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Walking Over a Childhood Dream

Chapter Text

Anger. That's what he felt. It's an emotion he felt frequently, perhaps too frequently, since his un-evolved state was revealed. The anger he felt then and there, however, was different.

The burning, desperate, fury coursing through him as he held his burnt and soggy notebook made his head ache and his hands tremble. He was pathetic, helpless, and unable to even raise his voice to his once childhood friend. Worthless. Quirkless. Oh, that fury burned brighter than the flames his no-good, deserting father used to blow.

He knew, of course he knew, a person like him becoming a hero was a long-shot. A wistful dream from his childhood for his nearing future. But he could dream, damn it all. Why couldn't Kacchan let him dream?

By the time he made it home it was dusk. Not nearing dusk— it was dusk and long after his mother expected him home. Though any other time he'd be spilling apologies and promising to make it up to her, he was too tired to pay her worried expression much mind. He closed his bedroom door on her concerned questions, like the stressed teenager he was, and dropped ungracefully on his bed. What an eventful day.

Not even an hour after fishing his notebook out of the water Izuku met All Might. He met his all-time favorite hero, the nations Symbol of Peace, and the man's frailer alter ego. He met his hero and, as angry as he was, he couldn't even enjoy it. Nearly dying via slime monster did little to cure his anger it seemed. Neither did being told he's not hero material by the very hero he wanted to resemble.

Saving Kacchan hadn't been a conscious decision. Honestly, what was he thinking. Did he want Kacchan dead? No. No, of course not. An asshole he might be but he didn't deserve to be a dead one. Still, there were plenty of heroes on the scene, All Might included if his timely intervention was anything to go by. So why, why, did his stupid legs run him toward the danger? According to the heroes, and his own common sense, damn it, he was lucky to make it out alive.

The walls of Izuku's room were plastered with hero posters. All Might's grinning, dream-crushing face hung everywhere. The thought of All Might's well-meant parting, "You did well, Young Man, but please keep yourself safe. Leave things to the professional heroes," sent a pulse of blinding resent end up his spine.

Brightly colored, glossy paper crinkled in his hand. He pulled it and it ripped. Tatters of poster fluttered down around him in a sad mockery of autumn leafs. He wanted to be a hero. He's always wanted to be a hero!

Rip.

He everyone to live in peace. He wanted to keep people safe. He wanted to save people!

Tear.

He didn't want to be weak and helpless— quirkless. He didn't want to be the one saved!

The walls of Izuku's room were bare save the small poster corners stubbornly stuck with tac. His floor was a mess and so was he. He was still so, so angry— at himself and at the world. Perhaps he let his anger fester for too long.

He wondered if his mother heard his rampage. He didn't recall making a sound but, to be fair, the whole event was a bit fuzzy.

Once more, Izuku fell to his bed. Exhaustion finally took a heavy hold on his body. Being a hero, though once a long-shot, seemed little more than a speck on the horizon. A speck that might only be a mirage. As he drifted to sleep on top of the covers he couldn't help but wonder— did he even want to be a hero anymore? Obviously he had some things to think on.

Chapter Text

If there was anything Izuku had absolute confidence in it was is powers of observation. His notebooks alone were a testament to that. Sometimes, especially as he left his room that morning, however, he cursed his skill. If only he was a bit bit more oblivious— maybe then he wouldn't sense his mother's potent and consuming worry. There were tired bruises under her eyes and her face was drawn and dull. The dining table was filling with his favorite dishes— some of which take hours to prepare. It was only seven o'clock. She didn't sleep the last night. Guilt sinks low and heavy like an anchor dragging him to a place where he can't breathe. How long had she stood outside his door? How long had she waited for him to come for dinner? How long had she been fretting in the kitchen? She was still there, bustling around the stove silently.

For all the ire that had coursed through him that previous night, it was never once supposed to reach his mother. Taking it out on her was inexcusable.

"Good morning, Mom," Izuku called out gently. His mother startled, and almost dropped the spatula she held. He saw the way her eyes roamed over him— searching for any injury, even just a scratch. In that moment he remembered who exactly he learned his observational skills from. The relief on her face told him everything he needed to know. He had worried her. He wouldn't make that mistake again.

"Oh, Izuku," she gasped, bringing a hand to her mouth, "sit, sit and eat!" And who was he to disobey?

