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Momopoly Properties

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It started off when Aizawa-sensei told them they had a homework research assignment.  Heroes had to be able to do deskwork too, sort of like private investigators.  Information was often the difference between life and death, and so they had to get good at compiling it.  So the assignment sheet was passed around with a list of villains on it, and each person got to pick what villain they wanted to research by penning their initials next to their choice’s name.

Yaoyorozu Momo, as class president, had first pick.

She nabbed Deku so fast her hand got friction burns.

As the paper made its way around the room, she kept hearing sighs of disappointment as people tried to book the well-loved villain, but couldn’t.  Especially Todoroki, who had developed a subtle (but warm) admiration of the guy after their match.  Weirdest of all were Bakugou’s infuriated splutters.  Since when was he the kind of guy who got excited about doing homework?  He never actually did the homework.

Momo was kind of excited.  She had halfway only picked the guy because she knew there was a lot of information about him and discussion of him online, and the more source material you had to work with, the easier the assignment.  But still, there was something almost romantic about the very idea of Deku’s career.  And mysterious.  Not that she would ever sympathize with a villain.  She had standards.

The assignment required as close to an objective opinion as possible.  It needed to be written like proper research, without human bias thrown in.  So Momo decided to veer away from the tantalizing subject of his fights with heroes for the moment and focus on Deku’s history of property damage.  Turned out there was a lot of it.

There.  The incident two months ago when a school outbuilding was, of all things, shattered.  So near as anyone could tell, the Quirk used probably did something a lot like liquid nitrogen to anything it touched.  At that point, he could have taken a 9-iron to the school and shattered it apart that way, the extreme cold making bricks, mortar, and drywall brittle as hell.  33 million yen in property damages.

Another case, two weeks after that one, was a private home.  It looked like massive portions of the walls had just… dissolved.  But only the walls.  Everything inside the home was untouched.  Load-bearing beams and poles had been left in place, in perfect condition.  Estimated 2 million yen in damages, since most of the stuff was untouched.

Three weeks after that one, an office building where the entire top floor, reserved for the highest people in the company, had been shaven clean off.  They found it in Yoyogi Park in Shibuya, upside down and still bearing various post-it note reminders about meetings on the walls.  At least 50 million yen in damages, since the company officials felt the need to be extravagant with their own offices.

It really didn’t look like a pattern was emerging.  Some were privately owned, others publicly.  Some were worth a lot of money, some were relatively cheap to rebuild.  Never the same method of destruction twice.  It also didn’t make much sense.  Why would Deku bother to go to all the trouble?

The only uniting factor that she could see was that Deku publicly claimed responsibility each time.

…He couldn’t be lying about that, could he?

There were some conspiracy theorists on the ‘net saying that Deku might be a front for multiple people all running together.  It would explain the prodigious number of powerful Quirks he seemed to possess.  But that couldn’t be right.  Unless they all looked, acted, and sounded the same, someone would have noticed that his public appearances all looked different.  All of the news videos could have been recorded with the same person easily enough.  The problem was the fights he got into with other heroes.  They all described him the same way:  thin, lithe, somewhat stocky, giant shock of untamable hair, and a kind, warm voice.  Descriptions of his movements and general hand-to-hand combat style outside of Quirks was also identical across the board.  Either it was the same guy, or there were just a shit-ton of fraternal siblings running around.

Well, it couldn’t hurt to ask around.  Legwork wasn’t the worst thing she could be doing with her time off, as she repeatedly had to tell her parents.

First stop was the privately-owned home, since the suburbs where it was located weren’t too far from her own house.

Momo couldn’t really believe her eyes.  It had been six weeks, but nothing had been repaired yet.  Not even cleaned up.  No walls, no nothing.  Clearly there wasn’t anyone home.  Kinda hard to miss that detail when there weren’t any walls obstructing one’s view.  So who was she supposed to ask about what happened?

Neighbors.  Neighbors were always willing to talk shit.  Solid plan.

She rang the doorbell of the property that had a car in the driveway.  Everyone else was probably still at work at this hour of the day, but maybe the car indicated – there!  A woman looking to be about in her 70s tottered out into the front yard.

“Yes, dear?” she said.

“Oh!  I, uh – I just was wondering if you know anything about… well, that,” Momo said, nodding her head towards the gutted building.  “I’m writing a paper on it for school.”

