low. Tsukauchi hadn’t even realized that he’d unconsciously placed himself in front of the man in a protective gesture.

 

“Yeah,” said the shadowed figure. “ Stand down, Detective-san.”

 

Tsukauchi exhaled shakily, the gun still aimed at the person meters above them.

 

He couldn’t move from his position.

 

As a police officer and detective, Tsukauchi had been trained to identify threats.

 

And every single nerve in his body identified the unknown figure as a threat.

 

Moreover, Tsukauchi had been trained to protect.

 

He didn’t — couldn’t move away from his position in between the figure and Aizawa.

 

Even if, logically, he knew that Aizawa was a much stronger and smarter opponent than Tsukauchi ever was.

 

Whoever that was, Tsukauchi’s instincts registered them as a threat.

 

There was no way in hell he was letting them get close to Aizawa.

 

“Tsukauchi,” Aizawa said with forced calm, “put the gun down. It’s only Spider.”

 

Yeah …

 

That didn’t make Tsukauchi feel better.

 

In fact, it might have made him feel worse.

 

Only ?” The vigilante in question repeated with a faux offense. “It’s only me?”

 

Tsukauchi ignored them.

 

Instead, he began to focus on Aizawa’s pheromones, which the omega had been releasing at a higher quantity to get Tsukauchi’s attention.

 

Cinnamon.

 

Dianthus flowers.

 

calmcalmcalmrelaxrelaxsafe

 

Tsukauchi breathed in through his mouth, his eyes still fixated on the figure crouched above them, looking not unlike a bird of some kind.

 

Aizawa remained behind him, unmoving, and breathing slow.

 

safesafesafeI’llkeepyousafe

 

Tsukauchi fingered the trigger for a brief moment.

 

He exhaled.

 

And flicked the safety trigger on.

 

Tsukauchi slid the Glock back into its holster, which was partly hidden from view due to his trenchcoat, with the ease that only came from years of training.

 

“That’s more like it,” The vigilante said with a purr. “Good boy.”

 

“You’ve had your fun,” Aizawa called up, his metaphorical hackles seeming to raise at the tease against Tsukauchi, who still eyed them with clear distrust. “Now get the fuck down so we can begin, alright?”

 

“Patience is a virtue ~!” They giggled. “Or so I’ve heard …”

 

Tsukauchi watched in shock as the figure stood up from their crouched position only to leap backward off the metal rafters. Before he could shout in alarm, the vigilante aimed an arm back at the rafters.

 

With a mechanical hiss , a stream of wires lurched out from a hidden mechanism and attached itself to a beam, catching them mid-freefall and slowing their descent until they were able to land on their feet on the warehouse floor with all of the daintiness of a ballerina.

 

Without moving an inch, the wires seemed to disengage from the rafters and surge back to the vigilante’s arm. Once the wires had found their way back to whatever mechanism they were kept in, the vigilante lifted the corners of their oversized coat and curtsied the slightest bit.

 

“Hello, Detective Tsukauchi,” Spider said, making the man in question shiver at the garbled tone emerging from their voice changer.

 

Now that they were out of the darkness and into the light, Tsukauchi was able to finally see the masked vigilante he had been attempting to arrest since January. 

 

They were incredibly short and very small at that as well. They couldn’t have weighed more than ninety pounds, and that was being generous. They wore some form of skinsuit that appeared to be padded about their knees and possibly their elbows as well, and their hands were covered by dark gloves. Their coat was painted an inky black without any discernible designs. It fell to their knees, making them look like a child wearing an adult’s clothes, and the collar of it was so high it covered up a portion of their chin. The hood of the coat had been pulled up over the vigilante’s head, making their hair invisible, and their eyes and mouth were covered by a pair of goggles and a metal mask respectively. 

 

Just as Aizawa had reported.

 

Every part of the Spider’s features had been concealed by their uniform.

 

Making their identity all the more difficult to uncover.

 

“Showing off?” Aizawa gruffly asked. Tsukauchi was astounded by Aizawa’s bravery. Both he and Aizawa were creeped out by the freak, yet Aizawa continued to chide and bite back at them.

 

The vigilante tilted their head, making a stray band of light reflect off of their goggles.

 

“Of course,” Spider replied pleasantly — or what Tsukauchi believed was pleasant, as it was more than a little hard to discern emotions through all of the mechanical distortions. “I have to look good for my new partner, after all.”

 

“We’re not partners,” Tsukauchi blurted out harshly, then immediately winced. 

 

He’d promised Aizawa he wouldn’t be pissy at the little psycho …

 

What if they went off on a rage?

 

“Well, that’s just not right,” Spider said, their voice lilting almost musically. “Just not right at all, Detective-san …”

 

The vigilante took a graceful step forwards, and Tsukauchi tried to ignore how much it reminded him of a panther stalking their prey.

 

“We’re working together, aren’t we?” They asked softly, taking another careful step forward. Tsukauchi wanted to flinch with every movement. He didn’t want them close to him. “We made a deal, after all … Do you not want to be partners with me, Detective-san? Eraserhead and I are partners. Don’t you want to be my partner too?”

 

“Quit it, Spider,” Aizawa ordered firmly, his voice rising just a tad to sound more authoritative. “We’re wasting time here.”

 

“Mou ~” Tsukauchi could tell they were pouting at Aizawa underneath their mask. “I’m just asking a simple question. I’m … breaking the ice , as one might say. We’re going to be working together for a while, so why shouldn’t we get to know each other?”

 

The vigilante turned back to Tsukauchi, and he froze despite himself.

 

“Ne, ne, Detective-san … You’re pretty interesting, aren’t you?”

 

Tsukauchi hated the sound of their voice modulator, he decided.

 

It sounded so — inhuman.

 

“Or, rather, I should say your choice in friends is pretty interesting,” Spider mused. “You’ve known Eraserhead for a long time. Do you have any embarrassing stories about him? Ooh , do you have pictures of his cats? He never shows me any of his.”

 

Tsukauchi felt his eyebrow twitch a little. “Are you serious?”

 

“Deadly,” The vigilante insisted, still stalking towards him like a predator on the hunt. “I’m pretty sure I’m a cat person, so it’s cruel of Eraserhead to deprive me of this. Are you a cat person, Detective-san?”

 

Tsukauchi inched backward a little to keep distance. “Uh — no. Not really.”

 

Spider tilted their head again, a gesture that was a little too animalistic for his tastes. “Really?” They asked, surprised. “I thought you were a cat person for sure. You and Tamakawa are such good friends after all …”

 

Tsukauchi jolted at the mention of Sansa.

 

“How the hell do you know about him?” All at once, his fear of Spider seemed to vanish. Protective anger filled the empty space it left behind.

 

Spider bounced on the balls of their feet. “Didn’t Eraserhead tell you I’m smart?”

 

“Leave Sansa out of this,” Tsukauchi warned. The police officer didn’t deserve to get mixed up in whatever the hell Tsukauchi had found himself in. 

 

“Okay, if that’s what you want,” The vigilante agreed plainly.

 

Tsukauchi stopped dead in his tracks and blinked.

 

“Wait … really?”

 

Spider looked up at him (Could it even be considered that, if they were only staring at him through the lens of their creepy goggles?), and Tsukauchi got the distinct impression that they seemed genuinely earnest.

 

“Mm!” Their head bobbed with a firm nod.

 

Tsukauchi narrowed his eyes slightly. “And … that’s it? You’ll … stay away from him? Just because I asked?”

 

Spider nodded once again with a mechanical hum.

 

Tsukauchi felt a headache beginning to emerge. “Why?”

 

The vigilante threw out their arms, and Tsukauchi was startled at the motion. “Because I like you!”

 

Aizawa uncomfortably shifted on his feet at the proclamation, and Tsukauchi didn’t feel too elated about it either. He didn’t exactly want the admiration of a vigilante like Spider .

 

“The fuck?” The Underground Hero asked shortly. “What the hell are you talking about?”

 

Spider lowered their arms but continued to move their body around as if they were too excited to sit still. “I think Detective-san is cool.”

 

“You … do?” Tsukauchi questioned, stunned at the admission.

 

The vigilante jumped a little at the opportunity. “Mm! You were the first one to discover my existence. Although I wish you had just left me alone, it’s still pretty neat that you were able to find out.”

 

“So … what?” Tsukauchi raised an eyebrow. “You’ll just … do whatever I say? Because you — like me?”

 

The vigilante suddenly laughed.

 

“Of course not!” They chuckled. “Don’t be stupid . I’m not going to obey you just because you asked .”

 

“So what will you do?” Aizawa drawled cautiously. “Or, rather, what can you do?”

 

Spider went eerily still. “I’m helping you solve this case, aren’t I?”

 

Tsukauchi wanted to pinch the bridge of his nose in exasperation.

 

What on earth had his night gone to?

 

“You’re helping just because you like me?” He hissed in annoyance. “Do you not care about the two innocent victims?”

 

The vigilante sighed.

 

Their next sentence came out in a whine. “Everyone always thinks the worst of me.”

 

Before Aizawa could open his mouth — probably to combat Spider’s statement with another heated barb — they continued speaking.

 

“If you hadn’t called for my assistance, I would have solved this case alone,” Spider explained slowly as if they were speaking to two particularly stupid children. “But you asked for my help. And because I like you, Detective-san, I agreed to work alongside you.”

 

“How would you have even known about it if not for us?” Aizawa argued tensely. “We discovered the first victim on a patrol, remember?”

 

“Eraserhead,” The vigilante sighed, “I will become a broken record if I keep repeating myself. Let me say it one last time, and maybe it’ll get it through your skull, okay?”

 

Spider leaned forward, and their goggles flashed reflectively again.

 

“I am simply very, very smart,” They purred. “The outer districts are my territory. I would’ve discovered this situation — with or without your involvement.”

 

“So you’ve fully agreed to help us?” Tsukauchi asked although it tasted bitter to admit that they needed the creep’s assistance. “You won’t go back on the deal or anything?”

 

“I’m here, aren’t I?” Spider asked.

 

“I just want to make sure you’re committed to this,” Tsukauchi stated sternly. “If we go into this deal together, there will be a lot of lives on the line. We’re trying to stop a murderer , so I need you to be serious about this. Will you help us to the best of your ability to stop whoever has done this?”

 

There was a pause, and Tsukauchi waited in bated breath for their answer. He subtly activated Lie Detector, feeling his quirk rush to live within him with a familiar tingling sensation.

 

The vigilante simply stared up at Tsukauchi for a while. He felt Aizawa tense up in preparation for their answer.

 

Then —

 

Spider nodded. 

 

“Yes, Detective-san.”

 

Truth , his quirk whispered to him.

 

Tsukauchi sighed, knowing that he’d have to be satisfied with that answer. “Alright,” he murmured. “Alright.”

 

The three of them stared at each other for a minute or two, each of them evaluating the situation they had put themselves in.

 

All of the sudden, Spider tilted their head. “You’re a good man, Detective-san. You know that, right?”

 

Tsukauchi frowned down at them, wondering where they were going with this discussion. “ … Thanks?”

 

“You’re welcome,” Spider replied happily. “Look, Eraserhead. Detective-san is afraid of me and hates me too, but he is still able to say thank you. You should learn from him ~!”

 

“Fuck you,” The Underground Hero growled dangerously, still on edge from the previous tense conversation.

 

The vigilante didn’t even look the slightest bit cowed under Aizawa’s anger. “I like Detective-san more than you. At least he’s able to hold a conversation.”

 

“Stop being a pain in the ass, Spider!” Aizawa barked shortly. “I don’t have time for your bullshit.”

 

Spider clasped their hands in front of their chest. “Please, Detective-san! Be my partner! Eraserhead’s too mean and stupid!”

 

“Stop bothering him, you fucking psycho!” Aizawa shouted, his eyes flashing red.

 

“He’s so boring, Detective-san!” Spider wailed. “The only time he ever talks to me on our patrols is to yell at me!”

 

“You fucking deserve it!”

 

Mean ! Mean, mean, mean!”

 

“Stop it! You’re acting like a fucking child!”

 

Tsukauchi stared at the two of them as they began to bicker like kindergartners.

 

He wasn’t that big of a smoker, but god , did he need a cigarette at that moment.

 

This was going to be a difficult investigation, he realized numbly. And half of it wouldn’t even be from the actual murders. Some of it, he predicted, would be from the personalities of Aizawa Shouta and Spider clashing.

 

This might well be one of the biggest mistakes of Tsukauchi’s career.

 

What the hell was he even doing?

 

Partnering up with a vigilante to put a serial killer behind bars?

 

Tsukauchi still didn’t even trust Spider not to kill him!

 

Yes , the vigilante had promised Tsukauchi they were going to help, and Lie Detector attested to their honest conviction —

 

But they were just too damn strange for Tsukauchi to fully drop his guard.

 

They were clearly unstable and had a sense of morality that was far too grey for his liking.

 

They’d committed over thirty murders, and although Tsukauchi had no sympathy for the deceased pedophiles, he had to admit, as a member of law enforcement, that playing god with life and death never ended well without proper orders in place.

 

Tsukauchi still didn’t know their name, nor did he have the faintest clue about their identity. 

 

Hell, he didn’t even know what their real voice sounded like. 

 

Spider was a complete mystery, and Tsukauchi, as a Detective, sought to solve mysteries.

 

But where would he even start ?

 

Spider was clearly too tight-lipped on their identity to even give hints , for crying out loud.

 

He’d just have to monitor them further over the course of the investigation.

 

Maybe, through their extended contact with one another, Tsukauchi might be able to uncover a few breadcrumbs about the vigilante.

 

“You’re just jealous I like Detective-san better than you!”

 

“I can promise you right now, that is the furthest fucking thing from the truth, you psychotic little —!”

 

Yeah.

 

Tsukauchi needed a cigarette if he was going to last through this investigation.

Chapter Text

Contrary to popular belief, Yamada Hizashi wasn’t an idiot.

 

Surprising, right?

 

(Please, note the sarcasm.)

 

In fact, Hizashi liked to think of himself as a pretty smart guy, all things considered.

 

He graduated from U.A. with top scores and recommendations from almost every Hero he interacted with, and it didn’t take long for him to not only join a high profile Limelight agency as one of its top workers but also jumpstart his childhood dream of creating a radio show that ultimately became the most popular one in Japan whilst simultaneously getting his license to teach English at U.A. and become the General Studies homeroom teacher.

 

And all of that was done in barely the span of a decade .

 

So —

 

Yeah .

 

Hizashi wasn’t one to toot his own horn or anything, but he was definitely not an idiot.

 

He knew his intelligence.

 

He took genuine pride in it, like all of his other accomplishments.

 

Hizashi didn’t think it was arrogant of him to feel satisfied with all he’d done in life.

 

After all —

 

He’d done it.

 

It was all him.

 

He’d made his dreams a reality when everyone thought someone like him wouldn’t amount to anything when he was a little kid.

 

He did it.

 

Hizashi did it.

 

Hizashi.

 

(Of course, he wasn’t completely on his own. He had the help of all of his friends, teachers, and mentors at U.A. during his high school career, obviously. Hizashi was a firm believer in the fact that help offered by people you trusted was a gift that shouldn’t be squandered, and the only time he ever tried to lone wolf was during his admittedly bleak childhood, so he kind of had an excuse for that.)

 

Hizashi didn’t mind the fact that a lot of people thought he was stupid.

 

It bothered him when he was younger, sure, but now that he had grown and reaped the rewards of his labor, Hizashi knew better than to listen to that negativity.

 

He’d come to realize the benefits of underestimation after years of being on the field doing Hero work.

 

No Villain expected Present Mic , the dude made famous for screaming at his opponents and shit-talking sexist politicians on the radio, to be the man with the plan, after all.

 

It was his trump card, to be honest.

 

(And there was nothing more hilarious than seeing the look on some poor Villain’s face after the Hero they’d thought was just some big, loud dumbass to suddenly pull a fast one on them and end up escorting them to jail.)

 

Was it petty of him to snicker over that?

 

 

Yeah, probably.

 

But, holy shit, was it funny.

 

And you wouldn’t believe the number of gossip people spilled around you when they thought your brain capacity was working in the negative percentiles. 

 

Hizashi had dirt on everyone.

 

He wasn’t a vindictive man, so he’d never spread the knowledge at random, but if it was particularly nasty , it was practically begging him to mention a snippet or two on the air.

 

(God — that time he overheard one of Endeavour’s assistants mentioning how overworked some of their interns were underneath the Flame Hero’s orders was majestic. By legal contract, Hizashi was unable to name Endeavour specifically , but it was heavily implied during one of his many rants on the unjust treatment of lower-level workers in Hero agencies. Enough so that the asshole himself tried to start a smear campaign against his radio show — to no avail. Present Mic’s Listeners , his loving fan base, were feral and pulled no punches on protecting his name.)

 

So, no.

 

Hizashi wasn’t really bothered anymore by the fact that most people thought he was dumber than a box of rocks.

 

Only a few select people knew his true intelligence, and they were the only people that really mattered to him, after all.

 

Hizashi didn’t care about the opinions of most people.

 

He only cared about his people.

 

His most important person being, of course, Shouta.

 

Shouta.

 

God.

 

Shouta.

 

Now Shouta was someone Hizashi would never be ashamed about feeling proud of.

 

Aizawa Shouta. 

 

Probably (Most definitely, in Hizashi’s very humble opinion) the greatest Underground Hero in their generation.

 

The man who was already fixing up to be one of the best U.A. teachers since Nezu.

 

The omega who Hizashi desperately, madly, agonizingly loved.

 

When Hizashi was a little kid, he had been taught that he wasn’t worthy of love.

 

Of happiness.

 

 

Well.

 

To that, Hizashi wanted to say —

 

Look at me now.

 

He was a Hero.

 

One of the best on the Billboard Charts.

 

He got his radio show, and it’s the most popular show in all of Japan.

