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Villains, Assassins, Traitors, Enemies, and Royalty

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Not all people are born good. 

Izuku is 5 years old when someone first tells him the whole story of what happened to his Uncle. When he asked them about it, Kacchan’s parents always told him to ask his mom or dad, but whenever he asked his own parents, they changed the subject. Izuku knew it was something bad, and he probably should’ve taken the hint and stopped asking, but he always had been as curious as he was stubborn, and the two traits mixed together didn’t make for someone who’d stop asking questions under any circumstances. It should come as no surprise that Akaguro-Sensei would have no reservations about telling Izuku the story of his Uncle. All it took was catching him alone and promising not to tell his superiors that he was the one who spilled the beans. 

Izuku can’t remember much from that interaction. Not the expression Akaguro-Sensei might have been wearing, not the tone of voice in which he relayed the information. Not anything before it, like how he asked the question, or if his Sensei needed any extra convincing. Izuku didn’t remember where they were, not if they were in the bunker or the stronghold or even somewhere else. Izuku didn’t remember what time of the day it was, what clothes he was wearing, or how he reacted afterwards. Izuku only remembered the story itself. 

That was the day that Izuku learned; Not all people are born good. A harsh lesson for a 5 year old to learn, but a necessary one. Especially for someone in his family’s line of work. 

Izuku hopped from foot to foot, waiting for the light to turn so he could cross the street. He breathed in the smell of the city. There was a bakery nearby that sent the warm smell of bread drifting his way. The mechanical smell of gasoline and exhaust from the cars around him contrasted sharply with it. When the light turned Izuku sped forwards happily, squinting his eyes and looking up at the sun high above him in the sky. The day was warm, and Izuku was feeling happy. The cars beeped around him, and the steady rumble of the crowds of people chattering faded to white noise in his ears as his train of thought raced along at a mile a minute like it always did. 

Izuku passed Tatooin Station every day on his way to school. Usually there was nothing out of the ordinary, but today, he had the delight of watching a villain fight. Izuku was happily flipping through the pages of his latest notebook, getting a look at the notes he had the chance to take. It was rare to get a chance to witness a hero’s debut in person, and his page on Mt. Lady would fill up completely in time. He was very happy to add to his Kamui Woods page, although there wasn’t anything new for his Death Arms or Backdraft pages. The Punching Hero and the Firefighter Hero were common fixtures in the area that he lived in, and he’d seen them in action more than a few times. Kamui Woods was relatively new, and Izuku had the chance to write down a few more notes on his super move, Lacquered Chain Prison. Namely, how wide the range was. He’d gotten a great look at it today when Mt. Lady had stopped him from using it at the last second. It had stayed suspended in the air for a few moments as the hero had processed what just happened, and those few seconds were perfect for Izuku to get a good look at the super-move's capabilities. 

The other thing that Izuku took the time to take notes on was the villain. A simple bag snatcher, and that suggested the villain was either poor and didn’t have enough money for the bag, did it on an impulse, or was dared to, which insinuates peer pressure. If it had been just peer pressure, then there wasn’t really anything that Izuku’s parents could work with, but if it was money the villain needed, then that could be arranged. If the bag snatcher was simply a kleptomaniac, then he was still useful, just less predictable. A good member of The Organization followed orders, and someone who stole a bag on impulse would be more likely to stray from them. 

It was a great quirk too. Really, the only reason the heroes had to get involved in the first place was because of the villain’s quirk. Transformation type. It allowed the user to turn into a giant. The rat-features were seemingly permanent fixtures on the thief’s face, which made it partially a mutation quirk too. Having a mixture of two types of quirk was becoming more common these days. 

Mt. Lady was also a candidate for The Organization. It wouldn’t be the first time they’d recruited a hero, and it seemed she was entirely fame-motivated, which was definitely something they could use. On the lower levels, at least.

Kamui Woods could be decisively crossed off the list, (if he hadn’t been already,) in Izuku’s opinion. To quote the hero, “Illegal use of abilities during rush hour, as well as robbery and assault? You’re pure evil.” The giant villain had stolen a bag. A bag. He panicked when authorities tried to apprehend him. That was more resisting arrest than assault, and any sane person would probably try to resist arrest. He wasn’t pure evil. Not even a little bit. Izuku had met people who were pure evil. To even suggest that a simple bag snatcher was anywhere near what they were put a bad taste in his mouth. 

The rest of the walk to school that day was uneventful, and so was the school day itself, up until the last hour before they left to go home. When Izuku’s teacher brought out a stack of papers and started talking about their futures, Izuku sank lower in his seat. He nearly buried his head in his hands when his teacher loudly assumed that everyone in the room would want to be a hero. Izuku felt nauseous. Every kid in the room with him was cheering, showing off quirks. The sheer amount of propaganda his classmates had ingested in order to make them think that taking a job where getting killed in the line of duty would be considered a good thing - a ‘heroic’ death - made Izuku sick. He stared down at the floor and tried to block out the noise. He knew what was coming next. 

“Don’t lump us all in the same group. I’m not going to be stuck at the bottom with the rest of these rejects!” Kacchan had always known how to shift attention onto himself. The rest of their class did not appreciate this however, and complained loudly. Kacchan didn’t seem to like that, “I aced the mock test! I’m the only one at this school who could possibly get into U.A. I’ll definitely surpass All Might and become the top hero. My name will be inscribed on the list of top earners!” Izuku didn't mention how he himself had aced the mock test as well. Izuku also didn't mention how becoming a hero was the last thing either he or Kacchan wanted. 

Kacchan’s eyes narrowed and his smile sharpened. Izuku could feel the challenge radiating off of him. He sighed. 