Breakfast was quiet. There was none of the usual idle chatter. At no point did his mother ramble about the morning news or last nights shows. He doubts she even watched them. The questioning he dreaded never came despite how she fidgeted and the not-so-covert glances she kept sending him. Should he say something first? Perhaps that's what she was waiting for.

"Hey, Mom," he asked as he placed more food on his plate. He wasn't very hungry— his appetite had all but vanished, but, if only to calm his mother, he ate and ate and ate.

"Yes, Izuku? Is- is something wrong? There was some awful banging in your room last night." That answered whether she'd heard him.

"No, no, nothing's wrong." He said unconvincingly. He saw his mothers dubious expression and quickly shook his head. "No, really. I just," he wondered how much he should tell her, "had a really long day yesterday. The teacher... he kept me back for a bit. Nothing important! He just wanted to talk about school choices, I guess. I'm sorry I came home so late without telling you first." The apology sounded weak to his ears but a smile had made its way onto his mother's face.

"You really should have called," she scolded though her body had sagged in relief, "you have a phone for a reason, Izuku! You- you're alright though, aren't you?"

"Don't worry, I'm fine!" The last bite in his plate disappeared into his mouth. Part of him, the part that would listen to his mother' ramblings all day— the part that nods to her, "I'm your mother, dear. I always worry."— felt guilty. He hadn't told her the truth, he flat-out lied, and he wasn't sure he'd ever would.

He had enough on his plate at the moment. No need to get her involved.

Breakfast ended and Izuku did all the dishes. An apology and penance wrapped into one. His mother, he saw from the corner of his eye, was beginning to doze in front of the tv. He wiped his hands with a dry kitchen towel then gently went and shook her shoulder. Quietly he suggested a nap would do her well. She was too tired to argue.

An hour later, after the dishes were cleaned and his room was de-papered, he scribbled a note and set it on the table. He closed the front door quietly. He didn't want to disturb his mother any further.

The morning air was cool and sweet smelling. His feet, traitorous things they were, brought him to the neighborhood playground. The place where he played with Kacchan. The place where Kacchan showed him the truth of the world. There were few children who came there anymore. Perhaps Kacchan scared them too. It was quiet, the perfect place to think.

Sleep had relaxed him. The anger that had shrouded him in fire and smoke now itched over his skin like a scratchy wool sweater. It was there and demanded his attention but his head was clearer.

Being a hero— it's what he's always wanted. It's not as if all his dreams and ambitions could change over the course of a single day. Did he want to save people? Yes, that hadn't changed. But did he need to be a hero to do that? Perhaps not, though it would surely help. However, without a quirk, his chances of becoming a hero were next to none. So, that left the question: How can he save people without being a pro hero? He didn't know. The police might take him but, even then, being quirkless would be... less than desirable.

Izuku kicked at the playground dirt. He was getting nowhere. His thoughts were going in circles.

Footsteps neared Izuku at a slow yet steady pace. He payed them no mind, his thoughts were busy enough already. After all, it was a playground. Obviously people came and went. It wasn't until a large, gloved hand gripped his shoulder that he knew something was wrong.

"Yes, you'll do nicely," is all he heard. The world went dark.

Chapter Text

There was no telling how long they'd been in the bank before Izuku roused to consciousness. When his eyes had opened the bank's patrons were already pressed to the walls and he was being carried out from what he could only assume was the bank's vault. He'd managed to sleep through the actual heist. Despite himself he couldn't help feel a faint spark of disappointment.

Izuku never heard of bank robbers bringing hostages to the bank with them before. From where he was bound, gagged, and strapped to a large man's back, though, he could see their thought process. He wasn't the only hostage stuck to a villain's back. No, each villain, four in all, had their own human meat shield. The other hostages were just like him— young, plain, breakable.

On their way to the lobby where the villains were headed, Izuku saw one of the tellers move slightly. A panic button. Help would be coming soon.

The faces of the villains were masked in an attempt to hide their identities. Emphasis on attempt. Though her face was hidden, the tall one on the right with the brunette on her back had the coloring of a giraffe and the ears to suit while the one on the left had spikes running up and down his arms and spine. Spike-man's hostage looked uncomfortable as he slept with the spikes pressing into him. Izuku thought he could see blood. The third villain who walked directly behind Izuku was plain in appearance, easy to overlook, and easily the least intimidating of the group. The features of the last villain were unknown to him, as he was strapped to the man's back, but there were three things he knew for sure.