 

He was a teacher, and now he could make sure that every kid that passed through U.A.’s doors knew that they had worth regardless of their quirk or social standing.

 

Hizashi had accomplished everything that he had dreamt of as a little kid.

 

But —

 

Or, rather

 

And

 

He had Shouta.

 

Hizashi was proud of being a teacher.

 

Of being a radio host.

 

Of being a Hero.

 

But —

 

God fucking damn it, did all of those things pale in comparison to Aizawa Shouta.

 

Anytime he thought of his omega, he couldn’t help but smile.

 

Shouta once teased him and said it made him look like a dork, but Hizashi retaliated by digging his fingers into the man’s sides, dragging the two of them into a tickle fight that lasted for a good half an hour.

 

It had to be cut short when Nemuri found them mid-battle and started fake-gagging, much to Shouta’s annoyance.

 

Then, just to make matters worse, Vlad King stepped inside the room and started screaming about PDA and whatnot.

 

Like — okay!

 

Hizashi got it!

 

No ‘gross’ cutesy displays of affection in public spaces!

 

But they were in Hizashi’s office !

 

That meant they could be as sickeningly-adorable as they wanted!

 

It was cute , okay?!

 

It was scientifically proven that play-fighting encouraged the bond between mated pairs!

 

Hell –!

 

The first time Hizashi knew he was head-over-heels in love with Shouta was during a spar in their second year of high school!

 

The omega had somehow managed to twist his body in such a fluid, mesmerizing maneuver that Hizashi hadn’t even realized he had been defeated until he noticed his vision going dark after Shouta had choked him out with his fucking thighs.

 

Hizashi definitely passed out that day, but when he woke up, he was in the U.A. infirmary, getting scolded by the very same guy that had kicked his ass so fast it wasn’t even funny, so he didn’t mind it whatsoever.

 

He liked watching Shouta fuss over him in his own grumpy, stern way.

 

It made something in his stomach go all fuzzy .

 

The omega denied it every time Hizashi brought it up (Even now!), but Aizawa Shouta had a pout , and Hizashi would gladly get asphyxiated any day if it meant he could wake up to it once more.

 

Plus, Hizashi was unable to forget that blissful moment prior to falling unconscious when Shouta’s muscled thighs bracketed either side of his face.

 

Yeah …

 

Hizashi fell hard and fast after that.

 

But for all of the faux bravado and flirtations that his teenage self had, Hizashi had never expected anything to come of his lovesickness.

 

The scars of his childhood hadn’t quite left yet.

 

U.A. helped though.

 

U.A. was the first escape Hizashi had from his parents.

 

When Hizashi stepped through U.A.'s massive doors, he was safe .

 

No more yelling.

 

No more scoffs.

 

No more muzzles.

 

( — I didn’t mean to be loud! I’m sorry! I just got excited! I’m sorry! I won’t do it again, I swear! Please, I’m sorry! I’m sorry, so sorry! Mom, please, I’m sorry —! )

 

No more.

 

Hizashi took advantage of the U.A. counselor system.

 

It had taken a while for him to feel comfortable talking about the abuse, but when he did, it was liberating.

 

His counselor told him that he didn’t deserve what his mom did to him, and although it took a while for the message to stick, he’d finally accepted it, and it was like a weight lifted off his shoulders.

 

What his mom did to him wasn’t okay, and for the first time, he allowed himself to view it as such.

 

Hizashi’s mom said his quirk was dangerous and obnoxious and annoying , and that Hizashi needed to wear the muzzle when he was being a bad boy .

 

But Hizashi was just a kid , his counselor reminded.

 

How could a child have perfect control over their quirk without proper guidance?

 

He wasn’t stupid either.

 

It wasn’t his fault that he couldn’t focus or stop fidgeting during class — he had ADHD, and that didn’t mean he was stupid . It just meant he needed help sometimes.

 

What his mother did or said to him didn’t define Yamada Hizashi.

 

Yamada Hizashi defined himself.

 

By his words.

 

By his actions.

 

The opinions of his opposers didn’t bother him.

 

But it was sweet that he had his own defenders. 

 

The most vocal one being, of course, his darling mate.

 

Oh, Shouta was a sweetheart when it came to protecting Hizashi’s honor.

 

The omega could gently rap his knuckles on Hizashi’s brow, joking that there wasn’t a single thought bouncing in there, huh?

 

But the second anyone else so much as insinuated that Yamada Hizashi was stupid —

 

Well.

 

They were in for a bad time.

 

Hizashi would insist — time and time again — that he didn’t mind it, that the insults never carried any weight to him, but Shouta would always shake his head.

 

(“‘Doesn’t fucking matter,” Shouta grumbled under his breath. They’d been in a meeting discussing a potential villain that planned on targeting U.A. when one of the Heroes present — not anyone Hizashi knew or cared to know — had shut down one of his ideas with a scornful laugh. Shouta had instantly risen to his defense and the meeting had to be cut short due to the Hero storming out in a huff. “No one gets to say that kind of shit to you. Not when they have no fucking idea how smart you are. Not when I’m around to say otherwise.”)

 

God —

 

Shouta really was the best thing to have ever happened to Hizashi, wasn’t he?

 

Vlad King could eat shit .

 

Being a sappy, lovesick dork was the best!

 

So, no.

 

All things considered —

 

Hizashi wasn’t stupid.

 

So when he began to see the circles darkening under his mate’s eyes, he noted it carefully.

 

Aizawa Shouta was a busy, busy man, and busy men like Shouta didn’t often get as many breaks as they deserved. Therefore, it was sadly normal to see bags underneath Shouta’s eyes, accumulated from nights spent on Underground patrol and days spent teaching classes for U.A.

 

So while Hizashi’s alpha instincts often pestered him, insisting him to drag their obviously exhausted omega to whatever soft surface was nearby and cuddle him until his love’s bloodshot eyes cleared, Hizashi was a pro at ignoring those more invasive instinctual demands. 

 

Shouta was an Underground Hero as well as a teacher.

 

He had two jobs, for crying out loud!

 

It would be, to quote his husband, ‘illogical’ to interrupt the man’s busy schedule.

 

And, more importantly, Hizashi trusted Shouta.

 

If there was something wrong, then Shouta would tell him.

 

Shouta was a private man, but he refused to lie to Hizashi.

 

So whenever Hizashi’s alpha instincts started acting up, he could comfort himself with that fact.

 

If Shouta needed Hizashi to know that something was wrong, then Shouta would tell him.

 

Besides —

 

Shouta was smart too.

 

(Smarter than Hizashi in his own opinion, although the omega often disagreed by saying the argument was flawed, seeing as how they excelled in different forms of intelligence — Shouta’s being logical and pedagogical intelligence, and Hizashi’s being emotional and interpersonal)

 

Contrary to what a lot of sexist assholes would think in regards to their traditional alpha-omega relationship, Shouta didn’t need Hizashi.

 

Shouta wanted Hizashi.

 

(And Hizashi really, really, really wanted Shouta, but that was beside the point)

 

Shouta could handle himself.

 

He was a fully-grown, after all.

 

If Shouta needed help, he was more than capable of asking for it.

 

So Hizashi trusted Shouta and refused to bring up the omega’s ever-darkening circles, trusting that if Shouta needed to tell him something, he’d say it.

 

But then Shouta’s patrols started lengthening.

 

And his already-poor sleep schedule started worsening …

 

Hizashi watched with a tortured gaze as Shouta poured himself cup after cup of coffee in the teacher’s lounge just to keep awake long enough to grade his classes’ homework.

 

If something was wrong, Shouta would tell me, Hizashi tried to tell himself.

 

If Shouta needed my help, he would ask me, Hizashi whispered to the back of his mind as he laid in their shared bed — solitary in his slumber once again.

 

Damn his alpha instincts …

 

They just got louder and louder.

 

(Not once did Hizashi’s trust in Shouta wane during this time, let it be said. Hizashi trusted Shouta with his life and Shouta’s own , and no amount of secondary dynamic urges could change that.)

 

Hizashi was an alpha.

 

And while some believed that the primary instinct of an alpha was to dominate , Hizashi believed his was to protect.

 

And while Hizashi and his alpha often disagreed (An example being this exact situation — Hizashi trusting Shouta to take care of himself, and Hizashi’s alpha wanting to be the one to do it), they both agreed on that.

 

There was nothing in Hizashi’s life that he wanted to do more than protect the people he loved — protect his mate , his omega , his husband , Shouta.

 

And sometimes, that meant protecting Shouta from Hizashi’s own instincts.

 

Hizashi refused to be a smothering, controlling alpha.

 

Hizashi refused to be his mom.

 

So he said nothing.

 

He watched Shouta continuously get worse and worse — thinner and somehow frailer  if his strong omega could ever be described as such — and held himself back from interfering.

 

Shouta had told him early on in the year that him and Tsukauchi — one of Shouta’s best friends outside of Nemuri and Tensei, and a beta who Hizashi trusted to have his mate’s back during his Underground work — had been working on a vigilante case together in the outer districts.

 

When Hizashi heard about it, he couldn’t help but grimace in sympathy.

 

Things were never simple when it came to the outer districts.

 

Things appeared one way, then the next day, they were another.

 

Like a funhouse mirror maze —

 

Except with no way out.

 

Eraserhead was a high-profile Underground Hero, so most of Shouta’s missions tended to revolve around the inner districts — dealing with government and international-level threats, after all. Shouta wasn’t a stranger to the outer districts, but he didn’t have the strongest understanding of it either.

 

That wasn’t being mean to Shouta, of course!

 

No one understood the outer districts and what they were like unless they truly lived there.

 

Hizashi — a born and raised District 10 native — didn’t take offense to his love’s lack of comprehension in the slightest.

 

(Besides, Hizashi didn’t want Shouta to understand the outer districts. 

 

At least not fully .

 

Understanding the outer districts meant experiencing the outer districts —

 

And Hizashi would rather die than allow his omega to truly undergo that.)

 

Vigilantes weren’t all that common anymore, seeing as how law enforcement had really cracked down on them in the recent decade. It was simply easier to either join the police force or try your hand at Hero work than risk your life out on the streets.

 

Real vigilantes — the ones who chose their occupation and had zero desire to change it — had to be more cunning in order to exist in Musutafu nowadays.

 

Pop☆Step came to mind, along with the rest of her crew, with which she was the de facto brains of the group.

 

And her team wasn’t even centered in the outer districts! They worked in the middle districts, primarily 4-8.

 

Vigilantes were already smart enough — but an outer district vigilante?

 

Geez …

 

Tsukauchi and Shouta had their work cut out for them.

 

Shouta hadn’t told Hizashi much about their vigilante, but whatever knowledge he did give didn’t paint a pretty picture.

 

A vigilante with an unknown quirk and zero calling cards?

 

Not good.

 

Not good at all.

 

Hizashi comforted himself with the fact that while this new vigilante wasn’t the best thing to have happened to his already stressed mate, at least they hadn’t killed anyone.

 

And then The Bird’s Nest happened.

 

It had been one of the few days wherein their schedules were both completely free. They’d spent it together, ordering takeout and cuddling on the couch, squished by Bastard, Bimbus, and Beefcake. When night had fallen, the two of them had barely hit the pillows before they had passed out completely.

 

Hizashi had been sleeping peacefully beside his husband when he was yanked from his dreams by the sound of Shouta’s raised voice and the bitter scent of fearfearconfusionangeranger . Hizashi barely had time to snap upright, alarmed by his mate’s distressed pheromones, before Shouta was dressed as Eraserhead and halfway out of the door.

 

Over 30 people were killed in one single night.

 

A historic building – located in the most dangerous part of Musutafu and probably in all of Japan outside of Tartarus — burned to the ground.

 

Children — rescued and safe, thank god  but had only been just a second away from being sold to the sickest people in the city before everything went down.

 

And Shouta and Tsukauchi’s vigilante reporting it in.

 

Yeah …

 

Guess Hizashi had spoken too soon …

 

Hizashi had a bad feeling that Shouta’s worsening condition was tied to the vigilante case. 

 

The omega never admitted it out loud, but Hizashi knew his mate.

 

More than Hizashi knew himself , to be honest.

 

And Hizashi knew that Shouta was afraid.

 

And that didn’t sit well with him or his alpha instincts.

 

Rarely was Shouta, the man behind fucking Eraserhead , scared.

 

And if Shouta was scared?

 

Then Hizashi was pretty damn scared too.

 

But he trusted Shouta.

 

He trusted Shouta so fucking much.

 

Hizashi loved Shouta.

 

Loved him more than the air in his lungs.

 

Shouta was everything to Hizashi.

 

He represented Hizashi’s happiness.

 

His hope.

 

So Hizashi did what he did best.

 

He trusted Shouta and held back his instincts.

 

(What else could he do?)

 

But then Christmas Eve came.

 

And Hizashi didn’t need to hold back anymore.

 

For one of Hizashi’s favorite holidays, Christmas Eve was remarkably gloomy.

 

It often gently snowed in Musutafu when winter came, blanketing the city in picture-perfect white fluff for Christmas morning — but this year’s Christmas Eve was cold and wet.

 

It snowed , but it wasn’t the nice kind of snow.

 

It wasn’t crisp and clean.

 

It wasn’t even white .

 

It was damp and filled the streets with slush.

 

That night certainly didn’t feel jolly.

 

Definitely not movie-worthy.

 

Hizashi tried not to dwell on it for too long, but the uncomfortable, muddy-colored sleet that overtook their District 3 condominium reminded him of the winters he faced in District 10.

 

The outer districts were covered in a layer of smog and pollution so deep that it rarely allowed any snow to pass through and touch the streets below. When some stray gusts of snow did manage to touch the ground, it was sepia-colored and too saturated to provide any sort of Christmas cheer.

 

(No one made snowballs or snowmen out of it either. From an early age, Hizashi had been warned not to catch any falling flakes on his tongue. Any rain or snow that made its way through the contaminated clouds above the outer districts was practically guaranteed to poison your stomach and lungs if you dared to taste it.)

 

Hizashi spent his Christmas Eve alone.

 

Class had been canceled for the holidays, but Shouta had work.

 

(The omega never said where or why he was working, but Hizashi had more than a couple of guesses.)

 

It wasn’t too bad though!

 

Bastard, Bimbus, and Beefcake kept him company!

 

And besides, Shouta and him were planning on going to the annual Iida family Christmas Party tomorrow, so it wasn’t like the holidays were a complete flop!

 

Everything was fine, of course!

 

Hizashi could spend Christmas Eve with his three feline ( — cough gremlin cough — ) children and watch some old Western movies before bed. He could even make himself some popcorn, just to be extra cozy!

 

Weather aside, it was a good night!

 

 

It was

 

Right …?

 

 

Hizashi was a bad liar.

 

He wasn’t stupid.

 

Something was wrong.

 

For the past three months, Shouta had been practically radio silent (Hah!) about his vigilante case.

 

Nine months of investigation, wherein Shouta practically made himself sick trying to uncover the vigilante’s identity — and suddenly, nothing?

 

It was like the case had dropped off the face of the earth for Shouta!

 

Did he drop the investigation without telling Hizashi?

 

And then, out of nowhere, two Underground Heroes found dead in the outer districts — coincidentally where the unknown vigilante lurked?

 

Something was wrong .

 

Really wrong.

 

God …

 

Hizashi was so fucking worried.

 

So worried, in fact, that he decided to break his own rule.

 

Just once.

 

Just for tonight.

 

Hizashi was going to ask Shouta.

 

He trusted Shouta, but Hizashi had to ask.

 

He had to offer his help.

 

He had to do something!

 

He couldn’t just sit there on the couch of their apartment and watch the fucking T.V.

 

He just —

 

Couldn’t.

 

If Shouta refused to tell him, Hizashi would respect that.

 

If Shouta refused his help, Hizashi would respect that.

 

But —

 

God fucking damn it, Hizashi had to at least ask.

 

His omega looked like he was practically wasting away in front of his goddamn eyes —!

 

Hizashi couldn’t sit back and be a passive bystander to his husband’s obvious turmoil.

 

At the very least —

 

Hizashi would ask.

 

Hizashi would offer.

 

Just the thought of breaking his own hidden rule made his fingers methodically tense and relax on the couch cushions.

 

He didn’t want to be an overbearing alpha.

 

He didn’t want to sound controlling.

 

He trusted Shouta!

 

He respected Shouta!

 

He just —

 

Hizashi needed —

 

His instincts couldn’t —

 

In the end, all of his stress was for nothing.

 

Because the door opened.

 

And Aizawa Shouta walked inside just as the clock chimed 12:00.

 

Shouta had arrived much earlier than Hizashi had expected.

 

So early, in fact, that it nearly gave Hizashi a damn heart attack.

 

“Shou-chan!” Hizashi yelped, accidentally unlocking his quirk and making his voice a bit too loud for so late at night. He nearly tossed his popcorn bowl into the air and effectively disturbed the three cats pressed against him, who yowled in their all-knowing, omnipotent rage. “Y-You —! You’re — Why —?”

 

Shouta locked the door behind him and hung the keys up, panting for air underneath his breath. Had he been running? “‘Got home as quickly as I could. Did I miss Christmas?”

 

Hizashi froze just a bit.

 

That was a little ritual he and Shouta had. 

 

Back in the early days of their relationship — when they were still two awkward teenagers trying to navigate dating and whatnot — Hizashi had let it slip that he used to stay up late when he was a child, hoping to catch Santa delivering presents.

 

Little Hizashi somehow got into his head that Santa Claus, the big red guy himself, had to race against the clock to deliver gifts before 12:00, otherwise Christmas would never come. It became a ritual of sorts, just a little something that he did to get himself excited for the festivities.

 

He never did get any presents though.

 

When Shouta had heard that, a familiar blaze of determination lit up his onyx eyes.