“Oh! Midoriya, you wanted to go to U.A also, didn’t you?” His teacher asked innocently, as if he didn’t know what kind of response this was going to invoke from his class. 

Izuku tensed, and was not surprised when his entire class burst out laughing at the very notion that he could ever make it anywhere near U.A. Izuku waved his hands about, eyes wide, playing the part of the frantic, embarrassed hero hopeful like he was supposed to. 

“You can’t get into the hero course just by studying!” Someone in his class shouted, laughing like the thought of Izuku being a hero was the funniest thing they’d heard all week. 

“They got rid of that rule! There’s just no precedent!” Izuku attempted to tell them, but it just made his classmates laugh harder. He tried to get them to stop, but then there was heat engulfing his face and he fell backwards off his chair and onto the floor. Izuku looked up into the angry, red face of one Bakugou Katsuki, who had just blown up his desk for the 5th time that week even though it was only Wednesday. 

“You’re below the rejects. You’re quirkless.” Kacchan spit out the word like it was a disease on his tongue, “How can you even stand in the same ring as me?” 

Izuku didn’t realize he was scrambling backwards until his back hit the wall and he found himself with nowhere to run from Kacchan’s furious gaze and sparking hands. Even though he knew that Kacchan wouldn’t hurt him, (couldn't hurt him,) Izuku still found his next words stuck in his throat before he could get himself to say them. 

“It’s been my dream since I was little! I won’t know unless I try.” Izuku tilted his head down at the floor but looked up at Kacchan fearfully. To anyone else, Kacchan’s eyes would probably look downright murderous, but Izuku could see a spark of amusement. 

“That’s the sappiest piece of BS you’ve said in a long time. I’m gonna gag.”

“Are you calling me dramatic? Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror?”

“Oh you’re gonna pay for that.” 

Kacchan was never one to deliver empty threats. Izuku was reminded of that yet again when class finally ended and he was left to shove his things in his backpack and head out the door alone. Izuku was usually one of the last people to leave the classroom. He took notes up until the final bell rang, whether or not they were notes for class or his regular analysis. The bell surprised him on the regular and left him scrambling to shove books in his bag and leave before his lateness became an inconvenience. Kacchan was well aware of this, and Izuku was not surprised at all when Kacchan snatched his notebook out of his hands before he could shove it in his bag where it belonged. “Payback time.”  

Izuku made a weak attempt to snatch his notebook back, but unsurprisingly Kacchan simply held it higher in the air and out of his reach for a second, making it clear that he wouldn’t be giving it back easily. Izuku swore internally. Didn’t Kacchan know that there was some seriously sensitive information in that notebook? Izuku tried to plead to the taller boy with his eyes, but Kacchan’s angry expression didn't waver. His two lackeys snickered behind him and Izuku knew that this was going to turn into an event. He braced himself. 

“We’re not done talking, yet, Deku,” Kacchan said, waving his notebook back and forth in a way that only he could make condescending and threatening. Izuku heard stuttering words of protest leave his own mouth but he didn’t even have time to finish his sentence before Kacchan clapped both hands over the notebook and blew it up. Izuku gawked, and couldn’t help crying out as Kacchan threw his now blacked and ash-coated ‘Hero Analysis For The Future no. 13’ out the open window without even looking to make sure that it made it through. 

“That’s mean…” Izuku said pitifully, eyes glancing from the open window his notebook just disappeared through to the angry classmate in front of him. As loath as he was to admit it, he couldn’t think of anything better to say. 

Kacchan’s hand came down heavily on Izuku’s shoulder and started to smoke; a clear threat. He ranted about being the first student from their school to get into U.A, how useless Izuku was, how he shouldn’t even try. As some point, he referred to himself as a perfectionist, and Izuku couldn’t help but think, ‘Well that’s an under exaggeration,’ before Kacchan released him, giving Izuku a little shove just for good measure, and walked away as if he hadn’t just thrown possibly Izuku’s most precious possession at the moment out the window after blowing it up. 

“If you want to be a hero so badly, then take a swan dive off the roof, and pray for a quirk in your next life!” Kacchan said on his way out the door, and Izuku couldn’t help but think that a line had been crossed that shouldn’t have been. 

Izuku turned around to confront Kacchan, tears already forming at the edges of his eyes, lips trembling from trying not to cry, and met a cold red gaze across the room and hands that let off a few stray explosions in a simple warning. 

“You shouldn’t have done that," Izuku couldn’t help but think, his face melting from fearfully determined to just fearful in a matter of seconds. 

“Whoops.” Izuku couldn’t tell if Kacchan was being sarcastic or not. 

The destroyer of Izuku’s notebook and his friends left the classroom, and Izuku waited a bit before packing up the rest of his stuff in his backpack and heading out the door, giving them a big enough head start that he shouldn't run into them on the way downstairs and outside.  

Izuku made his way out of the school, careful to keep his head down as he  avoided running into anyone. The longer his notebook wasn’t in his bag or in his hands where it should be, the higher the chances that someone might pick it up, and that would be really bad. 

It turned out the only thing he had to worry about was a pair of fish in the fountain that his notebook landed in. Izuku stared at the fish nibbling the cover of his book before gently lifting it out of the water and shaking it in a feeble attempt to get some of the water out. After being blown up, tossed out a window, and left to soak in a fountain, his notebook had seen better days. Izuku supposed it was a good thing his book was nearly indestructible. Only the best for his father’s son. Izuku could hear his father now, handing him his first notebook and telling him to write down his thoughts on quirks. 