One— he was easily spotted as the leader of the group. However, two— he wasn't their boss. Whomever they answered to wasn't even in the building. And, finally, three— the man he was attached to was the same man who knocked him out in the park. He did so with a quirk with the ability to affect a person's brain and emotions.

Izuku was too calm. There was no panic. No fear or anger, no fight or flight, just a bare buzz of nerves he couldn't name. He had made no attempts to struggle or escape. It was as if something had him convinced it was useless to resist. What wasn't affected, though, was his naturally observant brain. He was still thinking and watching and learning. The man's quirk couldn't last forever.

Sirens blared outside the bank. It was the police, not the heroes, who reached them first. Izuku couldn't find it in himself to be surprised. A quiet bank robbery was nowhere near public enough to catch a hero's interest. A wave of bitterness attempts to rise in him but it's quickly muted. He feels the man's back shake as he laughs quietly.

"Calm down, kid," he said as he shouldered their payload, "it's showtime." The police burst through the doors with a remarkable lack of subtlety or skill and then—.

They were running. With as much interest as he could muster, Izuku watched as the police and bank drew further and further away. They make a sharp turn and they're out of sight. The villains are quick, surprisingly so. Perhaps it had something to do with the plain one's quirk. They didn't run for long but the distance they traversed was impressive. Although he was faced away, Izuku could smell the salty sea air. Garbage too. Why could he smell garbage?

It was late in the afternoon, the sun was low in the sky and casting long shadows from the towering heaps of washed up debris. His mother was probably up from her nap. He could only hope she read his note. Maybe he would actually get home before dinner. He thought and revised— maybe he would actually get home.

His faint hopes faded quickly as, one-by-one, the other kids were unstrapped from the villains and chained together by the wrists and ankles. In an instant the same was done to Izuku. It was a shocking realization that he was the only hostage conscious at that moment. He wondered how long it had been that way. The leader, to whom he was formerly attached, dragged him by the shoulder to the edge of the water. The other hostages were pulled along too — their combined weight strained on Izuku's arms and legs.

There was a strange moment, as he was pushed deeper into the sea, when, for the first time, the man was no longer touching him. Suddenly he felt everything.

Anger.Fear.Panic.Helplessness.Worry.Despair.Fury.Pain.Bitterness.

Every emotion that had been muted and pushed away rushed back again with a vengeance. He screamed. He screamed and screamed and struggled against the chains. Seawater splashed wildly and was sucked down as he inhaled. He was choking. He was going to drown.

Whether it was the villain's earlier breakneck speed or his own hideous screeching it didn't matter— a hero's attentions had been grabbed. The villains fled leaving Izuku and the others neck-deep in the sea. Izuku felt his vision blurring. He felt wrong. His emotions barely felt like his own anymore. He wasn't getting enough air.

As the other children sputtered awake and gazed upon their approaching hero Izuku got only one glimpse of that golden hair and glinting smile before he slipped under the surf and into unconsciousness.

When he woke again it was twilight. At least, as far as he could tell from the hospital window's mediocre view. The analog clock hanging over the door frame agreed. It was nine-thirty, late enough that his mother, who sat in a chair by his bed, had dozed off. Her hand was warm in his own.

He hadn't been in the hospital for long. Definitely not long enough for anyone besides family to have visited. Despite that, there was a card propped up on the bedside table. It was white with a smiling bear on the front. 'Get Well!' was written cheerfully on a card the bear itself held. It was cute. The inside was remarkably less cute and would have been blank if it wasn't for the short note scribbled there. Every once in a while there were bits and pieces scratched out. Whomever wrote the note certainly had a time writing it.

"Young Midoriya, it was--- nice seeing you again though I wish it was under better circumstances. Please --- --- --- --- --- heed my words and stay safe. I know the world is a dangerous place for someone like --- you. --- --- --- --- Take care of yourself. —All Might"

And, oh, did that ignite something inside of Izuku— being talked to as if being kidnapped was his own fault. How condescending could the Symbol of Peace be? "Someone like you," like that's all Izuku was and could ever be. As if it hadn't taken almost drowning for someone like All Might to step in.