 

From that moment on, Shouta had insisted that the two of them spend Christmas Eve together and wait until the clock turned 12:00. Then they’d exchange gifts at that moment, rather than in the morning as per usual custom.

 

And Shouta — 

 

Hardworking, stubborn, work-obsessed Shouta —

 

Ran home as quickly as possible from a case that obviously weighed heavily on his mind.

 

Just to keep their tradition alive.

 

“No,” Hizashi croaked, feeling his throat dry and his eyes simultaneously wet. “You made it just in time.”

 

Shouta turned around, relief painted over his sallow, pale face. He was still dressed as Eraserhead, but he seemed to pay it no mind. His posture slumped, and Hizashi watched as he ran his fingers through his hair — a nervous habit he had since high school.

 

“Good,” His mate mumbled, almost to himself. “Good. That’s — that’s good. Yeah.”

 

Shouta had never looked more exhausted in his entire life. His dark circles had almost become black , and they ringed his eyes like a raccoon’s fur. He obviously hadn’t managed his scruff in quite some time, as it was growing a bit wild, and his hair was greasy and tangled to boot. His eyes were bloodshot as well, a sign of Quirk overuse, and his skin was pale and clammy like he was running a fever.

 

Hizashi thought he looked beautiful.

 

“I have something to tell you,” Shouta began cautiously. The omega began to shift his weight from foot to foot, tugging on a strand of his hair with one hand and fiddling with the end of his capture scarf with another. “It’s about the murders. A-And the vigilante … God, Hizashi, I don’t even know where to begin. I … I’m sorry I didn’t tell you —”

 

Shouta stopped talking, letting out a muffled noise before ultimately silencing.

 

Quicker than the omega could realize — probably due to his overworked state — Hizashi had set the bowl of popcorn aside, stood up from the couch, and in under four steps had stormed his way to his mate and pulled him into a passionate kiss, effectively interrupting his speech.

 

For a moment, Shouta was limp. His arms were raised in the air, motionless from shock, and he didn’t seem to know what to do in this situation. Finally, he lowered his arms and rested his hands against Hizashi’s chest, albeit still with an air of astonishment.

 

Shouta had just begun to reciprocate the kiss when Hizashi pulled back for a moment to breathe, already mourning the loss of his mate’s lips on his.

 

“Wait, wait, wait,” Shouta muttered, his breathing stuttered and his expression dumbfounded. “I need to tell you —”

 

“Tell me later,” Hizashi whispered, squeezing Shouta’s hips firmly, and capturing his mouth in yet another kiss.

 

Almost subconsciously, Hizashi’s pheromones began releasing into the air around them, surrounding the two in a rich bergamot scent. It was the perfect mix of Hizashi’s love and lust combined, telling Shouta exactly what he was feeling if the omega had any misgivings.

 

“This is really important,” Shouta tried to say, but Hizashi just took the opportunity to plunge his tongue inside Shouta’s open mouth, swallowing up his mate’s gasp with pleasure.

 

loveyouloveyouloveyoulovelovelove love

 

Hizashi pressed Shouta against their door as their tongues began to dance.

 

God, Shouta was so clever … 

 

He knew just what Hizashi wanted, didn’t he?

 

Such a smart mate , Hizashi’s alpha hindbrain hissed at him. Perfect for me. So perfect. Smart and strong.

 

Perfect , Hizashi hissed in agreement. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

 

To Hizashi’s delight, Shouta’s pheromones started releasing as well. Over time, scent blockers lost their intensity, especially if the wearer’s emotions were a bit too intense for the patches to contain.

 

The spicy scent of dianthus flowers made Hizashi’s head spin.

 

Bergamot and dianthus mixed together, and Hizashi’s alpha sang in delight.

 

With a barely-audible growl, Hizashi lowered his hands from Shouta’s hips and wrapped them around the very thighs Hizashi practically worshiped since he had been a horny, insecure teenager getting his ass kicked in his second year of high school. He dug his fingers into the muscled flesh, partly to hear Shouta’s reaction and partly just to savor their thickness. 

 

Without breaking their kiss, Hizashi hoisted Shouta up, hitching the man up and allowing his toned legs to wrap around Hizashi’s waist in a vice-like grip.

 

lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove

 

Hizashi groaned into their kiss as Shouta raked his fingers through his hair, pulling the blond strands from his half-bun and tugging just the way he liked it.

 

Their tongues battled together for what felt like hours before Shouta pulled away, gasping for air. A line of saliva connected their mouths together, and a droplet fell down the corner of the omega’s mouth, glistening in the lamplight. 

 

Hizashi couldn’t help himself and leaned forward, licking it up and savoring the taste.

 

“‘Zashi,” Shouta panted, letting his head fall back against the door and unknowingly revealing the lovely curvature of his neck to Hizashi’s greedy eyes. “I have to tell you —”

 

Hizashi instantly latched onto Shouta’s neck, kissing on the little spot beneath the man’s chin where Hizashi knew was sensitive. “Tell me in the morning.”

 

“No, no,” Never would Shouta admit to whining , but he came pretty damn close there. “I gotta tell you. It’s important —”

 

Hizashi gathered up a bit of the flesh with his teeth and nibbled down, relishing in the audible hitches of breath from his husband. The smell of dianthus flowers thickened, mixing with bergamot and making their doorway smell ironically like Christmas candles.

 

loveyouloveyousomuchloveyoulove

 

“It’s about the vigilante.” Shouta squirmed as Hizashi began to move further and further down the omega’s neck, satisfied in creating a lovely little bruise underneath his chin. “It has to do with the murders …”

 

Hizashi shifted towards his husband’s ear and sucked a piece of skin, smirking to himself when Shouta stuttered to hide his whimper.

 

“In the morning,” Hizashi stressed absentmindedly, paying far more attention to the notes of arousal starting to mix into Shouta’s spicy pheromones. “Let me take care of you first, Shou-chan …”

 

Shouta groaned as Hizashi began suckling harder. “‘Zashi, I’m serious!”

 

“So am I,” Hizashi murmured, his voice lowering into a rumbling growl and pressing lingering kisses on his way down to where Shouta’s scent was the most concentrated.

 

“This isn’t exactly something that can wait until morning …” Shouta’s back suddenly arched, letting out a moan as Hizashi attached his mouth onto Shouta’s scent gland, right where he marked him all those years ago. “ Fuck, ‘Zashi!”

 

“Please,” Hizashi mumbled, mouthing at the scar that symbolized the love and trust they shared with each other. “Lemme take care of you tonight … You’re dead on your feet, baby. We can handle it tomorrow, yeah …?”

 

“You’re doing this on purpose,” Shouta suddenly grumbled, his nails digging into Hizashi’s shoulder as he started biting around the mark, “aren’t you?”

 

Hizashi chuckled darkly, relishing in the shiver it evoked from his omega. “Guilty ~” He sang softly.

 

“You’re such a dick.”

 

“Mm,” Hizashi hummed to himself, grinding his hips against Shouta’s and making the omega whine at the sensation. “I just wanna take care of you, baby … is that so bad?”

 

“It is,” Shouta gulped, “when you’re trying to distract me from my work.”

 

“Isn’t that my job?” Hizashi asked innocently. “I’ve gotta keep you from burning out, sweetheart. Won’t you let me?”

 

“‘Zashi …,” Shouta sighed.

 

Hizashi gave a particularly harsh grind up, making Shouta’s hands scramble at his shoulders with a cry. Shouta’s pheromones deepened even further until the only thing detectable in them was lustlustlustlust .

 

“Please, baby?” Hizashi whispered against Shouta’s lips. “Lemme take care of you tonight. I promise we’ll talk in the morning, but … I’m worried ‘bout you.”

 

Shouta’s eyes, previously squeezed shut from pleasure, slowly opened until they stared right into Hizashi’s. Black and red met, and Hizashi shivered, lust crawling up and down his spine like gentle fingertips.

 

Since his omega’s quirk was located within his eyes, Shouta’s gaze was often distinctly powerful , even without his abilities being activities. Every time Hizashi met their gaze, he was in awe.

 

Finally, after a long moment of consideration, Shouta huffed.

 

“Fine,” The omega grumbled, although Hizashi could smell he didn’t really mean it. “We’ll talk in the morning. And I mean it, Hizashi, first thing in the fucking morning —!”

 

The Underground Hero yelped in shock as Hizashi, using the strength garnered from years of Limelight work, heaved the man up and across his shoulder, gripping onto the backs of his thighs for security.

 

“Wha –!” Shouta sputtered. “Hizashi! What the fuck!”

 

“Come on, sweetheart,” Hizashi purred, his eyes locked onto their bedroom door. “Christmas just started, and I want my present.

 

“God, that was so fucking cheesy.”

 

Hizashi grinned. “You love it.”

 

The omega exhaled deeply. “Yeah. I guess I fucking do.”

Chapter Text

Out of all of the things to possibly come out of Shouta’s mouth on that Christmas morning, Hizashi honestly hadn’t been expecting a vigilante co-op mission.

 

To be frank, Hizashi didn’t know what he had been expecting in the first place.

 

It just wasn’t that.

 

Hizashi had been married to Shouta for a long time, mind you. 

 

Seven blissful years, as a matter of fact.

 

Hizashi knew Shouta.

 

Knew Shouta just like how Shouta knew him.

 

So Hizashi knew Shouta was a stubborn man.

 

A very stubborn man.

 

It was both negative and positive.

 

Shouta’s stubbornness was what drew Hizashi towards him in the first place.

 

Shouta’s stubbornness was the catalyst for their relationship, after all.

 

Horrified as he was to imagine it, Hizashi would have never met the love of his life were it not for the man’s bullheadedness.

 

It was Shouta’s determination — his drive — that led him to win the Sports Festival in their first year and be transferred into class 1-A.

 

(Hizashi would never forget that event. As one of the most powerful students in 1-A by the measure of quirk power, everyone had been expecting him to win. His quirk was great for long-distance fighting, so he wouldn’t even have to move a muscle in order to knock his opponents clean out of the ring.

 

Of course, that didn’t mean Hizashi was going to be lazy and not give it his all. He owed so much to U.A. and all that it meant for him that he was going to go Plus fucking Ultra to show his gratitude to the first place he’d ever felt not only safe in but understood.

 

It had been the end of the round, and Hizashi was one of the only people in the Festival left competing. He’d knocked Tensei out of bounds in the last match, so he was excited to see who he was competing against for the finale. As per U.A.'s protocol at the time, all contestants were unable to witness one another’s fights, so as to make each round as fair as possible.

 

Imagine Hizashi’s surprise when out of the shadows emerged a tall, dark-haired teenager with bloodshot eyes, looking more ready to pass out on the floor from exhaustion than to fight for the coveted #1 Spot, and smelling distinctly like an omega.

 

Now —

 

Hizashi wasn't sexist. 

 

Not even as a fifteen-year-old. 

 

He wasn’t about to pitch a fit on how omegas shouldn’t participate in harsh physical conditions, otherwise, it may harm their delicate constitution, yadda yadda yadda, or whatever BS he heard some of his more asshole-y classmates whisper to each other about.

 

It was just that —

 

His opponent smelled nice.

 

Like, really nice.

 

Spicy, yet sweet .

 

It smelled like the cinnamon rolls the kind old lady who lived next door used to make for him whenever his mom was too angry to make him breakfast (And she was angry often).

 

Hizashi wasn’t going to be a creep about it, however. Once the announcer began the match, Hizashi immediately fell into his familiar battle position and started to swallow large gulps of air in preparation for his scream. His knees bent forward, and he crouched low. With the proper stance, Hizashi could blast his opponent out of bounds, hopefully without launching himself back as well due to the force of his quirk.

 

But when he let out a yell that would surely send the dark-haired omega with the strangely-comforting scent flying, Hizashi’s voice cracked.

 

It must be noted that Hizashi was a fifteen-year-old dude, and his voice cracked a lot.

 

But never when his quirk was activated.

 

Confused, Hizashi stood there, blinking rapidly, still in his battle position, and tried to reboot his brain.

 

Before he could finish his mental software update, Hizashi was tackled to the ground, letting out an embarrassingly high-pitched yelp from the force.

 

Once the bewilderment wore off (And he could somewhat take in oxygen to his crushed lungs), Hizashi opened his eyes, having shut them reflexively when another body painfully connected with his.

 

He froze.

 

Deer in the headlights.

 

The omega sat on top of him, his face twisted in a ferocious snarl. His eyes, once black just like his chin-length hair, were glowing scarlet like embers. There was nothing but sheer determination in that gaze, and every single one of his white teeth flashed like he was some kind of feral predator about to rip the throat out of his prey.

 

Hizashi’s face turned bright red.

 

He shouldn’t have found that attractive.

 

He really shouldn’t have found that attractive.

 

He was in the middle of a fight, for Pete’s sake!

 

Also, he had just told himself not to be a creep!

 

Hizashi needed to get his head back into the game and treat it seriously, just as his opponent was doing.

 

“Hey …~” He croaked as friendly as possible despite his aching lungs. If his arms weren’t currently pinned underneath the other teenager, he would’ve done his signature finger guns.

 

Why?

 

Why, Hizashi, why?

 

Finger guns?!

 

Really?!

 

The omega’s radiant eyes narrowed, and before Hizashi could even attempt to tell a knock-knock joke (He didn’t know what else to say! Sue him! ), the omega leaped off of him and grabbed onto his right ankle with a bruising grip.

 

“H-Hey, what’re you planning on —?” Hizashi shrieked in alarm as his opponent simply tossed Hizashi by his leg in a truly impressive feat of strength, sending him whizzing into the air like a spinning top.

 

Hizashi slammed into the ground face-first, inhaling what felt like half of the stadium’s dirt content in the process. After gasping like a fish out of water for a minute, he raised himself onto his elbows. He lifted his head, dizzy as all hell and chest still sore — just as the announcer proclaimed his opponent victorious.

 

Hizashi had been bodily thrown out of bounds —

 

In under five minutes.

 

“The fastest win in U.A.’s history, ladies and gentlemen!” The commentator shouted ecstatically. “Aizawa Shouta, age 15, omega, and a student in General Studies has just beaten Yamada Hizashi, the top contestant in Class 1-A and an alpha, in under five minutes!”

 

Hizashi watched as the omega stood in the ring, still tense — almost like he was preparing for another opponent to rise up from the shadows, and glared challengingly.

 

Hizashi noticed his gaze was fixated somewhere in the crowds, and he absentmindedly followed its path.

 

Nezu, Hizashi’s Homeroom teacher, looked down at Aizawa Shouta with a glint in his beady eyes and a smirk curved onto his mouth.

 

Hizashi turned back to the winner of the Sports Festival.

 

The announcer said his name was Aizawa Shouta.

 

Because he’d won, Aizawa Shouta would be moved into 1-A.

 

Plus Ultra, indeed.

 

Aizawa Shouta's sable-colored eyes flicked down to Hizashi’s still prone form, having obviously felt the weight of Hizashi’s stare. The omega’s features darkened when their gazes met — obviously expecting anger or ridicule from the alpha he’d just beaten.

 

Well —

 

Hizashi felt neither.

 

That was the most awesome thing he’d ever seen!

 

“So cool …,” Hizashi murmured almost unconsciously, awed at the power of the student in front of him.

 

Aizawa Shouta blinked in shock at his honest words.

 

But Hizashi was telling the truth!

 

He couldn’t wait to see what Aizawa Shouta had in store for 1-A.

 

Maybe they could be friends …

 

Just so long as Hizashi didn’t try to pull any more finger-guns again.

 

(Spoiler alert, he totally fucking did))

 

But Shouta’s stubbornness was also one of his weaknesses.

 

It wasn’t common for Shouta to change his opinions.

 

When Shouta believed something was logical, it was logical.

 

No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

 

Not many people could persuade him otherwise.

 

So when Aizawa Shouta had revealed to Hizashi that he had teamed up with the very vigilante whose existence he had been cursing for an entire year —

 

Hizashi was pretty stumped.

 

So stumped, as a matter of fact, that he requested the two of them to meet with Tsukauchi just to go over the situation in its entirety.

 

Because this kind of change from Shouta was odd .

 

Once Shouta had established a core opinion, it didn’t often alter without outside interference.

 

That was usually where Hizashi himself or one of their friends or colleagues came into the situation.

 

More often than not, they were one of the few people that were able to change Shouta’s stalwart opinions. Shouta respected them, even in the moments where he believed his logic was sound, so he allowed them to try and change his mind.

 

But, according to Shouta, Tsukauchi had agreed with his earlier opinion on the vigilante.

 

So there was no one to dissuade him from his beliefs.

 

In fact, Shouta was now the one having to convince Tsukauchi to see the vigilante in a less damning light.

 

Oh, how the turns were tabled …

 

Something must have happened to have changed Aizawa Shouta’s opinion on its own — and that was a rare occurrence.

 

Tsukauchi agreed, and they agreed to meet up in Tsukauchi’s precinct in the early afternoon. They had to schedule it later than what Hizashi would have wanted, due to the holiday season, so the earliest date offered was the 2nd of January. Hizashi agreed although he couldn’t deny his stamped-out impatience.

 

Tsukauchi’s precinct was located in District 5, which was a little strange, considering how popular Tsukauchi was and how many times the detective had been in high-level investigations. Hizashi had asked the beta, years ago, why he preferred to be stationed in 5 when his work often led him to the inner districts with regards to Hero and governmental matters.

 

“I’m in the thick of it all,” was Tsukauchi’s honest response. “By stationing in 5, I’ve got eyes and ears everywhere. I’m not too far from anywhere I’m needed.”

 

(Of course, the detective wasn’t exactly counting the outer districts, though. Just Districts 1-9, even though 9 was basically in the outer districts anyway. No inner district law enforcement really bothered with the outer districts, as they were considered too much of a lost cause to even consider.

 

Hizashi didn’t point this out to Tsukauchi, however. It wasn’t technically needed in the conversation, nor did Hizashi take any real offense to it.)