“A quirk affects the brain,” his Dad told him, putting a notebook into 4 year old hands that barely knew how to write, “Yours is no different. You’re lucky, being born with a quirk like yours. I know you enjoy analyzing quirks. Write down your thoughts. Organize them. Hone your skills. You’re a smart kid. You’ll make a great leader one day, if that’s the path you choose in life. It all starts here. ” His dad’s smile was always a bit strained in the memories when he mentioned Izuku’s inheritance. Izuku supposed that it was left over bad memories from what happened to his Uncle. Concern for his future. Part of him worried that his parents thought Izuku was going to turn out like him, but he tried not to listen to that part. His Uncle was a horrible person, and he wouldn't turn out like him. He wouldn't. 


Izuku’s childhood was mainly spent underground. That’s the part that he remembered the most, at least. He remembered running around the Bunker with Kacchan and Himichan as really little kids, before any of them got their quirks yet. They played tag and hide and seek miles under the surface of the earth in the middle of the night while their parents and teachers worked and planned for the future of Japan. Izuku remembered trying to sneak into the super secret super important council meetings that their parents had biweekly. They never did get far, but it was always fun to see how far they could manage to get before Akaguro-sensei came to find them and chase them out. 

Izuku grew up around criminals and villains. He grew up around violence and crime and outcasts and misfits. It was a good childhood. The thing that most civilians didn't understand was that not all criminals are bad people. Sure, some of them were, but a lot of them, (at least the ones in his parents’ inner circles,) were really nice. The babysitter that he remembered most from when he was growing up was an international outlaw known for stealing state secrets and hacking secure government servers to release information to the various criminal networks that paid her. She’d serviced his parents for many years before the law caught up with her, and to pay her back for all that she’d managed to accomplish for them, Izuku’s family had offered her refuge in their most secret compound. 

She was his favorite babysitter because she told him secrets that he probably shouldn’t know but technically wasn’t not allowed to. She showed him how simple computer hacking worked, and how to completely take apart a phone of any kind and put it back together in under 5 minutes. They both had the same intense curiosity about how the world around them worked. She told him that curiosity was what got her into information gathering in the first place. He’d sit on her lap and Himichan would run around in circles around them and Kacchan would sit on the floor and pretend to be coloring even though Izuku knew that he was listening too, and she’d tell stories about jobs that she’d done and describe the people that she’d done them for. 

Izuku had spent most of his days in the Bunker, which was really more like his, Kacchan, and Himichan’s home. They had actual houses above the surface, legally owned and paid for, but those were just for show. Everything the Midoriyas and the Bakugous did above the surface during the day was just for show. Izuku always felt safe and protected among the lies that his family had been spinning for generations. He was not the first one in the great chain of inheritance that was the Midoriya family tree, and hopefully he wouldn’t be the last. 

Growing up, he’d been to many many places that had never seen the light of day. Most of his family’s Organization was underground. There was the Bunker, of course, but that was more like a home than a real building full of people who worked for the Organization. The benefits of working and mostly living underground was that the government (more specifically the Hero Commission,) had no idea that they were down there and had no idea what they were doing. If they had known, then they would’ve probably made themselves a huge problem, considering the fact that The Organization’s existence in the first place was illegal, and that didn't even mention at all the kinds of work they did. 

While most of the memories Izuku made growing up were good ones, bad ones are unavoidable growing up in the environment that he did. 

The Doctor. The Doctor had always unnerved Izuku. Maybe it was that for such a short man, his frame still seemed to loom over the young boy. Maybe it was that his bald head and unruly mustache made his shadow look misshapen. Maybe it was because his lab coat always smelled so overpoweringly of chemicals that had 20 syllable names. Maybe it came from the way his gloved hands moved around in erratic, manic excitement when he talked so happily about all the wrong things. Maybe it was that his foggy, grimy, old-fashioned goggles were tinted in such a way that you couldn’t see his eyes. Izuku vaguely remembered someone telling him at some point that eyes were the windows to a person’s soul, and Izuku was never sure if The Doctor really had one. How could he be sure, when he couldn’t see his eyes?

Izuku hasn’t seen The Doctor in a long time. 

Izuku had only just put his still slightly soggy notebook in his backpack when his phone buzzed. Pulling it out of his bag, he paused when he saw what the text said. 

It was a text from his Mom. That in itself wasn’t all that out of the ordinary. Even the fact that it was obviously in code wasn’t all that out of the ordinary. The message itself was, however. The letters flipped easily in his head without him having to think about decoding it too hard and Izuku stared at his phone and mulled over what his Mom had sent him. 

“Take the long way home. Make sure you go under the bridge. Make sure you’re alone. You have 18 minutes to get there. If you get there early, stall. You’ll know when you’re OK to leave. I can’t tell you more. Stay in character. I love you. Good luck.”

Izuku swallowed and put his phone away. He easily slung his bag over his shoulder and headed out, careful to turn left instead of right to make sure that he went the alternate route home. He took one of his different routes home depending on the day, so going the long way home wouldn’t be suspicious in the least, if anyone even thought that they should look into him under a suspicious lens. Almost everyone else had already left the school at that point, but there were a few small groups of people still hanging around in front. Izuku made sure not to make eye contact with them as he passed. He heard one of the kids snicker, and ignored it. 

The long route home wasn’t actually all that much longer than his regular route, and the bridge his Mom was referring to wasn’t out of his way either. The specific time could be achieved easily, and he had plenty of time to get to where he needed to be, but he planned his route out carefully in his head to ensure that he made it there on time. The mention of stalling if he got there early made Izuku think that if there were to be a margin of error arriving there time-wise, then he should get there early rather than late. The line that said that he’d know when he was OK to leave made him think that some sort of event would be going down that he had to be present for. The only thing that was really interesting to him here was the reminder to stay in character. He knew that. The fact that his Mom made sure to include it made him wonder why she would. The only real reason she’d put that would be if the event might tempt him to break. 