Slowly, not wanting to wake his mother, he freed his hand from her loose grip. 'Screw being a hero,' he thought as he ripped up the card. He was going to be so much better than them.

Chapter Text

When he was younger Izuku had this recurring dream. It was always an early Wednesday morning. The sun would be just rising, bright behind the horizon, and birds would greet it noisily from outside his window. He would rise from bed fully dressed and find himself sitting at the dining table with his mother and father. The table would be empty of its usual bounty and his mouth would open to ask why. Instead of words, a jet of fire would scorch the table and burn the empty chair across from him to ash. He would look at his parents and they would scold him for loosing control of his quirk like that— as if hit was only natural for him to have one.

Izuku would wake up disappointed to find his father still gone and his quirk non-existent. He stopped having such dreams years ago around the time he realized exactly why his father had left.

On his first night home from the hospital, Izuku had a nightmare. It was reminiscent of his fanciful old dream— similar enough that it throbbed like an echo of an old wound. It was an early Wednesday morning. The sun, though it undoubtedly rose, was hidden by a thick and weeping layer of clouds. There were no birds chirping but he could see their shadows through the condensation clouded windowpane. The wind howled. The floor was cold on his bare feet as he pushed off his bed. His footsteps echoed through the seemingly endless halfway like a hundred Izukus creeping along beside him. The dining table was empty, his parents nowhere to be seen. As if lit by candles, the room was dim and shadows reached up the walls ominously. "Mom?" he called as he sat. He scooted his chair closer to the table and suddenly—.
He couldn't move. He couldn't move or hear or breathe. The room grew dimmer as a breeze flitted through, blowing the unseen candles out one by one. The room had grown so dim he could barely see at all and he opened his mouth to yell for help. The would was on fire. He was on fire. It was too hot. It itched and burnt. It hurt.

Izuku woke up sweating and panting. While he caught his breath shakily, taking longer that anticipated due to his recent almost-drowning, his thoughts raced. Perhaps it was his foray into being a hostage, or his change in future career paths, or maybe he ate something bad and that's what brought the nightmare along. It was strange. Fire never bothered him before so, why burning alive? Even in a dream, such an event was no laughing matter. Definitely strange.

There was a knock on his bedroom door.

"Izuku? Izuku, are you alright in there?" His mother called softly. His breathing slowed at last and he cursed himself quietly. So much for not worrying her.

"I'm fine, Mom," he called called back with false cheer, "I'll be out in a bit."

According to his alarm clock, which habitually ran a minute behind, it's was 1:16 in the afternoon. It was Thursday; he should've been in school. The ache in his wrists and ankles firmly reminded him why he wasn't. He was to rest, relax, and heal at home for a few days— Doctor's orders. Izuku couldn't bring himself to mind. For one thing, he much preferred his bed to the hospital's and, for another, he knew outside their apartment there was an absolute circus.

Even as he ate the delicious meal his mother prepared for him he could hear the clamor of reporters and journalists below. Somehow, between being rescued and waking up in a hospital gown, the media caught wind of All Might's heroic deed. Rescuing four helpless, drowning children— that alone would be enough for a reporter or two to camp outside. However, someone, whom Izuku quickly decided was a remorseless pest, unearthed an even bigger headline: 'All Might Rescues Quirkless Child from Villains.' Catchy, right?

To Izuku's disgust and mild horror, the article, spread online and in newspapers, mentioned him by name sixteen times. The other children were mentioned, indirectly, only twice. Once so the reader knew they existed and once to say they weren't dead. Only All Might was mentioned more, eighteen times, and was even quoted saying he was, "Glad to help those who needed it the most." Whether he was speaking of their young age or his quirkless state, Izuku didn't know. He didn't particularly care either.

Then and there, sitting next to his exhausted mother, he only cared about three things. One— the food on his plate and its journey to his stomach. Two— avoiding the press at all costs even if it meant staying inside the entire weekend. Three— learning how to save others and, more importantly, himself.

It would be difficult, he knew, to overcome the weakness of his current body. It would be blood and tears. He would never be able to stop once he started his pursuit of bettering himself. He knew this. He would do it though. He couldn't continue being so helpless.