 

Since it was midday, the precinct was decently busy when Hizashi and Shouta stepped in through its glass doors. Police officers were walking through its halls, and receptionists were talking to the clientele up by the desks. Hizashi, not familiar with the building’s layout, followed Shouta dutifully as the Underground Hero navigated through the precinct with ease until they made it to Tsukauchi’s modest office near the back.

 

Tsukauchi had been waiting for them, and Shouta had barely knocked on the door before the beta opened it, ushering the two of them inside and closing it shut behind them for privacy.

 

Shouta, being closer to Tsukauchi, immediately perched himself up on Tsukauchi’s desk. Hizashi chose to sit on one of the two chairs not too far away.

 

“Can I get you guys anything?” Tsukauchi asked pleasantly. “Water? Coffee? I’ve got protein bars as well.”

 

Hizashi smiled at his politeness. “Nah, I’m good. Thanks though!”

 

Shouta simply grunted. “You know what I want.”

 

Tsukauchi huffed a bit of air through his nostrils and smirked dryly. “One black coffee for you then, Aizawa …” He then turned to the little kitchenette in the corner and started pressing buttons on the coffee machine.

 

Hizashi grimaced a little. “Blegh. Bean water.

 

“Don’t you even start,” Shouta scoffed.

 

“It’s disgusting!” Hizashi argued passionately. This was a common argument between the two of them, and one that could last for hours given the motivation.

 

“Oh, and your energy drinks are somehow better ?” Shouta countered, leaning back to glare down at him better.

 

Hizashi’s eyes widened. “Yes!”

 

“Hizashi, those things taste like gasoline .”

 

“No, they do not!” He gasped in offense. Energy drinks were his lifeblood. They were literally one of the few things that kept him energetic when his Ritalin medication wore off. He would not sit here passively as Shouta dissed his babies.

 

“Yes, they fucking do .” Shouta rolled his eyes. “If I poured one of those things on the floor right now, it would melt through it like acid .”

 

“And how is coffee any better?” Hizashi exclaimed, throwing up his hands dramatically. 

 

“It has caffeine, and it doesn’t taste like licking a battery,” Shouta stated resolutely. “There. I rest my case.”

 

“Well, my case is awake and alert!” Hizashi was almost ready to spring out of his seat just to prove a point. “Coffee is horrible. There’s nothing tasty about it! How can you like something that bitter?”

 

“Hizashi, you like tiramisu,” Shouta said.

 

Hizashi raised a finger. “That is a complete outlier, and you know it!”

 

Shouta grinned deviously. “What about the opera cake Nemuri’s dad made you?”

 

Hizashi’s raised finger shook. “That …also doesn’t count!”

 

Shouta’s smile widened. “Affogato?”

 

“Hey, I told you that one was a little too bitter for me!” Hizashi jumped to his defense. While it was true that Hizashi admitted to maybe-somewhat-just-a-little liking tiramisu and opera cake — two desserts commonly made with coffee as a key ingredient — he hadn’t enjoyed affogato, which was simply a cup of espresso mixed with a scoop of vanilla gelato. “Affogato definitely doesn’t count.”

 

“Well, you still like tiramisu and opera cake.” Shouta shrugged placidly, but Hizashi could see his poorly-hidden grin. “So coffee isn’t that terrible — even to you .”

 

Silence.

 

Shouta’s words rang throughout the office.

 

Hizashi stared up at his husband in anguish. “How could you do this to me, Shouta?”

 

His husband snorted. “I’m just stating facts, Hizashi. Maybe you’ve been lying to yourself this entire time? Maybe you actually like coffee?”

 

Hizashi’s jaw dropped. “You don’t mean that.”

 

Shouta simply shrugged.

 

Hizashi couldn’t believe it.

 

The treachery of it all!

 

And from his own omega, no less?

 

Hizashi would never get over this hurt.

 

Of course, he had to make his sorrows known.

 

“I have been backstabbed by the man I love. I am betrayed. Bamboozled , some would say!”

 

Shouta narrowed his eyes, but his amusement was clear. “You are such a fucking drama queen.”

 

“Et Tu, Shouta?” Hizashi begged. “ Et Tu ?”

 

“You’ll live, you big baby,” The dark-haired omega huffed.

 

“No, I can sense my impending doom as we speak,” Hizashi moaned. “I’ve become so cold, Shouta. Do you see the white light, or is it just me?”

 

“You aren’t dying , idiot.” Shouta leaned forward on the desk, his black eyes glittering, and Hizashi caught a whiff of the omega’s scent that managed to escape his blockers.

 

Hizashi bit back a smile at the waves of fond-fond-amusement-love-love that escaped from his mate.

 

“Hush, darling, I’m saying my last words,” Hizashi whined, sniffing once or twice for good measure. “Give Bastard, Bimbus, and Beefcake my love. Tell Tensei that he can have Hands Up … And that Nemuri can have my collection of hair care products. I’d like Nezu to put a statue of me up in U.A.’s entrance, and I’d like Endeavour to choke on a saguaro cactus. I love you, Shouta, despite your wickedness. Goodbye, cruel world …”

 

“Oh, no,” Shouta intoned dryly. “My husband has apparently passed away. What ever shall I do?”

 

“You can mourn for me?” Hizashi offered helpfully. “Your poor, dearly-departed alpha?”

 

Suddenly, Shouta rolled his eyes and scoffed good-naturedly. He hopped off from the desk and stalked four short steps forward until he stood in front of Hizashi’s chair. His back bent until his face neared Hizashi’s, and he raised a dark eyebrow challengingly. The smell of cloves and cinnamon thickened, and Hizashi couldn’t help but lift his hands and grasp the back of Shouta’s knees.

 

“You’re really milking this for all that it’s worth, huh?” He murmured teasingly. “All of this just over some coffee?”

 

Hizashi grinned up at him, flashing each of his pearly-white teeth. “It got you to smile, didn’t it?”

 

“God, you’re fucking ridiculous,” Shouta said, tugging on a stray strand of Hizashi’s hair that had fallen out of his half-bun. Shouta had been stuck in his head ever since Christmas Eve, so Hizashi took any chance he could get to lighten his mood.

 

Hizashi shrugged. “Never claimed to be anything else.”

 

He was just about to pull Shouta closer — probably to plant a soft kiss on his darling’s pretty lips — when the two of them were rudely interrupted.

 

“Oh, my fucking god,” Tsukauchi said. “If you two keep flirting, I’m going to have to ask you to step out of my office.”

 

Shouta turned around, not even missing a beat. “And there you are, Tsukauchi. I was wondering when you’d speak up.”

 

“And not a damn second too late,” was the beta’s rapid-fire reply.

 

Hizashi giggled nervously. He wasn’t the kind of guy to feel ashamed over flaunting his relationship, but maybe it wasn’t the best decision to do so in someone else’s workspace. “Sorry, Tsukauchi-san.”

 

“I’m not,” Shouta said honestly.

 

“I like Yamada-san more than you,” Tsukauchi grumbled, passing a cup of the ever-so vilified bean water over to the Underground Hero.

 

“I’ll get over it,” Shouta replied.

 

“Thanks for this, by the way,” Hizashi said, looking up at Tsukauchi as the detective sat on his desk chair, sipping on his own cup of joe. “I know it was probably a hassle to book this meeting when the holidays were just finished, but —”

 

Tsukauchi lifted his hand and shook his head. “It’s no problem, Yamada-san. This is important to all three of us, and it honestly should have been done a lot sooner.”

 

“Damn.” Shouta crossed his arms about his chest, huffing. “Say what you really feel.”

 

Hizashi smiled, although it was a little weak. “Better late than never, huh?”

 

Shouta gave him the stink-eye. “Okay, okay. I get it. I should’ve said something sooner.”

 

“Don’t beat yourself up too bad,” Tsukauchi said wryly. “After all, you were the one having to deal with them this entire time … I can’t imagine what that was like.”

 

“To put it simply,” Shouta swallowed down a gulp of hot coffee, “it was hell.”

 

“I guess this is as good a time as any to start the discussion.” Tsukauchi set down his mug of coffee and straightened himself up in his chair. Shouta sat down on an arm of the chair Hizashi was sitting in. The two of them were close enough in proximity to faintly smell each other’s pheromones, providing comfort for each party. “So, Yamada-san. What do you want to know?”

 

Hizashi sighed at the loaded question. “I guess … everything? I mean, I don’t want to take up a lot of your time, Tsukauchi-san, but starting at the beginning would be kinda helpful …”

 

Tsukauchi was nodding before Hizashi was even finished. “As I said before, it’s no problem at all. It would be best to start at the beginning so we can cover all of our bases.”

 

“You’re starting with Dangou, right?” Shouta asked.

 

Hizashi couldn’t help the furrow of his brows. “Dangou?” 

 

Tsukauchi grimaced, staring down into his cup of coffee. “Dangou Danjiro. Alpha male. Forty-five years old, and a serial sex offender. His quirk, known as See Me Not , allowed him to escape from my precinct’s officers for years . We’d begun hearing that he started involving himself in trafficking rings, but we were … unable to bring him to justice.”

 

Hizashi held himself back from snarling. People like that made him sick — taking advantage of others in such horrible ways. The man being an alpha made it even worse. It just meant this Dangou Danjiro man probably had a superiority complex as well, seeing as how society seemed to glorify alphas and all that.

 

Suddenly, Hizashi’s mind caught onto Tsukauchi’s words. “Wait, you didn’t bring him in?”

 

Tsukauchi shook his head. “Unfortunately not. He’d started moving into the outer districts, and we didn’t have proper jurisdiction to pursue him yet.”

 

Hizashi nodded thoughtfully. That made sense, as sad it was to say. As someone who had lived in the outer districts for most of his life, Hizashi was well aware of how bad they were, and how many crimes were excused because of that. It was still surprising, however, seeing as how amazing of a detective Tsukauchi was.

 

But that led to another question.

 

“Wait, but what does Dangou have to do with this then?” He wondered aloud.

 

Tsukauchi rubbed a hand over his face before taking an even deeper sip of his coffee, obviously needing the caffeine. “Dangou Danjiro was apprehended by the vigilante, Spider. It was our first instance of interacting with them, and it set everything in motion from there on.”

 

“The vigilante’s name is Spider?”

 

Tsukauchi nodded at the question. 

 

“Actually,” Shouta interrupted dryly, “Tsukauchi had given them that name.”

 

Hizashi’s eyebrows scrunched. “Wait, what?”

 

Tsukauchi’s face slowly pinked. “I … Well … They didn’t exactly … give themself a name, and I couldn’t keep referring to them as the Dangou Danjiro District 10 Vigilante Case in my reports, now could I?”

 

A faint smile grew on Hizashi’s lips at the detective’s obvious embarrassment. “Why Spider?”

 

Shouta sighed. “The little shit has these machines strapped to their wrists that shoot wires. They use them to incapacitate or restrain their opponents. They even use them to swing from building to building. Not the most creative name, but what can you do?”

 

“Shut up,” Tsukauchi grumbled. “The name doesn’t matter. What matters is that we first encountered Spider in Dangou’s case. After that, I started investigating Spider, so I asked Aizawa if he could start looking for clues in the outer districts.”

 

“Did you find anything?” Hizashi asked both of them, his eyes wide and honest.

 

Shouta’s face darkened, and Tsukauchi’s twisted as if he’d bit into a sour lemon.

 

“I guess that’s my answer,” Hizashi muttered in amusement.

 

“It was as if they didn’t even exist!” Tsukauchi cried out, throwing up his hands in his exclamation. “Everywhere we thought to look! Nope! No vigilante! It was driving me crazy, Yamada-san!”

 

“We tried everything ,” Shouta growled. “Fucking everything , so wipe that damn grin off your face. We tried our goddamn best, okay?”

 

“I believe you! I believe you!” Hizashi laughed, trying to look as sympathetic as possible. “But I mean, what were you expecting? You were trying to look for a vigilante in the outer districts!”

 

Tsukauchi frowned. “What do you mean by that?”

 

Hizashi looked up at Tsukauchi with a bewildered smile. “Well, it’s the outer districts! They don’t rat out their vigilantes, remember? How could you have found anything?”

 

Tsukauchi and Shouta stared at him blankly.

 

Hizashi blinked.

 

“Wait, you knew about that, right?”

 

Neither Tsukauchi nor Shouta reacted to Hizashi’s question.

 

“Wait, you didn’t know?!” Hizashi asked in shock. “Shouta, you’ve worked in the outer districts! How did you not know?!”

 

“It’s come to my attention recently that maybe I don’t know as much about the outer districts as I thought I did.” Shouta crossed his arms about his chest defensively. 

 

“Damn.” Hizashi slumped back in his chair. “No wonder you couldn’t find anything.”

 

“Zip it.” Shouta glared, and Hizashi’s mouth shut instantly at the order from his omega. “As Tsukauchi said, this stuff doesn’t matter.”

 

“Sorry, Tsukauchi-san,” Hizashi giggled nervously again. “Carry on?”

 

“It’s alright.” Tsukauchi shook his head in dismissal. “Anyways, Spider was … concerning us for lack of a better word. Their behavior was atypical for a new vigilante. They gave themself no name. They had no calling cards. At that point, they wouldn’t even interact with anyone — even with the civilians they rescued. Most vigilantes like to announce themselves to the world, and this new one preferred to stay completely in the shadows. It was … worrying , to say the least.”

 

“We had no leads on the case until I managed to run into them later on in the year,” Shouta said. “They had just taken down a couple of assailants when I attempted to apprehend them.”

 

“Did you get a good look at them, Shouta?” Hizashi asked.

 

Shouta pursed his lips. “Yeah. They’re small. Around 4’5”. Pretty tiny, all around, but their attitude sure isn’t. They wear a skintight bodysuit and a knee-length coat with a hood that covers up their hair. A voice modulator and goggles cover up their eyes and mouth, so we are unable to detect any distinguishable features from them.”

 

“Spider and Aizawa got into a brief scuffle that ultimately ended with Spider handing a hard drive full of information on a gang they had been attempting to take down that night,” Tsukauchi said. “The gang, Seichourai, was attempting to sell a quirk-enhancing drug known as Upgrade. Aizawa had to arrest them, whilst Spider took the opportunity to escape.”

 

“And that was your first meeting?” Hizashi asked his husband. 

 

Shouta sighed, and his shoulders fell dejectedly. “Not the best meeting, I’d say. They caught me off guard … They knew my name , Hizashi. My real name.”

 

Hizashi barely caught himself before he launched upright. He could practically feel his pheromones beginning to pump out at his intense emotions. “No! … No, that’s … Shouta, your codes were made by Nezu !”

 

“I know,” Shouta groaned, pinching the space between his eyes. “God help me, I know. We can … we can talk about that later. At home. Let Tsukauchi finish the rest, Hizashi … Please.”

 

Hizashi wanted nothing more than to grab his omega and pull him into his arms. 

 

But he knew that if he allowed his emotions to get the better of him, he’d be sitting in Tsukauchi’s office until the next morning.

 

So he took a deep breath and nodded slowly, slumping back into his chair.

 

“After that, Aizawa started seeing Spider more and more,” Tsukauchi said after a moment had passed and the atmosphere didn’t feel as oppressive. “The two would get into chases every week or so. It continued much the same. Aizawa interrupting Spider mid-fight, and Spider escaping not too long after. This was around August to early September, mind you.”

 

Suddenly, Tsukauchi’s face tightened.

 

“And then … The Bird’s Nest happened.”

 

Hizashi’s skin crawled just a little, and he stood up straighter in his chair. 

 

Yeah .

 

The Bird’s Nest.

 

He still remembered waking up that night just to see his omega’s face — pale white and already covered in a thin layer of anxious sweat — running out of the door.

 

Over thirty people died.

 

In just one night.

 

Hizashi was a District 10 native, and even though everyone with half a brain knew to avoid District 12 in its entirety, he’d known plenty about The Bird’s Nest.

 

What was once a beautiful library — a shining artifact of Musutafu’s old history — had become a den of evil . Auctions of every kind — art, decorations, animals, even fucking humans according to some rumors — were commonly held there up until its fateful end that night.

 

“Spider had enlisted the help of Blueflame,” Tsukauchi stated with a stony voice. “A well-known anti-hero in District 11, and someone with particularly fiery hatred for child abusers. As you probably already know, The Bird’s Nest was holding a child sex trafficking auction that night. The surveillance looped for fifteen minutes until they were forcefully shut down by Spider, who had ordered Blueflame to extract the children from the premises in the meantime.”

 

Hizashi lowered his head and stared down at his clenched fists. He hadn’t even known when he had begun to tense them. Before he could draw blood, he relaxed his hands carefully.

 

God —

 

They were just kids.

 

Who could hurt a kid ?

 

Who could do such a thing?

 

“The two of them then entered the main auction room. According to eyewitness testimony from some of the survivors, Spider broke a guard’s arm then ordered Blueflame to burn it all to the ground.” Tsukauchi inhaled deeply, his eyes closed shut. “Blueflame did, and over thirty people succumbed to the flames.”

 

Tsukauchi opened his eyes slowly. “I received a call from Spider on my personal phone. They told me to send my officers over and not call for District 12’s precinct. I brought Aizawa with me as well.”

 

Hizashi rubbed a hand over his forehead. “Fuck … Fuck .”

 

“I had tracked the phone Spider had used to call me,” Tsukauchi continued, not unkindly. “It turned out to be a burner phone they’d stolen. Next to it was a hard drive full of the auction’s information. Everyone involved was in the hard drive, making it … easier to incriminate them. I’m not going to thank Spider for that, seeing as how they murdered over thirty people, but … without that hard drive, it would have been much harder to arrest the survivors.”

 

“I started gunning for Spider much harder after that,” Shouta admitted, leaning up against Hizashi and allowing the two of them to share warmth. “They always managed to escape until I caught them by surprise on the sixth of October. We fought, as usual, until …”

 

Hizashi caught onto what Shouta was insinuating. He’d told him about it on Christmas morning. “Until Spider proposed an alliance.”