In summary, something was going to happen, and at this point he had about 15 minutes to mentally prepare. Izuku took a deep breath and kept walking. 

Izuku couldn't tell if his memory of The Paper was a good one or a bad one. All he knew was that The Paper definitely deserved the capitalization of a proper noun, because at that point it was almost an entire character in his life. It had shaped it more than maybe anything else. Sometimes Izuku wondered if anything would’ve happened without The Paper. Sometimes Izuku wondered if The Paper shaped anything at all. Maybe, The Paper was really what it says it was, and was just a premonition of the future. Izuku had been told that the future couldn't be changed, and although part of that brought him comfort, part of that absolutely terrified him. 

One thing Izuku did know about The Paper was the fact that what came after its writing was definitely a sad memory, no matter how hard the rest of The Organization tried to convince him otherwise. His Mother’s tears were never a good memory unless she was crying out of joy, and she wasn't crying out of joy in that memory. 

All Izuku knew and could really understand at the time, (he had been so young then; only 5,) was that The Paper said he was going to take the Greatest Quirk Ever Made for himself. The one that his family had been trying to take for generations, and he was going to save the world. He couldn’t really comprehend what that meant, only that sometimes there were Papers that said things about the future that were never wrong, the ones that his Mom wrote. 

His Mom had a quirk that had been passed down in his family for a long time, one that let her write the future. His father had explained it to him as the quirk guiding her hand to write what was going to happen, so it was the future that dictated what was written on The Papers and not his Mom. When he was younger, he’d had  a bit of trouble understanding that. He used to think for a time that his Mom decided the future, but by the time he’d made this memory it had been explained to him in a way that made sense, and he knew that wasn’t the case. 

Another thing that he understood was that The Paper was one of The Papers that his Mom wrote. He thought that getting this quirk, like The Paper said, was going to be a great thing! Saving the world could only be awesome, right? But his Mom was crying, hugging him, and apologizing, and Izuku wasn’t quite sure why, only that he didn’t like it. Izuku never liked when his Mom was sad, and maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t had to see how sad The Paper made his Dad feel too. His Dad was holding Izuku’s small hand in his larger one and looking at him as if someone had informed him that the sky was falling. 

Izuku could see the bridge that his Mom wanted him to walk under. He’d taken his notebook out during the journey here in order to go over his notes from this morning again and was clutching it to his chest, hesitantly prepared to write notes on whatever was going to happen in case he needed them. He pulled out his phone to glance at it briefly, and noted that he was here on time. Izuku stared pointedly straight ahead and walked forwards, entering the shadow that the bridge cast. 

Izuku breathed deeply and focused on what his senses were picking up. He’d like to know what was going to happen, or at least be a little more prepared for it to happen before it actually did. He sharpened his senses. There was something below him. Izuku felt himself start to sweat a bit. It was something made of liquid, or at least that's what it sounded like. Maybe something or someone made out of mud, or sewer waste. It was gross sounding, squishy and squelchy, and Izuku gagged. It was getting closer. Closer to a sewer grate he only spotted when he walked past it as he continued his slow trek underneath the bridge. The sewer grate could serve as a gateway out of the sewers. Straight to him.

If Izuku had to guess, then this was what his Mom had sent him to this bridge for. Whatever was down there in the sewers. There was something following it too, Izuku thought, but those sounds were much farther away and harder to make out. He mentally prepared himself, and just to be sure that whatever was down there would be able to find him, he laughed out loud. It was the best All Might impression he could do while staying in character. 

The sound of thick liquid flowing up through the drain caught his ears and the feeling of something cold and dark appearing behind him made him hesitate a second in fear before turning around. 

He looked only thinly human, covered in Sludge in the way that he was. In fact, if Izuku had to guess in the split second they made eye contact before he turned and made a seemingly desperate attempt to run away before something unpleasant happened to him, the man standing behind him might have been made of Sludge all the way through. Izuku had certainly seen stranger quirks. 

It barely took three steps before the person behind him pounced. Izuku felt the cold sludge seep and drip around his skin and root him in place, enveloping him in its absolutely putrid smell and sticky, thick texture that made the boy want to crawl out of his skin. Izuku’s notebook clattered to the ground along with his backpack. 

Izuku couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe. There was sludge in his mouth, and in his nose, and in his ears and his eyes and underneath his fingernails when he instinctively grabbed at the hand of sludge that was latched onto his face. Tears came immediately, from a mixture of pain and disgust. Izuku was unsure of whether or not he had ever felt more unclean. And he still couldn’t breathe. 

His frantically clawing hands did nothing to keep the sludge out of his mouth, and the villain cackled and laughed and was saying something, but Izuku couldn’t breathe and couldn’t be bothered to be concerned with what the villain was saying right now. 

‘I can’t die here!” Izuku thought desperately, ‘I just have to think!’  

An idea began to form. 

Izuku’s medical files will tell you that he’s quirkless. Izuku’s doctor will tell you that he’s quirkless. Izuku’s parents will tell you that he’s quirkless. Izuku will tell you that he’s quirkless. 

Izuku isn’t quirkless. 

Turns out quirk fraud isn’t that hard a crime to commit when most people would rather believe that your quirk doesn’t exist. Ignorance is bliss after all. 

The ability to hold your breath for nearly an entire day didn't sound like that powerful of a quirk on the surface, and it wasn't one that you’d take as good for hero work, but there was more than one way someone could benefit from having it. The quirk’s original holder lived and died around 60 years ago, during the reign of the 5th. For hero work, it would be mostly useless by society’s standards. If there was one thing that Izuku knew however, it was that as long as you were creative, you could turn even the weakest of quirks into deadly abilities. 