Days passed and Monday bared it's ugly, snarling, fangs. The pain in his limbs had dulled to an annoyance and the reporters outside his door had only multiplied. They'd anticipated his return to school it seemed.

As he opened the door and stepped into the waiting world that morning Izuku was blinded by camera flashes. It took a moment, or several, to regain his bearings and to stop staring dumbly into the crowd. He brought a bandaged arm up to shield his eyes. One step at a time, he realized, was the only way he'd ever make it to school with such a throng around him. One foot after another, one hand clutching desperately to his backpack and the other hiding his face, his eyes stayed fixed to he pavement. He wondered, amidst the grabs and tugs, whether pestering a minor like that was even legal. He smiled a little at the thought of a hero rounding them all up. As if that would ever happen.

A hand grabbed his shoulder and Izuku couldn't resist flinching harshly. The person let go quickly but the feeling of it remained. It reminded him so much of— no, no, no.

Between the never ending downpour of questions, a lingering feeling of wrong, and his own underlying buzz of antipathy it was all too much. Izuku ran. He pushed and shoved his way through the horde and ran as quickly as his healing legs could carry him. It wasn't until the reporters' shouts and calls were no longer heard that he slowed.

Thinking back, the lines of questioning he had hooked to him were thorough in all areas— excluding one. Not once, not even once, had anyone asked after Izuku's wellbeing. What repulsive animals.

By the time his legs could run no further he knew he wouldn't be getting to class on time, if at all. His phone, a brand new replacement for the one that disappeared during his kidnapping, showed only five minutes until the bell. Besides that, in his haste to escape his tag-alongs, Izuku had payed very little attention to where his feet lead him. Very little meaning none. He was lost.

He looked around gasping for air. His legs ached with renewed vigor. He wasn't healed enough for this nonsense. Finding no notable landmarks he cursed silently at both his inattention and his physical state. A small bitter smile creeped across his face. His body— at least he had something he knew to work on.

As grand and easy as planning sounded it's awful hard to plan for the unfamiliar. In truth, with his books upon books of observations and outlines for the future, planning was second nature for Izuku. Specifics, though, like training, were a whole 'nother beast. He had no practical training experience and, thus, no idea where to even start. Stamina and strength building, especially in his limbs, would be a good place to begin, he decided. He could look up how to on the Internet he supposed.

After minutes of standing and panting Izuku slapped his forehead in realization. He was an idiot. He had a phone; a phone that could get him directions to the school. Such. An. Idiot.

Slowly, hindered by his burning legs and blistering feet, he made his way to the school. He prayed, desperately, to anything that would listen, that his walk would be uninterrupted and uneventful. Somehow, he'd give himself quite the detour. He was going to be incredibly late.

Chapter Text

Izuku never made it to school that day. To the press' dismay, their target never even approached the building. It was the rain, appearing out of nowhere; that must've been the cause. He had run, gotten caught in the downpour, and gone home to change, they figured. Where else could such a wimpy kid run off too? They charged back to his home like the pack of hungry wolves they were, safe from the torrent under their umbrellas and raincoats. They were, surprisingly, well prepared. Despite this all, the only one at the Midoriya household was Izuku's mother. Not wanting to miss a possible scoop, the press once again set up camp outside the building.

Izuku wasn't at school the next day either, or the day after, or the day after that. That Monday, Izuku never came home. He was, as far as the authorities could tell, well and truly missing— gone with without a trace into the rain. No one had seen the boy since he started running; not even a pedestrian or shopkeeper.

Izuku's mother was in a state. Frantically, she called everyone she knew, and even some she didn't, hoping someone might have a clue. No such luck. Had Izuku been there, he'd have punched himself, or had Katsuki punch him instead, for worrying her so. But he wasn't there. On that Monday morning, as the sky wept over the earth, Izuku disappeared.

 

It was cold. So cold. He couldn't stop shivering. His teeth chattered noisily no matter how much he tried to still them. He was soaked, absolutely drenched, from head to toe. He laid on his side, curled into a ball. The concrete floor where he'd been deposited only pressed the chill flush against his skin. Though it seemed his feet were free, Izuku's hands were bound tightly in thick, rough rope behind his back. He didn't dare try to walk though. His legs were so sore he could barely move them and, even if he could, in such a dark room there's no telling what lurked in the shadows.