 

“Yes,” Tsukauchi sighed heavily. “An alliance that Aizawa agreed to, for some fucking reason.”

 

Shouta glared at the detective. “You of all people know how strange villains have become these past few years. As loath as I am to admit it, we need Spider’s help.”

 

Hizashi must have made a confused noise because Shouta quickly began to explain their situation.

 

“It’s more discussed in the Underground,” Shouta said, “but for the past two years or so, villain activity has been skyrocketing. They’ve been working differently, as well. More … subtle. Almost centralized. It’s theorized to have resulted from a power vacuum, but we aren’t sure. Spider offered to help with some of our cases in exchange for immunity.”

 

“A power vacuum,” Hizashi wondered. “But villains don’t have leaders, do they?”

 

“Not according to our knowledge, at least,” Shouta stated cautiously. “There have been attempts, however. None of them were successful. But no one can deny how strangely unified some villains seem to be nowadays. It does make you wonder if there is more going on in the villain world that we may not know about.”

 

Tsukauchi interrupted their brief interlude, looking just a little frantic for some reason. “We should continue discussing Spider since I don’t have much time. It’s not logical to focus so much on simple theories and hoaxes, right?”

 

Shouta nodded. “Right, sorry about that. Spider and I agreed to work together for four months, wherein we’ll patrol Monday through Thursday. Spider would help me with some difficult cases or investigations, and I’d get to decide if they were stable enough for vigilante work. We began the week after.”

 

“Have you gotten a good enough read on them, Shouta?” Hizashi asked. His husband was incredibly observant, regardless of his occasional biases.

 

The Underground Hero snorted a little at the question, his voice bitter. “Define ‘good enough’. I don’t know their age. I haven’t seen their hair or eyes. Their name and sex are both unknown. They wear pretty potent scent blockers, and I haven’t got the faintest clue about their fucking quirk. How’s that?”

 

Hizashi smiled consolingly at his husband whilst Tsukauchi, who’d started regaining some color back into his cheeks after looking almost ghostly just a few seconds ago, said, “It’s likely that Spider has BPD or Bipolar Disorder, seeing as how their emotions are incredibly volatile. They have fixations on ‘being good’, which I want to touch upon later, and it’s possible that they may have PTSD as well, seeing as how they have trigger words.”

 

The Voice Hero couldn’t help but wince empathetically. Shouta caught his expression and raised an eyebrow.

 

“Are you seriously sympathizing with them?” Shouta asked incredulously, although there were still notes of fondness in the omega’s scent. “Hizashi, they murdered over thirty people.”

 

“Mental illness sucks!” Hizashi cried intelligently. 

 

Shouta rolled his dark eyes. “God, that stupid bleeding heart of yours …”

 

Hizashi gently pinched his thigh in a teasing gesture. “Hey, you love my bleeding heart!”

 

“Unfortunately, I do,” Shouta sighed.

 

“What’d I just say about flirting in my office?” Tsukauchi cut in.

 

“Fuck off,” Shouta said without missing a beat. “Anyways, Spider and I patrolled for the next month until we came across the murder scene. During that time, we stopped a couple of bank robberies and altercations in alleyways. I was unable to find any more evidence of their identity, but I do know that they were trained. They refused to admit who trained them, however.”

 

“The two of you patrolled for quite some time together,” Hizashi began, a little dumbfounded. “What’re they like? Do you guys … talk ?”

 

“Less talking and more arguing,” Shouta sighed in exasperation. “Whatever I say to them, they’ve got a rebuttal for it. They hate my fucking guts, and they like letting me know every chance they get.”

 

“They have this strange …,” Tsukauchi fought for the word. “ Contempt , I guess, for the inner districts. According to them, the inner districts caused most of the outer districts’ problems — especially with Hero work and whatnot. It’s more than a little disconcerting. Especially for a vigilante. I can’t help but wonder if it’s all threats.”

 

“Well …” Hizashi felt his face heat up just a little. “That’s a kind of … common attitude in the outer districts?”

 

“What?” Tsukauchi’s eyes widened in disbelief.

 

Shouta leaned forward, morbidly curious. “Is that true, Hizashi?”

 

Hizashi blushed even more at their attention. He still wasn’t the most comfortable in discussing his past life in District 10. If he could have things go his way, he’d honestly just forget about his childhood in its entirety. 

 

“Kind of?” Hizashi repeated. “I mean, it all depends on the person, you know? No one really likes the inner districts back there. I don’t know Spider at all, but they’re not exactly a villain for sharing the same opinion that almost everyone has in the outer districts.”

 

Hizashi’s eyes locked onto Tsukauchi’s quickly-growing sheepish expression.

 

“What’s wrong?” He asked slowly, almost afraid of the answer. “What aren’t you telling me?”

 

Tsukauchi and Shouta shared a look that Hizashi wasn’t able to interpret. The two seemed to have a hidden conversation, completely composed of eyebrow tilts and lip pursing. Finally, the two seemed to have reached a conclusion, as Tsukauchi sighed. The detective’s shoulders slouched like he was carrying the weight of the entire world.

 

The myth of Atlas, Hizashi’s ever-helpful mind suggested.

 

Why he remembered that ancient Greek story — or even how he remembered it — was a mystery to him, and one that he quickly shoved aside for another day. He couldn’t afford to lose focus at a time like this, so he quickly wrangled his often wild mess of thought processes to the side.

 

“You see …” Tsukauchi rubbed the back of his neck with a weary look in his eyes. “Aizawa and I have been thinking about that whole ‘not exactly a villain’ thing …”

 

For a moment, Hizashi was confused.

 

Then his brain caught up to what they were insinuating. 

 

“Wait …” Hizashi blinked. “You think Spider is a villain?”

 

“Not is ,” Shouta corrected. “ Was .”

 

The Limelight Hero tried to keep as much skepticism out of his voice as possible when he asked, “And … what makes you think that?”

 

“Oh, quit looking at me like that,” Shouta snapped lightheartedly.

 

“Like what?” He couldn’t help but ask.

 

Shouta’s dark eyes flicked up to the ceiling as if he were pleading with the heavens for patience before they narrowed in on Hizashi’s own gaze. “Like you think I’m just being petty again. This isn’t me trying to judge them again. I simply think it’s a viable theory.”

 

Hizashi grimaced and knew his mate had him caught. “Whoops?”

 

“It makes genuine sense,” Shouta argued. “Their skillset is obviously geared towards more villain-suited escapades, and when I asked them who trained them, they said it was the ‘devil’. They’re far too brutal to be a simple vigilante, and as Tsukauchi said, they’re fixated on ‘being good’ — almost as if they weren’t, at one point in their life, and are now hyper-focused on it now that they’ve somewhat reformed.”

 

“So you automatically think they were a villain?” Hizashi laughed a little incredulously. He wasn’t really arguing with Shouta — both of their pheromones were still relaxed if further proof was needed — but he needed the two of them to understand outside of their own biases or experiences. “Shouta, I’m not too sure about that.”

 

“What other possible explanation is there?” The omega demanded. “I’m not pointing fingers at them; I’m just trying to understand them better.”

 

“As I said, I don’t know Spider, so I don’t know for sure whether you’re right or wrong,” Hizashi explained carefully. “But you have to understand that things are different in the outer districts. It’s not black and white over there — people are mainly just grey , for lack of a better word.”

 

“I’m not following,” Tsukauchi admitted. “Are you saying that everyone in the outer districts has morality issues?”

 

Hizashi exhaled quietly. It was never fun discussing his childhood, but he’d do it if it meant he could shed some light on this problem.

 

He knew both Tsukauchi and even Shouta weren’t trying to be offensive —

 

But it was getting really obvious that the two of them were born in the inner districts.

 

Guess that meant Hizashi had to spread some outer district knowledge …

 

“You keep thinking about Spider in inner district terms, but it seems like you’re forgetting that they’re from the outer districts to begin with. In the inner districts, things are much more clear-cut. If you do good things, you’re a hero. If you do bad things, you’re a villain. The outer districts don’t work like that. Even the best people in the outer districts have to do some pretty shady things every now and then to stay afloat. It doesn’t mean they’re villains — it just means that the outer districts are a shitty place to live.”

 

And it was true.

 

Hizashi was a District 10 native, and he knew firsthand how awful life was back there.

 

Food was oftentimes the biggest source of trouble.

 

Especially for families.

 

No one in the outer districts seemed to have enough money for food, and people would do just about anything in the midst of their desperation.

 

Hizashi wasn’t a stranger to hunger. His alpha mom often withheld food from him whenever he was being ‘bad’, and his omega mama had passed away from an illness when he was young, so from the ages of six-to-fourteen, Hizashi’s stomach never stopped growling. 

 

Whatever food he’d found in dumpsters hadn’t been enough to satisfy his cravings, and he’d never been the greatest thief either. The old lady who lived next door gave him snacks whenever she could, but she died when he was ten. He didn’t bother asking his mom for food, as that was guaranteed to get her in a mood.

 

It was only until he made it to U.A. that Hizashi stopped going to bed hungry, as a matter of fact.

(He didn’t even care that he ended up puking his guts out in the bathroom not too long after gorging himself on U.A.’s lunch meals — Hizashi had never known what it was like to feel uncomfortably full.)

 

When Hizashi’s brain stopped feeding him ( Ha! Feeding — like food ) memories of his less-than-stellar past, he’d found both Shouta and Tsukauchi staring at him with anguished expressions. Shouta's more-so, making Hizashi take his omega's hand and rub his knuckles with his thumb in an attempt to comfort him. He could smell Shouta's pheromones sour due to his mate's distress, and the smell of it made Hizashi want to drag his mate into their nest for some obviously-needed cuddles.

 

“What?” He asked hesitantly. “What’s wrong?”

 

The two of them were quiet for a minute before Shouta sighed.

 

“No, it’s just that I … never really knew how bad it was … I mean, I’ve been to the outer districts before. I’ve been patrolling there for months , and yet … it still feels like I’m only starting to really understand how awful it really is to live there.”

 

Hizashi knew his husband had more to say, so he waited patiently.

 

“I’ve been … dismissive to Spider,” Shouta admitted in a somewhat regretful tone. “I’ve just started realizing that recently. They’ve told me time and time again that things are still tough in the outer districts despite Undergrounders patrolling. I’ve tried shifting the blame, but …”

 

“It’s not your fault,” Hizashi immediately stated, knowing how self-recriminating his beloved husband could get. 

 

Shouta simply shook his head, looking like he was miles away from Hizashi despite being sat right next to him.

 

“I’m a Hero, Hizashi,” Shouta reminded him. “I’m supposed to be helping people.”

 

The Underground Hero turned his head to the window not too far away and stared out into the street. It was a beautiful day out, despite the chilly weather, and there were people walking outside. The uniform buildings of District 5 were crisp and clean and completely foreign to that of the outer districts.

 

(Sometimes, Hizashi caught himself missing District 10. He hated living there, but even to this day, he couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for dark brick buildings and neon flashing lights. As much as he wanted to forget about that period in his life, the outer districts had been Hizashi’s home , once upon a time.)

 

“How can I help people if I refuse to let myself see them in the first place?”

Chapter Text

Hello, everyone! This is an Author's Note, not a chapter.

 

I just wanted everything to know that I'm taking a break for next week. I'm going to be on Spring Break, and I'd like to take advantage of my vacation to relax in order to prevent burnout. I am definitely not abandoning this work, so I wanted to let all of you know about my break ahead of time to prevent any misunderstandings.

 

Thanks for being understanding! Once I get back from vacation I will follow the same once-a-week update routine.

 

Have a nice Spring Break! Drink water and take care of yourselves.

 

-DreyAtTheWoods

Chapter Text

There weren’t many people in the world that could say in full honesty that they loved the outer districts of Musutafu. 

 

Even the residents of the outer districts didn’t enjoy living in them.

 

Who would prefer to live in the poorest, most dangerous place in all of Japan?

 

Dabi would, apparently.

 

He knew that opinion made him somewhat of an outlier.

 

Listen —

 

He knew that the outer districts, as a whole, were dilapidated.

 

And … dirty.

 

And in a constant state of economic recession.

 

And overrun with gangsters.

 

Not to mention the entire district filled with villains (Looking at you , District 12!).

 

And there was the massive influx of crime, of course.

 

Plus, all of the —

 

Well.

 

The point was made.

 

The outer districts were pretty shitty.

 

And Dabi loved them.

 

He loved it all.

 

He’d found his freedom in the outer districts.

 

He’d found his reason to live .

 

No longer was he the pathetic, failed spawn of Endeavour, Japan’s #2 Hero.

 

In the outer districts, he was Dabi .

 

He was Blueflame .

 

The outer districts gave so much to him, so it was only fair that he devoted himself to them in return, right?

 

Dabi wasn’t a good man — not truly — but he was a good leader.

 

District 11 moved at his beck and call.

 

No one so much as sneezed without Dabi’s say-so.

 

But a new figure had emerged in the outer districts, and Dabi didn’t know what to feel about them, exactly.

 

Most of his information about them came from Izuku.

 

As per usual, the creepy little shit had to know everything that was going on in the outer districts and was investigating them — alongside Eraserhead, the Underground Hero, and some inner district detective.

 

Dabi still didn’t like that, mind you.

 

He’d been around the block, both in the outer districts and in the privileged inner districts.

 

Dabi knew what Heroes were like.

 

Before Shouto had developed his quirk and subsequently became Endeavour’s newest project , Dabi had been the one shown off at high-class parties or taken to glamorized events.

 

Fucking hell — the shit Dabi used to overhear some top Heroes say between sips of champagne and bites of gold-leafed caviar …

 

He had quickly grown accustomed to the sound of Pro Heroes laughing at each other and calmly discussing their tax evasion and blatant sexism underneath crystal chandeliers. Eventually, Dabi trained himself to block it out — to become numb to their deceitfulness .

 

The amount of Pro Heroes that abused their spouses or children was staggering .

 

Endeavour’s spawn weren’t the only Legacy children beaten down figuratively and literally by the expectations of their father.

 

And god

 

So many Heroes were hidden perverts.

 

It made him sick to his fucking stomach to this very fucking day.

 

Fuck, the first time Dabi had heard about the existence of the outer districts was from attending an upper-crust Pro Hero party when he was seven.

 

He was so naive back then …

 

Still so young and stupid , Dabi hadn’t thought anything of it when he’d gone to his father later that night and innocently asked him what whore meant.

 

The slap Endeavour had given him had almost hurt less than the man’s cold, sexist explanation.

 

The brothels in the outer districts were always full — both in workers and patrons.

 

And it just so happened that most of their clientele came from the inner districts.

 

It didn’t bother the Pro Heroes that most of the beta women and omegas that they salivated over on their many, many trips to the less-policed outer districts weren’t all consenting or even of age . It wasn’t a secret that brothels commonly forced indebted people to pay back the money they owed with their bodies, or even just straight-up snatched people off from the streets.

 

It wasn’t like the police were going to do anything about it; most outer district officers could be found lurking in those buildings off-duty.

 

Some brothels were so confident they didn’t even hide the fact that they were connected to trafficking rings. Beta women, omegas, and children were commonly told to avoid those ‘pleasure dens’ at all costs, lest they get kidnapped into the sickening trade.

 

And to know that Pro Heroes — the very people who were supposed to uphold the law — got their sick kicks from shit like that?

 

It made Dabi furious.

 

If Dabi could have his way, he’d burn every Hero down to their fucking bones and laugh at the ashes left behind.

 

His alpha practically screamed at him every Monday through Thursday that Izuku — the sadistic little asshole — was in mortal danger due to his involvement with a Pro.

 

No matter how many times Izuku insisted otherwise, Dabi didn’t trust Eraserhead as far as he could throw him. Dabi knew Heroes, and he knew that every Hero, no matter how moral they appeared to be on the outside, had secrets.


Eraserhead wasn’t the exception.

 

The only consolation Dabi could get from Izuku’s weird partnership with the Undergrounder was that the vigilante was smart — much smarter than Dabi and any Hero out there — and wouldn’t be so easily fooled.

 

Dabi trusted that the moment Izuku felt ill intentions from Eraserhead, he’d bolt.

 

He’d made the kid promise him that on multiple occasions. 

 

Regardless, Dabi still worried.

 

He supposed that was the cornerstone of their relationship.

 

Izuku got himself into crazy shit, and Dabi worried as a result.

 

He wished that the kid would stop being such a motherfucking headache, but Izuku insisted that it was part of his charm. Half-supergenius and half-mad, Izuku was never going to be a normal kid — Izuku was meant for the world of vigilantism, even if it made Dabi want to pull his dyed hair out.

 

Sometimes Dabi thought back to their first meeting and chuckled to himself.

 

Only a few months ago, his life had been irreversibly changed by the appearance of Spider, of Izuku.

 

When he’d first received the borderline threatening email, Dabi had been furious and ready for a fight.

 

He hadn’t been expecting a prepubescent to meet him up on that rooftop in District 12.

 

All at once, the bloodlust had faded away.

 

In its place was exasperated annoyance.

 

Izuku had gotten Dabi into a lot of shit throughout their relationship.

 

If he had a way to turn back time, would Dabi change anything?

 

If he hadn’t met Izuku — if he hadn’t gotten close to him — Dabi’s life would probably be smooth sailing. 

 

No migraines.

 

No worrying.

 

Just Blueflame, and his drug empire in District 11.

 

If he could, would Dabi change anything?

 

 

No.

 

Not in a million years.

 

No matter how frustrating the little vigilante pup could get — and by god, could he be frustrating — Dabi didn’t regret meeting him.

 

For all of the kid’s mania and sadistic tendencies, there was a strange lightness to him.

 

Something good.

 

A perfect example would be the kid’s vigilantism.

