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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 don’t make for someone who’ll 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 the 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 doesn’t mention how he himself had aced the mock test as well. Izuku also doesn’t mention how becoming a hero is 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 is 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 on the floor. Izuku looked up into the angry, red face of one Bakugou Kasuki, who had just blown up his desk for the 5th time this week even though it was only Wednesday. 

“You’re below the rejects. You’re quirkless.” Kacchan spits out the word like it’s 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, (can’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 this 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’s 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 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 cold red eyes 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 that it sure was a good thing that his book was nearly indestructible. Only the best for his father’s son. Izuku can 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 supposes that it's left over bad memories from what happened to his Uncle. Concern for his future. Part of him worries that his parents think Izuku’s going to turn out like him , but he tries not to listen to that part. His Uncle was a horrible person, and he won’t turn out like him. He won’t. 


Izuku’s childhood was mainly spent underground. That’s the part that he remembers the most, at least. He remembers 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 remembers 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 don’t understand is that not all criminals are bad people. Sure, some of them are, but a lot of them, (at least the ones in his parents’ inner circles,) were really nice. The babysitter that he remembers most from when he was growing up was an international outlaw known for stealing state secrets and hacking secure government documents 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 know. 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 doesn’t mention at all the kinds of work that 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's because his lab coat always smelled so overpoweringly of chemicals that have 20 syllable names. Maybe it comes 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 remembers someone telling him at some point that eyes are 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 this 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. 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 can’t tell if his memory of The Paper is a good one or a bad one. All he knows is that The Paper definitely deserves the capitalization of a proper noun, because at this point it’s almost an entire character in his life. It’s shaped it more than maybe anything else. Sometimes Izuku wonders if anything would’ve happened without The Paper. Sometimes Izuku wonders if The Paper shaped anything at all. Maybe, The Paper is really what it says it is, and is just a premonition of the future. Izuku has been told that the future can’t be changed, and although part of that brings him comfort, part of that absolutely terrifies him. 

One thing that Izuku does know about The Paper is the fact that what comes after its writing is definitely a sad memory, no matter how hard the rest of the Organization tries to convince him otherwise. His Mother’s tears are never a good memory unless she’s crying out of joy, and she’s not crying out of joy in this memory. 

All Izuku knew and could really understand at the time, (he had been so young then; only 5,) was that The Paper said that 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 this. 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 doesn't sound like that powerful of a quirk on the surface, and it isn’t one that you’d take as good for hero work, but there’s 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’s one thing that Izuku knows however, it’s that as long as you’re creative, you can turn even the weakest of quirks into deadly abilities. 

The name of the quirk’s original holder isn’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’re a sniper, to get an accurate shot, you have to hold the gun steady. One of the things that can hinder that no matter how steady your arms or hands are is your breathing. The constant inhale and exhale expands and deflates your lungs constantly. It can make the gun move even a little bit, and that little bit can often be the difference between a perfect shot and a near miss. Especially from the distances that Sharpshot was shooting from. Setting up a stand to set your gun on to hold it steady takes time to put up and take down, and that’s 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 is unknown to the authorities. The one thing that they are very certain of is that she never became active again. She seemingly retired after she broke out. It’s one of the reasons that her case is still fairly well known even now. The media loves a mystery, after all. 

The reason why this is still relevant in the current time is that a quirk that allows you to hold your breath for a long time isn’t only good for being a sniper or hiding underwater. It’s also the perfect quirk to get someone like Izuku out of the exact situation that he’s 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’re 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’s 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. 

In summary, Izuku had never met All Might in person, but 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 Midoriya 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 is and before he could think better of it, the words, “It’ll be a family heirloom!” are leaving his mouth and he realizes what he just said and has to hold back an amused snort. All Might however, didn’t seem bothered by this 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’s not going to get another chance like this. Just the fact that he was able to have this one is a lot. There’s got to be more. He has to come up with a plan, he has 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 this 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 says 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’s 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, and Izuku thought that he 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 isn’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 is 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 desert 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 little 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.

Chapter Text

One of the earliest memories Izuku could remember was the memory of The Video. He remembered watching it all the time, sneaking into the computer room when his parents were busy to get on the computer and replay it over and over again until he knew every word spoken, every image that flashed across the screen in intimate detail. 

The Video began by focusing on one dark figure near the bottom of a dusty hill. The picture was tinted gray from the lack of light shining from a starless, smoky sky. Clouds of chalky colored ash fell from the heavens like smoldering, toxic, soundless snow. The only thing bright enough to pierce through them was the light of the full moon, which reflected off the puddles surrounding the rubble like white ink on a black tapestry. The scene was so ghastly and horrifying that Izuku could almost smell the stench of death and decay in the air. Even thinking back on it now, he swore he could taste powdery cinders on his tongue, or feel the uneven ground underneath his feet. He was half convinced that if he turned his head to the side, he’d see more of the same sad scene, the rest of the destroyed building, instead of the empty room the computer was always in. 

The Video was horrifying enough without the knowledge that buried under that rubble were the remains of hundreds of people who had committed no crime. Many of them had been children. 

This wasn’t a story that was reported in the news. Izuku’s family made sure of that. They were still making sure that nothing Izuku’s Uncle did caught the media’s attention. Mostly because everything he did was a giant bloodstain on his family’s legacy. 

A younger Izuku didn’t like watching The Video. He couldn’t make himself stop. It was like a car crash; one that he couldn’t look away from. 

Izuku didn’t watch The Video very much anymore. 

Izuku screamed. He hadn’t meant to, (in fact he was quite embarrassed about it the second the noise came out of his mouth,) but even though he was expecting the sight that he saw upon looking up and at All Might once more, some part of his brain must not have been prepared because he screamed anyways. 

“You’re deflating!” Izuku cried out, searching his brain for what the natural reaction to this happening would be, “Up until now… A fake! You’re a fake! You’re so skinny!” The words that ended up coming out of his mouth didn’t make much sense, but he supposed that was probably about right. 

All Might opened his mouth as if to respond, but blood poured out instead of words and Izuku screamed again. 

Katsuki had no idea what the cryptic message Auntie Inko had sent him meant. All he had was a location and a time, and he’d be darned if he didn't follow what he assumed his superior’s instructions were down to the letter. 

As per usual, Katsuki left no margin for error, and arrived at the scene at the exact time that Auntie had specified. It was an alleyway across the street from one of their warehouses. Near Tatooin Station. Katsuki knew that someone else was there immediately. 

Auntie had not specified for him to go alone, so Katsuki hadn’t. He’d stayed in character as much as he could and simply led the two extras who were usually following him to one of the many places where they could smoke without getting into any trouble. Since they did this nearly every day, it wasn’t that suspicious. Katsuki was satisfied with his work. He didn’t let himself celebrate however. He recognized the other presence in the alleyway. 

Katsuki was distracted, but he remained in character, yelling at his so-called ‘friends’ to stop smoking, and let them rant about Deku for a few moments before adding in his two cents on the matter. 

“He’s an idiot dreaming like a kid,” Katsuki said, clutching the empty can of soda in his hand and blowing it up with a small explosion deftly ignited without a second thought, “Just watching him ticks me off.” Even though he hadn’t said anything funny, his lackeys laughed. 

While his companions discussed where the small group should go next, Katsuki contemplated what Auntie could want from sending him out here. The lack of detailed instructions implied that she trusted his judgement. If she’d sent him back here with this particular person trapped in a plastic bottle of all things very suspiciously placed neatly on the ground of an alleyway that Katsuki just so happened to visit often, he could guess what she wanted. 

Katsuki glared at the ground and made a decision. It only took one well-placed kick to break the bottle open and allow the terrible swamp thing knock-off to escape. 

Katsuki turned back to his lackeys and watched as a look of horror dawned on their faces as they looked up at the monstrous human rising up behind their friend. 

Katsuki almost laughed at how scared they looked, but that would’ve broken character, and breaking character meant failing his mission. If there was one thing Katsuki wasn’t going to do, it was to fail his mission. 

The last thought he had before easily the most disgusting thing to date that had ever been in his mouth entered and sewer sludge so revolting it was a greenish color encircled him to trap him in it’s sticky, gooey, stinky grasp was that this whole ordeal better be worth whatever Auntie was planning. 

The chance to meet All Might, Izuku thought, was definitely worth everything he’d had to endure today up until this point. He always valued seeing things from someone else’s point of view, and hearing how All Might told a revised and heavily edited story of how he got his injury was entertaining to say the least. When he compared his transformation to men at the pool ‘flexing and posturing,’ Izuku had to fight to keep himself from laughing. 

“It can’t be,” Izuku said, waving his arms wildly to distract from the look of amusement he worried might be showing up on his face, “You’re supposed to be fearless… you save everyone with a smile. You’re the greatest hero…” He let his sentence trail off to give All Might a chance to respond. 

“A fearless smile huh?” All Might shook his head, “Now that you’ve seen me like this young man, make sure that you don’t write about it online, even accidentally.”

Izuku blinked. Was that all he was going to say on the subject of leaking information? Izuku had no doubt that if it had been nearly anyone else except for only the most devoted of fans, the secret would have been written about online as soon as the interaction ended. How in the world had someone this bad at keeping information secret managed to hide his location from Izuku’s father for more than a week, much less over a year. He must’ve really trusted that the entire world was completely devoted to him. All Might could’ve at least brought Izuku to the police station and had him sign an NDA or something. Then legal action could be taken. Although, Izuku realized, if the information ever did get out, he’d be the first one on the suspect list. From Izuku’s experience, the government didn’t take too kindly to people who leaked information. This whole situation was dangerous for both parties. 

Izuku jolted back into the present moment as All Might lifted his shirt just high enough to show off one of the most gruesome and painful looking scars Izuku had ever seen, (which was really really saying something.) If Izuku had been squeamish at all, he probably would’ve thrown up or fainted at the sight. The fact that All Might hadn’t thought twice about showing it to a middle school student without warning just confirmed that he had no idea how to deal with younger people. 

“It’s an injury I got from an enemy’s attack five years ago. Half of my respiratory organs were destroyed, and I lost my whole stomach.” All Might explained, calmly and as if losing someone’s stomach was something that shouldn’t cause that person to starve to death. Izuku would’ve wondered how he was even still alive if he hadn’t seen healing quirks do impossible things in the past. “I’ve become emaciated from repeated surgeries and the aftereffects. Right now, I can only work as a hero for about three hours a day.”

Izuku was reminded of how his father loved using the, ‘You should see the other guy,’ comment when referring to his own injuries. He hadn't been kidding. This was horrible. “That can’t be… Five years ago, was that when you fought Toxic Chainsaw?” 

“You’re well informed. But a punk like that couldn’t defeat me.” All Might said as he dropped the hem of his shirt to cover his wound again. Izuku had to hold back another laugh at the usage of the word ‘punk,’ “This fight was not made public to the world. I asked that it be kept under wraps. I will save people with a smile! The Symbol of Peace cannot be daunted by evil. I smile to show the pressure of heroes.” All Might clenched his fist, “And to trick the fear inside me. Pros are always risking their lives. I cannot simply say, ‘You can become a hero even without power. ‘“

Izuku let all the hope in his face dissipate in a single moment as he stared blankly at the Number One Hero in Japan. `More like number one hypocrite.’ Izuku thought angrily, careful not to let any of it show on his face, ‘Did he have any power? No, not until he was given One For All. Is he the most successful hero of all time? YES. Obviously you don’t need to be born with power to be a hero, and if anyone should know that, it's him.’

All Might started talking about being a police officer and other jobs that might include helping people that Izuku could partake in, but Izuku was only half listening. He was done hearing this crap and instead tried focusing all his energy into looking as pitiful and hopeless as possible. Blankly staring at the ground as if All Might has actually crushed all his dreams and not just what would’ve been his hopes and dreams if Izuku had been an average kid. 

On the surface level, Izuku could kind of understand what All Might meant, but he also knew that a trained combatant, (quirkless or not,) with a gun, a key-card, and the layout to a HPSC building was 50 times more dangerous than probably a majority of pro-heroes. He should know. He’d met people who fit those qualifications. Even if All Might wasn’t telling him these things on a roof of all places, (Kacchan’s misplaced comment from earlier in the day flashed through Izuku’s mind and he felt sick thinking about what he might’ve done if he weren’t lying about who he was,) him thinking that it was Ok to tell a middle-schooler to give up on everything with only the explanation that they might get hurt was stupid. 

Heroes got hurt all the time, no matter what their quirks were. The evidence was sitting right in front of him. All Might was the most powerful hero in Japan at least , and here he was still suffering from a grave injury he’d been given years ago. If Izuku was this invested in being a hero, he obviously knew the risks and was willing to take them. Whether or not that was a healthy mindset, by All Might’s logic of, ‘If you’re so weak that you’ll still get hurt, then you shouldn’t be a hero,’ then no one should be a hero because even All Might himself was too weak to avoid getting hurt. Izuku got mad just thinking through the layers of hypocrisy that All Might had surrounded himself in by telling him what he couldn’t do. 

To really top off that mess of logic, All Might told Izuku to, “Consider what’s realistic,” before leaving him alone on a roof. Clearly, he had never looked up the mental health statistics for quirkless kids, because otherwise he’d know why that’s the last thing Izuku needed to hear. 

Izuku was too shocked at the absolute mess of a conversation that had just happened to move from his spot on the roof for an entire minute. He had to process what had just happened. It took him a second, but then all at once he realized that All Might was gone, and that meant he’d taken his quirk with him. 

Izuku panicked. He’d failed. Everything had been set up for him so perfectly, and he’d failed. He failed to uphold his family’s legacy. He’d failed to take back what belonged to them. He’d failed. He’d failed his father, his mother, his sister, Kacchan and Kacchan’s parent’s, Himichan-

An explosion in the distance knocked him out of his spiral of self-doubt in the way that only an explosion could. Izuku looked up from the ground and could see all the way to Tatooin Station from where he was standing so high up. A villain fight. 

Except for the fact that Izuku would recognize those explosions anywhere. 

‘Kacchan,’  Izuku thought before walking calmly across the roof, gently opening the door All Might had disappeared through, and tearing down the stairs in a panic as fast as his legs could take him. 

Bakugou Mitsuki sipped a cup of coffee and leaned over her kitchen counter to get a better look at the television in the living room. The screen lit up and flashed with light and the sounds of explosions filtered through the speakers, so loud that there were times when you couldn’t hear the news anchor over the noise. Mitsuki smiled into her drink. 

The news hadn’t identified who the sludge villain had trapped. They only were able to say that it was a middle-schooler based on the uniform. Mitsuki didn’t need the news to tell her that the boy was her son, however. It wasn’t the villain who was making those explosions. 

Mitsuki trusted her son to read between the lines and do what he needed to, even with the minimal amounts of instruction that he was given by Inko. With only a time and a place he’d managed to follow a plan that he hadn’t even been aware was about to be set in motion when he’d left school not even an hour earlier. Mitsuki was proud. 

Katsuki had isolated himself and the villain deep in the rubble of the building they were in, surrounded by so much fire and smoke that not any of the heroes present would be able to stop the villain. Kamui Woods managed to rescue the two boys Katsuki had been walking with as well as a few other civilians that had been trapped near the fire but couldn’t get too close. Fire was his weakness, since he was made of wood, which he so loudly yelled out at a crowd of people and reporters so that anyone who had it out for him would know what to use if they wanted to take him out. Backdraft was far too occupied taking care of the fires that were threatening the crowd watching to try and fight the villain, and his quirk would’ve been useless against him anyways. Mt. Lady was way too large to get through the single-laned street, and also yelled about it being her weakness to everyone present. Let it never be said that the Organization wasn’t thorough, and even though Mt. Lady was a new addition to the hero scene, she hadn’t gone unaccounted for. 

The villain was the perfect pick for the job. He was dumb enough to do exactly what they asked of him, but smart enough to not get caught easily by the heroes. Plus, with his quirk, he was extremely hard to take down, especially while he was holding a hostage. Mitsuki watched as Death Arms rushed in and attempted to grab him and pull him off her son but was unable to get a solid hold on the thick liquid. The fire and smoke made it too dangerous for him to stay too close, and he was forced to retreat backward and away from the villain and his hostage. The other heroes standing in front of the crowd weren’t able to do much else either. Mitsuki took another sip of her coffee and smiled to herself. Her son really did know how to take complete control of the situation he was in and make it look like an accident. The heroes wouldn’t suspect anything. 

Mitsuki finished off her cup of coffee and set it down on the counter. She frowned, glancing at the TV again. Inko said All Might would be showing up. Where was he?

Izuku was making his way as quickly as he could over to the villain fight without being suspicious. Those were definitely Kacchan’s explosions, and he had a feeling like whatever was happening with him might be related to Izuku being set up to talk to All Might. Maybe he hadn’t failed. Maybe he had another chance.  

Izuku remembered all too abruptly as he got nearer to the fight that he’d supposedly just had all his hopes and dreams crushed by his hero. He slowed down his walking speed and let his eyes fall to the ground. Izuku tried to transition from excited to sad as realistically as possible, but he didn’t really need to worry too much. There weren’t that many people around. Most had either fled from such an explosive villain fight or had stopped to watch it. Tears came to Izuku’s eyes easily, and he rubbed at them to make them look more red. 

He stopped when he reached the edge of the crowd and tried to get a good look at what was happening on the other side of it. For the millionth time over, Izuku wished he’d inherited some of his dad’s height. He could see almost nothing from all the way in the back, and all he really had to go off of were the comments the people standing in front of him were making about the fight. From the snippets of conversation he gathered from the people who could actually see what’s happening, the person captured was a middle-schooler, he was captured by a villain made out of sludge, and he’d been fighting back against the villain for quite a while now. ‘The bottle must’ve fallen out of All Might’s pocket while we were in the air or something,’ Izuku thought, ‘Did he not put it in a secure place? Did I knock it loose or something?’ 

Izuku felt dread start to pool in the bottom of his stomach. He knew it must be Kacchan in there, and he knew that Kacchan of all people could totally survive something like this, but he couldn’t help but feel worried anyway. 

‘This is stupid,’ Izuku tried to convince himself, ‘I’ve got absolutely no reason to worry about this. It’ll all be fine.’ 

But if it's not,’ The little voice that’s always in the back of his mind told him, ‘It’ll be all your fault. ’ 

Izuku covered his mouth with his hands and tried not to cry harder. He just had to stay in character. That was what Mom had said to do, so that was what he was going to do. Eventually, an opportunity would present itself to do something, and he’d do it. Or maybe another hero would jump in. Surely one of them must have an idea of what to do? Izuku could think of at least 3 different ways off the top of his head that they could take down the villain and save the hostage just by looking at the heroes that he could see from his limited vantage point. They’re pros. They’d think of something. They had to.

But if Kacchan gets hurt, it’ll be all Izuku’s fault. 

Even right now, Kacchan’s hurting, and that’s Izuku’s fault.

 Izuku glanced to the side and saw All Might standing at the back of the crowd like Izuku was, skeletal and skinny in his smaller form and staring at the scene in horror. It occurred to Izuku that All Might lost none of his height when in his more injured looking state, and he had a great view of the action. ‘I wonder if he’s blaming himself right now too,’ Izuku thought, ‘It’s not his fault though. He doesn’t have the power to stop this right now. I do.’  

Izuku wished that he could drop anything and blast the villain into oblivion. Drop-kick him into the sun. Disintegrate him with a single glare. But all of those options would both be wildly out of character and needlessly violent, not to mention implausible. 

The crowd shifted a bit, so that for a single second Izuku could see all the way to the front of the action. Almost as if he could feel the familial gaze on himself, Kacchan’s eyes opened for a single moment, and Izuku couldn’t remember the last time that he’d seen them that afraid. 

Time seemed to slow down. Izuku could see the world shift around him, moving backwards. Slowly, the vision of Kacchan and the sludge villain took up the entirety of his vision. He could feel the other people in the crowd on either side of him, but there was a silence in his ears and he couldn’t hear their conversations anymore, or the sound of the heroes arguing, (even though he was shoving past them now,) or even the sound of the explosions around him, (when did they get so close?) It took him a moment to realize that his legs were moving, which confused him, because he didn’t remember his brain giving them that command. 

Izuku was across the street in seconds, the sounds of heroes protesting flying past him and not making him hesitate for a second. He didn’t stop or slow down, not even when he took his backpack off his bag and spun to throw it directly into the eye of the villain. Izuku didn’t become fully conscious of what he was doing until his hands were grabbing at the sludge of the villain for the second time that day and desperately trying to pull it off his friend’s face. 

“What are you doing?!” Kacchan yelled the second his mouth was free.

Izuku couldn’t think of anything clever to say, and without his conscious choice the truth ended up coming out instead. Tears blurred his vision. 

“You looked like you needed saving!”

Izuku watched as the sky cleared up, not quickly enough to stop his hair and clothes from getting wet. All Might had thrown a punch so strong it made the weather change. The weather.  

To think, his dad had faced a force as strong as that and came out alive. 

The heroes who had watched him pull his ‘little stunt,’ (as they kept calling it,) were scolding him. He was appalled. Especially when he listened in on what the other heroes were saying to Kacchan. The only reason that someone like Izuku felt like he had to run into the danger like he had in the first place was because Kacchan had actively made the situation worse. If he hadn’t, a hero like Kamui Woods could’ve saved the day, but with the explosions and fire and smoke everywhere, that had been made nearly impossible. Instead of being told to not panic next time, however, Kacchan was being told that he’d make a great hero someday. They locked eyes across the street for barely a second and Izuku could clearly see that Kacchan was disgusted with how the heroes were encouraging him as well. 

Izuku tuned out what the heroes were saying and stared blankly at his feet until they let him go with barely a warning. Some medical staff had briefly checked over Kacchan before letting him go home and one of the assistants asked Izuku if he was OK and took him at his word when he said he was instead of doing a full checkup like he should’ve. 

Izuku tried to catch All Might and have a conversation with him before he left but by the time the heroes were done scolding him, the number one hero was nowhere to be seen and the press was slowly leaving the scene of the attack and packing up. Izuku shouldered his bag and started off for home. 

What he’d done was stupid. It was dumb, foolish, idiotic, and entirely something that he probably wasn’t supposed to. Was it in character? Izuku had no idea. Kacchan was supposed to be his bully. Why would a victim jump in to save their tormentor? It didn’t make any sense. Izuku wondered if he was about to get scolded when he got home too. He wondered what he was going to say when he got asked why he did it. Izuku didn’t have an answer to that question. 

The more pressing issue on his mind however was the issue of All Might. He’d failed. He hadn’t taken the quirk. All Might was gone, and Izuku would probably never get the chance to take his quirk again. His whole world felt like it was tipping on its side. What was he going to do? How was he going to face his parents? Kacchan or Himichan? The other people in The Organization? Izuku had ruined everything. His mother had managed to set up the perfect situation for Izuku to take back One For All, and he’d failed. He’d failed. He’s a failure. He’s only a disappointment.

Maybe he really was useless after all. 


Izuku turned around and saw Kacchan stalking towards him, an expression of pure fury painted on his face. Izuku stiffened and prepared himself for whatever Kacchan was going to do. Maybe he was so mad that he couldn’t wait until they got back to the Compound to yell at him. 

“I didn’t ask for your help!” Kacchan yelled out loud, and quickly launched into a tirade about how he doesn’t need help, he didn’t ask for it, in fact, Izuku didn’t help him anyways. Kacchan used all the phrases that he always did when he yelled like this. 

One thing that Izuku learned from being around the people that he’d grown up with is that everything can be tracked. Phone records, security footage, every conversation you have. He’s met both people whose lives have been ruined because of leaked information and people who’d been the ones doing the leaking. 

The solution to fixing the issue of phones is to text and speak on calls in code. Izuku and his parents have been doing it for so long that texting or calling normally would be strange. The issue of security cameras and witnesses was harder, especially with surveillance quirks having to be taken into account as well. 


Bakugou Masaru’s family had been with the Organization for quite a while. He’d grown up in the shadows of the underground villain society much like his son eventually would. As per usual with higher up members of the Organization, the quirk that was listed on his official government documents was not his actual one. Officially, his quirk was listed as being the ability to set off small sparks in his hands. In actuality, it’s not anything like that at all. 

Masaru’s family, historically, has mostly worked in either chemistry, information gathering, or a mixture of the two. Their quirks on his father’s side tended to be more chemical based, and the quirks on his mother’s tended to deal with emotions or interrogation. 

Masaru’s father had the ability to sense the chemical makeup of different materials, and was one of the highest ranking doctors in the Organization. His work on new drugs and cures had been the basis for the medicine that was used to keep Izuku’s dad alive. 

On the other hand, Masaru’s mother was able to read and even slightly manipulate negative emotions. She worked with the police as a detective for many years while feeding information to the Organization on the side. Famously, she always knew when someone was lying, and manipulated the people she needed information from to be afraid of her in order to compel them to tell the truth. Both of them served the Organization for many years, although they were retired at this point.

Masaru himself, like most people, inherited a quirk that was a mixture of his parents’ quirks. Masaru was born with the ability to see the chemicals in people’s brains and could use what he saw to find out what emotion they were feeling, and even manipulate them like his mother was able to. He was the most powerful person with an emotion reading or a mind reading quirk that the Organization had, and his skill in understanding how the brain worked led him to be one of the Organization's most skilled scientists. He eventually figured out a way to identify different people based on how the chemicals in their brain behaved. A different ‘brainprint’ for every person, as he described it. Another thing Masaru did was develop a code that relied on manipulating the chemicals in people’s brain ever so slightly in different patterns in order to send them messages that couldn't be traced by any technology or any quirk except for his own. They called his quirk Empathy.

With the Midoriya’s skill in handling quirks, copying the Empathy quirk wasn’t an issue at all, and giving the copy of it to his son was even less of an issue. One thing the Midoriya’s had learned throughout the years was that not everyone can handle every quirk, but kids can usually handle their parents' quirks, even if their quirks aren’t the same naturally. 

The words that Kacchan was spitting at Izuku out loud weren’t anything special. They were only an excuse for Kacchan and Izuku to stand close enough to each other that Izuku’s head fell within Kacchan’s emotion manipulation range. 

‘All Might was there. You weren’t surprised that All Might was there. You met him beforehand.’

Izuku had more than one quirk that he could reach for that would allow him to manipulate his own emotions to talk back to Kacchan, ‘The villain went after me first. All Might was the one who showed up to save me.’ 

‘The villain got away. Did you get-’


‘Well, don’t give up yet. That’s definitely All Might I sense around that corner there.’ 


Anyone else would think that Kacchan’s face looked absolutely furious unless they knew him well enough to see the smug glint in his eyes. He turned around in a huff and stomped away. Leaving Izuku alone and reeling from what he’d just been told. He appreciated the warning though. It gave him time to compose himself before he had to turn and face All Might for the third time today. 

Izuku hadn’t walked 10 steps forwards before his path was immediately blocked by the large form of the number one hero. All Might laughed triumphantly, and Izuku wondered if his need to always pose for the camera in his larger form was just a habit or if he was being genuine. 

“Why are you here?” Izuku asked, suddenly worried that he’d done something to tip off the hero as to who he was, “You were surrounded by reporters before now…”

“Getting away from them was a piece of cake. Why? Because I am-” Whatever All Might was about to say next, (which Izuku could guess at easily enough,) was cut off by the man coughing up blood and violently slamming into his smaller form. Izuku took a step back on instinct and was so surprised he forgot to scream. 

All Might took a moment to compose himself before continuing what he was going to say, “Young man, I come with thanks, a correction, and a suggestion. If you hadn’t been there… if you hadn’t told me about your life… I would’ve turned into a guy in a bodysuit who was all talk. Thank you.” 

Izuku was taken aback by the sudden praise. Obviously All Might hadn’t figured out who he was. If that wasn’t the case, then why was he here? 

“That can’t be! I got in the way of your work, and I said all those impertinent things even though I’m quirkless…” Izuku almost winced at how thick he was laying on the quirkless guilt trip, but he wasn’t entirely sure what to do in this situation. How should he go about attempting to steal the quirk?

“That’s right,” All Might interrupted his thoughts, “It was because it was none other than the timid, quirkless you who rushed in at the scene that I was able to act.” 

What? That didn’t sound right. Izuku hadn’t meant to rush in. It had just kind of… happened. 

“Top heroes have stories from their school days. Most of their stories had one thing in common; Their bodies moved before they had a chance to think.” 

Izuku felt his heart soar. He suddenly thought he might have an idea of why All Might had sought him out again. He wasn’t sure that he’d be able to keep his expression in check, so he dropped his head and let tears come to his eyes. What was happening hit him all at once, and he clutched the straps of his backpack, feeling his knees give way under the sudden pressure of what he now knew All Might was about to offer him. 

“You can be a hero.” 

Izuku really started crying then. This was really happening. His family had been trying for well over 100 years to get their hands on the quirk again, and he, Izuku, was about to. Izuku didn’t just cry out of happiness though. He felt the pressure of holding up their legacy, of being the first of their family to hold the One For All quirk since the First’s brother fall on his shoulders and nearly crush him under the immense burden. He’d be the one to save them. The one who’d be expected to finally bring down the heroes. The second that he was the only holder of One For All left, they’d have to take action. Based on what Izuku had seen of All Might today, he thought that they would be able to make that time come fairly soon. Too soon. It was all happening far too fast, far too soon. 

The hazy orange light of the sunset made the shadow All Might cast over Izuku even taller than it normally would be. “You are worthy to inherit my power.” Izuku managed to hear All Might say through the haze of his tears. 

Izuku paused and fixed his expression to look as confused as he could before he looked up at All Might. 

“Huh?” He asked.

Chapter Text

Izuku shut the door to his family’s apartment and set his backpack down on the kitchen table, but couldn’t get himself to call out and alert his mother that he’d arrived home. He spent a few seconds staring at the counter trying to wrap his head around what was happening, but it just wasn’t computing in his brain. His tongue felt like sandpaper in his mouth and his hands were sweaty. 

“Izu?” His mother’s voice spoke softly from the direction of the living room. Izuku twitched a little at the calling of his name before slowly turning his head to look at his mom. 

The TV was muted, but the news was still showing footage of the sludge villain’s attack. Kacchan’s name was scrolling across the screen. There was an empty cup on the table that looked like it had previously been filled with coffee. Izuku’s mom had stood up from where she was standing on the couch and was looking at him with concern. 

Izuku swallowed, “All Might found me after the incident while I was walking home.”

Inko nodded, kind eyes asking him silently to continue. 

“He offered me his quirk.”

Inko sucked in a breath and asked a question she already knew the answer to, “What did you say?”

“I accepted.”

Inko was one of the rare cases of people in the inner circles of the Organization who had a quirk listed legally as theirs that wasn’t any different from what it actually was. Most people didn’t think about how small objects included things like organs, bullets and, perhaps most importantly, atoms. In other words, matter manipulation. In other words, Inko had a cap on how big of objects she could attract, not on how small of objects she could attract. Telekinesis was powerful when used in the correct way. 

The Bunker, (and the rest of the 1st Circle Compound for that matter,) was probably the most secure place in the entire world. It was just under 2 miles underground, completely surrounded by dirt in every direction. There was no way in or out unless you knew the exact coordinates and could teleport there or you were one of the 3 people currently on the planet who held the power of matter manipulation and knew how to use it to get to the base. All 3 of those people shared the same last name. 

The apartment building that the Midoriya’s officially lived in was owned by a company that fell under The Organization’s influence. One of the many puppet organizations that had lots of forged legal paperwork filled out to ensure that it was legitimate in the eyes of the law. That meant that the security footage was laughably easy to tamper with. In short, getting down to the basement of the building without being seen was a piece of cake. Especially since all of the apartments in the building were owned by various people that were either in The Organization, retired from The Organization, or connected in some way to The Organization. 

Izuku and his mom took the elevator all the way down to the basement level. If you were to ask, the only thing down there was the laundry, and that’s technically true. Inko and her son didn’t need a fancy entrance to get down to the Bunker. All Inko needed was her hands. 

The floor peeled away and the dirt was pushed to the side after it. The pair of Midoriya’s headed straight down from one of the corners of the basement, through the concrete and then on below that. The hole closed up behind them as Izuku turned on his phone camera to glow brightly and illuminate the space. Inko was skilled at moving the dirt beneath them, and they moved along quickly. Layers and layers of Earth warped and peeled back as they descended deeper and deeper into the crust of the planet. The dirt was damp and the air was slowly heating up as they went deeper. 

This was a journey that Izuku had made many times before. With his mom, his dad, or even by himself, with his own hands. The familiarity of it brought comfort to his racing mind if only for a moment. When there was nothing surrounding them but Earth, he could almost forget about the huge responsibility that was about to come to rest on his shoulders. 

It only took the two of them 10 minutes to reach the level the bunker was on, and it went by far too fast for Izuku’s tastes. Their descent slowed until Inko let the tunnel level out. Light streamed in through a hole that led to the elevator entrance. 

The dirt closed up behind the mother and son with a deft wave of Inko’s hand, and Izuku held his phone up in the air for a few more moments without turning off the flashlight as he tried to mentally prepare himself for what he was about to tell the people waiting for him inside the bunker. His mom saw his hesitation and took the initiative to type in the code and scan her DNA to open the elevator doors. She didn’t have to of course, (matter manipulation worked on every kind of material,) but the elevator doors also had to work for people who had gotten to the elevator entrance by warp gate, and the mechanisms in the door were too complicated for even Inko to replicate after destroying them. 

Izuku blinked and realized that he had zoned out and stepped into the elevator. He’d slipped his phone in his pocket but hadn’t turned his flashlight off, so he took it out again and fumbled the button a few times before it finally turned off. His mom must’ve noticed how out of it he was, because she asked, “Are you OK Izu?” and put a gentle hand on his arm. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Izuku said, shaking his head in a feeble attempt to dislodge thoughts about his future from his mind. His voice was an octave higher than it should’ve been, “I’m just… still trying to wrap my head around what’s happening.” Inko could tell that there was something else bothering him, and she opened her mouth to say something else but the elevator ride was too short and the doors opened. 

Midoriya Eri came tearing down the hallway like she always did whenever Izuku came home from school and a smile came to her brother’s face immediately. 

“Eri!” He laughed, catching her in his arms and picking her up with ease, “How was your day?”

“I saw the news!” She yelled, still unsure of how to control the volume of her voice at such a young age, “Kacchan was captured! But you saved him!” 

“Yeah!” Izuku said, keeping his tone and expression excited and light for his sister’s sake, “I mean, I didn’t really do much.” He set her down and held out his hand for Eri to grab so he could lead her down the hallway. 

“You threw your bag at the goopy guy! All Might probably wouldn't’ve jumped in to save you guys if you didn’t! That’s what Auntie Mitsuki said anyways.” 

Izuku’s smile stayed on his face but he had to make an effort to keep it there, “That’s what All Might told me too, afterwards.” 

Eri gasped, “He talked to you afterwards?”

“Yes, and I’m going to tell everyone what he said, but I’ve got to wait until everyone’s in the room, otherwise I’ll be telling the story a million times, and that’s no fun!” Izuku emphasized the million times by rolling his eyes playfully and Eri giggled at his antics. 

Toga Himiko was the second one to greet Izuku the second he stepped through the front door of his family’s section of the Bunker. Her face was split with a manic grin as usual and her eyes flashed dangerously, “You certainly had an eventful day.” 

“What makes you say that?” Izuku sighed, too tired to put that much sarcasm into his tone. Himichan beamed as if her never-ending energy might make up for Izuku’s lack of it. 

“Your father’s at work right now, but he’ll be here in a few minutes.” Inko explained as she toed off her shoes and put on a set of slippers before entering the house properly. Izuku followed suit and hurried to his room to change out of his school uniform into something far more comfortable, expensive, and suitable for the heir of the Midoriya legacy to wear. He had a feeling that he’d need his nicer clothes tonight. 

In the time it took him to change the Bakugous had arrived in their living room, including Kacchan who was getting a very official medical checkup from Eri to make sure that the ‘gooey monster’ hadn’t hurt him too much. The expression on his face spoke of boredom but he played along with Eri and let her use her stethoscope on him and check his blood pressure. She confidently told him, “Your heartbeat is not good enough. You need a Miriko band-aid.” Kacchan looked at her suspiciously as if he were unsure of her diagnosis but nodded and held out his arm to let her put one on. Eri giggled. 

Midoriya Hisashi was also home, already working on paperwork for something or other. His eyes snapped up when his son entered the room however, and he asked the question that Izuku was sure was on everyone’s minds, “Did you get the quirk?”

Izuku swallowed and relished the last moment he’d have before everything started happening at once. He closed his eyes and braced for the reaction he was about to receive, “...Yes.” 

The world seemed to freeze for a second before the room exploded. 


Katsuki watched as Deku was flooded with questions. All the adults in the room desperately interrogated him like the miles of dirt above them would collapse if they didn’t get every little detail about the conversations (apparently there’d been more than one,) that Deku’d had with All Might earlier that afternoon. 

Next thing you know, they’ll be asking for the exact number of hairs on the guy’s head.’ Katsuki thought with quite a bit of contempt. 

Eri hadn’t moved from her spot on Katsuki’s lap where she had been just about to reach for her mother’s purse to grab her ‘patient’ a band-aid, but she abandoned the game of doctor to clap wildly for her brother’s achievement. If such a large thing could even be described in such a single word. 

Katsuki went ignored. He was used to going ignored. He would tell you that it didn’t matter much to him but he’d be lying. Deku was the golden child. The one who would take back One For All and be the greatest version of All For One that could ever live. Katsuki was just another Hope, his light shining palely from his place as second-in-command. 

Deku’s dad started up the big speech he’d no doubt been preparing to speak for years now about how his son was ‘carrying on the family’s legacy’ and ‘making his ancestors proud’ as if a bunch of dead people had any say in what was happening right now. Katsuki watched from his spot on the couch as Deku got congratulated and hugged and cried on. Katsuki watched as his own contributions to the plan went completely ignored in favor of what Deku had managed to do. What Deku had accomplished. 

But Katsuki knew that Deku hadn’t really done anything. He was being praised by the others for his quick thinking in running to save Katsuki from the sludge villain in order to prove his ‘heroism’ to All Might, but Katsuki knew the truth. He’d looked into those tearful eyes through the haze of smoke and sludge and seen that Deku hadn’t known what he was doing. There hadn’t been a plan. He’d just run in, reckless and desperate, and hadn’t realized what he’d done, what he’d truly done, until afterwards. Everything else Deku had done was easy. He hadn’t had to make any hard decisions. He’d certainly done nothing harder than what Katsuki had done. 

Katsuki wasn’t bitter. 

Himiko liked to consider herself a very astute person. She had been trained to be very observant, and notice the smallest changes in a person’s behavior. She didn’t have Izuchan’s natural talent at analysis or Kachan’s emotion reading quirk, so that meant she had to put in the extra effort herself. Acting well meant knowing a character, and using her quirk effectively meant being a good actress. Himiko noticed that Kats was irritated at all the attention that Izu was getting immediately. 

“You did good too, you know,” Himiko said, sitting down next to one of her partners in crime, “Besides,” Himiko brought out her best All For One voice, “You're bringing honor to your family’s legacy and making your ancestors proud too.” 

Kats sent her a look, but she could tell that he’d been at least a little cheered up. Enough to stand up and give his own version of a ‘good job’ to Izu. Of course, that meant he punched Izu in the shoulder and glared at him, but everyone in the room knew what he was trying to say. 

Himiko made eye contact with Eri and then glanced at Kats, and Eri got The Mischievous Look on her face before she yelled something incoherently and jumped into Kacchan’s arms with the biggest smile on her face, “You did amazing too!” She beamed. Kats grimaced in a way that showed he was trying to hold back a smile, and Himiko nodded to herself at a job well done. 

Amajiki Tamaki tugged at the corners of his mask and winced as the elevator grinded to a halt. He didn’t like wearing his formal gear, even though he did understand that it was necessary for this kind of party. Secret identities were a big deal in the villain world, and The Organization made sure that everyone in their upper circles had both field gear that they could actually use in their villain personas, and formal gear that they could wear to ‘company parties.’ Tamaki didn’t appreciate the amount of people in the room, (even if it was a very large room,) but he didn’t want to seem rude or disrespect his superiors, so he’d shown up anyways. In his formal gear. It had been a while since he’d worn it, and his boots were too tight. 

Tamaki was nervous. He never did well in crowds, and although wearing a mask gave him some level of comfort, it wasn’t his regular one. He felt confident when he was wearing his field mask, like he could take on any pro-hero and win with ease. He didn’t have that confidence with this mask. It looked the same on the outside, but its weight was different. It was lighter. It fit lower on his face. The holes his eyes looked out of were smaller. It wasn’t the same. Tamaki was nervous. 

The fact that everyone around him was wearing a mask made him feel a bit better, and he recognized a few people that he’d worked with out in the field passing by him. He didn’t know them well enough to go up and talk to them comfortably though. He also recognized some people that he’d heard about. Some in news footage, and some higher-up people through the grapevine in rumors and legends. The very thought of talking to those people made him feel like he was suffocating though, and he didn’t dare even go near them. Tamaki didn’t attempt to talk to anyone. 

The thought of standing around and not doing anything made Tamaki uncomfortable too, so he searched for a table of food until he found one and cautiously made his way through the crowd towards it. None of the food looked appetizing, and he didn’t want to accidentally activate his quirk, (which he tended to do when he got nervous,) so he walked to the end, pretending to look over the food, until he came to the punch bowl. 

Tamaki’s hands trembled as he poured punch into his glass, and he wished he could take a look at what the ingredients for the punch were because if there was too much sugar it would probably just make his hands tremble more and they were already trembling pretty bad and he was wondering if anyone around him had noticed how much his hands were shaking when he had poured his punch and now he had something to do but he was just standing near the punch bowl kind of like a creep looking out at everyone behind his mask and everyone was wearing a mask so you couldn’t see anyone’s face and all those people that Tamaki kind of knew from before were out of his sight right now and he didn’t recognize anyone in this area of the room and was he even allowed to be over here? Was someone of his status allowed to take food or drink from the table? Maybe it was only for the higher-ups and that was why he didn’t recognize anyone over here. 

Those people over there were looking at him. He knew it even though he couldn’t see their eyes behind their masks and they couldn’t see this but did they think he was looking at them? Probably so he needed to leave he needed to leave right now his hands were shaking so bad that some punch just spilled on his glove and it was black so it shouldn’t stain but what if there was something really hard to get out of cloth then he’d be in big trouble because this was really expensive cloth this was his formal gear he wasn’t supposed to get this dirty at all and his hand was getting kind of wet now he’d spilled more than he realized and all of this was terrible and why did he come he didn’t even know anybody he needed to leave he didn’t even want the punch it tasted like water in his mouth anyways but just throwing it away after barely taking a sip would seem rude but his hands were shaking so bad what if he tried to carry the cup out and someone bumped into him and he spilled his drink all over someone? What if when he was trying to leave he was so nervous that he tripped over something and fell on someone himself?

What if one of the really higher-ups saw him leave and thought he was being ungrateful and demoted him to a lower rank and he’d never be able to live that down or what if they were if a really bad mood and pointed it out to everyone here and he’d have to explain that he needed to leave because he was about to have a panic attack and that would be the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to him and he needed to leave right now because having a panic attack here was worse than having one out in a hallway and it was dark and he was wearing a mask and he couldn’t breathe and he felt like he was going to throw up and the lights were too bright and the crowd was so loud that he couldn’t even hear himself think and Tamaki felt a gentle hand grip his arm and start to lead him away from the punch table and had he really been standing there in front of it for that long and who was grabbing his arm right now and more of the punch had spilled he’s pretty sure he got it on the person’s shoes and that’s not good thats really not good and he didn’t recognize that mask and he was being led to the door and oh no no no did that mean he’d done something wrong? 

The second Tamaki and this mystery person were out in the hallway, the person gently let go of the very light grip they’d had on his arm and held out their hands as if to steady him if he fell over but the lights were gone and the door was shut and the noise cut out and there was no one else here except for the two of them but it was a lot better now, Tamaki just needed a moment to calm down and the person was speaking and he hadn’t heard what they’d just said and now he felt bad about it but they were probably going to repeat it so he should listen up he was still breathing too fast and did the other person hear his heartbeat because Tamaki thought it was pretty loud. 

“I’m sorry I grabbed you without asking,” the other person said presumably the same thing a second time and the words finally registered in Tamaki’s head, “I tried to talk to you but I don’t think you could hear me and it looked like you were panicking so I just led you out of there. Are you alright?” 

Tamaki tried to calm his racing heart and steady his breathing but when he spoke his words still came out a little unsteady, “Yeah, yeah yeah yeah I um, thank-thank you I um, I- I, uh um-” he cut himself off abruptly when he realized that his words weren’t coming any easier. Tamaki swallowed and looked at the ceiling while trying to blink tears out of his eyes and counted to ten like his therapist said he should before dropping his head to look back at his rescuer and clearing his throat, “Thank… you.” He said, wincing at how hesitant he sounded. 

His mystery rescuer nodded and Tamaki got the feeling like they were smiling behind the mask, “Any time!” They said, and their voice was pitched high enough that Tamaki could tell it was a girl, “If you go down that hallway to your right, there's a staircase you can sit under. It’s really quiet back there. If that’s not your thing, then there’s a bathroom if you head the other way and turn left.” 

Tamaki nodded and gulped, “Yes, thank you. I um, I don’t know-” 

“I wouldn’t expect you to,” The girl said, “I’m a stealth specialist, so the whole point is that you wouldn’t have heard of me!” Tamaki was certain that if she hadn’t been wearing a mask, the brightness of her smile would’ve been blinding. 

“Cool, that’s um, that's really cool-or um, neat,” Tamaki winced at how awkward his words were, “I’m um. I’m a- combat specialist.” 

“That’s amazing! Combat specialists are cool. I mostly picked stealth because it runs in my family. We’ve been with The Organization for a few generations now. I really like being a stealth specialist though!” The girl looked off to the side as if a bit embarrassed, “Part of our training was learning how to recognize anxiety and when someone’s really uncomfortable with a situation because that way we can figure out if we’re fit to do a mission, so I, um. I hope I helped at least a little bit? I wasn’t being rude or intruding or anything?”

“Oh no! No no no not- not at all.” Tamaki gulped again, “Um, thank-thanks.”

“Anytime. Can I do anything else for you? I can stay and talk if you want?” Tamaki shook his head. The girl nodded once before disappearing back into the door and entering the party again. Tamaki stood in front of the door for a few moments before heading off to his right to sit under the staircase and stare at the ceiling and try to slow his heart rate. 

Tamaki felt more comfortable in a high-stakes mission for The Organization fighting pro-heroes in the middle of the night on a rooftop than he did at any kind of social event. 

Takami Keigo was sitting in his office when he got the message. His phone buzzed with a number that wasn’t in its database, but he knew who it was anyways. He let it ring until it went to voicemail just to be certain, but the second the notification that a voicemail had been left popped up on his phone, he opened it and clicked the pop-up to listen to the message. 

“This automatic message is sent out to inform you that you need to renew your car insurance. To renew your car insurance, please dial this number:” The computer generated-women’s voice spoke a string of numbers, and Keigo grimaced to himself as he listened all the way through to the end, “If you would like to renew your car insurance right now, press 1. If you would like to make an appoi-” the women’s voice cut off abruptly as Keigo ended the call. 

In order to keep Keigo’s position as a pro-hero, The Organization had to disguise his messages as spam calls. The phone number the call had given was a fake one, but it meant something to the one receiving the message. Codes were one of Keigo’s specialties, after all. 

Since becoming the Number 3 hero, Keigo had only gotten busier than he already  was. He was on call right now actually, for a raid on one of the older Yakuza bases. It had already been cleaned out of everything important, but there were a few goons and other assorted treasures that weren’t of any value to the Yakuza left behind to keep the heroes satisfied, (not that the heroes knew that.) Keigo also knew where the base was, and he was supposed to be called in the second the rest of the heroes found it. He couldn’t leave his office right now until they did.

The pro-hero known as Hawks sighed and looked up at the ceiling. He was too busy to go to the company party his superiors were throwing tonight. He couldn’t leave his post. He wondered what the party was celebrating. 

Kaminari Denki had been surprised to be invited to this party in the first place. The fact that both he and Tooru were invited was even weirder. The fact that no one knew what the party was even in celebration for, (Council-level news, his parents had told him; that meant even the 1st circle wouldn’t know,) was the weirdest thing about the whole situation. Tooru walked up to him to stand next to him and sip the punch she’d grabbed at some point. He wasn’t sure when. 

“That poor guy, I felt so bad for him,” Tooru said, glancing back at the door she’d just come through, “It would suck to be invited to one of these and have a panic attack. I hope he ends up being OK.” 

“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Denki said, “He seemed to calm down after he left the room. You did a fantabulous job.” 

“Thanks.” Tooru replied, taking off her mask to drink, “I did do a fantabulous job, didn’t I? Although, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed him if you hadn’t pointed him out though, so it was teamwork!”

Denki snorted. Tooru always had to make everything sound as wonderful as she could, “Yeah, I guess we both did a beutific job then, right?” 

Tooru smacked his arm lightly, “Stop that! I feel like you’re making fun of me! I don’t sound like that!”

“What do you mean you don’t sound like that?” Denki asked, gesturing with this cup for effect, “You, totes sound like that!” 

“You’re so mean to me! I don’t know why I ever hang around you, ” Tooru said, leaning on her friend's shoulder and gesturing with her cup like he was to imitate him.

“Now you’re being mean!” Denki whined, “Stop that! My feelings are hurt . I don’t do that either!” 

Yes you do !” Tooru fake stumbled to further imitate how he walked when he short-circuited, “ All the time .”

“Why do you bully me?” Denki whined.

“Poor little baby,” Tooru made a pouty face at him. 

“You know what?” Denki asked, crossing his arms as best as he could while still holding his cup of punch, “If you’re going to make faces like that, then maybe you should stay invisible. All the time.

Tooru gasped as exaggeratedly as she could, “ Haha ! You do talk like that!”

Denki gasped just as exaggeratedly as Tooru had, “You’re still mocking me!”

“You make it so easy!”

Denki turned his head up to the ceiling and sniffed as if he were holding back tears, “To think, I finally got invited to a company party, and this is how you treat me. This was supposed to be a happy night! Instead, my soul is crushed. My heart is broken. I have not a friend in the world.” 

Tooru giggled, “And you say I’m dramatic.”

“You are !” Denki shook his drink at her. 

“Not as much as you!” Tooru snickered. 

“I don’t know why I ever hang around you. ” 

“See? I told you,” Tooru shook her head and took a long sip of her drink for effect, “You totes talk like that.”

“At least I don’t talk like you .”



Izuku was overwhelmed. At this point in the evening, he had been shaking hands with people and saying polite hellos to the people working in the circles under him for well over an hour now. Company parties were supposed to be fun, and celebratory, but Izuku had never once seen anyone have any fun at them. Well, maybe except for Himiko. She always found a way to cause mischief. Izuku hadn’t seen her since the party started, and he didn’t want to know what she was getting up to. Unless she was somewhere, alone, not surrounded by people like he was. There were so many people. Why were there so many people?

Izuku knew what to say in theory to the people that wanted to shake his hand or have a conversation with him, but in practice he had to talk extra slowly to make sure that he didn’t stutter the words, and when he got nervous he tended to talk faster and his brain ended up thinking faster than his mouth could react anyways. Every time his sentences didn’t come out right, he wanted to die inside. The heir to All For One’s throne, and he can’t even talk right. 

The other people were still kind to him, but he couldn’t see anyone’s face, because they were all wearing masks. At least, everyone in the 1st circle was. Some of the 2nd and 3rd circle people had opted out of wearing theirs tonight. Izuku saw a pair of people in the corner that he recognized as kids his age that had just started work as vigilantes in the 2nd circle having a conversation without their masks on to make drinking punch easier. Izuku wished he could drink the punch. He’d heard it was really good. Izuku wasn’t allowed to take his mask off though. 

The reason was because people from any circle except for the 1st weren’t allowed to know who exactly he was or what exactly his face looked like. Since there were 2nd and even 3rd circle people here, (this was a big party, after all,) he couldn’t take it off, and he’d been told that he probably shouldn’t even if it was a 1st circle only party. The only people from The Organization who saw his face on the regular were people in the Council, which was the highest level of superiority in The Organization. Izuku was pretty sure he’d talked to everyone in the council at least 5 times tonight, and even their familiar voices weren’t enough to stop the anxiety from swelling up inside of him. Izuku didn’t like company parties. 

Especially with the threat of One For All hanging over his head. Everyone he talked to expected that he would make a great leader one day. They all expected that he would be powerful one day. That he would be feared. That he would have authority. That he should be listened to. Izuku was terrified of letting them all down. 

Everyone respected him so much. When he stuttered or tripped over his words or sounded nervous, they didn’t react. People dipped their heads when greeting him, as if he were a great king. Izuku was not a great king. He was a 14 year old kid who was about to be entrusted with not one, but two different legacies, both beginning nearly two centuries ago from rival sides of a war that had been battling for longer than even those legacies had been alive, one of which he would eventually have to betray in order to stay loyal to the other. Izuku was caught between what he’d been taught by his family, (what he knew to be true,) and what society was trying to teach him, (society was lying, his family had taught him.) Except, how did he really know anything? What if he made the wrong choice anyways? If he got One For All, then there would be no one on the earth who would be more powerful than him, or anywhere near more powerful than him. Not even Kacchan. Kacchan was supposed to be able to keep him in check. If he received All Might’s quirk-

Izuku knew when he should leave a party. This wouldn’t be the first company party that he’d left early, and it wouldn’t be the last either. Izuku was overwhelmed, and didn’t want to be in the room with so many people who expected so much of him anymore. 

It took a few sentences, (that he stumbled over,) to extract himself from the conversation he was having with one of the higher up 2nd circle representatives. Izuku carefully made his way across the room, through the crowds of people to where he knew the door was to get out into the hallway. There was a staircase he knew of that he wanted to go sit under. 

Katsuki was irritated and tired. This night was just as boring as every other company party that he’d ever been to. Once he saw Deku go to bed, he figured there was nothing stopping him from following suit. 

The party was winding down anyways. 

Izuku stared at the person sitting under the stairs he had been planning on sitting under and froze. Instantly, he worried about the fact that his father’s son shouldn’t be seen leaving a party early to have a nervous breakdown under some stairs, but then he realized that the person already down there was probably there to do the same thing. There weren’t many reasons someone would leave a company party early like that. Izuku was about to turn around and go find somewhere else to sit, but the person noticed him and nearly jumped out of their skin. 

“Oh-oh! I- I’m so sorry, I’ll- I’ll just leave-” 

“No! No no no I was just about to, I’m so- sorry about this,” Izuku nearly tripped over his words and then almost tripped over his feet trying to get away. The person sitting under the stairs must’ve recognized his mask because he froze up immediately. 

“Oo-oh no,” he choked on his words, “I- I- I um-”

“You’re fine! You’re totally fine,” Izuku hurried to make sure that the other boy didn’t think he was going to be punished for this, “You’re good! I just- I just um.” He paused as he recognized the mask the other boy was wearing. 

For starters, it was a 1st circle mask. That alone meant Izuku should know who this was, in addition to the fact that the boy was young, probably only a few years older than Izuku was, (he prided himself on knowing about all the kids in The Organization who were anywhere near his age.) Izuku was blanking on whose mask it was. For a second he panicked, until the other boy shifted a bit and Izuku’s eyes caught on the cloak that he was wearing, and all the pieces fit together. 

“Oh!” Izuku said the second the recognition hit him, “You’re Kraken!” 

Instantly, the other boy shrunk back, as if Izuku had yelled at him. Izuku hurriedly backtracked. 

“I-I mean,” He started, “I um. I didn’t mean anything by it, I’ve just heard of you and… I think you’re pretty cool!”

Kraken froze, and then spoke hesitantly, “What?”

“Yeah!” Izuku’s knowledge of who Kraken was and his current mission came flooding back to him, “I mean, you’ve been stationed at UA for, what, 2 years now right? And the heroes haven't suspected a thing? That’s awesome!”

If Izuku had to guess, he would’ve guessed that Kraken was blushing under his mask, “You really think so?”

“Of course!” A thought hit Izuku, “Hey, I’m probably going to be sent to UA soon.” Next year would be high school. Izuku was going to have to go, after he’d told All Might that he wanted to, “What’s UA like?”

“Well, it's um- it's interesting for sure,” Kraken started, “The teachers are all very nice, even if a few of them are pretty eccentric. And the kids are usually really nice too. Nothing like some of the kids at the middle school I went to.” 

“That’s really good!” Izuku said, smiling behind his mask even though he knew Kraken couldn’t see it, “What’s the training like?” 

“Light, compared to what you’re probably used to,” Kraken started, then backtracked immediately, “I mean, I wouldn't have any idea, but just from what I’ve been through at a lower level, and I really wouldn’t know, I didn’t mean to imply-”

“No! No I get it,” Izuku cut him off quickly, “I would assume that you have to hold back a lot when you’re training though. What do the teachers think of that? Have they noticed?”

“Well… no.” Kraken spoke quietly, “Or at least, they don’t know how much I’m holding back. They know I’m holding back at least a little though, but they think it's just because of my anxiety.” The second the words were out of his mouth, the other boy froze as if realized what he’d just said and was embarrassed by it. 

“Huh,” Izuku thought out loud, “Well, I wonder what I’ll do. I don’t think I’ll be able to convince the teachers that I’m holding back because of my anxiety, so I guess I’ll have to figure something else out.” Izuku saw Kraken take a deep breath as if relieved, “I’ve got time though.”

“Yeah…” Kraken said, “Ten months… you’re really planning ahead.”

“I tend to over-plan stuff sometimes,” Izuku explained, taking a step back as he prepared to leave Kraken alone again before deciding to say one more thing, “Hey, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to go to the company parties.”

“I just-I just don’t want to be rude or anything, it's always- always such an honor to be invite- invited-”

“Seriously,” Izuku looked at Kraken as close to dead in the eyes as he could while they were both wearing masks, “If you don’t want to go, you really don’t have to. If being around that many people makes you uncomfortable, then it’s totally Ok to not go. I mean, some days I’m not feeling up to them, and sometimes I don’t go.”

“...Really?” Kraken hesitated, “...I won’t be taken as um- ungrateful or- or something?”

Izuku’s smile softened, “Of course not. If you want to come, then come! We’d love to have you. But if you’re not feeling up to it, then don’t make yourself come. We don’t want to stress you out, or make you uncomfortable. Please, if you don’t want to come, then don’t. We’ll understand. Besides, we don’t really keep track of who comes and who doesn’t anyways.” 

“Thank you,” Kraken sounded relieved, “Thank you. And um- thanks for talking to me too.”

“I should be the one thanking you! You answered my questions,” Izuku said, beginning to back away. He still wanted a quiet place to think, “I guess I’ll see you around?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Kraken sounded less hesitant than he had at the start of the conversation, “Bye!”

“Bye!” Izuku turned all the way around and walked away. The roof was quiet. Plus, there was usually no one up there. He just wanted a second to breathe. Fresh air would help. 

Himiko loved company parties. They were the perfect place to make friends, for starters. They were also the perfect place to practice reading people, and it was even more fun when the challenge of masks was in the way. Plus, it never hurt to get talked to by people much older than her as if she had far more authority than they did, (which was true.) Himiko liked being reminded of her high status in The Organization. 

Once she got bored of actually talking to people though, Himiko liked to sneak away and snoop. She had a knack for information gathering, and  the secrets she’d learned at company parties were usually useful in some way. Himiko never missed an opportunity to learn something that she shouldn’t know. 

For instance, there was a young pair of 2nd circles talking to each other near the punch bowl. Both of them had their masks off, which was fine because they had no secret identity to hide from anyone who was here. Their names came to her easily. Kaminari Denki and Hagakure Tooru. AKA, vigilantes Spark and Ghost. Himiko smiled from her place in the vent above them as she listened to what they were talking about. 

“I’m just saying, if I got into the council, I’d ask for a quirk that would eliminate my need for sleep,” Kaminari was explaining, “Who needs it? There’s so much work I would be doing while I’m asleep! That information isn’t going to gather itself!” Himiko could relate. She also worried about missing something important while she slept. 

“That’s stupid though!” Tooru was arguing, “You should ask for a quirk that makes you stronger! I’d totes want a quirk that allows me to put other people to sleep. You know how many stealth missions would be so much easier if I were able to eliminate other people silently?” The stealth specialist paused for a second, considering, “Or maybe I’d want something that would take out the alarm systems, or like the other people’s communication systems? That way, they won’t have any way to detect me as long as I’m quiet, and even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to communicate my whereabouts to anyone else.”

“So basically, me,” Kaminari said, “What you’re saying is that you want a hacker on your side. I’m in such high demand these days. Won’t be long before they’re offering me a council seat, mark my words.”

“Stop!” Tooru lightly smacked Kaminari’s arm, “Don’t joke around about that! That’s serious!” 

Kaminari snickered, “I’m just joking! Jeez , your hits are light . Are you getting soft or-” 

In seconds he was shoved against the wall, one arm twisted painfully behind his back. Instantly he started kicking out with his legs and trying to hook Hagakure’s knee to send her sprawling to the floor. In response, she turned completely invisible and must’ve let go of him because he pushed himself off the wall and whipped his head around as if trying to see her. 

“I know where you are!” Kaminari said, “I can smell you! Smells stinky .” 

Himiko watched with amusement as his head snapped back dramatically and he clutched his nose. 

“OW!” he yelled, “You just punched me in the face!”

“Aren’t you always talking about how good you are at dodging attacks?” Hagakure teased. Himiko could tell from where she was that Hagakure had barely touched him. If anything, she’d tapped him on the nose with her finger, “I thought that would be easy-peasy for you. So you can stop being a baby about it.”

“I’m the best at dodging! I’m the best dodger ever ! I can dodge anything ! Just not invisible fists!” Kaminari complained, still holding his nose. 

Hagakure laughed and reappeared behind him, “You’re ridonkulous . How do you expect to get into the 1st circle, much less the council, if you can’t even dodge a direct hit to the face?”

“You know what ,” Kaminari said, lightly touching his nose with his fingers as if to make sure it wasn’t broken, “Fighting skill isn’t everything. I specialize in information and computer hacking. My intelligence far exceeds my need for fighting skill. Even so, I’m fantastic at dodging.”

Hagakure’s eyes narrowed and she turned invisible again. Kaminari made a squeaking noise and covered his face with his hands instantly. Hagakure reappeared laughing. 

Himiko snickered from her spot in the vents. She probably would’ve kept watching them until a little while later, but the party was wrapping up and any guests who were still around were being rounded up and told to leave. Himiko smiled at the two young vigilantes and made her way deeper into the vents. 

Exactly 23 minutes later, Himiko was asleep in her bed. Her last thoughts before sleep overtook her were about how she was going to be the High Assassin who would get to serve under the All For One who would finally complete their mission. 

Himiko couldn’t be more excited.

Chapter Text

It’s only two days after the company party that Izuku met with All Might again. Even though it was at Dagoba Beach far too early in the morning for any sane person to be awake, Izuku wasn't tired.

Izuku listened as All Might explained that Izuku was going to clear the beach in order to train his muscles until they became strong enough to hold One For All, and wished he’d brought a pair of gloves to protect his hands. When he was handed a sheet of paper that outlined everything from sleeping to dieting instructions that he was supposed to follow to get himself as fit as possible in the 10 months he had before the school year, Izuku wondered briefly if there was any way to back out of All Might’s offer of training. Especially since it didn’t seem like it was going to be training at all, and actually just conditioning. Izuku didn’t need conditioning. One For All might be too much for the average human, but Izuku was his father’s son, not the average human. 

Izuku had 10 months to convince All Might that he was ready. Even if he didn’t want to, he would go through with this. Besides, getting to know the man better could only help in the long run. Plus, the conditioning couldn’t be that bad, right?

Everything hurt. Izuku had never been more sore in his life. He stared at the plate in front of him and nearly cried at the lack of his favorite foods. It was healthy, that was for sure, but that didn’t mean the food was tasty. Eri looked at his dejected face and tried to offer him some of her Kasudon, but he shook his head sadly and kept staring at his plate. Eri looked back at hers and sighed as if her food tasted as bad as Izuku’s. Kacchan just snickered and smiled smugly at him from across the table. 


‘I hate you.’ 

Himiko watched Izu struggle to drag an old computer across the beach to the truck that would take it to the actual dump and wondered if there was anything else she could be doing at the moment. 

She’d been assigned to watch Izuchan train with All Might, just to make sure that everything went Ok. She knew that Izu, at least, was aware of her presence, (and would’ve been even if he hadn’t been told about her mini-mission before he left for the beach the first day,)  but All Might had no idea that he and his trainee were being watched. 

‘Some great hero he is,’ Himiko pursed her lips and took another sip from her breakfast smoothie. From her spot on top of the hill that looked down on the area that the pair were working she couldn’t hear what they were saying, but her lip-reading abilities were top notch, (if she did say so herself,) and deciphering what they were talking about wasn’t that hard. 

All Might was giving another one of his speeches about heroism and saving people. Izu’s acting abilities shone through in how his eyes sparkled as if he were really taken in by what All Might was saying. Himiko snickered at the starstruck look on his face. She had half a mind to take a picture of it to show Kats later, but figured that she’d probably get better ones if she waited. 

Hours passed. Himiko had long since finished her smoothie, but she didn’t feel like throwing her cup away. It was going to be lunch time soon. They’d been there for hours now. Himiko wasn’t sure if she’d ever been as bored as she was right now. There just wasn’t anything to do . Except watch. Izu could at least try to make this a little interesting for her. 

By the time Izu and All Might looked like they were finishing, the sun was nearly setting and it was well past lunchtime. They’d taken a break to eat but afterwards had gone right back to the conditioning. Izu looked absolutely miserable . His clothes were so soaked with sweat Himiko thought she might be able to smell him all the way from where she was. All Might was still spouting encouragement, and Himiko wondered idly how he had enough free time to dedicate an entire day to making both her and Izu’s life as painful as possible.

Izuchan got a single high-five from All Might as a thank you for working himself to the bone all day, and Himiko nearly snorted at how awkward it looked for both of them. 

Himiko made sure to disappear before All Might and Izuchan passed by where she was standing, 

There were 10 more months of this coming.

Himiko wasn’t sure she was going to make it through before she died of boredom. 

It was rare that Tamaki got called into a conference with his superiors, but today he’d been surprised with the summons as he was putting on his field gear before heading out for his night patrol. 

Sitting in this particular office always made Tamaki nervous. The chair was so squishy he worried about sinking into it so far he’d never be able to stand up again. The shutters on the fake window were always drawn, and the bookcase was impeccably organized. The floor was always so clean that its bright white floors nearly blinded him whenever the lights were on. The lights were almost never on. The room’s light all came from the person sitting behind the desk. 

Blindspot was an old hero whose eyes glowed in the dark like two headlight beams. Every time Tamaki had met with him, Blindspot had been looking at the papers in front of him, or at the wall, or the floor or the ceiling. Making eye contact with him could cause permanent damage to your eyes, Tamaki had been told. They said that he used to be one of their most lethal fighters, blinding his opponents and taking them out with ease. He’d been stationed in America too. The fact that he’d been brought back to the home base in Japan and hadn’t been kept stationed over there spoke to his usefulness.

It had been many years since Blindspot had been out on the field, (exactly how many years, no one Tamaki had talked to was quite sure. Probably at least a few decades though, from what he’d heard,) but he’d made quite the impression while he was still active. Tamaki felt bad for the person they’d framed and put in jail under Blindspot’s name. The poor guy was probably going to be there for a long time, considering what Blindspot had gotten up to. (Not that the other guy didn’t deserve to be there. The Organization wouldn’t just frame an innocent person for nothing.) Tamaki wasn’t entirely sure what the other guy had done, just that he’d done something. Similar to how he wasn’t entirely sure all of what Blindspot had done, just that he’d been a combat specialist. Tamaki wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Tamaki also didn’t know what Blindspot’s real name was. That was typical policy for Organization members though. Tamaki knew that it wasn’t relevant information anyways.  

“You’re our UA traitor, aint ‘cha?” Blindspot rasped with a voice that sounded as old as he looked, “I’ve got news for ya’ on a little ‘update’ to yer mission...” Every time Blindspot spoke, his words seemed to trail off in a way that suggested he might have something else to say, and Tamaki could never be sure if he really did have something else to say or if he was waiting for Tamaki to respond. 

It took Tamaki a second to realize what Blindspot was telling him, and he panicked. “Am I in trouble?” His voice came out a bit higher than he was expecting it to.

“No no... No no no,” Blindspot shook his head and the beams of light shooting out of his eyes cut through the dark like swords as they moved, making the shadows around the pair of them shift and change shape, “It’s a good thing, from what I can tell... I think it's… er….. Mmm…” Blindspot thought about his next words tediously, “A sign of... trust.” Blindspot still sounded offly uncertain about the news he was about to be delivering, and Tamaki felt himself start to sweat. 

“What’s the update then?” Tamaki had to focus to keep himself from trembling. 

“Well ya’ see, er...” Blindspot stopped there, and paused to think about his next words carefully again as if he had all the time in the world and Tamaki wasn’t about to die of suspense in a few moments, “Your status has… changed.” 

“My status?” Tamaki could feel his heart stop. He really was about to get demoted, or punished, or-

“You’re going to be a mission supervisor from here on ‘til ya graduate, ‘n maybe even after that. If yer’ mission’s still in effect, o’ course.”

Tamaki felt his head go blank for a second before his brain rebooted, “But… I’m the only person assigned to my mission. Who would I even be supervising?”

“Oh, yeah. Heh. That’s the other thing,” Blindspot chuckled as if the fact that he’d forgotten part of the information he was supposed to be relaying was amusing. Tamaki did not find it amusing, “There’s gonna be… oh, what was it... two more 2nd circles assigned to yer mission. They’re gonna be learnin’ at UA, jus’ like you. After ya' leave in a few years, they’ll still be there to keep tabs on the place... I guess, yer’ mission spying on the thing has been immensely helpful to the higher ups’, so I reckon they wanna… keep your job around.” 

Tamaki stared at Blindspot in shock. This was insane. This was going to change everything about the mission he’d been on for years now. Even before he’d gotten into UA, he’d been at a normal middle school to prepare for it. Tamaki felt nauseous. Why in the world was he being trusted with two new 1st year spies? Did the higher ups really trust him that much? To lead this whole mission? Tamaki wasn’t entirely sure he was going to be able to do it.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it,” Blindspot’s voice got quieter, as if he were sharing a secret, “Y’know, I see a lot of myself in you, son.” 

“...Really?” The strangeness of that sentence alone was nearly enough to pull Tamaki out of the downward spiral that he was on the verge of getting sucked into.

“Yeah…” Blindspot leaned back in his chair and pulled out a cigarette, drawing out the word as if the longer it was, the less awkward Tamaki would feel about the whole situation. It did not help, but Blindspot lit his cigarette as if he didn’t notice Tamaki’s discomfort, “A young upstart in the business of bein’ somebody..” His eyes glazed over as if he’d gotten lost in memories. 

Tamaki waited and didn’t say anything, unsure of if Blindspot was waiting for him to say something or if he was just thinking about his next words again. Nearly a minute passed in complete silence, until Tamaki realized that Blindspot was starting to snore. He panicked for a second before hesitantly asking, “...Blindspot?”

Blindspot snorted awake, and Tamaki jumped, “Ah! Ah! Oh, what’s happenin’ now…” Tamaki felt his anxiety spike as he realized that Blindspot might look up without thinking and set the blinding beams from his eyes on the younger vigilante. Miraculously, he didn’t look up at all and kept his eyes on the desk. Tamaki took a deep breath and hoped that his eyesight would continue to be spared. Blindspot continued as if nothing had happened, “Y’know, I had a job as a spy my-self when I was’ a youngin’...” He pronounced the word ‘myself’ as if it were two different words, “In fact… I would say that we’re more alike than you might be thinkin’... heh,” He chuckled and his eyes drifted from the desk to the corner of the room. Tamaki froze the second Blindspot’s eyes started to move and then hesitantly followed his line of sight to find that he wasn’t looking at anything. Blinking, Tamaki turned back around slowly, extremely confused about where the conversation had turned to. A few minutes passed before He realized that Blindspot might’ve fallen asleep again. 

“Um-” Tamaki started to speak, but was interrupted immediately.

“Don’ interrup’ me young man!” Blindspot’s eyes shot to be looking at the desk again, and Tamaki nearly jumped out of his chair. The lack of eye contact throughout the entire conversation had never made Tamaki more uncomfortable than it was making him right now, even when he thought about the dire consequences it would have, “I was thinkin’! Haven’ cha’ been taught not to interrup’ yer elders when there talkin’? God-” the old man let out a string of curse words so violent Tamaki flinched away from him, “Anyways, what was I sayin’ again? Oh yeah…” The old man trailed off again as his voice lost all of its anger in a single sentence. Tamaki swallowed and tried not to start crying. 

“I- I- I really should be going sir. I have- I have stuff-”

“Yeah yeah… yeah get out,” Blindspot grumbled, but then seemed to realize something because as Tamaki was standing up to leave, he started yelling again, “What’re you still doin’ here anyways? Get! Come on, Get! Out My boy, come on now, hurry up… Y’ know, back in my day-”

Tamaki felt bad about shutting the door in the middle of one of Blindspot’s sentences, but his need to leave the room overcame his need to not be rude and he hurried down the hallway from the office and desperately prayed that he wouldn’t have to talk to his supervisor for a long time. 

Katsuki was unhappy. Himiko was taking the day off since she had a mission to complete and he’d been stuck with ‘Watch Deku and All Might train on a beach and do nothing interesting for 3 hours’ duty. Katsuki had come here directly after getting home from school. He should be in the Bunker right now, doing homework. Instead, his homework was balanced on his lap, he had a crappy disguise on so any cameras that caught him wouldn’t be able to ID him, and he was trying not to get too much sand in the pages on his notebook. Katsuki was unhappy.

Katsuki liked to think that he was more patient than Himiko was, but after he finished his homework, he realized that there was really nothing to do. Just sit and watch. The brain chemicals in Deku and All Might’s heads weren’t even that interesting to observe, they both just felt awkward and (in Deku’s case,) exhausted. Himiko didn’t even have that to observe, she just had to sit here. Katsuki groaned and shifted the way he was sitting. 

When he finally got to go home, he was going to take a nap. He was also going to stop making fun of Himiko for complaining about being on beach watch, because it was absolutely horrible.


Tamaki stared down at the two files that had been placed in his locker. He had no idea who put them there, or when, but he knew that they were meant for him because across the front the words, ‘For Kraken,’ were written in bright red letters. Tamaki looked around with uncertainty. There was no one else in the locker room. Tamaki cautiously pulled them off the inside door of his locker where they’d been taped and read the smaller text under the words specifying that the files were for him. 

“URGENT, ” The text read, “To be read in private area. CLASSIFIED. Do not lose, copy, or tear. MISSION UPDATE DETAILS CONTAINED.”

Tamaki spent a long time just staring at the words before they really registered them and realized what he was looking at. Immediately, he panicked for a second before closing his eyes as tight as he could, taking a deep breath and holding it. Tamaki held it for a few seconds before letting it out and breathing as deeply as he could, in and out like his therapist told him to. He held the files in his hands a bit looser, trying to relax his grip on them before he opened his eyes and re-read what the text was saying. Tamaki gently set them on the shelf of his locker and got his field gear out. He’d read what the files actually said after patrol tonight. There was nothing to be worried about, he’d known that a mission update was going to be coming soon anyways.

Putting his field gear on made Tamaki feel better immediately. It always did. He shoved thoughts of an update to his mission out of his head and headed out. 

Denki called Tooru screaming while she was in the middle of doing her homework. Tooru wasn’t surprised, (this wasn’t an unusual occurrence,) but she was having a hard time getting his words to make sense. 

Denki was speaking too fast for Tooru to understand what he was saying, especially over the phone, but he sounded excited. Tooru couldn't help but let excitement bleed into her voice a bit as she told him to slow down. 

“EMAIL! EMAIL EMAIL check your email Tooru!” Denki’s shout made his voice crackle through the phone, “I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!” 

“What?” Tooru asked, sitting up and reaching for her computer. 

“I- I- I uhhhhhh...!” Denki scrambled for the words, his volume never falling even a little. Tooru winced at how loud he was, “I can’t tell you right now! You’ve got to read the email !” His voice crackled through the phone again as his voice rose with the last word. His hesitancy made it clear that the email was Organization business that he couldn’t talk about over the phone. The email itself was probably in code. 

“OK!” Tooru said, “I’m not hanging up, whatever it is I want to scream about it with you.”

Yesssss! You’re not going to believe it!

Tooru could feel her anticipation growing. It was rare that Denki sounded this excited, especially over an email. It had to be really big news. 

The screen was loading far too slow for Tooru’s tastes. She swore she could feel Denki’s excitement through the phone. It only made her more impatient. 

When her inbox finally popped up, Tooru desperately clicked on the only email that wasn’t one of her teachers or friends from school. The email address was familiar to her. She recognized it as the one of the fake ones The Organization used to send out coded messages that were disguised as spam mail. The colorful banner of the fake company filled her screen and Tooru scrolled down and blocked out the sound of Denki in her ear asking if she’d found it yet. Both the speed he spit out his words and the volume he said them at were cranked to 100. Tooru’s training kicked in and she translated the code in her head with ease. The longer she read, the more astonished she got. Tooru had to read the email through 3 times to understand what it was saying. The second it processed in her head, she shrieked. 

“WHAT?!” Tooru understood very suddenly why Denki was having such a hard time not yelling through the phone, “WHAT?! This is INSANE! BONKERS! AMAZE! WHAT?!” 

“I KNOW!” Denki yelled back with just as much, if not more enthusiasm, “I KNOW! IT’S CRAZY!

“BUT- BUT-” Tooru jumped up with her computer in her hands and her phone pressed in between her shoulder and her ear, “BUT- WHAT!?”

“I KNOW! I KNOW! ” Denki’s voice got louder somehow, and Tooru wondered if the phone was going to survive this whole ordeal, “MEET ME AT THAT ONE SPOT! THIS IS TOO CRAZY ABOUT OVER THE PHONE!” 

“NO KIDDING!” Tooru nearly dropped her computer in her haste to set it down on her desk and rush out the door to put her shoes on and go to their spot, “THIS IS ABSOLUTELY JEEPERS LEVELS OF CRAZY-BONKERS-AMAZE-INSANE! AAAAAH!” 

“I’M TOO EXCITED TO TELL YOU TO STOP INVENTING WORDS!” Denki’s voice got marginally quieter and Tooru heard the sound of his front door closing behind him as she guessed he was rushing out it, “I’LL SEE YOU SOON!”

“YES!” Tooru rushed out the door of her own house and pulled her phone away from her face to end the call before she got too excited and said something over the phone that she shouldn’t. She would have to wait until her and Denki managed to meet up at their favorite spot. Tooru’s head was still spinning from the information she’d just learned. She couldn’t help but sprint all the way there. 

Tamaki stared down at the pair of files on his desk and tried to decide if this new information was a good or a bad thing. 

On the one hand, he now knew who he was going to be supervising next year for his information gathering mission. On the other hand, neither of them were first generation Organization members like him. 

Hagakure Tooru, (AKA Ghost,) was a 3rd Gen. Kaminari Denki (AKA Spark,) was a 5th Gen. That meant both of them had grown up in The Organization. They weren’t like him. Tamaki already felt a bit queasy about meeting them for the first time, without that added fact. 