The name of the quirk’s original holder wasn't one that would spark recognition in just any member of the public, but the name they went by most frequently would trigger memories from people who’ve heard the story. Mostly those who’re interested in true crime or older vigilante lore. 

Sharpshot was an infamous sniper. Some police reports said that she’d killed nearly 100 people. They ranged from average civilians who were caught in simple wrongdoings like affairs or drug dealing to high ranking government officials who were exploiting loopholes in the new laws surrounding heroes and taking advantage of the hero system in its infancy. Some thought that she was a hit-man, or a mercenary. In a way she was, but she only really had one client. The Organization. The Midoriyas. When she was finally captured, she revealed little to the police, but one thing she did tell them was what her quirk was. 

When you were a sniper, to get an accurate shot, you had to hold the gun steady. One of the things that could hinder that no matter how steady your arms or hands were was your breathing. The constant inhale and exhale expands and deflates your lungs constantly. It could make the gun move even a little bit, and that little bit could often be the difference between a perfect shot and a near miss. Especially from the distances Sharpshot was shooting from. Setting up a stand to set your gun on to hold it steady took time to put up and take down, and that was time that Sharpshot didn’t often have, considering some of the heroes and government officials that had been put on her case from the beginning had tracking quirks. She had to get away from the crime scene as soon as she shot her target, and setting up something elaborate like that might’ve gotten her caught a lot sooner. Leaving such a big piece of evidence behind by just ditching whatever she’d rigged up wouldn’t have been very smart either. 

“However,” Sharpshot explained to the police in infamous footage of her interrogation, “If you can hold your breath like I can, then you can hold the gun steady. Plus, you never think to look underwater for a sniper. My favorite way to lose the people tracking me is to go where they can’t. That’s why so much of my work is done on the coastline.” 

Sharpshot was tried and put on death row very soon after she was caught. She didn’t even try to deny that she’d murdered all her victims in court. She didn’t seem to even really mind the death sentence. It became apparent why when she disappeared from her prison cell on death row not even a week after she was placed there. To this day her method of escape was unknown to the authorities. The one thing that they were very certain of was that she never became active again. She seemingly retired after she broke out. It was one of the reasons that her case was still fairly well known even now. The media loves a mystery, after all. 

The reason why this was still relevant was that a quirk that allowed you to hold your breath for a long time wasn't only good for being a sniper or hiding underwater. It was also the perfect quirk to get someone like Izuku out of the exact situation that he’d found himself in at the moment. 

Izuku activated the quirk and felt the pain in his chest dissipate. If he could’ve breathed a sigh of relief, he would’ve, but at the moment his mouth was still full of sludge. Izuku kept tearing at the liquid that was still attempting to make its way down his throat and tried to kick out at the villain, but his feet just got caught up in the thick greenish brown slime and he found that he was very quickly losing the ability to even kick anymore. The tears in his eyes threatened to fall, and Izuku let them, remembering his Mother’s reminder to stay in character. 

Even though he wasn’t actively suffocating anymore, Izuku still felt like time was stretching on forever as painfully as it could be, and he found himself wondering how this entire interaction was going to end. He was reaching the end of the time when an average person should still be conscious, and there was no help or solution in sight. Izuku closed his eyes and attempted to reach out with his senses to find something. Maybe whatever was seemingly following the sludge monster down in the sewers was closer now. 

There was something there, and it was closer now. In fact, it was approaching at a speed that made Izuku think that whoever it was must have a speed quirk. Izuku mentally ran through the list of heroes, vigilantes, and villains with that kind of quirk and tried to think through which ones had the highest chance of being in his area. Why would it be so important for him to meet them, if that even was why his mom guided him to go through this whole ordeal? It certainly seemed like a lot. This must be very important then. 

Izuku was distracted enough with his thoughts that he didn’t realize that the person had reached his location until he heard the sewer grate in the ground explode upwards and smack against the ceiling of the tunnel they were in. 

‘Stay in character!’ Izuku’s head screamed at him, and he took a deep breath in, deactivating the quirk that he had been previously using to stay alive. The sludge around him made it harder to see who had just entered the fight, and Izuku’s lungs were burning again. The lack of oxygen made his vision go blurry just as it was about to before he activated Sharpshot’s quirk. Izuku could feel the sludge around him shift, like the villain took a swing at whoever just came out of the sewer grate, and Izuku felt his head slipping into unconsciousness. 

There was sludge in his ears, but he could hear the newcomer yell something, and all he thought was ‘That sounds awfully familiar’ before the sludge exploded around him. He was freed instantly, but he could feel darkness clawing at the edges of his vision from the lack of oxygen. He still felt like there was a heavy weight pressing down on his chest and stopping him from breathing. He realized that it was probably leftover sludge in his mouth and the back of his throat.
If he hadn’t been told by his mother explicitly to stay in character, then Izuku might’ve fought off the oncoming unconsciousness, but whatever was about to happen was important and he didn’t want to mess it up. He did want to know what he was dealing with however, and opened his eyes just a bit and saw probably the last person he’d expect to see through his blurry vision. 

All Might.  

When Izuku was 9, he remembered his Mom explaining to him why his Dad had to go on his ‘business trip.’ 

Izuku had been sitting at the kitchen table in the Bunker, drinking a cup of Orange Juice, the best brand imported (illegally) straight from America.

“He’ll be back,” He remembered his Mom saying, “He just needs to take care of some leftover business from… what your Uncle did.” 

Izuku didn’t question about his Uncle further. He knew all too much about him. He did question, however, about what his Dad was doing, and where he was going, exactly.

“Your father’s been working on something for a while now. You know how he has to be away working during the night? Well, he’s been looking for someone. Just last night we got word of where that person’s going to be in a week, and your Dad needs to… meet up with him.”