 

In all honesty, Izuku could have been a terrifying villain.

 

The kid had every reason to become one, after all.

 

Dabi didn’t know a single fucking thing about Izuku’s past, but there were enough signs to point to it being really fucking bad.

 

The boy was an omega and quirkless .

 

It was a bitter recipe for marginalization.

 

Add to the fact that Izuku was some kind of fucking martial arts prodigy and a goddamn mad scientist in the making .

 

In another world, Izuku could have been Japan’s most deadly villain.

 

And if Dabi was being perfectly honest, that probably wouldn’t have changed their relationship at all.

 

Dabi had made Izuku a promise.

 

They were brothers.

 

They were pack .

 

That wouldn’t have changed, even if Izuku’s morals were a bit more skewed.

 

Dabi was a possessive bastard , after all.

 

(To be frank, possessiveness was kind of on par for the Todoroki children. They had grown up protecting and caring for one another under the cold thumb of their father, knowing that at any moment the cruel man could very well separate them on a whim, so the relationship they all shared was a coveted thing, made all the more greedy by their admittedly-clingy personalities.)

 

The kid had no idea that he was well on his way towards becoming Dabi’s.

 

Dabi had to fit the smug grin that wanted to stretch across his mouth at the very thought.

 

Damn, he really was getting soft, wasn’t he?

 

He couldn’t help it though.

 

The idea was …

 

Tempting.

 

His alpha liked it as well.

 

It purred at the thought.

 

Little pup , his alpha crooned. So small, so vicious.

 

All mine.

 

Dabi inhaled shakily.

 

Another little brother, the more instinctual, primal side of him whispered. A little brother to protect, to keep safe. 

 

God, Dabi missed his siblings …

 

He missed being an older brother.

 

He missed the way they all looked up to him, instinctively relying on him for guidance and protection.

 

With their mom often being so isolated from them due to Endeavour’s insistence, Dabi was often the one taking care of the rest of the Todoroki pack in her absence.

 

Dabi was the one they all went to when nightmares kept them out of bed.

 

Dabi was the one who bandaged and kissed away most hurts.

 

Dabi was the one who taught them the things their multitude of tutors never did — like how to tie shoelaces, how to make hot chocolate, and how to prepare the most comfortable nests.

 

Dabi was their pack alpha, but more importantly, he was their big brother.

 

As pack alpha, Dabi protected his family and provided them with stability.

 

But as a big brother, Dabi knew his family.

 

He knew that Fuyumi could only sleep soundly if she had a cup of warm sencha tea.

 

He knew that Natsuo, despite how many times he claimed he was too big for such “childish” things, needed a thorough scenting before he could ever feel comfortable leaving their house.

 

He knew that Shouto, his little peppermint, liked to collect fallen cherry blossoms and throw high, giggling when the petals danced in the air.

 

Before he was Dabi, he was Tou-chan.

 

He was Tou-nii .

 

And as much as he liked being Blueflame — loved it, actually — he missed the days when he used to be a big brother.

 

Slowly but surely, Izuku was starting to bring back those desires to the surface.

 

The pup was only eleven-years-old and was roaming the dangerous streets of the outer districts as a damn vigilante.

 

And according to Izuku, he didn’t have anyone to rely on either.

 

Izuku was alone.

 

That made Dabi …

 

Itch.

 

Dabi was a loner as well, but he was an adult , for fuck’s sake.

 

He could handle himself.

 

He’d been doing it for years, after all.

 

But Izuku was a child.

 

Just presented, as a matter of fact.

 

Dabi didn’t look down on Izuku because of that, though.

 

He knew the little shit worried over it, for some fucking reason, but no matter how many times Dabi insisted otherwise, Izuku still believed that Dabi thought less of him due to his age.

 

Which he didn’t.

 

Izuku was a capable vigilante and probably more dangerous than Dabi could ever even understand.

 

The fact that he was eleven didn’t change that knowledge.

 

But …

 

It did change some things.

 

And maybe that was where Izuku and he butted heads at.

 

Because, yeah — 

 

Dabi thought Izuku was a proficient vigilante.

 

But —

 

Dabi still worried about him.

 

His instincts had latched onto the pup, so almost every waking moment was spent in paranoia, panicking over Izuku’s wellbeing. 

 

No matter how many times he bore witness to the creepy little shit pulling off genius-level schemes or beating down once-impenetrable opponents, Dabi still couldn’t stop being so uneasy about his occupation.

 

Izuku was a smart kid.

 

Way smarter than Dabi, and easily smarter than any big-city Hero or detective.

 

Dabi held true to the opinion that Izuku’s intelligence rivaled that of Nezu’s — and sometimes he often wondered if Izuku’s surpassed the quirked creature’s.

 

He was both book smart and street smart.

 

Many times, Izuku seemed to know everything.

 

But then —

 

There were many times when Izuku didn’t.

 

An example was of his surprise heat/presentation, wherein he’d gotten himself stabbed all because he thought his heat symptoms were a simple stomachache due to the Internet’s ignorant insistence.

 

Not to mention how clueless the pup seemed to be whenever he faced something mundane.

 

Holy shit —

 

One time Dabi had to explain to him what a fucking blender was.

 

And if that didn’t raise some red flags, then Dabi didn’t know what would.

 

He promised to never pry into Izuku’s personal life like that, but —

 

Sometimes …

 

Dabi wondered.

 

What kind of life did Izuku live before Dabi had met him that night at The Bird’s Nest?

 

Izuku had told Dabi he’d been a vigilante for almost an entire year before that, but that didn’t touch on what Izuku was doing before his fucking crime-fighting career began.

 

What kind of life did Izuku live before, if the concept of a blender was new to him?

 

He knew next-to-nothing about second genders (And barely anything about first genders, if Dabi was being honest), and he was so fucking strange when it came to human interaction.

 

Like he wasn’t used to it , or something.

 

So how could Dabi, emotionally repressed as he was, explain to Izuku, a traumatized kid with seemingly no knowledge on what a healthy relationship entailed, that while he trusted Izuku to be a skilled vigilante and would never attempt to take that lifestyle away from him, Dabi still wished to keep him out of harms’ way?

 

How could he even begin to explain the concept of worry to someone like Izuku, who seemed to equate every form of protectiveness and or concern as pity or patronization at best and outright tyranny at worst?

 

Admittedly, Dabi wasn’t doing the best job of explaining himself.

 

He wasn’t exactly knowledgeable on feelings , remember?

 

He was awkward as fuck!

 

Izuku had almost bled to death in an alleyway while Dabi had fumbled his way for ten minutes through a half-assed apology, and even then, he still ended up not fully saying sorry that night.

 

Just imagining the conversation Dabi would have to have with Izuku about his agitation and what it entailed made him physically ill.

 

But Dabi was the adult in their relationship, so it was up to him to break through the ice first.

 

Ugh

 

Everything was way too fucking complicated now.

 

On second thought, maybe it would be better if Dabi just … let it be for now.

 

After all, Izuku was busy.

 

And it wasn’t like the two of them were avoiding each other anymore.

 

It was a common occurrence for the little shit to tinker with his fucked-up explosives in Dabi’s apartment almost every week.

 

They still talked .

 

Granted, it wasn’t about anything substantial.

 

Their discussions certainly didn’t involve Dabi’s growing brotherly instincts or anything along those lines.

 

Most of the time, Izuku just vented to Dabi about how much of a cunt Eraserhead was.

 

(The Underground Hero did seem to be lightening up lately though, seeing as how Izuku’s rants seemed to shorten considerably in length after the Christmas holidays.)

 

Izuku had informed Dabi that the two of them, including the detective Izuku had contacted after The Bird’s Nest (Tsu- something ), were currently investigating the series of Underground Hero murders that had been going on for the past month or two. The two inner district bitches were apparently so desperate for a solution that they’d practically begged Izuku (Or Spider , in this scenario) to help out with the case, but that didn’t stop the two of them from berating Izuku on everything he did.

 

That alone made Dabi grit his teeth.

 

His alpha was furious at the insinuation that Izuku was anything other than good.

 

My little brother! His alpha roared. Mine! How dare they?

 

And how dare they, indeed.

 

Because —

 

While Izuku had a propensity for violence and a rather cutthroat view of the world, Dabi knew that Izuku was good.

 

Good in a way that Dabi wasn’t anymore.

 

Those inner district cunts didn’t know Izuku.

 

(Not like how Dabi was starting to.)

 

They didn’t see the way Izuku’s fists clenched whenever the news reported another quirkless mass suicide.

 

They didn’t see the way Izuku stayed up every night, only catching quick sleep during the day, just to patrol through the streets.

 

They didn’t see the way Izuku beat down child abusers, toeing the line on his strict no-killing rule from the way they always ended up nigh to death by the end of it.

 

And they certainly didn’t see the look in Izuku’s vivid green eyes when Dabi offhandedly asked him what his favorite thing in the world to do was.

 

( — “Flying,” Izuku had whispered reverently like it was something he’d only be willing to share with the likes of Dabi. “My favorite thing to do is to fly, Dabi-san.” — )

 

Izuku, for all his eccentricities, was good.

 

A touch too sadistic, yes.

 

But good .

 

My little brother , his alpha purred to him again, this time with a slightly darker tone. My good little brother. No one deserves him. No one.

 

Dabi grimaced a little, despite how his chest warmed.

 

It had been a while since he’d taken on the role of a big brother, of a pack alpha, again, so his instincts were a little …

 

Strong , at the moment.

 

He needed to have better control over himself, lest he freak Izuku out again with the extent of his protectiveness.

 

He was possessive, as were the rest of the Todoroki’s. 

 

His possessiveness didn’t equal control or abuse , of course, but he knew how it could get misconstrued by someone like Izuku.

 

Dabi needed to tone it down.

 

Maybe later, when Izuku solved the case and was less busy, Dabi could approach the kid and really talk with him about their relationship.

 

That left more than enough time for Dabi to successfully rein in his somewhat overbearing alpha protectiveness.

 

Thankfully his instincts weren’t too concerned with Izuku’s murder case.

 

Those inner district fucks were probably beside themselves with fear at the concept of two murdered Undergrounders, but that kind of shit was on par for the course with the outer districts.

 

People were stabbed and left for dead in alleyways all the time here.

 

It wasn’t like the Pro Heroes were jumping at the bit to solve the innumerable missing/murdered quirkless civilian cases.

 

No —

 

It was only when a fellow inner district asshole got their shit rocked that they cared.

 

To be honest, Dabi didn’t give two fucks about the murders.

 

Some Underground Heroes got murked?

 

Whoop-dee- fucking -doo.

 

That didn’t make them special .

 

As Dabi said, people were murdered all the time in the outer districts!

 

The serial killer was honestly doing all of them a favor by metaphorically taking out the trash.

 

Dabi hated Heroes, after all, and the violent deaths of two of them weren’t about to make him lose any sleep.

 

It probably wasn’t even as big of a deal as Eraserhead and the detective guy were trying to make it.

 

Most likely the two Underground Heroes had just gotten in way over their heads and got sent on their merry way to the afterlife as punishment. 

 

They’d probably just messed with the wrong gang or villain.

 

They got what was coming for them if that was the truth.

 

If those Underground Hero fucks tried to start shit with his business, then he’d kill them just the same.

 

Two less corrupt Pros in the world.

 

Dabi wasn’t about to mourn for them.

 

He almost wished he had enough balls to tell Izuku to just drop the damn case already because the two inner district cunts were wasting Izuku’s brain on such a dumb fucking case — but he knew that if he tried telling Izuku what to do again, he wouldn’t have any balls left as a result of castration.

 

Dabi winced at the imagery his own brain concocted.

 

Yikes.

 

That was a disturbing thought.

 

Not an entirely false one, either.

 

One of Izuku’s favorite threats against Dabi was his insistence on stealing some of his vital organs and selling them on the black market.

 

If Dabi made the freaky vigilante mad enough, would Izuku actually …?

 

No.

 

No.

 

Dabi didn’t want to think about that.

 

No way.

 

While they weren’t necessary for him to breathe, Dabi’s balls were pretty damn vital to him.

 

Note to self —

 

“Never piss off Izuku,” Dabi muttered wryly under his breath, his eyes still locked onto the sun setting above District 11. It was a statement to live by, in his opinion, and one that he’d have to keep reminding himself of in case he wanted to keep his body intact.

 

“I agree wholeheartedly,” An airy voice sing-songed from beside him. “But is there any reason for it, Dabi-san?”

 

Dabi didn’t scream.

 

He didn’t.

 

He just —

 

Jumped.

 

And maybe yelped.

 

Only a little bit.

 

“You good?” The little shitheel of a vigilante asked, staring down at Dabi from where the anti-hero had practically bent in half, hands on his knees and gasping for oxygen that wouldn’t get into his damn lungs fast enough. 

 

“When,” Dabi wheezed, “the fuck did you get here?”

 

Izuku smiled blandly. “Ten minutes ago.”

 

Dabi gaped up at the eleven-year-old omega. “And … you didn’t think to say anything?”

 

The vigilante’s head tilted, his big eyes unblinking. “I said something just now.”

 

Dabi’s eyes tracked over Izuku’s face, but he couldn’t find any hint of dishonesty or malice. He didn’t know what to say — still halfway to a heart attack in all honesty — until he eventually just decided to close his mouth.

 

“Anyways,” Izuku carried on as if he hadn’t just scared the living shit out of him, “you didn’t answer my question.”

 

For a moment, Dabi was confused at what Izuku meant. Then he remembered his little monologue before the vigilante had appeared out of thin air and flushed just a bit.

 

“Nothing,” He answered gruffly. “Just … talking to myself, I guess.”

 

The vigilante hummed, obviously not believing that answer judging by the way his eyes stayed locked onto Dabi’s, but he didn’t comment on it either.

 

“Alright, Dabi-san.”

 

The two of them continued to stare at one another until Dabi pushed himself upright, wincing a little at his back’s protest. He’d gotten into a bit of a brawl the other night, and his body was still sore from the ordeal. His hands were blistered to shit, but he ignored the pain.

 

Izuku must have seen Dabi’s hidden grimace, because he asked promptly, “Are you injured?”

 

Dabi side-eyed him for a second before shaking his head. “Nah, not really. Just a little bruised, but I’ve had worse.”

 

Izuku nodded thoughtfully, and Dabi was suddenly aware of how tense the vigilante seemed to be. He didn’t know why the pup was so wound up — the two of them hadn’t had an argument in quite a while — and he wondered if it was maybe due to something Eraserhead said during their patrols or investigations.

 

“How’s Eraserfuck treating you?” Dabi had to ask, whilst simultaneously stamping down on his alpha, which yowled at the thought of the Pro Hero bothering his little br — his partner . “Still don’t want me to cremate the son of a bitch?”

 

A corner of Izuku’s mouth tilted up in amusement. Dabi hadn’t really realized that Izuku wasn’t wearing his mask or goggles until that moment — more focused on reaching full lung capacity again after his scare.

 

“If I’m not allowed to take care of Eraserhead, then neither are you,” The vigilante teased. “Besides, you’d get your ass kicked.”

 

Dabi frowned at the insinuation. “No, I wouldn’t.”

 

Izuku was full-on grinning now. “Yes, you fucking would. You’re a good fighter, Dabi-san, but Eraserhead’s on a different level.”

 

The anti-hero scoffed, more than a little miffed. He crossed his arms about his chest and turned away from the shithead. “I’d torch that fucker in an instant.”

 

“Well, considering that, in this scenario, Eraserhead is the human equivalent of a fire extinguisher,” Izuku joked, “I don’t think you’d succeed.”

 

“You’d avenge me,” Dabi shot back just as easily, forgetting for a moment how touchy the vigilante seemed to get whenever their relationship was brought up.

 

Izuku was quiet for a second, staring at Dabi with his unblinking wide eyes. They reminded Dabi of little lamps, the way they were just so fucking big and bright .

 

All at once, Dabi was suddenly made aware of the fact that Izuku, the same little shit that built bombs and laughed when Dabi’s flames killed over thirty people, was going to beautiful when he grew up.

 

Already at eleven, Izuku was a desperately pretty child. He had the soft, delicate looks that displayed his omega gender, with fine bone structure that made Dabi compare him to a little bird — especially considering how tiny the vigilante was and how he seemed to flit about from one place to another, flying on his wires much like a bird flying on its wings.

 

His eyes and his hair were easily the most eye-catching parts about him, however.

 

His eyes — lamp-like due to their almost luminescent quality — were a vivid green, made all the more distinct by the dark circles that smudged his under eyes purplish-blue and his snow-white eyelashes. His hair seemed to mirror that, as the roots were ivory and the curly ends were emerald in color.

 

Even the myriad of scars that covered Izuku’s face didn’t take away from the fact that the pup was pretty — and was going to be devastatingly beautiful when he was older.

 

Dabi’s alpha instincts didn’t quite like that, as they seemed to be stuck on the idea that Izuku was going to have suitors when he grew up.

 

No! His alpha roared. Too young! No one is good enough!

 

Dabi tried to reassure himself that the future wasn’t about to happen for a long time, and who even knew if Izuku would want suitors when that happened.

 

Still, he couldn’t help but grumble at the idea.

 

Dabi was raised in a traditional household, and as the head of the pack, he was in charge of protecting the honor of his charges. A long time ago, suitors who were interested in pack members had to publicly fight the pack alpha for their approval, and even if they won the brawl, it wasn’t a guaranteed thing, seeing as how pack omegas were so coveted.

 

Of course, Dabi didn’t believe that he, in any way, had control over who Izuku decided to be with, nor was he so backward to believe that Izuku was some damsel-in-distress just because he was an omega.

 

Izuku could take care of himself, and it was his choice whether or not he wanted to accept a suitor. And who knows, maybe Izuku wasn’t even interested in that sort of thing at all? Dabi couldn’t imagine the Izuku standing before him having any desire to form a romantic relationship with someone. As of right now, the vigilante was more in love with his inventions than anything else.