Reading further into their files, he found out that Spark had both ADHD and Dyslexia. The boy had chosen to be an Intelligence specialist regardless. Tamaki figured he could admire Spark’s drive, especially since it seemed that even with the learning disabilities, he’d managed to thrive in that field. In fact, his hacking skills were noted to be top notch. Tamaki felt cautiously optimistic about the choice his higher-ups had made to put Spark on the mission, even if he was worried about how he was also noted to be, ‘high energy,’ and ‘easily distracted.’ He had an electric based quirk. 

Ghost, on the other hand, was a stealth specialist born with a quirk that allowed her to turn herself invisible. Tamaki was especially interested in how in her files it said that the government was under the impression that Ghost was invisible all the time, while instead she had the ability to turn it off. Tamaki figured that being invisible was probably the perfect disguise for vigilante and undercover work. He wondered if she even wore a mask. 

Tamaki read deeper into the files on both of his new mission-mates. Some of the previous missions they had completed were very impressive, especially for people as young as them and for people only in the 2nd circle. Tamaki wasn’t surprised when he found out that they were both being examined for possible 1st circle status. 

He’d have to set up a meeting with them soon and give them their mission briefing. Tamaki was feeling good, all things considered. Out of everyone The Organization could’ve picked for the job, from what he’d seen in the files, he thought it was going to be OK. The pair seemed nice enough. They were skilled too. 

Very skilled. Tamaki wondered how good they would be at hiding their skill levels when they entered UA. 

Denki couldn’t help but nearly vibrate with excitement. He and Tooru were on their way to a 1st circle base. A 1st circle base! That was crazy! 

Ever since they’d gotten the email informing them that they were going to be working as spies at UA under the supervision of a 1st circle combat specialist, the pair of vigilantes had hardly managed to stop screaming. 

Both of them had been instructed to meet in a specific alleyway in full field gear. Apparently, they were going to be in a section of the 1st circle base where everyone was required to be in full gear. That was fine with Denki. His gear was comfortable enough anyways. Plus, he was pretty sure the look on his face was stupidly happy. He was glad there was a mask covering it. When he looked over, Tooru looked like nothing but an empty cloak, as usual when they were in field gear. If the moon caught her form just right, Denki could almost see the outline of her shadow. 

The alleyway was dark. There weren’t any streetlamps. This was a part of town with very little security footage, from what Denki had heard. What footage storefronts and traffic cams did have was blurry and full of static. Denki made sure before-hand that the videos were manipulated just to be safe anyways. 

There was a damp feel to the air, like the alleyway had gathered humidity at some point and never let it go. The stars should’ve been impossible to see through the lights of the city, but this section of it was barely lit, and when Denki looked up he could just barely see the starlight. There were dirty bags of trash lining the sides of it, and a lump of something that smelled like rotten meat and Denki was pretty sure used to be a rodent of some kind. 

The air felt like it got colder for a second, like the night shifted, and the shadows opened up to reveal a swirling mess of deep purple and pitch black gloom that tore through space and time itself to present a path for Tooru and Denki to take. 

Denki took a step back in surprise, but Tooru only tilted her head. 

“Must be the warping quirk we were told about,” Denki could hear the grin in her voice. 

He laughed to ease the tension and grinned as well even though she couldn’t see it through his mask, “Ladies first.”

“What a gentleman,” Tooru’s voice was smug, “Are you sure you’re not just using me as a way to test the safety of the portal?”

Denki hadn’t even thought of that, “Do you think I should be worried?” Tooru stilled and turned her face towards him in her best imitation of a blank look she could create while invisible, “Fine, fine, I’ll go first if you’re so scared.”

Tooru snorted and turned around to plunge into the darkness without waiting for Denki to beat her to it. Denki looked around to make sure that no one was watching them before following her through. 

Izuku stared at the list of names on his lap and sighed. He’d known the list by heart for a long time at this point, and studying up on the history of One For All users seemed pointless to him. 

Old footage of the pro-hero Lariat was playing on Izuku’s computer screen, and Izuku couldn’t help but be extremely bored watching the 5th user fight. . 

In theory, studying up on the various users of One For All was a good idea, but in practice, it was dull. Izuku had been fascinated with the various users of OFA when he was little, and the previous All For One’s had kept lots and lots of information on them. There was a plethora of knowledge that no one else in the world had access to stored in The Organization’s databases, and Izuku had consumed it all a long time ago. 

Watching and analyzing how the different users had utilized the quirk in different ways wasn’t getting Izuku anywhere he hadn’t already gone, so he figured he should head down to the training rooms and ask Kacchan to spar with him while he was using an enhancement quirk again. Izuku hadn’t used many different enhancement quirks in the past, so practicing using one was going to help him tremendously in using One For All when he eventually received it from All Might. Plus, even if he was bored watching the same news footage of the same heroes playing over and over again to try and discover something new about how One For All operated, the thought of writing up an analysis on how it differed from other enhancement quirks was appealing to Izuku, and he could only do that if he studied other enhancement quirks as well. 

Kacchan groaned when Izuku asked him to spar against him again for the third time that night, but Izuku knew he didn’t really mind all too much. They both had pent up energy they wanted to get rid of, especially since Kacchan had been on ‘Beach Duty,’ (as he referred to it,) that day instead of Himiko like it usually was. 

Tamaki felt safe behind his field mask. It fit on his face like a glove, just heavy enough that he was reminded of its presence, but light enough that he never felt sore no matter how long he wore it. 

Tamaki had read and re-read the mission outline that he was going to be explaining to Ghost and Spark. He wanted to make sure that he understood the mission inside and out so that any questions or issues that might arise while he was explaining it to them could be resolved easily. If he were being honest, it was a doozy of a mission. There were layers upon layers upon layers to it. 

On the surface, it was an assignment putting them inside UA to spy on the school, (taking Tamaki’s place,) which was complicated enough. If you dug a bit deeper, you found that it was also a prime position to take notes on the up and coming heroes the school was producing. If you dug even deeper, you found that it was also setting them up for a future as spies in the hero industry as a whole. This mission was a lifelong commitment, and Tamaki was well aware that neither of the young vigilantes that were being assigned it really grasped how big a responsibility it was going to be, if everything went correctly. 

That was the other thing. It was an extremely difficult mission. Spying through infiltration was no easy task, especially when it was on an establishment being run by a creature like Nezu. 

The final layer was the one that made it the most complicated. Two of the Big Three would be attending the school as well, and they also tied into everything to make it all the more complicated. 

Tamaki was a part of the Big Three at UA, which included him and his two best friends; (only friends really; he wasn’t that good at making them.) He’d been the one to suggest the name actually, and if he was being honest, that had been entirely an accident. To his immense dismay, the name had taken root and was still being used regularly by staff and students alike to describe him and his little group. When Tamaki had informed his superiors about it, they had told him it was alright and encouraged him to laugh at the accident. Tamaki hadn’t been the one to come up with that name. 

The Big Three had been a concept within The Organization for a very, very long time. For every new generation of All For One and Hope, there was a Big Three. Traditionally, the positions were taken up by the soon-to-be-successor of All For One, the soon-to-be-successor of Hope, and the soon-to-be-successor of the High Assassin. Three coveted positions. Three people who should grow up to be the three most powerful people in the criminal underworld. They were villain royalty, and even the mention of their names carried a lot of weight. Tamaki always felt uncomfortable when he got grouped in with Mirio and Nejire as falling under that title. It felt like too big of shoes to fill. 

Tamaki had read through all the parts of the mission outline that detailed what the Big Three’s role in all this would be several times. He hadn’t been given much information, but he wanted to make sure that he understood the information that he was being given inside and out. Even though he’d probably read through every word meticulously 10 times over, he still felt a big nervous. 

Tamaki had managed to request a meeting room and gotten the two younger 2nd circle kids arrangements to visit the 1st circle compound and have a short meeting with him. Sitting behind the desk now, the updated mission file he’d been given sat in front of him as ominously as something of its size could sit. It was closed and face up, with the big red URGENT letters still spelled across the front. 

Tamaki got a notification from the secretary about a pair of 2nd Circles requesting access, and Tamaki told her to let them in. His voice didn’t shake over the intercom, and he was grateful for it. 

The seconds seemed to pass like hours, and Tamaki sat perfectly still in a desk chair that squeaked when he sat down. The single lightbulb in the ceiling burned a bit too bright to look at, but at least the room was well-lit. Tamaki folded his hands on the desk and closed his eyes, waiting.

The sound of the door opening caused him to open them. Through his mask, he could easily see the two middle schoolers he had read about in his files. Ghost and Spark. 

Even though Tamaki could see neither of their faces, he could tell that they were both smiling widely. Spark snickered a bit as if Ghost had said something funny before they’d entered the room and he was trying to hold in his laughter. Tamaki pursed his lips, a familiar feeling of anxiety clouding his senses for a moment before he took a deep breath and let it go. He had his mask on. They didn’t know who he was, or what he was feeling. They couldn’t, since they couldn’t see his face. He was safe. 

“Sit.” Tamaki gestured to the seats in front of him. Both younger vigilantes sat down quickly. Tamaki noticed that Spark’s leg was bouncing in excitement. Tamaki carefully opened the file sitting out in front of them and took out the two pages of overview on the middle schoolers in front of him, “Kaminari Denki, AKA Spark. Intelligence Specialist. Hagakure Tooru, AKA Ghost, Stealth specialist. These are you, correct?” 

Both of the kids in front of him nodded. Tamaki realized that they were probably just as nervous as they were excited. 

“Good,” Tamaki was a little unsure of what to say, “I guess, we should start with a summary of what your new jobs are going to be?”

Spark and Ghost both hesitated before nodding. “Sounds smart,” Spark said. 

Tamaki swallowed and focused on sounding more certain of what he was saying, “Both of you will apply to UA as first years interested in joining the hero course. Both of you will get through the entrance exam in the middle of the pack. You’ll be accepted into the school and stay in the middle of the pack. Not bad enough to get kicked out but not good enough to stand out. You will report back to The Organization about what UA is planning. Things like field trips, training camps, festivals, things like that. You will also give them information on your fellow classmates. They will one day grow up to be heroes. Take more notes on the more powerful ones that might become problems for us in the future. Figure out weaknesses. They might be as simple as an allergy to peanuts. Write it down and send it back. Nothing is too small.” Tamaki took a deep breath. Now the hard part. The part of their mission that differed from his, “There’s another thing, too. The spying is only one half of your mission. The other half is a… a test.” 

Ghost tilted her head, “A test?” 

“Yes,” Tamaki paused and thought about how to explain it in the simplest way, “Two of the Big Three are... going to also be enrolling at UA. You won’t know who they are, but it's your job to figure that out. If you can identify which two of the big three they are and which of the UA students they are, then you will be able to… or, I guess, invited to join the 1st circle. If they’re impressed with you enough, you might even be considered for future council positions.” 

Spark stood up and just barely managed to stop himself from screaming, instead making a muffled squeaky sound like an animal dying. Tamaki flinched. Ghost had frozen in her seat. 

“Future council members…” She said in a daze, then her head tilted up to look at Spark, “Future council members!” Her voice rose several octaves towards the end of the sentence. 

Spark only made the weird muffled squeaky sound again. 

“That is a very very big ‘if’ though,” Tamaki tried to warn them, “They’re the Big Three for a reason. It won’t be easy at all to figure out who they are. You probably won’t, in the end. It's just an opportunity.”

“We won’t let you down!” Spark straightened and saluted Tamaki. Tamaki died a little inside. 

“Yes! We’ll make you proud!” Ghost stood up too and copied Spark. Tamaki stared at them for a few seconds, completely at a loss at how to react to them before he managed to gather his thoughts and hesitantly start speaking again. 

“...OK…” He said. His voice came out much quieter than he had intended, “Um… I’ve compiled all the information you need to know about the mission you’ve been assigned in these folders here, so go home and read them. Um… Yeah.”

Spark and Ghost both reached out and took their folders. Even though Tamaki couldn’t see Ghost’s smile, he could feel it radiating off her, “Thank you fantastically!” 

“...OK.” Tamaki said again, a little confused. 

“Is that all?” Spark asked. He looked like he was nearly vibrating with excitement. 

“...Yes.” Tamaki decided. Spark and Ghost made another big show of saluting him before standing up and heading out the door of his rented office. He distinctly heard Spark let out a ‘WHOOP!” The second the door closed, and Ghost shushing him immediately after. 

Even though the both of them were a bit much energy-wise, Tamaki still felt cautiously optimistic about them being the people he was assigned to supervise. They both seemed kind. Honestly, they reminded him of Nejire and Mirio. 

He was a little worried about sending them into UA. He figured that if the higher-ups thought they could handle it, they probably could, but he still couldn’t help but be worried that they might blow the entire operation and bring to light what Tamaki was doing as well. Even though Tamaki was a traitor, he’d made genuine friends at UA. If it ever came out that he was a traitor, he’d never be able to be Mirio or Nejire's friend again. The thought of losing Mirio in particular made Tamaki feel sick to his stomach. 

Tamaki waited a few minutes to make sure that Ghost and Spark had plenty of time to get all the way down the hall before he left the room so he wouldn’t have to run into them again. He made his way out of the wing of the 1st Circle Base that he was in and into the locker rooms. 

As he always did, Tamaki suited up in his field gear and headed out for patrol. The night was quiet, like it always was. 

Tamaki stared at the stars that he could see through the light pollution of the city and tried not to imagine what would happen if Mirio found out who he really was. 

It didn’t work. Tamaki worried anyway.

Chapter Text

Honestly, Izuku was kind of surprised that he made it as long as he did without sticking to All Might’s ‘Dream Plan.’ Izuku wasn’t sleeping at all, (why sleep when you can use a quirk to erase the need for it,) and while he was trying to stick to the diet, he wasn’t sticking to the exercise portion of the schedule. Izuku worked missions during the night time for the most part, and those usually included  jumping across rooftops and dodging bullets, which both fall solidly into the category of exercise, not even mentioning all the regular training and sparring that he did back at the base. Izuku, realistically, couldn’t stick to the plan, but he also couldn’t explain to All Might why he couldn’t, or request that the plan be changed in a way that would accommodate for everything he was doing without it being extremely suspicious. 

The end result of all this was Izuku collapsing in the middle of one of their runs. Luckily, it was on a rarely trodden path through some trees, so no one was around to see him, but unluckily, it ended in All Might finding out that Izuku wasn’t sticking to the ‘Dream Plan.’ 

Izuku panicked for a second after All Might asked him if he wasn’t sticking to the plan, but his mouth started talking before he was really sure of what excuse he was making up and suddenly All Might was under the impression that he was working himself to the bone because he ‘had to work harder than everyone else.’ Izuku was hardly saying words that he hadn’t said before, but All Might only seemed impressed with his drive and work ethic. Izuku was disappointed that he couldn’t see how toxic that line of thinking could become. The reason he couldn’t, Izuku figured, was probably because All Might most likely shared that exact line of thinking about himself. 

The 10 months it took Izuku to train both felt like absolutely forever and no time at all. By the time February 26th rolled around, (the day of the entrance exam,) Izuku had managed to clean out the entire beach. He had also decided that being strong even without the use of a quirk was quite useful. He liked it, actually. If he were to be late to school, for instance, Izuku found that by the time the 6 or 7th month mark came around, he could run all the way from his house to his school without getting too out of breath, and he could even make good time too. Plus, he could finally beat Kacchan in quirkless arm wrestling competitions. Sometimes. It depended on the day. He still couldn’t beat Himichan though. 

Neither of them could beat Himichan. 

Izuku got out to the beach earlier that morning than he needed to. He easily took care of the last patches of trash that were still stubbornly sticking around and littering the beach, even ones that he didn’t have to take care of, and then climbed to the top of one of the heaps of trash that was still there to look at the sunrise. 

The orange and red light made his eyes sting and set black spots on his vision. Izuku closed them and watched the colors dance behind his eyelids. Taking a deep breath, Izuku focused on the smell of the sea. The air was salty, and just chilly enough that it was noticeable. 

Izuku didn’t know how long time passed while he sat there. He was dangerously high up, perched on a mound of trash that was easily high enough to injure himself if  he were to fall from the top. It didn’t look particularly stable. In fact, it almost swayed in the breeze, like the second a gust was just a little too strong the entire thing might come toppling over. There were rusty parts and sharp edges everywhere on it, and some of it smelled weird. Izuku felt safe, all alone on top. 

At some point, Izuku stood up and screamed. He didn’t really have a reason for it, he just felt the need to let out some of the stress that was building up inside him. Today, he would be receiving One For All. Something his predecessors had been working towards for over a century. Something his ancestors had been working towards for generations. A duty that had been passed down through his family since the moment the quirk was created, as quirks themselves were being discovered. Izuku was going to be the one to bring it all together. Once they had the quirk, and once All Might didn’t, there was nothing stopping The Organization from doing what they had been planning on doing since it had been founded. Taking over the world, essentially. There weren’t any other quirks out there that could compete with the combination of One For All and All For One. There wasn’t any kind of power anywhere that could compete with them, actually. Soon, very soon, (in a few minutes,) all that power would be Izuku’s. It wouldn’t just be his power, it would be his responsibility as well. Izuku was scared. He was scared that once he had that power, he was going to mess up and do something wrong. 

Whenever Izuku got anxious like this, he tried to focus on what he had to accomplish that day, and only that day. He told himself to not think about what he had to accomplish tomorrow, or the days and weeks and months and years after that, but just what had to be finished before the sun rose the next morning. It tended to help. Most of the time, Izuku was just overthinking things, and he only needed to redirect his attention to what was most important to quell his anxieties about things to the point where he was able to function correctly again without second guessing everything that he did. 

The only thing Izuku had to do today was pass the entrance exam. Izuku forced himself to not think about how he was about to obtain OFA. He forced himself to think through everything that he had to get done and nothing else. The list was short. That helped a bit. Wait for All Might to show up, talk with him for a bit, go to the school, pass the exams. 

Izuku took a deep breath, and then resumed his screaming at the sky. 

Himiko laughed out loud when she saw the look on Izu’s face after All Might told him about how he was planning on passing down OFA. Kats was going to get a kick out of this too. 

Himiko made sure to snap a picture of it with her phone, zoomed in really close so that only Izu’s face could be seen, (and not All Might,) and then sent it to Kacchan. 

She promptly got a text back with only the words, ‘Can’t believe you found a way to have fun on Beach Duty’ and immediately lost it completely. 

The talk that All Might gave Izuku before he was given OFA made him feel inspired. If All Might was good at one thing, it was being inspiring. So far, that was the only quality about him that hinted he might be even a kind of Ok teacher from what Izuku had seen. The fact that UA was letting him teach even though he very obviously didn’t have a teaching degree or any idea what he was doing when it came to kids really spoke to just how much weight his name carried. It was irresponsible of the school. Then again, lots of things about UA were irresponsible. Like the entrance exam, for instance. The fact that no one had ever died while taking it was a miracle. 

Izuku was a little worried that he might be the one to break that streak however. Even if he was dying of stress and not to the giant robots. 

Izuku always got anxious about tests. 

Today was the big day for Denki. He was finally going to take UA’s entrance exam and begin the biggest mission he had ever been sent on as of yet. Up until now, his only job had been to plant the idea in his friends’ and teachers’ heads that he wanted to go to UA so that it wouldn’t seem super out of the blue, as well as make a minimal effort to train by going to the gym twice in the 10 months that he had before the exam. It was in character at least, even if it wasn’t all that effective. 

Denki met up with Tooru at the steps to enter the building. They would have to take the written exam first, which Denki wasn’t looking forward to. He hadn’t been able to request someone to read his test for him since he hadn’t been diagnosed with dyslexia by a doctor that wasn’t in The Organization so he’d have to struggle through reading it on his own. Luckily, he could feel his ADHD meds kicking in so he should be able to at least focus. Denki knew not to count on having a very good score anyways though. Hopefully, it wouldn’t matter. 

They knew from Tamaki that the school paid way more attention to the score on the practical exam than on the written one. Unless someone really knocked the written exam out of the park or absolutely crashed and burned in every way, they were probably going to rely almost entirely on the practical. 

Tooru had a skip in her step as they walked up the stairs together to the door. She looked completely relaxed. Denki knew that even though she was very good at hiding whether or not she was nervous, she probably wasn’t feeling anxious at all. If he was being honest, Denki wasn’t too nervous either. 

The giant robots that Tamaki had reported about fighting during the entrance exam would fall easily under his quirk, so he didn’t have to worry about the practical portion all too much. His current plan at the moment was to find a bunch of the robots near the beginning of the exam and exceed his wattage limit right off the bat so that he would have an excuse to come in the middle of the pack and not in first like someone whose quirk was so perfect for the scenario should. 

Denki and Tooru ended up being some of the first people to show up. Denki had been so excited that he’d left really early, and Tooru had wanted to walk in together, so here they were. Tamaki had texted to wish them good luck, and the pair of them felt confident as they opened the door and entered the building. 

Even though they’d gotten there really early, there were still people who’d gotten there before them. Since they were going to be there a while waiting for the exam to start, almost everyone in the room was reading a book or drawing or doing something on their phones. There wasn’t much talking. Denki snickered and pointed out a taller kid with dark blue hair and glasses sitting perfectly straight, flipping through a pile of papers that looked like a review packet for the written exam. He radiated an air of seriousness so strong that the people sitting nearest to him couldn’t help but lean away. Tooru giggled and they chose seats near the back of the room. 

Tooru must’ve spotted a camera and remembered that they were being watched by security footage, because she gripped his arm and said, “Thank you so, so, so very-berry much for going over the review material with me. I’m still a tinsy uncertain about some of the stuff. What was your name again, kind stranger?”

Kaminari snickered at her obvious dramatics, “Kaminari Denki. But you can call me the worst person to be going over review material with. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“Well, you’re the only person so far who’s willing to help, so I guess I’m stuck with you.” Tooru sat down and took out the review packet she’d been given at school. 

Denki winced when he realized that they’d actually have to go over the packet, “Can’t wait.”

Himiko walked with a pep in her step. ‘Beach Duty,’ as Kats had not-so-lovingly called it, was no longer on her list of responsibilities. There was one last thing that she had to do, however, before heading back to the base. 

Himiko slipped into an alleyway and took the vial of blood out of her bag. This alleyway had been specially chosen because there weren’t any security cameras in it, and the ones on the storefronts around it either barely worked or were owned by puppet companies controlled by The Organization. She wouldn’t have to worry about being seen. 

Just as she always did, Himiko got a warm feeling of joy in her heart as the taste of blood touched her tongue. Quirks were meant to be used, and Himiko loved using hers. 

A second skin formed around her and Himiko giggled in a voice that was a bit higher than hers usually was. Blue hair fell around her shoulders and her vision sharpened. 

Sneaking into the exam wasn’t hard at all. Himiko had been set up to impersonate one of the 2nd circle girls who was the right age and willing to let Himiko take a sample of her blood. 

The girl’s parents worked in their recon division, and the girl herself had a quirk that sharpened her senses. Himiko could already see, hear and smell the difference. It was the perfect quirk to keep track of other students attempting the exam, as well as the perfect quirk to make sure that Kats and Izu were doing ok as they took the exam. Plus, it was in the gray space between a quirk that someone could have and reasonably think they had a chance of getting into UA with as well as one that probably wouldn’t do very well on the exam in reality. 

Himiko smoothed out the uniform skirt that came with her disguise and skipped out of the alleyway to the main sidewalk again. UA wasn’t too far from here, but she would have to take a train. 

Himiko showed the conductor her ticket and smiled widely at him. He gave her a confused look but waved her on regardless.

At this point, Izuku was starting to feel a little worried. He knew what it felt like to receive a quirk, and he wasn’t that at all. All Might had said that it might take a little while for the quirk to take hold, but Izuku had walked all the way from the Beach to UA and he still couldn’t feel it. Did the quirk have a mind of its own like they’d theorized? Was it strong enough to not allow itself to be passed on to Izuku? Was he being rejected by the quirk? What was he supposed to do? 

Izuku tried to focus as he stepped through the gates to UA. If he didn’t receive OFA correctly, then he didn’t receive OFA correctly. There wasn’t anything he could do about that. All Izuku could do was stay in character and not get distracted. Staying in character meant not using any other quirk besides OFA. Izuku forced himself to jump a little when he saw Kacchan approaching the school at the same time as he did and scrambled to stay in character for the short interaction they had. 

“Good luck Kacchan,” The words were only whispered in his mind, but Kacchan heard them all the same. 

“Don’t mess this up.” Kacchan told him, red eyes seemingly staring right through Izuku’s soul, “You’ve done fine so far. Don’t fail now.”

Izuku swallowed and tried not to start crying. 

A few of the kids entering the school with them recognized Kacchan and whispered about him being the kid from the sludge incident. Izuku could tell that Kacchan resented the label. Izuku was just glad that none of the news stations had gotten a good look at himself. He didn’t want to be known for the sludge incident either. 

Izuku took a deep breath and tried to center himself. He was going to stay in character. He was going to pass the exam. He didn’t have to take out the most robots, just enough so that his villain points (along with any rescue points that he earned along the way,) would combine and be enough to get him in. Izuku was going to be fine. Once he passed this exam, he was home free. That all depended on whether or not he could activate the quirk though. If he couldn’t, then it was game over. Izuku wasn’t stressed. He was fine. He was totally fine. 

Izuku took a single step and then almost immediately tripped and found he was about to fall on his face. There wasn’t really anything he could do to stop it, so he simply braced himself and hoped he wouldn’t break his nose or something. 

Instead, he halted before he could hit the ground. In fact, gravity seemed to reverse on him. He felt weightless. For a split second, Izuku panicked, thinking he might have accidentally activated a quirk and ruined everything, but then he looked up and realized that there was a girl standing next to him with her hand out. 

“Sorry to use my quirk on you without asking,” the girl said, and proceeded to open a mostly one-sided conversation that included her introducing herself and wishing Izuku good luck. Izuku wasn’t able to get a word in before she walked away and found himself staring after her as she walked up the steps and entered the school. Izuku forced himself to shake his head and get focused again before he followed suit. 

Katsuki was unamused when Deku sat down next to him for the briefing about what the rules of the exam were going to be. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to sit next to Deku, it was mostly that he could feel the anxious energy radiating off him. His brain read as nervous and uncertain. Katsuki rolled his eyes and looked off to the side, trying to spot where Himiko was sitting in the crowd of students. He didn’t manage to find her before the lights dimmed and the pro-hero Present Mic stepped up to the podium in the middle of the stage and started talking. 

“Everybody say ‘Hey!’” Mic shouted into the room, his quirk causing his voice to be way louder than it needed to be. You could've heard a pin drop afterwards for how quiet it was. Katsuki had to stop himself from snickering. 

The second Present Mic showed up on the stage, Deku started muttering to himself about the hero. Katsuki nearly groaned as he realized that Deku was probably going to be doing that the entire time they were sitting there. 

Katsuki tuned out Present Mic as he explained how the exam worked and glanced around again to see how many Organization members he could spot. 

There was a pair off in the corner near the back that he recognized. They stood out because they were both whispering to each other about something and giggling. Katsuki recognized them from the lineup of 2nd Circle members who were student age. Plus, one of them was invisible, which meant that she was the youngest Hagakure. Katsuki remembered the Hagakures because their rescue was the first big mission his mother had ever been on, and she loved to talk about it. The kid next to the youngest Hagakure was also recognizable, if only because his family had been with The Organization for such a long time. His last name was Kaminari, although Katsuki didn’t know much else about him. He vaguely remembered being told that there were two other 1st years entering into UA to take Kraken’s place once he left, but Katsuki didn’t know much else about their mission. He didn’t think it mattered much, as long as they didn’t find out who he and Deku were. 

Katsuki still hadn’t managed to spot Himiko before one of the kids in the audience spoke up. His interest piqued, Katsuki craned his neck in an attempt to get a better look at the kid. 

The kid was saying something about a fourth robot that hadn’t been mentioned yet. Katsuki fought to keep the smirk off his face when the kid managed to weave an insult for the school into his short speech, and then really had a hard time keeping it together when he turned around and pointed at Deku before telling him to stop muttering. Katsuki allowed himself to send a small, smug look at Deku as he hurriedly shut up. 

Present Mic informed the examinees that the zero pointers should be avoided, and Katsuki squinted at the screen, memorizing which robot corresponded to which point value. His only challenges with the exam would be to both hold back enough that he wasn’t suspicious, get first place, and only receive villain points. He didn’t think it would be too hard. He’d certainly been on harder missions. 

Before they were released to begin the exam, Present Mic had one last message for them, “A true hero is someone who overcomes life’s misfortunes,” Katsuki rolled his eyes at the cheesy line and grabbed his bag in preparation to leave, “Go beyond, PLUS ULTRA!” 

Katsuki wrinkled his nose at the school’s ridiculous tagline and started mentally preparing himself for the practical exam. 

Deku was, of course, still trembling like a leaf. 

Izuku made his way to Battle Center B. His hands were shaking. He was only partially faking it. Why was he still unable to feel OFA? 

‘Focus,’ Izuku told himself, ‘The exam is only 10 minutes long, we only have to immobilize the robots to get their points, and saving people will give me points too. I can do this. It’ll be fine.’  

While the crowd of examinees were waiting for the exam to begin, Izuku noticed that the gravity girl from earlier was in his exam group. He glanced around, deciding to walk over to her and thank her for helping him earlier. Before he managed to get her attention however, he was stopped by the taller boy from earlier who’d told him to stop muttering. 

“That girl appears to be trying to focus. What are you doing here? Are you taking the entrance exam to interfere with everyone else?” The blue-haired boy asked him. Izuku shrunk back and tried to apologize but was interrupted when the boy walked away. Izuku couldn’t help but hear some of the things the other examinees were saying. He heard several of them whisper about how they didn’t think he’d be a threat. Izuku took a deep breath and blocked out what they were saying. 

Izuku kept shaking to stay in character and didn’t let the nervous look on his face fall, but tried thinking through a plan of action. The robots had to have weak points. If he could find a heavy object, then he should be able to hit them in their weak points to take them out, even pretending to be quirkless. As for saving people, that shouldn’t be too hard. Lots of the kids here didn’t look like they really knew what they were doing, and Izuku figured that pulling them out of the way of robots or helping them up if they fell should be enough to count as rescue points. 

Izuku was so lost in thought that he didn’t hear Present Mic’s shout to start at first. He only realized that they were supposed to be starting when the kids around him took off running for the gate to the fake city. 

“Run run!” Present Mic shouted from a rooftop as Izuku panicked for a moment, “The die has been cast, you know.” 

Izuku took off at a sprint, desperate to not fall behind, but the few seconds it took him to figure out that the exam was starting had really cost him, and he found that he was already behind. 

Izuku didn’t stop running, weaving around other examinees and debris that was already starting to build up in the road and tried to find something that he could use to hit robots with. He was distracted enough by his search that when a robot exploded out of one of the buildings next to him, he was startled. 

‘A one-pointer!’ Izuku recognized, but the shock of seeing the robot bursting out of a wall right in front of him caused him to freeze, indecision freezing him in his tracks. He should take this robot out, but how did he do that and stay in character? 

“Thanks for distracting it!” A beam of bright blue light blasted straight through the robot, and Izuku noticed that it had come from a blonde-haired boy that seemed to sparkle weirdly in the sunlight, “Merci. We make a good team. But I don’t think we’ll meet again.” 

Izuku felt offended immediately at the assumption that he wasn’t going to pass the exam, but forced himself to ignore it and stay in character. The blonde boy with the laser quirk winked at him. Izuku stared at him, still partially in shock and trying not to show his irritation until Present Mic’s voice snapped him out of it, “6 minutes and 2 seconds!” 

Izuku felt the panic rise within himself again. How had that much time passed? He hadn’t even gotten a single point yet! He had to get going. Izuku tried running towards where he heard the sounds of robots being destroyed, dodging and jumping over debris from robots that had already been destroyed in the road. It was everywhere, littering the streets. This group of students was extremely destructive. 

When Izuku got to a square of the city that looked like it held most of the other examinees, he realized that he was probably too late. Most of the robots had already been taken care of. He saw the gravity girl again, smacking robots with her fingertips and sending them floating up into the air before she dropped them. She looked drained, and Izuku winced as he realized that she was really pushing past her limits for this. He also saw the taller boy in the glasses who had told him off twice now taking out robots using powerful kicks and speed that was definitely related to his quirk. Izuku heard the gravity girl counting 28 points for herself and started to panic, then heard the blue-haired boy shout about having 45 points and started to panic more. 

Izuku looked around slowly, realizing that all of his careful planning was for nothing. There weren’t enough robots left, and there wasn’t anything he could really do to take them out unless he broke character. There wasn’t anyone around him that needed his help, and Izuku realized that he was going to fail. He was going to get 0 points. He couldn’t rescue anyone and he couldn’t take out any villains. The time was slowly ticking down and he didn’t have any clue of what he could do. 

Izuku started running, trying desperately to find something, anything that he could do to earn points but found nothing. He looked around frantically for something, anything. He needed the points. He needed the points.
Izuku was going to fail the exam. Everything they’d done for the last 10 months was going to be for nothing. 

Himiko ran around as fast as she could, dodging robots and debris on instinct and focusing almost all of her brain power on keeping tabs on Izu. 

Izu wasn’t doing so well. In fact, he was getting more and more desperate by the second. There weren’t enough robots left for him to do anything, and there hadn’t been an opportunity yet for him to help someone. If he wasn’t careful, he was going to fail the exam. 

Himiko wasn’t worried however. She had a plan. All she had to do was wait for the 0-pointer to be released, and she could set him up for the perfect save. It would have to be good enough to get him in with only rescue points, but Himiko had no doubt that he could do it. 

Plus, she’d already picked the perfect victim for him to rescue. 

Katsuki was having no troubles at all. His explosion quirk tore through robots like they were made of paper. He lured them in using flashes and loud noises with ease, then blew them up with a well placed punch. Smoke and debris littered the street around him, and he almost felt sorry for the other examinees around him who had to avoid him or get hit. Almost. 

The exam was a walk in the park. 

Tooru and Denki had ended up in different battle centers, but Tooru wasn’t having any difficulty at all with the task at hand. She had no doubt that Denki wasn’t struggling either. 

The cameras on the robots didn’t track heat signals, which meant that she was able to sneak around them and avoid their arms and claws easily. Her invisibility served her well for the millionth time in her life as she took out the robots with precision and stealth. She found that all she had to do was unscrew the control panels and cut a few wires and the fake villains would drop like roadkill. 

Tooru’s smile turned slightly sadistic as she forced herself to hold back and only take out enough to get her into the school. Staying in the middle of the pack was important, and she couldn’t risk her position as a spy. 

Even so, she’d never had so much fun taking an exam. 

With her quirk-enhanced senses, Himiko heard the rumbling in the ground before anyone else did. She hurried to where the cute brunette girl was moving debris and robot parts around with her quirk in an attempt to get out of a small spot that she’d gotten herself stuck in and silently kept watch until the huge robot started to emerge from the ground behind her. Himiko watched as pieces of the road got thrown up and buildings around them crumbled in places. It was her time to strike. 

Trapping the girl by leaping off the side of the building she was clinging to and kicking a huge piece of broken road in the direction of the zero-gravity brunette was easy, and the few security cameras that Himiko had taken note of in the area had been destroyed when the robot tore out of the ground so she was safe. 

Himiko felt satisfied when the girl shrieked for a moment before the huge section of concrete fell on her, not killing her or injuring her too badly but trapping her all the same. 

Himiko slid down the building and ran away from the robot with the rest of the crowd, smiling to herself. The girl was right in the path of the giant robot. A giant robot that just so happened to be the perfect obstacle for Izuku to save the girl from. That should get him more than enough rescue points in order to grant him entry into the school, in Himiko’s opinion. 

She trusted him to use her perfect setup and handle the rest of the situation. 


Izuku watched the giant robot pull itself out of the ground and found that his limbs had stopped working. 

The realization that he wasn’t going to pass the exam was destroying him and the panic he felt was clouding his thought processes. There was barely any time left, and now Izuku had to deal with the giant robot too. As it continued to stand up, it hit Izuku just how huge the thing was. 

The robot towered over the surrounding skyscrapers, taller than even the tallest building in the fake city. It had a single, giant red light in the middle of what seemed to be its head, sinister and blinding. Smoke curled out of the ground and made breathing hard. Izuku didn’t notice the kid around him running away, too focused on the robot hulking over him. 

It was then that Izuku heard a scream coming from the robot’s feet. 

It was the gravity girl again. She was stuck under some debris that looked like it was a piece of the road or maybe part of one of the buildings the robot had destroyed. 

Izuku felt like the world had gone quiet. He stared at her for a moment that lasted forever. The memory of how she’d stopped him from tripping before he’d entered the school earlier that day flashed through his head. An intense sense of deja vu washed over him and the road fell away from his hands where he’d fallen

Just like the last time he’d rushed in without thinking, Izuku didn’t realize that he’d started running until after he’d already started. Izuku had no idea what he was doing, he only knew that gravity-girl, (Uraraka, he remembered her name suddenly,) was in trouble and no one else was sticking around to save her. 

As he neared the robot, he finally, finally started to feel something. It was like a buzz of electricity shifting around like lightning underneath his skin. There was a wealth of strength and energy he didn’t even realize he had until this very moment, an ocean of vitality and power he suddenly had access to. It was vast, never ending. He could feel it spread through every pore in his body, pooling in his legs as he prepared to jump. He felt like he could touch the sky. Any fear he might have felt before was nothing in the face of all this energy, all this force and strength. There was light consuming him, stretching on to infinity.

This was One For All. 

Izuku finally, finally released all of the energy that had been buzzing in his legs like a swarm of angry bees and leaped upwards far faster and higher than any normal human should ever be able to go. 

He flew. 


The second his feet left the ground, his legs exploded.

Chapter Text

Izuku could probably count on one hand the number of times that he’d moved this quickly, and that was saying something considering the sheer amount of speed and strength quirks he had at his disposal to use. It took no time at all for him to soar up high enough to look the giant robot in the face. 

Acting purely on instinct, Izuku let the great swath of power that he’d felt before in his legs pool in his right arm as he prepared to throw a punch. 

All Might’s words of advice from earlier flashed through his head briefly before he screamed “SMASH!” at the top of his lungs and let loose the energy his arm had collected like a spring being released after it had been compressed. 

Izuku watched as the robot exploded backwards and crumpled like it was made of paper. He was suspended midair for a moment before his stomach dropped out from under him and he started falling. The 0-pointer exploded before it truly fell backwards and hit the street behind it. 

Almost immediately Izuku’s head spit out countless different ways that he could land safely, but all of them involved using quirks that Izuku couldn’t use right now without exposing himself. The only quirk Izuku was able to use was OFA, and he could already feel it fading, although he understood now that it worked differently than any other quirk he’d ever used. He focused, and could feel the power start to pool in his left arm, which he was just now noticing was the only one that wasn’t absolutely destroyed. The adrenaline and shock he still felt from what had just happened stopped him from feeling most of the pain, but the sensation of shattered bones and torn muscle was starting to become unignorable. Izuku had dealt with pain before though, and he forced himself to ignore it. 

If Izuku could punch the ground with his only working limb (his left arm,) then he should be able to stop himself from hitting the ground and dying on impact. Hitting the ground would still hurt, and he would have no unbroken limbs, but Recovery Girl was on campus for a reason, and Izuku could hardly be the first examinee to injure themselves horribly while taking the exam. 

Present Mic shouted about there only being one minute left. 

The ground was approaching far too fast for Izuku’s liking, and he readied his fist to throw the punch at the ground. The pain from his other limbs was really starting to kick in, and he gritted his teeth and prepared himself for more of it. The vast ocean of power he’d called upon before collected in his arm as he pulled it back in preparation for the blow.

Just before he let loose the power of One For All on the ground, Izuku felt something slap him in the face. His whole body seemed to lurch softly as it slowed to a stop, hovering over the ground. With a start, Izuku realized that he’d felt this sensation before. He was weightless. 

“Gravity girl… Uraraka?” He thought in astonishment, turning his head to look at where she had been trapped before he jumped to her aid. 

She wasn’t trapped anymore. Izuku had to turn his head to look upwards in order to see her floating on one of the pieces of robot debris that she had been trapped underneath. The piece of road and other debris that had piled on top of her was floating just like they were, but Urarka herself looked extremely sick. Her hands were shaking, but she still managed to bring her fingers together and shout, “Release!” which sent everything dropping gently to the ground. The second the piece of robot she was sitting on touched solid ground, Uraraka covered her mouth with her hands before gagging and throwing up what looked like rainbows over the side of the robot. Izuku admired her determination, and figured that she’d probably get a lot of rescue points for what she just did to save him. 

The timer still wasn’t up yet however, and Izuku had to stay in character, so he clawed at the ground and tried to move himself forwards with only one working limb. 

“I just want… one point,” he said, letting desperation bleed into his voice, “Just... one…” At this point, the shaking in his voice wasn’t even acting. The pain from his shattered bones was starting to cloud his vision, and he felt faint. 

“Are the heroes just going to leave one of their potential students on the ground heavily injured?” he asked in his head, “Seriously?”

Present Mic called out, “Times up!” and Izuku let his head drop to the ground as if in defeat. He could barely feel his legs or right arm, but he was pretty sure that they were twisted at angles they shouldn't be. The pavement was hot and rough under his face and he could smell smoke from where parts of the battle center were still smoldering. Even though he was pretending to be unconscious, he was still aware of his surroundings. Izuku could hear the other students who took the exam whispering about him. He heard one of them ask about why he seemed so nervous if he had such a great quirk. Izuku winced internally as they only noticed the strength he had and not the consequences. 

Izuku could hear the sound of a cane being tapped on the pavement as someone using it to walk hobbled over to him. 

“Good work, good work,” Recovery Girl, the Youthful Heroine, made her way across the field, handing little candies to examinees as she passed, “Eat some gummies.” 

Izuku’s awareness of the situation was really starting to be hindered by the wall of pain that he was feeling, and he didn’t even realize when Recovery Girl came over, said something to him, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Instantly, he could feel his arm and legs start to mend. The sensation was unsettling, like his body knew that things weren’t supposed to work that way, but all Izuku could feel was relief that the pain was finally leaving him. One of the other kids, (The laser one, if Izuku was remembering correctly,) was explaining who Recovery Girl was to one of the other examinees. Izuku hesitantly took some gummies from the doctor and shakily stood up. 

Recovery Girl smiled, “Let’s finish this quickly. Is anyone else injured?”

The second Izuku walked through the elevator door and into The Bunker with Kacchan and Himiko at his heels, his father’s head shot up from where he was sitting at the kitchen counter looking through some files. 

They locked eyes for a moment, and Izuku smiled and swallowed nervously.

Midoriya Hisashi’s face broke into a grin identical to Izuku’s, “You got it.”

It wasn’t a question. Izuku braced himself and nodded. 

Eri jumped up from where she was coloring in a coloring book on the couch and yelled happily, leaping into his still slightly-sore arms and smiling as brightly as the sun, “You did it! You did it!” Izku couldn’t help but smile in response to her enthusiasm. 

Kacchan snorted and headed off down the hallway to his family’s section of the Bunker, (probably to change out of his school clothes,) but Himiko smiled brightly at Eri and deftly snatched her out of Izuku’s hands with a wildly happy expression on her face and started a dramatic retelling of everything that happened during the practical exam. 

Izuku’s dad, however, stood up and walked across the room to where Izuku was standing near the door, where he was hesitantly toeing his shoes off and slipping his feet into slippers. Izuku’s dad looked like he was examining his son, eyes staring at things that only he could see. Izuku took a deep breath. 

“You…” Hisashi’s voice was quiet, “You really did it.” 

“Yeah…” Izuku winced at how uncertain he sounded, “And I think I passed the entrance exam too.” 

His father’s smile was blinding.

There was another, smaller party later that day. Only people in the council were invited, and for the first time since many of them had been in the council, they had no idea what they were celebrating. 

One For All was a very closely guarded secret by both heroes and those who opposed them. 

Izuku happily indulged in more dessert than he had eaten in 10 months and stayed awake until nearly the middle of the night with Himichan and Kacchan talking about mindless things and people they’d seen at the entrance exam. Sitting in a circle in the middle of Himichan’s room, Izuku ranted about quirks, Kacchan ranted about how stupid some of the other potential students were, and Himichan ranted about the prettiest boys and girls she’d seen. 

All three of them loved the mindless distraction after the stressful day, and none of them were at the actual company party for longer than 5 minutes. 


The day the letters came was filled with a flurry of activity. Katsuki’s letter was opened first, and they all celebrated him earning the top spot in the practical with nothing but villain points. Katsuki was proud looking at his placement. He’d managed to hit the sweet spot between having the most points but not too many as to stand out as overly experienced. 

His mom made a comment about how her son was always on top of it, and his dad smiled and told him how proud he was. Katsuki made the walk over to the Midoriyas’ personal half of The Bunker to see what Deku’s hologram letter said. 

Izuku held the letter in his hands reverently. It had been delivered to their front door on the surface, and it was just heavy enough that he knew it must be an acceptance letter, since only those that got accepted received the hologram message. His mom was home at the time he received the letter, (his dad was meeting with a council member about a problem that had arisen within their department,) and Eri was clapping her hands and singing a song she made up on the spot about opening letters. Izuku couldn’t help but smile at her antics but asked his mom quietly if he might be allowed to open the letter alone. For some reason, he was nervous even though he knew he must’ve gotten in. 

The second he was in his room and alone, Izuku turned off all the lights so that he’d be able to see the hologram better and ripped open the letter. There wasn’t actually any paper inside the envelope, but a small piece of tech did fall on his desk and start playing a holographic video before Izuku even touched it. He was startled a little at the sudden appearance of All Might’s glowing face. 

“I am here as a projection!” The hologram All Might (Holo-Might, Izuku immediately named him in his head,) smiled broadly in his muscle form, “I had to do some paperwork that took some time, so I couldn’t contact you.” Holo-Might coughed. Izuku raised an eyebrow at the terrible excuse, “Sorry. Actually, I came to this town to work at UA.” Holo-Might made a face like he was going to continue talking, but someone off screen must’ve caught his attention because he stopped and asked, “Hm, what is it? Wrap it up? But there is something I must talk to him about,” Izuku narrowed his eyes. What could he possibly have to talk to him about that was free to be said in front of the camera crew? It couldn’t be anything about One For All… from the tone of Holo-Might’s voice and the way he was talking, Izuku thought it might’ve been though. He silently leaned back in his chair, ready to watch the obviously unedited footage of Holo-Might fumbling through trying to tell him that he’d gotten accepted into UA. 

“It’s going to push everything back?” Holo-Might asked as if he had no idea that the filming thing was on a schedule, “All right. Ok.” He turned so that he was staring directly at the camera, “Even if you passed the written exam, you got zero points on the practical exam. Of course, that means you didn’t pass…” Izuku felt his stomach drop to the floor for a moment. Did they have their information wrong? Had the rules changed since their spy had been through the exam? Did he really fail? He couldn’t be a failure, not after everything he’d done and- “if that was all there was to it.” Izuku breathed a sigh of relief and tried to calm his suddenly racing heartbeat, “I am an entertainer as well!” Holo-Might said. Izuku cringed, “First, take a look at this video!” The camera panned over to look at a screen that turned on to show video footage of Uraraka. Izuku sat up straight in his chair in surprise. What was happening? 

“Excuse me, um,” Uraraka sounded uncertain. Izuku blinked. The video wasn’t from the day of the exam. Why was it relevant? 

Almost like he had read Izuku’s mind, the camera panned back to Holo-Might, “She came to negotiate directly in person after the exam,” he explained, “Negotiate what? Keep watching to find out!” Izuku cringed at the cheesy line but kept watching anyway. 

“Um, the person with curly hair and freckles. Do you know who I’m talking about?” Uraraka spoke again, and Izuku narrowed his eyes at the familiar description, “Kind of plain-looking,” she continued, and Izuku sat forward in his chair, certain that she was talking about him, “Is it possible for me to give him some of my points?” She looked both hopeful and nervous. Izuku couldn’t help but blink in surprise when he realized that she was trying to do something really nice for him. 

‘She’s got a hero's heart.’ Izuku decided, ‘So kind… it seems small, but it's a really selfless action.

Uraraka kept talking, “I heard him say, ‘If I could just get one point,’ so I thought, maybe he was still at zero points.” She was right about that, “At least give him the points he lost because of me… he saved me! Please, please, please!” 

Izuku smiled despite himself. He really hoped that they both got into UA. He would love to be her classmate. 

The camera once more panned to the side and focused on Holo-Might. He smiled even wider then he already was smiling and started speaking again, “In addition to now having a quirk,” Izuku wondered about how he was so willing to talk about things that alluded to OFA in front of the cameramen and crew who weren’t supposed to know about it, “your actions spurred others to act. The entrance exam the other day was not only graded on villain points.” Izuku sat up in his chair again. This was it. 

The camera switched back to the video of Uraraka and Present Mic, but this time the teacher spoke, “Even if you ask to, you cannot give him your points. Besides, there's no reason to give him any, little listener.” 

Holo-Might spoke up again as the camera focused on his face once more, “How can The Hero Course reject people who save others and do the right thing? We can’t just run on lip service! This is a job that requires risking one’s life to put that lip service into practice! Rescue points!”

Izuku took a deep breath. He really was going to make it in, no doubt about it now. 

“They’re given by a panel of judges! It's the other basic ability we at UA look at. Midoriya Izuku, you earned 60 points! Your friend Uraraka Ochako earned 45 points! You both made it in!” Izuku stood up, “Come, young Midoriya. This is your hero academia!” 

Even though he was expecting it, Izuku started crying instantly. 

Midoriya Inko cried too when her son told her that he made it in, and she cried harder when he told her about what Uraraka had tried to do. Himiko made a comment about how Uraraka was kind as well as cute, and Kacchan scoffed while rolling his eyes. Iuku didn’t expect anything different from them. 

Izuku got a text from All Might in the middle of eating dinner. Since it was from All Might, he was allowed to look at it even though his mother had a strict ‘no phones at the table’ rule. The text told him to meet the hero at The Beach as soon as he was able. Izuku shoved the rest of his food in his mouth and rushed out the door. 

He ran into Kacchan in the hallway, who was putting on boots and a jacket. 

“Are you going out?” Izuku asked, a bit confused.

“I’m tailing you. Guess Beach Duty isn’t finished like we thought it was.” Kacchan looked pissed. Izuku winced. 

“This shouldn't last very long, and I think it’ll all be information gathering, no training.”

“I’m supposed to record your conversation too,” Kacchan told him, “Don’t say anything too embarrassing.”

Izuku smiled nervously, “Thanks, Kacchan.”

He didn’t get a response. 

Katsuki wanted to punch the number one hero in his stupid smiling face. He thought he was done with Beach Duty. HE THOUGHT HE WAS DONE WITH BEACH DUTY. He never wanted to see that horrible beach ever again. Katsuki was absolutely LIVID. Beach Duty had instantly soured his entire night even though it was supposed to be a happy one. He would rather go to a company party than do this, and that was saying something. 

Katsuki watched from a rooftop. A kid his age wouldn't be out alone at night at the Beach of all places unless they were up to no good, so he had to avoid any cameras or people all together by climbing up some place where he wouldn’t be seen. A black jacket, black pants, and a black baseball hat was all it took to mask his appearance. He wasn’t doing anything besides watching and recording, so he didn’t need his entire costume, and he didn’t feel like putting the thing on anyways. The night was kind of chilly anyways, so he didn’t mind the long sleeves too much. 

Izuku immediately embarrassed himself by yelling All Might’s name too loudly when he got to the Beach. Katsuki snickered and made sure that the recorder was working properly. It was high tech, capable of picking up conversations from very far away by connecting to a microphone that Katsuki had planted on Izuku when he wasn’t looking. He was sure that Izuku probably knew what he’d done anyways, but neither of them had commented on it. 

Katsuki zoned out while All Might congratulated Izuku on getting into UA. He rolled his eyes when All Might felt the need to tell Deku that he hadn’t used any of his connections to get him into UA, and he snickered when All Might had to tell Deku to stop fanboying over him. 10 months, and he still couldn’t help it. 

Katsuki’s attention was caught when All Might continued on to say, “I just happened to be offered a job at UA when I was searching for a successor.” Searching for a successor? At UA no less. Interesting that he’d abandon the search by picking Deku. Also interesting that he came to town 10 months before even the entrance exam happened, well over a year before he’d actually be teaching. Why was he here? There was something else that he wasn’t telling Deku about his potential UA job. Katsuki narrowed his eyes and kept listening. 

“My body broke with one jump and one punch of One For All,” Deku was speaking now, “I can’t control it at all.” 

Katsuki had been wondering about that. Deku was one of the strongest people in the world when it came to handling quirks that he wasn’t born with. If he couldn’t handle One For All without breaking his bones, then it was interesting that All Might could. To Katsuki, that meant it was probable that not harming yourself while using it was all a matter of control. That suggested that the quirk was even more powerful than they thought, if All Might had to hold back while using it so as not to hurt himself. 

Even though he was lost in thought, Katsuki snapped back to attention when he heard Deku say, “Wait, did you know that would happen?” 

“Well, there wasn’t any time…” All Might’s voice trailed off and Katsuki seethed as he realized that the hero had sent a child into that exam setting knowing that if he used the quirk it would hurt him terribly and didn’t warn him, “But it turned all right. It turned out all might .” The terrible pun just made Katsuki madder, “Right now, you’re either at 100% or zero.” All Might kept talking, explaining how Deku was only able to use all of the power or none of it, and how using it properly would all be a matter of control. He picked up some metal cans to demonstrate and ended up attracting the attention of the people nearby for the second time that night and had to run away. Katsuki watched them run and thought about what All Might had said. 

If it was all a matter of control, then Deku should do fine. He had been practicing and training for years so that he’d be able to control any kind of quirk he might come across as soon as he stole it. Katsuki wasn’t worried about Deku controlling the quirk. He was worried about All Might’s attitude towards the bone-breaking thing. If All Might didn’t even care enough about Deku to warn him that using the quirk would break his bones, then that probably meant one of two things about the man. 

Either All Might really didn’t care about Deku and was only thinking about how he needed a successor and how to make them as successful as possible without any real concern for their well-being, or he didn’t think that shattering your bones like Deku did was that big of a deal. Given the fact that All Might had chosen someone he thought was quirkless and still in middle school, (not already in a hero school like he had been planning,) and given the fact that he had spent so much time at the beach helping Deku train, Katuski didn’t think that he was faking how much he cared about him. Which meant that the second option was probably what was happening. 

All Might had been the number one hero for a long time. Ever since Kasuki was little. He couldn’t imagine anyone else being at the top like All Might was, but he knew that the path to get up there and the job itself required All Might to put his life on the line again and again and again. Based on everything Katsuki knew about the guy, he always put others’ lives above his own. While it’s a good quality to have in a hero, Katsuki also knew that mindset could turn toxic very quickly when taken to extremes. All Might had already almost been killed by it once, and Katsuki didn’t doubt that he would do it again without a second thought. 

Katsuki had known Deku his whole life, and he knew that Deku shared the same mindset. Deku was fully prepared to dedicate his life towards the greater good of taking down the hero system once and for all. Katsuki knew that even if Deku couldn't get control of One For All, and he shattered his bones every time he used it, he would still keep using it until he got where he needed to be. Katuski knew that Deku was willing to risk his life just as much as All Might was. The thought of All Might being such a major influence on Deku’s life from here on out made him nervous, though he would never admit it. 

Katsuki was sure that if Himiko hadn’t noticed the danger that All Might’s influence posed on Deku already, then she would soon enough. As much as he hated to admit it, Himiko was just as good at reading people as he was, even without a quirk that allowed her to see into their heads. She’d spent a lot more time on Beach Duty than he had. She must’ve seen it already. 

Katsuki supposed that it was up to him and Himiko to stop Deku from potentially destroying himself. Deku may tend to overthink most things, but the look on his face when he rushed in during the sludge incident would haunt Katsuki for a long time. 

Deku didn’t hesitate when it mattered, and someday, it might get him killed. 

Ghost and Spark were sitting in the rented office in front of Tamaki again. Two opened envelopes holding the little devices that had announced their acceptances through hologram were sitting on the desk in front of them. The pair were practically vibrating with excitement. Tamaki took a deep breath. 

“I see that the exams went well?” He asked, happy with how steady his voice sounded, “Did either of you get in the top ten for the exam?” 

Both shook their heads, “I almost did,” Spark commented. 

“Good.” Tamaki nodded nervously, “You gave yourself room to grow, skill-wise. You made sure that you’re able to reasonably advance in skill throughout the school year, so make sure you don’t get too good too fast. You’ve set a good starting point for yourselves. You aren’t at the top of the class, so make sure you stay behind where you’re at skill-wise in your vigilante personas.” Tamaki wondered if he’d said ‘skill’ a few to many times, but shoved that thought in the back of his head and tried not to think about it. 

“We will,” Ghost said. Even though her face was completely invisible, she was still smiling widely, “Don’t worry about that. I’ll totes keep Denki in check if he  messes it up.” 

“Hey!” Spark complained, “Maybe I’ll keep you in check when you mess up!”

Ghost turned as if she was about to banter back at him but Tamaki cut her off before the pair went into another one of their tirades. He’d seen far too many of them in the few meetings that they’d had here to discuss their mission, “Actually, I um, have more news for you.” Both of them fixed their attention on him again and Tamaki cringed, “Uh, both of-of the Big Three members that we planned on having at UA also got accept- accepted.” Tamaki gulped and tried to think carefully about what he was going to say next so that he wouldn’t stumble over his words again. 

“Of course they did, they’re part of the Big Three,” Ghost noted, “They’re, like, skill level 100 at everything.” 

“Yeah,” Spark said, “What course did they get into? Is it the hero course?”

“I,” Tamaki swallowed and squeezed his eyes shut tight behind his mask, “I can’t tell you. You have to figure that out on your own. Which leads me to what I was going to- going to say earlier.” Tamaki took a deep breath and pulled out their mission files again. 

“It’s your job, as I’ve mentioned to you before, to figure out what other pair of people in your year are these two Big Three members. That starts now, act- actually.” Tamaki took a deep breath and handed them the files, “I’m giving these to you, to let you know what you are and aren’t allowed to do when trying to figure out who’s who. This is a test, remember, so I would treat it seriously. I can’t give you too much advice, but I can tell you this: checking the school files of everyone who got accepted into the entrance exam would be a good idea. You are allowed to look into their backgrounds, but I won’t tell you what to look for. Think you can handle that?”

“I’ll have to hack into UA to get the information, right?” Denki asked, narrowing his eyes, “Because I might not be able to do that. Don’t you guys have something set up for this already? Can I use that to get in?”

Tamaki thought for a moment, “If you would rather hack into our database to get the files, then go ahead I guess. I would notify your supervisor so they can send that request up the chain of command though, so you don’t end up in trouble for it.”

Ghost nodded, “That doesn’t sound too hard. So, then we just have to look at all the kids that got accepted and figure out which ones of them are traitors too.” 

Tamaki nodded. 

Ghost clapped her hands, “Alright! I’m supes excited! Denki, let's get started on it right away.” 

Yes! Totally! ” Denki said, “While we’re still here, we can tell my supervisor what we’re planning. I understand how The Organization computer system works better than the UA one. I've heard horror stories about people who get killed by the Commission for attempting to hack into it. I don’t think I’m at that level yet. Thanks for the advice by the way Kraken! You’re a really cool dude.” 

Tamaki was taken aback for a moment. ‘ A really cool dude? ’ He thought. 

“Yeah!” Ghost stood up and Tamaki once again got the feeling that she was smiling even though he couldn’t see her, “You're the most fantabulous supervisor ever! I’m just glad you’re not a cranky old man or something.” 

Tamaki guessed he could relate. He’d interacted with a few supervisors that were cranky old people, and they tended to be very scary. He supposed that he was more relaxed than most supervisors were. Should he try to be a bit more strict? 

“Th-thanks.” He said, choking on the words a bit as his voice quieted, “I um. I really appreciate that.” 

Then again, these two seemed to like him, and they’d had plenty of supervisors in the past to compare him to. Tamaki always thought that a nice supervisor was better than a cranky one. He supposed that he’d take the victory for what it was and try not to overthink it. 

The two vigilantes left the small office chatting and laughing like they usually did and Tamaki leaned back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling. 

I’m a cool dude. ’ He thought. 

Tamaki smiled behind his mask. 

Denki and Tooru both went straight to Denki’s house after they informed one of their superiors what they were going to be doing and exactly what information they were looking for. Denki’s house had a better computer setup than Tooru’s and he had a few textbooks on hacking in case he got stuck that were at his house too. Denki rarely got stuck anymore. 

Denki’s fingers tapped away on the keyboard faster than Tooru’s ever could by a long shot. His face was closer to the screen than it probably should be, staring at lines of code as they appeared on the screen just as fast as his fingers hit the keys. He had one earbud in that read him the code as he typed and clicked so that he wouldn’t have to struggle through reading it. Tooru sighed and looked up at the ceiling. She thought that Denki’s hacking abilities were impressive, but she also knew that she couldn’t interrupt his focus, which left her with little to do while she waited for him to finish. 

Tooru pulled out a notebook and decided to write down things that they should look for once they had UA’s entrance exam files that might be suspicious. 

Odd quirks were the first thing that came to mind. Any quirk that interacted with others' quirks around them was suspicious, (like how Eraserhead’s quirk erased other’s quirks. Those kinds of quirks were too close to All For One for it to be a coincidence,) Any quirk that seemed overly powerful. Any quirk that didn’t line up with what the online quirk database said. Any quirk that could be easily recognized as a former Organization member, though she doubted that would be a thing. Any quirk that was just weird in some way, too. Tooru wasn’t quite sure what that would end up meaning, but she knew that she’d know it when she saw it. 

Odd family situations were going to be another one. Rich families should all be written down, especially if they weren’t particularly famous. That probably meant all of the students who got in through recommendation. Any families that had interesting living situations, a home close or on top of a base would be suspicious, although if they lived on top of a base it was probably the rumored 1st circle base that no one in any of the lower circles knew anything about. If their families were famous, that could be suspicious too. Any heroes in the family should be a red flag. Tooru knew that The Organization had lots of plants in the hero industry. 

When they ended up looking through records for the people, Tooru knew that they should be on the lookout for forgeries or things that didn’t line up. Family trees that couldn’t be completed were very suspicious, but Tooru didn’t think that the other traitors would have one of those, considering the fact that none of their family members ever would’ve been caught as a villain or criminal and had to change their identity. 

Finally, skill level. If they could get their hands on the tapes for the entrance exams, then they should pay attention to fighting styles and abilities. Anyone who ranked especially high should probably be taken note of, even if both Tooru and Denki were pretty certain that the other traitors would’ve been told to stay in the middle of the pack like they did. The most important thing, Tooru knew, was not to count anyone out. 

“I’ve got it!” Denki said. Tooru sat up and put her pencil down, “You see here, I knew The Organization must have a way to get into UA’s databases. They have this line of code here that is specially made to get through their firewalls. It’s so interesting, look at-”

“Whatever you’re going to say next, I’m not going to understand.” Tooru said, “I’m so very glad that you find it so fascinating-y, but I’m going to have to ask you to tell me about it later. We have WORK to do for goodness sake!”

“Yes yes yes of course, “ Denki nodded, clicking a few things and pulling up something that definitely looked like UA’s database. Student information was spilled across the screen. Denki clicked around for a bit until he managed to find entrance exam results. Tooru showed him her notebook, and they got to work picking through the different people listed. 

It took them several hours to make their way through all the information, and they both ended up staying awake way later than they probably should’ve, but neither of them wanted to stop. Tooru finished another energy drink while Denki’s leg bounced under the table from all the sugar and soda he’d eaten and drunk to stay awake. 

“I think that’s it.” He said, staring at the screen in shock. They’d been at this for hours already. It was 4 in the morning, “I feel like I’ve just ran a marathon, fried my brain so many times it turned into a squirrel, and killed God. How are you feeling?”

“I could sleep for a week,” Tooru said, “I haven’t drunk this much caffeine since the last time we did this. We were only up until 3:30 that time, so I think I might’ve drunk more.”

“Wow.” Denki said, “We really did not narrow down who it could be at all, did we?” 

“Yeah, there are so many suspicious people” Tooru said, looking through their notes again and cringing, “I feel like we need a conspiracy board with red string or something to try and make connections between all these people to try and sort out what’s even going on.”

“I feel like we need 20 conspiracy boards, one for each person,” Denki said, “Actually, that’s not that bad of an idea. All we’d need is some corkboard and some string. I think I have that somewhere in this house. Maybe in the garage?” 

“Not now though,” Tooru said, “Now is the time for sleep. I’m sleeping over, by the way. There is no way I’ll make it back to my house without falling asleep standing up.”

Denki giggled, exhaustion taking him over quickly as he crashed after the power of sugar that had held him up for the most of the night left him abruptly, “Yeah, you know where the spare room is.” 

“G’night.” Tooru yawned and shoved her notebooks and pencils in her bag to take down the hallway to the guest room, “I guess I’ll see you in the morning.” 

When she didn’t get a response, she glanced over at Denki to see that he’d already fallen asleep. Snickering deliriously, she grabbed a blanket and gently draped it over him, too tired to move him to his bed. 

Tooru stumbled down the hallway and collapsed the second she reached the guest bed. They’d go over their notes in the morning and make sure that they all made sense and could actually be deciphered into something that was at least slightly coherent. 

Denki woke up at 2 in the afternoon with a crick in his neck. He stretched and realized that he had fallen asleep in his computer chair with a blanket haphazardly covering only half of him. 

He stumbled down the hallway to the kitchen, taking out two bowls and pouring cereal into both of them before carefully heading back down the hallway and into the guest room. 

He shoved the curtains open and turned on the lights. Tooru groaned from where she had fallen asleep halfway on the bed and shoved her head into the nearest pillow. 

“It’s two in the afternoon,” Denki said, and Tooru shot to her feet immediately, shrieking in alarm before she realized that they didn’t have school that day since it was a Saturday. She sighed and collapsed back on the bed. 

“5 more minutes,” She complained. 

“No!” Denki said, “I made you breakfast. We should look over the notes we took last night and decide who the top suspects are.” 

Tooru shot to her feet again and grabbed her bag, “That’s right! Hand me the bowl, we need to get to work.”

In the end, they had a list of most suspicious people and reasons for their mission neatly laid out. 

First of all, everyone who received a top score in the exam. That meant the highest scorer of the business students, (who seemed like a completely normal kid besides that,) and Hatsume Mei, who was anything but normal. Denki and Tooru had watched the video footage of her exam. She was unhinged. There was definitely something different about how her brain functioned. Whether it was different bad or different good was yet to be decided. 

“I feel bad for her teachers,” Tooru decided.

That also meant that Bakugou Katsuki was on the list. He was mostly interesting because of how he managed to get the top score on the practical with only villain points. He seemed incredibly skilled, but when they looked in further, there was nothing else really suspicious about him, except the fact that it appeared he’d come from the same school as someone else in the class. Some kid named Midoriya Izuku, who just so happened to have gotten in with only rescue points. 

“An odd pair,” Tooru had commented. 

Midoriya Izuku was also put on the list, but that was because in the books, his quirk was only listed as ‘superpower.’ Not only that, but when they watched the footage of him during the exam, he hadn’t done anything until the last moments when he’d destroyed the 0-pointer robot with a single punch. That would’ve been weird enough if it weren’t for the fact that he’d shattered all the bones in both his legs and his right arm in the same move. A quirk that hurt him that much was strange, especially when the quirk and its description on the forms he’d filled out for the school were so vague. Another interesting thing was that according to a bit of light hacking Denki had managed, Midoriya had changed the description of his quirk in the database recently, but Denki couldn’t get access to what it said before no matter how hard he tried. There were other quirks that had been changed as well, and Denki could see their entire histories. But not Midoriya’s. To put it lightly, that was weird. 

“I don’t like it,” Tooru had told him, “He does seem like a nice guy though.”

The other students who’d gotten put on the list immediately had been every kid who’d gotten through recommendation for the hero course. That meant Honenuki Juza, with a quirk that let him soften any non-living thing that he touched. 

“Kinda gross,” Tooru wrinkled her nose. 

Tokage Setsuna was also included, as the other recommended student in class 1B. Her quirk was called lizard’s tail, and it let her split her body into multiple parts. 

“Definitely gross,” Tooru hadn’t been very impressed with that one. 

The two recommended students that had made it into class 1A were more interesting, background-wise. Todoroki Shoto was the son of the number 2 hero, which ticked off several things on Tooru’s List Of Things That Are Suspicious. He came from a rich household, his father and family at large was famous, he was extremely skilled, and even had a quirk that might seem like two separate quirks entirely to the outside observer. Plus, with a bit of digging Denki had found out that his mother had been in a mental hospital for a long time and his oldest brother was dead. Denki ticked off the point about having an interesting or weird family situation in his mind. 

“I would keep an eye on him,” Tooru had said, “And not just because he’s nice to look at.”

Yoayorozu Momo was also interesting. Whereas the suspicious things surrounding Todoroki were mostly just weird, (and Denki couldn’t figure out how they would fit into him being one of The Big Three,) Yoayorozu’s family really did seem like it could be involved in The Organization. 

To put it simply, they were rich. Really, really rich. That alone would’ve been enough to put her on the list without the recommendation attached to it, but the fact that none of Denki’s sources could confirm where exactly they’d gotten the money put her higher up than a majority of other students. Denki and Tooru were both well aware that The Organization made most of its money illegally, and the mysteriously appearing Yoayorozu fortune would fit into that well. 

There were two other students that were rich enough to get put on the list. Iida Tenya and Aoyoma Yuuga. 

Iida also had the added benefit of coming from a long line of heroes, and Denki noted that it was odd he’d gotten in through the regular exam and not through a recommendation. Looking at the exam footage, he was also extremely skilled, and his family was known to be open to working with vigilantes. He wasn’t high on their list of suspicious people, but he was certainly there. 

“I think he seems too stuck up to be one of them,” Tooru argued.

Aoyoma Yuuga was also on the list because of the fact that he was rich. Rich and French, apparently. His parents appeared to have both come from wealthy families, and Aoyoma himself required a support item to use his quirk effectively. 

“Not too strange, but noteworthy,” Tooru hesitated before adding him to their list. 

Of everyone else who had taken the exam, there were only four other people that they decided belonged on the list. First of all, there was Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu and Kirishima Ejirou. Their quirks were startlingly similar. Neither Denki or Tooru knew what it meant, but it was weird enough that they took note of it. 

“It would be funny if they ended up in the same class,” Tooru giggled.

Shinsou Hitoshi was also added, by virtue of the fact that his quirk was really powerful for someone who was stuck in general education. On one hand, it made sense that he wasn’t in the hero course, but on the other, Denki thought that there were probably plenty of things he could have done to use his quirk during the exam. Maybe brainwashing other examinees to destroy robots for him wouldn’t count towards his own points? It was a bit weird.

“He looks more tired than we felt last night after staying up until 4,” Tooru commented. 

The last person to make it on their list was probably who they considered to be the most suspicious besides Yoayorozu. (The Todoroki family was weird, but it didn’t point to a potential criminal past like the Yoayorozu’s riches did.) His name was Monoma Neito, and his quirk allowed him to copy other peoples’ quirks. It was so close to All For One’s that Tooru was convinced it couldn't be a coincidence. Denki agreed. 

“Either he’s a part of The Organization, or he’s a descendant of a descendant and is still related somehow,” Tooru decided. Denki drew a star next to his and Yoayorozu’s names to signify their importance. 

By the time they were finished deciphering their notes, (many of which were just incomprehensible scribbles as the pair had gotten more and more exhausted while taking them) a few hours had passed, and Denki’s parents were asking Tooru if she wanted to stay for dinner. 

Denki couldn’t stop thinking about their soon-to-be classmates all throughout dinner. Two of them (two that he didn’t even know the identity of,) were more powerful than he could even dream of. 

Tooru’s parents ended up letting her stay the night again, under the promise that they wouldn’t stay up so late two nights in a row. The pair ended up telling each other scary stories and rumors they’d heard about the Big Three until midnight. 

Denki would never admit it, but Tooru was very good at telling scary stories. 

Even though he was tired, it took him a while to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

As per usual, Ares, Jade, and Bloodlust had been sent together to deal with the problem, which was a small sect of the Creature Rejection Clan that had popped up in the woods just outside of Eshua City. Like most CRC’s, they used religion to justify violence against people with mutation quirks. The Organization wouldn’t stand for quirkist discrimination, so here the small team was. Usually, lower level vigilantes from the 2nd circle would’ve been sent to deal with the problem. However, the ring-leader of the group had a quirk that allowed him to identify other people’s quirks down to extremely specific details, and that was useful enough that Jade had been sent to collect it while they took down the small cult. It was an easy mission, and Ares was irritated with the simplicity. Even a couple of 3rd circles could take care of this. He felt insulted. 

Also as per usual with CRC’s, all of the members showed up in long cloaks and masks painted to resemble skulls. Ares sighed when he saw them and rolled his eyes. They were hiding their identity so law enforcement wouldn’t find them, but law enforcement hadn’t taken care of a CRC group in decades. It wasn’t the government that these people had to worry about. 

Ares and Jade were sitting in a tree, high up enough that they wouldn’t be spotted. Bloodlust had a different role to play in this particular mission. 

The leader of this CRC made his way through the small crowd of masked people to stand on a tree stump and look out at the group. The second he did, they all moved around until they were forming a circle around him with him in the center. Ares scoffed again, and Jade shushed him. 

Ares was barely listening. He’d heard this spiel many times before when dealing with different CRC’s. It wasn’t anything new. Mutant quirks were bad, and ugly, and horrible and blah blah blah let’s kill some people in the woods in the middle of the night under a full moon in a sacrificial ritual that we made up in order to further justify murdering people we don’t like for arbitrary reasons. Great. 

The clan members in the circle, (calling them clan members was generous, they were cult members, this was 100% a cult,) started chanting as two of the cult members dragged what looked like a man with a bag over his head into the middle of the circle. Instead of hands and feet, the man had giant orange claws like a cat. Ares saw Jade wince as how rough they were handing him. 

The members carrying the man took him to the middle of the circle until he was directly in front of the leader before they ripped the bag off his head as the chanting reached an echoing crescendo and then stopped. Even though he couldn’t see them clearly from as far away as he was, Ares knew that the man had whiskers as well as the paws. The leader held up his hand and started speaking, not looking at the man in front of him. 

“Let the stars and the moon be my witness to the culling of this creature, this abomination on the planet of earth.” He spoke loudly and made sure to enunciate his words so the members in the crowd around him could hear what he was saying. Ares’ stomach filled with discomfort at the conviction in the leader’s voice, “This monster here before me walks among men like he is one, when it is clear for all to see that he is n-” the leader cut himself off the second that he locked eyes with the whiskered man in front of him. He took a step back in surprise as the unease and confusion rolled through the crowd of cult members. Ares smirked and readied himself to leap into action. 

“That’s my cue,” Jade said, dissolving into the darkness like a shadow dissolves in sunlight. Ares knew that he would be appearing on the other side of the field, in a tree opposite to him. They had the crowd surrounded. Ares’ smile grew wider. 

“Impostor!” The leader shrieked, “IMPOSTOR!” 

Just like that, the man began to change. Skin melted off like wax and turned to gray sludge on the ground. Bloodlust was left standing where he had been, a vigilante mask covering her face and knives already in her hands. 

“Surprise!” She smiled, “Hi! Nice to meet you, my name is Bloodlust! Maybe you’ve heard of me?” 

One of the people in the crowd screamed and took off running, dragging the people on either side of them with. They must’ve been familiar with the name then. The leader only drew himself up to his full height and glared at Bloodlust. 

“I don’t know who you are, but-”

“You will soon enough!” Bloodlust cut him off with a giggle and whistled sharply. Ares grinned. 

He flipped out of the tree and landed on the ground with a thud, smiling as he locked eyes with a few terrified cult members in front of him. 

“What kind of loser hangs out with a bunch of other losers in the woods in the middle of the night,” He said, eyes glinting and smile stretching across his face like a devil’s before rushing forward and taking out two of the people with a pair of well placed hits to the head. He heard sounds of alarm from the other side of the field as some of the other members must’ve run into Jade. The leader shrieked as Bloodlust attacked him as well. 

The fight didn’t last long. None of the cult members knew who they were up against, and early on Bloodlust took off into the woods to track down everyone who’d escaped. The leader was left handcuffed and unconscious on the ground and the rest of the members were swiftly taken care of by Ares and Jade working together. 

Bloodlust came back out of the woods dragging a handful of the CRC members behind her. Although she was wearing a mask, Ares could feel sadistic joy radiating off her even without being able to see her expression. The vials for blood at her hip clinked together, newly filled. “Hey guys~” She said. Ares could feel her flirtatious eyebrow wiggle even through her mask. 

“Good job!” Jade’s never-ending cheer did nothing to brighten Ares’ mood. It was late at night, and they’d been given an easy mission as if they couldn’t handle something harder because their first day of high school was tomorrow.  

Bloodlust noticed his displeasure like she always did, “Hey, cheer up! It’s nice to have a break once in a while, don’t you think? Besides, at least it's not Beach Duty.” Jade was suddenly faced with two blank masked glares staring into his soul. 

Jade quickly put his hands up and took a step away from them and towards the CRC leader, “I’m sorry! It had to be done,” he glanced down at the leader and then back at his two companions, “I do agree that this was an easy mission, even with the day we’re going to be having tomorrow.” 

Ares rolled his eyes, making sure to let the action move his head as well so Jade and Bloodlust could tell what he’d done even with his mask on and gestured at Jade with his hands, “Just- Jade I could read how much you want to take that quirk from a mile away, just steal it and be done.” 

Jade ducked his head in embarrassment and Bloodlust giggled. Taking one of his gloves off carefully, Jade lightly touched the leader’s forehead, and Ares watched his brain waves change slightly as a new quirk was added to his arsenal. Jade pulled his hand back and Ares saw his happiness spike for a moment as he got the rush someone who doesn’t use their quirk more than a few times a week tends to get when they use theirs. Quirks are meant to be used, and repressing them doesn’t end well. 

Bloodlust giggled again, even though nothing funny had happened, (she tended to do that a lot,) and Ares sighed, “Let’s go, we’re done here.” 

“Oh yes! Of course,” Jade smiled. He held out his hand, which turned into purple mist. Seeing Jade use that particular warping quirk always reminded Ares of his favorite babysitter from when he was younger. It was Kurogiri’s quirk that Jade was using, after all, (or at least, a copy of it.) Ares watched as portals opened up underneath all the cult members, swallowing them and taking them to a predetermined spot The Organization used to hold prisoners. The familiar sensation of the ground dropping out from underneath him consumed Ares as he fell through a portal that had opened beneath him. The last thing he saw before purple mist swallowed him was Jade disappearing into his own portal. 

The second Ares arrived back in The Bunker, he took off his mask. The thing got sweaty when he used it for too long. Katsuki shook his head and turned around to look behind him and see Bloodlust had already arrived behind him and Jade falling through his own purple portal. Bloodlust took off her mask to reveal Himiko’s face underneath still wearing a giddy smile like she usually did after missions, but Jade kept his mask on for a second and took the time to stare at Katsuki for a moment. Katsuki narrowed his eyes and put his hands on his hips, mask still clutched in one hand. 

“What’s your issue?” He asked. 