“Meet up?” Izuku remembered asking, “Is he a bad guy or a good guy?”

Midoriya Inko had paused for a second, and it took her a moment to come to an answer. 

“He’s someone who doesn’t like your dad very much. It’s because of something your Uncle did.” She explained. Izuku was pretty sure he knew what that meant. 

“Is he a hero?” Izuku looked up at his mother with wide eyes. 

“...Yes.” His Mom was a bit hesitant to say. 

“Which one?”

This was where Izuku’s Mom really thought about whether or not she should tell her son all the details of what was going on. Eventually, she seemed to come to a conclusion and held Izuku’s hands in her own and looked him in the eye and gave him her Serious Business Time Look. 

“I don’t want you to be worried,” She started slowly, “Your father’s going to be OK, we won’t let anything happen to him. When he’s done, he’ll come home and then we’ll all be OK from then on. There’s just one last loose end to tie up before we can relax. Izu, your father is going to fight All Might.”

Izuku could feel his heart stop for a second. This was a big, big, BIG deal. 

“Why?” He asked, worried immediately even though his mom told him not to be. This wouldn’t be the only time that his Dad had fought a hero, not by a long shot, but All Might was on another level. All Might was the only one that really posed a threat. 

“Well,” Inko said, choosing her words carefully, “All Might still thinks that your Dad was the one who killed his mentor.”

“Shimura Nana?” Izuku asked, “But that wasn’t Dad, that was-”

“I know honey,” Izuku’s mom gave him a hug, “But remember, neither All Might nor any other hero is allowed to know about- well-”

Izuku nodded, understanding, “They can’t know that Dad isn’t the first All For One.” He said, looking down at the floor.

His Mother sighed, smiling softly, “Exactly.”

Izuku thought about this for a moment, before looking back up at his Mom and asking, “When will Dad be home?”

“Soon,” Midoriya Inko smiled brighter, “He’ll be back before you know it.”

Just barely a week after the conversation about his Father and All Might, Izuku was woken up in the middle of the night by Kacchan’s Dad. 

“Izuku, you need to wake up,” Bakugou Masaru shook Izuku awake gently and urged him to follow him down the hallway. Kacchan was standing in the doorway, shaking with what Izuku guessed was probably rage. 

Izuku knew something was wrong just by the fact that it was Masaru that had come to wake him up and not his mother. His suspicions were confirmed when Kacchan’s voice from the doorway said, “It’s your Dad.”

Izuku was awake immediately, and rushed with the Bakugous out the door and down the hall of the bunker to one of Kurogiri’s portals. He dived in without a second thought. 

They reappeared just outside The Doctor’s emergency operating wing. Bakugou Mitsuki was pacing back and forth in front of the entrance, the glare she was throwing at the door looking sharp enough to cut iron. Izuku swallowed. 

He remembered Kacchan’s parents filling them in on what had happened. Turns out All Might was stronger than even they thought. His Dad was hurt, and really, really badly. 

Izuku remembered hugging his legs and reading through notebooks upon notebooks of information on quirks in order to pass the time while the best doctors in The Organization and the people with the best healing quirks worked on his Father. His Mother was supposedly inside the room, helping in any way that she could. The adults had decided to not wake Izuku’s sister. Eri hadn’t even reached her first Birthday yet, and sleep was important for her. Besides, she was much too young to really understand what was going on anyways. 

Izuku remembered how the entire night had felt like a dream. Maybe he had been dreaming for some of it, since it was very late in the night. He remembered eating breakfast in the chairs for people waiting outside the hospital room. He remembered telling himself that it was all going to be alright. Mom told him not to worry, so he would try not to. But it was so hard.  

When one of the nurses finally opened the door and told the small group waiting outside that Izuku’s father was going to be completely ok in a little while, Izuku had immediately started crying. At that point, Eri had been woken up and she was there to cheer at the thought of their Dad being ok again. He found her enthusiasm calming. He picked her up and carried her into the room to sit next to his mom, who was holding his Dad’s hand where he was still laying down asleep on the hospital bed. 

His father’s face had been covered in bandages. From his nose to the top of his head, the only thing that was left uncovered was his mouth. He was hooked up to more than one IV and a breathing mask fogged with mist when he exhaled. Izuku remembered thinking that it looked scary. Like a mummy, or a zombie or something. Izuku also remembered his mom telling him about how his Dad had faced All Might and fought long and hard. How he hadn’t won, but hadn’t died either, and that was exactly what they’d wanted. How he’d be Ok, but it might take a bit of time. 

Izuku remembered the period of time when his Dad was still healing. How he, Kacchan, Himiko, and Eri had talked for hours at his bedside about how their days had gone, how they were doing in training and school. His Dad hadn’t taken more than a few hours to wake up again, but it was a week before his face was allowed to be uncovered. There was scar tissue surrounding his eyes and across his cheeks, but he had only laughed and said that it could’ve been worse. 

“You should’ve seen the other guy,” His Dad liked to joke whenever someone brought it up. It took just over 2 weeks before his Dad was able to walk around without help again, and in only a few months he was back to nearly full health. Not only that, but he was home a lot more often as well. 

Before, as it had been explained to Izuku, his Dad had been looking for All Might in an attempt to track him down and finally have the fight that both archenemies were aware had to happen, which was why he hadn’t been home as much. In the days following his Father’s recovery, Izuku watched the news for stories about what All Might was up to at the moment, and while he did see a lack of coverage surrounding his exploits in the press, it seemed that the media was covering up what had happened. The most they would say was that All Might was on medical leave. In fact, they linked it to a fight with Toxic Chainsaw, which didn’t make any sense to Izuku because Toxic Chainsaw wasn’t nearly strong enough to go toe to toe with All Might . The public seemed to buy it however, and it didn’t take long for news of All Might saving people and defeating villains to find its way to the press again. 