 

… Still, that didn’t mean that Dabi wasn’t going to torch the first bastard that expressed interest in his br — in Izuku.

 

Dabi was just about to change the subject, all too conscious of how tense he might have made things, when the kid finally said, “Yeah, I guess I would. You’re helpless without me, after all.”

 

Pup , his alpha chanted. So small, so protective! A perfect little brother, see?

 

Dabi couldn’t help but smile, not even caring how his stitches pulled painfully at the motion. “Little shit. Why the fuck did you want to meet up here in the first place?”

 

Izuku blinked, batting his long eyelashes in a way that made Dabi’s alpha want to coo and pinch his cheeks like some kind of old grandma. “Oh, right,” The little vigilante crowed aloud.

 

The omega smiled up at Dabi, the expression a little awkward like he wasn’t quite used to smiling yet. “I’m going on a stakeout mission with Eraserhead in a couple of days. We think we might have found a possible suspect for the Hero murders in District 10.”

 

Dabi raised an eyebrow. “No shit?”

 

“Mm!” Izuku’s head bobbed with a nod, making his hair swish about. Dabi wondered how hard Izuku would bite his hand if he tried to touch it. It just looked so curly. “It’s a pretty well-known gang called Osoroshii that’s recently been vocal about their anti-Hero opinions. Their territory is near some of the crime scenes, and Eraserhead said both of the Undergrounders have come into contact with them at one point.”

 

“So you’re checking them out with Eraserhead?” Dabi questioned. “You sure you’re gonna be safe and all? I don’t trust Eraserhead not to lead you into a trap or to ditch you if it gets rough out there.”

 

Izuku rolled his eyes derisively. “You always assume the worst in people, Dabi-san.”

 

“Because people are usually the fucking worst,” Dabi remarked honestly.

 

“Eraserhead’s not that kind of guy,” Izuku stated. “Sure, he’s a cunt — but he’s not a bad person.”

 

“He’s an asshole to you,” Dabi snapped.

 

Izuku’s eyebrows furrowed, and he looked up at Dabi like he was crazy. “So?”

 

Dabi huffed angrily, although he made sure his scent wasn’t too overwhelming, seeing as how Izuku seemed particularly sensitive to such things. He didn’t know how to explain to the kid that just hearing about some of the things Eraserhead had said to Izuku made Dabi want to burn his fucking eyes out. He didn’t know how to explain to Izuku that he didn’t trust Eraserhead to have Izuku’s best interests in mind.

 

Most importantly, Dabi didn’t know how to explain to Izuku that he was worried about him.

 

“Just … take care of yourself, Izuku.” Dabi rubbed the back of his neck, wincing at his inflamed skin. He’d have to use more of his antibiotic cream when he got home. “Heroes ain’t what they say they are, I’ve found out. ‘Doesn’t matter how honest they might seem at first.”

 

Izuku’s expression was unreadable, despite how hard Dabi tried to understand otherwise. “I always take care of myself, Dabi-san.”

 

You shouldn’t have to! Dabi’s alpha wailed.

 

But Dabi couldn’t say that.

 

Not yet, at least.

 

Instead, Dabi just sighed.

 

“Yeah,” He murmured, almost wistfully. “I know you do, pup.”

 

Izuku stared up at Dabi for a long moment, and the two of them were bathed in the golden light of the setting sun. The little vigilante looked out of place on the shitty rooftop of a District 11 building. All around him were the decrepit remains of what used to be Musutafu’s golden age, and when the sun painted a halo around the pup’s curly head, Dabi thought he looked angelic.

 

“That’s not all why I’m here though,” Izuku admitted after the silence had passed between them.

 

Dabi blinked, taken out of his daydreams. “Huh?”

 

The anti-hero watched as Izuku reached into his oversized coat’s pockets and pulled out what seemed to be a tin can of sorts. The eleven-year-old cupped the object in his tiny hands and held it out to Dabi, looking almost bashful .

 

Dabi narrowed his eyes. “Is it a bomb?”

 

Izuku snorted at the suspicion. “No, Dabi-san. Your quirk isn’t suited for explosives, after all. Too haphazardous.”

 

“Then …,” Dabi racked his brain for answers but came up short. “What the hell is it?”

 

Izuku’s lamp-like eyes flitted away like the pup was somehow nervous.

 

“It isn’t anything gross, right?” Dabi had to ask. “If it’s another fucking tongue, I swear to god, Izuku —”

 

“It’s a present, you fucking dumbass!” Izuku barked incredulously. 

 

What.

 

What?

 

“What?” Dabi repeated, sounding just like a dumbass and not doing himself any favors.

 

Izuku rolled his eyes again. “God, you’re fucking hopeless. What’s the date today?”

 

Dabi frowned. “It’s … the eighteenth? What about it?”

 

The vigilante blinked.

 

“Oh, wow. You really are stupid.”

 

“Hey!” Dabi shouted. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means what I just said!” Izuku laughed like Dabi had told a particularly funny joke. “It’s the eighteenth, you fucking idiot! Happy birthday !”

 

Dabi stopped short.

 

His mouth shut with a clack of his teeth.

 

Oh.

 

Oh.

 

It …

 

It was the eighteenth.

 

The eighteenth of January.

 

Izuku … was right.

 

It was his birthday.

 

Dabi was twenty now.

 

 

Dabi had been away from his family for five years now.

 

Five years .

 

Little Shouto must already be twelve now.

 

Around Izuku’s age, probably.

 

Natsuo would be fifteen … He’d be in his first year of high school, wouldn’t he?

 

Dabi was fifteen when he left. Natsuo was just ten-years-old then.

 

Fuyumi was only one year younger than Dabi. She’d be nineteen now, right?

 

Would she be in college?

 

Fuyumi was always so smart. 

 

Didn’t she say to Dabi once, back when he was still just Tou-chan , that she wanted to be a teacher? 

 

Was she in college for a teaching degree?

 

God —

 

How much had Dabi missed?

 

Endeavour had stopped dragging the three of them around in public for the past few years. While Dabi was glad the three of them didn’t have to be paraded around anymore, it was also a double-edged sword, seeing as how Dabi hadn’t seen their appearances for quite some time.

 

Did they look different?

 

Did they still think of him?

 

There hadn’t been any reports about Dabi’s mom in a long time …

 

Was she alright?

 

Did she miss him, just as he missed her?

 

“You understand?” Izuku asked tauntingly. “Jesus, I spent two fucking weeks creating this and researching birthdays, and this is the thanks I get?”

 

“I …” Dabi faltered. “I forgot.”

 

Something in Dabi’s expression must have clued Izuku in to his inner turmoil, as the vigilante’s voice softened considerably.

 

“Well …” Izuku bounced a little on his heels. “I’ll remind you, from now on. Okay?”

 

“Okay,” Dabi agreed weakly. “Okay.”

 

“I made you this,” The vigilante said, not paying any mind to Dabi’s obvious mood change — whether he didn’t realize it or he was purposefully ignoring it for Dabi’s sake was beyond him. “It’s custom to give presents for birthdays, right?”

 

Dabi felt almost lightheaded. He picked up the tin can absentmindedly, and his mostly-dead nerves alerted him to its freezing cold temperature. What had Izuku put in this thing?

 

“You haven’t celebrated your birthday?” Dabi found himself asking. Only after he’d said it had he realized he was coming dangerously close to asking Izuku about his past, and that discussion was a no-go .

 

Thankfully, Izuku was generally oblivious to what was usually considered the norm and didn’t pick up on it.

 

“Nope.” Izuku shook his head. “Can you pick whatever day you want, though?”

 

Dabi tried to ignore how alarming Izuku’s lack of knowledge was. “Not … really? I mean, birthdays happen on the day you were born .”

 

Izuku’s face seemed to light up. “Oh! I see. I usually just thought of mine as January 1. You know, so it would be easier and shit.”

 

Easier for what? Dabi wanted to ask.

 

“You just … chose your birthday?” Dabi questioned slowly.

 

The little vigilante shrugged. “Yeah, but I’m gonna change it now.”

 

“To what?”

 

Izuku smiled. “To the day I was born, dumbass. September 13. That isn’t important though. I want you to open your present!”

 

At the command, Dabi looked down at the tin can resting in his inflamed palms. The metal felt freezing cold, and it probably could’ve burned anyone other than Dabi, who had both his mom’s cold resistance and a quirk that literally burned from the inside out. Instead of hurting his hands, the tin felt blissful .

 

“And you promise it isn’t a bomb?” Dabi asked warily.

 

“Stop being a fucking pussy,” Izuku huffed. “Just open the damn thing.”

 

Not one to disobey — especially after just promising himself to never piss off Izuku lest he possibly lose both of his testicles — Dabi carefully twisted the top of the can. 

 

It opened with a loud pop !

 

For a moment, Dabi waited for the boom.

 

When it didn’t happen, he inspected the present closer.

 

It looked to be some kind of cream, and not the explosive Dabi was expecting from someone like Izuku. 

 

The cream seemed to be the source of the cold, as little puffs of vapor were seeping from the material.

 

“What …?” Dabi’s words trailed off. He looked back up at Izuku for an answer.

 

The omega scratched at his arm nonchalantly, but Dabi wasn’t exactly fooled. There was a hint of pink on Izuku’s freckled cheeks — almost undetectable. 

 

Izuku was embarrassed.

 

Dabi stared.

 

“The basis of the ointment’s composition is a form of liquid nitrogen I created,” Izuku explained in a rushed manner. “Your quirk emerges from within your body, but you aren’t impervious to the heat, hence why you burn yourself so often. You are unaffected by cold, however, so I devised a way to create a product that would transdermally soothe your inflamed skin. It is also mixed with an antibiotic.”

 

Dabi … didn’t know what to say.

 

“The cream is non-greasy, as well as non-corrosive,” Izuku hurried to say, “so you don’t have to worry about it possibly eroding the metal of your staples or piercings. Because of the liquid nitrogen composition, it will naturally vaporize off from your skin, so as to avoid leaving a residue. You only need a small amount of it to spread on particularly inflamed areas, so it will not run out as fast as other burn creams. A-And if you do run out, I am fully prepared to make another.”

 

“You … made me burn medicine?” Dabi whispered.

 

“I —” Izuku blinked rapidly. “I did, yes. I haven’t unlocked a formula for an oral medication that could essentially work as a fire extinguisher within your body, but I’m confident that I could find a recipe within a year or two, if I am allowed to research your body and your quirk more fully.”

 

“But …” Dabi couldn’t wrap his head around it. “Why?”

 

Izuku’s mouth opened and closed repeatedly. For the first time, Dabi seemed to have made the little supergenius dumbstruck.

 

“I …” Dabi wished the little shit didn’t wear such potent scent blockers; he missed the smell of cherry blossoms. “I did it because …”

 

The vigilante struggled for what to say and looked anywhere but at Dabi, who was still staring wide-eyed at the kid.

 

“Well …” Izuku seemed to have made a decision within himself, because when he looked back into Dabi’s eyes, there was a thunderously determined expression on his pretty face. “I suppose I did it because … we’re family.”

 

Dabi inhaled sharply.

 

“I … haven’t been the best brother lately,” Izuku admitted. “I still don’t know what I’m doing.”

 

The vigilante shrugged defeatedly, his eyes dark and full of emotions Dabi couldn’t even attempt to identify. He had no idea what Izuku was thinking about — obviously stuff related to his past, the past Dabi still had no fucking idea about. “I’m not good at this stuff, you know?”

 

Izuku’s vivid green eyes suddenly locked onto Dabi’s turquoise, brightening with fervor.

 

“But I promised I was gonna try,” Izuku stated firmly. “And I don’t like breaking promises.”

 

“Pup …,” Dabi whispered brokenly. 

 

My little brother , his alpha crooned. Perfect, perfect, perfect. So good, so good. 

 

My little brother.

 

Mine.

 

“Thank you,” Dabi said honestly. “This … is the best birthday present I’ve gotten in … in a long time.”

 

A tentative smile began to appear on Izuku’s face. “Y-You like it?”

 

Dabi smiled, albeit a little watery. “I love it. I’ll even use it right now if you want.”

 

Just as Dabi was about to dip his fingers into the cream — just imagining the cool texture on his burnt skin made him want to sigh — the omega vigilante cried out, “Wait!”

 

The anti-hero watched dumbly as the kid plunged a hand into his pocket and pulled out a singular black glove.

 

“What’re you doing?” Dabi found himself asking amusedly as Izuku stomped closer to him, his emerald eyes so bright they could practically burn holes .

 

“Let me do it,” Izuku said.

 

Dabi’s eyebrows furrowed just a bit. 

 

“Wait, … you wanna put the cream on? It won’t be too cold?”

 

Izuku nodded. “Mm! If I administer it using this glove, I won’t risk any chance of a first-degree burn.”

 

Dabi still didn’t understand. “Why do you want to do that?”

 

Izuku sighed in exasperation, but his cheeks were pinkening. “We’re a pack , Dabi-san. You’re … You’re my b-brother, right? Brothers take care of each other, don’t they?”

 

“They do,” Dabi murmured, watching intently as Izuku scooped out a bit of the cream using his gloved hand, obeying instantly when the kid ordered him to, “Lean down a bit.”

 

Dabi’s knees were bent, allowing him to be face-to-face with the little vigilante as he smeared a dollop of the ointment across Dabi’s forehead.

 

“Hmm?” Izuku hummed, eagerly waiting for Dabi’s review of his newest invention. “How does it feel? Is it cold enough, Dabi-san?”

 

“Let it go, my love. Let it go.”

 

the cool press of soft lips on his forehead, immediately soothing the flames blazing within him

 

Mom

 

— I miss you —

 

— I miss you all so much —

 

— I’m gonna fix everything, alright? —

 

— I’ll protect you, I swear —

 

— But —

 

— There’s someone else I gotta protect right now —

 

— Okay? —

 

— I’ll see you all soon —

 

“Does it feel good, Dabi-san?” Izuku asked.

 

“Yeah,” Dabi choked out. “It feels good, pup."

 

—   l       l  o  v  e       y  o  u      —

Chapter Text

Finding a culprit for the two murders wasn’t an easy feat, which was strange, considering the fact that there was an almost innumerable amount of suspects.

 

The outer districts were filled to the brim with people more than willing to kill two Underground Heroes — both of them well-known for sticking their noses into business that wasn’t necessarily their own.

 

Penumbra was an old Undergrounder. He’d been around the block, and his years on the service left him with more than a handful of enemies chomping at the bit to get their pound of flesh from the Hero that foiled their plans time and time again.

 

Honestly, it was more surprising that Penumbra lived as long as he did, being such an active Hero.

 

Claustra was new though.

 

Just practically graduated.

 

That was why her case was so strange, especially when it was compared to that of Penumbra’s.

 

It took time before Underground Heroes gained notoriety.

 

It was a secretive, subtle job.

 

Freshly-born Undergrounders were heavily encouraged to lay low for their first few years. It didn’t do the city any good for naive Underground Heroes to find themselves at the wrong end of a pistol before their allocated years of service were up. Musutafu was a needy city, and there was always a lack of Undergrounders in the shadows — so any new blood was coveted.

 

Claustra should’ve had a couple more years before her work caught up to her.

 

But no.

 

Long before her time should’ve been up, Claustra was found disemboweled in an alleyway with no clear offender.

 

According to Tsukauchi, the inner district detectives that were officially assigned to the case were stupefied. 

 

Why Claustra?

 

It was easy to understand Penumbra.

 

But —

 

Why Claustra?

 

Well

 

It had taken some digging before a lead was found.

 

(And more than a couple of instances of hacking.)

 

Until Izuku discovered —

 

Just because Claustra was new didn’t mean she was inherently coy.

 

Claustra was young in every sense of the word.

 

Vivacious — in the way she dove into mission-after-mission without pausing.

 

Passionate — in the way she was outspoken against the inner district’s treatment (Or lack thereof) of the outer districts.

 

Bold — in the way she tackled aspects of Underground Heroics that others wouldn’t even dare to touch.

 

Arrogant — in the way she thought each of those things would allow her to escape judgment.

 

Claustra had gone after one gang too many, and her actions left her eviscerated in an alleyway, abandoned and alone.

 

Dabi had smirked when Izuku had told him the fate of the young Underground Heroine.

 

— “Serves her right,” The alpha snorted derisively. “‘Fuckin’ around, acting like she was actually doing jack-shit for the outer districts. She was part of the problem, and I’m glad her dumbass got taken out. Maybe now the inner districts will quit involvin’ themselves in our business.”

 

Dabi, Izuku found out pretty early on in the investigation, wasn’t much help.

 

Nor did the anti-hero want to be.

 

Dabi, to the surprise of no one, was actually pretty damn happy that someone was dealing with the outer districts 'infestation of Undergrounders’.

 

He was an anti-hero, yes, but he was also a drug dealer.

 

A criminal.

 

People like Dabi usually shared similar opinions about Underground Heroes — and Heroics in general.

 

The alpha’s history with Heroics and the inner districts only exacerbated his somewhat radical stance.

 

Izuku was … ambivalent to her demise.

 

Of course, he didn’t approve of the situation.

 

Not at all, in fact.

 

Murder wasn’t his forte.

 

Yes, Izuku indulged in violence.

 

Yes, he reveled in acts that could border on sadistic to most.

 

But murder?

 

No.

 

Not anymore.

 

Izuku was done with that part of his life.

 

Maybe that was part of why he sometimes prolonged his fits of aggression.

 

The torture of it was real and brutal

 

But it wasn’t death.

 

When he was with his father, Izuku was not allowed to extend his executions.

 

Every snuffed life was supposed to be quick.

 

Swift, so as to avoid any unnecessary hassles.

 

It was ingrained into his muscle memory now.

 

It was … scary.

 

How easy it was to kill.