“Sorry,” Finally, Jade took off his mask and pushed his hood down before running hands through hair as green as his secret identity’s name might suggest, “This quirk identification quirk is just really interesting. I was just seeing what it had to say about you.” Deku smiled sheepishly and started unlacing his boots. 

Katsuki pursed his lips thoughtfully, “Does it just identify someone’s birth quirks, or all the quirks they hold?” 

“All of them,” Deku said, “Even with just the few that you have, it’s kind of overwhelming. It definitely wasn’t meant to look at more than one at once.”

“Ooh Ooh! Do me next, do me!” Himiko’s childish glee did not rub off on either of the other two people in the room, but Deku took the time to study her just the same for a few seconds. He winced and shook his head. 

“I feel like I might get a headache if I look too long,” he explained, taking off one boot and starting on the other, “It’s a really useful quirk for sure though! I mean, we have other quirk identification quirks already, but this one works differently! It’s more precise.” Deku stood up, “If there’s one person I do not want to look at while using it though, it’s my dad. I think my head might explode.” 

Himiko snickered. Her eyes glinted, “I’m sure someone wouldn’t want to look at you either.”

“Yeah,” Deku laughed a little, but it quickly turned into a yawn, “I’m going to bed. It’s probably a good idea to get an actual night of sleep before going to school in the morning.” 

Himiko nodded, “Yup! Goodnight!” 


Katsuki only scoffed in response, but he knew Himiko and Deku would understand what he was saying. They were perceptive enough. 

Izuku clutched his backpack straps a little tighter in his hands and stepped through the gates to UA. For the first time, he was entering completely as a student. 

As Izuku carefully walked down the path to the front doors, he looked around and tried to see if he could spot anyone that he recognized from the entrance exam. So far, there were one or two faces that might’ve been familiar, but he wasn’t sure. They tended to pass by too fast for him to get a good look at them.

The 1st years would’ve been easy to distinguish from the older students even without just looking younger in general. Not only did they tend to look uncertain or nervous about entering the school, but they also didn’t walk in groups like the 2nd and 3rd year students did. None of them really knew each other yet, and Izuku figured that a school as intense and potentially dangerous to go to like UA probably bred deep friendships. 

Seeing the students interacting and being friendly towards each other gave Izuku a spark of hope. He got to start fresh and new at this school. He didn’t have to pretend to be quirkless anymore, which meant that he would probably be able to make friends. Even though Izuku knew that he shouldn’t get attached to anyone, he also knew that he wouldn't be able to help himself. He was excited to have friends outside The Organization for once. They’d be able to talk about normal kid things, like homework and who has a crush on who, instead of missions and which vigilante killed which criminal. It would be refreshing. Izuku couldn’t wait.

Izuku and Kacchan had made a point to walk to school separately, even though they took almost the exact same route. Kacchan had left over 15 minutes before Izuku had. If anything, Izuku was in danger of being late, especially if he wandered around the halls for a bit like he was intending to while he pretended to find his classroom even though he’d memorized UA’s entire building plan years ago. 

Izuku made sure to show up in front of the giant door to class 1A a few minutes before class was supposed to start. He stared at it for a few seconds, the thought of really beginning his training to become a ‘hero’ hitting him full force. He had to take a breather for a second to center himself before he opened the door. 

The first thing he was met with the second the room behind the door was revealed was Kacchan and the speed-quirked kid from the exam arguing loudly. Izuku grimaced. 

“Don’t put your feet on the desk!” The speed kid was saying, much louder than he needed to. 

“Huh?” Kacchan said, looking up in annoyance as if everyone within a mile radius hadn’t heard what the boy had said. 

“Don’t you think that’s rude to the UA upperclassmen and the people who made the desk!?” The kid’s square-framed glasses glinted as he kept yelling. Izuku paused in the doorway as he tried to figure out what logic the boy was using. Izuku didn’t think either the UA upperclassmen or the people who made the desk would care much. 

He’s a real stickler for rules then, ” Izuku considered thoughtfully, “ Even ones that don’t really exist. ” Izuku watched as their argument continued. 

This was going to take some getting used to. 

Tooru watched the door as more and more people entered the classroom. Her and Denki had already agreed that they would arrive at different times. Denki would arrive just early enough that he wasn’t late, but Tooru had actually gotten to the classroom earlier than the majority of her classmates, which meant that she got to watch as they trickled in. She recognized most of the kids from her and Denki’s research on them. None of them did anything suspicious, but she really wasn’t expecting them to. 

By the time Denki arrived, most of the class was already seated. Tooru took note of where everyone was sitting and smiled at Denki when he passed her row on the way to his seat. He smiled back, although he probably didn't know that she’d smiled in the first place. Tooru was reminded abruptly that as long as she was at school, she had to stay invisible. 

Since Tooru was seated in the front of the class, she’d have to turn around to see what was going on behind her, but since no one could really see where her head was pointing, (she was very good at masking which way her head was turned by keeping her shoulder as still as possible,) it shouldn't be much of a problem for her, and she’d still be able to observe her other classmates.

It didn’t take long for two of her classmates to start arguing. Bakugou Katsuki and Iida Tenya, if she was remembering correctly. Both people were on their list of suspects. They’d gone over the list several times and done even more research on each of the suspects and the other students as well, looking for evidence that they might be part of The Organization. They hadn’t found very much besides what they’d discovered that first all-nighter. 

Tooru paid minimal attention to the argument about whether or not Bakugou should have his feet on the desk. She faced the doorway again. There weren’t very many people who still had to show up. 

Of course, when they did finally show up, it was minutes before class was supposed to start. Tooru recognized the green-haired boy as one of their suspects, Midoriya. The other one was Uraraka, who’d gotten 3rd in the entrance exam, if Tooru was remembering correctly. They had a short conversation and managed to distract Iida and Bakugou from their argument as well before someone behind Uraraka and Midoriya said something. Uraraka and Midoriya, (who were still standing in the doorway,) both turned around slowly, but to Tooru’s confusion, they looked down at something instead of up. 

Tooru craned her neck to try and see what they were looking at and realized that there was a giant bright yellow caterpillar on the floor. Or at least, that was her initial reaction until the caterpillar unzipped itself and revealed itself to actually be an unfortunately colored sleeping bag. Tooru blinked as the image you get when you search up a homeless man stepped out of the sleeping bag and said with the most tired voice Tooru had ever heard, “It took you 8 seconds before you were quiet. Time is limited. You kids are not rational enough.” He blinked slowly at the class, seemingly examining them. Tooru gulped. The man sighed. 

“I’m your homeroom teacher, Aizawa Shouta.” He pulled out a stack of UA training uniforms and set them on his desk. His voice made him sound dead tired, “I know we’re starting quickly, but put these on and head out to the field.”

Tooru couldn’t help glancing back at Denki to lock eyes for a moment. Who was their homeroom teacher? 

Katsuki made a point to glare at his fellow classmates as they walked out to the field. The class list had been easy enough to manipulate, so Deku was in the same class as him, as well as both of the other traitors. After the entrance exam, he’d looked them up in The Organization’s database and found that he was correct when he’d guessed their identities at the exam. 

The invisible girl was Hagakure Tooru, a 3rd generation stealth specialist in the 2nd circle, and the yellow-haired boy was Kaminari Denki, a 5th generation information specialist also in the 2nd circle. He’d looked at a few of their missions and been a bit impressed at what they’d managed to do in the short time they’d been truly working for The Organization. 

Invisible girl had three major stealth missions under her belt, one of them sneaking into a Hero Commission building. Pikachu only had two major missions in his file, but two other intelligence gathering operations that required him to stay at a desk and help out a team of hackers. Bakugou recognized the more recent Intelligence operation as one that had reset one of the connections they’d lost to a server connected to All Might’s hero agency. Impressive for someone so young. 

He and Deku had also been informed about the test that the pair had been given. To put it simply, Katsuki didn’t care that much. If anything, it would be a good way to test his skill at keeping a secret identity. If they figured him out, then good for them, in Katuski’s opinion. He had a job to do, and he intended to do it correctly. That meant staying in character, doing well in school, and helping Deku figure out OFA, because of all the quirks in the world for him to have trouble mastering, it had to be the most important one for him to master.

Their teacher, (Aizawa-sensei, if Katsuki was remembering correctly,) was giving the class a speech about how UA worked and fitness tests and quirk usage and rationality or something that Katsuki was only half listening to. Something about doing a quirk apprehension test. He’d ace it for sure. The worry he was reading in Deku’s head was starting to grow, however, enough to make him a bit nervous too. 

Stop that, ” he sent a look and a message Deku’s way, “ You’ll be fine.

Deku swallowed and didn’t respond. 

“Bakugou,” Aizawa saying his name brought Katsuki back to the present, “You finished first at the top of the practical exam, right? In junior high, what was your best result for the softball throw?” 

“67 meters,” Katsuki had a feeling like he knew where this was going. 

“Try doing it with your quirk.” 

Katsuki tried not to let his amusement show on his face as he took the ball from his teacher and moved to stand in the middle of the circle his teacher had pointed to. He glanced at Deku, asking a question without words. 

Deku sent a number back. He was always better about math and keeping skills consistent than Katsuki had been. Now Katsuki knew what to shoot for. 

“You can do what you want as long as you stay in the circle,” Their teacher was explaining, “Hurry up, give it all you’ve got.” 

Katsuki quietly thanked all the training they’d done using quirks exactly like how Aizawa was asking them to. He clutched the baseball in his hand, glared up at the sky and wound up to shoot. 

Shouting “DIE!” As hard as he could, Katsuki let off an explosion in his hand, watching the ball soar through the air in a perfect arc and land somewhere very far away. His classmates watching him gasped at his display of power. 

“Know your own maximum first,” Aizawa held up a device Katsuki recognized as one used to measure the distance of throws, “That is the most rational way to form the foundation of a hero.” 

The number on the device read ‘705.2’ meter throw. Katsuki was 5.2 off from the 700 he’d been aiming for. He smiled and sent a quick look Deku’s way. 

Deku had the nerve to look impressed. 

Denki stared at his classmate in shock. They really were working with the best of the best. If Bakugou kid was able to do that without any training, then UA really did have powerful students. 

“750 meters? Seriously?” He asked out loud. He got a few odd looks from the people around him and then stared back at the number, worried that he might’ve misread it. He could’ve sworn he felt Tooru’s gaze on him, but when he looked he couldn’t tell if she was looking at him. Figures. 

Someone in the crowd of students said something about having fun, and that set their teacher into a very long speech about how serious all this was that Denki only heard the first five words of. He was too lost in thought, looking around at the students near him and trying to gauge their reactions to what the Bakugou kid had just done. All of them seemed impressed, and nothing they did gave anything away. Denki sighed. 

“Last place will be expelled? But it’s the first day of school!” The bizarre statement brought Denki back to the present and he realized that one of the girls near the front of the crowd was speaking, “No, even if this wasn’t the first day of school, it’d be too unfair.” 

Aizawa set off into another speech about the supposed expulsion, but Denki didn’t hear any of it. Expelled? That was an issue. He and Tooru both would have to work and do well enough to stay in the school, but if they showed off too much, then that could be a problem. 

Well, ’ Denki thought to himself, trying not to glance at Tooru again, ‘ At least it’ll eliminate one of our suspects. One of the Big Three wouldn’t risk getting expelled.

This was it. This was the end. Izuku was going to be expelled, and fail the mission, and be a disgrace to his family, and there was no way he could do this, and he was doomed, he couldn’t control the quirk yet and he wasn’t allowed to use any other quirks besides OFA, and he’d heard about Aizawa before and he knew that the man wouldn’t hold back when it came to expelling students, and-

Deep breath,’ Izuku forced himself to take a deep breath and focus. ‘ Deep breaths, we can’t panic now. ’ 

Izuku forced himself to think about the microwave analogy he’d come up with to describe using OFA. All he had to do was make sure the egg didn’t explode. 

He could do that, right?

He could not do that. It was not working. Every time he tried not to let the egg explode, the quirk didn’t activate at all. He really was only able to do all or nothing. Izuku watched as the kids around him utilized their quirks to ace every test their teacher threw at them. The 50 meter dash was run in 3.04 seconds by Iida Tenya, the taller kid from earlier who had introduced himself and had a speed quirk. Kacchan got through it in 4.13 seconds after Izuku ran through the numbers they’d figured out weeks in advance for this kind of thing in his head, which was only .13 seconds slower than what he was shooting for. Even Uraraka managed to use her quirk during the test by eliminating the weight of her clothes. Izuku was stuck running quirklessly. Even though his score was better than it usually was in middle school, it still wasn’t anything compared to what some of the other kids were doing.

His score on the grip strength test seemed impressive until he saw one of his classmates, (a guy with a mutation quirk that gave him extra arms,) got 540 kilograms on it. Izuku’s anxiety was starting to rise. 

During the standing long jump, a classmate with a frog quirk jumped far enough that she was suspended in the air for probably a full 5 seconds. The side steps were dominated by the shortest kid in Izuku’s class, a guy with purple balls for hair that Izuku had pegged immediately as someone to stay away from based on the way he was already acting around the girls. During the ball throw, Uraraka was the one with the best score. 

“That’s amazing!” A boy with bright red hair who Izuku was pretty sure had a transformation quirk that allowed him to harden his skin, “She got infinity!” Izuku only stared at the spot in the sky the baseball had disappeared into and felt sick to his stomach. 

Izuku was handed the ball by Uraraka. He glanced at Aizawa-sensei, but the man’s stare was as cold and tired as it had been all day. There was no encouragement there. Izuku heard the sounds of Kacchan talking with Iida, bringing up his supposed quirklessness as he stayed in character and idly established himself as the jerk that he was in front of his classmates. 

I need one good score, ’ Izuku thought, staring at the ball, ‘ Just one good score and I’ll be doing better than I was doing before. I can do this. Just don’t let the egg explode in the microwave. ’ The ground seemed to sway beneath him a moment as he took a deep breath in and tried not to start crying. He had this. Izuku had done much harder things before. He of all people wouldn’t let a quirk get the better of him. ‘ It’s my quirk now, so I get to use it how I want to.

Izuku glared up at the sky for a moment and focused, letting the power of OFA collect in his throwing arm. He tensed, trying as hard as he could to not let the power get out of hand, to reign in the ocean of energy that was behind this single throw to stop it from shattering his bones again. The ocean slipped between his fingers moments before the ball left his hand, and he felt a small surge of elation at the thought of having controlled the quirk, until the ball fell down and hit the ground without going any farther than a ball normally would when thrown. 

46 meters, ’ Izuku thought in mounting horror, “I was definitely trying to use it just now,” He couldn’t be so bad at controlling it that he couldn’t even use it when he wanted to, could he?

“I erased your quirk,” Izuku’s racing thoughts were brought to a halt by his teacher speaking up, “That entrance exam is not rational enough. Even a kid like you got accepted.” 

Izuku was too distracted by the idea of his quirk being erased to take offense to the comment, “You erased my quirk?” He asked, stunned for a moment until he recognized a set of bright yellow goggles that had been previously covered by his teacher’s weird-looking scarf, “Those goggles… I see! You erase other people’s quirks just by looking at them!” Izuku’s mind remembered the hero's quirk before his name came to him, “The Erasure Hero: Eraserhead!” 

Izuku had a fairly large section in one of his notebooks dedicated to Eraserhead, especially considering how few fans the man had. His quirk just presented so many questions. While Izuku’s quirk was erased, was it only one of his quirks? Only his birth quirk? All of his quirks? Only some of them? Izuku had no idea. 

Experimentally, he tried activating a quirk that would let his vision sharpen without giving him any physical side effects of the activation. Instantly, his vision sharpened just like he thought it would. He glanced at Katsuki as he let the quirk drop and tried not to send a million rambling questions and ideas at him through his head, although he could see Katsuki give him a warning look as he must’ve realized the excitement that was building in Izuku at the thought of having such a cool quirk in front of him. Izuku’s favorite kinds of quirks were always the ones that interacted with others’ quirks around them. He supposed it made sense, considering what his own quirk was. 

“From what I can tell, you can’t control your quirk, can you?” Izuku was pulled out of his thoughts by his teacher speaking to him again, “Do you intend to become incapacitated again and have someone save you?” 

“That’s not my intention,” Izuku’s excitement at having such a cool quirk to study in front of him was quickly dashed when he remembered the situation he was in. He swallowed and was just about to go into a tangent and ramble in an attempt to give Eraserhead an explanation but he was quickly cut off by his teacher’s capture weapon shooting out and grabbing him. 

“Whatever your intention, I’m saying that’s what those around you will be forced to do,” Aizawa-Sensei glared at him and Izuku couldn’t help but shrink back from his glowing red eyes as he approached, “In the past, there was an oppressively passionate hero who saved over a thousand people by himself and created a legend,” Izuku could hear the contempt in his teacher’s voice dripping thickly in distaste as he referenced All Might, “Even if you have the same reckless valor, you’ll just be decked and turned into a useless doll after saving one person,” Izuku flinched at harsher words than he had heard in a while, “With you’re power, you can’t become a hero.” 

The words hit like a punch to the gut, and it took everything in Izuku not to crumple to the ground and start to cry.
He’s not talking about that,’ Izuku thought desperately, ‘He’s not talking about him.’ 

It took Izuku a while to blink the tears that were forming at the edges of his eyes away and realize that Aizawa had given him both the baseball back and another chance to throw it. Izuku was still lost in his own head, trying to shake a memory that was best left behind him. He swallowed. The tests didn’t even feel like they mattered anymore. 

With your power, you can’t become a hero.

With your power. 

With your power.

Your power. 

Your power.

The words twisted and contorted themselves in Izuku’s head until they were all he could think, over and over and over and over again, slithering between his ears like a malicious serpent. His chest hurt like an old wound had been reopened, like the words were burned into his flesh with hot tar across his forehead. He felt the weight of them dragging his shoulders into a slump, chains intent on bringing him down under the earth to drown in dirt as that sentence replayed itself over and over and over again in his head. It was seared into the back of his eyes, twisted and black, like pits of swirling disappointment punched into his bruised and battered soul. 

There was a spark in the back of his head. Happiness, hope where it shouldn’t be there. Izuku focused on it, pulling it forward to engulf everything around it. 

Kacchan’s doing, ’ He thought, forcing himself to keep staring at the ground and not let his eyes drift over to his savior, ‘ He could see me spiraling. ’ Izuku was thankful for the millionth time that Kacchan shared his father’s empathy quirk.

All right, ’ Izuku glared up at the sky again, a plan forming in his head for how to handle the baseball toss and shoving his teacher’s words into the back of his head, repressing memories he didn’t want to remember, ‘ I guess I’m resorting to an alternate plan of attack. ’ 

Katsuki blinked up at the board. He’d gotten 3rd place, just under both the recommendation kids. Exactly where he’d intended to be. Deku, however…

Katsuki felt his stomach drop and his heart stop as he saw Deku’s name at the bottom of the list. Deku was going to be expelled. Deku was going to be expelled over a test as simple and stupid as this one. Katsuki felt absolutely furious, and not the kind of furious that he’d faked as a ‘reaction’ to finding out that Deku had a quirk. This kind was real, burning and roaring like a forest fire in the pit of his stomach. He forced his face to remain looking only slightly irritated, but keeping the emotion off of his face entirely was proving to be harder than he thought. He was seriously considering a scenario in his mind where he blew his top and attacked Eraserhead for real, no matter how out of character and how mission-ending it would be. Deku getting expelled was mission-ending enough. What were they supposed to do now?

Katsuki almost missed Eraserhead’s next words he was so furious, “By the way, I was lying about the expulsion.” Katsuki’s head snapped up in surprise that he didn’t let show on his face, “It was a rational deception to draw out the upper limits of your quirks.” 

Katsuki narrowed his eyes. He could always tell when someone was lying. It activated a specific part of the brain, and he’d been trained to read it. 

Eraserhead was lying. He had intended to expel whoever got last place. Katsuki glanced back at Deku. 

Deku looked like he was about to burst into tears and start sobbing uncontrollably at any moment. Katsuki looked back at Eraserhead, a look of displeasure on his face, ‘ He must’ve been impressed enough by Deku to let him stay. ’ He thought, ‘ Typical. Lucky bastard.

There wasn’t much else to say about the rest of class, or even the rest of the school day after that. Katsuki left UA feeling uneasy. With a teacher like Eraserhead, they were going to really have to watch themselves. He wouldn’t be easy to fool. 

Katsuki put his bag down on his kitchen counter once he got home and stared at himself in the reflection of the TV, which was currently turned off. 

‘It certainly is a good thing that I’m so good at lying.

“I made two friends at school today,” Izuku said proudly once the rest of his family was sitting down for dinner tonight. The Midoriyas and the Bakugous had dinners together on Friday nights, so since it was a Monday the Midoriyas were eating alone, just the four of them at the table. Inko had made Izuku’s favorite food, Katsudon, for dinner to celebrate his first day of high school, “Uraraka, who has a gravity canceling quirk, and Iida, who has a speed one.” 

Eri smiled widely, “Are they nice?” She asked, mouth full of food. 

Izuku smiled, “Yeah, they’re both really nice. Uraraka was the girl that I saved during the exam, and I remember seeing Iida there too, but he kind of scared me a little bit. Turns out he’s just loud, but I now know that he means well.” Izuku explained. 

“A gravity canceling quirk?” Izuku’s dad looked interested. Both of them were always happy to talk about quirks. 

“Yeah! It requires her to touch something with all five fingers from one hand, from what I’ve seen, and she can cancel gravity’s effects on an object and then release the objects she’s touched by touching her fingers together like this,” Izuku explained, bringing his hands together so that he made a steeple shape with this fingers, “It’s really cool, she can even cancel the gravity of multiple objects at once!” 

Midoriya Hisashi moved some of the food on his plate around with his fork thoughtfully, “Does she have a limit for the quirk? Maybe the number of objects, or the amount of weight?”

“I think it's based on the amount of weight,” Izuku said, thinking through how he’d seen her act during the entrance exam, “But I think using her quirk for a long period of time wears her out too.” 

“That’s very interesting,” Izuku’s dad smiled, “What about Iida? You said he has a speed quirk?” 

“Yeah! It’s really cool too actually, because it’s a mutation quirk and not an emitter quirk like you might expect,” Izuku set his fork down on the table, his food nearly forgotten, “He has engines in his calves that let him move really really fast! We did the 50 meter dash during a quirk assessment test, and he ran it in 3 seconds!” 

Hisashi blinked in surprise, “That is really fast, especially for a speed quirk that works through mutation. It must be very powerful then.”

“It certainly seems to be! Based on what Iida said right after he ran the 50 meter, I think he can move faster if he runs for longer. He said something about gears.” Izuku’s eyes were sparkling.
Midoriya Inko smiled softly, “That’s really nice dear. How did meeting your teacher go? Are they really a pro-hero?” 

“Oh yeah!” Izuku nodded, “Aizawa-Sensei, the pro-hero Eraserhead! His quirk might’ve been one of the coolest I saw today.” 

Midoriya Hisashi’s expression seemed to freeze in place, his smile a bit strained, “Yes, erasure is a great quirk…” he said thoughtfully, looking down at his food, “Has he used it on you yet?” 

“Yes,” Izuku said, “I think he can only erase one quirk for a person at a time, because the only one of my quirks that he erased was One For All, but I can’t be sure yet because I haven’t been able to really test that out.”

Hisashi sighed, “You probably won’t ever be able to, if you’re being forced to stay in character.” 

Izuku’s smile fell from excited to just thoughtful, “Yeah, I suppose you’re right.” There was a short pause in the conversation, and Izuku managed to remember the food in front of him during it and picked up a fork to continue eating. 

Eri looked from her parents to her brother a few times before speaking up, “My first day of school this year went amazing too!” She said proudly, “My Sensei told me I did amazing!” 

“That’s great!” Izuku’s mom smiled at her daughter, “I’m glad you like it so much.”

“I don’t even mind that I’m homeschooled!” Eri said, rambling on like her brother and father tended to do, “I like being homeschooled! All my sensei’s are just for me! They’re all really really nice too! Plus, I get to learn at my own pace.” Eri said the last part wisely, obviously repeating something one of her private tutors had said. 

Her father smiled, “I’m glad you enjoy it so much. How did your quirk training go today?” 

“It went well! I made an apple grow back after it got eaten!” Eri said proudly, “My quirk control teacher said I’m a ‘natural.’” 

That made everyone at the table smile brightly. Eri just seemed to have that effect on people, and her family was no different. 

“Well, I’m glad you both had such a good first day at school,” Inko nodded to her husband, “How was your day at work?” 

Hisashi sighed and shook his head, “Busy as always. You will not believe what one of my intelligence people said they found when they were searching through one of the HPSC’s private servers again.” 

“What?” Izuku asked. 

“A downloaded game of tetris! It appears our government friends liked the game enough to make a private copy of it for themselves.” Hisashi smiled as his family laughed, “I’m being serious! A game of tetris! Can you believe some people?” 

“No I cannot,” Inko patted her husband’s shoulder gently, “Some people.”

Eri giggled. 

As he was changing into his field gear and getting ready to go out on the night’s mission, Izuku couldn’t shake his homeroom teacher’s words from earlier in the day. 

With your power, you can’t become a hero.  

Even though Izuku knew that Aizawa-sensei was talking about One For All and not the power he’d heard people in the past refer to when telling him that, he still felt like the world was tipping underneath his feet. 

He shook his head, but the words wouldn’t dislodge themselves from between his ears. They just kept circling and circling, like vultures over a dying animal. 

With your power, you can’t become a hero. 

Izuku shivered at a memory long repressed. 

With your power, you’ll destroy the world. 

You’ll ruin everything. 

You can’t outrun fate no matter how fast you think you’re going. 

It always catches up to you. 


Just like it caught up to him.

Chapter Text

Denki stared at the file being displayed on one of his computer screens and bit his lip. There had to be either a connection to the HPSC or The Organization. They were the only two institutions with enough power over files like this to manipulate them to the degree that this file had been manipulated. Either that, or there was a hacking quirk involved, but Denki was pretty sure that if there was it would still be connected to The Organization somehow since he looked through other records of quirks and things and Midoriya Izuku wouldn’t have any chance to run into someone with that kind of quirk at either his middle school or his elementary school. Neither of his parents would’ve ever had a chance either based on the files he’d pulled from where they used to go to school and from where they worked and from their neighbors. Denki felt like pulling the hair out of his head. He was way too deep into this. It was nearly 1 o’clock in the morning on a school night. Still, the conclusion that he’d come to was perplexing. 

Either Midoriya was one of the Big Three, he was involved in The Organization in some other way, or he was working for the HPSC, and Denki was reaching the maddening realization that he had no idea which. 

The reason he’d looked into this Mido character in the first place was because of how the Bakugou kid had exploded at him earlier, and had made comments about how he wasn’t supposed to have a quirk. Denki had been immediately reminded of how in his school files, there had been an inconsistency in how his quirk was registered. Denki could see that the quirk’s description had been changed recently, but unlike with any other change he couldn’t see what it had been changed from. Today, he decided to check again and try a few more things, but whatever his quirk had been listed as before was still a complete mystery to Denki. That had been annoying enough, what was more annoying was the fact that his quirk had been changed recently (not even a week ago, in fact; just barely 3 days ago,) in the quirk database and Denki couldn't see what it had been before that either. 

The fact that his quirk was simply listed as Superpower and had a very vague description, and the fact that it seemed to injure him horribly every time he used it would’ve been strange enough. The weird changes and hidden information that not even Denki’s best hacking skills could obtain just made it suspicious in a way that Denki didn’t like. 

Denki decided that Midoriya probably wasn’t part of the Big Three however. For one, everything about this was suspicious, and the Big Three wouldn’t let something like this be so strange in a million years. They had more than enough resources to cover it up. One of the Big Three would’ve had the same quirk listed as theirs since they were a child, and there wouldn’t have been any reason to change it, especially so close to the school year. Even if they had changed it, Denki knew for a fact that they had several people who could manipulate the quirk database almost as easily as the HPSC could, so they’d be able to find a better way to cover up the change. That meant the other two options were more probable. 

The 1st option was that Midoriya was involved in The Organization, even if he wasn’t part of the Big Three. It was far from unheard of for someone to make a deal with All For One in order to get a quirk, especially for the quirkless. Looking at Midoriya’s parents’ records, it was very unlikely that he was quirkless, but not impossible, especially considering that the Bakugou kid had been so convinced that he was quirkless, (considering they’d come from the same middle and elementary schools). That didn’t have to be the only quirk-related option though. 

It wasn’t only quirkless people who made deals with All For One over quirks. Some people had quirks that hurt them, or villainous quirks, and wanted to get rid of them. Some people with mutation quirks that thought they were ugly got rid of them, or people who had weak quirks asked for stronger ones. Midoriya could fall under any of those categories, except maybe people who had quirks that hurt them, since that obviously wasn’t an issue for him if the quirk that he’d traded for was one that injured him so horribly. 

Which got Denki thinking. The quirk might also be a punishment. Midoriya’s father worked overseas, from what Denki could find by obsessively searching social media accounts and checking files from the company that Midoriya Hisashi was listed as working for. He appeared to work in America, but Denki couldn’t get much more information than that. Plus, a lot of the numbers when it came to money were… troubling, to say the least. Midoriya Hisashi was making a lot more money than his job should earn, and he had been getting extra money for a while now. Over a decade, in fact. All Denki had to do was follow the paper trail and what he found was a lot of extra money in the Midoriya bank account, and it couldn't be coming from Midoriya Inko because she didn’t have a job. She was a stay-at-home mom.

Denki was very quickly crafting a scenario in his mind where the Midoriya’s were struggling for money and made a deal with someone in The Organization. Somehow, they didn’t manage to hold up their end of the deal, and their son ended up saddled with a quirk that shattered his bones whenever he used it as some sort of punishment. That wasn’t how The Organization usually operated though. 

An entirely different situation was forming in Denki’s head all a sudden. Maybe it was a warning of The Organization’s power? The extra money in their bank account could be some sort of compensation or bribe. Maybe the Midoriya’s had come across information that they weren’t supposed to know. 

Both of these situations would have to be relatively recent though, based on the date that Midoriya Izuku’s files had been changed, and the money stuff had started a long time before that. Denki felt like banging his head against the wall. There were too many suspicious things. 

On the entire other end of the spectrum of Things That Could Be Happening, Denki knew that it might be the HPSC that was involved and not The Organization. He didn’t have the time at the moment to comb through Organization files in order to figure out if the Midoriyas were listed anywhere, so he couldn’t confirm one way or another yet. The HPSC presented entirely different options. 

Namely, he didn’t know nearly as much about how it operated, and lots of the stuff that it did was under the table and a lot darker than what The Organization was doing. They could be covering up any number of things, and since they were the people in charge of nearly all quirk related things, they wouldn’t have to worry about any higher authority finding out that they were covering something up, and therefore could leave such an obvious trail behind like this. As for what they were covering up, Denki had no idea. They didn’t have a way to deal in quirks like The Organization did, so that was off the table. The money inconsistencies weren’t however. Those were still plenty suspicious.  

There were too many questions, and no real reason to pursue answers for them, since it was still unlikely that Midoriya was part of the Big Three based on the information that Denki had. Honestly, he thought that this might be an investigation for later. He’d messaged Tooru several times throughout the night, but she hadn’t responded. (She was probably asleep; they’d both been given the week off from any Organization duties to focus on school.) He wondered what her take on the situation was. He was completely spiraling at the moment, and knew that he’d probably be dead tired tomorrow since he’d stayed up basically the entire night. 

Denki looked at the clock and winced. He was going to be really tired tomorrow. 

Himiko sat on a rooftop and stared out at the city. It was so pretty at night, with all the lights casting shadows over the streets, water glinting from a recent rain on the sidewalks and the roads. Himiko was high up in the air. In fact, there weren’t any buildings near her that were taller than the one she was sitting on. She felt like if she jumped, she’d be able to fly. Himiko took a deep breath in, savoring the moment. Her peace was about to be broken. 

“She’s calling you WHAT!?” Kats sounded angry, but he always sounded angry. Today, however, he sounded angrier than he usually was. Himiko sighed, not bothering to hide her amused smile, “You can’t just- what if someone recognizes it?! Are you insane?! Tell her to stop!” 

“I can’t back out now, she’s already decided!” Izu was arguing with him, “Besides, she heard YOU say it!” 

“OBVIOUSLY I HAD TO SAY IT!” Kacchan was almost shrieking, “Can’t you just- pull your sad puppy act and make her feel guilty for calling you that? You told them that it was used as an insult before, so that’s believable!” 

“No! I said it was fine if she called me that, it’d be weird to back out now. Besides, anyone who’d recognize the name also wouldn’t do anything about it, they all work for us!” Izu sat down next to Himiko on the edge of the roof, still arguing with Kats, “Why are you so mad right now?!” 

“Because you’re being stupid!” Kats screamed. Himiko didn’t need to see his face to tell that it was probably bright read from yelling, “You’re being irresponsible, and irrational, and-”

“And you’re being too loud.” Himiko cut him off and kicked her feet happily, still smiling down at the city below them, “Don’t want anyone to hear us.”

“Who’s going to hear us all the way up here?” Kacchan asked, but he asked it a lot quieter. 

“What are you two fighting about anyways?” Himiko asked.

Kats let out a string of violent curse words, but Izu ignored him and turned to look at Himiko, “Kacchan is just mad that I’m letting Uraraka-san, the girl I saved at the entrance exam, call me Deku,” he explained. 

Himiko paused to think about that, “It’s kind of risky, I suppose… it probably won’t be easy to get out of later if you need to. I think it’ll be fine though. What’s done is done I guess. ” 

“Mark my words,” Kacchan pointed at both of them in turn, “That’s going to come back to bite us, and neither of you better come crying to me when it happens.” 

Himiko giggled even though no one had said anything particularly funny and smiled behind her mask, “We’ve got work to do tonight,” she said in a sing-song voice.

Kats appeared to grimace even though he was wearing a mask too while Izu’s posture remained stiff and emotionless. 

“Let’s get going then,” he said, glancing back and forth at the two people sitting on either side of him. They both nodded once before kicking off the roof together and disappearing into the night. 

Tooru woke up to texts upon texts upon texts that seemed to stretch on to infinity. She stared at her phone for a moment, her notifications clogged up with rambling that never seemed to end. She resolved to read through on the train to school in the morning and idly wondered if Denki got any sleep last night at all. 

The texts all appeared to be about some weird stuff going on with Midoriya and the files that Denki had found on both him and his family. The money-related stuff that Denki had sent her had all been fairly surface level, and Tooru knew that she’d probably be able to dig into it more later. The basis was that their bank account shouldn't have as much money in it as it did and that was obviously very suspicious. The quirk database inconsistencies were also all very strange. Tooru was already running through a list of contacts in her head that might be able to do a bit more digging on the missing information. Determining what had been written under Midoriya Izuku’s quirk description would be important in determining if it was an Organization-related thing or a HPSC-related thing. 

By the time she got to school, Tooru was well and truly curious about the Midoriya kid. She resolved to watch him as much as possible. 

Tooru arrived at the school before most of the kids in her class did. In fact, there were only three other students there when she arrived. Iida Tenya, Youyorozu Momo, and Bakugou Katsuki. All three of them were on their list of suspects, so their names came to her easily. Toru found that she had the perfect chance before school started to talk to the Bakugou kid. He might have a different perspective on the whole situation than the quirk database files could provide. 

When she entered the room, no one seemed to notice. Bakugou was still taking his stuff out and seemed to have just arrived. Tooru walked over to him, setting down her stuff at her assigned seat, which was right in front of his. He didn’t appear surprised to hear her set her bag down, so she figured he must’ve noticed her come in. 

He’s perceptive, ’ Tooru thought carefully, ‘ He might’ve noticed something that Denki couldn’t see in the files. Plus, he seemed to know Midoriya well enough to call him by a nickname, or possibly an insult considering what it was.’ 

Tooru realized that Bakugou was probably quirkist based on how he seemed to think that Midoriya used to be quirkless and had called him a name like ‘Deku.’ Tooru looked at him for a few seconds collecting her thoughts before he turned to her and glared, as if waiting for her to say something. Tooru tried not to flinch back at the anger in his eyes. She swallowed and opened her mouth to speak. 

“If you have something to say, then say it,” Bakugou interrupted her, speaking louder than he needed to considering no one else in the room was talking. Tooru saw the other students’ eyes glance their way. She took a deep breath, trying to make sure that Bakugou could hear she was about to speak. 

“Did you know that one kid who breaks his bones, or did you just start yelling at a random kid?” she asked, irritation seeping into her voice from being interrupted. 

Bakugou snorted, “None of your business,” he said, sitting down in his seat and putting his feet on the desk like she wasn’t even there. Tooru felt herself get more irritated. 

Iida Tenya spoke up from across the room, “Yes, it is in fact none of your business the relationship between fellow classmates. It is rude to pry.” He went completely ignored. 

“Well,” Tooru sat down as well, but kept talking loud enough for Bakugou to hear her easily, “You must not have known him that well if you thought he was quirkless for some reason.” 

Immediately, she got an explosive reaction, “I did know him! I’ve known him since BEFORE we got quirks! HE NEVER HAD ONE!” Tooru heard the distinct sound of explosions going off behind her. 

‘He’s certainly volatile,’ Tooru thought, ‘ And easily angered, which means easily manipulated. ’ 

She turned around in her chair to see every feature of Bakugou’s face outlined in anger, “Really? That’s super weird then. I wonder why you didn’t know. Did anyone know?” Tooru tilted her head and tapped her chin thoughtfully even though she knew he couldn’t see her. 

“He got diagnosed as quirkless when we were kids, there’s no way he just- suddenly has a quirk now,” Bakugou snarled, “He’s looking down on me, not telling me that he has a quirk.” 

“You shouldn't gossip about other classmates!” Iida continued to go ignored as he voiced his protest to the conversation topic. 

Tooru tilted her head to the other side. That was quite the conclusion to come to about someone who seemed as nice as Midoriya. Besides, that really didn’t seem to be what was going on here. It would take going to great lengths to hide having a quirk for as long as it appeared Midoriya would have had to, and there was no real reason for it. Quirkless people got treated horribly, there was no good reason someone would want to pretend to be one. In fact, the fact that Bakugou wasn’t more suspicious was… kind of suspicious. But if he knew what was really going on, then why would he yell about Midoriya’s supposed past quirklessness so that everyone in the class would hear about it? 

It was strange. Really strange, in Tooru’s opinion. Maybe she was overthinking this though. Bakugou might really believe what he just said about Midoriya looking down on him. Midoriya might’ve even developed a quirk that late. Some quirks required specific activation methods, and it was entirely possible that he just hadn’t been under the right circumstances to activate it when he was younger. Plus, from the way he was using his quirk, it was almost like he’d never used it before. 

Tooru turned back around in her seat and thought. At this point, a few more people had entered the classroom. The girl with the frog quirk and the boy with the bird’s head had sat down while she and Bakugou had been arguing. She could see the taller boy who was always wearing a mask and had 6 arms entering the classroom too. From what Tooru could deduce, it seemed like Midoriya had gotten his quirk recently. While it might’ve been through natural means, that seemed unlikely. Tooru thought back to the texts she'd received from Denki that morning and wondered if there really was more to her classmate than there appeared to be. 

It took a while, but Midoriya eventually entered the classroom too, chatting with the girl who had a gravity canceling quirk, (Tooru was sure her name started with a U or maybe an A, but she couldn’t remember it for the life of her.) He stumbled over his feet a bit while he was walking to his desk and set his stuff down clumsily, face still looking a bit flustered from talking to the enthusiastic girl. He appeared more flustered when she followed him to his seat and kept up their conversation from before. 

Tooru watched them carefully out of the corner of her eye, making sure to keep her shoulders still and facing as forward as they could be so that her classmates wouldn’t be able to tell where she was looking. Midoriya was unassuming, plain. Not someone who would stand out in a crowd or someone you would immediately think of as suspicious. 

Tooru watched them until the bell rang. After Uraraka left his side and sat down in her own seat, Midoriya took out a notebook and started writing furiously in it. 

‘I wonder what he’s writing, ’ Tooru thought to herself before Aizawa-sensei spoke up and the second day of school began. 

Regular classes in the morning, hero training in the afternoon. Katsuki stared at his schedule during lunch and the teacher's names. He guessed that each teacher got to choose whether they went by their actual name or their hero name at school, because there were some teachers like Eraserhead who used their actual names, (on that note, Katsuki should probably switch to calling his teacher Aizawa-sensei and not his hero name like everyone else,) Present Mic had his actual name listed, (Yamada-sensei was listed as his English teacher,) but had introduced himself as Mic-sensei when he’d started his class. All Might was included in the teachers who had their hero names listed on the schedule, but even then, most of the other teachers had their real names listed underneath. All Might didn’t. 

That’s weird, ’ Katsuki thought to himself as he tried to ignore the sounds of the cafeteria around him, ‘ It’s not like listing his real name would really do anything. He doesn’t have a secret identity or something like that.’ 

That train of thought got Katsuki thinking though. All Might hadn’t even revealed his name to the public. He’d only ever been known as All Might. If you looked hard enough, you could probably find it. Katsuki supposed he’d never really considered that before. He knew there were a few heroes who worked closely with the HPSC and kept their names private. Hawks was one for instance, but that was because he’d gone through the HPSC Hero Training Program. All Might certainly hadn’t, he’d graduated from UA. 

‘I guess he kind of has a secret identity,’ Katsuki chewed his food thoughtfully, ‘ No one can find out about his skeleton form, after all.’ 

By the time lunch was over, Katsuki had managed to finish his food and look over his schedule several times. Heroics classes were next in his schedule. 

Katsuki made his way to the heroics classroom, still finding himself lost in thought. 

The first impression Kaminari Denki got of All Might was him leaping through the door to his classroom like a swan, shouting “I am coming through the door like a normal person!” In fact, that was the first impression most of the people in his class got of All Might. Several people still looked up at the hero like he was the coolest person they ever saw regardless. Denki thought he was pretty cool regardless of how he chose to enter the room as well if he was being honest. 

All Might spoke loudly and triumphantly, as if he’d just finished defeating a villain and was addressing the press afterwards. Denki wondered if he always talked like that, “I teach basic hero training,” All Might explained happily, “It’s a subject where you train in different ways to be a hero. You’ll take the most units of this subject.” He stopped to pose dramatically. Denki cringed a bit at the cheesiness of it all, “Let’s get right into it! This is what we’ll do today! Combat training!” He held up a card victoriously that read “COMBAT” in brightly colored, dramatic colors. 

All Might seemed to pause for a moment, maybe for dramatics, maybe because he forgot what he was going to say for a second, and then struck another pose and pointed a remote at the wall to Denki’s left.

“And to go with that are these!” He shouted. Big silver panels with bright numbers painted on the sides slid out of the wall, “Costumes made based on your quirk registrations, and requests you sent in before school started.” Denki thought back to his costume idea and winced a little to himself. He’d been pretty busy and hadn’t put that much thought into it. It was a little boring, but he supposed it would work at least for now, “After you change into your costumes, meet me at ground beta.” 

Denki and the other students around him all stood up in a flurry of excitement to grab their boxes. Denki paused for a second to count which seat he was in so that he could make sure he grabbed the correct box before double and triple checking he was reading the number right and pulling it out of the wall. That all took time, and he was one of the last ones out of the room. He hurried down the hallway to catch up with the other boys and head to the locker rooms. 

Katsuki stared at the gauntlets in his case. They were huge, a lot bigger than he was expecting if he were to be honest. He slipped on the arm bands the gauntlets would attach to, put on the gloves, and then slipped on the two large grenade-shaped support items. 

Katsuki stared at his hands contemplatively. The gauntlets were lighter than he’d expected, especially considering their size. The gloves were still a bit stiff, and so was the rest of the costume for that matter. His boots seemed a bit big, so he tightened them again and found that doing something like tying shoelaces was harder than he thought it would be with his gloves on. The tiny black mask he tied around his head and the black and orange spiky headpieces he had to put on made him long for his regular field mask. 

Katsuki felt like there was so much missing from his outfit. Where was the gas mask? The full face coverage to hide his identity? The armored suit and iron-soled shoes? The fire-proof material? The internal heater and internal air conditioning for extreme temperatures? His shoulders were exposed, and all he could think about was how there was absolutely no protection, not even a layer of flimsy fabric that could protect them from burns or cuts or gunshots. The layer of flimsy fabric might as well have not even been there in the first place anyways as far as protection went. Katsuki wrinkled his nose. 

Technically, Katsuki had asked for this kind of hero costume, but now that he had it all the things wrong with it seemed glaringly obvious. Katsuki pursed his lips and glanced around at the boys around him. 

‘Well,’ he thought, looking at Endeavor's kid and the tiny purple bastard’s costumes, ‘It could always be worse. ’ 

Then of course, he saw it, and it took him a second to realize what he was looking at. 

‘A lot worse, ’ he tried not to snicker at the pajama looking thing that Deku was wearing, ‘A lot, lot worse.’  

Izuku was one of the last ones out of the tunnel that led to Ground Beta. He was really starting to regret wearing the costume that his mom had made him. He had no idea when she’d found the time to make it, considering how busy she was, but he supposed that she’d wanted to remind him how much she cared about him since they hadn’t spent as much time together recently as they used to. It was a kind gesture, but one that Izuku was pretty sure they both knew wouldn’t amount to much. If anything, the costume would only hinder his performance in battle, since it was so flammable and honestly offered less protection than if he had been wearing the regular school uniform. If it caught on fire, then it was over for Izuku, and there was more than one person in his class that had a quirk that could set things on fire. 

It also looked ridiculous. Izuku saw the look Kacchan had sent him before he left the boy’s locker room. Izuku wasn’t sure he’d ever seen someone look at a quote unquote, ‘hero costume’ with such distaste, and he’d seen a lot of people look at hero costumes with distaste. (The people he tended to work with usually didn’t care for heroes much.) 

The gloves were a bit big, and Izuku kept having to adjust them. He hadn’t changed his shoes, and the bunny ears attached to his hood made him feel a bit ridiculous. Logically, Izuku knew that he was supposed to act like a major All Might fanboy, (and deep deep down, he really kind of was,) but there was such a thing as paying too much homage to someone you admired. 

Izuku knew he’d made a mistake the second he stepped out of the tunnel and realized that everyone in his class had a costume that was 10 times cooler than his. Even the people who didn’t look like they’d tried that hard like Kaminari (someone working for The Organization, Izuku had found out from Kacchan last night during patrol. He had an electric quirk,) or the girl with the sound quirk. Even the people with horrible costume designs like the ice and fire kid, (Todoroki, if Izuku was remembering correctly,) and the really short one with purple balls on his head. (Then again, that one was pretty bad; Izuku’s might be better than his. Purple ball kid looked like he was wearing an oversized diaper.) 

Izuku was just starting to feel a little better about himself when he caught sight of Uraraka. 

“Oh, Deku,” she says to him, walking over. How he recognized him with his mask on, Izuku wasn’t sure. Hearing the name ‘Deku’ coming from her was a bit strange, but he found he didn’t mind it that much. 

“Uraraka-san,” he said, suddenly feeling a bit nervous. 

“That looks so cool,” Uraraka seems to flounder for her words for a moment as if trying to figure out what she should say to Izuku while he was dressed like he was, “Really down to earth.” 

Izuku winced internally at her awkward phrasing but figured that she was trying. He didn’t manage to say anything in response though, because he suddenly realized that his friend’s costume looked really, really cool, even though he was questioning the functionality of it, especially because her boots appeared to have heels. 

“I should’ve written down what I wanted,” Uraraka explained, “Mine ended up being a skin-tight bodysuit. It’s embarrassing.” 

Izuku wasn’t quite sure what to say to that. He realized that if he agreed with her, then that could be quite insulting, but if he complimented her, that said something else that he didn’t want to say. He was just about to panic over it when he caught All Might’s eye and saw the exact moment the hero noticed his costume. 

It was very clear to Izuku that All Might saw where he took inspiration from his costume. Izuku kind of wanted the floor to swallow him whole. 

“Now,” All Might said, fixing his composure and trying to bring himself together after seeing the obvious inspiration Izuku must’ve taken from him when designing his costume, “It’s time for combat training!” 

Izuku had a very particular picture in his mind of what combat training was. He knew, logically, that whatever they were about to do in class would be nothing like what he did back home at The Bunker or The Base, but it didn't stop him from being surprised. 

The movie-like scenario. The unrealistic parameters of the challenge. The randomness of letting chance decide who’s on which team and who’s facing off against which person. The lack of instruction before-hand. The lack of safety measures taken. The flimsy explanation for why each of the aspects of the challenge were chosen. To put it simply, Izuku was unimpressed. Izuku couldn’t help but think back on how the whole situation would probably go if they were doing combat training the right way. 

While All Might rambled on about papier mache bombs and capture tape, Izuku felt himself drift away, lost in thought. 

He could feel blood pounding in his ears in time with his heartbeat. The concrete was solid, holding firm even as he was slammed into it again and again. The evidence of his falling should be painted on his sides in black and blue bruises, but his healing quirks worked too fast, regenerating and rejuvenating him just so that he can be smacked down all over again. 

Even though his hands were up in a defensive position, and his feet were spread apart, knees bent to give him as solid a base as they can, Izuku could feel himself shaking. He’d been fighting for so long at this point, so long. He wondered idly when it was going to end. 

“Keep up!” Akaguro-sensei moves fast, faster than Izuku can keep track of, especially when he was this beat up and exhausted, “you won’t have time to predict an enemy’s next move like you want to in a real fight! You have to rely on training and muscle memory! Trust your instincts and strike!” 

Izuku hit the floor again as his feet were swiped out from under him in an easy blow and he got back up as quickly as he could, but scrambling to his feet took more out of him than he expected and he felt his vision sway and blacken around the edges. 

Akaguro-sensei didn’t seem to care, “Fight! Get yourself together! Come on!” He lashed out with a hit that was going to hit Izuku over the head again, and Izuku tried to duck, but it was too slow, and the concrete beneath his feet swayed dangerously after he was hit again before he crashed to the floor. 

Akaguro-sensei scoffs, “How do you expect to run The Organization if you can’t even get through one measly fight?” He asks. 

Izuku didn’t answer. His head felt like it was swimming through tar, and his sensei’s words felt far away. 

His instructor rolled his eyes and helped him to his feet, “You aren’t going to learn anything like this. Go get some rest, let those regeneration quirks of yours get to work. Go on, head to bed. It’ll help, even if you don’t need to sleep.” 

Izuku nodded, still in a daze. He let Akaguro-sensei lead him back to The Bunker and ran into his mother on his way through their kitchen.  

“I swear he works you too hard,” Midoriya Inko looked at her son with concern. 

“I had to go through the same training when I was his age,” Midoriya Hisashi was sitting at the kitchen counter like he usually was, running through paperwork, “He’ll survive. It'll only make him stronger. It’s a harsh world that we’ve brought him into, and he’ll need all the help he can get.” 

Izuku remembered looking up and locking eyes with his dad. Eyes that he knew were identical to his whenever he looked in a mirror. There were no scars to mar his father’s face yet at the time this memory took place. 

“Lucky my son’s the toughest person I know,” his dad said proudly, ruffling his hair. 

Izuku remembered his resolve to become stronger, faster, smarter, strengthening once again as his mom led him to his bedroom. 

Izuku’s feet hit the wall and he kicked off and up, soaring higher than Akaguro-sensei could reach him unless he threw a knife. The expected knife came, and Izuku dodged by kicking off the wall again before he started to fall and twisting midair to dodge a sword his combat training master had thrown up as well before flipping to avoid another barrage of knives and landing in a graceful roll before ducking in close to Akaguro-sensei faster than a normal human should be able to move, picking up a knife off the ground near one of his feet and stabbing towards his sensei’s neck in a fatal maneuver. His master's head snapped back as he dodged with a calculating look on his face and Izuku felt his torso move to the side instinctively as he saw his sensei’s hand move towards his hip where Izuku knew he had another knife stashed to dodge the attack before grabbing with his hand not holding the knife to try and grab his master’s hand that had just tried to stab him but he was too fast, evading Izuku’s capture. 

Izuku kicked out with one leg as if he were going to hit Akaguro-sensei’s knee. His sensei moved out of the way as expected and Izuku stabbed down on his other foot with his heel as he had been planning before as his teacher had to shift his weight to that leg to keep his balance while he dodged Izuku’s other attack. 

Izuku used the chance granted to him as his sensei stumbled to steal a sword from his master’s belt and use the hilt of it as he drew it out of its sheath to hit Akaguro-sensei’s arm with enough enhanced strength to leave a bruise and cause his head combat trainer to flinch back involuntarily. Izuku moved quickly out of the way of a knife and a foot that headed his way by stepping directly behind his sensei’s injured foot and ducking behind him to bring the sword right behind his lower back and press lightly. He felt Akaguro-sensei freeze and try to hold himself up at the awkward angle and not fall backwards even though he was leaning that way and fall on the sword. The sparring came to a standstill and Izuku smiled triumphantly. 

“How did I do?” he asked, still holding his teacher at the uncomfortable angle. Akaguro-sensei snorted. 

“You’re getting better,” he said, “you’re certainly inventive, that’s for sure. Any reason why you seem to like using my own weapons against me so much?” 

“It just makes sense, I guess,” Izuku explained, taking the time to think about it. The moment he was distracted, Akaguro-sensei stepped backward quickly and harshly with the intention of stepping on Izuku’s foot much like Izuku had stepped on his and regaining some of his balance in the process, but Izuku moved his foot out of the way quickly and slid the sword up so that it was pressing into the back of his sensei’s neck instead of his back. 

“I’m not falling for that anymore,” Izuku said proudly. 

Akaguro-sensei huffed a light laugh, “Good for you kid, good for you.” Izuku couldn’t see his sensei’s face from the angle he was at behind him, but he could’ve sworn from the tone of his master’s voice that he was smiling.

Chapter Text

Denki was extremely happy when he found out that he was not paired with or against the Bakugou kid. He wasn’t sure which option sounded worse. He felt very bad for all three people who were stuck in a battle trial with him, especially considering one of them was the Midoriya kid. (Bakugou seemed to hold a special kind of dislike for him.)

Denki was still dead tired from last night when he unwisely stayed up until 1 in the morning researching Midoriya’s quirk only to find nothing out about it except for what it couldn’t be, essentially; and he hadn’t even managed to rule out the most important things to rule out. He was very frustrated. 

He did see that Bakugou, Midoriya, Iida, and Uraraka were all going first and winced as he realized that Midoriya really had gotten the worse deal. At least his partner was friendly and they’d probably work well. 

Meanwhile, Denki had gotten paired with Jirou, apparently. She had a sound quirk from what he could tell, and it had something to do with the earphone jacks that were growing from her earlobes. Denki had vague memories of not researching her for long while he and Tooru were in their information hunting craze. She came from a family of musicians, (if he was remembering correctly,) but the exact details of her quirk were escaping his mind.

Jirou did not, however, try to strike up a conversation with Denki. She didn’t even make an effort to stand near him, which Denki didn’t really mind that much. They would have time before the battle trial started to talk about quirks. Tooru however, was standing as far away from him as she could be, and although logically, Denki knew it was so that he didn’t do something stupid and make a funny comment to her even though he shouldn’t know her that well as of yet like he noticeably almost did yesterday several times, he couldn’t help but try to send a small pout her way. He had no idea if she’d seen it though, because since Tooru was completely invisible yet again, he had no idea where she was looking. 

Denki took the time they spent waiting for the villain team to set up the papier mache bomb observing all his different classmate’s costumes. 

Several of them looked really really good, and several of them looked really really bad. Denki found himself wincing at the small purple guy’s costume, (he couldn’t remember his name at the moment,) and wincing at Todoroki’s costume, which made him look like he was halfway being taken over by the abominable snowman, (it was not a good look on him.) 

Denki glanced over at Tooru and was struck by the realization that his friend was probably wearing nothing but her boots and gloves. Denki looked away on instinct, feeling weird looking her way even if he couldn’t see her, and remembered all the times that he’d heard from the costume people in The Organization that there was always a way that someone could make their quirk work through their clothes without having to deal with showing more skin than they were comfortable with. Denki couldn’t help glancing back at Yaoyorozu and wondering if she was given the option to use one of the many many methods. He’d been told by Tooru through several ranting text messages after the costume requesting information had been given out that she sure hadn’t been presented with basically any option other than going naked. He felt really bad for her. It couldn’t be comfortable. 

Speaking of not being comfortable, watching Bakugou through the cameras, it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t comfortable with something that was going on, and it made him angry. Denki saw Iida flinch back a bit at his teammate’s obvious rage. Denki wondered if it had anything to do with Midoriya, then figured that it probably did. Both teams seemed to be having a conversation, although in the screening room, none of the students could hear either of them. Denki longed to know what they were saying, considering what Bakugou might know about Midoriya’s past, especially pertaining to his quirk. He tried watching All Might’s expression, considering that the man was tuned in to the comm system and could hear what both teams were saying, but his face remained stoically in his never ending smile. Denki wondered how much the man hid behind that smile.

Denki thoughtfully turned to watch Uraraka and Midoriya. Midoriya looked very nervous, and Uraraka looked like she might be giving him a pep talk. Midoriya pulled his mask down and put on his mouthpiece, nodding at something Uraraka must’ve said. All Might spoke up into the microphone so that the entire class could hear him. 

“Now, let’s start the indoor person to person combat training with team a and team d.” All Might turned around away from the microphone to look at the students gathered in the room with him, “All right everyone, you should all think about this as well.” He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by that. Denki realized that he probably didn’t have any kind of teaching degree. 

Since the ‘villain’ team didn’t seem to be doing anything interesting besides arguing about something, Denki decided to watch how the ‘hero’ team was doing. Uraraka and Midoriya seemed to discuss something quickly for a few seconds before they nodded to each other and headed around the side of the building until they reached a window. It didn’t take them long to open it and sneak through. 

Denki personally thought that going through the trouble of going through the window in an exercise like this was… kind of pointless. Considering the ‘villain’ team already knew that they were going to be infiltrating the building, it couldn’t be used as a way to surprise them. Even if you argued that they would be sneaking in and could still surprise the ‘villains’ by coming into the building through a way they wouldn’t expect and managing to avoid them long enough to launch a sneak attack, that still didn’t make much sense since neither teams knew the layout of the building well enough for that to work. Denki figured they could get the same effect by coming through the doorway. He was so lost in thought he didn’t realize that the ‘hero’ team was on the verge of running into Bakugou until an explosion blew up the screen and the people around him gasped.

Denki snapped back to the present and watched the screen in astonishment, barely able to see what was happening through all the smoke. Bakugou had appeared to jump out from behind a wall to attack Midoriya and Uraraka. There was a hole in the wall where it seemed he’d punched it with an explosion. Midoriya and Uraraka were on the ground like they’d jumped out of the way of the explosion in a hurry. Denki winced when he saw how much of Midoriya’s mask Bakugou had burned off with his first attack. 

Bakugou used one of his hands to wave some of the smoke away so that he could have a better view of his opponents. He seemed to say something, and Midoriya responded. Denki felt distressed again since he couldn’t hear what they were saying. 

“Bakugou, that’s cheating!” Kirishima, a red haired boy who was standing next to Denki spoke up in indignation. Denki remembered him from their list of suspicious people. His quirk was really similar to Tetsutetsu’s. 

“A surprise attack is a strategy too,” All Might explained to him, “They’re in the middle of a real battle right now.”

“Midori avoided it!” A girl with Pink skin Denki couldn’t remember the name of smiled. 

“There goes Bakugou!” Denki spoke up, still watching the screen. 

Bakugou was running towards Midoriya, a furious expression on his face. Midoriya didn’t seem fazed and ran forward to meet him. Denki gasped as he avoided a heavy right hook that was thrown his way with ease and turned around backwards to grab the arm that had been thrown out to punch him. To everyone’s surprise, he used it to flip Bakugou over his shoulder and onto his back with enough force to probably knock the breath out of him. Instead of using the chance that he was being granted while Bakugou was catching his breath, Midoriya put shaking fists up and seemed to be talking to him. 

‘They must have some real history if Midoriya isn’t using the chance this gives him to tie up Bakugou with capture tape,’ Denki thought, wishing for the millionth time that he could hear what Midoriya and Bakugou were saying. Midoriya waited while Bakugou was still standing up and catching his breath and didn’t do anything except turn and say something to Uraraka that made her spin around and run away from the situation. Denki wondered what his strategy was. 

Bakugou turned to face Midoriya and clenched his fists, letting a few explosions off. Denki couldn’t see his expression very clearly, but from what he could tell Bakugou was nearly shaking with rage. He didn’t know if he could think of a time that he’d seen someone make someone so angry with a single action. 

Iida appeared to ask Bakugou something through the earpiece, and Bakugou shouted something back. 

“What was Bakugou saying?” Kirishima asked, “Can’t tell with just cameras in a fixed position and no sound.” 

“He’s talking to his partner over the small wireless radio,” All Might explained, “You can bring that plus the building’s floor plan, and this capture tape. Once you wrap this around your opponent, it shows that you’ve captured them.” Denki quietly wondered why they hadn’t been told this earlier. 

“The time limit is 15 minutes,” The pink girl spoke up again, pointing to the timer set on the screen, “and the heroes don’t know where the nuclear weapon is located, right?” she asked. 

“Yes!” All Might nodded. 

“The heroes are clearly at a disadvantage!” She pointed out. 

All Might paused as if thinking for a second on how to explain himself, “Heroes should be able to turn the tables in whatever predicament they’re in. Besides, hasn’t Aizawa told you that as well? There’s no time for easy stuff. Plus Ultra!” 

Denki jumped up with everyone else to yell the school’s motto as well. 

“Monsieur, Bakugou is-” Aoyoma (if Denki was remembering correctly,) spoke up but was cut off almost immediately. 

Bakugou had blasted off towards Midoriya with one of his hands and twisted midair to roundhouse kick him in the side of the face. Midoriya threw up an arm to block the blow and Denki realized that he’d managed to wrap the capture tape around his leg during the small move. He lost his hold on Bakugou’s leg pretty quickly, but it tripped him up for a second. Bakugou threw another right swing at Midoriya with an explosion packed behind it but Midoriya stepped out of the way. 

“That guy’s amazing!” A taller kid with big lips who was standing next to Tooru spoke up. 

“He’s not even using his quirk!” Denki was fairly certain the kid speaking up was named Sero, but he couldn’t remember what his quirk was, (he was pretty sure it had something to do with his elbows,) “Fighting against the guy who finished first in the entrance exam!” 

Midoriya was crouched down and seemed to be breathing heavily. Denki realized that he wouldn’t be able to keep up what he was doing for long. Bakugou put both of his hands behind him in a move that Denki recognized was him preparing to blast off towards Midoriya, but instead of meeting him like he had before, Midoriya turned around and ran away. Bakugou yelled something at him in a rage and chased after him. Midoriya was fast even though he was out of breath, and it didn’t take him long to lose Bakugou in the maze that the building was. When he realized that he’d lost the person he was chasing, Bakugou stopped in the middle of the hallway and yelled something at the ceiling before letting off angry explosions in his hands again. 

Denki flinched back a bit, “He seems really angry. It’s scary!” 

He watched as Midoriya continued to run through the building until he was sure he’d lost Bakugou, stopping to rest and catch his breath around a corner in the hallway labeled 2F. Bakugou kept blasting open closed doors and checking through room after room, screaming what Denki could only assume were violent curses the entire time. 

Iida was still standing by the bomb. He hadn’t moved from the room. He was tapping his fingers impatiently. The two ‘villain’ teammates were clearly not working together. 

Uraraka was still sneaking around, trying to find the bomb.
Denki had a feeling like they were at a stalemate for the time being. He was not expecting any of this when All Might had announced they would be doing combat training. 

Katsuki walked through the hallways and felt an immense sense of deja vu wash over him. This was not the first time he had chased Deku through a maze and realized that he had no idea where he went. Deku had gotten very very good at masking his brain from being read or tracked throughout the years, and Bakugou knew the familiar feeling of reaching out with his empathy quirk and feeling nothing coming from him quite well. It made him furious

“I’m going to find you!” Katsuki stomped around the playground, his five-and-a-half-year-old feet proudly marching from the swings to the slide to look under it. One of his friends complained loudly as he was found immediately, “Well, pick a better hiding spot then!” Katsuki said impatiently, running off to find his other friends. 

It didn’t take him long to find them, but he realized very quickly that Deku was the only one still hiding. Katsuki glared around at the playground surrounding him and searched for a good spot Deku could use to hide. 

Katsuki ran around for another minute or so, checking all the spots he thought could be plausible. He couldn’t find Deku anywhere. 

“Deku!” He yelled, getting irritated, “Where are you?!” His friends snickered as he used the alternate pronunciation of Izuku’s name, “I’m going to find you!” He yelled again. 

Katsuki closed his eyes and focused. Tapping into the empathy quirk his dad had given him was a new thing, but he was getting pretty good at it. He couldn’t recognize what all the different feelings and colors he saw meant, but he did know how to locate a person. Katsuki opened his eyes and looked around the playground again, and saw some extra stray brain waves coming from behind the bench his mom was sitting on. 

“I know where you are!” He yelled, taking off towards his mom. He raced around the side of the bench to see Deku crouching behind it, smiling. 

“You found me!” He laughed.

“You picked the worst hiding spot,” Katsuki declared loudly. 

“But… I was the last one found?” Deku stood up, looking confused.

“Yeah, well, you still picked the worst spot!” Katsuki glared at him. His friends jeered and snickered behind him. Katsuki turned around and marched back to the swings, pointing at one of his friends, “You’re the finder next!” 

The game continued. Katsuki was the best finder and the best hider. He declared himself the winner even if they were playing a game that didn’t usually have one. None of his friends protested. 

Katsuki ran through the training maze desperately. He had no idea where Deku was. Even though he couldn’t hear Akaguro-sensei behind him, he knew he was being followed. There was no way he’d managed to lose Akaguro-sensei yet.

The walls almost seemed to press down around him, but he’d run through this maze many times before and although the route changed each time, it still felt familiar enough to give him some relief from the uncomfortable sensation of walls looming over him. 

He was breathing hard. He’d been sprinting for nearly half an hour at this point. The clock was ticking down, and Katsuki pushed off the walls whenever he came to a corner in an attempt to not lose his speed. A knife sliced through the air next to him as a warning, and adrenaline kicked in again to help him pick up the pace. 

Katsuki was nearly 11 years old at this point, and Akaguro-sensei was still around to teach him, Deku and Himiko. Katsuki had already found her, but he was realizing with horrifying certainty that he had no idea where Deku was. He pushed out with his empathy quirk, and was coming to the heart-stopping realization that he couldn’t feel Deku anywhere. Akaguro-sensei was like a light blinking slowly behind him, good enough at hiding his brain waves that he couldn’t be seen unless you were looking for him, but when Katsuki searched for Deku, there was nothing there. It was dead quiet. He was almost starting to get worried. 

Katsuki kept running, figuring that if he couldn’t find Deku through his brain waves he’d try the old fashioned way. If Deku had managed to make his output really small then he might just have to get in range to find him. Katsuki was sprinting for the other end of the maze, desperate to sense his signal. 

The closer he got to the other side, the more his panic was building. He couldn’t sense Deku anywhere. He could always sense people. The realization that there was someone in the maze with him that he couldn’t feel the location of made Katsuki’s chest feel tight, and he forced himself to keep his breath even as his heart rate soared higher than it should be. He was already exerting himself so much, but he didn’t slow down. Instead, Katsuki’s feet pounded the pavement, and he pushed himself to go faster in his panic. If he could just get in range, if he could just get in range.
Katsuki tore around the last corner to come face to face with a differently colored wall than the rest of the maze. 

‘The edge,’ Katsuki felt his stomach drop through the floor, ‘I’ve reached the end, and I have no idea where Deku is .’ 

Katsuki didn’t let himself stop for long, he took off to his left promising that he would circle the entire maze and find Deku . No one could hide from Katsuki for long. Absolutely no one. 

Katsuki swallowed and focused on his new goal, trying to ignore the clock as much as possible. He felt Akaguro-sensei grow a bit closer from his hesitancy at seeing the back wall of the maze and bit his tongue to stop himself from using his birth quirk. He wasn’t allowed to rely on that right now, and he’d been told to never use it when he was feeling too panicked or angry anyways.

‘You’re words are dangerous, ’ he remembered his mother telling him, ‘You have to use them wisely, or not at all. Someone could end up really, really, hurt, and we can’t always fix them. ’ 

Katsuki yelled in frustration and kept running, following as close to the outside wall of the maze as he could. Akaguro-sensei’s presence fell away behind him, and he knew that his teacher had gone off somewhere else, probably to cut him off when Katsuki would eventually have to turn the corner at the end of this side of the wall. It was pretty obvious where he was going. Katsuki waited a few moments to allow his sensei to get farther away before delving deeper into the maze. He forced himself to keep going, and not let his speed drop. The second he was about in the center of the maze, Katsuki reached out with his empathy quirk and felt nothing. If he focused, he could feel the general direction that Akaguro-sensei was in, but there was nothing in terms of where Deku was. The absolute radio silence almost sounded louder than Deku’s usual explosion of constant emotion. Usually, Katsuki could read him like a book. Usually, he would know exactly where Deku was. 

Katuski had no idea where Deku was. 

The absence of a presence that had always been around Katsuki was starting to scare him. A deep sense of dread was setting in, like tar coating his bones and slowing his muscles even as they burned while he kept sprinting. The walls of the maze were starting to look sinister, more sinister than they had looked since Katsuki was very young. With only the faint sense of laser focused determination coming from Akaguro-sensei’s direction, Katsuki felt alone. 

The quiet was deafening. 

If he kept focusing on that train of thought, Katsuki worried he might start crying. Katsuki refused to cry over something so stupid, so he shoved down his unease and kept running. He concentrated on the pounding of his feet on the pavement, the walls around him, solid and familiar instead of strange and looming. He breathed in and out, counting his breaths like he was supposed to in order to keep air flowing in and out of his lungs at a steady speed. He concentrated on the strain in his muscles, in the heat in his face and the sweat making his shirt stick to his back. Being in the moment grounded him. Katsuki gave up on using the empathy quirk for finding Deku, deactivating it after taking note of where his sensei was and turning so he was running away from him. 

Katsuki knew he didn’t have very much time left. He had hardly a minute, looking at the timer set on his watch, and there was no way he was going to find Deku unless his empathy quirk was working. Since it wasn’t, (Katsuki forced himself not to dwell on it for very long,) it would all be up to chance whether or not Katsuki found Deku, and he was smart enough to assess the situation and decide that he probably wasn’t going to. All Katsuki could hope to do at this point was keep himself from being caught by Akaguro-sensei. The best way to do that would be to stay quiet and keep an eye on him in order to avoid him. Katsuki let himself start to slow down for the first time in what felt like forever. 

A deep ache settled into his legs almost instantly, and he winced as the adrenaline keeping him from feeling their burn faded and left him with nothing but sore muscles. Katsuki was good at being stealthy, and even though he could run without making much noise, when he was walking he could be perfectly silent. His shoes glided over the floor, and he forced himself to breathe slower even though he didn’t want to. Katsuki checked around corners before he turned around them, careful like he’d been taught. Crouching close to the ground, heart-rate slowing gradually, Katsuki closed his eyes and reached out with his empathy quirk again. He could feel where Akaguro-sensei was, all the way across the maze, but the complete silence from Deku was still there. Katsuki had to refocus on his breathing when the familiar feeling of dread settled in at the lack of response. 

Katsuki lasted the rest of the minute or so like that, moving slowly and quietly, breathing carefully and keeping his empathy quirk trained on his teacher. By the time the timer was up, his heart-rate had slowed from racing to average, but his muscles hadn’t yet stopped aching. Speakers in the wall crackled to life. 

Katsuki swallowed, “Times up.” Akaguro-sensei’s familiar voice crackled through the speakers, “I trust you can find your way out. ” 

Katsuki turned around and followed the signal his teacher was broadcasting faintly across the maze, growing stronger. He didn’t feel like breaking out into a run again, but he stopped bothering with being quiet and made sure not to dawdle. 

As Katsuki stepped around a corner, his brain was suddenly hit with the full force of Deku’s brain, all emotions blaring at the high energy they usually were, moving too fast for someone who wasn’t used to reading the waves to comprehend. Getting blasted with it after such an abrupt radio silence made the unease Katsuki had been feeling dissipate immediately, but his anger at being tricked exploded in his chest anyway and he started running even though he was exhausted. 

“DEKU!” He shrieked the second he rounded the last corner and came face to face with the offending person, “WHAT DID YOU DO.” Katsuki did not hesitate before throwing the first punch, which Deku dodged easily before turning to smile blindingly at Katsuki. The amount of pure happy energy threw Katsuki for a loop, and was surprising enough to halt him in his tracks, leaving him just staring at Deku with a mix of fury and confusion clouding his facial features, fists still clenched as if he were going to hit something. 

Deku’s cheer was infectious “It worked!” even Katsuki felt pulled along by his wave of joy, “It worked!”

“WHAT WORKED!” Katsuki was still mad enough to yell. 

“I- I-” Deku swallowed and seemed to attempt to center himself. Katsuki watched him reign his emotions in even as the pace his brain worked didn’t slow from going a mile a minute, “I’ve tried it a few times, but this time it really worked-”

“Get to the point!” Katsuki didn’t yell nearly so loud now. He wanted an explanation. 

The explanation Deku gave him did not make him any happier, “I’ve been trying to mask my emotions so that you can’t see them for a while now, but it hasn't worked so great. I’ve managed to do it this time though! For real! You couldn’t find me!” 

Katsuki narrowed his eyes, “ What.

“Well,” Deku waved his hands around as he spoke, “I was talking with dad, and he was giving me advice, because, you know he can hide his brain from your dad and he’s not supposed to be able to do that, so I was just asking him how he does it because I wanted to be able to hide from you too, and I mean, we might go up against someone with a quirk like yours at some point, so I just wanted to be prepared, so I was practicing and talking with dad, and he was teaching me, and I was going to try it out today since I was pretty sure that it was going to work, and it uh… it worked!” Deku smiled again at Katsuki, blindingly bright in his glee. Katsuki only felt himself get angrier as Deku kept talking, but it was a quiet anger. Not one that made him want to yell or punch things, but one that simmered just below the surface of his skin like fire in his bones. 

“What did you do?” His voice was dangerously cold. 

Deku swallowed, light fear flashing across his brain brightly for barely a second before it was gone, “He um… He taught me how to suppress my emotions. To-” he swallowed, “To rein them in and just feel nothing but calm.” A nervous energy was building in the back of his head. Katsuki felt the quiet anger burn brighter, flashing briefly in a red hot explosion before he took a deep breath and swung his fist out to punch Deku in the face again. 

Deku yelped pathetically, “I’m sorry!” he yelled, “I was just really surprised that you couldn’t seem to see me at all since you’re so good at using your quirks and I didn’t expect you to not-”

“SHUT UP!” Katsuki screamed shrilly, fists flying haphazardly in Deku's direction as he dodged and deflected them as fast as Katsuki could throw them, “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT- OW!!”

Katsuki’s head jerked back as someone behind him pulled his hair sharply and Katsuki whipped around to come face to face with Akaguro-sensei. He forced himself to suppress what was left of his anger and glared at his teacher waiting for him to say something. 

“You’re acting like a child, Ares.” Akaguro-sensei’s eyes were cold, as per usual. He always called his students by their code names, in Katsuki’s experience, “Stop throwing a temper tantrum and start explaining yourself. Why couldn’t you find Jade?” 

Katsuki swallowed down the urge to scream and throw something, feeling embarrassed after being called out by his teacher, “He was doing something .” Katsuki spit, “to his emotions. I couldn’t see him at all.” 

Katsuki realized his mistake almost immediately, “You couldn’t see me at all ?” Deku spoke up from behind him excitedly. Katsuki nearly growled in response. 

“Hmm,” Akaguro-sensei narrowed his eyes at the pair, “Did you learn from your father?” He asked Deku. Deku nodded. Akaguro-Sensei hummed again, looking at Katsuki. 

“I’ll find him next time,” Katsuki told him, “Whether or not I use my quirk to do it.”

Akaguro-sensei made a face, one that Katsuki could identify as the one he made when he was close to smiling, “I’m glad to hear it. Good work today, Jade.” Akaguro-sensei gave Katsuki one last meaningful look before he turned around and left the room, re-entering into the hallway connecting the maze to the rest of the Training Wing of the 1st Circle Compound. Katsuki turned around slowly, face twisted in something resembling a snarl. 

Deku wilted under his furious gaze and Katsuki couldn’t feel it within himself to feel that bad about it, “This won’t happen again.” he insisted. 

Deku had the nerve to grin, “I’m sure it won’t, Kacchan.” 

Uraraka’s bright and bubbly brain, painted in the colors of determination, was glowing brightly from her location as she advanced towards the room that held the bomb in it. 

Iida’s was steady and bright as well, but felt more solid than Uraraka’s did. His was painted with determination as well, but also a mix of suppressed irritation. Katsuki could feel anger there too, but it was buried deep. He’d been interested to find out how much anger Iida let simmer below the surface. There wasn’t much, but it had been more than Katsuki expected. 

When he reached out with his quirk to find Deku, all he felt was stillness and silence, and a feeling like ants crawling over his skin. 

It had been years, and Katsuki still was completely unable to find Deku when he didn’t want to be found. His ability to mask his emotions from the empathy quirk was as refined as his father’s was. The feeling of unease whenever he was masking his location still hadn’t been shaken in all the experience Katsuki had with either Deku or his father, and the fact that he still felt it, even when in a training exercise like this one at school, made him more mad than anything. Katsuki wasn’t scared. He knew that Deku was nothing he had to be afraid of. But even so, he still felt uneasy, and he didn’t like it. Katsuki knew he was probably throwing open doors and stomping around a bit louder than he needed to, but he didn’t really care all that much. 

He couldn’t find the little weasel and he was fuming . Katsuki would never admit it out loud, but he really missed the days before Deku got his quirk. Ever since then, he’d been worshiped like he was God’s greatest gift to the earth. 

Katsuki remembered that day very clearly. 

Deku had gotten his quirk late. After Katsuki had already had his quirk for nearly half a year. Katsuki vaguely remembered some old saying about how the later a quirk came, the more powerful it was, but he was pretty sure there wasn’t any actual evidence to back it up.

Katsuki remembered running around with the neighborhood kids. All of them were Organization kids, of course. Katsuki and Deku wouldn’t be allowed to play with any other kind. It was too dangerous, especially while they were still waiting for Deku’s quirk to manifest. The cleanup from if that happened around average kids would’ve been messy, to say the least, considering what they all suspected it would end up being.

Of course, no one had been certain back then, what exactly it would be, but they all had their suspicions. Katsuki, back then, hadn’t had any real idea of what the implications of what they were all planning for would be. He’d just been proud to have his own quirk. One he’d been absolutely certain he was going to get, and one that he knew with absolute certainty would help him to uphold his family’s legacy just as well as it needed to. 

Katsuki had been taught since he was little to be careful with his words in preparation for when he did get his quirk, and now that he had a few months under his belt of having it, he fancied himself very good at knowing when was a good time to use it and when wasn’t. The playground, for instance, was not a good place to use it. Katsuki knew he’d get in a lot of trouble if he used it there. So he kept his mouth shut until he had time to think about what he was going to say before he said it to make extra sure that he didn’t use it by accident.