His father’s mission had been a near complete success, in fact. The only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect would’ve been if he’d managed to take All Might’s quirk. 

“Maybe next time,” Midoriya Hisashi had said, smiling crookedly, “But more likely, I won’t be the Midoriya to steal One For All. I think that may end up being your job, Izu.” 

Izuku had beamed with pride. His Dad really believed that he might be the one to finally take The Greatest Quirk Ever Made back! Even though his Dad himself wasn’t able to, and Izuku’s Dad was the most powerful person that he knew. Even though The Paper said that he’d be able to, Izuku still had doubts. The look on his Mom’s face after she’d written The Paper was one of them. He pushed thoughts of it to the back of his head and focused on the good possibilities. 

Although Izuku had never met All Might in person, he’d heard plenty of stories about him. 

Izuku awoke to find a hand lightly smacking the side of his face, seemingly in an effort to wake him up. He had time to think, ‘That’s not how you should deal with a young victim who’s passed out from a lack of oxygen’ before his eyes opened and he realized he was looking up into the face mostly commonly associated with the number one hero spot in Japan, and he nearly passed out again from the shock of it. 

“Good, you’re awake!” All Might said, his voice echoing loudly off the sides of the tunnel as Izuku scrambled away from him in surprise. All Might began to talk about how he had been chasing the villain that caught Izuku and how he’d been in high spirits on his day off when said villain had caught his attention while Izuku’s brain thought so quickly he was afraid his head might explode. He tried to calm down and assess the situation. 

His Mom told him to come here, presumably so that he could get caught by the villain and be rescued by All Might. That made sense. The chance to meet All Might was huge , there were so many possibilities, but obviously the prime objective here would be to somehow get his hands on One For All, but how in the world was he supposed to do that!? 

Izuku looked around wildly as if the city around him might hold the answer and his eyes fell upon his notebook. His Mom told him to stay in character. He’d want an autograph. 

Izuku panicked and scrambled to grab it and offer it to All Might to autograph only to find that a two page spread has been filled with giant letters spelling the hero’s name already.

‘He’s already signed it?’ Izuku thought, pausing for a second, ‘That’s a little presumptuous.’ 

Nonetheless, Izuku stood up and bowed over and over, nervously ranting about how thankful he was for All Might’s help and the autograph and how cool he was and before he could think better of it, the words, “It’ll be a family heirloom!” were leaving his mouth and he realized what he just said and had to hold back an amused snort. All Might however, didn’t seem bothered by that at all. 

“I’ll be off now, I have to take this villain to the police!” All Might said, crouching down as he geared up to jump, “Pros are constantly fighting enemies and time.” 

Izuku could feel the opportunity slip through his fingers, and he panicked. No, no no. He was not going to get another chance like this. Just the fact that he was able to have this one was a lot. There had to be more. He had to come up with a plan, he had to do something.  

Before he even realized what he was doing, Izuku was grabbing onto All Might’s pant leg and All Might was shooting into the air high above the city. Izuku’s hands were almost ripped away from the fabric of All Might’s cargo pants and he activated a simple strength quirk on instinct to allow himself to keep holding on. The wind blew in his face so hard he felt like it might be peeling off. The feeling of being this high in the air sent instinctual fear flooding through his blood even though he could fall from this height and survive in any number of ways. 

It took All Might a moment to realize that he had a tag along, (longer than it probably should, in Izuku’s opinion,) and he rushed to explain why he grabbed on by saying, “I have a lot of things I want to ask you directly!” 

All Might’s smile hadn’t wavered throughout the entire interaction, but it did look a bit strained when he responded by saying, “So close your eyes and mouth.” Izuku scrunched his face up in an attempt to keep the wind from blowing it off and held on tighter. 

He had to stay in character. So far, Izuku thought that he’d done a mostly good job. A desperate, quirkless kid would probably grab onto his biggest hero like this, wouldn’t he? But what kind of questions would he have for the hero? Izuku was tempted to ask him something about his quirk, (even if he already knew all about it,) just to see what he’d say, but figured that there had to be something better. Maybe something about what it was like to be a hero? No, that was way too broad of a question, and he’d been asked that so many times in different interviews that it would be pointless to ask it again anyways. Izuku contemplated what a kid like the one he was pretending to be would ask. It came to him only a few seconds before they touched down on a building and Izuku’s feet felt solid ground underneath them once more.

All Might immediately started to walk away, and Izuku could feel the chance start to slip through his fingers again. “Wait-” he started to say, but All Might brushed him off. 

“I’m out of time,” All Might said apologetically, “I’m sure some of the people downstairs will help you get down from here, but I really must be going.”

“Wait!” Izuku said desperately, taking a hesitant step forward. 

“I’m sorry, but I can’t wait.” All Might was close to the edge of the roof now, probably gearing up to take off again. 

“But-” Izuku took a deep breath. It’s now or never, “Even if I don’t have a quirk, can I still become a hero?” He saw All Might stop for a second, and cheered silently in his head before continuing, “Can even someone without a quirk, be like you?”

Somehow, imperceptibly, the energy in the air seemed to shift. All Might had come to a full stop now, and Izuku glanced up at him to see smoke drifting off his skin. ‘He has a time limit,’   Izuku remembered his Dad explaining to him, ‘Because of the injury Dad gave him.’  

Izuku swallowed as his mind raced, his question having seemingly stopped All Might for a moment. Izuku guessed All Might was probably about to be too late to leave without his secret being ‘revealed.’ Izuku kept talking, hoping to keep him there. 