“Oh, that?  My goodness, the media never tires of it, do they?  They came through here for weeks after the fact.  Snarled up traffic on this road, it did.  The police vehicles, too.”

“Police vehicles?”  It didn’t make sense that they would stick around beyond the first stages of reporting damages, recording evidence, and taking statements.  That shouldn’t take weeks, and Deku never hit the same place twice, so there wasn’t any point in trying to set up an ambush.

“You didn’t know?” the old woman asked, eyes wide and twinkling with a very real love of gossip.  “The man who lived there owned a bunch of apartments in the city.  Turns out he was trapping some poor individuals in housing contracts and then raising their rent past the point where they could pay it.  He hoarded the money inside the walls of his house, if you can believe it.  Legal, sadly,” she said with a sigh.

“How much money are we talking about here?  Do you know?”

“Let’s just say it was stacked up so high, there were places where the wall being missing didn’t matter much.”

“Woah.”

She laughed.  “Quite right!  The neighborhood hoodlums all nabbed fat stacks of cash and made for the hills.  The homeowner caught some of them at it and started beating them with a baseball bat, so the police arrested him for assault.”

“Forgive me, but you don’t sound too concerned about your neighbor,” Momo said.

“Old Takeuchi?  He was a cantankerous bastard.  Always spat on the sidewalk and stepped all over my irises.  They only bloom for so small a fraction of the year, you know.  To be honest, Deku taking the old coot for a spin is the most fun I’ve had in fifty years!”

Momo thanked the woman, recorded her statement, and walked on home.  Surely that couldn’t have been on purpose.  There’s no way Deku could have known Takeuchi’s house was full of ill-gotten gains.  The other properties couldn’t follow the same vein, right?

Wrong.

The corporate executives whose offices had been shaven off?  Outsourced all their company’s products to sweatshops via various contract companies, then claiming (legally!) that they couldn’t possibly be held responsible because they didn’t know what methods other companies were using to fulfill their contracts.  They’d made a fortune off the backs of underage, underpaid workers, then spent it all on an appallingly luxurious office space and private planes while paying everyone else in the building only slightly higher than minimum wage.

The school outbuilding that had been shattered?  Had had toxic mold in the ceilings and walls, which had been growing there for years.  Petitions had been sent in to the local school board to apply for the funding to condemn the building and construct a new one, but because the school was in a low-income neighborhood, the school board rejected the proposal and left the kids to rot.  Six children had gotten seriously ill in the month before its destruction.  Now the school board was forced to build a new one.

She went back even further, and found that all Deku’s targeted properties had shady pasts surrounding them.  An appliance repair shop that turned out to be contract money launderers.  An internet café that had a back room for child pornography.  A hospital that deliberately charged people without supplementary insurance three times as much as any other patient.  A grocery store that hid nicotine in their ‘homemade’ juice to get customers addicted to it.  Almost everything Deku wrecked had either unknown illegalities or highly unethical, but legal, underpinnings.  These were the sorts of things heroes couldn’t tackle.  Most of them even the police couldn’t do anything about, because nobody had technically broken any laws.

Deku was a goddamn vigilante.

Over lunch the next day, she yanked her chair over to Todoroki’s and told him the whole story.  He cracked a small smile.

“Of course he would.  I can’t say I’m surprised.”

“Really?” she griped.  “Well I sure am.  If he’s such an angel, why doesn’t he just become a hero like the rest of us?”  Momo waved a hand around the class.

“And what would any of them have done, if they’d found these places?  What could any of them have done?”

She had no answer to that.

“Heroes are limited by law.  We have to be, otherwise there would be no power holding us in check, and we’d end up oppressing people without even meaning to.  You said it yourself – objectivity is key.  Give a hero free license and there’s nothing compelling them to be objective.  They’ll never have to prove probable cause.  But get a random vigilante and you can trade shackles of objectivity with shackles of legality.  I suppose it all comes down to what your priorities are:  your own brand of justice, or the law and order that govern society.  Deku’s made his choice, and we’ve made ours.  Doesn’t mean we don’t want the same things.”

Bakugou had apparently been eavesdropping and decided to butt in.  “Plus he’s probably being all smug that he caught something nobody else did.  He’s an observant fucker, remember?”

“Why do I have a feeling this assignment is just going to end with me liking this asshole?” Momo groaned.

Both boys grinned.  “Because he makes it really hard for you to do anything else,” Todoroki said.