Katsuki was very good at being careful. Deku, to this day, still didn’t take that kind of care when he was using his birth quirk. Katsuki, to this day, was irritated that his quirk was considered so much more dangerous than Deku’s when in reality, by design, Deku’s was stronger. Deku’s was powerful in a way that only a Midoriya’s quirk could be. In a way that Katsuki could never be. In a way that Katsuki was NOT jealous of. Katsuki couldn’t let himself feel jealous of Deku. He had his place, and Deku had his, and Katsuki wasn’t bitter. Not at all. 

Those kinds of thoughts didn’t plague Katsuki until much later in his life, and they weren’t anywhere near being thought into fruition by the time Deku got his quirk. There hadn’t been any need for them until that happened, and even though Katsuki had a vague idea of what Deku’s quirk was supposed to be, it didn’t really occur to him until he was watching Deku use it for the first time. 

The day had been hot. The sun had shone down like an angry god, beating against the back of Katsuki’s neck where his hair didn’t cover. His shirt was slightly sticky with sweat, and the playground equipment was burning hot to the touch. Katsuki and his friends were running through the woods, chasing shadows and sunlight. Following a path that they’d taken many times before and playing a game of pretend that they’d played many times before as well. Katsuki was in the lead as always. 

They reached the river in what felt like no time at all, and Katsuki led the way in getting across it. He wasn’t afraid of walking across the log, even though it was quite high in the air for a 4-and-a-half year old to be walking across. Katsuki refused to be afraid of anything. 

He heard a shout behind him, and felt someone run into his back. If they hadn’t, then he probably wouldn’t have fallen.. It wasn’t as long of a drop as it looked when he was standing on top of the long looking down, but the river water was cold and soaked into his clothes immediately. Katsuki shouted in surprise and looked up in anger to yell at the kid who’d run into him. 

He was met with a sight that he’d never forget. 

Two of the other kids who’d been with him and Deku were screaming and scrambling off the log. The third kid had fallen, but he’d managed to stay on the log. He was completely frozen, staring up at Deku like his head had fallen off.  Katsuki had opened his mouth to yell something but he felt the words die in his throat when he saw the expression on Deku’s face. 

He looked… happy, if Katsuki were to try and describe it. There was something off about it though. Maybe it was because his smile was a little too wide. Maybe it was how he held himself, confident and leaned forward on the balls of his feet. Maybe it was in how his shoulders were hunched. Katsuki was inclined to believe that it was probably the glint in his eyes. The one that sent shivers down Katsuki’s spine and made the sunny summer day feel ice cold in a matter of milliseconds. Maybe it was how Deku looked up and locked eyes with Katsuki, and Katsuki could feel something deep in his gut tug as if being pulled, and for a heart-stopping moment, he was sure his quirk was gone. That was impossible though, because Deku was nowhere near him, and because his quirk was his . He’d been born with it, and he’d been told by his mother that no one would ever be able to take it from him. Not even a Midoriya was supposed to be able to take it from him. An uneasy feeling, one very similar to the one he felt when he reached for Deku’s head and found nothing, crept over him, clinging to his bones and making his feet feel like the earth might be swallowing him. His vision tunneled until all he could see was Deku, and then the expression on his face, and then the glint in his eyes. 

Deku couldn’t take his quirk. Katsuki’s quirk was one of the only quirks in the world that Deku couldn’t take. It’d been designed that way since the First Hope and the First All For One joined forces and linked their families together for the generations that followed. It was meant as a fail-safe, so that neither of them could become more powerful than the other. Katsuki’s quirk was safe. 

The kid who was still on the log with Deku wasn’t so lucky. It didn’t take a long time for Deku to figure out what happened and return the kid’s quirk to him, but Katsuki could tell that the event wasn’t something that he was ever going to forget. 

Katsuki would never admit it, but sometimes, when he was alone in the dark in the middle of the night when everything was still and silent, he remembered that glint in Deku’s eyes and tried to force himself not to feel afraid.

Chapter Text

Tooru watched the screens and felt herself only get more and more concerned the longer Bakugou spent stomping around looking angry and nearly unhinged. Midoriya was fast though, and smart. He’d managed to escape being found so far, although he’d stopped to rest around a corner at this point and seemed to be catching his breath. Uraraka, meanwhile, had managed to get all the way to where the bomb was, although it appeared Iida did something or said something that must’ve been funny enough to make Uraraka laugh, and Iida was alerted to her presence very quickly. He pointed at her dramatically and gestured to the space around them with his arms before pointing again. Tooru had to hold back a snicker just at how ridiculously overdramatic his arm movements were, she could hardly imagine what he was saying. 

Tooru glanced at the clock. They had 6 minutes left. By her own calculations, Uraraka probably wouldn’t be able to take Iida in a one on one fight like they were about to get stuck  in, and Midoriya was also mostly likely not going to succeed if he went one on one with Bakugou. All in all, it seemed like the villain team was set up to win. Midoriya and Uraraka would have to do something big quick if they wanted to have any hope of winning. Tooru couldn’t imagine what they’d be able to do in that amount of time. 

Bakugou was getting closer to where Midoriya was. Tooru was sure she saw murderous intent on his face. Midoriya might be in actual danger. 

This really wasn’t a good idea for a first combat training exercise. 

Midoriya and Uraraka appeared to be communicating through their earpieces. Bakugou crept closer. With a sinking feeling in her chest, Tooru realized that Bakugou was going to end up behind Midoriya, and would probably end up seeing him first. 

In Tooru’s own experience, the first few moments of a battle were absolutely crucial. If Bakugou managed to get the jump on Midoriya, which it certainly looked like he was about to, then Tooru couldn’t see any way for Midoriya to win the battle with him. Tooru swallowed and glanced up at All Might. She hoped he’d know when to call the battle trial off if things got too bad. 

Tooru had a terrible feeling like things might be headed that way. 

Finally, Bakugou appeared on the other side of the hallway, opposite Midoriya. His gauntlets flashed orange. Midoriya noticed him, turning to face him but making no move to run towards him. Bakugou didn’t advance either. Instead, he held up one of his fists and seemed to be saying something to Midoriya. 

Midoriya pulled his capture tape out. If he really wasn’t able to use his quirk without severely hurting himself, then the capture tape might be all he had. Tooru had a horrible feeling she knew exactly how this fight was going to end, and it wasn’t going to be good for Midoriya. 

Bakugou seemed to pull some sort of lever back on the gauntlet that was raised and pointed at Midoriya. It occurred to Tooru that he was about to do something with it. She felt dread pool in the bottom of her stomach. 

Bakugou reached out and appeared to be pulling a pin like his gauntlet was a grenade. Seconds later the entire screen exploded. 

Izuku didn’t think. He just moved. Within seconds, he’d activated no less than 3 quirks that would protect him from heat, fire, and blunt force trauma. He dove out of the way, heat from the explosion searing through his costume even with the quirks he’d activated. 

The blast had blown up the entire hallway, leaving nothing but ruin and destruction in its wake. There was a huge hole in the wall, pieces of the building twisted and bent, glass and metal from the window that had gotten so hot they’d melted. 

Izuku took stock of himself. He didn’t appear to be injured in any way, which was good. His costume, however, was even more damaged than it had been before. He was missing a glove, one of his sleeves, and the rest of his mask. 

There was a ringing in his ears, and black around the corners of his vision. Izuku didn’t try to get up at first. He could feel broken glass and pieces of broken concrete uncomfortably sticking into his back. There were tears stinging in the corners of his eyes, but Izuku blinked them away. This was no time to cry. 

He stood up, shaking. Most of his body ached, even though he hadn’t been hit directly by the blast. Izuku was pretty sure he could smell burning hair, and he halfheartedly hoped that it wasn't his. 

Kacchan emerged from the smoke, his other gauntlet flashing orange like the first one did. 

Izuku saw the look on his face and felt certain that he was about to die. 

Katsuki could tell that Deku seemed to be feeling real fear even without reading his emotions. ‘Dumb,’ Katsuki thought, ‘What could you possibly be afraid of?’  

Deku stood to his feet shakily. Katsuki would’ve felt bad for destroying the building so thoroughly if he wasn’t aware of how much of a fortune the school was given by the government in order to keep itself running. The building would be fixed in no time, and Deku wasn’t really hurt. 

‘Brace yourself, ’ Katsuki thought, ignoring Iida yelling in his earpiece about the giant explosion he’d heard. When he moved, it was fast, and when he struck, he made sure it should hurt. 

Katsuki had a lot of time to think while he was searching for Deku. The unease he normally felt when searching for him when he didn’t want to be found still sat under his skin like needles. On any other occasion, he would shove the anger down, repress it; force himself not to think about it and only let it out in short little bursts in order to make sure it didn’t completely consume him. 

Katsuki wasn’t bitter. He wasn’t allowed to let his emotions get in the way of being a good successor to his mother. He had to be the perfect son. He couldn’t allow himself to disappoint the legacy he was inheriting. That meant going all out, and that meant playing the part that he’d been given perfectly. 

Katsuki wasn’t allowed to be bitter, because that bitterness could fester and change how he acted. Katsuki wasn’t bitter. He really, really wasn’t. He understood why things were the way they were. He understood why Deku was the golden child, why Deku was the ‘chosen one.’ He pretended to be angry, but he wasn’t really that angry. He was at peace with how things were. He wasn’t bitter. 

He wasn’t

He wasn’t allowed to be.  

But Katsuki wasn’t on an Organization mission right now. He wasn’t training with Akaguro-sensei, (he hadn’t trained with Akaguro-sensei for a long time now, but no matter how much time passed he was still the first of his many personal trainers that came to mind when thinking about training.) He wasn’t even really being watched by The Organization, and he had a chance to get angry. In fact, being angry would be staying in character. 

Hitting a little harder would be staying in character. Being a little trigger happy would be staying in character. Destroying vast amounts of the building would be staying in character. Katsuki was allowed to be emotional, even if it was just for this one exercise. 

Katsuki glared at Deku. 

He wasn’t going to hold back. 

Denki couldn’t look away from the screen. He couldn’t believe what he was watching, in all honesty. Mostly, he couldn’t believe that All Might wasn’t stopping the exercise. He also couldn’t believe that a support item that could cause that much damage was given to a child, and one who seemed to have such a short temper as Bakugou Katsuki. In Denki’s personal opinion, Bakugou could cause enough destruction as he needed to without the gauntlets that apparently shot giant fireballs at people capable of blowing a hole as big as the floor plan of Denki’s bathroom in the wall of a building made out of metal and concrete from 30 feet away. Denki was amazed that Midoriya was even still alive after having one of those things pointed at him. 

That wasn’t the only thing happening at the moment though. Denki’s attention was split between the two screens. Bakugou seemed to be saying something to Midoriya at the moment, so Denki figured he could take the chance to observe Uraraka and Iida. 

Iida had gotten momentarily distracted by something Bakugou appeared to have said into his earpiece, and Uraraka had taken the chance that provided her to rush him. Iida promptly tried to block her from reaching the bomb, but Uraraka responded by doing something Denki couldn’t see from the angle the camera was at with her hands and jumping. Instead of falling down however, she floated right over Iida’s head and was quickly descending towards the bomb. Denki had fleeting hope for just a moment that the battle trial would end before Bakugou could make another attempt at Midoriya’s life, but instead Iida turned around and moved faster than the cameras could clearly see in order to snatch the bomb away from her and move it to the other side of the room. 

Uraraka landed on the ground harshly, her momentum causing her to tumble head over heels into a wall with enough force to throw her helmet off. It clattered to the ground at her feet as she tried to right herself from the upside down position she’d ended up in. 

Denki gasped along with the rest of his class watching them. Denki glanced over at Midoriya and Bakugou again to find that Bakugou was still talking to Midoriya. 

‘Someone has a lot to say,’ Denki thought, ‘I am continuing to wish that I could hear what Bakugou’s monologuing about.’ The two of them really must’ve had some history. 

Midoriya didn’t seem to be that interested in what Bakugou had to say. Instead, he reached up and looked as if he were talking into his earpiece again. Denki was distracted by Kirishima speaking up again. 

“Sensei, you should stop them!” He protested, gesturing to the screen, “That Bakugou is really crazy. He’s going to kill him!” 

“No,” All Might paused for a second before pushing a button and speaking into the microphone so that Midoriya, Bakugou, Uraraka, and Iida could hear what he had to say, “Bakugou-shonen, the next time you use that, I’ll stop the fight and your team will lose.” 

Bakugou looked up in surprise. 

“To attack on such a large scale inside is inviting the destruction of the stronghold you should be protecting,” All Might began to give an explanation to him, “That is a foolish plan for both the heroes and the villains. You will lose a lot of points for it!”

In response, Bakugou looked down with shaking shoulders, every inch of him outlined in rage, before leaning his head back and screaming. Denki wasn’t sure he had ever seen a face filled with such a large amount of fury. He could only imagine what the scream itself sounded like. 

Yelling felt good. Katsuki honestly wondered why he didn’t do it more often. He felt Deku’s fear spike and couldn’t find it within himself to care. 

The second Katsuki ran out of breath and had to stop screaming he realized that Deku was in the middle of giving instructions to the round-faced girl through his earpiece, and he immediately felt all of his anger return in full force, (not that screaming had really dissipated it at all.) Katsuki was furious, and it felt so good to really feel it for once instead of holding it back. Katsuki took the chance he had while Deku was distracted to blast off using his hands to attack. 

Just as he’d expected, Deku threw a fist up like he was getting ready to throw a punch instead of trying to do something smarter (he was acting as if he had no real combat experience, after all,) and Katsuki was given the perfect opportunity to blast over and behind him in order to get himself in the perfect position to aim an explosion at his back and get his first direct hit in. Katsuki landed on his feet with ease and didn’t wait for Deku to catch his breath before swinging with his right fist again to hit him. Deku flinched and Katsuki took the opportunity to grab his arm and flip him just like how he himself had been flipped. 

Deku slammed into the ground and Katsuki felt sick satisfaction in finally having a chance to beat him up for once. He swallowed down the unwelcome emotion and prepared for whatever Deku was going to do next. 

Maybe this combat training exercise isn’t such a stupid thing after all.

Tooru watched as Midoriya stumbled to his feet and limped away. She felt so bad for him. Bakugou hadn’t held back at all in beating him up. He would be feeling super sore for sure . Tooru wouldn’t be surprised if he was fairly burnt as well. She couldn’t help but feel a bit sick to her stomach at the thought. 

“He’s trying to run away,” Ashido Mina, (a girl with pink skin and an acid quirk,) noted.

Kirishima sighed, “That’s not a very manly thing to do, but he doesn’t have a choice. Something’s strange though… why…” he trailed off before he could finish the thought, and Tooru directed her attention back to the screen. 

Midoriya had stopped a fair distance away from Bakugou when he reached a wall and stopped in front of a window. Bakugou stalked forward, taking his time to approach Midoriya. 

Bakugou said something, and Midoriya bowed his head in response. Tooru couldn’t see it very clearly, but she was pretty sure Midoriya was shaking. She only felt more bad for him. 

Midoriya clenched a fist, and Tooru was struck by the sudden realization that he was about to use his quirk, even though it appeared to hurt him so badly, and even after getting absolutely destroyed, and even though it was clear to everyone watching that Bakugou was probably about to unleash another one of his giant gauntlet explosions. Tooru’s eyes widened even though no one knew but her.

Bakugou and Midoriya ran at each other. 

“This looks bad sir!” Kirishima sounded desperate. 

Tooru took a moment to examine the pair of people. Both of them were pretty high on their suspects list, and in the moment before they collided, she had time to see the expressions on both of their faces. 

Bakugou looked terrifying. Fury was outlined in every one of his features. Everything about his expression and the tension in his shoulders screamed that he was angry and dangerous. His gauntlet was glowing orange and pointed at Midoriya. Like a punch to the gut it registered that Bakugou was planning on hitting Midoriya with one of his giant explosions point blank, and Tooru felt worried quite suddenly that she was about to watch her classmate die on the second day of school. 

Midoriya looked terrifying too, and that was surprising in a way to Tooru, because the expression on his face was just as, if not more, scary than the one on Bakugou’s. It was terrifying in a different way. It was terrifying because of how desperate it was. Whereas Bakugou looked nothing but furious, Midoriya looked furious and desperate, and if there was one thing Tooru knew it was that a cornered animal was always more dangerous. Plus, she’d seen what Midoriya did to that robot at the entrance exam. He was planning to use his quirk point blank on Bakugou too, from the looks of it. If both of them made it out of the interaction alive it would be a miracle. 

Tooru felt the entire room hold its breath as All Might shouted at the two of them to stop before the screen went black and a sound like a nuclear bomb went off loud enough that Tooru could hear it through both the earpiece that All Might was wearing and from outside of the room they were in. The screen quickly changed to a shot showing the outside of the building and Tooru watched as the building was torn apart from the inside out and windows all the way up it from the floor that Midoriya and Bakugou were on shattered in record time. Wind howled out a hole that was created in the roof as extra energy from the blast dispersed into the air. Tooru could’ve sworn she felt the earth rumble underneath her in her very bones. 

Seeing Midoriya’s power through security footage was a very different thing from experiencing it firsthand, and even though Tooru wasn’t anywhere near where he was, she still felt primal, instinctual fear as she realized that her classmate had the ability to tear apart a building in a single punch. 

Katsuki hadn’t anticipated what Deku was going to do, and at first he was furious about it. He was angry at Deku for doing it, and then he was angry at himself for not predicting it. His anger didn’t last long though, because the second the smoke cleared, his blood felt like it stopped flowing as his heart skipped a beat and the world around him spiraled down to only him and Deku. 

Katsuki hadn’t found it within himself to be afraid of Deku’s power. He’d dealt with power on that scale before. He was born to fight people wielding power like that, born to go up against human gods. Katsuki’s blood didn’t turn to ice because he was afraid of Deku’s power. It was because of what he saw when he looked at him.

One of Deku’s arms was pointed at the ceiling, and one of them was held in front of his face to block the explosion that Katsuki had shot. Deku slowly lowered the arm he had pointed at the ceiling, shaking so badly it was obvious he wasn’t faking his tremors this time; it was because he didn’t have the strength to support the weight. 

Deku’s arm was bent in several places that it shouldn’t be and bent in the wrong directions in the places that it should be bending. It was bruised all over even though nothing had touched it, bruised so badly that it was splattered pink and purple and blue and red without an ounce of color that skin should be. It looked black and green in some places, ugly colors that made Katsuki feel something sick and twisted clutching at his heart. 

The arm that was put up to block Katsuki’s blow was even worse although Katsuki initially thought that was impossible. It was black and burnt, blisters and boils covering it like craters in the moon. It reminded him of a shriveled twig, like a log you’d find at the bottom of a campfire just as it was burning itself out. Katsuki felt a shock to his system as the scent of burning, charred, smoking skin and hair seeped into his sinuses like he was breathing blood. It was a smell that reminded him of what corpses smelled like when they were set on fire. Usually people who smelled like that had been set ablaze and burned until their skin was crispy. Usually they ended up dead before the fire was out. The smell brought him back to memories that he didn’t like to remember, and for a terrifying moment Katsuki was absolutely certain he was about to throw up. 

Those weren’t the worst parts though. those weren’t the things that made him feel truly afraid. The damage to Deku’s arms wasn’t what made the world tilt under Katsuki’s feet as he fell while standing still. The thing that really struck fear into Katsuki and made him stand perfectly still were Deku’s eyes.

The expression Deku was wearing was haunted, like he was staring death in the face and couldn’t find it within himself to do anything but wait for it to come. There was no fear in it, no sadness or even the blatant anger that Katsuki was used to seeing on people’s faces while they fought. There was only the hollow look of someone who wasn’t feeling anything. Someone who was desperate, who would do anything if it meant achieving his goals, no matter if they were to win a low stakes battle exercise in class, pass an entrance exam into their dream school, or kill the number one hero before his family got hunted down for sport, tortured, and buried beneath the weight of everything they’d done wrong by people who’d done worse. Someone who was desperate enough that they would kill anyone standing in their path. Someone who was desperate enough to include themselves on that list if they needed to.  

Deku looked angry too. It was hard to see because his eyes were so wide and nothing about his expression hinted that he was, but Katsuki knew. Katsuki had known him long enough to see through his eyes into a fury that was buried deep, one that Deku didn’t let out unless he had to. One that had always scared Katsuki, not only because Deku never gave any hint that he was feeling it but also because it was vast, far vaster than anything Katsuki had felt from the moment to moment spurts of anger that he was familiar withl. It was an ocean, a void or a black hole filled with nothing but red, hot, impassioned mania. This was a rage that had been festering for years, one that Deku almost seemed to have been born with. One that Katsuki was staring directly in the face in a way that he hadn’t ever in his life as far back as he could remember. 

Deku wasn’t just desperate or angry though. Those two things would’ve been enough to scare Katsuki. It was the acceptance, the face of someone who had acknowledged that he was in more pain than any kid their age could ever dream of feeling (from actions that he himself had willingly taken while fully knowing the consequences) and couldn’t find it within himself to care. He had accepted it like someone would accept the death of a loved one years after their death, and something about that made Katsuki feel like someone was walking over his grave, like his very bones were unable to move, like his muscles were frozen and his eyes were locked in place, staring into a face that made the earth stop spinning. 

Katsuki was so shocked that it didn’t register when Deku collapsed at his feet. The imprint of his face and the expression he’d been wearing felt like it was engraved on the back of Katsuki’s eyelids and always would be. It took him a few seconds to realize what had happened, and even when he did, he blinked and could still see Deku staring at him like a ghost. Katsuki felt like he was underwater. He couldn’t hear anything except for ringing in his ears and he couldn’t feel anything except cold from his head to his toes. He couldn’t move. 

Deku never hesitated when it mattered, and one day it was going to get him killed. 

Deku wouldn’t hesitate to do something that would get himself killed. 

Deku wasn’t afraid to die. 

Katsuki stopped breathing. 

All Izuku felt was pain. Pain, and darkness tugging at the edges of his vision until he succumbed and let unconsciousness pull him under. 

The last thing he heard before he heard no more was the pounding of his heart in finger tips that he couldn’t feel anymore. 

Denki stared at the screens in front of him in shock. 

One screen showed a picture of the outside of the building, looking absolutely devastated. All the windows were shattered, half of the walls were completely gone and the other half looked burnt or like they were about to fall apart. The street around it was littered with parts of the building that had broken off, and an entire corner of it from the floor Midoriya and Bakugou had been on to the roof was nothing but a hole. Denki felt instinctual fear deep in his bones at the thought that one person had caused all of that with a single punch. No person, not even a hero in training, should be able to do that. 

One of the other screens showed Iida and the Other Girl Who Denki Was Totally Blanking On The Name Of. Iida had taken his helmet off and was helping The Girl while she threw up from overusing her quirk. She looked absolutely exhausted. 

The third screen showed Bakugou. He looked like he’d just seen a zombie jump out of the bushes in front of his house and bite his mother’s head off. Denki wasn’t certain he’d ever seen a person look so shell-shocked, and he could understand why. 

The fourth screen showed Midoriya’s body, unconscious and broken on the ground. His arms were twisted in ways that they shouldn’t be, covered in colors that arms should never be colored, making Denki feel sick to his stomach. 

He looked dead. 

When Denki didn’t know what to think, he often found himself talking. 

“What the heck?” He asked, even though he wished he could use stronger language, “The losers are practically uninjured, and the winners are on the ground…” 

“They lost the battle but won the war, huh?” One of his male classmates said from behind him. Denki couldn’t bring himself to tear his eyes away from the screen. 

“This is training, though,” He heard one of his female classmates point out. Denki felt his heart sink down to the pit of his stomach. 

This is training. 

Denki watched as robots carted Midoriya’s twisted, burnt, discolored, bloody, broken body away. 

This is training.

Denki watched as All Might gently touched Bakugou’s shoulder and said something to him that the rest of the class couldn’t hear. 

This is training.

Denki watched as Bakugou’s face didn’t change. He was still shaking. He looked like he might be on the verge of having a panic attack. 

This is training. 

Denki watched the looks on Iida’s and the Gravity Girl’s faces change to unadulterated horror as they heard about what had happened to Midoriya.

This is training.

Denki stared at the ground and listened to the nervous whispering of his classmates, a steady stream of noise in his ears like rain. He breathed.

He’ll be fine. This is only training, after all. 

Katsuki was shaking. He couldn’t stop shaking. If he could’ve stopped shaking, he would’ve, but he couldn’t stop. He stared at his hand in shock. The hand that had shot that blast at Deku. The hand that had forced Deku to do what he’d just done. Katsuki clenched his fist and tried to breathe, finding that every breath he sucked in felt like acid in his lungs. He wanted to breathe slowly, wanted to count the seconds on each inhale and exhale to keep himself steady but found his thoughts spiraling away from doing that so quickly that the second the idea entered his brain it was gone again, drowned out by a never-ending tsunami of emotions and thoughts and fears and realizations that Katsuki didn’t want to have but couldn’t help but have. 

All Might laid a hand on Katsuki’s shoulder gently, and said something to him that was probably supposed to be comforting, but Katsuki hardly felt his hand and couldn’t hear his words at all. He was underwater, suffocating under the weight of what he’d just seen Deku do. What he’d just made Deku do. 

This was his fault.

Katsuki didn’t pay attention to All Might announcing the MVP for the battle. He didn’t pay attention to the Ponytail girl’s explanation for why it should be Iida. He didn’t pay attention as All Might announced they would be changing locations and starting the second match. Katsuki walked to the next viewing booth in a daze and couldn’t find it within himself to focus on the next matches enough to truly comprehend what was going on. Every match just seemed to shove him further inside himself as he watched all of his classmates make it through their matches without almost killing people they’d known since before they could walk. 

Katsuki could count on one hand the number of times that he’d felt like this. The first time was when he saw Deku use his quirk, (really use his quirk,) on someone before. The second time was when he’d been told the entire story of the 7th All For One. The third time was when his mother had gotten severely injured during a mission and had been stuck in bed for an entire day before they knew whether or not she was going to make it. The fourth time was the first time he’d killed someone. The fifth time was when he found out what Akaguro-sensei had done. The sixth time, he could officially count, was right now. It felt stupid next to the rest of them. It was just something that happened during training, and not even training for The Organization. It felt small, like it should be insignificant. It made Katsuki feel small. 

Katsuki hated feeling small. 

Katsuki spent the next few hours in a daze. No one bothered him, far too terrified after seeing what he did to Deku to approach him. Katsuki wouldn’t have been able to talk to them even if they had tried to talk to him. He felt… nothing. He felt nothing, and everything at once, and he couldn’t do anything except stare at the floor and try to keep breathing. 

Katsuki was born to stand at Deku’s side. He was the Hope to Deku’s All For One, a relationship that had existed since the dawn of quirks. He was his mother’s successor, and Deku’s was his father’s. Katsuki had to be the perfect child, because he hadn’t been born that way, Deku had. Katsuki had to pick up the slack and make sure that Deku could shine as the head of The Organization. Katsuki’s first duty was to the people who worked under him, and secondly to Deku. He was supposed to protect him unless it was decided that the world needed to be protected from him. Katsuki couldn’t imagine that happening in a million years. Deku was Deku, and Deku was a good person. Unlike Katsuki. Katsuki was horrible. Katsuki was violent, angry, and volatile. Katsuki was filled with rage, and he finally came to the realization that he couldn’t be. Not if he wanted to do his job right. 

Katsuki couldn’t stop thinking about that expression on Deku’s face. The one of acceptance, like he didn’t care if he died or not. 

If Deku didn’t care if he died or not, then Katsuki would have to care double for him. Katsuki would have to make sure that no harm ever came to him. He was the future of The Organization. It was Katsuki’s job. It was the only way for Katsuki to hold up his family’s legacy, to be a good son. Katsuki refused to fail. 

Katsuki refused to fail. 

The moment Katsuki let himself get mad, really mad, this happened. The moment Katsuki let himself stop caring about pulling his punches, the moment he let himself take out any of his negative emotions on Deku, he’d done this

Katsuki couldn’t ever let it happen again. 

Katsuki refused to ever let it happen again. 

Chapter Text

The first thing Izuku saw when he woke up was the IV. It was a sight that he was used to seeing. This wasn’t the first time he’d woken up in a hospital bed, and he highly doubted that it would be the last. This was, however, the first time he’d woken up in one while heroes were at his bedside and not family. Izuku found that he missed their presence. 

His mother and father were almost always there when he woke up, and Eri-chan certainly always was. The fact that he didn’t have his sister to comfort him as he lazily blinked awake was weird. Izuku supposed that he was so used to her presence at his hospital bed-side that her absence felt off. 

Izuku couldn’t remember what he’d dreamed about while he’d been unconscious. All he could remember were small flashes of light and emotion. He had the vague feeling like there had been someone screaming, there had been ash and smoke in the air, and his hands were burning. The color red had been prominent. Izuku was happy that he couldn’t remember the details. He was pretty sure he didn’t want to. 

Recovery Girl wasted no time in informing him of the severity of his injuries and telling him to be careful with them before giving him a few gummies and sending him back to class with the instructions to check back with her tomorrow. Izuku left the nurse’s office before he was in there long enough for the white walls and concrete floors to feel suffocating. 

Izuku’s right arm, (the shattered one,) was wrapped in a blue cast so thoroughly that only his fingers were sticking out. He wouldn’t be able to write with it until he got the cast off. Hopefully that would be tomorrow. 

Walking through the empty school as he made his way to his classroom gave Izuku plenty of time to think about what had just happened. His memory of it was slightly fuzzy around the edges, which he chalked up to the pain and adrenaline of the battle. That’s what it had been really. A battle. Calling it something smaller like a spar or training didn’t fit right in Izuku’s head. Training didn’t result in the destruction of an entire building. Sparring didn’t result in all the bones in one of Izuku’s arms completely shattered, the skin on the other one almost entirely burned off. If Izuku hadn’t activated a few heat, blast and fire resistant quirks, he might not have survived the ordeal. 

Kacchan didn’t mess around when it came to staying in character, Izuku supposed. He really had gotten into playing his part. Izuku wished that he was able to do that. The anger in his voice and on his face had looked real. The fury in his eyes had seemed so authentic Izuku felt for a moment that he might really be trying to kill Izuku. In the seconds before they’d collided at the very end, Izuku had thought about what would probably happen if he actually died there. He knew he wasn’t going to, but he also knew that the damage was going to be very severe. Izuku found that he wasn’t afraid of death. He was afraid of letting his family down though. Dying there, in a training exercise after everything he’d done to get himself to UA with the One For All quirk, would be letting them down for sure. 

Izuku was so lost in thought he didn’t realize he was approaching his classroom door until he was standing in front of it. He realized that he’d missed the rest of the battle trials and felt a little grief at the thought of not getting to witness his classmates’ quirks. He resolved to grill Kacchan later about how they were used. 

Izuku opened the door cautiously, a bit nervous at the thought of having to answer all the questions it occurred to him that his classmates were going to be asking him. He steeled himself. ‘ Stay in character stay in character stay in character. ’ Maybe they wouldn’t notice him if he tried to sneak in? That would be in character right? He wasn’t supposed to want too much attention. 

“Oh, Midoriya’s here! Good work!” Izuku was spotted immediately by a boy with a skin-hardening quirk named Kirishima Eijirou. 

Seconds later, he had a crowd of people surrounding him. 

“I don’t know what you said in that match, but you were fired up!” Kirishima looked excited. Izuku tried not to wince at how loud he was. 

“I can’t believe you fought evenly with Bakugou, even though he was first in the entrance exam!” A boy with a tape quirk named Sero Hanta (if Izuku was remembering correctly,) spoke up next. 

The rest of his classmates kept talking at him, asking him about the match and his injuries but not giving him enough time to answer. They complimented him on his combat skills. A girl with an acid quirk named Ashido Mina told him that he was good at dodging several times. 

Izuku’s classmates introduced themselves to Izuku even though he already knew who most of them were. Him and Kacchan had skimmed through the school records they’d hacked off the school's server the second they both knew that they’d gotten in. Izuku knew all about the people around him, and more importantly, (to him at least,) all about their quirks. Every one of them was so interesting, and all so fitting for up-and-coming heroes. Izuku couldn’t wait to work with them. Not only that, but he had a few people in mind that he thought might be Organization material. Some of the information on his classmates was… interesting, to say the least. Both in what was said in their files and what wasn’t said. 

It didn’t take long for Izuku to realize that Kacchan wasn’t in his chair. It was only a few moments after he noticed his absence that he realized that the in-character thing to do would be to run after him and talk about their fight. Izuku knew immediately that Kacchan would probably already be heading home, (since that was in character for him,) so he quickly made an exit from the conversation as gracefully as he could, (which was not very graceful,) and rushed through the hallways of the school in an attempt to find Kacchan. 

Izuku felt panic for a minute when he couldn’t find Kacchan anywhere, but finally he made his way outside and spotted him leaving the school. 

“Kacchan, Kacchan!” he called out to get his attention. 

Kacchan turned around. He looked very annoyed. Izuku wouldn't be surprised if it was real annoyance either. Kacchan was usually annoyed. 

Izuku froze for a second. He had no idea what to say. He needed to stay in character. What would staying in character include? “There’s one thing I feel I have to tell you,” he stalled desperately. Izuku’s mind went horrifyingly blank for a moment before the answer came to him like a gift from heaven and he immediately let the words spill out of his mouth without thinking about the consequences, “My quirk is something I received from someone else.” 

Izuku saw the look on Kacchan’s face change immediately and realized that there was no turning back from what he’d just said. 


After everything that had happened today, Izuku chose to do this . Katsuki was already feeling nearly the entire spectrum of negative emotions, he didn’t need to add confusion and even more irritation to the mix. He’d been holding tears back for hours at this point, and the threat of them spilling out from behind his eyes was ever present. It had taken him so long to stop shaking, for his hands to stop twitching after the battle trial with Deku, and all of the control he managed to reign in on his emotions was destroyed as Deku kept talking, explaining things that Katsuki already knew about but wasn’t supposed to. 

His words clogged Katsuki’s ears like cotton, and he had the feeling he was underwater again. The fading sunlight of the almost setting sun felt a bit too hot on the back of Katsuki’s neck. Katsuki had paid minimal attention to what Deku has been saying up until this point, (something about borrowed power and beating Katsuki with his own power making the new power his) but he’d caught a few of the phrases Deku had used and found it wasn’t too hard to figure out what he was saying. Katsuki gave himself the time it took for Deku to finish his rant to get ahold of himself and turn to face Deku fully. He decided stopping himself from crying was a lost cause and let the tears fall even though it made him feel an ugly squeezing in his chest.

“Borrowed power? You’re talking nonsense. What are you trying to do, make me out to be more of a fool than you already have? Huh? What are you trying to say? Today, I lost to you. That’s all it was. That’s all…” Katsuki felt himself trail off. Staying in character was second nature for him at this point, and the words he was expected to say came to him easily and spilled out angrily. Katsuki couldn’t help but look down at the ground and try to reign in more of the emotion he was feeling. He wanted to scream at Deku. Wanted to ask him what he thought he’d been doing during that battle trial. Make him promise to never do something like that ever again. Kick and shriek and whine and cry and make sure that Deku knew exactly what he thought of his actions. But Katsuki couldn’t do that. He had a part to play. So Katsuki dug deep into himself, dug up what would be in character to say, and shoved down all the words he actually wanted to scream.

Katsuki wondered if Deku knew how many things he left unsaid. He doubted it. 

Tooru watched the conversation Midoriya and Bakugou were having from the window above them. Ashido Mina, Uraraka Ochako, and Asui Tsuyu stood next to her, faces close to the glass as they peered down, totally not spying on their fellow classmates. Uraraka had hastily made an excuse about wanting to make sure that Bakugou didn’t try to kill Midoriya again, and all four girls made the silent decision to use that as feeble reasoning for doing something that ethically, they probably shouldn’t have been doing. 

“It’s not like we know what they’re saying anyways,” Tsu, (as she had asked the other girls to call her,) noted. Tooru was reminded of the fact that most kids her age hadn’t been taught ‘the art of lip-reading’, as her mother affectionately called it. The thought made her feel a little self-conscious, even though there was no way for her companions to know that she knew some of what Bakugou was saying. It was hard to make out from so far away, and she couldn’t see what Midoriya was saying at all since his back was to them, but it appeared that he wasn’t speaking now anyways. 

Bakugou’s head had been turned downwards towards the ground when the girls had spotted the pair of them through the window, but now he looked up, tears evident in his eyes. Tooru saw the other girls standing next to her wince as the moment got more private and more ethically questionable to spy on as Bakugou started to cry. He clenched his fist and started yelling again. 

‘Hey, you too Deku!’ ’ Tooru read. The word Deku felt foreign as she read it, since she wasn’t used to seeing it used as a name. It wasn’t too hard for her to connect the dots however. Tooru knew how to infer what people were saying based on context and past information about them, and this wasn’t that hard of a puzzle to solve in the first place. She figured the word used in the context Bakugou tended to use it should probably be put in her permanent vocabulary if they were going to be sharing a homeroom class. 

‘I’m just- I’m just getting started!’ There was genuine pain in Bakugou’s eyes. Tooru couldn’t help but think that there was something going on that he couldn’t talk about. Maybe something that he wanted to say but couldn’t, ‘ You hear?! I will become number one! You won’t beat me again, bastard!’ Tooru pursed her lips, thinking. What had Deku said to him? 

Tooru once again lamented the fact that she had no idea what they’d been saying to each other during the battle trial. Reading lips through those TV screens had been nigh impossible to begin with, but adding on the awkward angles, constant movement, and eventual smoke and debris she hadn’t caught more than a few words here and there that meant absolutely nothing on their own and even less when you consider that she wasn’t even sure if that’s what they’d said in the first place. 

There was something going on between Midoriya and Bakugou, and Tooru wanted to get to the bottom of it if she could. 

Before she could get too lost in thought, All Might showed up on the other side of the window, swooping towards Bakugou as he tried to start walking away triumphantly. He put heavy hands on Bakugou’s shoulders and looked like he was gearing up to start a long winded pep-talk. Bakugou cut him off before he could finish though, saying something that Tooru couldn’t see. The conversation between hero and student didn’t last long, and Bakugou stalked off away from the school as All Might turned to have a word with Deku. 

Even if the girls had wanted to keep watching the interaction, it was clear that they weren’t learning anything from it and their flimsy excuse of making sure Bakugou didn’t attack Midoriya again didn’t work when Bakugou was walking away. Uraraka said the phrase ‘fated battle between men’ no less than twice as they stepped away from the window and started off down the hall together. Tooru let her mind drift off as she thought about how odd some of her fellow classmates were. 

There was something going on with Bakugou and Midoriya. Based on everything Denki had dug up, she didn’t think either of them were in The Big Three, but there was definitely something. Tooru desperately wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on, but was torn between investigating whatever was going on between them and trying to figure out if any of her other classmates were suspicious. 

Tooru sighed. She would have to discuss what had happened today between them with Denki and try to get the video footage of their conversations during the battle trial. They felt like they might be important somehow. Something was said between them, and Tooru and Denki needed to find out what it was. 

Himiko was worried. She’d felt worried before either Kats or Izu got home, but once they did, she figured it was her Bestest Friend Sense™ acting up again. Honestly, it was right to do so. The second Himiko saw the look Kats was trying to hide behind his eyes, she knew that something was terribly, deeply, wrong. When Izu came home with an arm wrapped in a cast and a story about getting his arms destroyed so badly during training that he made a joke about almost dying, Himiko knew that she had to talk to Kacchan about it. Especially when Izuchan described what happened during the battle trial in detail, and Kacchan’s part in it. Himiko wanted to feel mad, but she couldn’t help but think that there was something going on that Izu had absolutely no idea about. 

Out of the three of them, Izuchan, for all of his astute analyzing skills, was the worst at reading people. Compared to Kats, who had a quirk that let him read people’s emotions, and Himiko, who quite literally had been trained since before she could remember to read people on top of being extremely naturally gifted at it, maybe it wasn’t a fair comparison. Nonetheless, Izu had definitely missed something when it came to Kats. Something that Himiko wasn’t going to let slip by her so easily. 

Himiko barely remembered to knock on Kacchan’s door before entering. Usually she wouldn’t wait for an answer before entering, but there was something really amiss with Kats, so she didn’t barge in right away. 

“It’s Himichan,” she said, quieter than she usually would. 

Kacchan’s words were muffled behind the door, “Go away.” 

Himiko waited a moment and chose her words carefully, “I think we both know I’m not going to do that.”

There was another, longer beat of silence before Kats opened the door. 

His eyes were red, but there weren’t any tear tracks on his face yet. His mouth was pressed in a tight line as if he were trying to stop himself from yelling. There was tension in his shoulders that reminded Himiko of their earlier years in combat training with Akaguro-sensei. 

Kats had never been good at relaxing. His shoulders had always risen up to his ears, his fists had always been clenched a bit too tight. When they were younger, he used to remind her of a wind-up toy strung too tight. It had taken a long time for him to be able to fight the urge to tense and eventually relax his posture, but old habits die hard and he’d always been high-strung. The sight of it again after all these years made the smile Himiko always wore start to slip a bit. She let her eye-brows start to knit in worry but tried not to let her face fall entirely. Himiko was sure that her expression wouldn’t have looked comforting to anyone who didn’t know her well enough, but Kats knew what she was trying to say. 

“Come in,” his voice was hoarse, and hard to hear since it was muffled from behind a door. Himiko nodded and followed him into his room, shutting the door quietly behind her. 

Kacchan wasted no time in sitting down in his computer desk chair. He leaned forward and rested his head on his hands. Almost immediately, he seemingly decided that he didn’t want to be stuck in that position and switched to pulling a knee up to his chest and resting his elbow on it so he could rest his head on his hand without slouching over so much. Himiko recognized it as further proof that Kats was in an agitated mood. She was good at reading people. Every action revealed lines of thoughts, and lines of thoughts revealed emotions, and those she was good at reading. 

Himiko didn’t move from her spot by the door, but she let her smile fall. Smiling felt like her best defense sometimes. If she stopped smiling, then people might know when she wasn’t really happy. Himiko only stopped smiling when she had to, and usually behind closed doors. Even in the Bunker, she made sure to keep the smile on her face. Out of everyone, she’d probably frowned the most around Kats, Izu, and Akaguro-sensei, and out of the three Kats felt like the person she let her mask fall with the most. At least lately. 

At least after Akaguro-sensei… left. 

(How long ago had he left?)

(It felt like yesterday.)

(It’s been over a year ago since she last saw him.)

(It felt like yesterday.)

Himiko carefully made her way across the room and sat down on Kacchan’s bed. She stared at the comforter for a bit to see if Kats was going to open up willingly and eventually decided that he wasn’t. 

“Izuchan told me about the battle trial.” 

Kats grunted and turned away from her. Himiko’s eyes narrowed pensively. 

She cleared her throat, “There’s something bothering you.” 

“Of COURSE there’s something bothering me!” Kats turned back to her furious, only to lock eyes with her and stop before whatever he was going to say could really begin. He paused for a second, collected his facial expression, and turned back around again, this time more aggressively. 

“Of course you would be,” Himiko repeated, “I'm bothered just HEARING the story from Izu, and I KNOW he downplays stuff because he doesn’t want us to worry.” Himiko stared down at her hands, folded in her lap, and tried to quiet her emotions as much as possible so Kats wouldn’t be distracted reading them. “I don’t even want to imagine what I’d be thinking if I’d actually been there, much less been one of the people fighting him. Do you think it’s your fault that he got so hurt? It isn’t. He knew the risks. I’m sure you were only staying in character.”

Himiko looked up again, staring at Kacchan’s back through her bangs. He took a deep breath in and looked up at the ceiling, still facing away from her. 

“You aren’t going to leave until I talk about this.” It wasn’t a question. 

“You know me well enough by now. Somethings bothering you.” She answered anyway.

Kacchan sighed, as if talking were the hardest thing he’d ever been asked to do and turned around so Himiko could see his face. He didn’t look at her, keeping his eyes trained on the floor. Himiko shifted and pulled her legs up to sit criss-cross on the bed, quietly letting her hands fall in her lap. She waited. 

Kats swallowed, eyes narrowed as he tilted his head up so that Himiko could just barely see his eyes through his hair. He clenched his teeth and seemed to be thinking very carefully about what he wanted to say. Himiko didn’t dare interrupt. 

“He’s going to get himself killed.” Kats’ expression didn’t change. 

Himiko tilted her head to the side and thought about the statement even though she already knew where it stemmed from. Kats didn’t wait for her to respond to continue. 

“He almost did earlier today, and I didn’t… it was my… I almost-”

“Stop that. It wasn’t your fault. You were staying in character, like you should’ve. He-”

“YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!” Kats exploded, head whipping up and sparks going off in his clenched fists as he openly glared at her. Himiko pretended she didn’t notice the tears in the corners of his eyes. 

“...What makes you think that?” Kats was usually very cool-headed, especially when it came to guilt like this. If he really thought that, then it was for a reason.

“I didn’t- I wasn’t-” Kacchan paused and took a deep breath in, holding it for a moment to collect his thoughts, “I let myself… get too angry. I didn’t hold back like I should’ve. I wasn’t staying in character. I almost…” his voice was small, “I almost killed him.”

Himiko breathed out slowly, processing. Kacchan was usually so good about not letting his emotions get the best of him. This wasn’t just a one time thing. If Himiko had to guess, there had been anger or resentment or something brewing in him for a long time. Being away from The Organization but still in a combative environment must’ve brought it out and Izu had suffered the consequences. 

“...You can’t change what you did now,” If it had been almost anyone else, Himiko might’ve reached out and held their hand, but not Kacchan. She knew that he liked his personal space, “All you can do is learn from your mistake, and make sure that you don’t do it again. You know, if you do feel angry like that, it’s best to take it out in a controlled environment. If you ever want to spar without holding back, just fight and get it all out, I’m always open if you need me.” 

Kats sighed, glancing down again, and Himiko knew it was the closest she was going to get to accepting her offer, “Can I tell you something?” 

“Of course. You can tell me anything.” 

“It was his face.” 

“...What do you mean by that?” 

“I shot him in the face, at point-blank. But he didn’t look like he felt the pain at all. He just looked…” Kats trailed off and Himiko felt a chill go up her spine, “he just… looked like he’d lost it. Like he couldn’t care less if I’d killed him. He was angry. Resolute. If anything, I felt like I was closer to dying to him than him to me. It was like…” Kats shook his head. 

“He didn’t care.” Himiko finished for him, “About himself, or you, or anyone. Just reaching his goal, no matter what he had to do.”

Kats looked up at her, “yeah.”

Himiko sat back on the bed, crossing her arms to stop her fists from clenching. She didn’t say anything, and didn’t make eye contact with Kats again. 

A moment passed with the pair of them suspended is silence. Worry outlined in the slump of their shoulders, united in their concern. Eventually, Himiko forced words out of her throat.

“We have to keep an eye on him.” She said, “Don’t mention this to him. I think hearing about it will only make things worse. He’s stubborn, too stubborn. He’ll just double down if we try to tell him. All we can do is try to steer him away from… the path he’s heading down.” Himiko didn’t add that she also didn’t want to talk to him for fear of what he might do when faced with the information. Himiko knew that he’d never hurt her, but she was worried that he might push her and Kats away, and she knew that would only make the problem worse. He acted like he was invincible. Like he couldn’t be hurt. 

Himiko knew that it wasn’t ego that made Izuchan think that way. It wasn’t thinking that he was better than others. He just didn’t care if he died or not. That was worse somehow. Showing someone that they weren’t the center of the universe wasn’t that difficult to do, but showing someone that their life mattered tended to be a lot harder. 

Himiko waited for Kats to lock eyes with her and nod before she left the room. She wanted to make sure that he understood what she was saying and wouldn’t try to fix the situation on his own like she suspected he might. 

Himiko didn’t dare talk to anyone else after having that conversation with Kacchan. She needed to reset, to get herself in the right mindset again. She needed to make sure that her smile was fixed solidly on her face. 

Her mask needed to be put back on, and she couldn’t do that until she had some time alone to think of a game plan for how to deal with Izuchan. 

Katsuki didn’t come out of his room until he got called to dinner. When his father asked, he made up a lie about doing homework that they both knew was false. Even though he was the one with the quirk, it had always been Deku who’d known how to hide from it, and Katsuki wouldn’t have been surprised if his father could feel the rotting hole of negativity he was swallowed in from the other side of the bunker. It felt like he was drowning. Maybe he was. His father didn’t press the issue. He asked if Katsuki needed anything, and Katsuki told him to go away. 

After dinner, he took Himiko up on her offer for a good spar. By the time he went to bed, his body ached as much as his head did. 

The sparring only made him feel less angry. The amount of worry he had for Deku didn’t waver in the slightest. 

Katsuki had been 6 years old the first time he’d seen Deku get really angry. Angry in a way that you couldn’t ignore. Anger only fueled his power, and at that point, he’d been young enough to only have minimal control over it. 

Deku was special. Not only was he next in line for the title of All For One, he was one of the few who’d been born with the quirk instead of being given it. 

Looking back through the ranks of people born with the Midoriya name, there had only been 4 of them who were actually born with the quirk itself. The first, obviously, had been the First All For One. The man who started it all. The beginning of their legacy. The second one had been his granddaughter, the Third All For One. Her version of the quirk was more powerful. The legend goes that it had combined with her mothers healing quirk to give her the power to take and give quirks without possible injury or insanity forced upon those who’d lost their quirks or those who held too many. The third one to inherit the quirk naturally had been more recent, and… they didn’t talk about him . His quirk had expanded on it as well however, giving it a copying element that allowed the user to copy quirks as well as take and give them. It was useful. 

Deku was the fourth one to be born with the quirk. His was much the same as it had been before. A near perfect replica of the third version. He could take, give, heal, and copy. Katsuki knew it was rare. He knew that it made Deku special, and he tried not to care about it, but he couldn’t help himself. 

The first time Deku had ever gotten really angry was also the first time Katsuki had ever seen him really use his quirk. They’d been so young back then. They’d barely had their quirks for 2 years at that point, and if Katsuki was remembering correctly, Deku hadn’t even reached that point. They were both inexperienced, although Katsuki was well trained enough to know not to use his own quirk. Obviously, Deku hadn’t taken to being nearly as cautious. 

Katsuki didn’t even remember what Deku had gotten mad about. Just that he’d gotten mad. Really, really mad. He did remember that there used to be a kid in their class with the power to blow up things with his hands. Little explosions that sprung from nitroglycerin-like sweat. Katsuki was very familiar with that particular quirk, but it hadn’t been his originally. 

Katsuki remembered the smoke alarm going off. He remembered the kids screaming and the teacher trying to usher them out of the room. He remembered feeling the skin of his knees burn, and the soles of his shoes melt so the bottoms of his feet felt so hot they were cold. He remembered himself screaming, and how much it hurt his throat to scream while his lungs were full of smoke. He remembered being frozen in place. Nothing he’d done up until that point had prepared him for this event in his lifetime. He was like a shark dropped in the middle of a desert, or a house cat dragged down to the depths of the ocean under a storming sea. Unprepared, out of his element, and about to suffocate. 

Katsuki remembered the smell of burning; hair and plastic and cloth and wood and rubber and flesh. It had taken a long time for him to shake it. Even years later when he was lying awake in bed trying to fall asleep, sometimes he was sure he could still smell it. The smoke stung at his eyes until all he could see was gray ash and the occasional flash of fire. The thing he remembered most of all was the sharp scent of caramel preceding over all of it. It was sickly sweet, and made him feel like he was drowning in honey, the sticky, syrupy, sickly sweetness pulling him under until he couldn’t breathe. Katsuki loathed whatever greater power had decided that nitroglycerin should smell sweet like that. 

Katsuki couldn’t remember much else from that day, but he did remember using his quirk without permission for the first time in over a year. 

I hope,” Katsuki whispered through lips gray from ash and smoke, “that the fire goes out. I hope my parents get here soon. I hope I get out of this alive. I hope Deku gets out of this alive. I hope everyone gets-” 

The response was immediate. Even though it was his quirk, Katsuki couldn’t help but marvel at how effective his words could be when he needed them. Hands covered his mouth and his mother’s voice whispered in his ear, “That’s enough. We’ve got this handled.” Katsuki remembered feeling exhausted. He closed his eyes and let himself sleep. Before he was pulled under completely, he clearly remembered his pain dulling as his mother’s voice whispered near his ear again. 

Please, I hope my son makes it through this ok.” 

In the end, the school had to be completely demolished. All the people who’d been there that day or had been affected in any way from that day had to have their memories erased. The Memory Erasure Task Force had been sent out and the entire incident had been cleaned up neatly and with ease as things like that always were. 

Deku hadn’t gotten in much trouble. Katsuki couldn’t exactly recall why, but apparently it had something to do with the effects of suppressing a quirk when it was supposed to be used, which was something he’d been told a million times. While a quirk like his own was easily enough used on a small scale to keep the primal need to use a quirk sated, a quirk like All For One wasn’t. Deku was dangerous, even as a 6 year old. Katsuki remembered the actions Deku’s parents had taken to make sure that the event wouldn’t happen again. They made sure that Deku had ample opportunity to use his quirk. There were always people that The Organization needed to be punished, (those who had broken The Organization’s Code, those who’d harmed others, those in the government who were abusing their power; the list was endless. There was always someone The Organization determined deserved it.) Deku ended up being a part of that system before he was old enough to really understand what he was doing. 

He didn’t remember what happened to the kid with the explosion quirk. He knew that he’d been in the center of the fire, that he’d been the most injured when all was said and done, and he knew that he’d never seen the kid again. He couldn’t even remember the kids’ name, so even if he’d wanted to he couldn’t look him up in The Organization database effectively, and it was unlikely he’d find a file on him anyways. He could try searching for the quirk, but in true Midoriya fashion, the event had been nearly erased from Organization databases anyway in order to protect their reputation. Katsuki had been told it was a necessary precaution. Katsuki had been told the event had been an accident. Katsuki knew nothing like it had ever happened again. Katsuki had been told nothing like it ever will. Katsuki had been told the problem had been fixed. 

When all the dust had settled, Katsuki had ended up with the explosion quirk. In fact, that was the one he was registered as having after they moved cities to get away from the area. Using it felt familiar. He’d had it such a long time, sometimes he forgot that it wasn’t originally his. He liked the quirk. It was useful, it was powerful, and Katsuki was good at using it. 

The only issue he had with using it was the smell of caramel. It never failed to make his stomach feel uneasy.

Chapter Text

Izuku was sleeping tonight for once. He usually didn’t, but with the way Recovery Girl’s quirk worked, and the fact that his arm was still healing, his parents had told him to take the night off and sleep for once instead of doing vigilante work. Secretly, he was thankful for the break, even though he wouldn’t say it out loud.
Izuku knew logically that the One For All quirk was weirder than other ones he’d owned. He also knew, logically, how he should try to go about controlling it. He had several theories on how to best not break his arms, but no matter what he tried, using the quirk always resulted in injury. Trying to use it with Himichan and Kacchan during training hadn’t helped at all. The only result was abused arms and legs from shattering them over and over again after he used it without improvement.
The whole issue bothered Izuku. Of all the quirks for him to be unable to control, why on earth would it have to be this one?
It was only when Izuku opened his eyes to a void of twisting energy and 8 wispy figures with glowing eyes that he got his answer.


Tamaki paced around the small meeting room he’d rented before Spark and Ghost were called in. He’d been busy with schoolwork and starting up his final year of high school in the past week and had been given a small break from Organization missions. The lack of things to do Organization-wise made him fidgety. The anxiety of not being needed welled up inside him even though he knew that as the second week of school started he’d be given missions again. He still found himself pacing. Back and forth behind the grimy desk in a dimly lit room with sticky carpeting. Figures he’d end up with a less well-maintained room this time. All the ones in the 1st circle base he usually used were full, so he’d rented one in a 2nd circle base and it wasn’t as wellkept.
Tamaki had a mission update for Spark and Ghost. Specifically, there was a job opportunity for one of them to interact with another villain group that the Organization funded. One that… toed the line between circles and was hard to pin down a definitive spot for. One that would become the face of the Organization, (or at least All For One’s schemes.) One that the media would latch onto if everything went according to plan. Tamaki had no doubt that it would.
The League of Villains was a project a long time in the making. While Kurogiri was well aware of everything going on behind the scenes, (a first circle member of the Council rumored to have babysat the Big Three when they were younger,) Shigaraki, the official leader of the soon to be established LOV had no idea about any of it. He knew about All For One; at least as far as the fact that the man existed, was powerful, and could take and give quirks; but didn’t know about the rest of… everything. For instance, he was under the impression that All For One was a single person and not a legacy title, and he certainly had no idea about how connected the Hope was to AFO. Tamaki knew he was being kept in the dark intentionally, but he didn’t know to what end. All of this was very recent information to him. In fact, he’d learned it just a few hours ago. Before then, he hadn’t even been aware of the LOV’s existence. Information relating to them seemed to be given out on a Need To Know basis.
Tamaki had been given another mission update, specifically relating to his supervision over Spark and Ghost, hence why he’d called the meeting with them. Along with his mission update, he’d been given a file on the LOV that explained everything about them so that he’d have some background information to give to Spark and Ghost.
The infiltration of the LOV was a layer of the mission that had been previously completely unknown to all three people who were assigned it. They hadn’t even known there would be another layer. Reading through the information given about the LOV and the next step in Spark and Ghost’s assignment, Tamaki had been reminded just how secretive The Organization was.
People in lower circles tended to think that everyone in the 1st circle was all knowing when it came to Organization business, but Tamaki knew for a fact that wasn’t the case. Plus, Tamaki knew from observing the people around him that most people in the 1st circle thought that the council was all knowing. Tamaki was pretty sure from observing them and from the rumors that he’d heard during his time working in his position that the Council wasn’t all knowing either, (although they certainly did know more than most.) The only ones who were really all knowing were the true leaders of The Organization, All For One, Hope, the Big Three, and their families. Even that was debatable; they seemed all knowing, but Tamaki couldn’t help but wonder.
The Midoriyas and the Bakugous. Hearing the names in casual conversation always made Tamaki tense. When Spark and Ghost showed him some of their progress in figuring out which two kids in their class were Big Three members, Tamaki was certain that he had physically flinched when he saw the names on the paper. They looked so unassuming as they were, attached to a first name that Tamaki had previously not known and a face that wasn’t familiar but Tamaki felt instinctual fear of anyways. Eyes that didn’t look sinister enough, staring up at him from their place on the printout of the students’ file. Tamaki was thankful for his mask and how good it was at hiding his expression for the millionth time. Otherwise he was sure he would’ve given away which classmates were Big Three members by facial expression alone.
By the time Spark and Ghost showed up, Tamaki was comfortably lost in thought, still pacing the room. He was considering the LOV and what their future role and involvement was going to be in Organization business, and how best for Spark and Ghost to do what they had to do next.
“Hi Kraken!” Ghost was cheery as ever, but her sudden entrance made Tamaki startle a bit. “Oh sorry!” Ghost hurriedly apologized, “I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m just excited!”
She certainly seemed to be, bouncing on her toes happily as she nearly skipped to her seat. Spark looked just as excited. He reminded Tamaki of a happy puppy. Tamaki could only imagine what their facial expressions must’ve looked like behind their masks.
“Ok um… thank you for coming,” Tamaki started, sitting down and immediately starting to stress out over every word he said and whether or not Spark and Ghost thought it was weird that he was pacing the room and if they were going to start the conversation or if he should and why did he thank them for coming they didn’t have a choice if they wanted to keep their jobs and-
“Obvi!” Ghost’s voice held a smile in it, “What’s our update, chief?”
“Uh…” being called chief threw Tamaki off for a second as his train of thought halted and he panicked for a second before he remembered that he had notes on everything Spark and Ghost needed to know about the LOV and their job regarding them in the file on his desk. Tamaki cleared his throat and opened the file with hands that were shaking slightly more than he would like them to be.
“I have a new assignment for you. Because of- regarding- relating to-” Tamaki cut himself off before he could spiral into a worse hole of stuttering and make a bigger fool of himself, “um. Relating to the newly established League of Villains.”
Neither Spark or Ghost commented or even seemed to notice his slip up with the words, which was something he’d noticed they tended to ignore since interacting with the pair as much as he had recently. It made him feel more at ease in their presence. His stuttering was something that he was fairly self conscious about, and their lack of a reaction to it made him feel a little better. Mirio and Nejire were always good about it too.
“What kind of work will we be doing with them?” Spark asked, pulling the file towards him and Ghost so that they could begin to look over it.
“You’ll be feeding them information about what’s going on at UA. You’ll be…” Tamaki searched for the word for a moment.
Spark and Ghost looked up at him, surprised.
“You’ll be traitors.”


“It’s gotta be me,” Tooru said, “I’ve been trained for this. You haven’t. Plus, I have a believable excuse.”
“Which is?” Denki asked, not bothering to contest the fact that she’d been trained for the job and he hadn’t.
“I want to switch out my quirk! It makes me invisible all the time, and I just want to be seen.” Tooru explained, batting her eyelashes and giving Denki her best drama™ eyes, “Plus, I’ll be able to sneak around at school, just like they want! It makes perfect-amaze-fantastic sense.”
Denki paused, making a face as he tried to come up for a reason to protest, “...I guess you’re right. I’m not good at spy work.”
Tooru smiled, “Perks of being a Stealth Specialist.”


Once news had broken to the press that All Might was going to be teaching at UA, news stations from all over Japan sent reporters and film crews to flood the gates of UA and pounce on students to ask them about their famous teacher. Izuku winced as he realized that the crowd was thicker than it had been the past two days today. In fact, he was pretty sure there were more reporters than ever. He took a deep breath, put on an expression that he hoped conveyed how unwilling he was to talk to the camera, and approached the entrance to the school’s campus.
The second he got close, his uniform gave him away as a student and some of the reporters who’d been standing on the fringe immediately started shoving microphones in his face and yelling questions over the noise of the crowd. Lights flashed in his face and Izuku desperately told the reporters that he had to go to the nurse’s office, gesturing to the cast his arm was still in as evidence. They persisted, but Izuku managed to shove his way through the crowd and to the gates anyway. Scanning the crowd, he saw that Kacchan was having a harder time of it.
Kacchan had been recognized as the kid from the Sludge Incident, and the reporters were pestering him and asking questions about it. Izuku was a little surprised that the incident was memorable enough that Kacchan was recognized even nearly a year later, but he supposed it made sense. “Future Hero Middle Schooler Fights Villain Made Of Sludge Bravely Until All Might Shows Up, Saving Himself.” Izuku remembered reading some of the articles on it online. Very few of them mentioned him running in to save Kacchan. He felt thankful that he didn’t receive the same attention, but also knew that Kacchan really didn’t want it either.
By the time he managed to get into the building and sit down at his desk, the reporters and the press were what most of the kids in his class were talking about. Uraraka was sheepishly telling some of the other girls that she’d just told the press that All Might was muscular when they asked about him, and Iida seemed to be rehashing a speech he’d given them to Ojirou, who was looking increasingly regretful that he’d asked. Izuku smiled. He was so glad to finally have real friends.
Eventually Aizawa-Sensei started their class and reviewed what had happened in the battle trials yesterday. He addressed Kacchan and Izuku directly.
“Bakugou, you’re very talented, so don’t act like a kid.” Izuku could see Kacchan visibly stiffen and at their teacher's words and felt bad for him again. He’d only been staying in character.
“And Midoriya,” when Aizawa-sensei said Izuku’s name, he looked up in relative surprise, “You settled it by breaking your arm again?”
Izuku ducked his head in embarrassment.
“You can’t keep saying you can’t help it because you can’t control your quirk. I don’t like saying the same thing over and over. As long as you fix the control issue, there’s a lot you’ll be able to do.”
Aizawa-sensei made it sound so simple. Izuku made sure to look up again and nod excitedly, but on the inside all he could feel was a sense of dread. All he could think about was the dream he’d had last night.
Eight pairs of eyes looking at him through the darkness. The brightest pair, the most unsettling one, shining from the blurriest shape, furthest in the back. Green eyes identical to Izuku’s.
He tried to shake the feeling, but a chill lingered in the back of his mind. He could swear he could still feel those eyes watching him. Maybe they still were.
Izuku didn’t think he’d have to worry about ghosts when he accepted the quirk, but maybe he should have.
They didn’t like him. He was sure of that. The hostility, anger, and betrayal emanating from them in his dream had been pretty hard to ignore, after all. Izuku could swear that he could still feel them in the very back of his mind, whispering their discontent.
Izuku finally had a reason for why the quirk was so hard for him to control. It was sentient.
And it didn’t like him very much.


Tooru nearly skipped to UA that morning. Sitting in her seat, her excitement only seemed to build. She smiled brightly even though no one could see. Today she was going to do her first official work for the LOV.
After getting in contact with Kurogiri about it and mentioning that she’d been sent to him by a friend who told her she could possibly get a new quirk, she mentioned that she was currently a student at UA, and was told that since she was a student at UA, before she met with the group’s leader, (Shigaraki Tomura, it had listed him in the LOV’s files,) she would have to prove herself. After that, they would discuss a long-term plan for her to be a spy at UA. Tooru had then been given some relatively simple instructions; a small mission for her to complete the next day. It appeared Shigaraki Tomura didn’t want to waste any time on pleasantries. Tooru was fine with that.
It wasn’t a hard mission by any means. In fact, the hardest part was going to be sneaking out of the classroom when no one was looking. Since she sat in the front, Tooru couldn’t simply sneak out the back. Tooru figured there wasn’t a safe way around the problem and decided to wait until lunch came to break away from the class. The only issue was going to be that she had to sneak into the teacher’s lounge, and there was sure to be someone there during lunch. Tooru supposed she could always wait and arrive to class late, but she didn’t want to. If she could sneak out before then, that would be much preferred.
Interrupting her plans however, was the announcement that the class was going to be picking a class rep. It seemed like nearly everyone raised their hand and asked to be picked for the job. Some more loudly than others, Tooru noticed as Bakugou started screaming behind her.
Denki included. He was raising his hand high and shouting too, but there was a lot less anger in his voice. Tooru knew she probably wouldn’t be seen but she raised her hand and tried to get a word in too. No one seemed to notice.
Iida called for everyone’s attention from the back of the room. Aizawa had long since zipped up his sleeping bag again and appeared to have already fallen asleep on the floor. Everyone’s attention was on Iida, who was telling them that they should use democracy and vote on a class rep. No one was looking at Tooru, and everyone was already standing up since they’d just been yelling about being class president.
Tooru found that she had an opening to sneak out. As she wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth, she took it.
While Iida started to organize the voting process, Tooru double checked no one was looking at her and easily expanded her invisibility to include her clothing, making her completely invisible. With silent steps she left the classroom and started off down the hall.
Tooru’s control over light was more than it said on her official quirk registration. UA was under the assumption that she was always invisible, all the time, and she could only make herself invisible. In actuality, Tooru could turn the effect on and off, and could also expand it to cover clothing she was wearing, or even a chair she was sitting on if she focused or small things she might be holding like pens or books. Tooru could manipulate the way light bounced off things around her. She could make it not bounce off at all, or bounce off brighter, giving her the ability to release a blinding flash that worked very well as a distraction. The only things she couldn’t affect were colors, which she was sorely disappointed about since she loved colors.
Tooru was very good at going unnoticed when she wanted to be. She’d been trained since she was little to walk silently, and her steps didn’t make any sound. Her shoes were also specially made for walking quietly. She’d made sure to wear her best ones today. Even though the mission was a relatively simple one, there was a lot riding on it and she didn’t want to mess it up.
It took Tooru longer to get to the teacher’s lounge than she would’ve liked. The longer she spent away from class, the more likely it was that her absence would be noticed. She knew Denki could cover for her, but that would only work to a certain extent.
The door to the lounge was left unlocked, and Tooru slipped in by opening it so slowly it barely seemed to be moving, in hopes it would disguise her entering. She’d been told that Nezu had cameras all over the school, and she was sure that included the hallways and the teacher’s lounge. She knew she’d have to ask Denki to do some editing later on the footage of her disappearing in the classroom, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. The editing of security tapes in the way he was going to edit them was relatively new technology, but it wasn’t anything he hadn’t used before many times.
The information Shigaraki had wanted was information on All Might. He’d wanted to know the man’s schedule for the next month. Tooru hadn’t asked why, but she could certainly guess. In her personal opinion, it wasn’t that smart to plan an attack on All Might, even if it did appear Shigaraki was probably planning some sort of ambush during school hours.
Each teacher appeared to have a different desk, and Tooru didn’t find it all that hard to guess which one was All Might’s. It was the only one that still had boxes packed underneath it, as if he hadn’t finished setting up his office even though it had probably been several months since he’d first had the chance to. His desk was terribly unorganized, and Tooru was happy that she probably wouldn’t have to memorize where everything was and put it back perfectly because it really didn’t seem like All Might knew where everything was either.
Before Tooru touched anything, she looked around the room and listened cautiously to make sure that she couldn’t see or hear anyone in the Teacher’s lounge. The second she was sure she was alone, Tooru started to work, and she worked fast.
The first thing Tooru did was open and close all the drawers as quietly as she could. To her immense dismay, each and every one of them made a loud creaking noise when opening, and eventually Tooru just decided to leave them open. It wasn’t worth the noise. She could close them at the end.
Seeing nothing right off the bat that stood out to her as being a schedule, Tooru started sorting through the files on his desk. The files in his drawers were more organized, but marginally so.
Tooru used to not like going through other people’s stuff, or spying on them when they didn’t know. The stealth specialist job sounded fun, at least a lot more fun than the other jobs, and Tooru knew she had the perfect quirk for it, but she hadn’t taken to it right away. Some of the more morally questionable things she’d had to do in the beginning had weighed on her for a while. Eventually, she got used to doing them, and now she didn't even bat an eye as she blatantly snuck out of class, snuck into an room she wasn’t supposed to be in, and started rifling through a teacher’s things in order to find something that she knew was going to be used against them for nefarious purposes. Honestly, Tooru had done worse. Yes, this was bad, but at least she wasn’t hurting anybody.
Sometimes when she snuck into places, she had to take out the guards, and that usually made her feel a little guilty if she accidentally was a bit harsher than she meant to be about it. Once she’d accidentally shoved someone off a balcony and down about a three-story drop. Their screaming after they hit the ground still haunted her sometimes. It had affected her so much she’d asked Denki to look up his medical records to make sure he was OK. He’d made a full recovery, and had only broken a few bones, but one of them had gotten dangerously close to puncturing an organ, and Tooru still had nightmares about it sometimes.
Nonetheless, Tooru had been doing these kinds of jobs for a long time now, and it didn’t take her long to find the schedule. She took several photos of it with her phone, sent them to Shigaraki, and then made sure they were deleted completely off her phone. She’d check with Denki later to make sure that all traces of them were gone. Shigaraki didn’t respond back, but she did get a small notification signifying that he’d read it at least. Tooru smiled.
Closing the doors was far more annoying than she’d wanted it to be. She found that if she closed them very slowly and lifted them up a bit as she slid them in, they creaked a lot less, but it was still too loud for her liking, especially in a big empty room like the one she was in right now. It felt off-putting.
Tooru examined the desk when she was done. She rearranged a few of the papers in the hopes that it would look mostly the same as it had when she’d left it, and then started to make her way back to the door.
She was only a few steps away when it opened and two teachers stepped into the room right in front of her. Tooru pressed her back up against the wall next to the door desperately and held her breath as they passed to minimize the sound she was making and the space she was taking up.
It only took her a second to identify the two people who’d just entered the classroom. Snipe and Midnight.
They were both talking and laughing. Tooru realized that they must be coming in for their lunch break. Her suspicions were confirmed as she managed to slip out of the room before the door closed behind them and saw the halls were nearly flooding with students as they walked to lunch.
Tooru blended in with the crowd and slipped seamlessly between them until she saw a familiar face she recognized from being in her class, (Ashido) and let herself become visible again slowly, so she wouldn’t cause alarm.
Careful as ever to keep her skin see-through and double checking that her clothing was solid, Tooru stepped up beside Ashido and easily inserted herself in the conversation she was having with Jirou.
Tooru really was good. No one suspected a thing, although the pocket her phone was in with the pictures of All Might’s schedule felt a little heavier as the information thief headed to lunch.


Izuku stared at Uraraka and Iida incredulously, the bowl of food in front of him, forgotten. “That was you?”
“But didn’t you want to be class rep too, Iida?” Uraraka asked.
“Wanting to do it and being suitable for the job are different issues,” Iida sipped his orange juice, “I merely did what I judged to be correct.”
Izuku stared at him, still in shock. He’d been so surprised when he’d ended up with more votes than everyone else in the class. He hadn’t expected it at all, and although normally he wouldn’t mind the role, he was sure that actually wanting it wouldn’t be staying in character.
The conversation switched to other topics before Izuku was really done processing that his friends liked him enough to vote for him to be class rep.
“I’ve been thinking,” Uraraka spoke around the food in her mouth, “Are you rich, Iida?”
“Rich?” Iida’s shoulders slumped and he sighed, “I tried to change how I talked and acted so I wouldn’t get called that.”
This piqued Izuku’s interest. His family was also very very rich, most likely being one of the richest in the world if you counted the money from all their different bank accounts, the money earned by all the puppet companies they owned, and the cash they had stored away who knows where that wasn’t documented because it wasn’t legally obtained and wasn’t supposed to be used as anything except backup funding in case things went horribly wrong. Actually, most of the money Izuku’s family could reasonably call theirs was obtained illegally.
Uraraka had been able to guess that Iida was rich because of how he talked and acted; it was very proper. While Izuku was technically also rich in the money regard, he knew that Iida’s social standing (which he very quickly learned was linked to his family’s prominent role in the hero industry) was what Uraraka was mostly referencing when she called him rich. The social standing was something that Izuku didn’t have, or at least not in the way Iida did.
Izuku grew up in a proper setting full of company parties, well funded private education, expensive clothing, and scenes very reminiscent of the high society that Iida was used to. The difference between Izuku and Iida was that Iida grew up in hero high society and Izuku grew up in villain high society. That, and Izuku was much better at hiding his wealthy upbringing.
Listening to Iida talk about his older brother Ingenium made Izuku realize just how much Iida looked up to him. If he had to guess, Ingenium was a big part of the reason why Iida wanted to be a hero. It made Izuku feel happy inside. He hoped that he could be as good a big brother to Eri as it was clear Ingenium was to Iida.
“He is a likable hero who honors the rules and leads people. I set my sights on being a hero because I want to be like my brother. However, I think it is still too soon for me to lead others. Unlike me, Midoriya realized the point of the practical portion of the entrance exam, so he is more suitable for the job.” Iida nodded to punctuate the end of his small speech.
Izuku internally winced, realizing that he should probably tell Iida that he didn’t have any idea about possible rescue points in the entrance exam, even if he had known about them beforehand. He felt guilty making Iida think that he’d managed to figure that out on his own when he really hadn’t.
“About the entrance exam-” It didn’t appear that Izuku was going to get the chance however, as the shrill sound of an alarm bell cut him off before he could finish.
“THERE HAS BEEN A LEVEL THREE SECURITY BREACH.” The voice over the announcements was uncomfortably loud, and Izuku couldn’t help but flinch in surprise as the computer automated voice started talking louder than he’d been expecting.
Level three. If Izuku was remembering correctly, (and he always remembered correctly,) level three security breaches meant that someone was trespassing on school grounds.
As Izuku and his friends stood up to leave the cafeteria, Izuku was struck by the sudden thought that he might have an idea of who was breaking in.


Denki found himself standing next to Kirishima from his class and trying to direct traffic as the huge crowds of students around them pushed and shoved their way in a mass of flailing limbs and panicked screaming without really knowing how he got there. His and Kirishima’s attempts to get everyone to slow down and stop yelling were not working in the slightest, and Denki personally thought it would be a miracle if no one got injured during the uncoordinated stampede that had resulted from the announcement about the security breach.
Denki almost got pushed over again and had to keep fighting to stay near Kirishima. He glanced around, but couldn’t see Tooru anywhere.
He hoped she hadn’t gotten caught in the stampede.


While she was sitting with Ashido and Jirou at lunch, Tooru got a text from an unknown number she recognized as Kurogiri informing her that some changes were going to be made to the plan. Namely, Shigaraki was coming to the school to pick up the information she’d gathered directly instead of waiting for it to be dropped off by her at a discreet location later that night as they had previously planned. Tooru was briefly baffled as to how he intended to do that until the alarm went off and she suddenly realized that Shigaraki was probably not that smart of a person.
Slipping away from the crowd was easy, and Tooru doubted that Denki would even have to fool with the cameras to mask her going completely invisible just based on how violently crowded the hallways were.
Pulling out her phone and speed walking as quietly as she could, Tooru made her way outside the building and was met with a crowd just as hectic as the one inside.
Representatives from every media outlet Tooru could recognize and several she couldn’t covered the front lawn. It wouldn’t be hard at all for someone to sneak in with them and slip away in the chaos. Tooru followed the instructions she was given through text around the edge of the crowd to a spot that was slightly secluded off to the side of the gates.
There was a skinny man in a black hoodie pulled low over his eyes standing as shadily as someone could stand off to the side exactly where Kurogiri said he would be.
Tooru approached who she could only assume was Shigaraki with caution.
“I have the-”
“AH!” The man’s head whipped up and Tooru got a quick glance at his face before he was looking down again, muttering curses under his breath. “Make this quick. They’ll kick the media out soon.”
Tooru swallowed and took out her phone, turning it around so that Shigaraki could see the pictures she’d taken.
“That’s good,” Shigaraki nodded, taking out his own phone and taking a picture of her phone, “Delete the photo. Then delete it from your trash. Make sure there isn’t a trace of it left on your phone. You haven’t been followed?”
Tooru sighed, slightly irritated that she was being talked down to like she was a little kid, “It's kind of hard to follow someone you can’t see.”
“Good.” Shigaraki nodded, but didn’t look up. Tooru didn’t bother to keep the frown off her face at the tone of his voice. “Get back to class, but be careful. You can’t let-”
“I know.” Tooru said, “I’m not stupid. They won’t find out what I’m doing.”
Shigaraki tilted his head up just enough that Tooru could see the displeased look on his face. He didn’t bother to say any kind of goodbye before shoving his hands in his pockets and making his way back to the entrance gates and slipping back into the crowd of reporters.


Izuku walked home, sure in his decision to hand his position as class rep over to Iida. From everything he’d seen, Iida and Yoayorozu would do wonderfully as class reps.
Honestly, Izuku felt a mix of emotions about almost being voted in as class president. On one hand, it made him feel great. Having friends who trusted him and believed in him that much put a pep in his step, even if he wasn’t sure he deserved it. Actually, Izuku was very sure he didn’t deserve it. In fact, he knew he didn’t. Having their trust to such a degree made him feel guilty as well as happy.
It hadn’t really hit him until then that he had people who he could consider his friends, but standing in front of the class as he relinquished his position as class rep, it occurred to him that for the first time maybe ever he had friends who weren’t Organization kids.
Izuku was lying to them. He was lying to everyone at UA every moment that he was there. He wasn’t who they thought he was. They thought he was a regular student. A good person. Someone they could depend on to save them no matter what. Someone they could trust. Someone who wanted to be a hero.
Izuku knew he’d always been a liar, but now that he had friends, it was really hitting him that there were people he’d grown to care about outside The Organization. People who’d grown to care about him. People that would feel betrayed if they ever found out what his real goals were.
They weren’t going to find out. Izuku was too thorough. He’d make sure of it. If Izuku were to remain friends with Uraraka and Iida, he’d just have to keep them in the dark about who he really was. He could do that. Izuku was raised to lie. He was good at it. He’d managed to do it so far.
Even as he reassured himself, Izuku knew it wouldn’t last. They’d find out eventually. The plan wasn’t for Izuku to lie forever. All Izuku could do was stop them from finding out too soon.