“It might’ve been because I don’t have a quirk, but I’m always made fun of,” Izuku started to mumble, letting his talent for ranting and rambling shine through, “Maybe that’s why, I don’t know,” He tried to stay in character and make his voice sound uncertain, “But I think saving people is super cool. Saving people with a fearless smile. I want to be the greatest hero, just like you!” As he finished his mumble session, Izuku looked up and was greeted with a sight that he tried to prepare himself to see, but somehow just wasn’t able to. 

Being made out of sludge wasn't a good hand to be dealt in life. A certain sludge villain found it hard to do anything. Quirkist discrimination faced him at every corner, and he found that the only people that were OK with his appearance and ability tended to be on the wrong side of the law. It used to bother him at first, but he’d been working for groups and organizations (not unlike the one that he was currently doing a job for) for a while now, and he didn’t bat an eye at breaking the law anymore. 

This particular job was certainly an odd one though. Targeting a certain kid, a middle-schooler, no less, and making sure that All Might was the one who rescued him? Odd. What was even weirder was that after he targeted this middle-schooler, there was another one that he was supposed to find. He’d demanded quite a large sum of money for this, and from the rumors he’d heard around other criminal hotspots and from other people he knew that did work like him, this was an organization that you could trust to deliver on their promises, although weird requests were also one of their staples. 

Falling out of the sky in a plastic bottle had not been part of the plan, but being made out of sewer water and mud made someone very hard to kill, even when falling from so high up. Being trapped in a plastic bottle was a harder problem to deal with however, and the villain for hire started to panic at the thought of not being able to finish the job. Another thing the organization he was doing work for at the moment was known for was not taking kindly to failure. Some of their members were said to be absolutely sadistic. 

Just as the man made out of sludge was about to give up on the bottle and start plotting a plausible excuse, he felt himself being picked up. A small, gentle hand lifted his bottle into the air with him inside, and he found himself looking at the gleeful face of what looked like an average kid. A young one too. He looked just barely old enough to pass for a middle-schooler, with smooth black hair and yellow, cat-like eyes. It was the eyes that stood out. They almost seemed out of place on the boy’s face, like they didn’t quite fit correctly. The effect was unsettling, especially paired with the expression he was wearing. He was smiling, but it was too wide, and his eyes looked at the greenish liquid in the bottle he was holding like it was a dessert that he was about to devour. The villain, despite the fact that he was looking into the face of a child, felt himself shrink back in fear. He didn’t like this. 

The boy however, seemed to know what he was doing. He didn’t look surprised to find a plastic bottle filled with sentient sludge in a random alleyway. Instead, he carefully put the bottle into one of his pockets and started walking along happily, nearly skipping. The villain couldn’t see anything besides black fabric outside his bottle, and felt terror grip him irrationally as he thought about what this boy was doing and where he might be taking him. 

He didn’t know how long the boy carried him for, but it felt like only a few minutes, maybe 10 at the most. He heard the sounds of the crowd fade away a bit and realized that they were in a less populated area. That only made him more irrationally afraid. 

The boy took him out of his pocket, and he was brought up to look at his face again. He had a knowing look in his eyes. 

“You looked like you might’ve needed a bit of help!” The boy said cheerfully, “Being in a bottle like that might make it hard to do what you need to. Our people do really really need this job done though, so don’t take my help for granted. From now on, you’re on your own with this one.” His gaze turned sharp, and the villain shrank back as he realized that those eyes didn’t belong to a little boy. 

Just as gently as he’d been picked up, the villain was set down on the ground of an alleyway, still in the bottle. The villain tried to shift around in the bottle to look at the boy again and try to figure out what was going on, but in the time he’d managed to turn around in the small space, the boy was gone. 

Toga Himiko ducked into a different alleyway from the one she’d dropped the sludge villain in and ducked behind a dumpster to stop anyone on the sidewalk from seeing her. Himiko took a deep breath and let her disguise drip off. The gray goop that usually accompanied this action squished under her feet as she reached into a bag she’d left behind the dumpster she was crouched behind her and carefully took out some clothes she had stashed there. Himiko tugged them on quickly and glanced around at the surrounding area to double check that no one was watching before pulling out her phone from a different pocket in her bag and easily typing in the passcode. 

It didn’t take long to scroll through her contacts and find the one labeled ‘Viridian.’ Himiko clicked on it and heard the phone ring only once before the person on the other end picked up.

“Miss Viridian?” Himiko asked carefully, glancing around again before walking deeper into the alley and around a corner to a doorway. 

“Yes dear?” A kindly woman’s voice on the other end of the phone responded.

“I’ve got all my homework finished,” Himiko said cheerfully, pulling a key out of her pocket. She stuck it in the lock and twisted it to unlock the door before pushing it open and winced at the muffled thumping sound it made when it smacked into the wall, “I just need you to pick me up now. I’m across the street from Tatooin shopping district, I went out with some friends of mine after school.”

“Do all of your friends have a ride?” The woman’s voice took on a sharper tone. 

“Of course,” Himiko said, smiling as she stepped into the empty storage floor of the building she’d gotten into, “I made sure of it myself.”

“Good.” Viridian said from the other end of the phone, “I’m glad that everyone is where they need to be.” 

“Me too,” the shapeshifter responded. She felt the air pressure seem to intensify in the room before a deep purple portal opened in the middle of the building. Himiko smiled and stepped towards it. 

“Your ride should be there now,” Midoriya Inko said through the phone, “Get home safe, dear.” 

“I will. Goodbye!” Himiko said with a smile on her face before hanging up the phone and stepping through the portal. 

The second she was through, the portal disappeared with a quiet whooshing sound and the room was left empty again.