 

It was a nasty habit that still emerged every now and then.

 

Sometimes Izuku woke up with his fingers clenched around a bunched-up section of blankets — squeezing the oxygen out from an imaginary victim’s throat.

 

Other times he’d open his eyes only to find his pillow decimated — slashed to shreds from the folding knife he kept underneath the soft object.

 

His body still recognized the motions, despite how hard he tried to train it out of himself.

 

He wasn’t created for pacifism, however.

 

The Izuku he was before was made for death.

 

Thankfully, he was a new person now.

 

Just born and everything.

 

And this new Izuku would not use his hands to kill again if he could help it.

 

Oh — Izuku was still vicious.

 

Still bloodthirsty.

 

But not a killer.

 

Not anymore.

 

So the idea of murdering two people wasn’t exactly high on Izuku’s bucket list.

 

But …

 

He understood where Dabi was coming from as well.

 

Izuku hadn’t been born in the outer districts, but he was a resident regardless.

 

He’d experienced what it was truly like to live between its narrow, trash-filled streets. 

 

Hell — he lived in its damn sewers for almost an entire year.

 

Izuku hadn’t been lying to Eraserhead when he said that no one from the inner districts could ever fully understand what it was like.

 

Inners were just too … narrow-minded.

 

The inner districts and their machinations had caused the outer districts to morph into the dangerous, gang-infested places it was known as today. 

 

As the inner districts continued to flourish and grow in their new lucrative Hero business, the outer districts were quickly shunted to the side. When quirks became quintessential to one’s social standing and job opportunities (Caused mostly by not-so-subtle propaganda pushed out by Heroic businesses), everyone who fell short was quickly displaced to the outer districts to rot away in their poverty.

 

Those living in the inner districts tended to view the outer districts with their strange, Heroics-based black and white terms — not even attempting to understand the vast sea of gray in between each.

 

If someone did good things, that meant they were good (A Hero).

 

And if someone did bad things, that meant they were bad (A Villain).

 

That was why Eraserhead had such a hard time understanding Izuku and his motives.

 

Izuku did bad things.

 

He hurt people.

 

Sometimes, he enjoyed hurting people.

 

But Izuku didn’t like to think of himself as a bad person, technically.

 

He did bad things, but he did them for good reasons.

 

He hurt people, but only if they hurt someone first .

 

Eraserhead didn’t understand such nuances.

 

He was an Underground Hero, darker and vicious than his Limelight counterparts, but he was still a product of the system.

 

Claustra and Penumbra’s death disturbed his delicate inner district sensibilities.

 

But to Izuku, a resident of the outer districts, it made complete sense.

 

It wasn’t exactly a secret that people in the outer districts held a grudge against the inner districts. The inner districts refused to acknowledge their part in the creation of the massive red-light district and even actively made the situation worse by simultaneously sending Undergrounders to arrest the very people whose illegal wares they profited off of behind closed doors.

 

Underground Heroes traveled to the outer districts, put a criminal or two in handcuffs, and closed their eyes to the real issue around them.

 

They didn’t fix the real issue at hand; they only took care of the consequences.

 

Claustra had gotten cocky.

 

Inflated by her own self-righteousness, she had flown too close to the sun.

 

Osoroshii was a well-known gang in District 10 that both the murdered Underground Heroes had gotten involved with, one way or another.

 

Penumbra had been targeting the gang for years , yet the grizzled beta Hero was always unable to fully crackdown on their crimes and put a stop to their exploits once and for all. If Izuku was thinking in inner district terms, he’d relate the two to a Limelight Hero and their nemesis.

 

Claustra was a newcomer to the scene, but her ego was of legendary proportions.

 

Obviously, she thought she was strong enough to defeat the organization that evaded the experienced Penumbra.

 

Izuku had known about Osoroshii before he’d investigated this case, and culprit-wise, they fit the bill.

 

They were one of the largest gangs in District 10 and had close ties to the yakuza. They were also heavily involved in the politics of the outer districts. It was an open secret that Osoroshii advocated for the complete separation of the outer districts from the city of Musutafu — to create an entirely new city where they ran things, rather than the faceless entity of the inner district government.

 

It was partly due to their political stance that Izuku had theorized their involvement in the two Underground murders.

 

Osoroshii would have had a clear motive as well. Both Penumbra and Claustra had been a pain in their asses for quite some time, and the gang was well-known for their often vicious revenge tactics.

 

Izuku had investigated the leader of the gang, a grizzled old beta named Matsuda Orihime, and concluded that there was a 69.4% chance that the gang leader, nicknamed the Silver Dragon by her foes, was either the one who ordered the murders or, at the very least, knew who the murderer was.

 

A 69.4% chance of involvement …

 

It wasn’t 100%, but it was still a lead.

 

It made sense, after all.

 

Matsuda was outspoken in her anti-Hero opinions. She clearly had the means and the motive as well. The old woman hated Heroes, and Penumbra and Claustra were most likely on her gang’s hit-list.

 

Reports of Osoroshii activity had also skyrocketed, coincidentally during the weeks just before and after the bodies of the two Underground Heroes were found.

 

Checkmate , though …

 

Izuku still didn’t know what that meant.

 

The brutality of the crime scenes made sense, seeing as how Izuku suspected them to be the result of gang assassination, but not the message written above the bodies.

 

All of Osoroshii ’s victims were found in bloody states of disarray, but never before had the words Checkmate been written by the perpetrator. 

 

Maybe it was meant to be ironic?

 

A final ‘fuck you’ to the two Underground Heroes that had probably caused more than their fair share of grief to the District 10 gang?

 

Probably.

 

Maybe.

 

Izuku didn’t know.

 

But he’d find out soon enough.

 

He hadn’t told Eraserhead or Tsukauchi this, but there was a strong inclination in Izuku’s head to believe that while Osoroshii was connected to the murders in some way or another, they weren’t exactly the mastermind behind the whole operation.

 

The outer districts had been quiet for a long time, after all, and Izuku had been noticing it for weeks.

 

Even before the Underground murders.

 

Something had been happening below the surface, and Izuku doubted it was all due to Osoroshii .

 

The gang was powerful, no question about it, but killing not one, but two Underground Heroes in the span of two months?

 

Something wasn’t adding up.

 

The Silver Dragon was a cunning lady, but she wasn’t a genius.

 

To be able to pull off such feats without even getting on the inner district’s radar during the official investigation was almost impossible for one outer district gang.

 

Something else was going on …

 

But Izuku didn’t know what it was yet.

 

Hopefully, he’d figure it out tonight, seeing as how Eraserhead and Tsukauchi seemed pretty onboard with Osoroshii being the culprits.

 

On the twenty-third of January, Eraserhead and Izuku set out for their stakeout point, located in a Direct 10 alley corner on the lower east side that had a clear vantage of a street where a couple of bigwigs from the gang were supposed to congregate for a late-night meeting.

 

From the various bits of information Izuku had gleaned from hacking, the meeting was supposed to address the recent surge in inner district police activity in District 10, which had only occurred after the murder investigation began.

 

If Izuku’s theory about Osoroshii was correct, then he was positive they’d hear more conclusive evidence about their involvement in the murders during this meeting.

 

He was still kind of shocked that Eraserhead was even coming with him to this meeting if he was being honest.

 

When he’d presented his Osoroshii theory to Eraserhead and Tsukauchi, he’d been expecting harsh scrutiny at best and outright dismissal at worst.

 

To his surprise, the two men agreed with him.

 

What the fuck?

 

What the fuck?

 

For a split second, Izuku had stared up at the two of them and tried to determine if they were the real Eraserhead and Tsukauchi or just two very convincing shapeshifters.

 

Had Izuku fallen into a parallel dimension?

 

Had the rapture come and he hadn’t realized it?

 

Eraserhead, the biggest asshole in Musutafu and Izuku’s #1 Antagonist, agreed with him.

 

So did Tsukauchi, just to make things weirder!

 

What the hell was going on?

 

Izuku had noticed that the two men hadn’t been quite so aggressive in their obvious hatred for his existence lately, but this seemed to be a very large leap in opinions, wouldn’t you agree?

 

It made him feel disoriented if he was being honest.

 

He’d gotten so used to hearing the venomous vitriol that spat out from their mouths that hearing them even agree to one of his theories was outright alarming.

 

Some people would assume it was nothing more than a simple change of heart, but those people were fucking idiots.

 

Eraserhead would never just agree with Izuku.

 

Not even if the safety of Musutafu counted on it.

 

Clearly, something nefarious was at work.

 

But when Izuku proposed his shapeshifter theory and subsequently demanded the man to say something only the real Eraserhead would know, the Underground Hero shouted at him and threatened that he would fling him from the building by his capture scarf if Izuku didn’t start taking their mission seriously.

 

So it was the real Eraserhead and not just a clever disguise.

 

Only the real Eraserhead would threaten bodily harm to Izuku’s person.

 

But it made no damn sense!

 

What had happened to the Eraserhead that Izuku had patrolled the outer districts with for three months now?

 

What had happened to the man that never ceased to believe Izuku was nothing more than a liar and a villain , no matter how hard he insisted otherwise?

 

Had the gods simply taken pity on Izuku for once in his miserable life?

 

This had to be some kind of divine intervention.

 

And Izuku was an atheist, for fuck’s sake!

 

“Detective, we’re at the vantage point. Do you copy?”

 

Izuku was forcibly knocked from his mental musings by the sound of Eraserhead’s gruff, hushed voice beside him.

 

A split second later, Tsukauchi’s tinny voice rang out from the tiny earbuds attached to both Eraserhead and Izuku’s left ears.

 

“Copy that,” the detective said, his voice sounding mechanical through the transmissive earpiece. “The surveillance camera is working, and I am able to see the two of you. Do you see anyone at the meeting place?”

 

“No, not yet,” was Eraserhead’s grumbled answer. 

 

“We’re a little early,” Izuku reminded aloud, making sure to use the hand that was not currently playing with a switchblade to press onto the earpiece so the message would be sent. “Ten minutes, as a matter of fact.”

 

“So we have to wait until the fuckers finally arrive,” The Hero sighed. “Great. Just great.”

 

“Patience is a virtue~!” Izuku cooed patronizingly to the man. “Why are you in such a rush, Eraserhead?”

 

Eraserhead’s dark black eyes flicked over to Izuku’s goggled gaze before quickly snapping back to where the gang was supposed to officially meet. “I don’t want to be in this general area any longer than I have to, Spider.”

 

Izuku smiled underneath his mask. “What’s so bad about it?”

 

The Hero began to practically grind his teeth into dust. “Don’t start.”

 

“What?” Izuku gestured around him, still grinning. “You don’t like it?”

 

“It’s demeaning ,” Eraserhead shot back in rebuttal.

 

Izuku tutted disapprovingly. “You sound like such a prude.”

 

“I am not a fucking prude,” The man hissed. “This place — it’s degrading.”

 

“It’s liberating ,” Izuku argued gleefully. “Wouldn’t you agree, Detective-san?”

 

There was a long pause after Izuku’s question until it was finally broken up when Tsukauchi answered, rather sheepishly, “I, uh … No comment.”

 

“How is any of this ,” Eraserhead looked around at the myriad of outrageous lingerie and sex toy shops made specifically for beta women and omegas surrounding them, “liberating?”

 

“Are you sexist , Eraserhead?” Izuku gasped. “Are you, perchance, against the sexual freedom of beta women and omegas? How discriminatory !”

 

“The only thing I’m against ,” Eraserhead spat, “is the blatant fetishization. These are obviously shops made by people who don’t know a single thing about the biology of beta women or omegas.”

 

The Underground Hero did have a point. All of the shops boasted strange posters saying things along the lines of ‘wear this, and you’ll convince your alpha to stay faithful’ or ‘use this product, and your boss will finally give you the raise you wanted’. Some messages were even entirely false, especially with regards to omega biology.

 

“I don’t know,” Izuku sang jokingly, staring pointedly at a sign detailing an adult omega woman dressed up in a skimpy demon costume and proudly saying that after using a product known as Heat Perfume, her alpha had been a real devil in the bedroom, “these posters seem pretty legit to me.”

 

“God, is that a fucking daycare center just across the street?” Eraserhead squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. “How could anyone let a kid see shit like this?”

 

“It’s District 10.” Izuku shrugged plaintively. “Everyone’s got thick skin.”

 

“Jesus Christ,” Eraserhead huffed in exasperation.

 

Izuku laughed. “You won’t find him here.”

 

Eraserhead glared judgmentally at a fluorescent sign brandishing a sexist phrase about omega pheromones. “This is so wrong on so many levels … Do they not teach sex education classes in outer district schools?”

 

Without hesitation, Izuku said, “I don’t know.”

 

The Underground Hero seemed to pause at that. “What do you mean?”

 

 

Shit.

 

Izuku smiled thinly underneath his mask.

 

Fuck.

 

He had gotten so used to being semi-open around Dabi that he hadn’t even realized what he was answering until it was too late.

 

God, he had never made such a stupid fucking mistake before …

 

“Hmm?” Izuku played dumb, keeping his voice even and lighthearted. He needed to convince the Underground Hero that the information he stupidly revealed about himself wasn’t of any worth, so he decided to act as relaxed and nonchalant as possible to throw Eraserhead off his trail.

 

“You didn’t go to school?” Eraserhead asked, not even attempting to play coy.

 

“Not many in the outer districts do,” Izuku replied promptly. 

 

It wasn’t a lie either, which just strengthened his resolve. Many kids in the outer districts dropped out of school before high school, mainly because they were either needed to work for their families and local gangs or because the education system in the outer districts was shit and outdated as fuck.

 

Izuku could feel Eraserhead’s dark gaze practically burning holes through his skull. “Drop-out?”

 

He shook his head, his smile still tight. “Nope. I guess you could say I was homeschooled.”

 

Leave me alone.

 

Stop asking questions.

 

“Your parents must be very intelligent,” Eraserhead prompted coolly.

 

“I taught myself,” Izuku stated, refusing to take the bait and discuss his ‘family’.

 

Eraserhead didn’t step any closer to him, but his presence seemed to be suffocating regardless. “Why didn’t your parents teach you? Were they too busy?”

 

“No one could keep up with me,” Izuku laughed shortly.

 

“Not even your parents?” Eraserhead asked. “Did anyone else teach you then?”

 

“Are you bored, Eraserhead?” Izuku suddenly asked.

 

The man in question was startled. “What?”

 

“I’m wondering if you’re bored,” Izuku drawled lazily. “You know, considering how you’re so on my ass about this.”

 

“Fuck you,” was Eraserhead’s instinctual response, his dark eyes narrowed.

 

Izuku chuckled slowly. “Do you think you’re being clever, or something? What do you think you’re gonna gain from all of these questions? I’m not going to tell you shit , remember?”

 

“I’m just curious where your so-called intelligence comes from,” Eraserhead snapped back. “You said it wasn’t a quirk, so someone must have taught you.”

 

“As I said, I’m self-taught,” Izuku stated. “Is it so hard to believe that all of this just comes naturally to me?”

 

“You are literally the most unnatural fucking person I’ve ever met,” The Underground Hero scoffed. “So, yes. It is hard to believe.”

 

“I don’t want to interrupt whatever this is,” came Tsukauchi’s sudden voice, making both Izuku and Eraserhead stop abruptly, “but has anyone arrived at the meeting place yet?”

 

Eraserhead sighed. Obviously, the man was expecting to grill Izuku for a couple more minutes about his unfortunate verbal mishap. Thankfully, the good detective had no sense of tact and interrupted the Hero before he could continue any further.

 

Izuku watched as Eraserhead ducked his head quickly behind an alleyway corner, his dark eyes scouring the streets in sight of people. Only a minute or two later, he popped himself back into their hiding place, a somewhat perturbed expression on his face.

 

“Street’s empty,” Eraserhead noted tersely.

 

Izuku frowned at that.

 

Empty?

 

No, that couldn’t be right.

 

It was near 1:30 AM, right?

 

He pulled up his wrist, revealing a small watch he’d attached to one of his wire mechanics. 

 

The clock read 1:37.

 

Izuku narrowed his eyes.

 

Were the gang members late to their own damn meeting?

 

“Are you sure?” Izuku questioned sharply, his head snapping back up to glare at Eraserhead. “Check again.”

 

“I just did that,” Eraserhead hissed, his stern face pinching in growing displeasure. “There was no one there!”

 

Izuku was already shaking his head before the man could finish his sentence. “Then you obviously weren’t looking correctly. Out of my way.”

 

Without waiting, Izuku forced himself to where Eraserhead was originally standing — practically pushing the tall omega aside in his haste.

 

Making sure to press himself as close as possible to the alley wall and not lean too much out in the open, Izuku peered out into the streets in front of them. According to the emails and messages, the three of them had encrypted together, a band of around fifteen Osoroshii members was supposed to be here — six were supposed to come from the west side, four from the north, and the last five from the south.

 

But to Izuku’s confusion, the streets were empty.

 

There wasn’t any movement in the alleyways either.

 

It was like the entire area was abandoned.

 

“Do you see anyone, Spider?” Tsukauchi prodded, the detective’s voice becoming slightly wary as time went on.

 

None of the shops were open either …

 

It was completely quiet, aside from the faint hum of electricity coming from the street lamps and fluorescent signs. 

 

Izuku’s hand clenched around his switchblade.

 

Too quiet.

 

“Spider?” Tsukauchi asked.

 

Izuku had encrypted Osoroshii ’s messages — Tsukauchi and Eraserhead would probably claim to have helped in the endeavor, but it was really Izuku , if he was being honest.

 

All of the messages stated that the meeting would be at 1:30 sharp , at this exact street.

 

Furthermore, Izuku had taken the time to do some extra digging just to be absolutely sure .

 

All of Izuku’s findings pointed to the messages being true.

 

No one in Osoroshii , not even the Silver Dragon herself, was smart enough t