Chapter Text


Tomura sat slumped on a sticky bar stool in a dark, damp bar. He was breathing in warm air under a creaky roof and squinting his eyes because the light of his phone felt blinding even at its lowest setting. He fought the ever-present urge to scratch the sides of his neck and stared at the picture of the class schedule staring up at him. There was a strawberry milkshake sitting empty and forgotten on the counter next to him. 

In four days class 1A would go off campus to a separate location, and All Might would be going with them. The only other teacher listed as attending the class was rescue hero Thirteen, and they weren’t going to be much of an issue. The kids certainly wouldn’t either. Tomura didn’t smile, but he felt slightly less angry as the stars aligned for once. 

“Shigaraki Tomura,” Kurogiri always called Tomura by his full name. He also liked to turn the bar lights on, even though most of them were broken and the ones that weren’t were so dim they barely made a difference. “What is our next step?” 

Kurogiri was always asking questions. He insisted on having Tomura be the boss, (which he was,) but while that gave Tomura the freedom he thought he deserved, it also took away the only real source of guidance he might’ve had. At first, Sensei had stepped in every once and awhile in order to guide him, but his influence had lessened over the years, almost to the point of nonexistence. Tomura was sure at this point that if he were about to make a horrible mistake Sensei would step in, but he had no intention of messing up something he cared about so much and it wouldn’t be necessary for this mission. 

Killing All Might was all he’d wanted to do for as long as he could remember. If he killed All Might, then hero society would fall. All Might was such a strong pillar, and had placed himself at such an important position in society that if he were gone, (especially if he were ripped away,) then everyone would see the flaws in the hero-filled world that Tomura saw. Without one of the most important pillars to hold it up, the hero system would crumble to pieces around them and villains would finally have the spotlight. Tomura would have the spotlight. Tomura would be in control. Tomura would be in charge. 

Tomura had a plan. The USJ facility was unprotected by the regular security systems, and the ones they did have were less tight. The location was easy enough to get to, especially with Kurogiri’s quirk. The only thing Tomura really had to do was recruit more villains to his cause. Given his Sensei’s vast range of resources and connections, he had no doubt that they’d be able to get a small army ready in time for the day of the attack. 

Kurogiri narrowed his eyes at Tomura’s silence, but Tomura didn’t care. Everything was falling into place. 

“I have a plan,” Tomura said, turning to him, “One that’ll work. With the nomu, we’ve already secured victory. The hardest part will be infiltration, but we can get through that with your and my quirks alone. If that doesn’t work, it shouldn't be too hard to find someone with an electric quirk.”

Kurogiri didn’t react, but Tomura had been with him long enough to read his emotions in the way the mist around him moved. It swirled and deepened. He was interested. 

Tomura smiled. 

Toshinori observed the third year class with interest. He wasn’t in his hero form at the moment, and as per usual, Yagi Toshinori went unnoticed. It had been a strange adjustment after he’d first gotten injured, but not being recognized was a welcome change. Putting on a brave smile all the time got tiring after decades of it. 

Watching the third years’ training, it was clear to the veteran hero that three of them really did stand out, just like he’d been told. Hado Neijre, Amajiki Tamaki, and Togoota Mirio.

Young Hado flew above the rest of her classmates, taking on several opponents with ease. She deflected attacks and struck back in a perfect blend of offense and defense, effectively making herself impossible to touch from her perch high up in the air. 

Amajiki was deft and quick in his movements, but still very unsure. He hesitated before attacking, but even the slight hesitation in his movement didn’t stop him from fighting several of his own classmates at once as well. He commanded tentacles that swirled around him and a crab claw that was even more dangerous. It made those who had broken through his initial tentacle defense sorry they’d gotten so close. 

Out of the three of them however, young Togoota Mirio stood out the most. He was both everywhere and nowhere at once. Both attacking mercilessly and without hesitation and completely impossible to touch. Toshinori’s old sidekick had taught him well. While Nejire and Amajiki both seemed at their limits taking on 4 or 5 classmates, Togoota seemed happy to take on most of the rest. 

He would’ve been a good pick for a successor. Toshinori knew that, but even so; even watching him dominate a battlefield like he was even without the help of One For All, the number one hero couldn’t be happier in his decision anyway. 

Young Midoriya was everything Toshinori had been looking for in a successor. Completely unafraid of stepping into danger to save others, analytically intelligent, steadfastly strong-willed, determined to reach his goal, and kind to a fault. Even if he did cry more than Toshinori would’ve thought. He was a good kid. He’d make a great hero. 

There was only one thing that made Toshinori second guess himself. Midoriya-shounen and Bakugou-shounen’s fight during the combat exercise. Both of them had gone to such extremes. He remembered watching Midoriya get pulled away on a stretcher and feeling dread. He couldn’t stand to see his student go so far as to harm himself the way that he had, especially over something as small as a training exercise. 

It didn’t bode well for how willing he’d be to jump into danger as he got older. For the first time in a long time, Toshinori realized that he knew what Nighteye might’ve felt after he made his decision to keep up his hero-work even after getting his death sentence. 

Toshinori had no doubt that his successor was going to be a great hero, and save many people. The only thing he was worried about was whether or not Midoriya would be able to keep himself safe as well. 

Watching the third years also reminded Toshinori of how far Midoriya still had left to grow. Toshinori was sure he would learn to be less reckless. Especially with a teacher like Eraserhead, (or Aizawa as he should probably call his colleague now,) guiding him. 

Bakugou was another matter. Toshinori was worried about him. He seemed to have so much anger for someone so young, and so much was directed at Midoriya. At least Midoriya seemed to have found friends in young Uraraka and Iida. Toshinori was sure he’d be able to make many more easily. He was a very friendly person, after all. 

Eri was perfectly content to do her homework on the couch most nights. Technically, everything she did was homework, since it had been decided that she’d be homeschooled and kept secret instead of going out to public school. 

Eri didn’t mind being kept a secret. It made her feel special. Even though people always talked about Izu being the next All For One, Eri knew she was just as important. Her parents always took care to make sure of it. Plus, Eri didn’t want to be All For One. She wanted to be a doctor. 

Eri often thought about how scary the stories of her dad’s fight with All Might sounded. She’d been too young to remember the event herself, but Izu and Himichan were always open to telling her all about it. They hadn’t been sure if he was going to make it. According to her brother, (who had never been wrong as long as Eri could remember,) it had been very close. The doctors had managed to save him though. They’d healed him, even when he was on the brink of death (Himichan had told her that line, standing dramatically on the back of the blue couch and waving her arms around wildly as she talked even though being on the back of the blue couch wasn’t allowed.)

Eri wanted to save people like that. Mom told her once that being a doctor took a lot of school, but Eri loved school and thought she would only love it more if she were learning how to save people. 

Izu, Kats, and Himichan were learning how to save people by fighting and spying and probably paperwork, (dad had to do a lot of paperwork, and if Izu was going to take his place he probably would have to do a lot of paperwork as well,.) but Eri was going to save people by healing them when they got hurt or were sick. No one would die after Eri became a doctor! She was very smart, (lots of adults told her that; from her parents to her tutors,) she was very kind, (lots of adults told her that too,) and she had the perfect quirk for saving people! Izu had told her that. 

Eri could reverse time. It was very very powerful. She could use it to fix things like broken pencils and ripped paper, or make fruit fresh again instead of rotten. She could also use it to take quirks away, although they didn’t usually use it for that since the quirks were gone for good. They just, ‘POOF! Disappeared’ as Himichan liked to say. It always made Eri giggle. More importantly, she could heal people! If someone got hurt, like a cut or a bruise, Eri was very good at fixing them up so that they weren’t hurt anymore. Izu liked to call it ‘reversing an injury.’ Eri didn’t just heal injuries, she made it so that it was like they never even happened in the first place! 

Already, she was a very good doctor. She wasn’t allowed to fix anything bigger than a twisted ankle right now, but she was working with her tutors to get better control. One day, she’d be able to heal anything! Dad even said that she might be able to bring people back from the dead. 

Eri knew she was very lucky. She was in the perfect position to be a doctor when she grew up, and she would get to save so many people. Plus, she’d get to be the head doctor on the council, mom said, since she was a Midoriya. “That doesn’t mean you won’t have to work hard,” she remembered mom saying. “You will have to work very very hard. But if that’s what you want to do, then we’ll help you any way we can! Of course, you can always change your mind. We’ll support you no matter what you want to do when you grow up.” Eri assured mom that she wasn’t going to change her mind. She was sure of what she wanted to do.

“Well, you’ll be great at whatever you set your mind to,” Mom told her. Mom had also never been wrong before, so Eri was sure that she was right. 

Eri had all her best crayons lined up on the coffee table in front of her. She was currently working on a color-by-number for her math tutor. The twist was that she had to do math problems to figure out which colors went where. Eri usually didn’t mind math, and she really liked coloring, so the assignment barely felt like work at all. She was flying through it, and soon she’d move on to practicing her reading and writing, which she liked a lot less. Her thoughts were interrupted by her dad, who was sitting at his corner of the kitchen counter doing paperwork. 

“He’s made contact? With which one?” He was asking. Eri looked up and noted that he was on the phone. “Good, that's the better choice. She has the training. How did it go? What did he think of her?” He paused for a second and Eri went back to her coloring, not meaning to eavesdrop but not knowing the context behind the conversation either. 

Her father kept talking to whoever was on the other side of the phone, “And Ghost managed to retrieve the documents without issue?.........Good. How is the recruitment going?” Eri’s dad stood up and started gathering his papers to put in his work bag, “That's what we expected at least. How is Tomura?..........yes, good. Thank you Kurogiri.” Eri’s head snapped up at the familiar name as dad hung up the phone and put it in his pocket.

“Were you talking to Kurogiri-Sensei?” She asked, excited. 

Midoriya Hisashi’s face broke out into a grin the second he made eye contact with his daughter, “Yes, it was. Next time I talk to him, would you like me to say hi for you?” 

“Yes! I don’t get to see him very much anymore. He’s always busy.” Eri complained, swinging her legs under the table. 

“Well, he has a big job to do. Do you remember Tomura?” 

Eri thought for a moment, “Maybe. Did he have the quirk that broke stuff?” 

“Yes, he did. Decay,” her father reminded her, “Kurogiri is supervising him right now. He’s helping him think up a very important plan right now.”

Eri thought for a moment, “Do you want his plan to win or lose?” She asked. Sometimes her parents set up people in lower circles to lose instead of win so that The Organization as a whole could win more important things later. Eri thought it was very interesting and wasn’t quite sure about the strategy behind it yet. 

Dad ruffled her hair, “They’re going to lose. But later, it will lead to lots and lots of wins. We just need the heroes to know about them first before we do anything big.” 

“Oh. Ok!” Eri supposed that kind of made sense, maybe a little bit. She thought having the heroes not know made more sense, since that way they could plan a surprise attack, but there were probably other parts of the plan that she didn’t know about yet. Maybe when Izu got home she could ask him. He usually knew about those kinds of things. 

Nezu was very quickly discovering that there was more to some of the newest 1st years than there appeared to be at a glance. In the extensive regular background checks he did before the school year started, he’d discovered several interesting things. 

First of all and most glaringly obvious (to Nezu at least,) was the case of Midoriya Hisashi. There was money in his bank account that there should be. That alone signaled probable criminal activity. Plus, Nezu had to search for a solid 20 minutes to find a single picture of the man. That was very suspicious. If he had to guess, Midoriya Hisashi was probably involved in some sort of low-level crime scheme. Most likely something money-related and not anything with malicious intent, based on how intact the rest of his records were. The fact that Nezu almost couldn’t find a picture of him was weird, but made sense for someone who had two family members with completely clean records and a high-paying job overseas. Men like him, who had a lot of money and a lot to lose tended to be overly-cautious. Based on everything Nezu had seen, it was likely that he’d paid someone to erase his presence from social media and various government databases. While Nezu could turn him in, he had no reason to; plus, it would majorly upend his son’s life, and Midoriya Izuku was All Might’s successor. He was too important. 

‘Oh, the privilege that heroes with powerful quirks get,’ Nezu could help but think back to giving All Might a position as a teacher even though he had no previous teaching experience and no education training whatsoever. 

Besides the Midoriyas, there were several other families who stood out as suspicious to Nezu. The Yoayorozus, for instance. It was clear to him that a lot of their money also appeared to have spontaneously popped into existence in their bank accounts from who knows where. Given what the quirk his student’s mother’s side of the family tended to pass down, he found it fairly easy to connect the dots. From everything he’d seen, their daughter had no idea about her parents’ possible criminal activity, and he decided to leave them be as well. Nezu knew the hero industry was skewed in favor of the male population, and that it needed more strong female heroes like Yoayorozu was shaping up to be. She was smart, strong, and skilled. He had high hopes for her. Telling the HPSC about her family would only upend her life in a way it didn't need to be. The principal didn’t want to harm her chances of being a successful hero in any way. 

Nezu had been well aware of Todoroki Enji’s family drama for a long time now. The issue with his case was that Nezu also knew the HPSC was aware of what he was doing and was actively covering it up. Even though Nezu wanted to do something, he wasn’t able to. He wondered if Endeavor knew just how much leeway he was given solely because of how high he was in the hero rankings. Nezu doubted it. 

All in all, those were the three stand-out cases, although there were a few other students in other classes who were interesting. One of the students in class 1B had an older brother who’d ended up turning to villainy after his dreams of being a hero had gotten crushed after he failed to pass the entrance exam. One of the support students had an aunt who was connected to the black market sale of support items. Nezu couldn’t find any evidence that the students themselves were into any kind of villainy, and given that in both cases the villain was convicted and currently in prison; there wasn’t anything else that needed to be done about it anyways. He only figured it was a good thing to consider and keep an eye on. 

Kurogiri finished his phone call with The Boss and paused for a minute to collect his thoughts before calling up the other person he needed to talk to today. It had taken a while to find someone with the correct kind of quirk for the task they needed and at the skill level they wanted, but eventually they managed to find someone in the 4th circle who knew someone in the 3rd who knew someone in the 4th again who was related to someone that would be willing to help as long as he was paid well. Money was no object, and Kurogiri had agreed to his blatant overpricing of the job. Even better, he didn’t have much previous experience with violent crime, so he wouldn’t be especially hard for any of the students to take down in battle, which was also a requirement of all the recruits. Although Shigaraki Tomura had no idea of this aspect of the plan, it was Kurogiri’s job to make sure that the villains they were hiring weren’t a real threat. It was surprisingly easy to find people like that if you knew where to look. 

It didn’t take long for the other side of the phone to crackle to life, “Hello? You’re that purple misty guy, right?” 

“Yes, I am,” Kurogiri noted how the person on the other end of the line had made a point to memorize his number, “I am here to give you the complete details of the plan.”

“You didn’t already? But you talked for such a long time about it on Saturday! Are you telling me that was a waste of my time? Time doesn’t come easy, I have better things to-”

“In order to warp you into the USJ, I will have to know your exact position,” Kurogiri explained slowly, voice even, “I’m sending you the building and floor you will be expected to be in and on over text, as well as the exact details of what we need you to accomplish.”

“Fine. I’m still not happy about this though.” Kurogiri thought it was interesting that the other villain was under the impression that he cared. 

“Tomorrow, 6 O’clock. Don’t be late.” Kurogiri didn’t bother to give him any warning before hanging up the phone. There wasn’t anything else he was required to say. 

Originally, Kurogiri had hoped that whoever they found for this particular aspect of the job would be easy to work with and sensible enough to understand how to deal with Shigaraki Tomura (like Kurogiri was.) This man definitely was not. It was a shame, in Kurogiri’s opinion. Electric-type quirk users weren’t hard to come by, but finding one who was both good at hacking and willing to do it illegally was hard. Especially considering how good a quirk electric-types were considered for hero-work in most cases which meant that those who had one usually didn’t steer towards criminal work. This man was a good find, perfect for this one job, but Kurogiri wouldn’t waste any time trying to stop him from being captured. After this was over, they probably wouldn’t need him again. 

The only people Kurogiri had to make sure didn’t get arrested were himself and Shigaraki Tomura. A much shorter list that he would’ve liked, but he supposed it couldn’t be helped if they couldn’t find any villains who would work long-term as members of the LOV in such a short period of time. 

Kurogiri grabbed a dish rag and began rinsing and cleaning an empty glass previously filled with strawberry milkshake Shigaraki Tomura had left on the counter. ‘At least,’ He thought, ‘Shigaraki Tomura is interacting with Ghost. She will hopefully teach him something about dealing with other villains in more long-term situations. He needs practice socializing.’  

Aizawa Shouta may have appeared to be asleep to the outside observer, but as always he was completely aware of his surroundings. He paid attention as each of his students showed up one by one, the usual early birds arriving first and the rest of the ranks slowly filling out the rest of the classroom. His class chatted quietly as they usually did, the drone of conversation enough to lull a lesser man to sleep. Shouta, however, was awake and alert. His students ignored his presence and the classroom buzzed with gossip and discussion. 

Shouta unzipped and stepped out of his sleeping bag as the bell rang and folded it carefully over his arm, quietly counting the number of seconds it took for his class to quiet down. It was early enough in the year that his new students understood what he expected of them, but it had only been a week and the class hadn’t mastered the art of perfect silence the moment the bell rang as all of Shouta’s classes eventually did. 4 seconds was still pretty good. 

“4 seconds,” Shouta announced to the class, and heard a few sighs and grumblings from his students. A single glare silenced them. They were learning. 

“We’re going to be doing rescue training off campus today. Grab your hero costumes, change, and follow me outside to the bus.” The gasps of excitement and immediate chatter about what the rescue training could possibly entail filled the classroom as Shouta stepped off the podium and lazily made his way to the gates of the school to wait for his class. 

Shouta was impressed with them so far. Obviously, there were a lot of things they would have to work on, but at the moment there weren’t many students who stood out as possibly going to be expelled. Bakugou came to mind first, but Shouta had faith that he’d be able to help the young hero-in-training with what appeared to be anger issues. If he couldn’t, then expelling him would work fine too. Shouta knew that with a quirk like that, Bakugou must’ve been hailed as a future hero destined for greatness by his previous teachers, but he was fully-prepared to halt that dream in its tracks if Bakugou proved to be too difficult. He would have to watch Bakugou and help him progress in any way that he could. He would be a very good hero as long as he could keep his temper under control. 

Midoriya was another one at risk of being expelled. If he couldn’t figure out how to use his quirk without breaking his bones, Shouta was going to have to send him home for his own safety, and not the safety of others like with Bakugou. Midoriya didn’t seem deterred at all from rushing into battle even with a quirk strong enough to damage his body, and Shouta knew that he couldn’t allow someone like Midoriya to enter the hero field unless they had ample ways to protect themselves. Midoriya would have to be watched closely, but all in all; Shouta had high hopes for him as well. 

As per usual, all the kids in his class had very combat-oriented quirks. Shouta supposed he couldn’t hope for someone with a quirk more like his own to be in his class every year, but it was certainly a treat when it did happen. If anything, the student with a quirk closest to a decidedly non-combative or even ‘villainous’ quirk like his own would be Hagakure with her invisibility. She was mainly going to be good for stealth missions, and would probably end up an underground hero whether she liked it or not based on the ‘flashiness’ of her quirk. Shouta was rather looking forward to teaching her and seeing how she did; he hoped that she wouldn’t disappoint.

It took the class longer that he would’ve liked to get outside in full costume, (or as close to it as they could get, in Midoriya’s case,) and Shouta lazily lead the way onto the bus and sat down in the front, content to pretend to sleep for the entire bus ride. His students never really knew how many of their conversations he heard when they didn’t know he was awake. 


Himiko giggled. Nothing funny had happened, she just felt like giggling. Some of the other villains around her glanced her way with slightly confused looks. She just stared back, smiling as brightly as she could. Her companions looked slightly uncomfortable, and she saw quite a few of them lean or step away from her. She didn’t mind. If anything, it was quite funny. Himiko giggled again. 

Himiko didn’t mind being an extra set of eyes for The Organization among the crowd of villains set to be attacking the USJ with Kuro-sensei and Shigaraki Tomura. She liked transforming into someone she hadn’t ever been before and seeing what lower level villains did with their time. Of course, she knew that this was in no way an average event, but even just seeing all the adults around her, disgruntled with society and under the impression that the end goal of this operation was to win, made her want to giggle again. Transforming into a new person for the first time always made Himiko more giggly. 

The air around her was still and felt much too quiet after Kuro-Sensei warped them in. She’d been warped to the middle of the avalanche zone, one of the bigger ones within the USJ. From how high up on the mountain they were, she had a pretty good view of the surrounding areas, but more importantly; she’d been placed with the most dangerous villains, including the electric type who’d been called in to take down the security systems. She could make sure that none of the kids got hurt even though they were very far away from the main plaza where the teachers would be. Himiko was ready. She giggled again, ignoring the odd looks she got from the others around her. 

Now all they had to do was wait for Class 1A to get there. It wouldn’t be long now. 

“Before we begin, let me say one thing,” Anan Kurose, more commonly known as the rescue hero Thirteen, smiled behind their helmet. They paused for a second before considering, “or maybe two, or three, or… five, six, seven.” their voice drifted into a thoughtful murmur as they considered how much they still had to say. Kurose shook their head and then looked back up at the class, “Everyone, I am sure you are aware of my quirk, black hole. I can suck up anything and turn it to dust.” 

A green-haired student in the front spoke up. Kurose noted that he was wearing a UA uniform instead of a hero costume, “You’ve been able to use that quirk to save people from all kinds of disasters, right?” A girl standing next to him in a space-themed costume reminiscent of Kurose’s own was nodding very quickly. Her excitement made Kurose smile. 

“Yes, but it is a power that can kill easily. Some of you have quirks like that too, right?” The rescue hero saw several of the students look contemplative. “You do not have powers so that you can harm others.” 

Before they finished speaking, Kurose was interrupted by the lights flickering. They blinked, confused as the lights didn’t stop right away, turning around and seeing that the water in the main plaza’s fountain was turning on and off haphazardly, sending splashes of water up and down in small squirts. The hairs on the back of their neck froze, and the air pressure felt like it shifted before something dark and purple started to appear in front of the fountain. 

A deep purple misty shape ripped through the air and swirled as it grew. Kurose could see a hard start to reach through what they were realizing was some sort of portal. 

“What’s that?” One of the students behind Kurose asked. 

A thin, gray-haired man with black clothing and what appeared to be hands gripping his shoulders and arms stepped out of the portal, villains on either side of him following suit. Kurose realized with horror that the hands clutching the man’s limbs and face were real, severed human hands. 

One of the students behind Kurose asked if the training had already started, but the hero barely registered the words. Those were villains. Real, serious villains. What were they doing here? How did they get here? They had to protect the students-

“Don’t move!” Kurose turned around to see that their coworker had put an arm out to block one of his students from stepping forward toward the villains. Aizawa spoke up again, voice grave as he looked out across the rapidly filling plaza. 

“Those are villains.”

Tomura looked up at the students standing in front of the gates, shock painted all over each of their faces. He smiled behind his father’s hand. 

Nomu stepped out of the portal next to him. He held out his hand to command the beast to stop. Villains surrounded him on either side, and he knew there were more in each of the rescue zones. Far more that a few pro-heroes and a class of 1st years could handle. Especially if All Might was busy fighting his perfect match. A monster bio-engineered to face off against him and win . Tomura didn’t smile, but his eyes glinted as he looked lazily up at his adversaries. 

Finally, All Might is going to die.

Chapter Text

Katsuki stared up at the outer wall of the USJ facility and tried to keep the anger off his face. 

What Shigaraki had done was completely unacceptable. He needed to be reigned in as soon as possible, because it was obvious that Kurogiri-sensei wasn’t capable of speaking out against him and stopping him from causing large amounts of harm. Katsuki was fuming

They weren’t supposed to hurt people like that. They weren’t supposed to hurt people like that. Katsuki tried to count how many times Shigaraki had broken Organization rules and lost count. Rule Number 1 was ‘NEVER HURT INNOCENT PEOPLE’ and Rule Number 2 was ‘NEVER HURT CHILDREN EVER’ and Shigaraki had seemed determined to do BOTH. He’d nearly killed both Eraserhead AND Thirteen, and from what Katsuki had heard from listening in on the conversations happening after they’d all been released, he’d almost killed Frog Girl and Deku too. Katsuki was livid. How in the world had this attack been greenlit by the council? Why in the world wasn’t it under better supervision? 

Katsuki rode back to UA with the rest of the class to be questioned by the police and looked over to make sure they weren’t injured. The entire bus ride, he fumed. Shigaraki needed to be taken care of. He needed to be put in his place. Katsuki wouldn’t mind being the one to do it either. 

Shigaraki had ordered the nomu to kill Eraserhead, and Kurogiri himself nearly killed Thirteen. Katsuki knew it was Shigaraki’s fault. It had to be. Kurogiri was taking orders from him just like the nomu did, and that was why he shouldn't be in charge of stopping Shigaraki from causing harm; he was incapable of standing up to him. 

Katsuki’s anger burned, but he forced himself to tamp it down. He could yell and scream about this when he got home, but right now, he had to play a part. Unlike Shigaraki, Katsuki refused to mess it up. 

Izuku’s head hurt. His legs ached, his hands were sore. He was content to lay on the hospital bed and fall asleep, but at the same time, part of him was scared to. Mostly because he could hear them whispering. 

He hadn’t realized until he was being carted away from USJ in a stretcher, but there were voices muttering at the edges of his hearing, like a steady buzz beneath his skin. They weren’t happy with him. If anything, they were angry, but not as angry as they could’ve been. It felt eerie. Like someone was dancing on Izuku’s grave. It made his hands shake and his eyes flick around only to see no source for the voices no matter how deep he looked into the shadows draped across the nurse’s office around him.

Izuku hadn’t slept since he’d had that first dream about the vestiges of One For All. He was almost scared to. The vestiges knew who he was. They knew their 8th successor had been tricked. If they could communicate with Izuku like this, (even if he couldn’t make out any of the words they were saying,) then Izuku wondered if they could talk to All Might in the same way. All Might couldn’t find out what they knew. If he did, then everything would be over. His position at UA as a normal hero student, as the next holder of One For All, as an average kid with an ordinary background would be jeopardized. All Might hadn’t said anything to allude to the fact that he knew or that he’d ever communicated with the past holders of the quirk, but that didn’t stop Izuku from feeling paranoid. 

They hadn’t been whispering before. Izuku would’ve noticed. He was pretty sure the only reason he didn’t before the attack on his class was over was because he’d been too preoccupied trying to keep himself and his classmates alive. The image of his teacher’s face getting smashed into the ground by the nomu felt like it was imprinted on the back of Izuku’s eyelids. It made him feel sick to his stomach, and if he thought about it too hard, the voices seemed to swell and get angrier. Never louder, never easier to understand, but angrier. Definitely angrier. 

They’d helped him though. They’d helped him. There had been a single moment, when Shigaraki Tomura was reaching out to grab Asui Tsuyu (or just Tsuyu, as she’d asked to be called.) A move that would end in nothing but dust where his lively classmate had once sat, and Izuku had jumped without thinking. All he knew was that he had to save his classmate. One For All had collected in his arm and had exploded out as he threw a punch at the villain full-force. The difference from all the times he’d used it before was that his arm hadn’t broken. It was warm from the inside out, and it buzzed with leftover power, but his arm wasn’t broken. Izuku had heard the whispers in his head then for a single second, alerting him to the fact that he’d been spared this one time. Izuku wondered if the vestiges found his attempt to save Asui (Tsuyu, he reminded himself,) a worthy cause. 

Even though the past holders of his quirk had allowed him to use it without harming himself once, that didn’t mean that he was allowed to use it without shattering his bones the other times it’d been required of him during the attack. Izuku still felt the ache in his fingers and his legs as proof of that. He’d been carried out of USJ on a stretcher because he hadn’t been able to walk by himself. 

Izuku had been led to Recovery Girl’s office where she healed both him and All Might. They’d been told to wait in the office and take a nap so the effects of the nurse’s quirk would wear off before they went home. Izuku couldn’t sleep no matter how hard he tried. The voices and the whispering were too loud. It felt like the words they spoke, even though he couldn’t understand them, were settling into his bones and sticking to them like tar. His mouth felt dry, and the feeling of paranoia only grew stronger. Izuku clenched a fist around the thin blanket that had been thrown over him and focused on breathing. 

Over time, the whispering dimmed. Izuku couldn’t hear it as loudly, but it was still present just beyond his ears. He was still worried about falling asleep. 

The vestiges didn’t like him. They were mad. Izuku knew why, and he couldn’t help but feel guilt over it even though he didn’t need to. He and his family weren’t doing anything wrong. They were making the world a better place, in the long run. Eventually, when they were in control, they could fix everything. They could take down the HPSC, the hero system, the ways their world was broken, and make it whole again. Izuku knew they were doing the right thing. They had to be.

The vestiges had been fighting a war against All For One for so long that they weren’t willing to see from Izuku’s side of the conflict. He wanted to save people, not hurt them. Izuku could kind of understand where they were coming from; everything he did looked very bad from the outside; but he hoped that as time went on they’d see what he was really trying to do and side with him. Otherwise, he’d have many problems if the quirk kept refusing to cooperate. 

“What was that?” 

Kurogiri didn’t flinch, even as he was met with nothing but hostility from his boss. “Shigaraki Tomura got a bit carried away.” 

“A bit?!” Midoriya Hisashi’s voice was cold, “Two heroes almost died along with several hero students. You call that a little?” 

“My apologies. I wasn’t aware he would… get so carried away. After he started, I was unable to stop him.” Kurogiri’s face remained blank, but the mist around him drew inwards as if he were shrinking under his superior’s glare. One thing Kurogiri had always been good at was reporting the facts and only the facts. He never let emotion get in the way of his job. Shigaraki, on the other hand, was the polar opposite. It seemed like emotion was the driving force behind most of his actions. 

Hisashi took a deep breath, “Can I trust you to stop him if he takes it too far again?” 

Kurogiri seemed to consider this. Once again, nothing in his face changed, but the constant swirling of his mist slowed as if he were processing the question. After a moment, he responded evenly. 

“I am supposed to follow his orders. I will not be able to disobey him unless you order me to.” 

Hisashi considered this. Kurogiri was a good soldier, perfect for taking orders. Designed that way, even if the way they obtained the materials to make him was… not something that Hisashi himself would’ve done. (It was something he had done, before Hisashi was the one in charge). Eventually, Hisashi sighed.

“I’ll assign someone else to help you.” He waved his hand and Kurogiri took his cue to leave, warping out of the conference room with nothing but a small change in air pressure. 

Hisashi turned to his wife. 

“What do you think? Is Himiko up for it?”

Inko smiled, beautiful as the day Hisashi met her. 

“I don’t think there’s anyone better for the role” 

Tamaki had watched 4 different news segments on the event several times each, and was still astonished. The LOV really worked fast; only a day had passed since Tooru gave them the information. Tamaki was astonished that they’d managed to organize so many villains and make a plan in less than 24 hours. It wasn’t the best plan, by any means. In fact, it had failed miserably. Tamaki was mostly just impressed that they’d made it so far before getting taken down, and was impressed that they’d managed to recruit so many villains in such a short period of time. Of course, he had no doubt that they’d been recruiting for a while before the attack was planned, but the sheer number of villains was impressive on its own. 72 of them had been arrested, and Tamaki had no doubt there had been a few more that had managed to escape besides Kurogiri and Shigaraki. 

Tamaki had been given footage of the USJ incident hacked from the cameras by a higher-up that specialized in cyber espionage. He’d been told to review the footage and take a look at how Ghost and Spark had done during the attack in order to see how well they followed orders. 

The very thought had been nerve-wracking. Tamaki felt nervous enough whenever he had to write up a mission report on himself; but having to write up one on the people working under him was even more nerve-wracking. He second-guessed every sentence he wrote, looked over the footage so many times he felt like it might be burned into his brain. Whenever he closed his eyes, he could still see Spark being threatened by that other electric user. He knew that Spark was only acting as if his brain had short-circuited, but the sight of him looking so helpless in the face of a threat that wasn’t afraid to kill him made Tamaki’s skin crawl. Tamaki had really grown close to Spark and Ghost in the time since he’d met them, and the thought of losing them made his heart drop. 

Tamaki was proud of them. Watching them through the footage, he realized just how dedicated they were to this job. Spark in particular seemed very good at acting. He hadn’t flinched or slipped throughout the entire confrontation with the villains he and the other two students in his class had. He’d stayed at the skill level he was supposed to be at and hadn’t broken character once as far as Tamaki could see. 

Ghost had been harder to track, seeing as the only thing he was able to see had been her boots and gloves, and he hadn’t even been able to see them the entire time. From what he could tell, she’d stayed out of the way and monitored her other classmates just like she was supposed to and hadn’t been spotted by anyone. 

Tamaki felt guilty at the idea of writing down anything bad about them, but he also thought that if he didn’t, the higher-ups might think he was too biased towards them or something. He didn’t want his superiors to think he was compromised when it came to taking care of Spark and Ghost in any way. Even though he was nervous about it at first, Tamaki really liked working with them. For their own good, he wrote down things he noticed that they could’ve improved on. 

Ghost needed a better cover story. She said she was in the same zone as Todoroki was and that was why she hadn’t helped take care of the villains, (because it hadn’t been needed,) but that also wouldn’t have made much sense considering the fact that if Todoroki hadn’t seen her, (like she claimed,) then there would’ve been nothing stopping him from freezing her on accident as well as the villains. Ghost was lucky because she was invisible, but she either needed to stay with her class and make sure she had an alibi or come up with a better cover for why she hadn’t been seen. 

Preferably, she could claim to have been warped to an area where no one had been in, or one where it would’ve been easy to miss someone like the downpour or fire zones. In her snooping, it wouldn’t be that hard for her to go to one of those areas, if only briefly so that she might be able to give some sort of detail that only someone from those zones would know in order to prove that she was actually there. Plus, that way there would even be a grain of truth to her story, which is always good to have when you’re lying to the police. 

Spark had done a very good job in acting, placing himself in a position where he would be able to do just enough damage that the heroes wouldn’t think he were holding back but not enough to harm what the villains were doing in any way either, and even gave himself a helpful way out of fighting at all by drawing on the lie about how he ‘short-circuits,’ which Tamaki thought was a particularly clever part of his official quirk description when it came to giving him a loophole he could use to get out of any given situation. There was, however, one notable issue with his performance; although when it came down to it, Shgaraki’s incompetence was more to blame than Spark was. 

Spark claimed to be unable to contact anyone through his communicator using his quirk, but if the police really looked into it, (which Tamaki hoped they wouldn't,) his communicator hadn’t been disconnected. Spark had told him that himself. 

The villains hadn’t anticipated one of the students having an independent way to contact people outside USJ, (even though they should’ve,) and hadn’t taken any precautions against it. In the end, if Spark was questioned about it, the police would probably come to the conclusion that there was some sort of villain with a quirk capable of jamming the signal, but when they couldn’t find anyone like that within the villains that were arrested,  they would probably come to the conclusion that the signal jamming villain had been one of the ones to escape in the end. 

It was still suspicious, especially if they interrogated the villains and none of them remembered anything about anyone like that, and especially since there wasn’t any notable damage on Spark’s communicator from the influence of the quirk either. Having evidence that it was tampered with would’ve helped the story, as would have finding a way to blame it on one of the villains the police had actually arrested; the electric type that had taken out the security systems comes to mind. 

All in all, there were holes in Spark’s story that the police might notice if they looked into it too much, and they could paint a very bad picture if he were ever put under suspicion. 

Tamaki wrote all of this down, and added that he would make sure to point it out to Spark and Ghost. Both of them seemed to be struggling with very similar things, and to be fair; it was arguably the hardest part of the job; not getting caught in a lie. Having holes in their story that could put them under suspicion if police dug too deep into their stories. Tamaki had no doubt that they would be thorough, considering how serious this attack had been, but he also had no doubt that they wouldn’t focus too hard on the students. If anything, the students would probably be placed under the least amount of suspicion. 

They were the victims, after all. 

Tooru received a phone call from Kurogiri around 8 O’clock. She’d been home for a few hours after the police finished questioning her and the rest of her class about the attack. He notified her of a job well done and asked her to come in and talk to the league as soon as she could get away from her parents in order to review everything that had happened and tell Shigaraki more about her classmates and about the police investigation. It appeared she had officially earned their trust, even though she hadn’t predicted All Might’s absence. Tooru came up with an excuse about her parents watching her extra closely due to the attack and told him that she’d try to make it out tomorrow night. Kurogiri told her that playing it safe was a smart choice and hung up the phone without saying goodbye. Tooru then immediately called Denki and told him about the interaction. 

“I cannot BELIEVE that YOU get to do all the infiltration,” Denki whined, “I feel like I should get to do something .” 

“Are you saying that I’m not good enough to do it on my own?” Tooru narrowed her eyes and let her voice sharpen to a dangerous tone. 

Denki immediately started backpedaling, “No no no, that’s not what I’m saying. I just think- well, you know-”

Tooru laughed and interrupted him before he could try to dig himself into a deeper hole, “I know what you mean, you moron. But I totes don’t need your help.” Denki groaned. 

“No one says ‘totes’ anymore Tooru. No one has said ‘Totes’ in like, probably over a century . It doesn’t sound cool , it doesn’t sound ‘quirky .’ It’s certainly not funny.” Denki never sounded more serious than when he was telling her to stop being ‘cringe’ (as he put it.) Tooru knew it was cringe. She also knew that it took a year off Denki’s life every time she used the word lit in casual conversation, or called something her bae . His pain and suffering gave her life. 

Tooru ignored him entirely and instead chose to gasp as if she were greatly offended and hang up the phone without saying goodbye, Kurogiri style. 

Grabbing her backpack and telling her parents she was going over to Denki’s house, Tooru paused before stepping outside and calmly activated her quirk. Light waves bent around her and rendered her and her clothing completely invisible. 

Tooru had a lot of practice going from her house to Denki’s while completely invisible. Sneaking on and off trains was easier than you would think, especially this late when not many people were using public transportation. Walking silently and making as little noise as possible was instinctual for her at this point, and no one noticed her or even seemed suspicious of another presence beside them for her entire journey. Luckily, Denki lived close enough to Tooru that it wasn’t that long of a trip. 

Tooru let herself into Denki’s house without knocking. He knew she was coming over, and the Kaminari’s had told her several times that she was welcome whenever, no prior notice was necessary anyways. She even had a spare key attached to the same key ring as her own house keys. Tooru’s family had been very close with Denki’s family for a long time. 

Tooru let her invisibility drop after stepping through the door and made sure to lock it behind her again and greet Denki’s mom, who was in the kitchen washing dishes. She happily skipped upstairs and knocked on Denki’s door before entering without waiting for an answer. 

As she’d suspected, Denki was already at his computer. He’d pulled out a few bags of chips and a six pack of caffeinated soda that made Tooru cringe. 

“You took so long to get here,” Denki leaned back in his chair and waved his arms around to be extra dramatic, “I’ve been waiting forever. ” Tooru ignored him and sat down in the chair next to him. 

“Have you checked your email?”

“Yes, of course I did,” Denki clicked over to the open email tab, “I have received the links to the USJ security footage for us to go over.”

“Great!” Tooru clapped her hands and took out a notebook, “Now, we take notes.”

Denki sighed, looking slightly defeated, “Now, we take notes.” 

“Why in the world did you think giving Shigaraki that much power was a good idea.” Mitsuki’s voice was cold. She didn’t sound angry, but Hisashi had known her long enough to understand that it only meant she was positively livid. Even though it was a question, she didn’t phrase it like one. Hisashi forced his breathing to stay even and turned around to face her. She’d waited to ambush Hisashi before he entered the council room. 

Hisashi had known Mitsuki for a long time. They’d grown up together, side by side; two members of the Big Three from their generation. Growing up, neither of them had expected for Hisashi to take up the title of All For One, but they’d both realized with growing horror that the other option would lead them all headfirst into ruin. Hisashi shouldn’t be the one in charge, but he was. Officially, anyways. He always had the feeling like Mitsuki bossed him around a lot more than she was supposed to. 

Hisashi glanced at the time briefly and noted that she’d made sure they’d have plenty of time to talk before the council meeting officially started. As per usual, she’d set up the perfect trap. He was going to have to talk to her about this. 

Turning around to face her only revealed the icy expression on her face. Hisashi winced and swallowed before attempting to answer her question. “I didn’t think Tomura would be so brutal in his attack. I gave him orders to make an attempt on All Might’s life, not the other teachers-”

“And yet he did anyway. What did you expect him to do? How did you not see this coming? Why wasn’t I made aware of the exact details of this plan before it was put in motion?”

Hisashi pursed his lips, “Tomura acted very quickly after getting the information from their traitor. I didn’t expect him to, so I thought I’d have more time-”

“He’s too dangerous. You’ve just admitted that you can’t predict what he’s going to do, and you’ve given him access to the best weapon in your arsonal. You cannot allow someone who’s that unhinged to control the nomus and lead something so important as the LOV.” Mitsuki was always good at being the voice of reason. Ever since they were small, she’d been good at poking holes in Hisashi’s logic, tearing apart his plans to reveal the mistakes in their making. It was a good trait to have, but Hisashi still found himself at the end of her scoldings more than he would like to be. 

“You’re right, of course,” he began carefully, “and I promise you, we’re going to take precautions to make sure nothing like this happens again.” 

Mitsuki stared into Hisashi’s eyes and didn’t break eye contact. A moment passed and then she closed her eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath as if to calm herself. When she opened her eyes, they glowed silver at the activation of her quirk and Hisashi sighed. 

I hope Aizawa Shouta and Anan Kurose make quick recoveries and escape with minimal lasting damage from the villain attack they’ve most recently faced. ” As always whenever Mitsuki used her quirk, Hisashi could feel the power of her words in his very bones. Reality bent around them, rippling effects across the fabric of their universe. 

The Bakugou’s reality bending quirk was powerful by every means of measurement, but it couldn’t do everything. Hisashi knew that first hand. For the most part, it was simply a way to get luck on their side. When activated, every sentence had to be phrased precisely, perfectly; like a wish you might make to a genie, if there was any wiggle room in the command, the universe was likely to take it. They used it as little as possible for bigger things; but to prevent the bad side effects of quirk suppression, they used it for little things too; asking the universe to let them get through the day without getting a paper-cut; asking the universe to hold off on rain until they got inside a building; asking the universe to cause Hisashi to trip over his own feet right before he entered a very important meeting with the rest of the council members. Simple things. 

They couldn’t, for instance, do something that would cause reality to break. Something like creating or destroying matter out of thin air; giving someone a power or quirk they didn’t have before; mind control or forcing other people to do things that they wouldn’t normally do. The list went on and on. The limits of their quirk were hard to define, and oftentimes they didn’t know whether or not they’d be able to do something until they tried doing it. Of the things they had done in the past, there were a few notable times when they’d really shifted reality. 

For instance, the very first Hope, the person with the original quirk, had commanded the universe to stop anyone from stealing, copying, or using her family’s quirk in any way unless they were born with it. It was one of the only quirks in existence that Hisashi would never be able to steal, even if he wanted to. That had been one of the bigger stretches of the quirk’s use, but the universe had allowed it. Secondly, the very first Hope had commanded the universe to grant all of her descendants with the quirk. It would always get passed down, again and again and again. Every Bakugou to take up Hope’s title would be born with Hope’s quirk. 

On the one hand, it meant that the quirk would never develop to be stronger than it already was. The Theory of Quirk Singularity would never affect it. On the other hand, it also meant that the quirk would never die out. They would never have to worry about it not getting passed on. 

Either way, there was no changing it now. The command had been spoken too long ago, and even if Mitsuki tried to undo it she wouldn’t be able to, nor would she even really want to. 

Both of them knew the dangers of quirk singularity, and if anything the fact that the quirk would never be able to develop was also a blessing in disguise. It meant that they would always be stable; there was no worry of something happening to it and giving someone too much power. By definition, no one should hold all the power; power corrupts no matter what. Hisashi had first hand experience with the concept. 

Mitsuki nodded to Hisashi before turning on her heel and heading back down the hallway. Hisashi sighed. She’d made her point. She always did. On one hand, he didn't think he’d be able to run The Organization without her, but on the other, she sure was stubborn. 

By the time Izuku was let out of the Nurse’s office, it was dark out. He’d resigned himself to having to walk home alone in the dark with bones that were still healing, but to his surprise both Uraraka and Iida were waiting outside the school. 

“Were you guys waiting for me?” Izuku asked, surprised. 

“We wanted to make sure you were ok!” Uraraka glanced at the casts still wrapped around his arms. 

“You were injured quite terribly in the attack,” Iida’s arm chopped the air to punctuate his words, “As your friends, we were very worried about you.”

Izuku felt warmth in his chest, “That was really nice of you. Have you been here the whole time?”

“Ever since the police released us from questioning!” Uraraka nodded. The three of them made their way down the steps to the entrance, “It’s been a few hours, but we weren’t the only ones waiting at first. Everyone was worried about you, and I don’t think anyone really wanted to go home right away after that. Quite a few of us were waiting for you, but everyone else went home at some point.”

Izuku nodded, touched that his friends cared this much about him, “That’s so nice of you! Thanks! I didn’t want to have to walk home alone.”

Iida nodded, “It is getting dark out.” 

The conversation moved on from there. It was easy to talk to Uraraka and Iida. Even though Izuku had barely known them for a week, (unless you counted kind of meeting them at the entrance exam,) the three of them had become pretty close even in such a short amount of time. They’d waited at the school for hours after they had to, even after it got dark out, just to make sure he was ok. Izuku was reminded again of the fact that he was lying to them. They didn’t really know who he was. They trusted him, believed in him, and in the end he was just going to betray them. 


“I was thinking about something one of the villains said,” Izuku started cautiously during a lull in the conversation. At the mention of the villains, Iida and Uraraka both glanced at him nervously. Izuku paused, thinking about how to phrase the question before continuing, “He said something about how both villains and heroes use violence to get what they want, but heroes are revered and villains are detested.” Izuku paused and saw the confused looks on his friends’ faces and backtracked quickly, “I mean, obviously there's a difference between what heroes do and villains do, but I just thought it was… interesting, I guess.” trailing off, Izuku trained his eyes on the ground, wincing at his failure to convey his point. This was a stupid idea anyways. He was being foolish, but he couldn’t help trying to do… something. Izuku wasn’t even entirely sure what.

A moment passed before Uraraka spoke up again, “It is something to think about, I guess. I mean, usually we’re told that violence is always bad, but then we use it to take down villains, and that’s seen as good.”

Izuku nodded, relieved that she seemed to be getting it, “Yeah, I guess the question is where the line is between villainy and heroism.”

Uraraka seemed to consider this. Iida spoke up for the first time since Izuku had brought up the topic, “Well, I think, for instance, attacking children and stopping someone from attacking children are very different things.” Iida managed to sound so sincere and so critical of Izuku in the same sentence. 

“Yes! Of course!” Izuku agreed hurriedly with Iida, “I just mean that there are things that I think might fall into more of a gray area.”

“Like what?” Iida tilted his head as the three of them waited for a traffic light to turn so they could cross a road. 

“Like…” Izuku paused, wanting to come up with a good example, “Like, what if you had a family that was going to starve, and you stole some money from someone who was really wealthy. Stealing the money from the rich person wouldn’t harm them at all, since they don’t really need it; however it will help your family. But it’s still stealing, so is it evil or good?”

Uraraka and Iida seemed to really consider the question. 

“I think…” Uraraka started, obviously thinking hard, “I mean, I don’t think it's evil, but I’m not sure I’d call it all the way good…” Izuku could see her hesitate, then sound more sure of herself, “Yes. I don’t think it’s evil, or even really bad at all. If an action directly helps people and doesn’t hurt others, then even if it's something like stealing or something that’s against the law, I don’t think it's a bad deed.” She nodded as if to punctuate her sentence.
“I agree with you,” Iida sounded hesitant, “But I don’t think I would ever do something like that, even if I were in that situation.” 

Izuku considered that, “Would it go against your morals?”

“Yes.” Iida sounded sure about that. 

Izuku nodded, agreeing. A part of him knew that he should probably leave it at that, but a bigger part of him wanted to push the issue. Glancing around briefly even though he knew there was no one watching him, Izuku turned back to Iida. 

“I think you’d be surprised what good people are capable of doing when they’re desperate.”

Chapter Text

Denki and Tooru had examined the footage of the USJ attack from every angle. Taking notes on it took all night, and in the end they were thankful for the sugar and caffeine Denki had stocked up on in preparation for the near all-nighter. By 3 O’clock, when they finally decided to stop and sleep, they were exhausted. 

Tooru woke up in the guest room feeling refreshed around lunch time. She headed to the kitchen, helped Denki’s mom make mac and cheese, and started down the hallway to take a bowl of it to her friend's room. Denki’s dad was stationed in America quite a bit, and he brought over foreign foods that he’d tried there and liked; Denki used to talk about working in the States too with his father when he was older. Mac and Cheese was one of his favorites, and Tooru only hoped that he’d be willing to wake up for the sake of good food. 

“Wakey wakey!” Tooru turned on all the lights at their full brightness and threw open the blinds, kicking at the bedposts of Denki’s bed and making as much noise as possible in order to wake him up, “I have mac and cheese!”

As if food were the magic word, Denki sat up immediately and made grabby hand motions at the bowl Tooru was holding, “Yes! Please, I'm so hungry!”

“No, you can’t eat mac and cheese in bed, doofus,” Tooru shook her head and waved her finger back and forth dramatically, “breakfast-lunch is ONLY available to people sitting at the table, or at least at a desk or something.” 

Denki made as big a show as possible of dragging himself out of bed and groaning as if it was the hardest thing he’d ever done. Tooru set the bowl down on the desk and started organizing the papers strewn across it. 

Tooru had made a neat pile of notes on her side of the space, but Denki was more inclined to a giant pile of illegible scribbling that no one in their right mind should be able to decipher. The only reason Tooru could almost kind of read it was because she had a lot of practice. Mostly, Denki had scribbled pictures instead of words and preferred to draw things out instead of write them. His drawings weren’t even that bad. They were obviously rushed, interspersed with random lines of code as well as actual notes as Denki got distracted several times and went off on mini tangents or put down ideas or parts of plans. Tooru’s, in comparison, were neatly written, organized by suspect, but showing signs of her deteriorating commitment to keeping them perfect as time went on. By the end of it, they looked almost as messy as Denki’s did, but at least she tried. 

Going back through the notes and making sense of them was probably going to take almost the same amount of time as writing them in the first place did. Tooru was increasingly glad that they’d been given the day off from school because of the attack. Her and Denki were going to need it.

Himiko held the new mission file and tried not to look too excited. It had been so long since she had a steady mission instead of jumping from small job to small job. In fact, the last time she’d had a steady mission was… over a year ago. When Akaguro-sensei was still… around. On one hand, Himiko felt very happy to be chosen for this specific mission, but on the other hand, it brought back memories of what her life was like before she’d gone off the grid. 

Originally, she’d gotten to go to school, just like Kats and Izu. Originally, she led a life very similar to theirs, even if it was in a different area of the country. She woke up, put on her metaphorical student mask, and went to school. She pretended to be a normal kid, had normal friends, had normal homework, normal classes, normal everything. She had a place to escape The Organization, to just live like an ordinary person. 

Himiko didn’t resent the fact that she didn’t have the escape anymore; she would miss The Organization terribly if she ever lost it, and living a normal life would be a nice break for a while but Himiko knew how bored she would get. She was born for this kind of life, and she loved it. The part of her that wished for normalcy was small, and even then Himiko knew that a big part of the reason she remembered having an ongoing mission like that so fondly was because Akaguro-sensei had still been around. 

Himiko didn’t have normal classes. She had private tutors back at The Bunker that taught her the things she really needed to know. Classes at an actual school had always been a formality, just another place she had to act. 

Himiko didn’t have normal homework. She had names and files. Locations and specific instructions. How someone was supposed to die, where they were supposed to die, exactly what evidence to leave behind. Pictures of people who weren’t aware that their time on earth was coming to an end sooner than they thought. 

Himiko didn’t have normal friends. She had faked friendships with people that she never really knew; never really got attached to. People that she would take out without hesitation were one of their names to appear in one of her files. People who thought they knew her. People who didn’t know how wrong they were. 

Himiko wasn’t a normal kid. She was a trained assassin; a killer; a weapon. Someone who wasn’t afraid to get blood on her hands. A monster slipping through the shadows, a demon in the night. A thief. An actress. A sneak. A spy. A liar. 

Himiko wouldn’t change a single thing about herself. 

She was proud. She was exactly who she was supposed to be. Who she was born to be. It was her destiny, and she saw no harm in following it, even if she left death in her wake. 

Of The Big Three, two of them would grow up to become the leaders of The Organization. The next All For One and the next Hope. The third member would grow up to be the next High Assassin. 

Izu and Kats were the judge and jury, but Himiko was the executioner. 

And a very good one at that. 

But now, she’d been given a different kind of job. One that would require her acting and infiltration skills. 

Infiltrating the LOV wouldn’t be too hard. Kurogiri would already be on the inside helping her, so all she really needed was a reason for Shigaraki to decide that he should start recruiting people again to give her an opening. Based on the information she already had in her file, a time like that was coming soon. Shigaraki was going to need a better team, one with more carefully selected individuals. One that would be mostly picked out in advance for him, and one that Himiko would be given the chance to be a part of. The only thing she had to figure out was her motivation. 

Himiko already had a news story attached to her name. Toga Himiko was an infamous serial killer. A girl who’d gone crazy with the need to drink blood and had attacked one of her classmates. The entire thing had been staged, of course. Even the classmate she’d supposedly ‘attacked’ had been in on it, (although since he was fairly far down in Organization rankings, he didn’t know much about the situation; only what was required of him.) 

Himiko could use that story to justify her wanting to join the LOV. Maybe she was willing to take any opportunity life gave her to satisfy her craving for blood. Maybe she wanted to live without restrictions, and believed that the LOV was a good way to do that. Maybe she simply wanted the protection they would provide, as a relatively competent villain organization. Maybe she just wanted somewhere to belong, people she could call her friends. So many possibilities. The thought of getting to play such a fun part made Himiko giddy. 

Himiko liked missions that didn’t require her to kill people. It wasn’t that she didn’t like killing people, but more that she had more fun toying with them. Being someone that they thought they knew, taking on a new face and being the perfect impostor. Playing a part and playing it well enough that not even those closest to a person would see a difference. Himiko loved studying a person, seeing what made them tick; understanding them inside and out. Becoming them. Replacing them for as long as she was needed; the most dangerous person in a mission larger than herself.

It was rare that she got to play a part so much like herself, and yet still so different. It was rare that she got to wear her own face and speak with her own voice. It was rare that she got to toe the line between authenticity and deception so carefully. It would be both challenging and as easy as writing her name. 

Himiko relished the chance. 

Izuku and Iida followed Uraraka out of their classroom with slight hesitation. The way she’d reacted when Aizawa-sensei had announced the sports festival made the pair of them uneasy. Neither of them were used to seeing her so terrifying. Her very aura unnerved her classmates, and Izuku got the feeling like he shouldn't feel entirely safe in her presence. It took a lot for a person to really intimidate him, so while he didn’t truly feel scared of her, he did wonder where the sudden sharp change of attitude came from. It made him think. 

“Uraraka-kun,” he started carefully, “Why do you want to be a hero?”

Uraraka paused and seemed to hesitate for a moment before turning around sheepishly to face her friends. 

“For the money…” Uraraka spoke quietly, as if she wasn’t quite sure she wanted her friends to hear what she had to say, “I’m sorry, I know it's an unwholesome reason…” 

Izuku’s eyes widened. That wasn’t what he was expecting her to say. 

“That’s fine,” Iida stood up straighter and spoke clearly, but there was still a note of shock in his voice that he couldn’t disguise. 

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Izuku nodded, clearing his throat, “Just… surprising.”

Uraraka began to explain herself, telling Izuku and Iida about how her family worked in construction, and how they didn’t have much money. How when she was younger she’d wanted to help them, but they told her to follow her own dreams. She explained that if she was a hero, then she would be able to provide for her family, and that her parents would be able to relax for once. 

The more she talked the more Izuku’s brain started to spin. Uraraka wanted two things: a steady-paying job, and for her family to be safe. Saving people wasn’t her main motivation. By that logic, if she were to be offered more money and better safety for her family, then she might choose that job instead of being a hero. Plus, Izuku couldn’t help but think back to a few minutes ago, and the dangerous intensity Uraraka seemed to emulate when talking about the sports festival. 

‘She’s the exact kind of person we recruit to join The Organization, ’ Izuku’s thoughts were whirling at a mile a minute, ‘Plus, she’s already friends with me. She trusts me, or else she wouldn’t have voted for me to be class president. It wouldn’t be too hard to shape her mindset, see if her morals aligned with ours…’ Izuku thought back to the night after USJ, when he, Iida, and Uraraka had walked home together. He’d brought up the fuzzy gray area between good and evil. Uraraka’s answer there had aligned very nicely with what The Organization taught. The realization hit Izuku like a bucket of cold water. 

‘I might not have to lose Uraraka when she finds out who I really am. If I can act fast enough, smart enough… I might be able to recruit her to my side before that happens.’

Izuku tried to follow the conversation as Uraraka and Iida walked beside him on the way to the lunch room, but his mind kept circling back to his realization. There was hope . He might not have to lose everyone when they found out who he was. He might have a chance to keep at least one of his friends. Plus, The Organization could always use good people like Uraraka. 

‘Not only that,’ Izuku couldn’t help thinking, ‘But when I become All For One, I’m going to need my own council full of people that I trust…’  

Already, a plan was forming in Izuku’s head at rocket speed. Ideas were unraveling around him to form a chessboard in his mind, pieces taking their places as everything aligned. A balancing act between his official mission and this new idea he had would be difficult, but not impossible to master.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the familiar voice of his heroics teacher. 

“Eat lunch with me?” All Might asked, causing Uraraka to burst out laughing. Izuku heard her mutter the words, ‘Like a maiden!’ as he nodded to his predecessor and waved goodbye to his friends. 

Izuku forced himself to remember to keep his mask up as he followed All Might to the teachers lounge. He took note of the fact that it appeared the lounge wasn’t locked, at least during the day, and even after All Might’s schedule had been stolen and used to ambush a class of first years. He supposed it made sense, in a way, and he also supposed that they might’ve put in other security measures he was unaware of, but he still thought it was irresponsible. 

Izuku followed All Might into an office located in the back of the teacher’s lounge and idly wondered what he wanted to talk to him about. 

Katsuki watched Deku and his Nerd Squad as he packed up his things from the classroom and pretended to listen to something that Hair-For-Brains was telling him. Round Cheeks seemed to be taking the Sports Festival overly serious, and her friends seemed to be questioning her about it. Katsuki rolled his eyes at their antics and finished shoving his stuff in his bag before heading out of the classroom without checking to make sure his unfortunate tag-a-long was following him. 

Only a few seconds into walking to lunch, Katsuki felt Deku’s surprise spark, and then his brain started whirling a mile-a-minute. Katsuki grit his teeth and kept walking, too tired to try and figure out what Deku was thinking or what had set him off. 

Katsuki watched silently as Deku disappeared to talk to All Might about something, and he watched silently as Four-Eyes and Round Cheeks discussed what their teacher could possibly want with their friend during lunch. He also watched as the half-and-half kid seemed to take note of what they were saying. His brain sparked like he was making a connection. Katsuki narrowed his eyes and resisted the temptation to turn around and look at him.

After the USJ attack happened, it appeared that some of the extras in Katuski’s class thought they had permission to talk to him. Katsuki thought that was ridiculous. He didn't talk to people who weren’t Organization. It was easier that way. Unluckily enough, he ended up attracting the attention of Hair-For-Brains during the USJ attack and Knock-Off Pikachu who’d been friends with him beforehand. Pikachu actually was Organization, so Katsuki didn’t mind him as much on principle, and Hairspray was generally less annoying. Neither of them were people Katsuki wanted to talk to. 

For some ungodly reason, they’d been following him around all day, as if being in the same zone at USJ gave the red one permission to hang around him and bring his obnoxious friend too. Even when he yelled at them, they didn’t seem too bothered, although eventually they stopped trying to include him in their lunchtime conversation and ended up just talking loudly to each other while sitting next to him. Their loud talking ended up attracting the attention of Raccoon Eyes and Tape Face, and Katsuki had to stop himself from groaning out loud when they happily sat down on the end of their table and effectively boxed him in. He was trapped between stupid and stupid, and he couldn’t move. 

Katsuki seethed quietly. The idiots sitting at his lunch table ignored him.

Denki was mentally exhausted when he arrived at UA the first school day after the USJ attack. The day before had been spent combing through piles of notes in a feeble attempt to make sense of them, and in the end, they hadn’t even learned much. Denki struggled to focus in class normally, but today he couldn’t focus at all. 

He coasted through the first half of the day doing nothing but doodling in the margins of his notebook and writing random thoughts he had about the notes they’d taken last night even though that was probably a bad idea to do at school. He tried to keep the thoughts inconspicuously random or at least written down in some form of code, but in the end he wondered if it would really matter in the end since he could barely read his own handwriting. 

By the time lunch rolled around Kirishima had noticed how out of it he was. 

“You ok man?” he asked after Denki stabbed himself in the face one too many times with his fork. “You seem kind of… out of it.” 

Denki plastered a smile on his face, “I’m fine, just tired. It took me a while to fall asleep last night.”

Kirishima nodded pensively. Bakugou’s eyes flicked up for a moment before they turned back down again and he kept stabbing his food with animosity towards it Denki didn’t think he’d ever understand.. Sero and Ashido both voiced their sympathy as well. 

“Yeah…” Kirishima looked like he wanted to say more, but he closed his mouth and shoved a larger forkful of food in his face instead of continuing. Denki studied his face. 

“What is it?” he asked. Kirishima had never been one to hold back what he was thinking before.  

“I mean…” Kirishima hesitated, then seemed to make a decision, “I couldn’t really sleep either. What happened at USJ… I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

Denki froze. The mood at the table instantly soured. Ashido looked down at her food and nodded in agreement. Sero swallowed and set his fork down. Even Bakugou shifted in his seat and looked uncomfortable. 

“Yeah…” Denki said awkwardly, “that was…” he trailed off, unsure of what to say. 

The table stayed silent for a few moments. None of them broke it, all stewing in their own thoughts and glancing at each other with uncertainty. 

The somber mood followed Denki through the rest of the day, no matter how hard he tried to shake it. 

Izuku left his meeting with All Might with a lot to think about. 

For starters, All Might could only hold his hero form for 1 and a half hours now. That was barely anything. He was weaker, much weaker, even more than he’d been before. It would be a miracle if the public didn’t notice it. 

Not only that, but the subject of Izuku’s inability to use OFA without breaking his bones had come up, and Izuku had mentioned his minor success at USJ in controlling it to All Might to see what he had to say about it. According to All Might, it was probably because that was the first time he’d actually tried to use OFA on another person, and he’d probably unconsciously lessened the power in order to stop the hit from being fatal. 

That wasn’t true though. Izuku knew for a fact that he’d been about to hit Shigaraki with a punch at 100% of his power. He hadn’t really been thinking at the time, only imagining what would happen if the villain got to Tsu before Izuku could stop him. The nomu was the only thing that had stopped Shigaraki from being dead right now. 

While retelling everything that had happened at USJ to his parents, Izuku had left out the part where he’d almost killed someone he was supposed to keep alive. He’d seen Kacchan and Himichan side-eyeing him, but neither of them said anything.

The Organization had very strict rules about killing people. When it was allowed, when it wasn’t allowed. Who and where and why and how. There was a strict code that everyone had to follow. Breaking it would bring consequences. 

Izuku knew The Code by heart. He could recite it forwards and backwards and in several different languages. Everyone in the 1st circle could. They had to. The Code was probably the first thing 1st Circle Organization members learned. Izuku had known it for so long, he couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t know it.




Of course, those weren’t the only rules. There were different clauses, points, conditions, and exceptions that went on for nearly forever. The Code was a complicated rulebook for sure, and a constantly changing one. The only 5 points that stayed the same were the first five. They were the very foundation of everything The Organization was. Breaking them meant horrible punishment. Izuku had seen what happened to people who broke the first five. None of it was good. 

If he had killed Shigaraki there, it would’ve been a tough case to decide. On one hand, Shigaraki was neither innocent nor a child. He was a grown man who had done terrible things before and would do them again. That was cause enough for him to be killed by The Organization. On the other hand, he was an Organization member, and one that was supposed to stay alive. 

Izuku hadn’t been given specific orders not to kill him, but he also hadn’t been given permission. If it had come down to it, they would’ve been combing through the rest of the rulebook to figure out which rule applied to him in the mess of extra clauses and conditions listed underneath the first five. If it came down to it, he probably would’ve been fine. He had been protecting multiple children, (including himself,) when he made the move. He had a quirk that he couldn’t really control. He was a Midoriya. 

Even if Izuku had gotten off mostly fine, that didn’t detract from the fact that if Shigaraki had died, most of their plans would’ve died along with him. He might have been only a pawn on the chessboard, but he was one they couldn’t lose. 

All Might didn’t seem to suspect anything weird about Izuku’s lack of shattered bones. He believed the explanation that he’d come to about the entire situation, and had moved the conversation along easily from the topic without thinking too hard on it. 

He’d mentioned that the villains had noticed his weaker state. He told Izuku that his time as the Symbol of Peace was coming to an end. Izuku could scarcely imagine it. All Might had been the Number One Hero before he’d even been born. He’d been the number one so long and cast a shadow so large, the entire hero industry had been swallowed up in it. When he did retire, Izuku couldn’t imagine anyone big enough to fill his space. There would be an All Might shaped hole left in the world, and it might be impossible to fill. More specifically, an All Might shaped hole in the Hero Industry’s defenses. One that The Organization had full intentions of exploiting. Hearing All Might confirm his weakening ability had only raised Izuku’s hopes that their plan would eventually succeed.

All Might wasn’t concerned though. He’d turned to Izuku and called him the ‘Fledgling Symbol of Peace’ as if Izuku would ever be able to be the person that All Might was. No one could be the person All Might was, not even All Might. Izuku could see that clearly from spending so much time around him, and he knew that All Might himself knew it too. 

All Might, the Symbol of Peace, was a fantasy. An unreachable goal that no one could ever achieve. In his prime All Might had come close, but Izuku didn’t think that he’d ever reached the god-like status the media liked to portray him as easily holding. To be honest, Izuku thought it was better that way. 

No one person should have all the power, no matter how good that person thought they were. Power always corrupts. That was why The Organization had the council, why they were led by All For One and Hope, and not just one or the other. It was why it was the Big Three, and not the Big One. They spread the power so several people held it. The same couldn’t be seen for the hero industry. 

If everything went according to plan, then that would change soon enough.

Katsuki wasn’t invited to council meetings that often. When he got to be older, he’d probably have to go to all of them, (or at least all the ones that Deku didn’t go to, since almost every meeting needed to have either Hope or All For One attending.) He was young enough now that he was usually told the information the council had discussed and decided he needed to know afterwards. Deku got the same treatment. 

Himiko was different, but that was because she didn’t have a mentor anymore. Technically, she was the fully ranked High Assassin, and had all the responsibilities and authority that came with it. Technically In actuality, she was still heavily restricted in what she could do and what she was asked to do because of how young she was. If everything had gone according to plan, she would still be working as the apprentice to the High Assassin. Everything had not gone according to plan. 

It did mean that she went to more council meetings than Katsuki or Deku. Katsuki couldn’t care less. Council meetings were usually pretty boring. 

This one however, was important. They were finally at a point where they were going to fully plan the rest of the school year. Make a list of bullet points and start working towards their end goal. Figure out smaller goals to reach along the way. 

Katsuki walked into the council meeting room and took a seat at the chair he knew was his. He sat, back straight, hands folded, and face serious. There was no room for distractions in the council room. There were people here that would probably work for him one day. He had to make a good impression every time he set foot in the room. 

Katsuki was one of the first people to show up. The room was mostly empty, but it filled quickly. There wasn’t any time to waste, and council members were expected to be either early or on time. Being late to a council meeting without a good reason was almost unthinkable. Council members who had trouble with punctuality were known to be given a different schedule with earlier times to shoot for in order to give them a larger margin of error. Katsuki was well aware that he’d never need a system like that. When he needed to be on time, he was on time. 

Deku was fairly early too, and took his seat directly across the table from Katsuki. It was a circular table, so that everyone could see each other and discuss things as equals. Katsuki would be sitting to the left of his mother, and Deku to the left of his father. Himiko had a seat in the corner of the room, but she rarely sat in it. Much like her mentor before her, she paced around the room, examining things from every angle and watching the backs of every council member. High Assassins were trained to be good at reading people. If there was ever a weakness in the council’s ranks, Himiko would be able to spot it. 

Not that there ever would be. The council was the most elite team of villains in the entirety of Japan. They were royalty within Organization ranks, trusted authority and leaders of their fields. The best of the best. They knew what they were doing. 

Himiko cut it close when it came to being on time, but she usually did that. She was the last person to arrive, slipping through the doors in the last seconds before the official start time began and taking her place in the back corner, setting a backpack full of files down underneath her chair and beginning to pace already. She wasn’t smiling, fixing her face to be serious instead, but Katsuki could detect a hit of unsettling amusement in her eyes and in the slight tilt of her lips. Her eyes flicked from face to face, taking note of each council member. All For One, (he wasn’t Deku’s dad right now; he was the boss,) stood up and began to speak. 

“Council, let this meeting commence. Inko?” 

Viridian, (she wasn’t Deku’s mom right now; she was head of all vigilantism divisions within The Organization; in charge of most of the people gathered around the table,) stood up and made her way to the front of the room. 

The edges of her mask glinted in the low lighting. She took a tablet with her and stood in front of the planning board. 

“The Sports Festival is coming up, and with it; I believe we have an opportunity.” Katsuki couldn’t see Viridian’s eyes, and he couldn’t see her face. Her voice betrayed nothing about how she might’ve been feeling, “The beginning of the end, if you will. Ares? Jade?” 

Katsuki swallowed, forcing himself to keep watching Viridian and not glance over and look at the council members around him. 

“We have a job for you.”





  1. Jade winds first event (without use of quirk)
  2. Ares comes in second or third for first event
  3. Both pass second event (team battle; more uncertain variables; exact results don’t matter as much)
  4. Jade wins final tournament event (make it as close as possible)
  5. Ares gets second
  6. Ares throws a fit on podium about losing

END GOAL: Ares captures the attention of LOV. Shigaraki MUST think it is his decision to kidnap Ares. Public’s first impression of Ares as a hero student is negative .

Chapter Text

Ghost handed in the notes her and Spark had taken on the USJ footage to Tamaki before heading to school the morning after they were finished. A file for each student in their class based on the updated information they’d gathered from watching the USJ footage. Names and Pictures were taped to each file, and any new information added was highlighted. Ghost would be back the next morning to pick them up again. Tamaki was supposed to copy them before then and store them away so The Organization would always have them on file in their computer system. 

Tamaki looked over all the notes they’d taken on their fellow classmates and kept track of them. Thus far, most of the pair’s research was on the other kids in the hero course, and most of that was centered around their own class. Of course, both of the people they were looking for were in their class, but they didn’t know that. To be fair, they hadn’t had much time to interact with students from other classes, (school hadn’t even started two weeks ago. It felt like a month had passed since then.) 

Tamaki had spent most of the day yesterday texting back and forth with Nejire and Mirio. They’d put in their own opinions about the attack and expressed sympathy for the poor first years who had to live through it. 

Nejire had gone from voicing concern about any injuries they might’ve sustained to talking about how they’d probably have a leg up in the sports festival after getting real experience like that to ranting about how UA’s top notch security could’ve possibly let in such a large army of villains. 

Mirio mentioned that Sir Nighteye’s agency was thinking about volunteering to work on the case. Tamaki couldn’t help but hope that they wouldn’t. Nighteye’s agency was too good at what they did when it came to investigation, and he couldn't help the spike of fear at the thought that they might see through the holes in Ghost and Spark’s stories and realize that there was something fishy going on behind the scenes with them. 

Right now, however, Tamaki had a job to do. It seemed there was a new main suspect. 

Aoyoma Yuga had been placed under heavy suspicion after they found that they had no idea which zone he was in. He could’ve easily been hiding in one of the zones without good camera footage like the Fire Zone or the Downpour Zone but they couldn’t be sure. However, one slight problem with Aoyama being a member of the Big Three was the fact that Aoyoma himself had pointed out that whatever zone he was in was a secret in front of his classmates, and one of the Big Three was unlikely to do that since it would only put suspicion on themselves. 

Asui Tsuyu was one who’d been dismissed. She’d been seconds away from dying a horrible death at the hands of Shigaraki. It was unlikely a member of the Big Three would let themselves be endangered so easily. 

Several people had been moved farther down the list too. Kirishima, Todoroki, and Iida for instance, since they had all played a big part in taking down the villains in the end. Kirishima and Todoroki had helped fight the main villains in the plaza and Iida had run off to get help. Bakugou was also a part of that list. Tamaki stared at his face and name for a few seconds. Red eyes glared up at him from the page. Seeing him so inconspicuously pictured in this file made Tamaki feel uneasy. He looked like such a normal kid. Ghost and Spark had decided that they thought he probably was just a normal kid. Tamaki felt a shiver go down his spine at the thought of just how wrong they were. 

Even more unsettling was the file on Midoriya. Spark and Ghost had determined that they also didn’t think he was a Big Three member. He’d also had a fairly big role in taking down the villains, probably saving All Might’s life at the end even though he had to shatter both his legs to do it. They decided that was an example of his dedication to being a hero. In the end, the pair of traitors came to the conclusion that while there was something going on with him and his registration in the quirk database, they didn’t think he was a member of the Big Three.

If Bakugou’s face was unsettling to see on the page, Midoriya’s was even more so. At least Bakugou looked confident. There was a dangerous glint in his eyes and Tamaki knew from the notes that he was pretending to be temperamental and easy to anger. He looked like he could be a member of the Big Three. 

Midoriya on the other hand, looked nervous in all the school pictures Spark and Ghost had managed to find of him. He looked nothing like who Tamaki knew he was. He was meek and afraid. Tamaki couldn’t reconcile this vision of him with the vision he had in his head; one of a trained combatant, a confidant killer who would one day rule the entire criminal underground of Japan and then some. The next All For One. This picture didn’t look anything like that. 

It made Tamaki feel uneasy. Like the world was tilting slightly under his feet. Like there was something he was missing, or like he knew too much. 

That was only true in the school pictures though. As Tamaki nervously flipped through the file, he found himself staring at all the screenshots Spark had taken from the security footage they’d hacked off the UA servers. Because there was an entirely different person there. 

In the heat of battle, even one as inconsequential as the battle trial from the second day of school, Midoriya had a dangerous look in his eyes. It went from calculating, to confident, to furiously angry. At the USJ, there were screenshots of him on the boat in the shipwreck zone with his fellow classmates. Even though they had just been ambushed by villains, even though they were surrounded on all sides and completely trapped by people more than willing to kill them, even though they had every disadvantage, Midoriya didn’t flinch. 

Tamaki couldn’t find a single picture of him looking scared. All he saw was the face of someone who was determined to win, someone who knew he could. The fact that he had with nothing but three quirks ill-suited to the situation, (and one that he couldn’t use without shattering his bones,) and some physics, ( physics, who thought about physics when they were surrounded by bloodthirsty villains,) only made Tamaki more intimidated by him. The anxious kid staring at him from school ID photos and looking like he’d rather be anywhere than in front of a camera looked like an entirely different person from the one Tamaki saw willing to lead a charge against villains who had the full intent to kill him and his classmates. 

Staring at the picture of his future boss acting like he was nothing but a camera-shy kid with what appeared to be self-esteem issues made Tamaki feel like he was intruding on something that he shouldn’t be. Like he was learning something that he shouldn’t, or maybe already knew something that he shouldn’t. Staring at the pictures of him taken from the USJ made him wonder if the world at large would be ready for the force of nature his future boss was going to become. The contrast was startling. Midoriya terrified him. 

He seemed nice. He seemed like a good person, someone who would be able to lead the organization well, treat all the people working under him with respect and organize them into a force greater than they already were. He was born to be the next All For One, and Tamaki had no doubt that he would be a great one. 

Maybe that’s part of the reason he was so terrifying. Tamaki knew all of this, but he also saw the look on Midoriya’s face when he fought. 

He looked absolutely furious. 

No matter how hard Katsuki tried, he couldn’t shake the extras who had decided that they were going to be his friends entirely against his will. For the second day in a row, he found himself sitting at their lunch table, quietly seething. 

 Eventually the conversation turned to quirks, and Katsuki had a violent vision of what it would look like if he dumped the rest of his lunch over that stupid head of bright red hair sitting across from him and flipped the table on its side. Katsuki had already heard enough about quirks to last him a lifetime, working with the people that he did. He couldn’t throw a tantrum though. Not that it wouldn’t be in character, but because it was probably a good idea to know more about his classmate’s quirks, even if he hated learning about them. 

“I overuse my quirk a lot,” Dunce Face was saying. Katsuki saw his brain waves shift and noted that he was lying. It interested him enough to glance up briefly before returning to glaring at his food. “If I use my quirk too much, I short-circuit.” 

That part appeared to be true. Katsuki had no doubt that he’d been trained to avoid that at The Organization enough that it didn’t usually happen, and he supposed that using the shot-circuiting excuse was a good way to avoid having to do any real damage to the LOV when they attacked. Katsuki aggressively stabbed at his food and idly wondered if Spark and Ghost knew that the LOV was slated to attack their class again in a few months. He figured it didn’t matter too much. 

“All I can do is release electricity though,” Sparky was explaining, “I’m like, a human taser. And sometimes I can kind of sense electricity. But that’s about it.” 

Katsuki narrowed his eyes. He wasn’t lying about that, but it was strange that he hadn’t expanded on the sensing electricity thing. Did he have any idea how useful a skill like that could be? 

“What do you mean by ‘sensing electricity?’” Katsuki asked. The extra sitting next to him gasped dramatically. 

“HE SPEAKS!” Pinky waved her hands around wildly and shrieked in Katsuki’s ear. He glared at her, harsh words ready on his tongue if she didn’t shut up.

“I mean like, I can kind of feel the charge in like, electronics and stuff. I’m really good at guessing how much battery my phone has left without looking, and I can tell when a storm is a thunderstorm and stuff.” Dunce Face shoved food in his mouth and talked while he ate. Katsuki wondered if he grew up in a barn. He also wondered about the slight hesitation he sensed in Sparky’s mind. There was something he was leaving out. 

“What about the electricity in your brain?” Katsuki asked, “Or at least, everyone else’s brain. You don’t seem to have anything going on up there.” 

“Oh! Yeah I read about that once!” Pikachu’s face lit up as he ignored the dig Katsuki had made at him, “When you think, there’s little electrical charges that go off, right? Those are too small for me to sense.” Katsuki rolled his eyes. 

“Or maybe you’re just too stupid to.” 


The conversation droned on from there, and Katsuki didn’t join in again. He did wonder about Sparky though. 

‘Him and Ghost are trying to figure me and Deku out,’ Lunch time ended eventually, and Katsuki stood up to scrape his trash in the garbage can, ‘How much more effective would he be if he honed that electricity sensing skill? ’ 

Katsuki was well aware of how useful being able to see the inside of people’s brains could be. 