For a moment he marveled at his modest restraints. What kind of villains were they to leave him so unchained? What if he had some sort of strength or destruction quirk? He faltered suddenly and pressed his forehead against the gritty floor. They knew. Everyone knew now. How could they not when the headline for days had been lauding his quirklessness.

He'd been kidnapped. Again. Rather than panic, an odd sense of nauseated irritation swept through him. There would be no escaping, not in his weakened state. He could see plenty of openings, like the small windows near the ceiling that let in the moonlight and the stairs far across the room. But, no matter how many weaknesses they exposed, he was still recovering from his last kidnapping experience. Mix that with his exhausted legs, bleeding feet, and near hypothermic body— he was doomed.

Izuku frowned and several feelings began prick in his chest: anger at the press for putting a target on his back, fear of the villains who snatched a child off the streets, and absolute fury at himself for being so. Damn. Pathetic. Getting kidnapped twice in a single week— pathetic. Being so useless that a single assailant could catch him unaware in broad daylight— pathetic. Giving up without a second thought and then wallowing in self pity— pathetic.

Kacchan wouldn't have been kidnapped. He would have stopped his attacker with a quick explosion right to the gut. Or, at the very least, he would have actually seen the villain's face. At the very least. But, no, he wasn't Kacchan. He was useless, quirkless Deku. Well screw that. Izuku was cold, tired, and just plain pissed off. He was pathetic, sure, but he'd be damned if he let All Might, or Kamui Woods, or Ingenium, or any of those other heroes rescue him. He'd. Be. Damned. This time, for sure, somehow, he was going to save himself.

Behind him somewhere, further than he could turn his head, a door opened. Light burst into the room and a tall broad shadow was cast around the stairs. Heavy footsteps approached him slowly. Someone was standing right behind him. Izuku didn't dare move even as the man crouched down. A hand was pressed to his shoulder and no, no, no, no—. In the blink of an eye, Izuku fell into unconsciousness.

 

It had been a week and still there was no sign of the boy. Any scent, footprint, or evidence of any kind left by the villains had been washed away by the rain, much to the police's displeasure. Truthfully there wasn't much else they could do. Izuku's case was in the hands of the heroes now. The news across the prefecture was running Izuku's disappearance near constantly. The public was desperate for news of one of All Might's greatest accomplishments disappearing. The press was still camped outside his home.

 

Time passed strangely. He wasn't sure but, if Izuku were to guess, he'd been in the villains' care for two, or maybe four, weeks. It was hard to tell when they only woke him for minutes at a time. He had mere moments to think before being forced back asleep. It was frustrating but Izuku made himself think of the benefits. Although they probably didn't mean to, his captors were training his brain to think quicker. After all, he had to observe, process, analyze, and plan all in a short ten minute time frame.

It was hard, especially in the beginning, fighting though the haze of sleep upon waking to think with a clear head. The first few days—hours? weeks?— he'd hardly woken at all. But eventually he got the hang of it. That was when he started noticing things.

Every time he woke, he was in the same dingy, grey room; the walls, he was sure, were once white. There were dirty wheel-tracks headed out the door. They matched the wheels on cot he was cuffed to. The only time he was in that room was when he was awake, he figured. The room itself was set up like a doctors' exam room minus the posters and models of the human body. There was nothing that lent to his location at all.

There were always two people in the cramped room with him when he woke— one that stood by the door and one that stood behind him at the head of the cot. The woman who stood by the door held a file with, what Izuku could only assume were, notes on him and the answers he gave to her questions. On several occasions, seconds before being put back to sleep, he'd see the woman put his file in a cabinet filled with others. Either Izuku wasn't the first they'd kidnapped or there were others being held at the same moment. Izuku wasn't sure which possibility frightened him more.

Whether his captors woke him once or many times a day, he didn't know. Nor did he know what they wanted with him or what their questions were for. He didn't know how long they'd kept him or if they planned on letting him out alive. In truth, the only thing that Izuku knew for sure was about the villains themselves. The villains who had him then were the same who sent him into the sea to drown— the giraffe lady, the man with the spikes, the speed demon, and their leader. Izuku wasn't sure how much of the fear he was feeling was actually his own.