Tooru was finishing up her homework when she got the call from Kurogiri. It’d been two nights since the LOV attack, and two nights since Kurogiri had tried to get in contact with her. In her excitement to answer her phone, she almost dropped it and had to scramble to catch it before it hit the floor. The call only lasted 19 seconds, and it took Tooru only 2 more minutes to race downstairs, put her shoes on, and leave the house completely invisible. 

Kurogiri had given her an address that took her to an empty warehouse in a sketchier part of the nearest city to Tooru’s house. She only had to take one train to get there and walk for just over 15 minutes to find the building. The door was unlocked and Tooru let herself inside. Within moments, the air pressure seemed to change around her and the air in front of her ripped open into a swirling purple portal she recognized from the USJ attack. Tooru froze for a moment, hesitating as she questioned whether it was safe to enter the portal or not. She was finally going to meet Shigaraki and Kurogiri at their home base. After this, there would be no going back. 

‘This is my job, ’ Tooru forced herself to take one step toward the portal, then another, ‘I’ve trained for this. If this wasn’t safe, they wouldn’t have assigned me to do it.

Dredging up as much confidence as she could, Tooru held her head up high (even though no one could see) and took the final steps through the portal. 

Inko stared at the file in her hands. They needed an opening for Himiko to be given the chance to join the LOV. Kurogiri and Hisashi were helping Tomura plan his next big attack, and he was going to require new League members soon, but there was still the issue with how distrustful he was. This next plan of his was going to require a smaller, more elite team. Not only that, but there wasn’t any real reason for someone like the infamous serial killer Toga Himiko to join the League yet. 

As far as law enforcement and the media knew, she was doing just fine killing people as she wanted on her own. The only event the LOV was linked to was the attack on USJ, and that had failed miserably, even resulting in nearly everyone involved being arrested. Without any sort of unifying ideal or goal outlined and set, someone like Himiko would have incentive to stay away from the LOV instead of offering to join it. 

That meant that they were going to need to orchestrate a new event, something that would give villains a reason to join. Something that would preferably give lots of villains reason to join, so Himiko could be included in the new wave of League members as just another societal outcast, nobody suspicious. Nobody Tomura would have any reason to distrust. 

All of that led to the file in Inko’s hands. There weren’t many villains or vigilantes The Organization wasn’t in control of or associated with. The loners that were powerful or infamous were even more rare. Anyone who was anyone in the criminal underground of Japan was connected to The Organization. The outliers were few, far between, and usually didn’t last long. 

The file in Inko’s hands was thick. There was years and years of history documented in it. It was rare that someone deserted from The Organization, and even rarer that they weren’t dealt with swiftly, often being put in prison the second The Organization had no cause for protecting them from law enforcement. It took someone very very skilled to make it on their own with both The Organization and the government at their back. A very special brand of vigilante, although in this case Inko wasn’t too fond of using the word to describe someone so twisted. 

Inko set the file down on her desk and sighed. It had been a long time since they’d really put effort into taking care of this particular loose end. If all went according to the plan that was slowly forming in Inko’s mind, he might finally be behind bars for good, (although that hadn’t stopped him before; hopefully they could make it more permanent this time.) 

With a deep breath, Inko picked the file up again and moved to leave her office and take the pile of papers back to The Bunker so she and her husband could discuss the possibility of bringing the former High Assassin back into the picture again, if only briefly. 

The name Akaguro Chizome almost seemed to burn from its place on the front of the file. 

The bar was dimly lit. The air was musty, and the floors were sticky. The fabric on the bar stools was faded and the ratty curtains covering bordered up windows were dusty. There was a slight stink, not anything pleasant, but not horribly overpowering. It mixed with the fakely fresh smell of cleaning supplies, which smelled unnatural and made Tooru feel uneasy. The ceiling was just a bit lower than a normal ceiling, and it made the entire room feel more claustrophobic than it needed to. 

Tooru found herself wishing that she’d worn gloves, because every surface looked grimy and stained. Some of the stains were dark and filled Tooru with the sense that bad things had happened in this room. The person sitting at the bar didn’t look much cleaner. 

He was hunched over what looked like the remains of some sort of thick pink drink, like a milkshake. His black hoodie was too big for him, and the pants he was wearing were a bit too long on him. The ends of his pant legs were ratty, like he stepped on them a lot. His hood hung off his shoulders like a limp rat, and exposed the back of his head, which was covered with long gray hair that was tangled and frayed at the edges. It didn’t look horribly dirty or greasy, so Tooru figured that the man must’ve at least showered in the past week. Even if he didn’t look it, that probably meant he was cleaner than the room around him. 

His hands looked shriveled and his skin looked so sickly it was almost yellowish. His fingers were long and thin, with fingernails that were cut short. Scratches on the sides of the man’s neck stood out harshly red and newly healed to show what happened when his nails were allowed to grow too long. 

Most concerning however, was the severed hand covering the man’s face. It looked real and presumably was based on everything Tooru had read about Shigaraki Tomura from his file. She figured she probably didn’t want to know the story behind how he got it. The knowledge that he’d had several more hands during the USJ attack made Tooru nervous, and she fought off the urge to hide her own hands behind her back. 

The memory of Tsu explaining how Shigaraki had reached for her face in order to disintegrate it made her uneasy. Surely The Organization wouldn’t have any sort of an attack that would put kids’ lives in danger. They had to have some sort of a back up plan for if one of the kids got hurt. They wouldn’t have sent Tooru in to talk to Shigaraki and spy on UA for him if it wasn’t safe. Tooru forced herself to take deep breaths in and out and try to calm her nerves. Even still, her heart raced faster than she would’ve liked in her chest. There was something about Shigaraki that made her skin crawl. 

“You wanted to see me?” Tooru asked after a moment. Instantly, Shigaraki jumped up out of his seat and whirled around. 

“What!? Who are you? Where are you? What-” Shigaraki’s panicked and angry shrieking was cut off by Kurogiri appearing behind the bar and speaking up. 

“You requested to talk to your traitor, Shigaraki Tomura,” Kurogiri reminded him, “I have brought Hagakure Tooru to you. She is invisible, remember?”

Shigaraki paused as he took in the information before he angrily sat down on the bar stool again, this time facing the general direction Tooru was standing in. “Of course, I knew that. Get on with it,” He spat. Tooru shook off the residential fear she might’ve felt for the man and was reminded who exactly she was dealing with. She didn’t have any real reason to be afraid of him. He was an immature, untrained, arrogant manchild who had no idea what part he was really set to play in the plan that had been set out for him behind his back and over his head. 

“You’re the one who wanted to see me,” Tooru reminded him as patiently as she could manage, “I wasn’t informed of why, so I believe you should start.” 

Shigaraki appeared to gawk at her for a second in indignation before he moved one of his hands to itch at his neck again and gripped the counter with four fingers of his other hand while he whipped his head from Kurogiri to the general direction Tooru was standing angrily. Tooru crossed her arms and glared even though she knew he couldn’t see the expression she was making. 

“...Fine,” Shigaraki shoved both his hands in his pockets after a pointed look from Kurogiri. He reminded Tooru of a toddler after being scolded by his mother. “I’m here to ask why the schedule you gave us said All Might was going to be at the USJ even when he wasn’t.” 

Tooru took a deep breath in before she spoke, trying to dissipate the anger at him asking her such a question even though the media had repeatedly gone over why it took so long for All Might to show up, “As I’m sure you saw in the news, he got caught up catching villains before he got to UA, and showed up to the USJ later because of it. He was supposed to be there; the schedule wasn’t incorrect. Things don’t always go to plan.” Tooru fought the urge to add that Shigaraki should know all about things not going to plan, considering what happened at the USJ. 

Shigaraki considered this before speaking again, “Yes, that is what the news said.” 

‘Then why did you have to ask me about it?’ Tooru was getting increasingly impatient with the way this conversation was going. 

“You did good with your first mission,” Shigaraki said, turning away from Tooru and back to the few sips left of the drink he had left in his glass, “I think you’ll make a good asset to the team. When we have another mission for you, Kurogiri will get in contact with you.” He took a sip of his drink. Tooru fought down the urge to make a snide comment. “I do have one last question for you. Sensei promised to give you a different quirk, didn’t he?” 

Tooru paused but recognized the story she’d come up with to explain why she wanted to join the league. She nodded before she remembered that Shigaraki couldn’t see her, “Yes, he did promise that. I can’t stand being invisible all the time. I just want to be seen.”

Shigaraki turned back to look in her general direction again. “You’re really invisible all the time?”

“Yes. Obviously.”

Shigaraki didn’t speak for a moment before he finally turned back around and drank the rest of his drink in one long sip. Tooru winced as he reached the bottom and his straw sucked in air and made the rattling noise straws make when you get to the end of your drink. “I wish you the best of luck. Kurogiri, send her home.”

Tooru didn’t have any time to object before she was falling through the floor and landing in the empty warehouse again. It was disorienting for a good 3 seconds, between falling and suddenly being on solid ground again, but Tooru managed to not fall over. 

‘Well, ’ Tooru couldn’t help but think irritably as she left the warehouse to make her way home, ‘That was pointless. ’ 

Akaguro Chizome was finishing up his latest job when he felt it. Working in the vigilantism field as long as he had made it easy for him to feel when someone was watching him. 

The hair on the back of his neck stood up. The air around him seemed to drop a few degrees. There was a tugging sensation in his gut, like someone was gently pulling on his insides. Chizome didn’t turn around, but he knew who was watching him. 

He’d been wondering when they’d send her after him. Quietly, he went over all the escape routes he’d planned out earlier in his head and plotted out the best way to avoid his stalker if this ended in a chase like he was expecting. Chizome silently took a deep breath in and sheathed his sword. The dented metal of his weapon slid against the rusted leather-metal hybrid material of his sheath with a sound like a pig dying. If he’d wanted, it could’ve been a silent move, but Chizome knew his best chance at making it through this interaction with all his body parts intact would be to put his sword away as a show of good faith, and make sure that the person watching him saw him do it. Chizome turned around slowly, hands held out in front of him so she would know they were empty. 

She was on the roof above the alleyway Chizome had found himself in. The moon illuminated her back and cast her in shadow. The only feature he could make out was the eyes on her mask glowing sickly green. 

Chizome swallowed, tongue dry and sticking to the roof of his mouth like it usually did. Idly, he wondered if he was going to make it through this conversation with it still in his mouth. He’d known her to do far worse to people who had done far less than him. Even with that knowledge sitting heavy at the back of his head, Chizome couldn’t find it within himself to be afraid. On the contrary, he felt at peace. If it came down to a fight, they wouldn’t be evenly matched. She was one of the few people in the world who could confidently take him on alone. His second best choice would be to run, but even then he would have to be lucky to get away. That left one option; Conversation. 

“It’s been a long time since we last talked face to face,” Chizome picked his words carefully, keeping his tone as even as he could. 

“Hero Killer: Stain,” She responded. Her tone lacked the fury that Chizome would’ve expected, but he knew her well enough from the years they’d worked together to hear it simmering under the surface of her words. “I see you’ve picked a new name for yourself.”

“The media did that for me,” The Hero Killer responded, “Besides, Stendhal didn’t seem to fit anymore.”

“I’m sure I don’t have to remind you who I am.” The night felt frozen. Chizome couldn’t hear anything except his own heartbeat.

“Viridian,” he responded, bowing his head as if showing her respect was going to make this any easier. 

Midoriya Inko tilted her head to the side just slightly, “Akaguro Chizome. As much as I loathe to admit it, we require your help.”

Chizome lifted his head slowly, processing, “Is Himiko-”

“Himiko is fine,” Viridian’s tone was icy, “She has a different part to play in what we’re doing. What we need you to do is something that only someone as infamous as the Hero Killer could accomplish.” 

Chizome smiled, revealing teeth stained with blood, “I see. What do you ask of me?”

“Only that when we need to find you, we’ll be able to. No more of this hiding business. Your time will come.” The light of Viridian’s mask stood out more harshly from the black of the night sky behind it as a cloud covered the moon briefly. “We’ll send Giran to contact you. He’ll fill you in.”

“Giran. It's been a long time since I talked to him,” Chizome mused, “How did you find me, anyways?” 

“Lucky guess.” 

It was the foresight quirk then. Viridian could write the future. Her hands moved of their own accord, guided by destiny to write down events to come before they happened. 

Divination was a powerful quirk. It had belonged to the Midoriya family for a long time, always granted to the Spouse of the current All For One. Chizome felt satisfaction in knowing that he was still good enough at his job that even the great Organization required a future telling quirk to know where to find him. 

“You must be pretty desperate if you’re coming to me,” Chizome’s tone was conversational, and he turned back around to continue cleaning up the mess he’d made on the wall and floor of the alleyway as if the subtle threat hidden in his words was just a casual observation. 

“You are the best choice for the job,” Viridian’s tone was even, and Chizome smiled wickedly at the obvious discomfort the observation had given her. “We would never go to you out of desperation.”

Chizome fixed his face back into a neutral expression before he turned around to face Viridian again. “You of all people should know that predicting what actions you would take when you’re desperate only grants you a false sense of security. I’ll do what you ask. You’ll know where to find me.” 

Viridian nodded her head slightly and disappeared off the rooftop in the time it took Chizome to blink. He stared at the spot she’d been standing for a few more moments before he turned back to finish up what he’d been doing. The blood was sticky on his hands, and it soaked into the fabric of his gloves and sleeves like a virus inhabiting an infant. He could still taste the blood of this false hero on his teeth and tongue. It was bitter, just like the end of his conversation with his former friend had been. 

If The Organization was really desperate enough to recruit him, they must really have been in a tough spot. 

‘I hope Himiko is doing OK.’

Himiko was strong. Chizome had trained her well. He had no doubt that she was excelling at her new position, (all the news reports he’d seen on her supported this,) and he had no doubt that Jade and Ares were also doing well. 

Chizome disappeared from the scene before he could even hear the sirens. He watched from a nearby rooftop as heroes and police swarmed around the scene and realized that the Hero Killer had struck again. Chizome felt satisfaction in making his mark on Hosu. This was only the first hero set to die here. 

Chizome made his way across the rooftops of Hosu with a practiced ease that spoke of his many many years training to be the perfect weapon for The Organization to wield. Perfect in every way except that he didn’t always do what he was told. That had been his downfall. Now, it seemed, despite his past ‘betrayals,’ (as his former colleagues seemed to think of them) he was being called on again. 

Chizome smiled. 

When she wanted to, Viridian could move fast. Very fast. Faster than anyone should be able to move. She didn’t even need an extra quirk to do it. She was good enough at utilizing her birth quirk to fly through the night like a bullet. She steadily approached the nearest entrance to The Bunker with ease that spoke of years spent racing around as quickly as she currently was. 

Chizome was a smart man. He’d worked with The Organization a long time. Even so, he was still fallible, and Inko had worked with him long enough to know his weaknesses. Ultimately, only she held all the cards. Only she saw the entire game board. Chizome had made himself into a pawn, and he had no idea. 

In the end, Inko would be able to take out two birds with one stone by using him for this. Himiko would be given ample motivation for joining the LOV and Chizome would finally be arrested. After running after him for nearly two years, it felt good to finally have a leg up. He was being led straight into a checkmate, and he was none the wiser. 

Sometimes Inko missed working with Vigilantes so hands on. There was a special kind of satisfaction you only got when you were in complete control of a situation. When you were certain of your victory. When you were leading an unsuspecting soul into a trap that was perfectly designed for them . A trap that they had no way of predicting or escaping. 

Inko smiled.

Chapter Text


Denki couldn’t stop thinking. His brain was usually like that, running at a mile a minute in every conceivable direction at once, and mostly not in the directions he would like it to be going. Today, however, it was worse than usual. 

Denki couldn’t sleep. He’d been lying awake staring at the ceiling for the past two and a half hours. He was tired. Very tired actually, between his regular Organization work and getting ready for the sports festival. Even though he wanted to sleep, even though his body called for it, his brain wouldn’t stop moving. Denki was considering getting up and running in circles until he collapsed on the ground out of pure exhaustion. He couldn’t stop thinking.

Thinking about the look on Kirishima’s face when he talked about what happened at USJ. Thinking about the heavy silence at the lunch table after the subject of the attack was brought up. 

Thinking about how excited Tooru had been when she told him about her successful infiltration of the teacher’s lounge to get the schedule from All Might’s desk. Thinking about how he’d gotten into the UA servers using a backdoor The Organization had been using for almost as long as the school had existed and erased any footage that might’ve possibly incriminated her. 

Thinking about the conversation he’d had with Bakugou at the lunch table about quirks. Thinking about Bakugou mentioning the electrical pulses in people’s brains. 

Thinking about how if he reached, he could feel the streetlights burning brightly outside his window, the hum and buzz of his computer equipment sitting on his desk, his phone charging on his nightstand, each and every wire running through the walls of his house. Thinking about how if he really reached, if he stretched his senses and closed his eyes, focused on nothing but the pulse and flow of energy, of electricity, he could feel his parent’s brains at the edge of it all, dull but present and steady, sparking even in their sleep. 

Thinking about what it meant to be a good hero. Thinking about what it meant to be a good Organization member. Thinking about what it meant to be a good person. 

Thinking about the empty look on Asui’s face when Shigaraki reached for her at the USJ. Thinking about how it wasn’t until afterwards, when they were safe in a police cruiser and driving away from the building that she broke down crying. 

Thinking about how Uraraka and Ashido had cried and held Thirteen’s body even after it was torn apart, the hero’s entire backside missing, pulled to pieces by their own quirk. 

Thinking about the pain in Iida’s eyes as he had to leave his friends behind, and how much effort it took to get him out of the building. Thinking about how hard his classmates had tried to give him just one chance to escape, how much faith they had in him to run and get help. Thinking about the expression he’d been wearing as he slipped out the doors. 

Thinking about how Iida had tried to cover up his crying while they were at the police station. Thinking about how Uraraka had sat next to him and didn’t cry. Thinking about the shell shocked look on her face, how she’d reached out to hold Iida’s hand and how he’d taken it, rubbing his eyes and trying to stop the flow of tears. Thinking about how his tears kept falling anyways.

Thinking about the crunching noise Aizawa-sensei’s face had made when the nomu had smashed it into the pavement. Thinking about the splatter of blood on the main plaza of the USJ. Thinking about the look on Mic-Sensei’s face when he’d picked up his friend’s goggles from the ground, bloody and broken. Thinking about Thirteen and Aizawa-sensei’s bodies being pulled out of the USJ on a stretcher. 

Thinking about the look on Midoriya’s face as he’d rushed into battle to face Shigaraki and the nomu, and the look on Midoriya’s face as he was hurried into the ambulance, broken and shattered legs dangling off the stretcher. 

Thinking about where he got the footage that allowed him to see those things, and why he’d gotten the footage. Thinking about who he’d gotten the footage for. Thinking about what he’d done with it, and how little he thought about having it when he wasn’t supposed to. 

Thinking about the look on Yoayorozu and Jirou’s faces as they faced the villains, as they watched while Denki was held captive and stood completely helpless. Thinking about how Jirou had given him a shattered look after they’d been interrogated, called him an idiot even when the look in her eyes and the quiver in her voice said differently. Thinking about how if watching his classmates nearly die again and again through the video footage made him feel sick, seeing them in person was so much worse. 

Thinking about the broken sound of Sero’s voice as he tried to make a joke as they waited for Midoriya outside the school before they heard that he was going to be there for hours. Thinking about leaving Uraraka and Iida behind them at the gates as they promised to walk Midoriya home so the rest of them could get back to their families sooner. 

Thinking about how excited they’d been for him when he first told them about the new mission as the UA traitor,  how proud of him they said they were. Thinking about how they’d treated him to his favorite meal after the USJ attack, how they’d congratulated him at dinner. 

Thinking about the electricity in the tips of his fingers. Thinking about the lightning he could feel at the edges of his mind. Thinking about how useful that lightning could be if he could just figure out how to harness it. 

Thinking about the ugly feeling pooling in the bottom of his gut, weighing on him when he thought too hard about what happened at the USJ. 

Thinking about The Code The Organization followed. Thinking about how the LOV was supposed to be Organization run. Thinking about how their leader didn’t follow The Code. 

Thinking about how many of his classmates had almost died. 

Thinking about how quiet the class had been for the first days back at school. 

Thinking about his teacher wrapped in bandages, completely unrecognizable. 

Thinking about the sound Aizawa-sensei’s arm made when it had been snapped by the nomu. 

Thinking about the look on Mineta, Asui, and Midoriya’s faces as they watched their teacher come within an inch of death. 

Thinking about them carrying his limp body from the central plaza to the balcony where Thirteen’s body was still lying, surrounded by more of his classmates. Thinking about the look on Midoriya’s face as he turned around and ran back, and the look on Bakugou’s when he jumped in to attack Kurogiri, the look on Todoroki’s when he stepped up to fight the nomu, and the look on Kirishima’s as he followed behind them, arms held ready. 

He thought about the electricity dancing around him, in his house and through its walls where no one could see but him. He thought about the lightning spinning through his brain. He thought about the sirens of the ambulances as they pulled away from the USJ and Denki was ushered into the back of a police cruiser with the rest of his classmates. 

He thought about Kirishima and that lunch table. 

“What happened at USJ… I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

Denki rolled over in his bed, restless. 

He couldn’t stop thinking. 

Okuta Kagero spent a lot of time in alleyways. He found himself in dark, damp, dusty backstreets and parking lots tucked behind buildings at ungodly hours of the night more often then he found himself asleep and at home. It came with his job. He didn’t mind it. 

Kagero hadn’t gone by his real name in a long time. Being linked to an actual name gave people too much information about him, and giving out free information was a rookie mistake that someone with as much experience as he had wouldn’t dare make. Kagero had seen too many promising youngsters end up in the gutters for giving less. He’d been around the block a few times, and he had no intention of allowing anyone the advantage. He held all the cards, and he intended to make sure that didn’t change. 

Tonight, like most nights, he was awake and somewhere he probably shouldn't have been. He was dressed in a suit, a feathered scarf, dress shoes, and sunglasses. His clothes didn’t look as expensive as they actually were. Looking too wealthy drew unwanted attention in the part of town Kagero was currently visiting. Looking too shabby offended his tastes. He’d mastered finding the perfect medium. Besides that, the clothes were sturdy. They wouldn’t burn or tear easily, and even though the shoes didn’t look it, they were good for both running and walking silently. Kagero always took care to ensure he dressed well. 

Besides keeping his name and the numbers in his bank account unknown to the people he worked with, Kagero made sure to keep his age unknowable as well. He had a youthful energy in the way he walked, white hair, a young face and a look in his eyes like he’d been around far longer than he actually had been. His age was impossible to guess, and he made sure to keep it that way. 

The building he was standing behind looked like it would fall over if a bird landed on it too abruptly. Rain that had fallen had mixed with the dirt and the dust on the bricks until it was dark and thick like blood. The walls were stained with the liquid, dripping down from the roof gutters. The alley was fairly clear of debris however, except a single overflowing trash can that seemed to be full of nothing except dust and an obviously broken xbox. Kagero winced and filed the information away for later before knocking on the door. 

It took a while for someone to answer. Enough time for Kagero to consider raising his hand and knocking again. Before he could, the door opened to reveal a man made out of purple mist. Kurogiri, Kagero’s brain recognized. This wasn’t the first time he’d met the guy. They got along fine. Kurogiri was kind of uptight, but he said things every once in a while with the deadpan expression Kagero had never seen leave his face that made it hard not to laugh. All in all, he was a good man to work with. 

Kagero gave his colleague a crooked smile. “The one and only Giran, at your service.” 

“Welcome Giran,” Kurogiri’s voice betrayed no emotion, as per usual. Kagero used to find it slightly unnerving how Kurogiri never showed any hint of feeling anything, but he was used to it after working with him for such a long time. 

Kurogiri stepped aside and Kagero stepped inside the building. He entered a long, narrow hallway. It was just as dark, damp, and dirty as the alleyway outside, but managed to be an even smaller space. There wasn’t even enough room for two people to stand in the hallway side by side. Kagero felt the presence of the walls acutely to his left and to his right. Kagero passed three doors on his way down the hallway. He counted them carefully and listened but couldn’t hear any noise coming from the other side of any of them. 

The hallway was uncomfortably narrow but thankfully not that long. Kagero found that it opened into a larger bar area. One that he found was still dimly lit, smelled like dust, and had stains and grime covering every surface of the room. Kagero winced at the dirt and moved to sit at the bar. The chair creaked underneath him. For a moment, he was worried it might break, but it held. Kurogiri stood in the doorway, perfectly still like he usually did. 

“I’ll go fetch Shigaraki Tomura,” his yellow eyes gave off more light than the lightbulbs above their heads did. In a flash, he disappeared. 

Kagero took a deep breath, and focused on the persona he’d crafted for himself to use when dealing with clients. He let his shoulders relax, and his face fall into the amused expression he’d been told made him look like he knew something everyone else didn’t. 

Instead of Kagero, it was Giran who opened his eyes and leaned forward casually to read a list of the beers the bar had on tap listed on the wall above the counter. 

He heard one of the doors slam in the hallway and the entire building seemed to groan from the impact. Giran turned to lock eyes with a disgruntled looking younger man in a black shirt and pants wearing bright red tennis shoes. An odd fashion statement, in Giran’s opinion, but he tried not to judge. 

“You’re Giran?” Shigaraki asked.

Giran smiled, leaning back in his bar stool and tilting his head before answering, “Of course. Were you expecting someone else?” 

Shigaraki seemed put off by his answer, wrinkling his nose and glancing at Kurogiri with distaste before he sat down at a bar stool as well. There were noticeably 2 barstools in between Giran and the one Shigaraki chose to sit at. Normally Giran would’ve been slightly offended, but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to sit too close to the other man.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Giran said, watching Kurogiri carefully as he stepped behind the bar counter and pulled out a pair of glasses. 

“What would you like to drink, Giran?” he asked. 

Giran smiled at him, “Surprise me.” 

Kurogiri seemed to consider this for a moment before turning around and beginning to mix drinks. Giran shifted his gaze back to Shigaraki and studied him carefully. The man didn’t say anything to him. Giran sighed internally. It was going to be one of those clients. 

“Your boss pays a pretty penny, you know,” Giran made sure to keep his tone conversational, “He’s reliable too. I’ve worked with him before.” Kurogiri interrupted them quietly by setting down a drink in front of him. Giran nodded his thanks before taking a long sip of it. 

Kurogiri always seemed to remember the small things, like people’s favorite drinks. Giran couldn’t even remember when he’d first told him which kind he liked. He wasn’t sure he ever had. 

Shigaraki still hadn’t spoken again. 

Giran swallowed and set the glass down on the counter before speaking up again. “It’s my understanding that you need new recruits, and I’m the one supposed to do the recruiting. You know, it’s not going to be easy finding people willing to join after that stunt you pulled at the USJ. Those hero students too much for you?” 

Only then did Shigaraki say something, “Hero students and All Might .” 

Giran smirked, “Of course. We can’t forget about him” 

Kurogiri handed Shigaraki his drink. It looked like a milkshake, strawberry if the color was anything to go off of. Giran took note of that detail too but didn’t comment on it. 

“I have someone who might be interested,” Giran paused and considered his words for a moment before he kept talking, “Well, I have several someones. How are you planning on going about this recruiting process? Are you going to be doing interviews, or will you just accept whoever wants to join? How big of a team are you looking for? How many people? Are there any specific skill sets?” Giran didn’t let his smile leave his face and he sipped his drink while he waited for Shigaraki to answer. 

Shigaraki seemed taken aback by all the questions, and that appeared to manifest in him reaching up to scratch the sides of his neck with one hand. Giran noted the many long scars and scratches there, making him wince internally. 

“I’m not sure I need so many people right now. Just competent ones. The recruits I had for the USJ attack were abysmal. I will be interviewing each and every possible addition to the LOV before I let them join.” After this, Shigaraki shot Kurogiri a glare. Giran got the feeling like Kurogiri might have taken care of most of the recruiting for the first attack. 

Giran nodded in response to Shigaraki’s words and took another sip of his drink. He mulled over the answer before clearing his throat and smiling, “I have several people in mind, in that case. What kind of villain or vigilante are you looking for?”

Shigaraki seemed to think about this for a moment “Someone that will make the LOV’s name more intimidating than it already is after the USJ attack.”

Giran’s voice was even when he answered, “You want someone famous.”

Shigaraki seemed to dislike the way Giran phrased it, but grunted in affirmation. Giran pursed his lips and pretended to think that over. 

“That’s a tall order. Not many famous villains are going to be willing to work with such a new band of people, especially after the failure of the USJ attack casting such a shadow over your name.” Shigaraki seemed to bristle at Giran’s words, getting mad at his resistance to making the perfect new recruits appear out of thin air, but Giran cut him off again before he could start complaining, “I can think of a few, however. I’m assuming the more skilled, the better?” 

Shigaraki nodded, “Someone who will put the LOV on the map.”

Giran’s eyes sparkled, “I think I might have just the person for you.”. 

Shigaraki narrowed his eyes. “Who?”

Giran took a long sip of his drink and set the glass down on the table with a dull thunk. “The Hero Killer: Stain.”

Shigaraki didn’t react at first, but when he spoke again, he sounded suspicious. “There’s no way you could get Stain .” 

Giran smiled widely, “You better believe it. I’m the best of the best at what I do!” Giran leaned in, winking. “I could get anyone if I really wanted to.” 

Shigaraki didn’t look impressed. Giran shrugged. 

“Fine. Don’t believe me. Name a time. I’ll get him to show up.”

Shigaraki seemed to consider this, looking to Kurogiri as if for guidance. Giran’s smile only grew wider as he deliberated the offer. 

“Tomorrow night. Midnight,” Shigaraki said, looking like he didn’t believe Giran could do it. 

Giran leaned back in his chair. “Easy. How much are you paying me?”

Shigaraki’s hands twitched. “Excuse me?”

“I don’t do business unless there’s something in it for me. So, how much money are you going to pay me?” Giran pronounced each word slowly, letting his smile begin to fall. 

Shigaraki’s eyes narrowed. “You want money?”

Giran tilted his head to the side. “What did you expect? That I would just give you charity?”

Shigaraki seemed to consider this. “No, I suppose not.” He turned away from Giran and took a long drink from his milkshake, thinking and side-eyeing Giran suspiciously. Eventually, he seemed to come to a decision. 

“I’ll talk to my boss,” he said carefully, “But I’m still not sure I can trust you. They say Stain is notoriously difficult to find. The police have been trying for nearly a year now and haven’t gotten anywhere. They don’t even know what his quirk is yet.”

Giran’s smug expression didn’t fall. “I have my ways. I’ve found him before, and I can find him again. Besides, he’s aware that I’m making you this offer already. He’s just waiting for your answer.” Giran let his teeth show as his smile grew wider again before returning to neutrally amused. “And in case you’re wondering, I know what his quirk is.”

Shigaraki glared at him, seeming irritated now. “Fine. But you’re not getting the money until I meet him. You said he wants to join?”

Giran tilted his head and looked contemplative. “I’m not sure he wants to more than he’s willing to. He has goals, you know. Maybe he thinks joining you will help further them? When you meet him, try to appeal to his tastes. Don’t insult him or anything. He’s kind of… touchy that way.” Giran shrugged, as if it couldn’t be helped and as if he didn’t know exactly why Stain was willing to join the LOV. Shigaraki seemed to consider this. 

“...Fine,” he said, “I’ll talk to Sensei about what he’s willing to pay you, and I’m sure we’ll get through this interaction just fine. You’ll bring Stain to me tomorrow evening?”

Giran nodded, downing the last of his drink and setting it on the counter. “Sounds good to me. Usually, I demand half of the payment or at least knowledge that you have the money to pay me before I do anything, but I’ve worked with your boss before, and I know he’s trustworthy. Tomorrow, I’ll have Stain, and you’ll have my payment. Do we have a deal?”

Giran held out his hand and Shigaraki stared at it for a few moments before hesitantly holding out his own and shaking it, making sure to hold his pinky finger away from Giran’s skin. “Deal.”
Giran smiled. “You know, if this works out, I think we might be partnering up more often.” 

Denki hadn’t asked for extra quirk training in a long time. He hadn’t considered it in a long time. Now though, he found himself in front of the head quirk trainers office in the 2nd circle base he and Tooru worked at, about to knock on the door. 

He hadn’t told Tooru about this yet. He knew she wouldn’t mind, would probably even think this was a good idea, but he’d been in such a rush to leave early this morning that he hadn’t thought to call or text her before he was rushing out the door. At this point, he was already outside the office and it would be easier to just tell her afterwards. Denki took a deep breath and collected his thoughts before he knocked on the door. 

A muffled, “Come in,” could be heard from behind it, and Denki hesitated only slightly before turning the handle and entering the room. 

He’d been in here a few times before, but it was a long time ago and his parents had always been with him. Now, he was older and didn’t need their permission to request more quirk training, but that knowledge didn’t stop him from feeling a bit nervous about being here to talk to the counselor alone.  

“What made you decide to stop in today?” The person behind the desk stacked some paperwork in a neat pile and tilted their head to look at Denki head on. Denki swallowed. He’d known this counselor a long time, since he was little, but he hadn't seen them in a while. They didn’t look like they’d changed much, which made sense based on their youth quirk. Denki thought over his words carefully before he responded. The counselor waited patiently. 

“Um, I’m here to talk about… an idea on how to expand the use of my quirk.” Denki glanced at the nameplate sitting on the desk. Vieux Cyrille. They were from France. Denki remembered asking his mother about the foreigner’s accent as a kid, and being fascinated by the funny way they spoke. Vieux-Sensei had always been patient and kind, but Denki still found himself hesitating to explain what his idea was. “I can kind of sense electrical pulses using my quirk,” he eventually started explaining, before cutting himself off, “oh, you probably don’t remember me.”

Vieux-Sensei smiled, “You’re a Kaminari, right?”

Denki nodded. 

“I’ve worked with your family for a long time. Electrical type, yes? What’s your first name? I’ll look up your file, and then you can tell me what your new idea is.” 


Vieux-Sensei nodded and turned to their computer, typing in something and selecting something with the mouse before pausing and reading something on the screen. Denki waited, resisting the urge to tap his foot. He didn’t want to be rude. 

Eventually Vieux-Sensei’s eyes lit up, and they turned back to Denki, “I remember you now! You have the taser-type quirk. We had to work with you for a long time to teach you to stop going over your watt limit.” Denki sighed. He remembered those days quite vividly. Mastering his quirk had taken so much time

“Yeah, that’s me alright. I have something that I’d like to test out.” 

Vieux folded their hands, “You mentioned sensing electricity?”

Denki nodded, swallowing. “I was wondering about the electrical pulses people’s brains give off. I was testing it last night, and if I really really focus and reach out with my quirk, I can kind of feel the electricity in people’s brains. I guess I was just wondering if it would be useful to develop that? It seems like something I might be able to use in the future.” 

Vieux-Sensei’s eyes lit up, “ Yes, I think that’s definitely worth looking into. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. That’s a great idea!” 

Denki nodded, slightly embarrassed from such an emphatic response. Vieux-sensei seemed very excited about this possibility. 

“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere, but I guess it could. I’m willing to try, for sure.” Denki smiled sheepishly. 

Vieux’s eyes glittered, and Denki suddenly got the feeling he was a bug under a microscope. 

“Yes, I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with this.”

Izuku’s face hit the dirt for only a moment before he was twisting to the side and rolling to his feet again to avoid the knife stuck in the ground where he’d just landed. He didn’t pause for a moment, leaping straight up and avoiding the barrage of knives being thrown at him before flipping over his opponent to strike her from the back. 

Unsurprisingly, his hit was deftly blocked and his opponent immediately counter-attacked by sending a leg swinging at his knees at the same time as a knife swung towards his stomach. 

Izuku jerked forwards and avoided both of the attacks to attempt to step on the foot of his opponent heel first and use his free hand to catch the knife swinging behind him. His heel missed his opponent's foot but while she was distracted by having to dodge and off balance from where he was holding her knife hand he managed to knee her in the stomach. 

She rolled with the blow, flipping over his knee and landing on her free hand on the other side of him, dropping the knife she was holding to grab onto his wrist and twist him to shove him off balance. He just barely managed to dodge the deadly kick of both her legs as she flipped over completely and shook her hand off his wrist so he could take a step back and reorient himself. 

His sparring partner twisted midflip to land on her feet facing him, and Izuku was reminded of just how deadly Himiko could be in battle. Before she could attack again, Izuku sighed and spoke up.

“This isn’t working,” he dropped his guard, and Himiko followed suit, relaxing her battle stance and sliding the knife she was already taking out to throw again back into its sheath. “I can’t use it halfway. It won’t respond unless I use all of it.” 

Himiko shook her head, “I haven’t seen you have this much trouble with a quirk since you were really little trying to fly using air blast.” Her voice was teasing, and Izuku couldn’t help but think back to countless hours spent working on not smashing into walls, crash landing on the ground, or smacking into the ceiling. He wincing internally at the memory before pushing it aside. He didn’t have room for self doubt now. 

“It's just a matter of willpower, right?” He asked skeptically, “If my will were stronger than the past users, then I would be able to control the quirk.” 

Himiko nodded, “Yeah, except there's 8 of them, and all of them have a lifetime's worth of hate for you and your family.” 

Izuku sighed, “Right. There’s only so much I can do.”

Himiko paused and seemed to think for a moment before answering, “I don’t think this is helping. Sparring isn’t doing anything. Maybe you need to try, like, meditation or something.” 

Izuku considered the idea. It wasn’t too bad of one. The only thing that made him want to say no was the image of the past users in the back of his brain, whispering vile angry words and staring at him with cold eyes full of nothing but hatred. He shivered at the very thought of having to face them again, maybe even have a conversation and try to negotiate control of the quirk with them. 

“I can try that, I guess…” Izuku hesitated, trying to make a decision. Himiko seemed to notice his discomfort and spoke up again. 

“Let’s try sparring one more time, and if it still doesn't work, then you can try that.” 

Izuku nodded, feeling a small amount of relief even though he didn’t have high hopes that his 10th time trying this was going to be any different from the first 9 times. He appreciated Himiko trying, at least. 

Izuku took a deep breath, and called on the power within himself. It spread like lightning throughout his body, filling up his bones and muscles with power and potential like no strength quirk he’d ever used before. He could feel the quirk raging inside him, like a wild beast waiting to be unleashed. Waves and oceans of power swirled and rolled beneath his skin, threatening to pull him under. 

It was too much. Using this much power, just like this, was going to break him again like it almost always did. Except for that one time. 

He realized now that the reason it hadn’t broken him was probably because he was about to use it on another person. The vestiges had stopped him from killing Shigaraki by pulling back on the power, even if he was a villain in their eyes too. 

‘Heroes are so irrational, ’ Izuku couldn’t help but think, ‘Not only would killing Shigaraki result in one less villain in the world, if I had killed Shigaraki, that would seriously ruin things for me too. It would’ve been the smart thing to do. But they refuse to kill people, I guess… ’ Izuku shoved the power down, frustrated at his lack of control and at the vestiges in general, ‘Unless that villain is my dad. They’re willing to kill him, even if he doesn’t deserve it.’ Izuku took a battle stance again, nodding at Himiko to signal that he was ready. 

She grinned, teeth sharp and canines flashing before rushing forward as smoothly as a cat to attack. Her knives glittered as she pulled them out of their sheaths, and Izuku’s body reacted without him thinking about it, dodging and twisting to avoid her attacks. 

Izuku and Himiko engaged in the dance of a good fight once again. 

Unsurprisingly, the sparring didn’t work. Izuku trudged back to his room to try the meditation idea like a man walking to his death. The thought of actually trying to reach the vestiges made him sick to his stomach. The voices at the edge of his hearing, the shadowed mist in the corner of his eye, the dull hostility burning the inside of his skin. It made him uneasy. There was something fundamentally wrong with the quirk, and he didn’t like it. 

Izuku decided not to meditate. He’d rather not seek out the vestiges. 

Izuku also didn’t sleep that night. Or at all in the weeks leading up to the Sport’s Festival. 

He wasn’t scared. It was just a quirk. Of COURSE he wasn’t scared. 

Every time Izuku closed his eyes for too long, he felt like he was being watched. 

It had been nearly 2 and a half weeks since Denki had gone into the Quirk counselors office about his potential new idea for using his quirk, and since then he’d found it to have been the right decision. 

Tooru had been very excited to hear about his new idea, and had even offered to help him test it out. Vieux-sensei reminded them it was too dangerous and told them they weren’t allowed to, but Denki appreciated the sentiment anyways. 

The first thing Denki and Vieux-sensei did was test the limits of Denki’s quirk. He had to try and sense smaller and smaller electrical pulses from farther and farther away until he knew what his limit was. That meant very long games of hide and seek with little boxes specially made to give off the faintest signals of electricity for him to find. 

Denki found that sensing things through walls was harder, but not impossible. He was actually quite surprised with how good he was at it, although he did find it infinitely easier when he closed his eyes and covered his ears to get rid of any other distractions. 

Otherwise, with his eyes open, he could mostly only sense pulses the size of someone’s brain waves when they were within a few meters of him. The bigger the pulse and the less things in between him and where the pulse was coming from, the easier it was to sense. Denki was ecstatic to find that he could sense things that small at all, and from there he and Vieux-sensei worked on sharpening and strengthening the skill. 

The best place to go when you wanted to strengthen your quirk was The Organization. They’d been working on quirk-strengthening techniques for nearly two centuries and had probably the best quirk analysts in the entire world working for them. Denki came home from school, headed to the base, and then did almost nothing but train his quirk to be stronger, to sense smaller and smaller pulses from farther and farther away, to get more and more direct and exact with where they were coming from and better and better at finding the little boxes faster and faster. 

The other thing he did with Vieux-sensei was study how the brain worked. He had to memorize each section of the brain, which meant where it was and what it did. Then he had to practice figuring out what each part lighting up felt like. 

Which spark meant anger and which spark meant happiness and which spark meant sadness and which spark meant someone was lying and which spark meant someone was asleep. Denki got very good at telling when someone was asleep and when someone was awake. He was also good at sensing anger and happiness, but other emotions were harder to figure out. His lie detecting abilities also left much to be desired. The thing he was best at besides telling when someone was sleeping versus awake however, was when someone had activated their quirk. 

“When someone uses their quirk,” Vieux-sensei explained, pulling up files they’d managed to get their hands on off The Organization database, “It lights up this section of the brain.” They’d pointed at the chart showing a human brain that Denki had spent hours memorizing at this point, “For people who have mutant quirks, or quirks that are always on, like mine, this doesn’t always ring true, but for those of you who have to activate your quirks, you should be able to tell the difference from someone who’s using their quirk and someone who isn’t.” Vieux-sensei smiled. Denki was reminded that he had no idea how old they were. 

They looked young, but their age-slowing quirk made their actual age impossible to determine. Denki couldn’t help but wonder how long they’d been working at this job, how long they’d been helping people exactly like him figure out the ins and outs of their quirks. He figured he must be in good hands, and the results of the entire experiment really did speak for themselves. 

By the time the sports festival rolled around, Denki was confident enough in his abilities that he was willing to stretch out his senses and feel the sparks in people’s brains around him throughout his regular day, even if the only two things that he could do reliably were sense when someone was asleep verses when they were awake and sense when they were using their quirk versus when they weren’t. 

However, that wasn’t something to scoff or roll your eyes at, as Vieux-sensei kept reminding him. 

“Even just being able to sense people in the first place will be a big help,” they explained, “You’ll be able to see in the dark, in a way, or even through walls. Especially if you keep training it, getting your quirk stronger. Make your range wider, and your abilities sharper. I believe in you.”

Denki had smiled, and thanked Vieux-sensei for everything they’d done for him. He had their card in case he needed their help again, and they'd be checking in a few times throughout the next few months to make sure that he was keeping on track and was continuing to strengthen the new aspect of his quirk, but from now on he’d be mostly on his own. He had a training schedule, exercises to do in order to get his quirk stronger and stronger, and a feeling of pride in his chest. 

He’d done this. He’d gone the extra mile and raised the bar for himself. 

He was far more dangerous, far more powerful than he was before now that he’d taken the initiative and followed a path that he hadn’t thought about following before. 

His parents kept reminding him of how proud of him they were for the great idea, and he kept reminding them that technically it wasn’t even his idea in the first place, (Bakugou had been the one to bring it up at the lunch table a few weeks ago,) but they’d continued to smother him with praise regardless. 

Tooru had been absolutely ecstatic too. She couldn’t stop ranting about how this was going to help them find the Big Three members faster. 

“Think how much easier it's all going to be when we have a window into our classmates' minds!” She shrieked while jumping around his bed like a maniac, “You’re a mind-reader now!”

Denki had tried to remind her that wasn’t how his quirk worked, but in the end he’d gotten too caught up in the excitement and the hype that Tooru was giving this new development and had ended up jumping on his bed with her too. 

When they’d told Kraken about it, he’d told them that was future-council-member behavior, and Tooru had literally squealed. Denki was half-convinced that she was more excited about his new skill than he was. He didn’t mind. 

‘This is how I do it, ” Denki had decided, ‘I get stronger, so I can protect the people around me. If I can protect the people around me, then I won’t have to worry about villain attacks. My friends won’t get hurt again, because I’ll be able to protect them .’

It gave him a new peace of mind. He felt safer now. He felt stronger. 

Despite his new peace of mind and even though he tried to ignore it, there was still a nagging sensation in the back of his head. A worry, a little voice that he couldn’t stamp down no matter how hard he tried. 

‘I’ll be able to protect them… as long as I’m not the one playing the villain.

Chapter Text

Before fighting the people of Class 1B, (not to mention kids in the other courses like Gen Ed or Support,) Katsuki and Deku made sure to study their files and make sure that there wasn’t going to be any problems with any quirks the other classes might have. 

Deku had probably looked over their files before. He was too curious and quirk-obsessed not to. If anything, he probably didn’t need to look over the files again, but apparently there was one person in particular he wanted Katsuki to be aware of. 

“Monoma Neito,” Deku pointed to a picture of a greasy looking blonde kid smirking at the camera and reminding Katsuki of a rat. His eyes glinted in a way that was probably supposed to make him look dangerous but instead made him look like he’d lost his mind. “He has a quirk-copying quirk. It works kind of similar to mine actually,” at this, Deku hesitated. 

He didn’t like bringing up the connection he had to his Uncle, who was the first Midoriya to manifest the copying side of the All For One quirk. Deku didn’t even like using the copying ability, instead usually just stealing a quirk he could’ve copied or making do without using the other quirk at all. 

That meant Katsuki didn’t have as much practice going up against a copycat. The little snake he was looking at now wouldn’t be too hard to heal with however. Just by looking at his file Katsuki figured that he wasn’t that impressive. 

Deku took a deep breath and started opening his mouth as if he were going to say something, but Katsuki recognized the look in his eyes and cut him off. 

“Spare me the details,” Katsuki didn’t feel like listening to an hour-long rant about the quirk, “He copies by touch?”

Deku swallowed the word vomit he’d been about to unleash and nodded. “Physical contact.” 

Katsuki glared at the paper. “Can we predict how his quirk will react to someone with multiple quirks?”

Deku nodded and flipped through the file until he got to a page on the copycat’s family. 

Katsuki narrowed his eyes, “His Great-Grandma was Organization.” 

Deku nodded again, “Seems she had a quirk that just copied objects. It was good for spywork, apparently.”

Katsuki narrowed his eyes further. “She was banished.”

Deku winced. “A full memory wipe. Looks like it was on charges of treason and conspiracy. She was feeding information to the HPSC. According to the file on her, she did it because she didn’t like the circle system.” 

Katsuki rolled his eyes, “Stuck in the 2nd Circle?”

Deku shook his head, “Nope, she was 1st Circle actually. She was mad about the fact that information is given out on a need-to-know basis. Curiosity about the Council got the better of her apparently.”

Katsuki snorted, “So she went to the Hero Commission? Because she was mad about a lack of transparency?

Deku shook his head, “I guess. At least she had the sense not to tell the heroes too many names. Or at least, too many important names.”

Katsuki rolled his eyes, “She didn’t even betray us properly.” 

Deku tilted his head, “That probably saved her life. A memory-wipe was fairly merciful, considering what she’d done. If she’d done worse than that…”

“She probably would’ve disappeared entirely.” Katsuki finished, “Alright, so why is that important?”

Deku pulled out a page of the file and held it up so Katsuki could see. 

“It means we have lots of data on how her quirk works.” 

Katsuki nodded, “So a baseline for how the Rat’s should work.”

Deku cringed slightly at the nickname Katsuki had already come up with for Monoma, but nodded regardless. 


Keigo hadn’t had much communication directly from The Organization in a while. In fact, he hadn’t heard anything from them since before the attack on the USJ, which he suspected they had something to do with. He’d wanted to ask about it, but he also knew his place. He was a field agent, and a permanent one at that. He wasn’t supposed to ask questions unless it was in person . Otherwise, it would be too easy for information to get into the hands of the other people he worked for; namely the Hero Commission. His technology usage was too heavily monitored. They couldn’t have the Commission’s golden child caught up in bad business without them knowing about it, after all. 

Now however, he found himself staring at a familiar looking email address. 

The Organization always worked in code, and under several different names. Disguising communication as spam emails weren’t that hard to do, and for someone as well-versed in the code The Organization used as Keigo was, it wasn’t that hard to decipher the message by reading through the email once. It wasn’t that long of a message anyways. 

‘Scout intern. Year 1 SF. Take 1.’ 

Keigo read over the message once more to make sure he wasn’t misunderstanding anything, then sighed and deleted the email. Of course he shouldn’t expect actual information. He’d have to show up to company parties for that. 

He’d missed the last few of them. He wasn’t often able to show, (because it wasn’t often that he wasn’t on call,) but he tried to make it to one at least every two or three months. It had been four months since he’d last made time to attend one. 

‘After the Sports Festival and the internships, ’ Keigo decided, ‘I’ll make time.’

In the meantime though, he’d have to watch the sports festival. The first years, specifically.

As Keigo exited his room and began to make his way towards the office of the person who ran their sidekick and internship programs, he mulled the idea of having an intern over in his head. 

‘What am I looking for in an intern, really?’ 

Keigo was happy for the distraction. He’d been set to work on the Hero Killer case, and he hadn’t been too excited about it. He’d heard rumors about the Hero Killer, both on the hero side of things and the villain side. 

None of the rumors were good. 

He’d heard from the heroes that the Hero Killer could paralyze you with fear just by looking at you. He’d heard that no hero could ever escape him, that he’d been a scourge on society (a stain, if you will) from the very moment he picked up his first knife. He’d heard that he painted the street red with the blood of heroes foolish enough to go after him. Keigo had no intention of getting mixed up with that. 

Mostly because he’d also heard from the other side of things that the Stain was going easy on the heroes. He wasn’t showing who he truly was. He still believed he belonged in The Organization. He thought his way was the right way, even though it very obviously wasn’t. Keigo knew The Code. He knew that what the Hero Killer did broke it in a very obvious way. 

But that’s not what Stain believed. 

Keigo had heard that he’d been on the council before. He’d heard that the Hero Killer had worked with the Big Three, that he used to be one of the Big Three when he was younger. Keigo had also heard that Stain hadn’t been part of The Big Three. He’d heard that he’d been everything from a government plant to a science experiment from down in The Organization’s labs. He heard lots of things about him. Most of them conflicted with each other in one way or another. 

 Keigo wasn’t sure what to believe about the guy. All he knew was that even if Stain went easy on heroes, there was no telling what he’d do to someone who was Organization. 

Keigo was happy to stick to scouting for interns. 

Denki was excited for the sports festival. He was excited to prove himself, to show that he could compete against his classmates even while holding back, excited to see his classmates in action again, excited to see the other classes, other courses, and observe them too for probably the first time. Mostly, he was excited because he finally had official permission to use his new ‘mind reading’ skill, as Tooru had dubbed it, (even if that was only marginally accurate.)

The second he got to school, he reached out with his quirk and searched for the electricity he knew would be flowing through the walls. That was something he’d done before, searching for electricity in wires behind the outer shell of building walls. He’d used the skill on missions before, and it had never failed to be helpful. Usually he didn’t use it outside of missions. He never had a good enough reason to, and sometimes if there was too much electricity it gave him a headache. Now though, he had practice, and he’d strengthened the skill to the point that he felt like he could see every line of wire, every shock of lightning in the walls, and his head felt perfectly fine. 

Denki was both surprised and unsurprised by how much electricity there was in the walls of UA. On the one hand, it was a lot, far more than he saw in any normal building, but on the other hand, he’d kind of suspected that about UA. 

There was just so much . Flowing between all the doors, all the windows, through cameras he was only now feeling in the ceiling and to alarms and through the PA system. Denki was immersed in it. He felt like he was walking through the middle of a thunderstorm without the thunder and only the lightning. 

It was beautiful. It lit up the building around him and the walls sang with it. Denki pulled his senses back into himself, overwhelmed faster than he’d expected to be. 

That was fairly familiar though, feeling the wires in the wall. Now, Denki could go even deeper. 

Denki reached his classroom and took his seat before trying anything. The hallways were crowded, and he was afraid of being overwhelmed again. There were less people in his classroom, and he was able to sit and put all his focus on the task without having to navigate the confusing maze that UA tended to be. 

Denki was earlier today than he usually was. Excitement had made it easy to get out of bed this morning and had put a pep in his step as he made his way to school. That meant not as many of his classmates had shown up yet, just the early ones. That meant Iida, Yaoyorozu, Bakugou, Tokoyami, and Asui. 

Iida and Yoayorozu were talking about the homework from last night, (which Denki realized that he’d completely forgotten to do with a wince,) while Asui and Tokoyami were having a discussion about… something to do with darkness, from what Denki gathered. Tokoyami seemed very invested in the conversation, and Asui nodded along politely. Bakugou stared out the window, resolutely ignoring them, although his eyes did flick to Denki’s face when he entered the classroom, narrowing slightly before he turned to glare out the window again. 

Denki set his bag under his desk and sat down before taking his phone out and opening a random social media app he could scroll through to make it look like he was doing something. Instead of paying attention to what was on his phone screen however, Denki tapped into his sense for electricity again, and searched for the nearest mind he could look into. 

Almost immediately he was met with the ocean of wires and machinery built into the building’s walls, but he pushed underneath that and felt for the smaller sparks he knew were going off in his classmate’s heads. The first thing he sensed was Tokoyami, who was standing right behind him to talk to Asui at her desk. 

Denki found that he honestly couldn’t tell much besides the fact that he was awake, (which he didn’t need his quirk to be able to tell,) he wasn’t using Dark Shadow, (also didn’t need his quirk to tell him,) and if he had to guess he would say Tokoyami was probably feeling happy, but he wasn’t sure if his view was skewed by the fact that he could hear his classmate’s tone of voice, which didn’t sound nearly as somber as it usually did. Denki figured that made sense, and moved on. 

Asui’s head was much the same. She was awake, not using her quirk, (although since hers was a mutation quirk Denki wasn’t sure her brain would spark with its activation, since technically it was always on,) and he got the vague sense that she was feeling… calm maybe? She seemed pretty chill normally, and Denki couldn’t feel any large amount of emotion coming from her at the moment. 

Denki pulled his senses away from her, took a deep breath, and glanced over at Bakugou. If anyone in the class was going to be feeling a strong emotion like anger that Denki might be able to sense, it would probably be him. Plus, he was only two desks away from where Denki was sitting, so easily within his range to sense the sparking in his brain. Denki glanced around once before turning to look back down at his phone and close his eyes. Maybe if he tried to concentrate more, he could sense things more accurately. No one would notice if he closed his eyes, right? It wasn’t even that suspicious. He could always just say he was sleeping. 

Bakugou’s brain was quieter than Denki had expected. Once again, Denki went through his checklist of things. Bakugou was awake. Bakugou wasn’t using his quirk. Bakugou was feeling… something, probably. Denki wanted to guess anger, but he was fairly certain that was a biased answer. He’d known Bakugou for several weeks now and saw how he acted on a regular basis, after all. If anything, it was a lot less anger than he’d expected. 

Doing anything anywhere near Bakugou tended to set him off. Heck, sometimes Denki was pretty sure he started yelling because the people near him were breathing too hard. The fact that he wasn’t constantly enraged surprised Denki, although logically that made more sense than if he just felt angry all the time. 

A hand on Denki’s shoulder startled him. 

“You good bro?” Kirishima’s inquisitive expression made Denki scramble for the explanation he had been planning to give if someone caught him zoning out. 

“Yeah! Yeah, I’m um. I’m totally fine,” Denki gave him a thumbs up and shoved his phone in his pocket again, “I guess I just dozed off for a moment. I woke up a bit earlier than normal today.” Denki turned to face him as he sat down at his own desk. 

“Oof, sucks that you’re tired man,” Kirishima said, “Did you have trouble sleeping?”

“A bit,” Denki nodded, “I’m just really excited for the Sports Festival.”

Kirishima leaned in enthusiastically, “I know, right? I almost couldn’t sleep either, I had to work out for a half and hour before bed to get myself tired enough to overtake how hyped I was. Are you feeling good though? Falling asleep at your desk probably isn’t a good sign you got enough sleep last night.” 

Denki smiled, “Absolutely. I’m feeling great. I guess I just needed a tiny nap before class started. How are you feeling?”

Kirishima’s smile was crooked, “I’m feeling so ready man. I’m gonna crush this thing!” 

“Yeah! We’re gonna crush this thing! I’ll make sure to go easy on you to make sure you have a fighting chance,” Denki said smugly. 

“Hey! I think we both know I’ll be the one going easy on YOU,” Kirishima exclaimed, laughing loudly. 

“Are you sure about that?” Denki teased, “At least I didn’t fall on my face during combat training yesterday.”

Kirishima narrowed his eyes and fought back a smile in an attempt to look angry. It didn’t work. “At least I didn’t short circuit my brain for the third time this week.” 

Denki gasped in mock offense. 

And fall out a window,” Kirishima added. 

Denki pointed at him, “ That was uncalled for! I didn’t fall out a window, I was pushed ! There’s a difference!”

“Will you shut up!” Bakugou barked. Denki and Kirishima turned to look at him in surprise for a moment. They both had the same idea at the same time and in  seconds there were matching smiles on both of their faces as they shared a look and came to a silent decision. 

Immediately they were both crowded around Bakugou’s desk and attempting to include him in their conversation in the most aggressively upbeat way possible. Bakugou yelled at them to leave him alone, but the pair ignored him and kept talking louder instead. Eventually, Bakugou seemed to give up and decided to seethe quietly instead and try to ignore them for as long as possible by crossing his arms defiantly and glaring out the window again. 

It didn’t feel like a long time before class started with their teacher arriving exactly four seconds before the bell rang. The entire class took those four seconds to rush to their seats like madmen the second they saw Aizawa-Sensei in the doorway. 

The second Denki was sitting down, he was zoning out again and thinking about the electricity in people’s brains. Aizawa was reminding them of the rules for the Sports Festival, and Denki didn’t feel like listening to him go over them when he already knew them from his own times watching the festival again and again when he was younger. Instead he took the time to test something out. 

If Bakugou hadn’t been angry before, he should be angry now after Denki and Kirishima spent their time annoying him for the past 10 minutes. Denki stared at his desk and reached out with his senses again towards Bakugou. His senses passed through Jirou’s head for a moment (her seat was in between theirs,) before he managed to find Bakugou’s. 

He wasn’t angry. Denki couldn’t help but dig deeper into his classmate’s head in an attempt to find anything, but all he ended up finding was that he wasn’t angry. If anything, he seemed less angry than before, and that made Denki pause, before his face broke out in a smile he couldn’t contain even as he pulled his senses back himself and shut off his quirk. 

‘He really does like hanging out with us .’ 

Izuku was nearly bouncing in his seat. He wasn’t sure if it was from nerves or excitement. The Sports Festival was today. 

He and Katsuki had jobs to do. Izuku’s job was to win the Sports Festival. 

‘No big deal, ’ he couldn’t help but think nervously, ‘I mean, it's just against a bunch of hero students, right?’

It still made him uneasy. He’d have to win while holding back. He’d have to win and make it look believable. That was the hard part. He couldn’t be so good the teachers acted suspicious. If anything, he should try to make it look like an accident. 

Kacchan’s job wasn’t as hard. He had to come in second place, but make it as close as possible. He’d already shown he knew how to wield his quirk as a dangerous weapon; it wouldn’t be out of character for him to beat his other classmates. If anything, the hardest part for him would be coming in second and not first. Even then, he had the option of faking an injury or something to give Izuku the chance to get a leg up and make his win look believable. 

Izuku didn’t have that option. He would have to fight his classmates and the students from other courses with nothing but a quirk that didn’t like him and his wits, but not all his wits. He couldn’t let on that he had a lot more experience in battle and the kind of challenges they were going to be facing than he was supposed to. 

On the other hand, Izuku couldn’t be more excited. He was finally getting a chance to start making a name for himself on the hero side of things. 

He was infamous in the Criminal Underground of Japan. Saying the name ‘Jade’ was enough to make most villains shake in their boots. Saying the name ‘Midoriya ’ to people who were in the know would prove to be even scarier. 

He was Organization. He was 1st Circle, even considered part of the Council. He was one of The Big Three. He was a Midoriya. He was going to be the next All For One. He was powerful, confident, mysterious, and dangerous. The kind of person you didn’t want to upset. The kind of person that made people run just by showing up. 

Those who knew him through rumors were either terrified of him or didn’t believe he existed until they came face to face with him. Those who had met him wondered how someone with such overwhelming power and unavoidable force could even exist, and they were terrified of him too. Those who had met him and knew how someone with his overwhelming amount of power and unavoidable force could exist tended to be even more terrified of him. It made Izuku feel sure of himself. It gave him confidence, made him feel like maybe he could take on the title of All For One someday. He didn’t have that with the heroes. 

Sure, heroes were scared of him. Sure, lots of them felt the same terror of him that the villains and vigilantes did. But Izuku didn’t want that. Fear was one way to control people, but Izuku knew that the best way was always trust. It was getting someone to care about you. It’s always infinitely harder to stand up to your friends than to stand up to your enemies. 

Plus, while part of him liked being feared, a larger part of him always felt uncomfortable with the idea. He would much rather be looked up to, make people happy, not afraid. Make them feel safe. He was supposed to save the world someday. It would be hard to do that if everyone was afraid of him. 

The Sports Festival was his first chance. He finally had the ability to make the heroes see him. He could make an impression on them, and hopefully a good one. If everything went according to plan, he had no doubt he’d make a good one. First place was nothing to scoff at, and Izuku was aiming for the top. 

The hard part was going to be getting there. 

Tensei was on edge. The Hero Killer was in Hosu, and based on his killing patterns, he wasn’t finished with the heroes there yet. 

Tensei was jumpier than he usually was; quicker to turn and twitchy on his feet. The alleyways in between buildings seemed to call to him. A sickly, unsettling hum of danger as he remembered looking at the statistics for how many heroes had been brutally murdered in the backstreets and alleys of previous cities the Hero Killer had hunted in. 

Tensei checked in with his sidekicks and hero partners as often as he could. They’d decided to do a headcount and a role-call every hour to make sure that everyone was still awake and alive. They were supposed to be traveling in groups of three too, but Tensei had gone off on his own for a moment to take out a small villain who was robbing a convenience store. He’d told his teammates to go on ahead, and now he was in the process of catching up to them again. 

Exhaustion tugged at Tensei’s feet and caused his eyelids to droop. He and his team had been awake every night for a week now, trying to catch the Hero Killer. It hadn’t done much besides make them exhausted. They couldn’t stop though. What they were doing was too important. 

The sight of heroes getting carted away on stretchers in more and more news footage haunted Tensei. 

The worst part was that those carried away on stretchers were the lucky ones. Most who faced the infamous vigilante didn’t get that lucky. He was called the ‘Hero Killer’ for a reason, and it wasn’t a pleasant one. 

When Tensei closed his eyes, all he could see was the face of the first of Stain’s Hosu victims. Tensei hadn’t known the hero well, but they’d been acquaintances. He’d attended the guy’s funeral and felt awkward being around tons of people who knew him personally. He felt like he had to attend though, to pay his respects. From everything he’d known about the guy, he hadn’t done anything even close to deserving of the fate that he’d gotten. 

Tensei kept running. Anxiety had deeply rooted itself in his brain a while ago, and he hadn’t managed to shake it. 

It was dark out, he was tired and on edge; but he didn’t stop. The silence was eerie, unsettling. There weren’t many people on the streets, especially in this section of town. It was mostly businesses, and everyone had gone home for the night. The streets were empty. Tensei felt a chill go up his spine. 

Fear and anxiety sunk its claws deeper and deeper into Tensei’s brain. 

With a sharp jolt of alarm, he realized that they weren’t his feelings. They were in his brain, and he could feel them, but they weren’t his. 

‘A fear quirk .’ 

He couldn’t help but remember reports of heroes freezing with fear at just the sight of Stain. He couldn’t help remembering the files on his desk, filled with all the information they had on the man. Ideas for what his quirk might be. 

The words, ‘Paralyzing fear quirk’ sitting at the top of the list. 

Tensei felt panic spike in his mind as he came to the horrifying conclusion that he was being stalked. He could feel Stain’s eyes on him, watching. He swore every shadow was a threat, every cloud over the moon was about to be the death of him. Every alleyway seemed cloaked in danger, the very air around him was constricting and crushing his lungs, and he couldn’t breathe, and his vision was dark around the edges, and the world was spinning-

Tensei forced himself to take a deep breath, but the second he moved his hand to reach for his comm, there was a knife buried in his arm. Tensei couldn’t hear himself scream, but he felt the air leave his lungs as the shout ripped out of him. He couldn’t feel anything except paralyzing fear. It gripped him, making his legs freeze as he tumbled head over heels to a harsh stop, the speed he had previously been running at proving to be his downfall. Tensei didn’t feel himself hit the ground, didn’t feel the edges of his costume cutting into his skin, only felt panic. 

If Tensei thought he felt afraid before, he felt downright terrified to the point he was sick now. The fear gripped him like it was an animal intent on ripping him to shreds. He felt his nerves fray and his breath leave him entirely. His heart was beating so fast, too fast, and he couldn’t hear anything over the pounding in his ears and the buzzing in his brain. He couldn’t see anything except black edges and shadows swirling at the edges of his vision and he swore there was blood soaking into the clothing he wore under his armor but he couldn’t be sure, because if it was blood then why was it so cold, and why did he feel so cold, and he was freezing, he couldn’t move, and he was terrified, terrified like he’d never been before, terrified like he hadn’t been aware a person could feel, so terrified he couldn’t move, so terrified he felt cold all the way through, like his bones were frozen and his blood was ice, and he was so terrified

So terrified he didn’t register when a hard boot kicked him into the alleyway he’d stopped his tumble in front of hard enough to send him flying. So terrified he didn’t realize there was a knife being thrown at him until it was buried in his leg, right through a chink in his armor. So terrified he didn’t even feel the pain, just cold and buzzing like there was a swarm of bees in his brain trying to get out through his skin. So terrified he didn’t feel the blood soaking through his underclothing (for real this time). So terrified he didn’t register anything, couldn’t feel anything, except fear. 

Just as soon as the unrelenting, unforgiving terror had gripped him, Tensei felt it leave his body sharply, and he crashed back to reality like he was hitting the pavement after jumping from the top of a skyscraper. He gasped, shocked to be able to breathe again, and heat returned to his body at the same time the pain did. Tensei was made aware of the knife in his thigh, and the knife in his arm which was still stuck from earlier. Tensei felt tears come to his eyes from how much it hurt, and that surprised him because it wasn’t often that he cried. 

Tensei’s vision caught on the pair of boots standing in front of him. They looked like they’d seen better days. They were dusty, dirty, and rusty. Some of the rust looked like it might have been blood. They were old boots, nearly falling apart, but metal spikes rimmed the edges of them and though they were beat up, they looked professionally made. 

Tensei could think clearly now, but terror gripped him again anyways, only this time it was his own terror, not terror generated by a quirk. It spawned from the horrible, sinking feeling in the pit of his gut. The feeling that he knew exactly who those boots belonged to.

Tensei tried to reach his comms, but found himself unable to move even still. He was frozen. Paralyzed. Panic gripped him once more as he struggled in vain to get any of his limbs to cooperate. To his horror, he found the only parts of his body he could still control were his mouth, eyes, and lungs. Thankfully, he could breathe, but Tensei realized that might not be the case for long. He could hear the pounding of his heart in his ears, drowning out the noises around him and making the tears come to his eyes faster. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t move.  

Tensei could look though. He could look up and up and up until he was staring into the face of a killer, the face that had been the last sight of so many good people, good heroes, the face of the person was probably about to be the last person that Tensei himself saw. Tensei felt his breath leave his body again, and he could’ve sworn the night around him froze even as the concrete he was laying on spun. He couldn't speak, even though he still had control of his mouth, he couldn’t look away even though he still had control of his eyes, and he couldn't breathe even though he still had control of his lungs. 

“You're a fake ,” Stain spit the words like they were a vile poison, like they tasted disgusting on his tongue. He spit them like one might spit words at their greatest enemy, at someone who had ruined their entire life, burned down their house and killed their entire family. Tensei felt the hatred rolling on him in waves.  If he could’ve forced himself to form a coherent thought, he might’ve wondered why Stain hated him so much. What had he done ?

Tensei couldn’t find it within himself to say anything back, to retort or to argue. The words settled in between his ears, making the swarm of bees in his brain start again in their frenzy, and Tensei felt like his skin was being torn apart from the inside out. Fake, fake, fake.

He could taste copper. He could smell blood. He could feel it soaking into his skin. It glittered on the concrete. 

Tensei was both numb and able to feel everything at once in startling detail, from the pain in his arm and thigh to the cool night air on his face. 

Tensei couldn’t remember when he’d lost his helmet, but he could feel the wind on his skin. It was cold . Tensei felt cold again, but this time it wasn’t Stain’s quirk making him so terrified. At the same time, Tensei was on fire. Tensei’s skin was burning. He felt both numb and everything at once in startling detail. 

There was no warning before a sword was out of its sheath and slicing down. Tensei didn’t have time to brace himself, and even if he’d been given the time he wouldn’t have been able to prepare himself. He was still frozen, paralyzed, both from fear and from Stain’s quirk. 

Tensei didn’t feel the pain. His eyes didn’t register the final moments he was awake. He couldn’t hear the sound of Stain’s last words to him, didn’t even realize that his mouth was moving. The pounding of his heart in his ears was too loud. He felt like he was choking, but there was nothing to choke on in his mouth except for the taste of blood and copper and concrete. Tensei felt dizzy for a single moment, like the world was spinning around him, moving faster than he himself had ever moved even with a quirk like his. He might’ve screamed again, but he couldn'’t be sure. 

Tensei felt blackness clawing at the edges of his vision. He fought against it for the smallest fraction of a moment before it overtook him, sinking claws in and dragging him down into the depths of terror and pain and darkness.

Tensei felt nothing except the cold baking his skin from the inside out and an explosion of pain consuming him to the point he was dizzy. 

Tensei lost consciousness.

Chapter Text

In Katsuki’s opinion, their classroom was a terrible place to be stuck in until the bell rang. Even on a day when they should’ve been focusing and preparing themselves for the Sports Festival, it was far too loud. Katsuki was trying to go over the plan in his head one last time, but he was being distracted right now by several loud extras. 

Katsuki tried very hard to ignore them. They hovered around him like flies and tried to engage him in conversation. They just wouldn’t leave, and wouldn’t stop chattering on and on about stupid things. Nothing but absolute nonsense.  

Katsuki had turned around and yelled at them several times, but they were still hanging around him. Katsuki shot Deku an irritated look across the room. Deku’s brain sparked in the familiar colors of a coded message. 

‘You seem to be quite popular.’  

Katsuki continued to seethe, mad at one more person than he had been previously.

Midoriya Inko had taken the day off today. She didn’t often take an entire day off, (being on the Council was a job that tended to take up a lot of your time,) but she figured she could make an exception today. Her and her daughter Eri were going to be watching the 1st Years’ Sports Festival. 

“Izu’s going to win, right?” Eri bounced excitedly on the couch. She’d been given the day off too. Usually, she’d be training with her private tutors right now. 

Inko smiled, “Yes, Izu’s going to win.”

Eri clapped her hands, “I can’t wait to see! What’s Kacchan going to get?”

Inko turned to look back at the TV. Present Mic’s voice flowed through the speakers as he began to introduce himself to the crowd, “Katsuki is going to get second.”

Eri nodded, “That makes sense.”

Inko paused for a moment, turning to look at her daughter, “Did dad explain the plan to you already?” 

Eri shook her head happily, “No, but Izu always wins! He’s the strongest.”

Inko supposed that made sense, from Eri’s point of view. Of course she would think her big brother was the strongest. Of course she would connect that to her brother always winning. 

“Sometimes Katsuki wins,” Inko reminded Eri, “Katsuki is very strong too, you know.” 

Eri seemed to consider this for a moment, eyebrows furrowing. 

“Ok,” she responded after a small pause. She didn’t sound convinced. 

Inko sighed, smiling to herself. Eri didn’t need to worry about who was going to be winning and who wasn’t. She was safe here, at home in The Bunker, and perfectly content watching the Festival from afar. 

There wasn’t much time left before the Festival would truly begin, and Katsuki was more irritated than usual. The waiting room his class had been led into felt cramped with their entire class shoved in it, and it was still loud because everyone seemed to insist on talking and talking and talking . They hadn’t stopped for the entire 20 minutes they’d been told to sit in the waiting room and prepare. 

When they suddenly started to fall silent, Katsuki took notice, looking up from glaring at the table for the first time in a while now to see what everyone was looking at. 

To his immense surprise, it was Half-and-Half that had caused them to shut up. He’d stepped away from the corner he’d been sulking in and walked up to Deku as if he were going to say something. Katsuki narrowed his eyes and waited for him to speak. 

Bakugou Mitsuki was busy today. She had to organize and oversee the formation of the Vanguard Action Squad, a new sect of the LOV they were planning on using for their next attack. That included selecting villains for the squad as well as finding them and setting up ways for them to meet with Giran. She was also in charge of supervising negotiations between two rival gangs that wanted to control the boating and fishing industry in the same region. In addition to that, she had to plan a raid on an HPSC base that was happening later that month and work out which vigilante group they were going to blame it on and the specifics of how they were going to frame them. 

Mitsuki could handle it. She’d been handling it for as long as she could remember. She’d become The Hope earlier than most of her predecessors did, when she was still only 19, but she had plenty of people to split the workload with. Hisashi had always been a big help, and Masaru had been supporting her even before she took on the role. Mitsuki knew what she was doing. She knew how to prioritize tasks and manage her schedule. She finished everything she needed to with plenty of time to spare. It was rare that she took a day off. 

Mitsuki certainly wasn’t going to today. Just because he son’s current mission was being televised didn’t mean she had to supervise it. Besides, even if something went wrong, (unlikely,) Inko, Masaru, and probably even Hisashi were watching it. 

Mitsuki would watch it later if she needed to, and only if she had the free time. 

Half-and-Half had challenged Deku. Deku of all people. As if he’d done anything remotely near to deserving of it. Half-and-Half had absolutely no business challenging him out of everyone in their class. Especially when Katsuki was there. What did Half-and-Half see in him? Not only that, but who did he think he was, challenging Deku? What gave him the right to act like he was better than the rest of them?

Katsuki wasted no time in voicing his displeasure at this new development, but he went mostly ignored. The rest of his stupid classmates were all chatting like birds, giggling and wondering about the new and exciting declaration from Icy-hot and Deku’s cheesily cliche response. Katsuki seethed. 

That bastard. Katsuki watched him strut out the door of the waiting room and promised himself that he would put him in his place. Icy-hot wasn’t going to make it far, Katsuki would make sure of that. He could make sure of that. Halfie’s placement in the festival was inconsequential to the greater mission. 

Katsuki glared at the spot where he’d left the room and slightly altered the plan in his head. . 

‘He’s going to regret overlooking me

Hisashi turned on the radio station Present Mic was broadcasting the Sports Festival through and began to work on paperwork. He wanted to listen in and know how Izuku and Katsuki were doing in the Sports Festival, but he also knew that it would probably be irresponsible to neglect his work. Listening in on the radio station while he did work was a good middle ground. 

The first part where Present Mic was simply introducing everything and getting the crowd hyped up was fairly uninteresting. Hisashi tuned out the noise of the radio and focused on his work. It wasn’t until Present Mic said the name ‘Bakugou Katsuki’ that he paused for a moment to listen in. 

The opening speech was always given by the hero student who ranked first in the entrance exam. That meant Katsuki this year. As always, Katsuki delivered his message quickly and without preamble, getting straight to the point and refusing to apologize for the content of the message. 

Nevertheless, his declaration that he was going to get first place caused nothing but angry uproar among the audience members. Hisashi smiled a bit to himself, sighing. Katsuki could handle it. If Hisashi could see his face right now, he had no doubt that it would be unflinching. Sometimes, Katsuki really really reminded Hisashi of his mother. 

Mission-wise, it was a smart move. Ensuring that the crowd knew exactly what his intentions were before he entered the Sports Festival would give them a clearer picture of who he was and what he wanted. It would give them a better view of the narrative that Izuku and Katsuki were putting together in order to bait the LOV into attempting to recruit Katsuki. When Izuku won the Sports Festival and Katsuki got second, it wouldn’t be nearly as surprising when he threw a fit about it. It was easier to paint him as the villain that way, at least in the public’s eyes. After all, no one likes a sore loser, and they like someone who’s cocky and rude even less. 

Not only that, but Katsuki had backed himself into a corner now. He couldn’t lose without facing embarrassment. Losing the Sports Festival meant losing his dignity as well, in a way that would be hard to forget. He’d set the bar high for himself, and failing to reach it could very easily ignite the kind of outburst Katsuki was planning on acting out. 

The final advantage it had was painting a complete and clear narrative, not just for the people watching individually, but for the country and all the media coverage of the event as a whole. Hisashi had no doubt that Katsuki’s reputation as a hero student would take a dive after this, and that’s what they were planning on. When he was inevitably invited to join the league, the rest of the media would jump on the story and cover it even more closely than they normally would. Whatever event resulted from the rest of the plan The Council had for the LOV and Katsuki would be everywhere in the news no matter what the outcome would be. They could work with that. They could definitely work with that. 

Hisashi smiled and went back to focusing on his work. There was going to be an obstacle course as the first event. He had no doubt that neither Izuku nor Katsuki would have any trouble with it. 

Katsuki blocked out the annoyed jeering and booing of the crowd and made his way down from the podium. He’d said his piece. If he flinched now, if he showed any remorse or weakness in his decision, then it was all over. In order for this to work, he had to hold his head high and walk with purpose. 

Midnight was announced to be their ‘chief umpire,’ whatever that was supposed to mean, and gestured to holograms behind her showing off detailed graphics and bright animations that were as excessive as they were unnecessary. Katsuki couldn’t help rolling his eyes at the dramatization of it all. 

As Midnight went over the rules of the obstacle course, Katsuki could feel the hostility rolling off the people around him. It was distracting to the point that he almost couldn’t hear what Midnight was saying over the wall of burning irritation he could feel directed at him from every direction from the minds of the people around him. 

Katsuki pulled his quirk further into himself. He focused on the eb and flow of his own mind, forcing the feelings of the people around him out of his own head and blocking them out to the best of his abilities. He managed to get the hostility from his other classmates quiet enough that it was simply a dull hum in the back of his mind, like an itch he couldn’t scratch. Katsuki grit his teeth and tried to focus on what Midnight was saying. 

There appeared to be only one rule: Everyone had to stay within the boundaries of the Obstacle Course. As the crowd of students made their way to the starting tunnel, Katsuki didn’t even bother looking to see if the wheels in Deku’s head were turning at a mile a minute. He was certain they were. 

Deku shouldn't have any problem figuring out a way to pass onto the next event even without a quirk. Katsuki would have even less of a problem; if anything, the hardest part for him would be holding back. What he needed was a power threshold, something to base his own speed off of to make sure that he wasn’t too far ahead. Katsuki looked around at the students surrounding him until his gaze fell on the current bane of his existence. 

Katsuki’s eyes narrowed. 

‘Half-and-Half. I can keep pace with him .’

The buzzer sounded, and the massive crowd of students around Katsuki surged forward. Katsuki grinned wickedly and let the sparks in his hands ignite. 

Bakugou Masaru had work to do. He had reports he needed to review, papers he needed to write, and lab schedules he had to look over. Despite this, he also knew that he had a Sports Festival to watch. 

Mitsuki was too busy to watch the Festival. Masaru knew that, and he didn’t expect her to take the time to watch it anyways. In all honesty, he didn’t have to watch it either, but he felt like Katsuki should have at least one of his parents watching the festival. Plus, he wanted to watch. 

Masaru loved seeing his son succeed at stuff, and he knew for sure that he would do wonderfully in the Festival. Getting second place would be easy for him, and Masaru couldn’t wait to see him achieve his goals.

The first event was about to begin by the time he managed to find a good time to turn on the TV. Present Mic was counting down louder than he needed to and Masaru hurried to turn the volume down. Mic’s excited commentary fell into the background of his mind as white noise as he watched the student’s emerge from the starting tunnel.  Almost immediately, ice exploded out after them, covering everything in a thick layer of frozen crystals and rooting all the competitors to their spots like statues. The cries of outrage and confusion could be heard even from all the way down in the arena, and Masaru noted Endeavor’s kid sliding out in front of the pack, ice forming a trail behind him and spreading to make the course slippery and more treacherous than it already was. He wasn’t the only one who seemed unaffected.

His own son, of course, blasted up from the crowd and ran out ahead of the pack among whom Masaru could only assume were his classmates. Izuku had escaped without being frozen as well, although farther behind his classmates as he ran without use of a quirk. 

Masaru nodded to himself and took out some paperwork so he could watch the TV while he worked. 

Masaru would have to tell Mitsuki about what happened later. He had no doubt the first event would be an exciting one. 

Katsuki could feel air whipping through his hair and wind under his feet as he soared through the air, heat exploding out of his hands and pushing him forwards faster and faster. Not as fast as he could’ve gone. 

Half-And-Half set the pace for the two of them, Katsuki forcing himself to slow enough to stay just at his side, not overtaking him yet. They were finally neck-and-neck after Katsuki spent the first sections of the obstacle course chasing his tail. 

The mines they flew over blew up behind them, sending shockwaves through Katsuki’s very bones, making his teeth chatter and his fingers shake. Even with the relentlessly neverending waves being sent through his body incessant as an earthquake, Katsuki didn’t waver. He stayed on course, flying straight through the air like a bullet, unstoppable even as the ground behind him was ripped to shreds and the wind in front of him hit his face like a freight train. 

Although the fire in his hands left a blazing trail of heat and smoke behind him, Katsuki still felt the sheer wall of cold and ice from his opponent racing next to him. While Katsuki flew through the air, Half-and-Half glided across the ground. He was graceful even in his mad dash to the finish, even as he moved so fast the mines behind him couldn’t touch him. He skated across the ground like a man possessed. Katsuki could think of nothing but speed, nothing but reaching the finish line and beating Half-and-Half, the bastard who thought he had the right to challenge Deku and not Katsuki. The fire under Katsuki’s skin burned hotter and propelled him farther as anger lit the explosions in his palms. 

Katsuki couldn’t hear anything except the wind in his ears and the constant crack and pop of explosion after explosion, both from him and the ground underneath him. It drowned out the beating of his heart, pounding so hard he could feel it in his chest and in the tips of his fingers, which blazed hot from detonation after detonation of the nitroglycerin in his hands. 

If the explosions behind him and the wind in front of him was unrelenting, then so was Katsuki; he refused to back down, refused to slow no matter how much the wind in front of him stung his face or the cold to his left froze his skin or the fire behind him burned his fingers or the explosions on the ground unbalanced him or the carmel smell that surrounded him made his stomach turn. 

Katsuki refused to stumble. 

His laser focus on the finish line was abruptly broken by a noise behind him that was so loud Katsuki could feel it in his bones. The earth rumbled in an earthquake that sent shockwaves through his bones so strong he could’ve sworn his skeleton rattled. His teeth chattered so sharply, he almost bit his tongue. Katsuki risked falling behind by turning around to see what could’ve possibly made such a noise. 

There was a giant pink and purple cloud behind him near the beginning of the minefield. Everyone around it seemed to be screaming and stumbling, and Katsuki couldn’t help but feel thankful that he wasn’t any closer to the explosion than he already was. He guessed even the people in the stands could feel it. 

‘Did UA hide stronger bombs among the regular ones? Did they just set off stronger ones now that almost everyone is on the minefield?’ Katsuki’s brain worked furiously to come up with an explanation for what had just happened, ‘Was it someone’s quirk? ’ 

It wasn’t until he saw a face that he was very familiar with emerge from the cloud soaring through the air on what looked like a metal sled that Katsuki knew what had happened all at once. 


Of course it was Deku. Who else could it have possibly been?

Katsuki immediately understood what Deku’s plan was and turned around to ignore the bullet hurtling through the air towards him and blast himself through the air again, faster and more desperate than he’d been before. The Half-and-Half bastard followed suit. 

Deku wasn’t launched as far as Katsuki had originally thought. Katsuki was able to sense his brain thinking furiously as he flew across the field, and he realized somewhat belatedly that Deku was going to be landing right on top of him and Icy-hot in a few seconds if they kept moving at the pace they were flying. 

Katsuki grit his teeth and didn’t dare slow down, instead choosing to brace for the imminent collision. 

The second Deku hit them, Katsuki realized that even though Deku had gone through all the effort of launching himself through the air, they were about to leave him behind. 

That was, until Deku slammed the broken off section of robot he’d flown across the sky on down at their feet. A mine exploded directly in front of them, and all three of them ran directly into it. 

Katsuki couldn’t help but stumble, and he saw Half-and-Half do the same. 

Deku, meanwhile, used the explosion to launch himself forward again and took off running through the tunnel. 

Neither Katsuki or Half-and-Half could catch him before he passed the finish line. 

The second Izuku was announced as the winner, Eri erupted into cheers. She’d been on the edge of her seat the entire time they’d been watching the first event. Inko smiled down at her daughter and clapped with her. 

“That was so amazing!” Eri exclaimed, “I thought he was going to get hurt, falling from so high up, but he won instead!” 

“Yes!” Inko smiled brightly, “He certainly did.” 

Eri jumped up and danced around the living room, “Izu won! Izu won! Izu won! He’s the very very very best!”

Inko laughed and clapped along with her. She was proud of her son. He’d managed to win the first event of the sports festival without using a quirk at all. He’d stayed in character, and he’d made himself known to the crowd as someone to watch out for. Inko didn’t even mind that what he’d done had been dangerous. She knew to trust her son to know his own limits, and he’d been smart enough to use the section of robot that he’d broken off in order to protect himself. 

Katsuki had also done well. He’d managed to get third, which was respectable, especially considering he’d been racing Endeavor’s kid for first place up until the very end. 

Izuku getting first even without using a quirk would ensure that when he eventually won the festival entirely (while hopefully using his extremely destructive quirk as little as possible) it would be more believable. He’d proven that his intelligence and strategy was as fearsome as his strength early on. It was the perfect way to start the competition. 

The only noise in Tomura’s room was the quiet hum of the air conditioner and the dull sound of the Sports Festival coming from the speakers in his beaten up laptop. He sat crouched in his desk chair, staring at the screen and barely blinking. The only light in his room came from his computer, illuminating his face in pale white light. Tomura had half a mind to turn the brightness down, but he didn’t feel like it. He was angry .

He’d been so close . One more moment, and All Might would’ve been dead. If only that hero brat hadn’t gotten in the way, Tomura would’ve won. Instead, he was the laughing stock of the villain world. The League of Villains was nothing more than a failed mission, people who were crazy for thinking they could attack UA and get away with it. He’d been so close, but that wretched horrible stupid hero student had gotten in his way, and now Tomura had nothing.  

Watching the Sports Festival only made Tomura more mad. There was that little brat, winning the first event in the most dramatic way possible and making himself noticeable immediately. He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve it. Not after he’d ruined Tomura’s plan. Not after he’d almost killed Tomura. 

Tomura could still remember reaching for that hero girl’s face and feeling the cold buzzing in his fingers leave him at just the wrong time. 

He could still remember turning around and coming face to face with the furious, bloody face of Eraserhead and making eye contact with the eyes that had taken his most valuable weapon away from him. He could still remember the rage and panic mixing in Eraserhead’s eyes before Nomu smashed his head into the ground one final time. He could still remember feeling the ice under the skin in his fingers return as destruction and decay returned, ready to burst out of his hands like it always had before. 

He remembered turning back to look at the hero student before the smell of sulfur reached his nose and he turned slightly to meet eyes burning furiously green. He remembered feeling the power in the student next to him like an atomic bomb ready to explode, so potent the air crackled and sizzled like it was on fire and Tomura felt with absolute certainty that the next blow delivered to him would be the last he ever faced. 

He hadn’t known until that moment just how scary the color green could be. 

He also remembered feeling nothing but sharp relief when Nomu stepped in front of him and took the blow. He remembered feeling the blow hit in his bones, in his feet as the earth seemed to shift under him and the air surrounding them expanded outwards like an asteroid had hit. 

He also remembered swearing that the power he’d felt contained in the student next to him was far vaster than what he’d just displayed. He remembered wondering if the student was holding back, and then wondering what he might be capable of doing when he didn’t. 

Tomura glared at his laptop screen and the name being shouted by the annoyingly loud hero announcer and watched as the leaderboard was displayed on his screen. 

Midoriya Izuku .

Tomura seethed. 

Tomura remembered being so close, reaching for All Might and knowing that he was about to win, that the old hero was too weak to defend himself. He remembered the feel of assured victory humming through his bones and making his fingers cold with the itch to kill and destroy. He remembered smelling sulfur again, and turning to come face to face with the same furious green eyes as before, feeling the air burn around him and understanding with absolute certainty that now was his time. Nomu had stopped the student before, but he wouldn’t be stopped again. He could feel the power rolling off the student’s skin, gathering around him like a cloak and spreading through the air like a disease. Tomura remembered his hand entering one of Kurogiri’s portals to redirect and reach for the hero student, and remembered feeling the satisfaction of knowing that decay could kill anything it touched, even including power as great as he was facing. Claws of ice reached for the hero brat and anger spurred the buzzing under his skin to burn colder. If Tomura had been the type, he might’ve smiled. 

Tomura also remembered the sharp pain of being shot in the hand and the instinctual reaction to pull away, even from a kill so tempting. He’d been so close. So close. Why was this child allowed to study to become a hero when he was so willing to kill Tomura? Why was his violence acceptable, and Tomura’s not? 

Tomura could recognize the need to kill. He saw it reflected back at him whenever he looked in a mirror. He’d seen it in furious green eyes at the USJ in the eyes of someone who was supposed to be a hero. Someone who was supposed to be the good guy. 

Tomura glared at his laptop screen and seethed at the injustice, the unfairness of it all. He wanted to scream and break things, stomp his feet and slam his door and throw a tantrum. He wasn’t a child anymore though. He was above that kind of behavior. 

That didn’t stop him from itching at the sides of his neck like he wanted to peel all the skin off and cursing Midoriya’s name under his breath like a man possessed. 

Tomura almost shut the laptop off then and there, but found the next event was being announced, and to his delight, it appeared as though Midoriya would have the short end of the stick this time. 

A cavalry battle where everyone would be targeting the person in first place. 

Tomura watched with sadistic satisfaction as Midoriya seemed to realize that every student in the crowd around him wanted nothing more than to be his enemy. Tomura could almost feel the hostility of the hero students through the screen, it was so potent. He almost felt like cackling. 

This was perfect. Tomura hoped one of the students accidentally took Midoriya’s head off when they reached for his headband. 

The second the students were released to figure out their teams, Denki rushed towards Todoroki. The person in second place was the best person to team up with if Denki wanted to win, and he definitely wanted to win. If he got farther than Tooru in the Sports Festival, he could hold it over her head forever. Plus, he’d get more internship offers and have more options when picking where he was going to go. 

When he got too close to Todoroki, the air temperature seemed to drop a few degrees. Denki didn’t let his smile fall when he saw the cool rage barely concealed on the other boy’s face as planted himself right in front of him. Before he could start talking, Todoroki interrupted him. 

“You can send out electric area attacks that electrocute all the people surrounding you, right?” 

Denki blinked, “Yeah, but I can’t control where they go. If I use those, it’ll hit my team too.” Denki hesitated for a second before continuing, “Yoayorozu made a blanket at the USJ that protected her and Jirou when I used the attack though.” 

Todoroki seemed to consider this, searching the crowd for Yoayorozu. 

He turned back to lock eyes with Denki. 

“I like the way you think.” Todoroki’s voice was cold and even. 

Denki smiled. 

Katsuki felt no remorse for Deku. Most of the students seemed to be avoiding him like a plague. He’d be lucky if he could find anyone to team up with. Katsuki, meanwhile, had people surrounding him and trying to get his attention from all sides. 

Icy-Hot didn’t appear to have the same problem. Somehow he managed to seem more unapproachable than Katsuki did. 

Hisashi sighed when he heard the announcers announce a cavalry battle. Having to rely on other people would be a handicap for both Izuku and Katsuki. Besides that, the twist that the person in first would be at the largest disadvantage was a cruel one, especially considering no one knew what Izuku’s quirk was yet, and those who did knew that whenever he used it he broke his bones. There was no good reason to team up with Izuku. If anything, it was probably the option that Hisashi would advise against the most. 

The second Katsuki had his team together, he ignored all their attempts to engage him in conversation and looked around lazily to take in the competition. 

Somehow Deku had managed to find two girls to join his team already and appeared to be marching across the field like he had a good idea of who the fourth person on his team should be. Katsuki noted that Four-Eyes wasn’t with him and moved on. 

It was then that he spotted him. The copy-cat.

He looked just as much like a rat in person as he did in his file. His smile was sleazy and his eyes glinted as he laughed maniacally. Was he trying to imitate a cheap comic book villain?

Katsuki had avoided him easily during the first event, but the second event might give the rat a chance to copy his quirk, and that would be a problem. 

According to Deku, they could guess based on his family’s quirk history that if he copied the quirk of someone with multiple quirks, the only thing that determined which quirk he’d copy was chance. Katsuki could handle chance. Chance was easily manipulated, bending under his words like he was sculpting clay. He thought his words over carefully before speaking under his breath as quietly as he could. 

“I hope ,” Katsuki began, “ that if Monoma Neito uses his quirk on me, he copies my explosion quirk. I hope that if Monoma Neito uses his quirk on Midoriya Izuku, he copies One For All.” 

“Did you say something?” Stupid Hair asked, looking at him quizzically. 

“Just that you all need to SHUT UP!” Katsuki glared at his teammates and raised his voice to make sure they didn’t ask questions again.

Chapter Text

Todoroki Touya usually didn’t watch TV. He didn’t own one, to begin with. Too expensive, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that he moved around constantly. Everything he owned had to fit in an old, slightly charred duffel bag so he could leave quickly if he needed to. Even the smallest model of TV wouldn’t fit. In theory, he could watch shows on his phone, but it was an old, junky one that didn’t get internet 90% of the time. He’d bought it dirt cheap off a guy who smelled like the bottom of a dumpster. Touya would know what that smelled like. He’d slept at the bottom of a few. 

If he really wanted to watch something, he could potentially go to a movie theater, or even find out which bar or restaurant was playing it and watch while he got a drink, but both of those things required money and he didn’t necessarily have a steady source of income. Oftentimes, paying for an apartment or a hotel room was expensive enough. 

Today was a special occasion, however. There was a bar just a block down from his apartment playing the Sports Festival today, and his youngest brother was going to be on TV. 

Touya got to the bar 5 minutes after the festival had already started, ordered a drink he couldn’t pay for, and settled in to watch the show. 

Izuku had to fight to keep from panicking. The second Todoroki managed to grab his headband, he’d felt fear seize him. If he couldn’t pass through this round, then he failed the mission automatically. He needed to get that headband back. Whatever the cost. 

Izuku wasn’t thinking straight. His mind whirled at a mile a minute, sending him tons of solutions and ways to get the headband back in increasingly unhelpful ways. A hundred ideas he couldn’t use because although he had any quirk he wanted at his disposal, he was completely unable to use any of them except the one quirk that didn’t want him to use it. Izuku felt helpless, and he hated it. 

It made his skin crawl, made him feel like he was being watched by hundreds of angry eyes. Made him remember people surrounding him, looking down on him laughing. He was helpless. Useless. He couldn’t be useless. He wasn’t allowed to be useless. Helplessness made him remember things he didn’t want to remember. 

He couldn’t stand the feeling. 

Izuku grit his teeth and shoved it down. 

He didn’t have the time to think of a better idea than just rushing to attack and giving all he had. There was one minute left. The ticking of the clock and chanting of the crowd sent spikes of anxiety through his body. Izuku fought to keep his head above the surface and not succumb to panic. 

Izuku refused to stand by and be helpless. 

Shouto hadn’t expected Midoriya’s team to fly towards them so fast. He hadn’t expected Midoriya to activate his quirk. He hadn’t expected to come face to face with power like that. 

Shouto was helpless to do anything but watch as Midoriya reached out towards him. He smelled sulfur in the air, so thick it burned his nostrils and made his eyes sting like he was inhaling smoke. He felt the air around them heat up like a furnace, igniting and sparking. The cold feeling of looking into the face of something so horrifyingly, unnaturally powerful sunk into his bones, spread under his skin like a plague, and turned his insides to ice. He was facing a hurricane, a tornado, a tsunami, a thunderstorm, a forest fire blazing in the night and lighting up the sky. 

All he could smell was sulfur and ash. 

All he could hear was the pounding of his heart in his ears and the earth shaking under his feet. 

All he could taste was the bile in his mouth and a burning on his tongue like a thunderstorm was about to start. 

All he could feel was the heat in the air burning his skin and the cold in his bones freezing him from the inside out. 

All he could see was sickly green, glowing radioactive and making his stomach turn. 

All he knew was that this was a power that he couldn’t comprehend, couldn’t understand. Could never replicate and could never hope to fight. 

In the last moments before that power reached him, Shouto reacted before he could think. 

Fire blazed to life on his arm. 

Touya hadn’t seen Shouto use his fire even once throughout the entire tournament. From what he’d heard from the few people who’d escaped the police after the USJ attack, he hadn’t used his fire there either. Several of them spoke of him using his ice, (one of them told a story of a student with hair half-red and half-white freezing everyone in the zone he was in and threatening to kill them if he didn’t get information,) but he never used his fire. If Touya had to guess, that meant he was making a conscious effort not to use it, even in the midst of a villain attack. 

It made sense, he supposed. If he had the option to use something other than fire, he would’ve chosen that too, but he didn’t have that option. For him though, it was a bit different. Whenever he used his fire, the skin on his arms and face began to burn. It was dangerous for him. Shouto, on the other hand, would be safer using both sides of his quirk. Which is why Touya grit his teeth and slammed his drink down on the bar counter a bit harsher than he needed to every time his little brother was granted an opportunity to use his fire and didn’t take it. 

Shouto was supposed to be the golden child. His old man’s perfect creation. He had everything in the world compared to Touya, and yet he insisted on only putting half of his all into it. 

He could’ve had everything. He could’ve been everything Touya ever wanted to be, and here he was throwing it away, all for the sake of making their old man mad. 

On the one hand, Touya could respect that. He himself wanted nothing more than to make one Todoroki Enji mad. On the other hand, Shouto could’ve had everything , and he was choosing spite over taking it. 

At least until the cavalry battle. 

Touya was starting to get disinterested watching the green-haired boy’s team evade his little brother’s for such a long time. All watching this was accomplishing was making him angrier and angrier the longer Shouto didn’t use his fire, and more and more bored as nothing within the competition changed. He considered downing the rest of his drink and leaving until his brother’s team rushed forward with a burst of speed the camera couldn’t track and snatched the other boy’s headband in less than a second. Touya blinked in surprise but couldn’t find it within himself to care. He was just coming to the conclusion that he should go home before he got too angry watching his brother be stupid when the Green Kid’s team raced forward again and his brother did something Touya wasn’t expecting. Based on the look on Shouto’s face, he wasn’t expecting it either. 

Fire exploded out of his brother’s skin and just as soon as it was there, Green Kid was sweeping it away with one hand and reaching to grab a headband with the other. Touya froze with his drink halfway to his mouth to watch. 

The last few seconds of the match were nothing but chaos. The Green Kid’s team seemed to realize that they’d grabbed the wrong headband or something because they attacked again desperately, but Shouto was too busy staring at his arm in shock to notice for a second. Their attack was still deflected by a burst of electricity from the yellow-haired kid. To top it all off, some kid from the other side of the ice Shouto had enclosed them in exploded over the wall and reached out for Green Kid’s team before changing directions and heading for Shouto. Before he could reach him the buzzer went off and Present Mic shouted about the end of the event. 

Touya called the bartender over and ordered another drink he wouldn’t be able to pay for. He wanted to see if the fire was a one time thing, or if Shouto would slip up again. 

‘’Either Shouto isn’t holding as tight to only using ice as I thought he was or Green Kid is really something special.’  

Izuku couldn’t help but burst into tears when Tokoyami showed him the headband Dark Shadow had managed to snag before the end of the match. Izuku didn’t even care that they were in fourth place out of four, or that they’d just barely managed to scrape by. He’d felt his heart stop beating for a second when he’d turned the headband over to see only 70 points staring back up at him, and had been on the verge of completely losing himself to panic in the seconds before Tokoyami revealed his last minute snatch. Izuku would be able to advance. The mission was saved. 

Izuku was fully prepared to go to lunch, eat food, relax, and prepare himself for the upcoming event. He also wanted to try and figure out what just happened with his quirk. 

He now officially had a second instance of it not breaking his bones, and he wanted to know why. The ghosts weren’t acting up, or at least any more than they usually did, and although his fingers ached a little bit they were already starting to feel better. If he had to guess, it might’ve been because he’d been about to use it on another person again. That’s what allowed him to use it without breaking his bones the first time. This time felt different though. He hadn’t meant to use it on Todoroki, he’d only meant to grab the headband, it’d just happened that he’d needed it to negate Todoroki’s fire. 

That was the other thing. Todoroki’s fire . Not his ice. For as long as Izuku had known him, (which was a few months now,) he’d never used anything but his ice. His fire had stayed completely dormant. Why had he chosen to use it now?

Izuku’s head was filled with thoughts as he headed to lunch. He half-listened to Uraraka and Iida’s conversation about the Festival while they walked, but found his thinking completely interrupted when Todoroki decided to talk to him for the second time today. Izuku was pretty sure that those were the only two times he’d ever talked to him. 

Before he knew it, he was being pulled aside to a faculty and student entrance off to the side of the stadium. It was far away from the rest of the crowds, and Izuku realized quite quickly that they were completely alone. Whatever Todoroki wanted to say to him, it was important. 

Izuku forced himself to shove down all thoughts of his victory or his quirk or Todoroki’s quirk and focus on what Todoroki had to say to him. 

Katsuki felt the moment Deku’s brain waves spiked in surprise the second it happened. It was a sharp enough contrast from the breakneck pace his thoughts had been racing at moments prior that it caught Katsuki’s attention, and besides that the dimwit stopped in his tracks and caused slight flares of irritation in all the people around him who were still trying to walk. Katsuki turned around in time to see Icy-Hot pulling him aside and dragging him away from the group. 

‘That’s suspicious.’

Katsuki took the first opportunity he could find to slip away from the crowd of people heading to the lunchroom and follow them. 

“So… what did you want to talk about?” Izuku was hesitant to ask the question. Todoroki was studying him like an interesting insect, eyes cold and narrowed, mouth pressed in a thin line. He was intimidating. Izuku was unsure of what Todoroki could possibly have called him aside to tell him. 

Todoroki didn’t say anything. Izuku got more nervous. Facing down heroes and HPSC assassins in the dead of night in dusty alleyways and damp basements didn’t make him flinch, but awkward confrontations with his classmates were a different story. 

The silence stretched on until Izuku found the courage to break it again. 

“If we don’t hurry, the cafeteria will probably be really crowded…” Izuku trailed off as Todoroki’s expression didn’t change and swallowed hard. He felt pinned in place by his cold stare. 

After another moment, Todoroki finally spoke up. 

“I was overpowered.” 

Izuku thought back to reaching for his classmate only to be met with fire. 

“So much so that I broke my pledge.” Todoroki didn’t sound outright angry, but his words held a simmering animosity just under the surface. From the way he was speaking, Izuku got the impression that although it was him who overpowered his classmate, the animosity was directed at someone else. 

Something clicked in Izuku’s mind, and he realized exactly what his classmate was about to tell him. Izuku looked down to disguise any emotion that might show in his eyes at the realization. 

Todoroki took his left hand out of his pocket and held it up to look at it. 

“Iida, Kaminari, Yoayorozu, Tokoyami, Uraraka…” Todoroki paused, considering his words, “None of them felt it. At that last instant, I was the only one who was overpowered. Only me… and I’ve experienced All Might’s power up close.”

“What does…that mean?” Izuku was momentarily thrown for a loop. Maybe he hadn’t been pulled aside to talk about what he thought he was going to be talking about.

“It means I felt something similar coming from you.” Todoroki was still staring at his hand, “Midoriya, are you… All Might’s secret love child or something?”


Katsuki couldn't remember the last time he’d really laughed at something. It took a lot for him to find something genuinely funny, and besides that, he didn’t waste his time trying to find the humor in things. That meant it was the first time in a long time that he’d had to clutch his mouth and hold back from laughing like a madman. The effort brought tears to his eyes as he bent over at the waist and fought to stay silent. His lungs seized. Katsuki was partially furious that Icy-hot had said something that funny because holding back the laughter made his whole body hurt, but part of him could feel nothing but sadistic glee because whatever he was feeling was nothing compared to the existential crisis Deku was probably battling right now. 

Izuku felt his brain halt in its tracks. If there was one thing he would’ve bet a million dollars on never being asked of him by anyone ever, it would’ve been that. The words hung in the air for a moment while Izuku processed them, and the second he did he felt like he’d been slapped across the face with a dead fish. He was left blinking in bewilderment at his classmate like he’d grown a second head, put on a clown costume, started dancing around in circles like a monkey and told him the moon was flat and made out of mayonnaise. 

Izuku couldn’t move. His mind held still for the moment directly after the question was asked but now it slowly started coming back to life until it was racing at the speed of light, running around in circles like a chicken with its head cut off. 

Izuku couldn’t find any words to express how wrong that statement was, on a fundamental level, and just how much it went against absolutely everything that he’d ever considered to be plausible and against absolutely everything anyone else ever had considered to be plausible, except for Todoroki apparently, who was so terribly misguided in that line of thinking that Izuku wondered if he were telling some sort of sick joke, or if this was some sort of prank or if he were just completely and totally mentally insane or even if this entire thing might be just a dream. Was the universe punishing him? Was anything even real? Was this just a simulation? Izuku’s mind was spiraling farther and faster than it had in a very long time. That one question had completely knocked everything he’d ever known or considered out of alignment. Izuku couldn’t breathe. Couldn't speak. Couldn’t find anything inside himself that had any idea what to say to a question like that. 

“Well, are you?” Todoroki interrupted Izuku’s thoughts with another question, and suddenly Izuku could find all the words to say. They spilled out of his mouth like they were tripping over one another in their rush to leave him. 

“That- That’s not it!” He started, desperately trying to slow down his train of thought, “I mean, even if I was I would say I wasn’t so I don’t think you’d believe me, but anyways that’s not how it is!” Izuku couldn’t help his arms flailing around and the flush that came to his cheeks from embarrassment at the question and the entire situation in its entirety, “Actually, in the first place, I should say… um, that is…” Izuku scrambled to find the right words, “Can I ask you something? Why would you… why would you think that about me?” Izuku needed answers. 

How in the world had Todoroki come to a conclusion like that? Him and All Might were nothing alike! They didn’t act like father and son! The only similarity was their quirks, and even then the quirk never worked for Izuku like it worked for All Might. No matter which way he looked at it, he couldn’t figure out what in the world had led Todoroki to that conclusion. 

“Since you said, ‘that’s not how it is,’ that means there’s a connection between you two that you can’t talk about, right?” Todoroki didn’t answer his question, instead continuing on like he’d never asked it. 

Izuku paused and thought about how to respond. Eventually he figured that he couldn’t trust himself not to say something stupid, so he looked away instead of answering. 

“Endeavor’s my old man.” Todoroki continued, apparently not going to press for answers, “I’m sure you know he’s been stuck as the number two hero for forever. If you have something from the number one hero then… I have even more reason to beat you.” 

Izuku listened to Todoroki tell his story and found that his original thought about what Todoroki was going to be telling him was proven to be correct after all. 

Katsuki knew, objectively, what the story behind the Todoroki family was. 

The Organization had taken great interest when Todoroki Touya, their eldest son, died in a tragic accident. When The Organization takes great interest in something, they always manage to get to the truth of the matter. Katsuki had read some of the reports they’d gotten from the spy they’d sent into the Todoroki house posing as a new cook for the kitchen staff. She’d seen lots of things there. None of them were good. When Todoroki Rei was sent to a mental hospital, they hadn’t wasted any time in getting their hands on the medical reports to find exactly what reason she’d been sent there. What they’d found had horrified them. 

The worst part of all of it was that they couldn’t do anything about it. Endeavor was the number two hero. That by itself was nothing to take lightly, but he was also protected by the HPSC, which was also nothing to scoff at even for The Organization. They could get spies into his house, they could hack into their medical reports, and they could investigate into the question of whether or not Todoroki Touya was actually dead, (he wasn’t,) but that was about as far as they could reach. 

If those spies tried to do anything, like taking the kids away from Endeavor to be raised in The Organization, (which was something that happened for the most part when The Organization dealt with cases of domestic violence,) then there would be a country-wide manhunt for the people who’d managed to steal the Number Two hero’s kids right from under his nose. 

They’d never get away with it in the long run. Even if they did, the kids would never be able to show their faces outside of The Organization again. That wasn’t a life anyone would want, and The Organization certainly wasn’t going to force it on the poor family. 

If they took Endeavor out of the picture entirely the HPSC would jump on it like a hungry cat. Any threat that could go to battle with the Number Two hero in the country and win should be taken seriously, and that meant being fought by the Number One Hero. Not even the strongest in The Organization could take All Might on, and in the end taking Endeavor out might do more harm than good on the hero's side of things. 

Him and his hero agency had the most solved cases out of any hero and hero agency, and taking him out of the picture would leave a hole that none of the up and coming heroes were ready to fill. Besides even that, taking him out in the first place would be a real challenge too. 

There weren’t many even in The Organization who could do that, and those who could needed to keep themselves away from the Media’s prying eyes. There were powerful people in the upper circles of The Organization, but there were also powerful people being paid by the HPSC under the table and behind the cameras. The Organization had no intentions of provoking them. 

All in all, it was an impossible situation. The Organization didn’t want to sit by and do nothing about it, but they also couldn’t take action against Endeavor purely based on who he was. 

Katsuki knew all this. He knew all this. He’d seen it written out on paper. On paper, it was written objectively, from the perspective of someone writing a report up on it. There wasn’t any emotion in the telling of the story. It read like someone reading off a list of facts, and it was easier for Katsuki’s brain to gloss over the fact that the list of facts he was reading actually happened . It was easier for him to ignore the part of the story where this had happened to real people, to his classmate. To the person who sat three rows behind him at school. It was entirely different to hear the story in person, from the person who’d lived through it. 

Even in telling the story, Icy-Hot told it in a tone of voice that didn’t betray much emotion. The way he spoke sounded like he was listing off objective facts, but the flurry of emotions Katsuki could sense behind his eyes put everything into perspective. Even without use of his quirk, it was the little things in how Half-and-Half told it. 

For one thing, it was told in the first person. The reports had it told in the third. It might’ve looked like a small difference on paper, but in reality it shifted the lense Katsuki viewed the story through far more than he’d originally thought it would’ve. Everything about it made it feel more personal than it did on paper, more in his face. He couldn’t ignore the horrible details anymore. He was hearing them directly from the mouth of the person who’d lived through them. His brain had proof now that it’d happened, and it was proof that he couldn’t ignore. 

There was hatred behind Icy-Hot’s voice when he talked about quirk marriages, but a muted hatred, as if he’d felt it for so long he’d almost reached acceptance. Quirk Marriages weren’t uncommon, no matter how much people liked to ignore their existence. The Organization had dealt with cases of quirk marriages before, and they never ended well for the people who arranged them. 

Katsuki had been sent on a few missions to take out a few small groups that popped up and used quirk marriages for any number of reasons. Those cases never seemed to be covered by the media much. If there wasn’t a big bad villain a strong, virtuous hero could take down in an epic battle, then the Commission didn’t want the media to cover it. Especially when it wasn’t their own people taking down the bad guys. Vigilantes were almost entirely ignored in news coverage unless they were being arrested. All the better for the work they did. 

With a start like quirk marriages, you wouldn’t expect the story to be a very happy one. That would be a correct assumption. The rest of the story didn’t improve from there. 

Even if Icy-Hot told the story without much emotion, it wasn’t entirely without it. Katsuki had heard anger simmering under the surface of his voice before, it disappeared when he talked about his mother. There was nothing but cold detachment, almost like he was telling a story that had happened to someone he didn’t particularly care for. The use of the first person grounded it. It was a constant reminder that he was talking about himself and his family as he spoke instead of someone else. 

It was when he talked about his father that the anger came out in full force. Katsuki hadn’t heard him talk about his father much before, (he hadn’t heard him talk about anything much before,) but here when he talked about him it was painfully obvious that he felt no good feelings towards him. Hatred burned behind his eyes, and Katsuki almost flinched back from the power of it. 

As he talked about wanting to surpass Deku because he was connected to All Might in some way, Katsuki found that the challenge he’d issued earlier before the Sports Festival was put in a new light. The irritation he’d felt since being ignored in favor of Deku dulled as he learned that there was more to it than Half-and-Half thinking Deku was the strongest. It returned in full force when Icy-Hot told Deku about his ‘pledge’ to never use the fire side of his quirk. He described it as ‘his old man’s quirk,’ as if he had two. 

Quirks didn’t work like that. Everyone was only born with one. Katsuki should know better than most people that the only way to obtain more than one quirk was to work for The Organization, and be high up in the ranks at that. Halfie certainly didn’t fit the bill. 

The only thing refusing to use half of his quirk would do was hurt him. Katsuki was well aware that quirks were meant to be used. You couldn’t ignore them. They wanted to be used. Repressing such a large part of yourself never ended well. Icy-Hot was only going to hurt himself in the long run by not using it. 

The stupidity of refusing to use his fire wasn’t even half of it either. Icy-Hot was also insisting on getting first place, which in Katsuki’s opinion was a terrible way to rebel against your father who also wanted you to get first place. No matter how he got there, he’d still be fulfilling what his father wanted. 

In the end, Half-and-Half gave some line about how he wasn’t going to ask questions about Deku’s connection to All Might, (although Katsuki had a sneaking suspicion that he was going to investigate on his own,) and reminded Deku that he intended to surpass him. Deku responded by spouting some corny BS about how he was only here because he had people supporting him, and he didn’t want to let them down, yada yada yada. It was all fluff. Katsuki didn’t care for the dramatics. Deku finished by telling Halfie that he wanted to be just like All Might, a line Katsuki had heard countless times before. By the time Deku was telling Icy-Hot how he was going to declare war on him too, Katsuki had mostly checked out of their conversation. 

Katsuki felt… bothered. There was an ugly feeling in the pit of his stomach. Icy-Hot’s story had unsettled him, knocked him off balance. Being trained to replace your parents when you grew up was a familiar idea. It was eerily similar to his own childhood. 

Katsuki could recognize the feeling of pressure. Living up to the bar your parents set was no easy task. He could recognize the years of training and the easy strength that came from it. He saw it in the way Halfie fought and spoke about fighting. He could even recognize the rebellious streak; the want to break away from the path, do something different. He himself had no intentions to ever act on the feeling, but it was familiar. The set-up for their childhoods were the same, but ultimately the execution of them was where the differences were. 

The first difference was that Katsuki had been given a choice. He’d known every step of the way that if he didn’t want to be the next Hope, he didn’t have to be. He’d chosen to train for it. Half-and-Half hadn’t been given that choice. 

The second difference was that Katsuki’s parents and tutors had been very careful to make sure that he didn’t hurt himself too badly while he was training. He’d been taken care of all throughout his training whether it was in the relative safety of a gym or in the danger of the streets. Icy-Hot hadn’t been given that luxury. 

The third was obviously that Katsuki’s own parents cared about him. They didn’t think of him as a creation, they thought of him as his own person, and treated him as such. 

Half-and-Half talked about ‘being raised to be a hero.’ Katsuki didn’t think that was possible. You could raise someone to be a fighter. A hero was something that people had to choose to become on their own. Endeavor obviously didn’t know that. 

Katsuki burned. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was burning with, but he didn’t like it. It wasn’t anger. He was familiar with anger. It came to him naturally. It was something uglier, something that made his skin crawl and his hands clench. Something that set him off balance, made each of his steps feel like the world was tipping on its side. 

Katsuki didn’t usually talk much during lunch, but today he found a corner away from the crew he usually sat with so he wouldn’t have to talk at all.

Chapter Text

Tooru was very disappointed that her team lost. She was partially disappointed because Denki had beaten her and she couldn’t hold her own victory over his head, but she was also disappointed because she’d been really excited to be in the Sports Festival. It felt nice to have people cheering for her. She felt seen, almost. Since she hadn’t made it past the cavalry battle though, she doubted she’d get any internship offers. Her quirk wasn’t flashy enough on its own to attract attention unless she made it far in the festival, and she hadn’t made it very far. 

That didn’t mean that she wasn’t still excited to see how far Denki made it, or even the rest of her classmates. She’d become close with all the girls, and couldn’t wait to see so many of them in the upcoming tournament. Ojiro was always really nice to her as well, and she thought it was really awesome that someone with such a simple quirk managed to make it into the tournament with some of the more flashy ones. He’d been very excited to be given a chance to shine earlier that morning when they were all talking about the upcoming festival, so Tooru was very surprised when he raised his hand to speak up before Midnight announced the teams. 

“I barely remember anything from the cavalry battle until almost the end. I think it was that guy’s quirk.” Ojiro explained. Tooru narrowed her eyes and glanced at Denki, who seemed to be just as confused as she was. Was he talking about the purple-haired guy? 

The Purple-Haired Guy didn’t look like much. The most distinguishable attribute he had besides his seemingly uncombed purple hair was how dead tired he looked. Tooru racked her brain and tried to place him from her and Denki’s studies on the other students. He was Gen ed though, and they hadn’t paid as much attention to those kids. His hair seemed familiar… The quirk was stumping her. A quirk that erased memories? Tooru was pretty sure she would’ve remembered a quirk like that. 

Ojiro wasn’t done talking. “I know that this is a great chance and that it’s foolish to waste it, but…” Tooru’s attention turned back to Ojiro as he continued talking, “Everyone here competed by giving their all. I can’t… I can’t be up here with everyone without knowing what really happened.” 

Tooru blinked. His reasoning made sense, in a way. On the other hand, she was one of the student’s who had tried their hardest and had been left behind anyways. If it were her, she knew she’d have taken the chance without hesitation even if she were in his situation. 

Ojiro was too kind for his own good sometimes. In the months since Tooru had started getting closer to him, she’d found that he always had something nice to say about something. He was a pretty optimistic person, overall. Every morning he’d make sure to greet her with a smile and a wave, and every afternoon when everyone left school he said goodbye with the same smile and the same wave. Tooru didn’t know many people who took the time to do that. 

Ojiro was also hilarious. His commentary on things was always out of the blue and unexpected. Part of Tooru wished that more of the kids in their class were aware of how funny Ojiro could be, but part of her felt privileged that she was the one he chose to tell his smart side-commentary to. She’d heard his opinion on everything from vending machines to Bakugou Katsuki, and he had never failed to make her laugh. 

If Tooru wasn’t able to win this tournament, then out of all her classmates she wanted Ojiro to win. Denki didn’t count because she knew very well that both of them could beat all their classmates with ease if they weren’t supposed to hold back, (not counting the two members of the Big Three; those two could probably take on half the heroes in the top ten and still win based on what Tooru had heard about them.) 

She’d been so excited that he’d made it through. His quirk wasn’t flashy, or anything to look at, but his skill in battle wasn’t anything to be ignored. He knew martial arts, and he was good enough to have earned a black belt. She had no doubt that he’d go far in the Tournament round, where his martial arts skills would give him a leg up against lots of the other people competing and allow him to show that people with less flashy quirks could do great things too! If Tooru couldn’t show off how less flashy quirks could do great things herself, then she would’ve been happy watching Ojiro do it. 

Tooru found herself joining in with several other students in the crowd to try and convince Ojiro to take back his decision to forfeit but it appeared that all of their words fell on deaf ears. Ojiro didn’t want to listen to them. One of the kids from class 1B spoke up and agreed with him, forfeiting as well.

Tooru watched as he and the class 1B kid followed the crowd of students off the field so the tournament could commence and couldn’t help thinking that he should’ve taken the chance to shine given to him when it dropped itself at his feet. 

How many other times was he going to get a chance like this? A chance to fight in the same ring with people like Todoroki and Bakugou, who had flashy quirks and an easy road to popularity in the hero rankings? A chance to prove himself in front of both cameras and a crowd of pro heroes? It was a chance to be noticed in the same way that their luckier peers were noticed, and that didn’t come often. 

Ojiro gave it up. He gave it up . Tooru knew why, on an intellectual level. There was some form of logic behind it, but on a personal level, she just couldn’t understand the decision. 

She hadn’t even had a chance to talk to Ojiro before the tournament started. He’d disappeared somewhere before Midoriya and the purple-haired kid’s match started. Shinsou Hitoshi, according to the screens displaying the tournament brackets surrounding the stadium. 

Tooru glanced around and realized that she couldn’t see Midoriya either. 

‘Maybe Ojiro is going to warn him about Shinsou.’ Tooru wondered, ‘I wish I could remember what that guy’s quirk is.’

In Izuku’s opinion, Ojiro’s story about Shinsou was fascinating. A mind control quirk was rare enough, but one with such a simple activation method was extremely powerful. Izuku’s brain was already working through hundreds of ways it could be used on the field, both for hero work and villain work. If used correctly, perhaps paired with the correct support gear, it had the potential to take out any means of communication for adversaries at all. It was so powerful, so useful . The fact that Shinsou had been placed in Gen Ed was a crime, in Izuku’s opinion. 

If UA had any sense at all, they would’ve given him a better option to enter the hero course than trying to win the Sports Festival. In fact, as long as UA had common sense, they should’ve kept him out of the Sports Festival entirely; he had the perfect quirk to be an underground hero, so the media attention wouldn’t be ideal. It would be better that people didn’t know what his quirk was at all. 

Izuku was getting excited just thinking about all the different applications of a mind control quirk like Shinsou’s, and the longer Ojiro talked the harder it got to keep the excitement off his face. The only thing keeping him from jumping up and taking out a notebook to start writing all of his ideas down immediately was focusing on the fact that he’d have to go out on live television and fight Shinsou in about 15 minutes. 

If what Ojiro was saying was true, (and Midoriya had no doubt that it was,) then all Izuku had to do to win the match was stay silent As long as he could restrain himself from responding to Shinsou, then he should have no trouble pushing him out of the ring even without using his quirk. Shinsou wasn’t getting training from the hero course, which meant that unless he was training on his own time, his raw combat ability was probably non-existent. Izuku would have no trouble fighting him hand-to-hand even if he was holding back.

If he did talk, then Ojiro hypothesized that he’d need a shock to get himself out of it. Ojiro couldn’t remember anything from the time he responded to Shinsou until the moment he’d accidentally bumped into a member of another team towards the end of the cavalry battle. That meant that the shock probably didn’t have to be that big of a shock, but there wasn’t anything on the field that Izuku could use to shock himself out of the mind control if he did get taken over. If all went according to plan, then Izuku wouldn’t need to worry about that. 

Ojiro’s information was good information. Izuku felt bad for overlooking him before this; he was very glad Ojiro had decided to help him out with fighting Shinsou. Otherwise, he’d probably have been taken out by the mind control and lost the tournament. 

“I’ll do my best,” Izuku told Ojiro. 

“Do your best for me, too.” Ojiro told him. 

Izuku nodded. 

‘It’s funny, ’ Izuku couldn't help but think as he waited in the tunnel entrance to the stadium for the fight to begin, ‘He has no idea who he’s just helped. Me winning this tournament is the first step in The Organization taking out All Might once and for all. ’ 

Something about the thought made Izuku feel uneasy. 

Hitoshi was nervous, but he didn’t dare let it show on his face. All he had to do was get Midoriya to talk, and he’d win. If he was lucky, then no one would guess what his quirk was and he’d be able to get to the end of the tournament without having to fight hand-to-hand once. 

Present Mic’s voice filled the hallways, emanating from the speakers at a volume that was just loud enough to be annoying. The cheering of the crowd in the seats above him was so loud it made the ceiling shake. The air smelled like sweat and dust. Hitoshi took a deep breath and tried to calm his heartbeat. 

He was facing the Green-haired kid, Midoriya Izuku. Hitoshi had yet to see what his quirk was, although it had apparently been used during the cavalry battle according to his classmates. 

The rest of the General Education kids had been very excited to tell him all they knew about his opponent that they’d observed from the crowd during the cavalry battle in the break between events. Hitoshi was the only kid from Gen Ed who had made it to the tournament round, and everyone in his class had rallied together to cheer for him. 

Being supported by his peers brought a warm feeling to his chest, if unfamiliar. Hitoshi couldn’t remember the last time he’d had classmates cheering for him. 

Any real happiness he might’ve gotten from it was muted by the fact that he knew they only cared because he’d gotten so far in the Sports Festival. They would’ve acted the same towards anyone in their class who’d gotten that far. Hitoshi wasn’t special. The second the Festival was over, everything would probably go back to normal. 

Hitoshi didn’t care. He was used to it. That’s what happened to people who had villainous quirks like him. 

From what his classmates could tell him, they weren’t sure what Midoriya’s quirk was, but thought it might be some sort of strength quirk. Apparently it was hard to tell since he’d only used it once, and it hadn’t been that clear what he’d done while he used it. If it was a strength quirk, then Midoriya must’ve been used to all the attention. The cheers and the support from his peers. It made Hitoshi’s blood boil. 

He was angry. Angry that people like Midoriya had everything they could’ve ever wanted. Angry that people like him were left behind, not even given a chance. Angry that he had to fight so much harder to get anywhere. Hitoshi let the anger fuel him, making his hands twitch like he wanted to throw a punch and his worry about the match start to fade. 

In the moments after his name was called and Hitoshi emerged from the tunnel back into the blinding lights of the stadium, he wondered if the Tail kid had figured out what his quirk was. He wondered if he’d told Midoriya. He’d seen him pull Midoriya away after the bracket had been announced, but he couldn’t allow himself to worry. He couldn’t allow nerves to get the better of him. All he could do was talk. His only weapon was his voice. 

Hitoshi stepped up to the edge of the ring and relaxed his posture, kept a smug look on his face and tried not to let his nerves show. He had to exude confidence, not reveal any weakness. He couldn’t flinch. He wouldn’t flinch. He refused to back down. 

Midoriya looked just as determined. His fingers twitched and his mouth was pressed in a serious line. His eyes narrowed as he stared across the pitch at Hitoshi. They were green. Startlingly green, just like his hair. Hitoshi refused to be intimidated. 

Midnight went over the rules one last time. Either get your opponent out of bounds, or get them to surrender. 

“Get your opponent to say, ‘I give up!’” Midnight explained with a smirk on her face that suggested things that shouldn't be suggested at a school event. 

Hitoshi forced himself to start talking before his nerves came back, “‘I give up,’ huh? This is a fight to test the strength of your spirit.” Hitoshi spoke loudly, making sure Midoriya would be able to understand him over the roar of the crowd, “If you know what you want for your future, then you can’t worry about appearances.” 

Midoriya frowned, but other than that he didn’t react. 

“READY?” Present Mic screamed so loud the speakers crackled. 

“That monkey was going on about pride…” Hitoshi didn’t break eye contact with Midoriya. 


“... but don’t you think he was dumb for throwing away his chance?” Hitoshi had to get Midoriya to talk as soon as possible. The longer Midoriya was in control of himself, the higher the risk of Hitoshi being pushed out of bounds. 

Midoriya’s reaction was immediate. He gasped in outrage and took a few steps forward angrily, “What did you just say?” 

The familiar sensation of his quirk capturing an adversary’s mind brought relief that calmed Hitoshi’s nerves. The feeling of being in control was a welcome one. Midoriya was powerless now. Completely and utterly powerless. 

‘Easy. ’ Hitoshi thought. ‘I guess I didn’t have anything to worry about after all. ’ 

Midoriya froze, eyes going blank as the anger that had previously shown on his face slipped away and left him emotionless. The crowd shouted in confusion. 

“I win.” Hitoshi smiled. 

He hadn’t meant to speak up, hadn’t made the conscious decision to, but Shinsou making fun of Ojiro made his blood boil faster than he’d expected. Everything Ojiro had told him beforehand seemed to leave him as nothing but rage filled his head and pushed him forward. 

“What did you just-”

Shinsou’s quirk fell on him like a heavy blanket the second he spoke up. 

Izuku found his entire body frozen. His limbs wouldn’t respond to him. He couldn’t move a single muscle no matter how hard he strained. It was like he was a bystander in his own body, looking out through his eyes but being unable to do anything else. His vision filled with static, the sounds of the crowd around him fading and warping like he was underwater. His brain was filled with fog, and he fought to keep his consciousness aware of his surroundings. Shinsou’s quirk grabbed at him, trying to drag his mind under completely. Izuku couldn’t allow him to do that. 

As long as he was still in the bounds, he still had a chance. All he needed to do was shock himself out of it. Izuku’s mind raced as he tried to come up with a solution, any solution, but it was bogged down by the fog in his head. His muscles strained as he tried to move them, his mind strained as he tried to take back control. Panic made it harder to think, so he shoved the feeling down and focused on the task at hand and the moment he was in like his life depended on it. 

When Shinsou spoke again, it cut through the fog of Izuku’s mind like a knife. It was so loud in his ears he prefered Present Mic’s voice shouting over the loudspeakers. 

“Turn around and walk out of bounds.”

Izuku’s body started to move on its own. He panicked at the strange sensation of his limbs moving without his consent. Izuku felt like he was trapped in a cage, screaming to be let out and pounding on the walls with his fists. He screamed in his own mind, shouted desperately, but nothing he did made any difference. 

He was helpless. 

The feeling of helplessness filled him like fire spreading, burning every nerve in his body like a fever and begging to be let out. Izuku couldn’t stand the feeling. Izuku couldn’t stand the feeling. Izuku refused to feel helpless. He refused to feel helpless. 

Izuku refused

Yoichi watched. He’d been watching for a long time. 

Yoichi was angry. Ever since he’d died, his emotions seemed to fill him from the inside out, and his anger made him feel like he was burning. He’d been angry since he realized just who 9th really was. 

Yoichi was familiar with feeling emotions that were not his own. Within One For All, everyone’s emotions seemed to bleed together at times, like an ocean of feeling that made it hard to tell where one holder ended and another began. The desperation, the panic. Yoichi had felt it many times before, but this fear was not his own. It was the 9th's. 


Yoichi’s anger burned, but it burned quieter. It had dulled over time, acceptance of 9th and his betrayal overtaking it as he slowly came to the realization that he couldn’t do anything but watch as events unfolded. 


He was still only a kid. He hadn’t asked to be born into the family that he was born into. 


He was only listening to what his parents told him. 


Yoichi had been inside his head for a long time now. Months. 


Yoichi knew who he really was, deep down. 


The Todoroki kid needed help. Yoichi couldn’t help but remember the determination, the anger that 9th had felt as the Todoroki kid told him about his childhood. 


Sometimes you have to take a risk. 

Yoichi and his fellow holders moved as one. Power flowed between them, vast and deep and old. 

9th moved. 

Izuku moved.

Pain exploded in his fingers. 

Hitoshi felt his control of Midoriya slip out of his hands like soap. At first, all he felt was surprise, but it was drowned out by the cloud of wind exploding out from where Midoriya was standing. By the time the wind died down, Hitoshi only felt confused. What had happened? What had broken Midoriya out? 

Hitoshi found all hints of surprise and confusion drowned out completely when he saw the expression on Midoriya’s face as he turned around. 

All he could feel was fear. 

The last thing Hitoshi saw before his back slammed on the ground just outside the boundaries of the ring was the furious expression on Midoriya’s face. 

Hitoshi laid in the dust and tried to remember why he thought he’d ever had a chance in the first place. 

The rest of Katsuki’s classmates talked amongst themselves with casual interest after the match ended. Dunce Face, sitting next to him, said something about how Deku had used that last move on Katsuki during their combat training on the second day of school, but Katsuki sat stock still. 

There was a feeling building in the back of his throat like he needed to swallow, but Katsuki couldn’t get his muscles to move. He felt like he’d been hit by a bus. Katsuki was sure that anyone looking should’ve been able to see the emotion written all over his face, but no one seemed to notice. That was all the better. Katsuki couldn’t find it in himself to control his expression. 

Even though he wasn’t using his quirk, Katsuki could’ve sworn he tasted caramel and ash on his tongue. His hands were hot and slick with sweat. There was a small part of him that was afraid if he moved, he’d set off an explosion. He needed to get it together. He needed to get it together.  

The expression on Deku’s face when he turned around to face the purple extra was burned in Katsuki’s brain. When he blinked, he saw it again. It warped with the other times he remembered seeing it in the past. They were few and far between. 

Katsuki shouldn’t be this shaken by an expression that Deku of all people made. It had only been there for a second. Katsuki might’ve imagined it.  

Something had made Deku mad. 

Katsuki swallowed. 

He refused to be shaken. 

Denki felt something spark in Bakugou’s brain next to him. It was a sharp spark of light that hit Denki’s quirk like a slap to the face. It was so strong he couldn't identify it for a second. 

Before he could dive deeper or look over to see Bakugou’s expression, the spark faded. 

Denki might’ve asked if it were anyone else, but it was Bakugou Katsuki.

Denki worried.

Izuku’s shoulders shook as he breathed heavily. The adrenaline of the fight was fading already and the pain in his fingers was shooting up his arm like nails driving under his skin. Izuku wiped the back of his hand under his nose in a vain attempt to stem the bleeding but all he came away with was blood on his hand. 

Shinsou had come out of the fight with less bodily injury, but there was a pain in his face regardless. One Izuku realized went deeper than any physical injury. He looked sad. Disappointed. 

Izuku almost offered a hand to help him up off the ground but before he could Shinsou stood up by himself. 

Izuku spoke up before he walked away, “Shinsou, why do you want to be a hero?” 

Shinsou paused for a moment, staring at the ground. When he answered, he didn’t make eye contact with Izuku.

“You can’t help the things you long for.”

Izuku stared after him as he walked away. 

‘He’s just some student, ’ Hitoshi thought furiously, ‘He’s not anybody special. He was just born with the right quirk. He has no idea what it means to be me, what it means to be treated like I’ve been treated. ’ 

The second the match had ended, the terrifying power and anger Hitoshi had seen written on Midoriya’s face and felt permeating in the air around them had disappeared like they’d never existed in the first place. The livid look in Midoriya’s eyes had been replaced with triumph and then quickly turned to concern. He didn’t seem affected by his obviously broken fingers, and Hitoshi idly wondered how often he broke them. 

It was harder to feel afraid of Midoriya when he looked so pathetic, asking Hitoshi such a cliche question. ‘Why do you want to be a hero?’ If Midoriya had understood anything about growing up with a quirk like Hitoshi’s, then he would understand why becoming a hero had meant so much to him. 

But Midoriya hadn’t grown up with a quirk like Hitoshi’s. He’d grown up with a strength enhancement quirk. A strength enhancement quirk. And a powerful one at that. Hitoshi couldn’t think of a more stereotypical ‘hero quirk’ than super strength. 

‘He’s a bit of a contradiction, ’ Hitoshi considered, ‘Usually people with quirks like his don’t care about people like me .’ 

Izuku was well acquainted with the nurse’s office. He hadn’t expected to spend so much time in it, but he did regardless. 

His fingers had been healed with a kiss from Recovery Girl, and only ached dully now like a sore muscle. Away from the roaring stadium crowds, Izuku figured he should use the chance to finally ask All Might about the inner workings of One For All. 

“All Might?” Izuku hesitantly asked, “I had a vision.” 

All Might looked up. 

“There were eight or nine people, I’m not sure exactly how many,” Izuku tried not to stumble over the words as he realized that maybe he shouldn’t know exactly how many past One For All holders there had been. “When it felt like my brain was filled with fog from the brainwashing, the vision appeared like it was driving away the fog.” Izuku paused and considered his words. “I think they made it so I was barely able to move my fingers for a second. One of the people had eyes like yours, All Might.” Izuku swallowed, “Was it… the people who inherited One For All in the past who did it?” 

“Scary…” All Might shook his head, “I have no idea about that.” 

“What?” Izuku’s eyes widened in shock, “I thought you’d know about it!” 

“No, I think I saw it before, in my younger days,” All Might said, “It’s a clear sign that you have a better grasp on One For All.” 

Izuku felt hope soar in his chest for a moment before he remembered the hostile stares of the past holders from his previous visions of them, “What does that mean?” 

“I think it’s a trace or something they left behind in One For All,” All Might spoke slowly, as if he were considering each word carefully, “It’s not something with intent or something that can interfere with you. You shouldn’t be able to interfere with them either.”

Izuku narrowed his eyes. ‘But they moved my fingers for me.’

“In other words, that vision wasn’t what got rid of the brainwashing,” All Might concluded, “It was that, when you saw the vision, your strong emotions were what allowed you to overcome Shinsou-shonen’s brainwashing just long enough to move your fingers, I think.”

‘He’s not sure about any of this, ’ Izuku thought, “That explanation isn’t satisfying at all though,” He said out loud. 

All Might shrugged. 

Keigo had a list of students written on a sticky note that had caught his attention. 

At the very top of the list was Shinsou Hitoshi. Keigo wished that Shinsou were available for him to take on as his intern. The kid had real potential, especially with such a great quirk. Alas, he was a General Education student and not a Hero Student, and therefore was off limits when it came to internships. Keigo mourned the loss of a fantastic internship option. 

Todoroki Shouto would probably be his second pick. Keigo had always been a fan of Endeavor’s hero work, (not necessarily a fan of anything else that he did or was rumored to have done,) and the chance to have someone intern under him that was just as powerful and had a clean slate clear of all of Endeavor’s baggage, (as well as a lack of the guy’s whole personality, if Keigo were being totally honest,) was very appealing to him. He figured that he probably wouldn’t be able to get Todoroki either though, considering that the kid basically had a free ticket to an internship with the number two hero. 

His third pick was one he thought he might actually have a chance with. Tokoyami Fumikage wasn’t one that stood out in the same way that the others did. Maybe part of the fact that he was so high on the list was because he had a bird quirk just like Keigo, but Tokoyami seemed to be a very well-rounded hero-in-training. 

He had great defensive and offensive skills, and appeared to be willing to cooperate with others based on the fact that he’d been willing to join Midoriya’s ill-fated team for the Cavalry Battle and even ended up helping them to qualify for the tournament in the end. 

Keigo also had no doubt that Tokoyami would be passed up as a possible internship choice by lots of other heroes purely based on the fact that his quirk was partially mutation. People liked to pretend that they didn’t care about that kind of stuff, but Keigo knew they did. Tokoyami was, in Keigo’s opinion, a great choice, and one that would realistically pick his hero agency to intern at.

After all, who would give up the chance to work under the hero ranked all the way at number three? 

Inko was sure watching the Sports Festival was going to give her heart failure. She could’ve sworn she almost had a heart attack on 8 separate occasions throughout the tournament. The first event had gone just fine, but the events after that had resulted in a roller coaster of emotions. 

Izuku had just barely managed to skate through the cavalry battle, and Inko had found herself crying along with him when they managed to pass. She’d felt her heart stop again when he almost stepped out of bounds during the first round of the Tournament, but he’d managed to pull out of that at the last second too. 

Inko knew that Izuku would do fine, that she shouldn’t have any reason to doubt him. She could trust him to complete the mission. He always did. That didn’t stop her from worrying. 

His next fight would probably be the hardest one out of all of them. Todoroki Shouto was a truly tough opponent, and Izuku had been unlucky in his placement in the tournament bracket. 

Todoroki had no troubles at all in his first match, managing to freeze half the stadium in a single move within the first 10 seconds of his match, and Inko nearly felt herself faint at the thought of Izuku having to go up against him with nothing but One For All. 

In the end, Inko’s worry won her over and she took out her phone and sent him a text. 

‘You’re doing so well Izu! I know you can beat Todoroki-shonen. I believe in you!’

Chapter Text

Katsuki hated the cold. 

It made him feel slower, like every movement was bogged down by the weight of it in the air. Plus, it made it harder to sweat which meant his Explosion quirk didn’t work as well. Katsuki shouldn't have had to worry about the cold for another few months this early in the year. 

Despite this, Katsuki was freezing. 

So was the rest of the stadium. 

Half-and-Half had somehow managed to encase half the stadium in a giant spike of ice that peeked out the top of it by several stories. Katsuki shivered in his seat and tried not to start screaming in rage. 

Tape Head was stuck in the middle of it. The only part of him that wasn’t covered in ice was his face. Katsuki would’ve considered how much control it took to avoid his face with such a big attack impressive if he weren’t so angry. 

Angry and worried, although he wouldn’t admit it. 

How in the world was Deku going to beat someone who could do that with nothing but a quirk that wouldn’t work with him and nothing else? 

Katsuki glanced over at him. 

For once, Deku’s mind was still. He held a pencil in his hand and an open notebook in his lap, but he wasn’t writing anything. Katsuki could only see the back of his head, but he had no doubt his face was pale. He sat stock still. Four-eyes and Round Cheeks looked concerned, glancing from him to the pitch. 

On the field, Icy-Hot stepped forward to start melting the ice with his left side. The crowd started chanting something, but Katsuki didn’t care enough to listen to them. He was focused on Halfie. 

Something about him seemed sad. Terribly sad. He was too far away for Katsuki to get a good read on what was going on in his head, but his sadness was clear in the slope of his shoulders and the tilt of his head. 

Heat slowly returned to the stadium. Sunlight seeped into Katsuki’s bones and warmed him from the inside out. It should’ve made him feel less cold. 

It didn’t. 

Tooru cheered as Denki stepped out of the tunnel and into the stadium for his fight with the girl from Class 1B. Even though she knew he was going to tease her for not going as far as him in the festival, she was still happy for him. 

For once, Tooru felt relaxed. They could worry about combing through footage of the festival to find anything suspicious about the other students later. Right now all she had to do was cheer on her friends and have fun. 

Denki wasn’t allowed to show his true skill in the festival for obvious reasons, and his general solution to that was usually to just blast the area he was in with a bunch of electricity and hope for the best. In this case, it did not turn out well for him. 

The fight ended quickly. 

Tooru watched in amusement as Denki got taken out immediately. His electricity was blocked with ease by a wall of vines. His opponent, (Shiozaki Ibara, according to the stadium screens,) had a vine quirk that allowed her to control vine-hair; she could reach for things with it like tentacles or grow it longer or even cut it off. Shiozaki wrapped Denki up and tossed him out of the arena easily the second he incapacitated himself by overusing his quirk. 

As Denki was carted away on a stretcher with burnt clothes and a stupid look on his face Tooru couldn’t help but thank whatever greater powers there were out in the universe that all of this was being filmed. 

While they were waiting for the next match, one of the Class 1B kids poked their head over the divider between their seating areas and yelled at them about how his class was better but one of his classmates smacked him on the back of the head and dragged him away. Tooru snickered along with the other girls she was sitting with and thought back to her and Denki’s file on the kid. 

‘I think his last name was Monoma, ’ Tooru thought back, ‘He had a quirk copying quirk. ’ 

Tooru was very suddenly struck with a thought. He had a quirk copying quirk. That meant that if he ran into someone with multiple quirks…

Tooru froze with the realization and cursed the fact that Denki was still in the nurse’s office after his last fight. This was important!

If they could look through the camera footage and figure out who Monoma had touched and who had hadn’t, then they might be able to eliminate people from their suspects list. Someone in the Big Three would’ve known about him and known to avoid him because they had multiple quirks and who knew what would happen if he were to copy them. 

‘Unless… ’ Tooru considered, looking back at where Monoma had disappeared over the wall, “He’s one of the Big Three… ’ 

Tooru sighed. All of this was so complicated. At the moment, her and Denki couldn’t rule anyone out. All they could do was investigate the most likely people. 

Both of them had a lot of information on the people in their class, but who knew if the Big Three members were people in class 1B? In other courses? All they knew was that both of them were 1st year students. 

Tooru took a deep breath. Her and Denki would figure it out. It would take time and effort, but she knew they could. She’d mention her idea about Monoma to him later, and see what he thought. If they could focus more on Monoma, they might be able to get confirmation on whether or not he was one of the people they were looking for. If he wasn’t, then they might have a solid way to eliminate people, which would be a HUGE help with their detective work. 

‘Unless…’ Tooru had another thought, ‘the Big Three might have a way to avoid getting outed even if they get hit by his quirk. They probably know more about how it works than me and Denki do. ’ 

Tooru shook her head and focused back on the arena, where Iida and a support course girl were about to fight. She didn’t need to think about all that at the moment. Now was time for her to relax

‘Have fun!’ She told herself, “You get to watch the UA Sports Festival live and in person! That’s an opportunity lots of people would kill for. ’ 

Tooru took another deep breath and let herself get caught up in the excitement of the Festival again. 

Denki sat on the infirmary bed and prayed that the cameras hadn’t caught the stupid expression he was certain he’d been making as he was carried away on the stretcher from his match. He’d been looking forward to teasing Tooru about getting eliminated in the second round, but he wouldn’t be able to if she had a picture of the face he was making. 

Recovery Girl gave Denki a kiss and he pretended to wake up from his faked quirk-overuse stupid-coma and told her that he felt good to go. Recovery Girl pointed him out the door and told him to be more careful on the way out. 

“I will!” Denki gave her a blinding smile. She didn’t look convinced. 

Tooru felt like she might be falling asleep. She’d had no idea that Iida’s match with Hatsumei Mei would’ve taken so long, but it had been 10 minutes now and Hatsumei hadn’t stopped showing off invention after invention, demonstrating how they worked on poor, unsuspecting Iida who looked angrier and angrier by the second. Like most of the people in the crowd, (except the big support company representatives) Tooru had completely lost interest in the entire charade a long time ago. 10 minutes was a long time for a match to go on at all, (if whatever they were watching could even be called a match,) and this one really wasn’t interesting. All the tech stuff went completely over Tooru’s head. 

Finally Hatsumei released the crowd from their boredom and Iida from his torment by stepping out of bounds and allowing Iida to be crowned the victor of their match. Tooru felt the first spark of joy she’d felt in a while when she saw Iida yelling that he hated Hatsumei, which was probably the meanest thing he’d ever said. Hatsumei seemed unaffected as she walked off the pitch. Tooru wouldn’t have expected Iida to say something like that, and couldn’t help giggling a little. 

Tooru looked over her shoulder to see if she could catch Denki’s eye before remembering that he couldn’t see her but to her surprise, she saw Uraraka was getting out of her seat. Midoriya seemed too engrossed in his notebook to notice her pass by him and head up the stairs to leave their seating area. Tooru wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but there was a dark look on Uraraka’s face and a slump to her shoulders that intrigued her. Denki looked up as she passed, a worried expression appearing on his face before he turned to look at Tooru. 

‘If I want to narrow down the list of suspects, then I need to do more investigation, ’ Tooru reminded herself. 

Tooru turned to Ashido and Jirou sitting next to her, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom, would you guys mind telling me who won the next fights when I get back?”

“Of course!” Ashido smiled, a glint in her eye, “Bet I can tell you who’s going to win this next match before it happens though.”

Tooru was confused for a second before she glanced at the stadium screen and saw that Ashido was going to be fighting Aoyoma next. “Oh! Good luck! Not that you’ll need it.” 

The girls giggled and Tooru carefully set her drink on the ground under her chair before making her way out to the hallway. 

Tooru made a point to turn and look at Denki as she left. He was watching her, concern still on his face. Whatever he’d seen in Uraraka, whether he’d used his new mind reading powers or he’d just seen the expression on her face, it made him worry. Tooru nodded at him, making sure it was obvious enough that her uniform moved with her and made her motion visible. Denki nodded back at her just slightly before turning back to bother Bakugou again. 

The hallways behind the stands and seating areas weren’t crowded. Partially because it was the middle of an event, and partially because Tooru was in the staff and student section. Looking to her left, she saw Uraraka disappearing down the stairs that led to the waiting rooms. Tooru followed her, making sure to keep far enough behind her that she wouldn’t be noticed but kept walking at a casual pace. The cameras would be watching her after all. 

After turning the corner at the bottom of the stairs, Tooru took note of which waiting room Uraraka entered before ducking into the nearest bathroom. 

Tooru stepped into the nearest stall and shut the door. There was only one way she could think of to avoid getting caught turning completely invisible on camera, and it involved the only kind of room in the stadium that wouldn’t be heavily monitored with cameras. Security had been increased after the attack on the USJ, but bathrooms would always be sacred. Tooru shut her eyes and let the familiar cloak of complete invisibility wash over her and cover her clothes. 

As quietly as she could, Tooru climbed over the top of the stall, (she didn’t want to even try and go under it; the bathroom floor was disgusting,) and carefully lowered herself to the ground on the other side of it. 

As quickly as she could, Tooru slipped into the hallway and stopped in front of the waiting room Uraraka had entered. 

The door hadn’t closed all the way, and Tooru rejoiced. She’d long since perfected the art of opening a door so slowly that it looked like just the wind. 

The second the door was open wide enough, Tooru looked inside the room beyond to find Uraraka staring at an old flip phone. She held one finger over the call button like she was debating whether or not to press it. Tooru held perfectly still. The open door hadn’t been noticed yet. 

Everything seemed to hold still for a second. Tooru couldn’t hear anything except the sound of her own breathing and the hum of the air conditioner. Uraraka sat perfectly still, the only noticeable movement the shaking of her finger as it hovered over the phone. Tooru didn’t dare move, even to open the door further. 

After several long moments, Uraraka sighed and put her phone back in her pocket. Tooru swallowed and opened the door wider, keeping the movement impossibly slow, and slipped inside the room as soon as she was able. 

Keeping her footsteps silent, Tooru made her way across the room and sat down on one of the benches near the corner. Uraraka didn’t give any sign that she noticed. 

Tooru very suddenly got the feeling that she was trespassing on a private moment. It occurred to her that Uraraka might’ve gone off on her own for the purpose of being alone and not because she was doing something suspicious. Tooru suddenly itched to leave, wishing she hadn’t committed to doing this. She was just about to stand up and try to leave when there was a knock on the door. 

Uraraka looked up as Iida entered the room. He stopped right in front of the door and completely blocked off Tooru’s only escape exit. 

‘Well, ’ Tooru thought, ‘Now I’m stuck. This was a mistake ’ 

Denki cheered as Ashido gave Aoyoma a vicious uppercut to the jaw and sent him sprawling on the ground. Midnight declared Ashido the leader to the crowd’s wild applause. 

Aoyoma was carted off the pitch and Ashido waved her hands at the crowd in excitement before she was led off too. 

Denki glanced at Tooru’s seat and found she was still gone. The other girls didn’t seem to notice, congratulating Ashido as she sat down with them again. Uraraka was still missing too. Denki realized her absence hadn’t been noticed either, even by Midoriya who had been sitting right next to her. He seemed too preoccupied talking to Ojirou about his predictions for the next match to notice her empty seat. 

Yaoyorozu and Tokoyami’s match was over quickly, but Denki was barely paying attention. He was too preoccupied wondering about Tooru and Uraraka. Just before the match started, Iida got up to leave. Denki watched him go through the same door Uraraka had and figured he was leaving to go find her. Midoriya still hadn’t noticed her absence. He was turned almost all the way around in his seat to talk to Ojirou, the pair of them hunched over Midoriya’s notebook. 

After the match ended, Midoriya seemed to finally realize that Uraraka was gone. As Tokoyami sat back down in his seat and everyone congratulated him on his victory while the girls comforted Yaoyorozu and lamented her defeat, Midoriya wished Kirishima luck on his next match and got up to leave. 

Denki forced himself to smile and cheer Kirishima on even though he was worried. Kirishima was going up against TetsuTetsu TetsuTetsu next, and both of them were on the suspect list purely because of how similar their quirks were. Denki knew he should be paying attention to their fight so he could watch for anything suspicious, but he was having a hard time focusing. 

Logically, he knew Uraraka was probably just worried because she was going to be fighting Bakugou next, but Tooru still wasn’t back yet and Denki’s mind couldn’t help but wander to several worse case scenarios. He trusted that Tooru hadn’t gotten caught, but there still had to be a reason why she wasn’t back yet. 

‘Hopefully she just got… distracted or something, ’ Denki thought, ‘Maybe she’s stuck somewhere. ’ 

Denki eventually decided that if Tooru wasn’t back by the time Uraraka was, he’d leave to go find her. Right now, he needed to focus on enjoying himself. 

Denki smiled wider than he would normally and cheered as Kirishima stepped into the arena. 

Tooru knew any chance she had of slipping out of the room any time soon was thrown out the window when Midoriya entered. 

“Uraraka-san!” Midoriya called. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something else, but then seemed to notice the serious tone in the room and paused. Neither he or Iida moved from standing right in front of the doorway. Tooru wouldn’t be able to slip out behind them. 

‘I’m going to have to watch this entire conversation.’ Tooru forced herself to stay still instead of shifting in her seat, ‘I’m not supposed to be here.’  

“Midoriya-kun?” Uraraka sounded surprised, “You don’t want to watch the other matches?” 

Midoriya looked sheepish, “Most of them ended quickly. Kirishima is up against someone from class 1B right now.” 

Uraraka flinched. “Then next… soon…” 

‘She’ll have to face Bakugou, ’ Tooru realized all too late why Uraraka had left the stadium to sit in a waiting room alone. Anyone going up against Bakugou wouldn’t be looking forward to it. 

“Well, I don’t think even Bakugou would use a full-strength explosion on a girl,” Iida tried to comfort her. Tooru felt a spark of irritation at the implications of that statement, even though she hoped it was true for Uraraka’s sake.

“No, he would,” Midoriya’s expression didn’t change, and he stated it like a fact he thought was obvious already. Uraraka flinched and turned away. Tooru pursed her lips. 

“Everyone’s trying to become number one and make their dreams come true,” Midoriya hurried to explain, “Even if it wasn’t Kacchan, no one would think about holding back.” Tooru had to admit that he was probably right about that, and from the expressions on Iida and Uraraka’s faces, they thought so too. “You’ve helped me so much Uraraka. That’s why I thought I could help you a little.” 

At that statement, Midoriya held up a burnt notebook. Tooru marveled at how it wasn’t falling apart in his fingers. The pages looked like they would be so black with ash and soot they shouldn't be readable, but Midoriya held it like it was valuable. On the front, Tooru was just barely able to make out the words ‘ Hero analysis for the future #13’.

“I have a plan to use your quirk against Kacchan,” he explained, “It’s rough, but I came up with something.” 

Tooru blinked. She remembered seeing him writing furiously in a notebook earlier. ‘That must be the same one. I wonder what he writes in it…

“Oh! Isn’t that great, Uraraka?” Iida’s voice was cheerful, but Tooru could tell it was forced. 

Uraraka shook her head. “Thanks, Midoriya-kun, but it’s fine.”

Both of the boys looked surprised. Tooru wondered if they valued Midoriya’s advice that much. ‘What is written in that notebook?’

“You’re amazing Midoriya,” Uraraka started, and then didn’t stop. She talked on and on, giving a speech to her friends that was brutally honest about how she felt. 

Tooru sat in the corner of the room and grew more and more embarrassed as Uraraka continued. She was intruding on a very private moment between the three friends. With every word Uraraka spoke, Tooru felt the need to run build up in her stronger and stronger. 

Finally, finally, Uraraka got up and headed for the door. She stopped in the doorway and gave her friends a shaky thumbs up. 

“That’s why…” Uraraka’s voice shook, but the expression on her face was determined. Tooru winced. “Let’s meet in the finals!”

Tooru breathed a sigh of relief the second Uraraka was out the door. Iida and Midroriya only shared a charged look before following after her. 

‘That was horrible, ’ Tooru didn’t move from her spot on the bench. She felt frozen in place. ‘Following Uraraka was a mistake.

If she’d been visible, Tooru was sure her embarrassment would show all over her face. Her cheeks were hot, and she was certain she was blushing from her nose to hear ears. She felt like she’d just done something dirty. Tooru couldn’t remember the last time spying on people made her feel like that. 

‘I’ve got to head back before I’m missed, ’ Tooru thought eventually, ‘I’m not going to be able to look Uraraka in the eye for who knows how long.’  

Guilt. That’s what she felt. Tooru was guilty. There was a small voice in the back of her head reminding her, ‘It’s for the mission! You didn’t know that would happen. You were just being diligent!’ but it didn’t do much to dispel her discomfort. 

Tooru rushed out of the room so fast she almost forgot to head back to the bathroom so she could turn her clothes visible again and play innocent for the cameras. Her mad dash to scramble over the top of the stall again was less graceful than the first time, but Tooru was in a hurry. She opened the stall door and nearly ran back to the seating area. 

When she got back, Denki was halfway out of his seat. He kept glancing from Uraraka to the door, nervous energy held in every one of his features until he spotted Tooru in the doorway and seemed to relax immediately. Tooru made a face to try and portray how uncomfortable she was before she remembered Denki couldn’t see it and hurried to sit down next to the rest of the girls. 

“What did I miss?” she asked excitedly. 

“Oh, Hagakure! You didn’t miss much, to be honest. Kirishima and that Class 1B kid weren’t that interesting to watch,” Jirou shrugged and took another sip of her drink, “Uraraka and Bakugou are up next.”

Tooru settled down in her seat and tried to look as relaxed as possible even though she wasn’t. ‘Don’t I know it.

Katsuki took a deep breath and sank lower into his stretch. He wasn’t going to underestimate Pink Cheeks. Deku was probably giving her some sort of plan as they waited for the match to start, although it wouldn’t be his best work. Just good enough to convince the extras that he wanted Round Face to win and not Katsuki. 

Katsuki wasn’t really worried about Cheeks, but he did know that underestimating your opponent had been the cause of many defeats that shouldn't have happened. Katsuki was going to take this seriously, just like how he took everything; he refused to fail in his mission, and that meant winning against Round Face. Katsuki couldn’t afford to slip up. 

He needed to focus. Keep a cool head, but also keep acting the part of the short-tempered hero student with a slightly villainous streak for the cameras. Katsuki breathed in and out, deeply. All he had to do was get Round Cheeks out of the ring. All he had to do was push her out. 

It was quiet in the waiting room he was in. The sounds of the crowd in the stadium were muted, barely there unless you listened for them. Katsuki felt marginally more relaxed than he had all day. The incessant noise of his classmates had finally stopped for the first time since he’d gotten to school. Katsuki preferred the peace and quiet to the noise any day. 

Eventually, the PA system crackled to life and Katsuki was called back to the stadium. He took a long drink of his water bottle and made his way out the door. 

Katsuki came to stand at the edge of the ring. Round Cheeks stood across from him. Even without his quirk, Katsuki would be able to tell that she was nervous from the trembling of her hands and the expression on her face. She was trying to look confident, but her nervousness bled out and became obvious when Katsuki looked deeper. 

Katsuki himself made sure to look as relaxed as possible. He kept his stance casual, his hands in his pockets, and a snarl on his face for the cameras. Cheeks seemed a bit put off by his apparent lack of concern for the fight they were about to partake in, but in reality Katsuki’s mind was racing, going over plans Deku could’ve given her and ways to counter them. 

Eventually, Katsuki took a deep breath and spoke up, “You’re the one who makes things float, right Round Face?”

Cheeks seemed taken aback for a moment at the nickname, “Round…”

Katsuki kept his voice even. He would stay calm. Calculated. “If you’re gonna withdraw, do it now. This won’t be just an ‘ouch.’”

Pink Cheeks doesn’t answer. Instead, she narrowed her eyes and took a deep breath as if to center herself. Katsuki took note of her reaction and shifted so his stance was more ready, taking his hands out of his pockets and transferring his weight off his heels to the balls of his feet. Katsuki was ready. 

The crowd cheered and jeered at the pair of them. Katsuki blocked out the noise and focused on the feeling of sweat collecting on the skin of his palms. He could already smell the familiar caramel scent, feel the ash and dust and smoke under his fingernails and covering his skin like he’d already been fighting for hours. Katsuki closed his eyes and breathed deeply, taking stock of everything he knew about Round Face in his head one last time before opening his eyes again and focusing on her hands. 

‘If she touches me, everything gets 10 times harder, ’ Katsuki reminded himself, ‘I can’t let that happen. ’ 

“Ready?” Katsuki’s annoyingly loud English Teacher shrieked into his mic, “Eighth match, START!” 

Cheeks rushed forward immediately. She kept low to the ground, hands out as she prepared to get in close and use her quirk on Katsuki before he could react. 

“Withdrawing isn’t a choice!” She shouted, finally answering his challenge verbally.  

Katsuki snarled and held a hand out, “Then, die.” 

Round Face tried to dodge but couldn't get out of the way in time. Katsuki’s explosion hit her directly in the face. 

The fight began.

Chapter Text

Izuku felt bad for Uraraka. He knew she had to lose the match for his and Kacchan’s mission to succeed, but he still hated to see his friend lose. 

She had a really good strategy too. Izuku could list the people in their class who could avoid that last attack on one hand, and probably only using two fingers if he were totally honest. Todoroki might’ve been able to avoid it as well as Kacchan, but Izuku was pretty sure there wasn’t anyone else. So much rock and debris falling would take anyone out. In the end, it was pure bad luck that Uraraka had been put up against Kacchan in her first match. 

Uraraka had been in better spirits than Izuku had expected after the match. She seemed like she was doing ok when Iida and Izuku talked with her in one of the waiting rooms afterwards. Izuku almost felt a little better considering she didn’t seem that disappointed. 

Until, of course, he left the room and shut the door only to hear her start to cry the second he was out of the room. Izuku froze with his hand on the doorknob and stared at the closed door in panic. He’d never been any good at comforting people who were crying. It was clear Uraraka didn’t want him or Iida to know just how upset she was. In the end, Izuku decided to respect her wishes and leave her alone. He hesitated only a moment before letting go of the doorknob and starting back down the hallway. 

Izuku felt guilty. He knew there was no reason for him to, because even if it hadn’t been for the mission Kacchan still would’ve beaten Uraraka with or without his help, but he couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that there was something else he could’ve done. Some way he could’ve helped that he didn’t. 

Izuku was so distracted thinking about it that he almost ran into someone while turning a corner. The only reason he didn’t was because he was met with a wall of heat that shocked him into taking an instinctive step back. 

“Endeavor!” Izuku paused, everything he knew about the man flooding his brain in an instant as he realized he was coming face to face with both the Number 2 ranked hero in all of Japan and Todoroki’s father. 

‘Todoroki’s father, ’ Izuku felt a shock of cold as he realized he’d come face to face with the man his classmate had told him about earlier. Anger consumed his senses as quickly as the cold did. 

“Oh, there you are,” Endeavor’s voice was icy despite the flames curling around the sides of his face. Izuku was struck by the realization that his tone reminded him of Todoroki. 

“Endeavor,” Izuku repeated again, praying his voice didn’t betray any of the anger he felt, “What are you doing here?”

Endeavor took a step forward. Izuku took a step back on instinct, and Endeavor’s eyes seemed to glint with satisfaction at the movement. Izuku felt a sour feeling start to burn under his skin. 

“I watched your fight,” Endeavor towered over Izuku. If Izuku were anyone else, he might’ve even felt intimidated. Endeavor pointed at him, “You have a wonderful quirk. You created so much wind pressure just by flicking your fingers. If we’re talking about power alone, yours is comparable to All Might’s.” Endeavor spit the name like an insult. 

“What are you…” Izuku swallowed and looked down before his anger could show on his face, “What are you trying to say?” Endeavor didn’t answer for a moment, and Izuku grit his teeth. “I should go.” 

Izuku resolutely walked past Endeavor and had plans to leave before he did something stupid but was stopped once again by Endeavor speaking up. 

“It’s my Shouto’s duty to surpass All Might,” Endeavor’s voice was still cold. Izuku couldn’t help thinking that Todoroki didn’t belong to him, so how dare he call him ‘his Shouto,’ but grit his teeth harder and didn’t say anything. 

Endeavor didn’t seem to notice Izuku’s thinly veiled rage and kept talking, “His match with you will be a very instructive test bed. Please don’t disgrace yourself in it.”

Izuku saw red. He felt his blood turn to acid and the only thing stopping him from turning around and making Endeavor regret ever being born was the constant reminder in the back of his brain that he couldn’t break character. 

“That was all I wanted to say,” Endeavor turned and began to walk away, “I apologize for bothering you before the match.”

‘You’re not sorry, ’ Izuku seethed. Before he could think better of it, he was talking back. “I am not All Might.” 

Izuku heard Endeavor’s footsteps stop and felt the hero’s glare burn into his back. “That’s obviou-”

“That’s obvious, right?” Izuku interrupted him and looked up to make eye contact. He knew the anger was clear on his face and in his eyes and he knew Endeavor could see it, but he couldn’t find it within himself to care. He’d always been bad at ignoring his stronger emotions. 

When Izuku spoke again, his voice was icy. 

“Todoroki-kun isn’t you either.” 

Izuku turned back around before he could make a bigger mistake and forced himself to walk slowly around the corner instead of ripping the Number Two Hero’s head off. 

Izuku had a match to fight. 

‘Don’t fight while you’re angry, ’ Izuku remembered his mother telling him over and over, ‘Anger makes you slip up. Anger fuels your worst decisions.’  

Izuku forced himself to take a deep breath. He couldn’t do anything about Endeavor right now. All he could do was refocus himself and prepare to fight Todoroki. 

‘Don’t disgrace myself, huh?’ Izuku thought bitterly, ‘He shouldn't have worried. ’ 

Izuku stood face to face with Todoroki. The cheering and shouting of the crowd was a dull roar in his ears. The pitch under them was dirt heated from the sun beating down above them. The smell of concessions (popcorn and soda and sickly sweet cotton candy) wafted down from the stands and made Izuku’s stomach turn. He could feel eyes on him. Kacchan, Uraraka, Iida, All Might. All Might’s eyes were especially heavy. He could’ve sworn he could feel the hero's gaze burning into his back. Izuku forced himself to ignore it all and focus only on himself, the pitch, and Todoroki. 

The crowd kept shouting, roaring and cheering. The sound of Izuku’s heart-beat drowned it out. The air felt cold already, even though Todoroki hadn’t used his quirk yet. Izuku could feel adrenaline pumping through his veins like his blood was on fire. The smell of ozone and sulfur burned in his nose prematurely as he pulled power into his fingers. The familiar feel of One For All flooded his senses. 

An endless ocean of energy, setting him ablaze from the inside out. A rush like he was jumping off a cliff into ice-cold water far below. His feet rooted to the earth from the top layer of dirt to the very center.  Incessant whispering at the edge of his hearing and swirling shadows in the corners of his vision. Strength burning in his bones, hotter than the sun but colder than the deepest reaches of outer space and twice as vast.

Izuku held his hand out, the bones in his fingers barely containing the energy collected in them. Izuku let it simmer just under the skin. He knew Todoroki would start out with a big attack right at the beginning, just like he did with Sero. Unlike Sero, Izuku vowed to be prepared. 

He barely heard Mic as he counted down until the start of the match. He was too focused on watching Todoroki for the first sign of movement. Izuku would have less than a second to react once Todoroki attacked. His ice was fast. Izuku knew he could be faster. 

All at once the temperature dropped sharply and Izuku raised his hand just as the first signs of ice formed at Todoroki’s feet. Izuku didn’t let himself hesitate before letting loose the power in his fingers. 

One For All exploded out of him like an atom bomb and the ice in front of him exploded with it, sending shards raining down around Todoroki and the members of the crowd who were behind him. 

Izuku heard the crowd gasp through the pounding of his heart in his ears but forced himself to ignore them. His finger was broken and bloody, shattered all the way through. He silently cursed the past holders of One For All from stopping him from using the quirk correctly and pulled energy into a different finger to release it just before Todoroki’s second wave of attack raced towards him. The crowd gasped again. Izuku didn't register it at all the second time. 

The fight had begun. 

Shouto was cold. Ice and frost coated his entire right side. Ice under his clothes, ice in his shoes, ice in his hair. Every time he unleashed another attack, the ice seemed to spread further to his right. He could swear there was ice in his lungs, ice at the edge of his vision. There was ice under his fingernails and ice in his ears and ice on his tongue. Ice, ice, ice, ice. 

If he didn’t change tactics soon, Midoriya would outlast him even though every time he fended off one of Shouto’s attacks he lost a finger. He was running out of fingers. Shouto would run out of warmth first. 

With the next attack, Shouto could swear he felt ice crawling up his throat. ‘Midoriya’s down a hand. That means he’s only halfway through his store of power.’ Shouto knew he wouldn't be able to last that long. As Midoriya shook out his hand, Shouto rushed forward. 

There was already ice trailing between them, and Shouto used it to his advantage. His boots were specially made, and gripped it easily. After the first few steps, he risked more ice and glided up a slope of ice towards Midoriya to get in close even though his close combat skills were less than desirable. He was a distance fighter, with ranged attacks. Ranged attacks that didn’t work on his current opponent. 

Midoriya reacted faster than Shouto expected, sending another burst of explosive energy at the ice he was gliding on. Shouto felt it shatter under his feet and a spark of instinctual fear spiked in him as he realized how close he came to being hit by it. 

However, Shouto had trained too long to be taken out along with his ice. He leapt up and felt himself stay suspended in the sky for a moment as he flew through the air towards Midoriya. He reached out, ice already collecting on his fingers and directing itself at his opposition. 

That was until something hit him. His first thought, ridiculously, was that he was being hit by a wrecking ball, or maybe a freight train. He didn’t even feel the pain until he was halfway across the arena and careening towards the edge of the pitch at a speed that made his blood freeze before his muscle memory took over and he stopped himself from blasting out of the ring by crashing into a wall of ice. 

It wasn’t until the pain really hit him that he realized Midoriya had punched the ice underneath him, hard . It had shattered at the impact and the sheer wind pressure coming off the blow had sent Shouto soaring across the arena even though he hadn’t been hit directly. At first Shouto wondered if he’d broken a few bones, or if one of his organs had collapsed, but he could still move and although his entire body ached, it didn’t hurt enough to really make him worry. 

‘He’s holding back, ’ Shouto thought, ‘If he’d aimed to hit me directly, he probably could’ve just killed me. ’ 

When he looked back at Midoriya, Shouto saw that his opponent had taken out his entire arm with his last attack. Midoriya’s entire limb was bloody and bruised and probably shattered. 

Midoriya flinched and Shouto realized his last attack was meant to be the finishing blow. Shouto breathed in and out slowly for a second and noted that the air he breathed was thick with mist. He needed a moment to catch his breath. Midoriya may not have broken Shouto’s bones or ruptured his organs, but he definitely knocked the wind out of him. Shouto’s stomach rolled again and he wanted to throw up. 

Instead of vomiting, he forced down the urge and opened his mouth to speak instead, “You’re that beat up from just defending and running away?” Shouto’s whole body shook from the cold. Midoriya didn’t look like he was going to be attacking again any time soon, so Shouto risked a glance up at his father. 

His old man looked angry. Angrier than usual. Shouto almost smiled. “Thanks Midoriya. My old man’s face looks seriously unhappy because of you.” Shouto paused for a moment and took stock of the situation again. “With your arms like that, you can’t fight anymore, can you? Let’s finish this.” 

Shouto rushed forward again with the intent to send Midoriya out of the ring once and for all. To his surprise, Midoriya spoke up again. 

“Where are you looking?” 

Shouto only had a second to wonder what he was talking about before his ice exploded underneath him for the second time. He felt himself fly towards the edge of the arena again before he sent a wall of ice up again. He hit it with enough force that he could feel the bruises form on his shoulders and sides. Shouto had been sent even closer to the edge this time. Dangerously close

Shouto rolled down the slope of his ice and looked up, locking eyes with Midoriya again. 

He’d rebroken one of his fingers again. It was a dark, ugly purple, greenish in spots and almost black. Shouto felt the urge to throw up return just by looking at it. He had no idea how someone would be able to stand the pain from it. Midoriya was certainly tougher than he looked.

‘Why is he going so far? What does he gain from this?

“You’re trembling too,” Midoriya’s voice didn’t shake when he spoke up again and Shouto held eye contact with him and realized that he was angry. Very very angry. “Quirks are physical abilities too, which means there’s a limit to how much cold you can take. Isn’t that something you could solve by using the heat from your left side?” 

Shouto couldn’t pull his eyes away from Midoriya’s. He was afraid if he looked away, the anger he saw in Midoriya’s eyes would reach out and grab him, hurt him, break him like Midoriya’s quirk hurt himself. 

“Everyone’s fighting with everything they’ve got,” Midoriya’s voice still didn’t shake, “To win and get closer to their dream.” 

Shouto’s heart was pounding loud enough to drown out the roar of the crowd. 

“You want to win with just half your strength?” 

Shouto felt heat pool in the tips of his left hand’s fingers, familiar only in how opposite it was to the cold in his right hand. 

“You haven’t put a single scratch on me yet!” 

Shouto had to fight to keep the fire contained under his skin. 

“Come at me with everything you’ve got!” 

Katsuki watched Deku and Halfie continue to fight and felt his anxiety rise higher and higher the longer Deku didn’t win. He’d gotten close, very close, to pushing Icy-hot out of the ring on several occasions, but the bastard kept stopping himself from going all the way. The only comfort Katsuki got from it was that slamming into that many walls of ice would have to leave some serious bruises. 

The good news was that Half-and-Half’s movements were slow enough now that Deku could avoid his ice attacks without using One For All. The bad news was that Deku was completely out of fingers to break, and had to resort to rebreaking them. Katsuki couldn’t get a good look at the damage from all the way up in the stands, but he had a horrible sinking feeling in his gut that Recovery Girl might not be able to take care of it completely. If Deku kept fighting Icy-Hot like this, he might not be able to fight in the next round even if he won. 

Deku managed to get a good hit in on Half-and-Half, punching him in the stomach as he rushed forward to freeze him. Deku didn’t break his arm again, which was good, but Icy-Hot managed to freeze part of his non-broken arm, which was bad. Katsuki couldn’t look away. It was like watching a trainwreck. The crowd gasped around him as Halfie was sent tumbling across the pitch, but Katsuki barely heard them. 

The fight continued, but it was clear that both Deku and Half-and-Half were at their limits. Halfie threw ice that Deku dodged easily, and Deku seemed reluctant to rebreak his fingers more than he already had, but he took a few more shots at the bastard. During several points, it devolved into throwing desperate punches and grabbing for each other’s clothing in weak attempts to gain the upper hand without taxing their own quirks more than they’d already been taxed. Katsuki wondered if he was going to watch it develop into an all-out brawl with nothing but fists and quirkless punches. 

It culminated in Deku seeing an opportunity to flick his thumb at Halfie by using the inside of his cheek to launch the energy at him and Katsuki couldn’t help but flinch. This was not going well at all. 

‘He’s going too far.’ 

It was working. He was getting through to him. Yoichi felt the emotions of the other vestiges swirl around him. Second and Third were still angry, and they had every right to be, but he also distinctly felt that Seven agreed with him. Eight felt proud of his successor as always. 

Eighth's emotions were farther away, harder to feel. They were less distinct, and Yoichi knew that the connection between Eight and the rest of One For All was weaker, but when he reached out he could still feel Eight at the surface of the ocean that made up the power of his quirk. 

Ninth’s emotions were easier to discern, even though he’d held the quirk for far less time, and Yoichi knew that his connection to it might be stronger than any living holder’s had been since he himself walked the earth. 

The Todoroki boy was still fighting his fire down. He was still refusing to use it. Yoichi could tell when someone was repressing their quirk. Back when he was alive, that almost seemed to be all anyone did. Except for his brother, although his brother was a bad example of why using your quirk is usually a good thing.

Repressing your quirk left you angry. It left you sad, tired, and bitter. It wasn’t healthy. Nine knew that. Nine knew that the Todoroki boy needed to let his quirk lose, and needed to use his fire even if he didn’t want to. Yoichi agreed with him. 

That was why Yoichi let him keep fighting. That was why Yoichi watched him rebreak his fingers and did nothing, why Yoichi pulled the power of One For All back from his arm when he punched the Todoroki boy in the stomach, why Yoichi let him keep his bones whole for the third time. Yoichi didn’t have to like the newest holder of his quirk, but he did understand what Ninth was trying to do. 

It can be hard to let go of your strongest emotions; your strongest regrets, grudges, angers from the past. Sometimes, Yoichi had learned, it was better to let go. You didn’t have to forgive and forget, but you could let go. 

‘Todoroki Shouto, ’ He thought, ‘You need to let go .’  

Everything ached. Izuku usually didn’t feel too much pain when he fought, was usually able to let adrenaline drown out whatever he should be feeling and keep going like he wasn’t even hurt, but this pain was strong enough he could feel it even over the pounding of his own heart. His fingers ached like he wasn’t sure they’d ever ached before, his arms felt like lead weight attached to his shoulders, and Izuku could feel nothing but pain. Mind-numbing, relentless, horrible pain. He forced it down, ignored it. Izuku didn’t have time for pain right now. 

“You can’t become number one without giving it your all!” The words ripped out of Izuku’s throat like sandpaper, “Even to reject your father!” Todoroki was trembling even harder now than he’d been before, “I think you need to stop screwing around!” 

Todoroki didn’t respond. He was still trembling like a leaf, but he hadn’t fallen over yet. 

“That’s why I will surpass you!” Izuku forced his feet forward and punched him in the stomach again, sending him flying. 

Todoroki stayed on the ground for an extra moment, just long enough to make Izuku’s heart stop beating for a second as he wondered briefly if he might’ve really hurt his opponent. When he got up, it was on shaky feet. There was a layer of frost permeating the air around them. Izuku breathed in and out and saw that even his own breath was mist. ‘He won’t be able to go on like this for much longer .’ 

In desperation, Izuku screamed again, begging whatever higher power that existed to let his words get through to Todoroki. 

“It’s your power, isn’t it?” 

Shouto felt ice under his skin, burning him from the inside out. He was so cold that his skin almost felt like it was on fire, so cold that he didn’t notice the heat begging to be released from his left side. Fire begging to be let loose. 

When Midoriya screamed one last time, the words hit him harder than any punch Midoriya had thrown over the course of their match. 

“It’s your power, isn’t it?” 

Todoroki saw his mother’s face flash in front of his eyes one last time before the fire he’d been barely containing burst from his skin. It warmed him from his toes to his hair, melting the ice that gathered in his lungs and melting the frost he could swear had coated over his heart. He felt like he was able to breathe for the first time since their match began, and maybe even longer. 

Shouto took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He felt happy. Terrifyingly, dangerously happy. Everything in his body ached, every bone and muscle was sore and he could’ve sworn he knew nothing but pain. The happiness didn’t care, bypassing all of that and filling him up top to bottom like water being poured in a cup. Shouto was warm . Really, really warm. 

Shouto couldn’t remember the last time he felt that warm. 

Flames licked his skin and were sent up in the air in a large column of fire that almost touched the sky. 

Shotuo watched the flames swirl around him and wondered if he’d ever feel this free again. 

He was happy. 

Shouto smiled. 

In the last seconds of the match, all Izuku could feel was power. His bones didn’t ache anymore, adrenaline finally overcoming the immense pain he’d felt before. When he reached for One For All, the power reached back the way a quirk usually should, and Izuku couldn’t help celebrating as the vestiges smiled upon him for the first time. Power coursed through the shattered figments of his skeleton like thunder through a lightning storm. Izuku was the eye of a hurricane of his own making. 

The world around him burned as Todoroki set the air on fire, but Izuku let the ocean of power that was One For All fill him from the inside out and send energy bursting just under his skin, begging to be released. Somehow Izuku knew that he wasn’t going to win this battle, wasn’t going to win this fight, but failure was the farthest thing from his mind at the moment. All he could think about, all he could feel, was the victory in saving his classmate from himself. 

Izuku smiled. 

The entire arena exploded. The entire arena exploded. Katsuki forced himself to mask his expression so he didn’t look too concerned as he searched through the smoke desperately to see if either Todoroki or Midoriya was out of bounds. His heart sank to his feet the second he spotted a slumped figure at one of the outer walls. A slumped figure that wobbled for a second before collapsing to the ground like a ton of bricks, limbs broken and bones shattered, the ground around them spattered with blood. A slumped figure with a curly mess of green hair on the top of their head. Katsuki felt everything around him go still and silent as his brain registered that Deku was out of bounds. 

Deku was out of bounds. Deku couldn’t be out of bounds. That would mean that he’d lost the match, and he couldn’t lose the match. Deku was supposed to WIN that match. He was supposed to meet Katsuki in the finals. He was supposed to BEAT Katsuki in the finals. He couldn’t do that if he was out of bounds. No. No no no no no no no NO. He’d failed. They’d failed. They’d FAILED. The mission failed. Katsuki failed. Katsuki was a FAILURE. No. No no no. This was Deku’s fault. This was DEKU’S fault. DEKU was a failure. This wasn’t Katsuki’s fault. This WASN’T Katsuki’s fault. It couldn’t be Katsuki’s fault. There wasn’t anything else he could’ve done. There COULDN’T have been anything else Katsuki could’ve done…


It took Pikachu smacking him on the shoulder and yelling about how cool that last explosion had been to shock Katsuki out of his spiral. He barked a line about not touching him on auto pilot and tried to catch a glimpse of Halfie. 

Icy-hot was still standing, miraculously. He was missing half a shirt, and Katsuki could see the gleam of sweat coating his skin from where he was sitting up in the stands, but he looked like he was mostly in one piece. He was definitely in better shape than Deku was. 

‘Half-and-Half will advance onto the next round, ’ Katsuki gripped the sides of his seat in a desperate attempt to keep from spiraling again. ‘I’ll face him in the finals instead. ’ He was panicking. He couldn’t manage to make himself stop panicking. He had to salvage the mission. He had to go on without Deku. They had a backup plan for this scenario. Why couldn’t Katsuki think of it? Deku had it written down in that notebook of his. Katsuki needed to get his hands on it. How was he going to do that without being suspicious? Katsuki needed that notebook. He NEEDED it. Unless he should wait for further instruction. Did they have a backup plan for this scenario? Katsuki was certain they’d gone over backup plans for stuff like this, but what if they wouldn’t work? What if there was some unknown variable that hadn’t been taken into account before? Katsuki should wait it out, wait for further instruction. But what if he was wrong about that? What if he judged wrong? He needed to get his hands on that notebook, just to be sure. He NEEDED to. 

Katsuki was spiraling again. He forced himself to take a deep breath and closed his eyes to calm himself even if it might’ve been out of character. Hopefully everyone would be too busy watching the rest of the match to notice him losing his mind. 

Masaru stared in shock at his TV, the pencil in his hand completely forgotten. The second he’d processed what was happening, he was taking out his phone to call Mitsuki. Just before he pressed call, he hesitated, his thumb hovering over the button.

‘Do I really want to bother her with this?’ He considered, ‘She’s really busy. This is terrible news, so maybe I shouldn’t distract her...’  

In the end, he figured he shouldn’t keep it from her, and called anyway. 

The second he heard the phone pick up on the other end of the line, Masaru started talking. 

“Izuku lost to that Todoroki kid. They have to resort to plan B.” 

If Masaru had any doubt about what Mitsuki would think about that, it was dispelled immediately by the angry cursing that came through the phone for several prolonged minutes after the words left his mouth. 

Hisashi stared up at the ceiling of his office and fought off an oncoming headache. This was bad. This was very, very bad. Their plan B for this situation wasn’t one that he had a lot of faith in. It was only supposed to be used as a last resort. 

‘Izuku could’ve won, ’ Hisashi felt cold disappointment hit him as he realized, ‘Izuku could’ve won, but instead he threw the match in order to… what, get the Todoroki kid to stop being stupid and stop rejecting half of his quirk? How in the world did he think that was worth sacrificing the mission for? It’s not even just this mission. That puts the BIG MISSION in jeopardy. If Katsuki can’t pull off a convincing plan B, then the whole thing is ruined and has to be rethought.’  

Even though he tried to ignore it, Hisashi couldn’t help but think back to the last time something like this had happened. It’d been a long time ago, but the memory was still so fresh in Hisashi’s brain he closed his eyes and saw it replay itself on the backside of his eyelids. Hisashi knew for a fact that Inko, Mitsuki, and Masaru would all be thinking about it too. He could already feel the headache coming on. 

‘Stop that, ’ he told himself, ‘Izuku and my brother are nothing alike. NOTHING ALIKE. Izuku probably just… got caught up in the moment, or… stayed a little too true to his character until it was too late to fix the direction the fight was going. Maybe the Todoroki kid said something to him beforehand that threw him off his game. ’ 

Hisashi’s rationalization of the situation made him feel a little better, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to fend off Mitsuki’s comparisons of the two events as easily as he did his own. 

‘She’s going to kill me. ’ He realized, ‘She’s going to kill me, and no one will ever find the body because when Mitsuki kills someone, no one can ever find the body.’  

Hisashi took a deep breath and set down the paperwork he’d originally set out to do while he listened to the Sports Festival broadcast. That would have to be worked on later. Right now, he had more pressing matters to deal with. 

‘It all depends on Katsuki now. ’ 

Inko was so shocked that she didn’t notice Eri calling her name until after she repeated it twice. 

“Oh! Sorry dear,” Inko turned her attention to her daughter and tried to mask the panic on her face. 

Eri looked from her mother to the TV, “I thought you said Izu was going to win?” 

Inko took a deep breath and nodded a few times, swallowing, “Yes, I did say that. He was supposed to win.”

“Why didn’t he?”

Inko forced down memories of people she didn’t want to remember as her brain immediately made connections she didn’t want it to make and she got a horrible sense of deja vu that was both entirely unwelcome and entirely unhelpful, “Well, I guess he… got unlucky. We didn’t expect that he’d be paired up against someone so powerful. Izu has to hold back a lot to make sure he doesn’t break character, you know.” 

Eri nodded. She’d heard quite a lot about how Izuku and Katsuki had to stay in character all the time, “What are you going to do now?”

Inko took another deep breath and closed her eyes, counting to three. When she opened them, she felt calmer, more prepared to deal with the hiccup in their perfectly prepared plan, “Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it?” 

Eri frowned. 

Inko carefully held her daughter’s hands in her own, “I have to go now, Eri. I’ll call Himichan in to watch the rest of the festival with you, she should be back from the mission she was on this morning by now. Are you Ok to finish it with her? I have to help fix the plan now that Izuku… lost.” 

Eri nodded, looking uncertain. 

Inko quickly dialed Himiko’s number on her phone and relayed the information to her. In just under a minute Himiko was in the Midoriya’s living room and sitting on the floor in front of the couch with Eri. 

Before she even sat down however, Inko was already out the door.

Chapter Text

Izuku had nothing but nightmares while he slept. He was drowning in swirling darkness, being dragged down into the depths of his own mind, spiraling and spiraling and spiraling. Voices whispered and shrieked and cried, the sounds of pain and suffering filling him from his toes to the top of his head. There were hands clawing at him, pulling at his clothes and his hair and his skin. The smell of ash and dust and burning flesh permeated the swirling darkness around him, and there was copper and smoke on his tongue. Izuku felt nothing but fear, coursing through his veins instead of blood, lighting him up from the inside out and bringing a scream to his throat that ripped out of his vocal cords and tore through his mouth like a tornado, but the voices and the rushing around him was so loud that he couldn’t even hear himself. 

The dream shattered around him like glass, and suddenly he was falling, deeper and deeper and darker and darker until he hit the ground with a start and sat up in his hospital bed, gasping. 

Heart still pounding far too fast, he turned to the side and saw that Recovery Girl was busy working on a computer at the other end of the room and All Might was in his skinny form waiting in a chair near the door. When he sat up, they both turned to look at him in surprise. All Might looked a bit concerned at the panic Izuku was sure was showing on his face, so he hurried to let it melt off and gently laid back in his bed to stare up at the ceiling. 

‘I can’t panic now, ’ he thought desperately, already feeling the emotion start to clutch at his heart and constrict his lungs, ‘Don’t think about it, don't think about it, don't think about it, STAY IN CHARACTER.’

Despite his best efforts, the conversation All Might and Recovery Girl tried to hold with him after he woke from the surgery on his hand went mostly over his head. He felt like he was underwater, like he was seeing and hearing them through a fog. He felt like he was drifting through space, and his mind kept racing faster and faster even as his body slowed down and he realized he was unable to move. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe.

Izuku forced himself to breathe in and out slowly before turning back to Recovery Girl and All Might, who looked like they’d been asking him concerned questions, and managed to think through the fog in his head long enough to speak up. 

“Can I have a second? I’m still really tired, I don’t know if the anesthesia has worn off completely yet,” Izuku said, voice hoarse. He didn’t realize until after he’d started speaking that he’d cut off something All Might had been saying. That only made his anxiety rise higher in his throat and he looked away from Recovery Girl and All Might to blink away the tears that were threatening to fall so they wouldn’t see he was on the verge of crying. The pair seemed to realize that he was really out of it and turned away to let him rest more. 

Izuku only lasted a few seconds before the panic had him entirely in its grasp. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe. There was a heaviness in his chest, making his bones lock up and his muscles freeze. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t move . He felt frozen in place, stuck on the hospital bed. His bones ached like they’d never ached before but he barely felt it. He had bigger problems than the unusual way his fingers twisted and the new scars on his hand. 

Izuku had messed it up. He’d ruined everything. He’d failed. He was a failure. He could breathe. He couldn’t move. He was a failure. He’d ruined everything. It was all his fault. He still couldn’t breathe. 

Izuku’s mind raced along at a mile a minute, desperately clutching at every possible solution, every way that he might be able to salvage the plan, but they hadn’t come up with a backup for this situation and Izuku still couldn’t breathe or move and Recovery Girl and All Might were still in the room but they thought he was sleeping again and Izuku prayed to every god there may or may not be in the sky that they didn’t notice the turmoil he was drowning in. 

Because that’s what was happening. He was drowning, spiraling deeper and deeper into himself and he still couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. 

‘Get it together, ’ Izuku thought desperately, ‘GET IT TOGETHER. Stay in character. You can’t fix what you just did, but you can stay in character. Don’t mess it up more than you already have. ’ 

In the end, the fear of being more of a failure than he already was settled in and he forced himself to breathe, to move, and to sit up again and ready himself to have an actual conversation with Recovery Girl and All Might. 

Izuku surprised himself with how easy it was to slip back into place, back into the character he was supposed to play. He surprised himself with how neutral he was able to keep his expression, at how he managed to hold back the tears and swallow down his fear and open his mouth and have a regular conversation. He still felt like he was floating, like none of this was real, like he was swimming underwater and drowning in panic and fear and anxiety, but through it all he surprised himself with how much he managed to keep his head above the surface. 

Izuku refused to let himself be dragged beneath the depths. He refused to drown. He refused to slip up more than he already had. 

Izuku played the part. 

Inko wasn’t surprised that by the time she got to the Council meeting room it was already full of yelling people. It wasn’t too rare of an occurrence that things didn’t go according to plan, but usually the Council had a set backup plan for every possible misstep and mistake. Sometimes, however, there were new variables thrust into the equation that hadn’t been there before, new variables that complicated things. No matter how hard they tried, not even the mighty Council could account for everything. 

Inko wished she could use her divination quirk more reliably. If only she could call on it when she needed to instead of waiting for it to activate when the quirk itself deemed the right time. Inko often feared that one day it wouldn’t activate in a moment that it should’ve, and she’d miss important insight into the future that would result in disaster. Most of her nightmares centered around the fact that she couldn’t control when the quirk took hold. Today the familiar fear was striking her, but she’d been dealing with it long enough to wrangle it back into place in the deepest corners in the back of her mind. If there was one thing that made Inko panic, it was a lack of control. Today wasn’t looking to be a good day for her. 

Inko clapped twice, sharply, to draw the attention of the rest of the room. The Council fell silent under her command before nearly every person seated around the table was scrambling to wave their hands about and silently get Inko’s attention. Inko didn’t waste any time before sitting down in her chair and taking stock of who was already at the meeting. 

Hisashi, Masaru, and Mitsuki were all nowhere in sight. If Inko had to guess, Masaru was probably down in The Labs, Mitsuki was probably digging through files in the Computer Room, and Hisashi was probably in one of the LOV’s warehouses doing work there. 

This was supposed to be a relaxed day. None of The Organization’s leaders were supposed to have to worry about being on hand for emergency Council meetings. Inko was lucky that she was as close as she was to the Council Room since she’d just been in the Bunker. The Bunker, which had been deliberately built near the Council Rooms for a reason. 

Masaru was down in the deepest levels of the Headquarters in the labs, but he might stay there. He usually wasn’t a big part of the planning portion of things; if he had something to say, he’d come up and say it, but otherwise he’d probably stay where he was. 

The Computer Room was in an entirely different wing of The Organization’s Headquarters, but Inko was well aware that Mistuki would still be showing up to the room in seconds. 

As for Hisashi, he wasn’t in the Headquarters at all, but Inko could list three different quirks off the top of her head that she knew he could use to warp to the Headquarters and bypass the distance instantly. She’d have her two biggest sources of help in moments if she had to guess. 

The rest of the Council was about halfway filled in, but that didn’t stop them from beginning another argument even after she’d told them to quiet down. Inko clapped again, sharply, more irritated this time, and they fell silent once more. 

“How many of you have seen the Sports Festival footage?” Inko found it was best to get everyone on the same page before continuing any further into a discussion. Only two people raised their hands out of the six that were gathered, and Inko could already feel a headache coming on. They didn’t have time to rewatch the footage. Time was of the essence here. They needed to get new instructions to Izuku and Katsuki as quickly as possible. 

“The gist of what’s happened,” Inko began, pulling up a hologram and setting it to muted footage of the Sports Festival so they could keep track of what was going on while they worked, “Is that Izuku lost to Todoroki Shouto in the second round of the tournament event. It appeared from the footage that he goaded Todoroki on until he used his fire, and then was thrown out of bounds by a giant explosion in the end fueled by both of their immense amounts of power meeting at the end of the match. He was gravely injured throughout the fight from overuse of his own quirk, and as you might imagine the final explosion didn’t do him any good either.” Inko took a deep breath, locking eyes with each and every member of the Council around her, “Are we clear?” 

The door to the Council Room slammed open and Mitsuki appeared in it with a look of pure anger on her face. Inko winced inwardly and stood up straight to meet her. 

“SOMEONE BETTER HAVE A GOOD EXPLANATION FOR WHAT I JUST HEARD ABOUT.” Mitsuki yelled at first, but then took a deep breath and let her features fall into a deceptively calmer face. Inko swallowed and took note of how mad Mitsuki really was. 

It was only when she got really really mad that her face looked calm like that, almost like she knew that she couldn’t express her anger aptly enough to convey just how much emotion she was truly feeling so she didn’t even try. 

“Did I just hear that Izuku threw his second match in the tournament for the sake of a classmate who doesn’t matter in the slightest for our overall plans and could be killed without consequence if it weren’t for how prominent his father is?” Mitsuki spoke quietly, but each word hit like a hard slap to the face. “That stupid half-strawberry-shortcake-half-Canadian-flag-knockoff bastard was worth exactly none of his time and effort, and what did he do? WHAT DID HE DO?” 

Not a single member of the Council answered her, all too busy averting their gazes and trying their best not to look as afraid of her as they were while also trying not to attract her attention in the slightest. Everyone in the room was well aware that Mitsuki would never hurt or harm any of them present, but she was still a terrifying force to be reckoned with when she got mad. Inko spotted a pair of Council members running a bit late stop short before they entered the door, notice the energy in the room, and pause before trying to sneak in behind Mitsuki without her noticing. Inko took a deep breath and spoke up. 

“Mitsuki,” Inko didn’t dare let her voice sound condescending in the slightest. She spoke precisely and coldly. Any inflection to her voice might be taken as a challenge and they didn’t have time to argue over who was provoking who. “I don’t have any explanation for you right now, but believe me, I would like the answer to all those questions too.” 

Mitsuki’s eyes narrowed, but she swiftly walked around the table to stand at the front of the room in front of the display board. She locked eyes with Inko for just a moment before taking out the board’s stylus and writing ‘Plan B’ as aggressively as she could without harming any of the tech at the top of the board. Inko swallowed a sigh of relief that they would hopefully be getting somewhere. 

Mitsuki turned back to the people around the table, “Izuku failed in the second round of the tournament. Have all of you seen the footage? Start watching it but pay attention while I talk.” With a few taps of the pen, Mitsuki had video footage of the fight broadcasted on one of the screens to her left. 

“Our goal,” Mitsuki wrote ‘GOAL’ in big letters at the bottom of the board, and then continued to write while she talked, “Is to get Shigaraki to notice Katsuki as a potential villain recruit. Got it?”

Everyone around the table nodded furiously, scrambling to get out notebooks and clipboards and laptops to take notes. Mitsuki opened her mouth to speak again just as Hisashi flew through the door. Hair windswept and eyes wild, he brushed some of the black goo that came from using one of his warping quirks off his clothing and hurried to get to his chair. 

“I came as quick as I could,” He was carrying a briefcase in one hand and a coat in the other, “What do we have so far?” 

“Not much,” Inko spoke quickly before Mitsuki could snap at him, “But we’ve got to hurry. Katsuki’s going to be fighting his next fight soon and we have to make sure he knows what he’s supposed to do before then.” 

Hisashi nodded, “Do we still want him to get second place and blow up about it?” 

Inko and Mitsuki glanced at each other, considering. 

“That could work,” Mitsuki began, “We can probably predict that the Elsa Knockoff will get first if he gets second, but I don’t know if it's reasonable for him to get second against that kid unless he gets injured. Especially since I doubt Sir Frozen’s going to be using his fire again.” 

Hisashi pursed his lips at Mitsuki’s attitude but thought over her words anyway. After a moment, he turned to their Head Psychology Specialist and asked, “What do you think about the chances of the Todoroki kid using his fire again?”

Their Psychology Specialist, a younger woman with brilliantly golden hair and a quirk that allowed her to emit light from it, turned her full attention to the fight being played to the left of Mitsuki’s head and considered the question. “I don’t think so. Todoroki Shouto has associated using his fire with his father for such a long time that the negative connotations are going to be hard to shake off. One fight isn’t going to do it. He’s just had a major breakthrough, but he’ll need some time to recover. If I had to guess, he won’t try using his fire again until he’s alone and has time to do it on his own terms.” 

Hisashi nodded, “Then I think we can assume that Katsuki getting second place isn’t going to happen, realistically. We should plan for him getting first then. Unless we wanted to go the injury route? If he were to lose the final fight to getting injured, then that would reasonably make someone pretty mad, right?” 

The Council murmured to each other, considering this idea. After a few moments, Inko shook her head and spoke up again. 

“That’s going to be pretty hard to fake without directly telling Katsuki that he has to injure himself in the fight. Obviously we’re not going to be doing that.” 

Their Head Stealth Specialist, (codenamed Night,) slowly raised her hand without taking her eyes away from the laptop she had opened on the table in front of her, “It’s always hard to fake an injury during a match like this when only one person is aware that the injury has to be faked. Plus, you’re right about the fact that it’s blatantly against the code to order Ares to injure himself directly.” her voice was low, quiet even as she got the attention of the rest of the Council. Her sound manipulation quirk made her words rattle around in Inko’s ears. The way Night spoke used to bother her, but Inko was used to it at this point. They’d been working together for nearly 30 years. 

“Plus, if that’s the case, then he’ll probably be in the nurse's office getting treated for the injury afterward; it’s unlikely that he’ll be on the podium to throw the hissy fit we need him to.” Their Head Media Specialist reminded them. His eyes took up the majority of his face from a mutation quirk that made him look like a cartoon character, “He has to be seen by the cameras. If there isn’t enough footage of him, Shigaraki isn’t going to notice him.” 

Mitsuki, who had been writing down the details of their first attempt at a plan crossed them out more violently than she needed to and turned around, face twisted into a snarl, “What else do we have?” 

“Well, uh… Is there anyone else he might lose to?” Their Head Combat Specialist, (codenamed Blindspot,) spoke up from his spot near the door of the room. His face was eternally pointed down, eyes shining two spotlights on his desk that would blind a person when pointed directly at them at any point in time, “We might be able to tip the uh, the scales as you might say in the favor of someone else instead of the uh…. What’s his name again?”

“Todoroki Shouto,” Their Psychology specialist spoke up again, kindly. “That is certainly an idea. Who else is left in the tournament at this point?” 

Inko tapped a few buttons on her laptop to send a picture of the current tournament bracket up on the board just under the footage of Izuku and Todoroki’s match. “There’s Iida Tenya with a speed quirk, Shiozaki Ibara with the vine hair, Ashido Mina with the acid quirk, and Tokoyami Fumikage with the sentient shadow. For the second round Katsuki will be going up against Kirishima Eijirou, who has a hardening quirk. Luckily Katsuki’s match with Kirishima will be the last, after the other two, but we still have to hurry to get a plan ironed out before then.” The Council all scrambled to take notes and look things up on their laptops as Inko spoke. 

Inko took a deep breath in an attempt to calm her growing nervousness before continuing. “Out of those six, three of them will end up going to the semi-finals with Todoroki Shouto. Katsuki is the only one with any kind of Organization connection. I don’t think our chances of manipulating any particular fights in our favor are going to go well, but if there's someone we think might be able to beat Katsuki, then they’ll probably be advancing onto the semi-finals anyways.”

“If Ares is going to lose, I think it has to be in either the semi-finals or the finals,” their Head Media Specialist spoke up again, raising his hand to get the room’s attention, “If he gets out in this next round with Kirishima Eijirou, then he won’t be on the podium for the final award ceremony, and the cameras won’t be able to catch the outburst that we’ve been planning on.” He paused to let the information sink in, “I think it would be best if he lost in the finals and not the semi-finals if we can help it. If he wants to throw a convincing outburst, then he won’t be able to wait until he’s on the podium to do it. If one of the third place people are being difficult off camera, then UA might not send them out; they aren’t as important. They’ll have more leniency with the first and second place people.” 

Mitsuki made an annoyed huffing noise and pointed to the screen showing the tournament bracket again, “It won’t matter anyways! None of these kids has any chance of surpassing Katsuki, even when he’s holding back as much as he is!” She angrily pointed to each student in turn and kept talking, “Glasses doesn’t have any air maneuverability; all he has is the little ten second burst thing and Katsuki can certainly dodge for that long if he stays in the air. Then he’ll be able to blast him out of the ring the second it’s over easy. Jungle Hair won’t be able to do anything since her vines are flammable. Slime Girl doesn’t have any air maneuverability either and she’s even lacking any special move that could give her a fighting chance so she’s toast. And doesn’t Bird Brain have a weakness to light?” 

The Head Information Specialist started typing into their keyboard but didn’t get far before Hisashi interrupted them, “Yes, he does. He won’t win against Katsuki either.” 

Their Head Information Specialist froze and slowly took their hands away from the keys again. Hisashi didn’t seem to notice. 

Mitsuki just nodded sharply, “Exactly! None of these kids stands even a chance! Tell me I’m wrong.” She turned back to the table of Council members and looked pointedly to their Combat Specialist. 

Blindspot shrugged, “The odds’re stacked against ‘em pretty high, yer right about that.” 

Mitsuki nodded sharply again, gesturing back to the board, “The only one of them that stands even a small chance is the walking thermometer, and since he’s not going to be using his fire any time soon, he’ll be taken out by his own cold before the match is even 2 minutes in.” 

The room was dead silent for a few moments. Inko felt her fingers itch, and she wished that fate would take hold of them and send them writing out the future and the solution to their problem, but instead all she got was more anxious. Her eyes flicked back towards the holograph in front of them, which was showing that Iida Tenya and Shiozaki Ibara’s fight was already over and Tokoyami Fumikage and Ashido Mina’s fight was about to begin. Inko felt despair reach for her and she fought it off desperately. She couldn’t give in to her anxiety. She had to keep a cool head. 

Eventually, Hisashi spoke up, slowly and carefully as he was considering each of his words thoroughly before he said them, “What if… he didn’t lose?” 

Mitsuki’s gaze snapped to him immediately, “What are you on about now?”

“Well, who said he had to lose to be angry about the fight?” Hisashi’s hand went up to worry his lower lip while he thought out loud, an action that Inko saw Izuku mimic more and more often too, “What if there was some other way he was left unsatisfied?”

The Head Psychology Specialist lit up. Quite literally, as her quirk caused her hair to glow brighter as she appeared to get an idea, “The fire! Perhaps Ares gets mad because Todoroki Shouto won't use his fire! Even though he used it against Jade, Todoroki probably isn’t going to use it against Ares, so Ares gets mad that he wasn’t deemed ‘worthy enough’ for it! That kind of mindset would make sense for a character like he’s portraying, and if he were to get mad over something as seemingly silly as that, then it would make him look even more villainous to Shigaraki than he would’ve if he were just mad about getting second place!” 

The Council was quiet for only half a second before it erupted, everyone talking excitedly at once. Inko looked back at Mitsuki and saw her consider the option before she raised her voice again. 

“QUIET!” The Council immediately went silent. Mitsuki smiled, wicked and dangerously happy, “I think we finally have a winning idea.” 

The Head Psychology Specialist smiled and nodded, seemingly proud of herself. 

Mitsuki started writing on the board again, filling out steps and instructions. “Step one: Katsuki has to get himself to the finals. That part of the plan doesn’t change. The difference now is Step two: Katsuki wins the finals, in a fight against Mr. Frozen Character.” Mitsuki frowned at the board for a moment before turning around again, “Knockoff Elsa will make it to the finals without our interference, right?” 

Hisashi nodded, “He’s already in the semis, and his fight there will be up against Iida Tenya. He’s already well aware of Iida’s super boost move, and his ice will be a perfect counter to Iida’s speed. He’ll be able to freeze him in place with ease.” 

Mitsuki nodded and turned back to the board to keep writing, “Step Three: Throw a hissy fit about Walking Candy Cane not using his fire. Three steps; should be easy enough.” Mitsuki turned back around to face The Council proudly, a wicked smirk still on her face, “Anything any of you would like to add?” 

The Council was quiet, this time not with nerves or anticipation but with the relief of a job well done and stress released. 

Mitsuki’s smile only grew wider and sharper at the lack of response. Inko realized too late what was coming. 

Mitsuki turned a dangerous gaze on Hisashi and spoke through gritted teeth, “Now, would someone like to explain to me why Izuku didn’t win his match with the Sentient Thermometer? Even though he clearly could’ve several times?” 

Hisashi winced, but didn’t break eye contact with Mitsuki even as her face twisted from a smile to a scowl and she set the stylus back down in its tray with far too much force. 

“Why did your son decide to throw the match, Hisashi? He put the entire mission in jeopardy. Please don’t tell me he put our entire mission in jeopardy for the sake of getting one of his inconsequential classmates to utilize his quirk correctly. I mean,” Mitsuki laughed, but it was dry and bordering on hysterical. Inko felt the other Council members flinch back from it. “That would be a pretty stupid thing to do. Traitorous, even. In fact it reminds me of something. Or someone, I guess could be more apt.” 

At this, Mitsuki’s face turned more serious and the anger fell from it entirely, replacing it with a blank look that managed to be just as terrifying. “I think you know exactly who I’m talking about without me having to say his name.” 

Her words were met with dead silence. No one in the room dared to speak or move, and Inko wasn’t even sure if anyone was breathing. Hisashi seemed too stunned to speak, mouth hanging slightly ajar as the look in his eyes told Inko quite plainly that his mind was racing at a mile a minute as he tried to come up with something to say. Inko took a deep breath, closing her eyes and thinking through what she was going to say carefully before she stood up and met Mitsuki’s eyes. 

“I know exactly where you’re coming from, and believe me, I want answers too,” Inko didn’t allow her voice to betray any emotion that could be taken as a challenge, “But neither me nor Hisashi can read Izuku’s mind. We’ll have to wait until he comes home to ask him why he did what he did.” 

Mitsuki paused for a second, staring Inko directly in the eye and giving her a look that made Inko feel like her very soul was being examined. Inko didn’t waver. Mitsuki was one of the most intimidating people she knew, but Inko and Mitsuki had known each other for a very long time, and Mitsuki had never truly intimidated her. It took a lot to intimidate Inko. 

Eventually Mitsuki closed her eyes and took a deep breath, holding it for ten seconds and then releasing it. Inko finally let herself blink and look away, turning back to the rest of The Council and smiling. 

“Good job today,” Inko nodded back at the display screen with the instructions for Katsuki written on them, “I’m going to ask that all of you stay here until the end of the Sports Festival to make sure that everything goes according to plan. Do any of you have other responsibilities that are more pressing?” 

Nobody spoke up. 

Inko nodded again, “Well, in that case I’ll send out a message to the rest of The Council members who aren’t here and let them know that the room is open to any of them who have the time, but that a solution has been reached.” Inko turned back to the rest of the table and sat down in her chair again, “Thank you all for coming here on short notice to figure out this small… hiccup in the plan with us.” 

Council members around the table nodded, and Inko looked back at Hisashi to see him taking a seat next to her and taking out paperwork from the briefcase he’d carried into the room to get work done while they monitored the Sports Festival. She didn’t expect anything less from him. 

Mitsuki walked swiftly back to the door, “I’m sure you guys have this all figured out then? I’m busy.” 

She didn’t give any other excuse before exiting the room and shutting the door slightly harder than necessary. 

Katsuki couldn’t breathe. There was a dark, twisted feeling rising in his chest that he didn’t like. 

Even though he’d watched two matches and over half an hour had passed since Deku had lost the match, he still felt like his chest was constricting. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t supposed to happen. 

Now he sat tensely in his seat, frozen stock still and cursing Pinky and Bird Boy for not dragging their match out longer, because now Katsuki would have to fight and he hadn’t been given further instructions yet so he didn’t know what to do and-

And the pinging of his phone getting a notification shot relief and anticipation through him like fire. Katsuki prayed to whatever higher power there was that it was a message from The Organization and tried not to seem too desperate as he scrambled to get his phone out of his pocket and into his hand. 

It was an email. One designed specifically to look like a spam email. If Katsuki had been the type, he almost might’ve cried. If he’d been Deku, for sure at least some of the emotion would’ve shown on his face, but he wasn’t Deku and his expression remained blank as ever. 

Next to him Dunce Face didn’t seem to notice him taking out his phone, but he was still Organization and might recognize the method of fake spam emails encoded with secret messages so Katsuki kept an eye on him while he opened it. 

The message was simple. The correction to his plan made sense, and Katsuki breathed a sigh of relief. Three steps. Get to the finals, beat Half-and-Half, and then get mad about the lack of fire. Of course, there was still a small part of him that worried that Halfie would use his fire, but in the end he decided to trust his superior's insight into the matter and shoved the worry down. 

Katsuki read through the message one more time to make sure he was translating the code correctly and then deleted the email. He glanced over at Pikachu, but he looked like he’d fallen asleep. Katsuki snorted but paused when it occurred to him that Dunce Face’s brain wasn’t asleep. It was actually quite active, and in fact he read as… activating his quirk. 

Katsuki narrowed his eyes. Pikachu wasn’t spitting sparks, so that meant that Katsuki was right a few weeks ago at the lunch table. The Idiot did have a way to sense electricity. 

‘That’s suspicious, ’ Katsuki couldn’t help but think, ‘What is he looking at?’

By the time Bakugou’s name was called and he got up to leave, Denki could feel a headache coming on. He silently cursed himself for using his quirk so much and pulled his electricity senses back into himself. After a moment, he slowly opened his eyes and pretended to be waking up from a nap before turning to glance in Tooru’s direction. He sighed when he realized that once again, he had no way to catch her eye or tell if she was looking at him. 

Bakugou’s brain waves had been… really really weird just then. Usually, Denki had a hard time guessing at emotions beyond anger or fear, but that was something else. There was definitely fear, but mixed in with it was what Denki could only guess at. Something was making Bakugou’s head go off like a firework, and Denki wanted to know what. He also wanted to check his handy dandy chart of the brain to tell what those particular sparks meant. It was definitely both out of the ordinary and something very concerning. 

‘Something’s going on with him, ’ Denki couldn’t help but think, ‘And I want to know what it is.

Chapter Text

Bakugou and Kirishima had been fighting for quite a while by the time Denki sauntered over to where the girls were sitting and made his move. 

“Why hello ladies,” He started, smirking in a way that Tooru was pretty sure was supposed to look attractive but instead made him look like a complete idiot, “fancy seeing you here. Would any of you care to join me as I venture out into the crowds to acquire some… snacks?” He paused before he said snacks, looking up through his lashes and blinking them rapidly. Once again, Tooru was pretty sure it was supposed to look attractive, but instead effectively made himself look stupider than ever. 

Ignoring Denki’s moronic expressions, Tooru saw the invitation for what it really was. She waited patiently for the rest of the girls to finish giggling and snarking at him before downing the rest of her drink and standing up. 

“Unfortunately, it appears I’m out of soda,” she lamented, “I guess I’ll have to go with you to get more…” Mina gasped loudly and started making kissy noises and Tooru hit her gently on the shoulder. Leaning down, she whispered conspiratorially, “Believe me, if I could be going with anyone else, I would. Well, except Mineta.”

The rest of the girls giggled and Jirou made a crack at Denki’s intelligence before the pair of them left the stadium and entered the hallway. 

The second they were away from the rest of their class, Denki turned to Tooru with a pouty face, “You didn’t really mean that, right?” 

Tooru waved her drink at him, “I guess you’ll never know.”

Denki pouted a bit more, crossing his arms in as exaggerated a way as possible. 

The concessions were all in crowded hallways full of people, although less crowded since there was an event going on. Tooru was aware that Denki probably had something to tell her, but there wasn’t really a good way to get away from the cameras so they could talk. Luckily, talking wasn’t the only way they had to communicate. 

Both Tooru and Denki had learned morse code at a young age. It was one of the first things Organization-raised kids were taught, since it was both a perfectly safe thing to learn and a useful skill, since it allowed you to communicate in secret even if there were cameras watching. Plus, it was kind of like its own language, and it was far easier to learn a new language the younger you were. Tooru found she didn’t use it enough to be perfectly fluent, but she knew enough to carry a conversation as long as it wasn’t too fast. 

Denki used it far more often, since it was one of the main ways most of the technology-oriented people in The Organization used to communicate. Morse code could be transferred along old technology, after all, and the government couldn’t track it. 

The pair of them fell into silence, acutely aware of the cameras watching their every move. Neither of them wanted to act too friendly, since they couldn’t let it be seen that they’d known each other for far longer than they should’ve, and they found that resisting the urge to talk to each other just ended up resulting in awkward silence. Tooru wished she hadn’t downed the rest of her drink so she’d have at least some excuse to be so quiet. 

By the time they left the student and staff area and entered the main hallways of the stadium, Tooru was pretty sure that Bakugou and Kirishima’s fight was coming to an end based on the TV screens mounted on the walls around them. Bakugou was winning, and she saw Denki look a bit conflicted as he watched two of his best friends fight each other. 

“Don’t know which one to root for, huh?” She asked, elbowing him lightly to get his attention. 

Denki sighed dramatically, “Yes, sometimes I think I’m just too popular. I truly have too many friends.” Tooru snickered. 

Eventually they stopped at one of the longer concession lines and waited. The longer the line, the longer they’d have an excuse to be away from the rest of the class. After a few moments, Denki began to hum. 

It wasn’t any particular tune, per say, just a little diddie that he appeared to be making up on the spot, and after a few seconds of seemingly random humming, Denki started muttering under his breath. 

“Bum bum, ba da, bum bum, ba doo doo, doo doo doo doo,” he wiggled around a bit, as if dancing, and Tooru snickered at his antics on autopilot while her brain worked in overdrive. 

The morse code was easy to distinguish since she was listening closely to it. None of the people seemed to notice the hidden code in the muttering. If anything, they just looked slightly annoyed at Denki’s little song if they noticed at all. 

‘Blasty’s brain was weird,” Denki spun around and wiggled in a little circle. Tooru tried not to get distracted by it while her brain desperately worked to translate the code. “New emotion.

At that point he started humming again which Tooru took as a sign that his message was over and took the opportunity to hit him lightly on the shoulder. 

“Stop acting ridiculous!” Tooru straightened up her posture and pretended to act very seriously, “We are UA students and we have to represent our school with all the honor and prestige it’s great pedigree deserves.”

Denki put on a face of dramatic mock-offense and set his hands on his hips as theatrically as possible, “That sentence doesn’t even make sense! How do you represent a school prestigiously?”

Tooru turned up her nose at him, “Well, obviously, you have no idea since you dance like that .”

Denki crossed his arms and tilted his head so he was looking down his nose at Tooru, “Well then how would you dance?”

“Like this!” Tooru wasted no time in unleashing her epic beatboxing skills upon the innocent bystanders standing in line around them. 

Denki cackled at her antics, but Tooru could tell from the way he watched her that he was paying attention. It was pretty easy to hide morse code messages in beatboxing, after all. 

“Weird. We’ll have to investigate.

By the time Tooru was done relaying her message, she and Denki were at the front of the line. She had to cut off the last few letters of ‘investigate’ so they could talk to the cashier, but she figured Denki probably got the message. 

In the end, they headed back to the rest of the class, a refilled drink in Tooru’s hand and a bag of chips in Denki’s. As they sat down again, Tooru couldn’t help but sneak a glance at Bakugou. 

‘What did Denki see in your head?’  

Recovery Girl told him that she wasn’t going to heal him when he injured himself again, and Izuku felt anger spike through his panic when he thought about it. 

Denying to help a student, a child , when they injured themselves even though it was your duty to heal was a truly terrible thing to do. Especially when it was something the child couldn’t help; if Recovery Girl didn’t want to heal him anymore, then she and All Might should figure out a better way to teach him how to use the quirk. In theory, that would solve the problem without causing him further injury. Of course, Izuku was well aware of the fact that even if they did put in the extra effort to find him a better way to use the quirk it still wouldn’t work for him, but they didn’t know that. They didn’t even try to come up with an alternative before taking away his source of healing. 

Denying him medical help broke The Code. It fell under the ‘ never intentionally harm a child’ clause, since denying one help was considered the same thing by Organization standards. Izuku couldn’t help but feel cheated. A part of him wondered why The Organization would be considered the villains if the heroes didn’t even have rules set in place to protect their children. 

In the end, not even the anger he felt at the thought of Recovery Breaking The Code and denying him medical help was able to distract him from fixating on his own failures.  

Izuku had to fight to keep down his panic. There was still a part of him that felt like it couldn’t breathe, but right now the only thing he could do was stay in character and wait for further instructions. Eventually, he had to leave the safety of the nurse’s office and head back to the rest of his classmates. All in all, the surgery on his hand hadn’t taken too long, and apparently Recovery Girl didn’t feel the need to keep him any longer than she needed to, so Izuku found himself in the hallway once again, All Might at his side.  

Izuku’s previous conversation with Recovery Girl and All Might still swirled around between his ears. He had to stay in character. What would be in character to say?

“All Might,” Izuku eventually decided that the character he was playing would be really doubting himself right about now, “You originally came to UA to find a successor.” 

“Yeah,” All Might nodded, eyebrows knitting in concern. 

Izuku paused for a second before continuing, “I put everything into the Sports Festival. I swear I could physically feel everyone’s strong emotions of not wanting to give in, so I…” he trailed off, trying to figure out how to ask the question. 

“Think that someone else should be my successor?” All Might guessed. Izuku’s shoulders slumped. 

“Yeah.” Izuku looked down at the floor. He was afraid if he caught All Might’s eye then his mentor would be able to see that he was lying. Izuku was doubting himself, but not about being All Might’s successor. 

“It’s true that this place is full of wonderful potential heroes,” All Might began, “One For All is a crystallization of power, for those who have quirks…” He trailed off, clearly thinking about something. Izuku found himself wondering how All Might was going to handle the difficult subject matter. 

“For example,” All Might seemed to come to a conclusion on what to say, “If Todoroki-shonen were to inherit it, then with the super strength on top of his half-hot half-cold, he would probably be a very very difficult foe to face. He’d be an extremely powerful hero.” 

Izuku wondered where All Might was going with that, “Then-”

“But you know, I was quirkless too.”

Izuku found himself surprised. Not at the information, since he already knew that, but at the fact that All Might was sharing it with him. He’d assumed since All Might hadn’t told him yet, he never would. Apparently he was wrong about that. 

“You were quirkless?” Izuku finally looked up again to stare at All Might. 

“It wasn’t as rare as it is for your generation, but it was still uncommon,” All Might explained, “My predecessor had a quirk, but even so, she believed in me and gave One For All to me, then raised me to be a hero.” 

“You never told me that-” Izuku started. 

“Because you never asked,” All Might said a bit sheepishly. 

“You were quirkless too…” Izuku wanted to say something about how he should’ve told him anyways, but figured that would be out of character.

“Yes!” All Might smiled at him. When All Might smiled in his smaller form, it always felt more genuine. Izuku could tell that when he smiled in his muscled form, it was fake. This was a real smile though.

‘He really does care about me, ’ The thought struck Izuku as All Might kept talking. Something about that thought made his stomach twist. He swallowed and focused on keeping his expression happy. 

“At first, I saw the old me in you, but you have gone beyond what I ever imagined, again and again.” All Might didn’t notice Izuku’s inner conflict, “There is something only you can draw out. I truly believe that.” 

Izuku felt chills go down his spine. All Might was right of course. No one but Izuku would be able to use One For All the way he was able to. The second the ghosts stopped fighting him, Izuku would be unstoppable. He could use One For All the way it should’ve been used a long time ago; to truly save the world. That wasn’t what All Might was talking about though. He had no idea about any of it. 

‘What does he see in me? ’ Izuku couldn’t help but think, ‘I’m not the hero he thinks I am.

Something about that thought didn’t feel quite right either. Izuku remembered how it felt to be on the pitch with Todoroki, fire burning in his chest and power flooding through his bones and exploding out of his fingertips. He remembered the feeling of exploding, of soaring through the air and out of the boundaries of the arena, hitting the wall and smelling nothing but smoke, sulfur, and blood. He remembered slumping to the ground, and he remembered those last few moments of consciousness before he slipped into fitful sleep. He remembered feeling nothing but pain, like his very bones were eating at his insides. He remembered the feeling of victory, even though lying on the ground where he was, he couldn’t be further from it. 

He remembered how it felt to run towards Uraraka during the entrance exam, thinking of nothing but her, the robot, and what would happen when the two of them collided. 

He remembered all the way back to the Sludge Incident. He remembered the feeling of his feet on pavement, smoke in the air and tears in his eyes, halfway across the street before he’d even considered making the decision to move. He remembered the look on Kacchan’s face, the desperation pulling at him, pushing him to run without his consent.

That wasn’t all though. Izuku also remembered what it felt like to have a knife in his hand, or a gun, or even just a powerful quirk. He remembered what blood smelled like when it mixed with the scent of burning flesh. He remembered what blood felt like when it seeped through his gloves to cover his hands. He remembered adrenaline and ash and fear and pain, and he remembered what it looked like to watch the life leave someone’s eyes. 

Izuku was no hero. 

But for some reason, All Might thought he was. 

‘What does he see in me? ’ Izuku couldn’t help but wonder, ‘I’m not who he thinks I am. ’ 

After All Might left to head to the teacher’s section of the bleachers, Izuku felt his phone buzz in his pocket. It was a text from his mother. Instantly, his mind flooded with the panic of failing his mission again and Izuku typed in his phone’s password with shaky fingers and read through the coded message. 

She hadn’t said anything about being mad. In fact, she hadn’t said anything about what his punishment might be, or what was going on back at The Organization. She hadn’t said anything pertaining to Izuku whatsoever. All she’d texted him was the new plan. A plan that Izuku didn’t have a role in. 

On the one hand, he understood why he didn’t have a role in the plan. He wasn’t needed. He could use this chance to relax and enjoy the Sports Festival. He could worry about his failure when he got home. Even still, he couldn’t stop thinking about how he wasn’t involved in the plan at all . His and Kacchan’s joint mission to attract the attention of Shigaraki as inconspicuously as possible had turned into a solo mission for Kacchan, and it was all Izuku’s fault. 

Izuku was almost surprised to find himself blinking back tears, but he felt useless. Not the terrifying, all consuming uselessness that he’d felt during the cavalry battle when he’d thought his team had lost, but a heavy, dark weight on his shoulders that refused to leave. One that made his steps sluggish, his eyes fill with tears, and his teeth clench. His hands trembled as he stared at his phone screen, and in the end he let the tears fall. He figured he’d cried enough for this mini-breakdown to be in character for the cameras, and if anyone asked about it, he could always lie and say he just felt overwhelmed. It might not even be a lie, since he did feel overwhelmed on top of feeling useless. He couldn’t pinpoint what was overwhelming him, just that something was. 

It didn’t take long for him to reach the door to his class’s section of the bleachers. Izuku wiped away his tears, trying to erase any sign of his crying before he went back to his classmates. Swallowing, he summoned his courage, fixed his expression, and stepped back through the doors into the stadium. 

Tooru noticed the second Midoriya got back from his surgery because Uraraka stood up and called out to him, asking him how the surgery went. While Tooru had several questions about that, (Midoriya had to have surgery?) she found she was immediately distracted from them by Midoriya’s muttering. He hadn’t even sat down again before he’d started analyzing the fight currently going on between Bakugou and Kirishima. While it was under his breath, it was also loud enough for everyone around him to hear every word he was saying. He took his notebook out to write in it, and Tooru found herself wondering what was inside it again. 

‘I need to get my hands on that notebook, ’ She thought, ‘He’s always writing in it. Who knows what kind of information he’s picked up about our classmates and written in there.’  

The question was how to obtain it. Tooru considered her options. 

The first and most obvious course of action would be pickpocketing it. Midoriya always seemed to have it on him, and Tooru had seen him shove it into an inside pocket in his uniform jacket. Tooru’s uniform didn’t have such a pocket, so she presumed that he’d stitched it on himself, or at least his mother had. If he’d gone out of his way to modify his uniform, then the notebook must mean that much more to him. Tooru had so many questions about it. 

For starters, it looked like a strong breeze could tear it apart. It was obvious that Midoriya really cared about it, but it was also obvious that he hadn’t taken the best care of it in the past. It was burned, stained black in splotches across the cover, and looked wrinkled like it’d been soaked in water. Now that Tooru really observed the black stains on it, she realized that they almost looked like handprints. Instantly, her gaze snapped back to the match going on in front of her. 

‘Handprints… ’ She considered, ‘And ash and soot, like it’s been burned. Maybe in an explosion? Midoriya and Bakugou used to go to the same middle school… ’ 

Tooru found herself fitting pieces together that she didn’t like the look of, and her brain reminded her suddenly of their first combat training, when Midoriya and Bakugou had gone toe to toe. Midoriya leaving on a stretcher, the arm he’d used to block Bakugou’s explosion as black and burnt as his notebook was. 

‘They have some real history. ’ 

Figuring out how Midoriya’s notebook got so beat up wasn’t going to help her steal it. Tooru tore her gaze away from the match, where Kirishima was still deflecting Bakugou’s explosions with relative ease, and focused on Midoriya and his notebook again. 

Pickpocketing it from the inner pocket of his jacket would be hard, but since his arm was in a cast it would be marginally easier. The issue was that he’d probably notice the weight leave immediately and Tooru needed to steal it and then replace it without him noticing at all. 

If worse came to worse, she could always break into his house, but that would require extra research, planning, and a sleepless night spent breaking and entering, which were all things that Tooru wasn’t keen on doing. Plus, if things went wrong there, and she got caught, she’d be blatantly committing a crime. Besides that, breaking and entering, (even into a regular apartment building,) could be more difficult than most thought. It would probably be easier to get her hands on it while the Sports Festival was still going on. 

If she couldn’t pickpocket it, then she’d probably want to resort to waiting for him to set it down and then taking it while he wasn't looking. If he ever stuck it in his backpack or stored it in his locker she’d be golden. Taking it from a backpack or a locker and then replacing it after she was done reading it would be easy. Tooru was sure that he’d have to put it somewhere after he changed out of his uniform. If only she’d thought to tell Denki about the notebook before they’d gone back to their classmates. 

‘I have to find a way to ask him to grab it for me, ’ Tooru thought, ‘Or I can wait and see if he sets it down somewhere…” 

Denki may be great at everything pertaining to computers, but his thieving skills weren’t the greatest. That was more where Tooru excelled. 

‘I can do this myself, ’ she decided eventually, ‘He has to stop writing and set it down at some point. ’ 

The match between Kirishima and Kacchan was taking a while to finish. At this point, it had turned into an endurance match, and Izuku found that he didn’t have much else to write in his notebook. He closed it, and decided to set it under his seat since it was awkward to put it in his inner jacket pocket with the casts and bandages on his arms and hands. 

“Midoriya-kun!” Iida smiled at him, starting up a conversation now that Izuku was done with his notebook, “I see that your surgery went well. I’m glad!” 

Izuku smiled, “Yeah, thanks! And congrats, Iida-kun.” 

Iida’s smile turned a bit sheepish, “I’ve made it to the semi-finals… I’m going to use your fight against Todoroki and learn from it.” 

Izuku felt a familiar pang of guilt as he realized that he knew his friend would have to lose his next fight. A voice in the back of his head asked if there was any way he could sabotage his friend to make sure that he lost, but Izuku immediately felt horrible for thinking such a thing and ignored it. “Is your older brother Ingenium watching your progress too?”

Iida turned back to the match, “I called him earlier, but he was working.” 

Izuku felt something in his stomach twist. He swallowed. Something about that made him… nervous. Apprehensive. ‘Why do I feel like something bad is going to happen? ’ 

“Oh, so you called him?” Izuku asked instead, trying to ignore his feeling of dread. 

“I think it was for the best,” Iida’s expression turned serious, “Now that I’ve made it this far, I need to be able to tell him I’m number one.” 

Izuku felt the pang of guilt again. He felt like he was deliberately setting his friend up to fail, even though he knew he didn’t have any effect on the upcoming fight at all. He fought the urge to look back at Uraraka as he remembered her fight with Kacchan. 

‘Even if I did have an effect on how those fights turned out, ’ he reminded himself, ‘I still would be doing the right thing. All of this is for the greater good. ’ 

Izuku remembered the pep talk All Might had given him when he’d shown doubt about being his successor earlier. He thought about what The Organization was planning to do to All Might. 

For some reason, he wasn’t sure he was doing the right thing. 

Tooru had been watching Midoriya for a while, and finally, finally, he’d set the notebook down. The fight between Kirishima and Bakugou was still going on, and Midoriya had set the notebook underneath his chair, presumably because it would be awkward to fit in his uniform pocket with his cast and bandages. 

Tooru knew she couldn’t steal it yet though. She had to find a way to grab it, look through it, probably take pictures of the pages, and then replace it without him noticing. That meant she had to be fast, sneaky, and that she had to time it correctly. Tooru knew that the second the fight between Kirishima and Bakugou was over and the next fight began Midoriya would be reaching under his chair to pull the notebook out again and Tooru wouldn’t have enough time to do what she needed to. 

‘I have to wait, ’ she told herself. ‘Patience. ’ 


Katsuki didn’t feel much pity when Four-Eyes lost to Halfie. So far, everything was going according to their new plan, and Katsuki couldn’t find it within himself to care about Four-Eye’s dejected expression as he sat back down in his seat again, still shivering a bit from the ice he’d been inflicted with. It hadn’t even really been a fight. He’d lost almost immediately. Icyhot hadn’t used his fire again, but Katsuki hadn’t expected him to. 

Katsuki took note of Bird Boy’s emotions before they both left for their match. He was calm. Too calm. 

‘Calm, but not confident, ’ Katsuki narrowed his eyes, ‘He’s already decided that he’s probably going to lose.

It would be easier to win, in that case, although Katsuki couldn’t help but feel a bit irritated. He wanted a real fight, not a fight with someone who’d already decided they were going to lose. 

No matter how irritated it made him, Katsuki couldn’t do anything about it. Bird Boy was supposed to lose in the end anyways, after all. It still made Katsuki mad, if also a tiny bit proud of himself. 

‘I guess I really am just that intimidating. He’s right to be afraid.

Tooru glanced between Bakugou and Tokoyami and figured that this fight wouldn’t last long enough for her to steal the notebook either. 

It was so close though. So close. Midoriya and his notebook were sitting in the chair almost right in front of her. All she’d have to do would be to pass by his chair and pretend to trip, probably over Ojiro’s tail since Ojiro was sitting right next to her and directly behind Midoriya. Then all it would take would be a quick grab and letting her invisibility spread to the small notebook before standing up and leaving out the door to the hallway. Then she could take it to the girls bathroom, lock herself in a stall, and get pictures of the pages. Tooru could walk away with the notebook in her hand and none of her classmates would be the wiser. What Tooru needed was time.  

Time that she didn’t have. In the end, all she could really do was wait and see if the opportunity arose. 

She’d been observing him. He didn’t seem to write in his notebook in between matches, only right before them and while they were going on. If a match went on for long enough, he’d often set the notebook down after he was done writing things, but he usually picked it up after a match was over and wrote down what Tooru presumed was probably the results. There was a 15 minute break in between the semi-finals and the finals, and Tooru came to the decision that she would strike the second Midoriya set his notebook down after the semi-finals. All she could do was hope that he wouldn’t reach for it in between the semi-finals and the finals. Hopefully Denki would notice what she was doing and would be able to stall for her if he did. 

Tooru took a deep breath. 

‘I’m going to find out what’s in that notebook. ’ 

Himiko decided that there wasn’t anyone better to watch the Sports Festival with than Midoriya Eri. She got so happy about every little thing, cheering for everyone and getting very excited no matter who won the fight. Himiko lost herself in cheering with her young friend, lifting Eri up on her shoulders and dancing around when Kats pulled a victory on the shadow bird guy. 

Tokoyami Fumikage, as Present Mic announced, surrendered after being pinned down by Kats after not even five minutes of the battle. Himiko knew that Kats wouldn’t be too happy about that. He wouldn’t see it as a true victory, and she knew he’d be upset about what he would probably see as not being taken seriously. 

Himiko figured it was just the opposite: Tokoyami had probably seen what happened to Izuchan when he went up against someone that he couldn’t stand toe to toe with and didn’t want the same or something similar to happen to him. Himiko cringed just thinking about how Izu looked while he was pulled away on that stretcher. 

Eri had been very distressed about that. Himiko had spent the better part of twenty minutes after Izuchan and Todoroki’s battle calming her down and assuring her that Izu was going to be fine. It had taken a while, but eventually Eri managed to get back into the spirit of the Sports Festival again, cheering and clapping along with the crowd onscreen. 

Himiko couldn’t shake her worry though. Not just for Izuchan, but for Kats as well. She found that she wasn’t even that worried about their injuries. She was more worried about what would happen to them after they got home. 

If she knew Bakugou Mitsuki well enough, (and she did, Auntie Mits was practically her second mother if her first was Auntie Inko,) then her Auntie would be absolutely livid . Auntie Mits wasn’t known for her compassion when it came to mistakes, or her forgiveness when it came to failure. She wouldn’t hold anything back anything from the scolding she’d be giving Izuchan and Kacchan, especially Izuchan. 

Himiko was absolutely certain that Izu was beating himself up over this. She knew for a fact that Auntie’s inevitable scolding would do nothing but make him feel worse about the entire situation, and she had a sneaking suspicion that a certain someone might be brought up and compared to him. The thought made her stomach feel a bit sick. She didn’t want to think about him. 

She didn’t want to think about how everyone said that he started with failure. That the first sign he was heading down a bad path was his first failed mission. She couldn’t bear to think about how much that would hurt Izu if Auntie Mits brought it up while she was scolding him. It would break his heart. 

Himiko wouldn’t stand to see it. 

In the end, Tooru’s plan couldn’t have gone smoother. She made up some excuse about drinking her soda too fast and needing to go to the bathroom again before heading down the aisle and past Ojiro, purposefully stumbling over his tail and catching herself on the back of Midoriya’s seat. As she stood up, it wasn’t hard to reach for the notebook with invisible hands and snag it. No one seemed to notice, and after several rushed apologies from Ojiro, Tooru assured him she was fine and carefully extracted herself from her worried friends and made her way up the stairs to the hallway. 

Invisible notebook in invisible hands, Tooru made her way to the girls bathroom, chose a stall, locked the door, closed the toilet lid, and sat down. 

She was alone. There wasn’t anyone else in this particular bathroom at the moment. Tooru had specifically chosen one farther away from where everyone was seated so that she’d have it to herself. After glancing around a final time to ensure that she was really alone, Tooru took a deep breath and let her invisibility slip off the notebook. 

Careful not to damage any of the burnt pages, Tooru opened it.

Chapter Text

Katsuki marched through the halls, irritated by the way his fight with Bird Boy ended. So irritated that he didn’t pick up on the brain waves coming from the person on the other side of the waiting room door until he’d already kicked it open. 

“Huh?” Katsuki stared at Half-and-Half without bothering to hide his disgust, “What are you doing here? This is waiting room…” Katsuki swore loudly when he saw he’d opened the wrong door. Halfie didn’t bother to acknowledge him, instead turning away without saying a word. Katsuki felt his anger spike. 

He scowled and stalked into the room, “I may have gotten the room wrong, but what kind of person treats their opponent with that kind of attitude?