The giraffe-like lady put the file away and Izuku slept.

 

A month and a half— that's how long Izuku had been missing. Heroes and the public alike were loosing hope for his safe return. Six long weeks, and not hide nor hair of the boy could be found. There were whispers here and there of his case becoming a body hunt. The press had decided to chase another story. If the boy ever turned up they could always come back. Izuku's mother, the poor woman, had grown pale and sickly looking. She'd aged a decade in her son's absence. The house was too quiet. Katsuki, though he would never, ever, in a million years admit it, was worried too. His temper, as of late, had been particularly explosive. Even All Might, the boy's very own savior, was loosing hope, or so said "key insiders".

Wednesday, two months after his disappearance, Izuku unlocked the apartment door and walked inside as if he was never gone.

Chapter Text

When she spotted him toeing off his shoes in the entranceway she froze. She stood stock still— even her heart, it seemed, stuttered. "Is that Izuku? Could that really be him," she wondered. She'd had this dream before. He would be there, toeing off his shoes and then he'd look at her. His eyes would be pitch black and his teeth bared in a snarl. It always felt so real. Slowly, almost sheepishly, he raised his head and looked Inko in the eyes. He smiled. It was small, close mouthed, and apologetic, but it was a smile only Izuku could smile. It really was him.

All at once she began to cry, though, to say she cried was be an insult to the river that spilled from her. She didn't notice the dam breaking behind her eyes or the wood slap, slap, slapping beneath her slippered feet. All she noticed was her son, her precious Izuku, warm and breathing in her arms. Her sobs, though muffled against her son's collar, echoed through the apartment.

"Eh, M-mom?" Izuku gladly returned her embrace between surprised stutters. Inko payed him no mind. He was alive. He was alive. He was home. For several minutes they held that position, clutching each other desperately for dear life. Inko felt her knees begin to wobble and she sank to the floor, her son following right with. "Mom, what's wrong," he asked softly. Inko sobbed loudly.

"What's wrong? Izuku, Izuku, where have you been? Where were you?" He made a soft hum. Gently, he rubbed soothing circles over her sweater clothed back. He waited for her sobs to quiet before answering. Inko was glad for it. It wouldn't do if she couldn't hear his answer over her own noise.

"I got caught in the rain and came home to change. I got a bit lost on the way back so it took a bit longer than I'd hoped. Why? Did the school call about my absence? Sorry for worrying you. If I hurry I think I can catch my afternoon classes, though." It was as if ice was injected directly into Inko's bloodstream. What? Slowly, gripping her son by the shoulders, she pulled away.

She studied him— took in every detail. His shaggy hair was longer and brushed over his eyelids as he moved. There wasn't so much as a scratch that she would see. Surely there should have been after being held for two months. His clothes were bone dry.

Izuku, honey, are you alright? You're alright aren't you?" She watched his face twist in confusion. He placed his hands over hers and held them between their bodies. His eyes roamed he face before they stopped and they stared eye to eye. Her heart fell as he spoke.

"Of course I am, Mom. It was just a little rain." He squeezed her hands lightly. "A-are you? You look really pale."

"Your clothes are already dry," Inko stated flatly. Her hands were trembling— her entire body was trembling. He looked down his uniform and began flailing in surprise. He really hadn't noticed.

"They, I— I swear they really were wet! The walk back must've dried them? It was a pretty long walk, my feet have blisters and everything! But I really did get caught in the rain, I swe— Mom? Mom!" The last thing Inko heard before slumping to the floor were her son's frantic cries. It was all too much— this less than stellar reunion was the final straw on top of two months of non-stop stress. It had taken its toll and it was time for her to pay.

She woke in her bed with a damp towel resting on her forehead. She assumed it was cool at some point but that must have been several hours before. Though the curtains were drawn, a sliver of moonlight peeked through, dimly illuminating the wall near the door. It was late. He alarm clock agreed. Midnight had passed fifteen minutes prior. Inko sighed and pushed herself up against the headboard. She stretched her waking aches until they dulled and let a drawn out yawn escape.

Lazily, she slung her legs off the edge of her bed and made to slide on her slippers. She froze. There was a thump in the room next door. Terror gripped her heart like a burning claw. That was Izuku's room! Who, or what, could be banging around in her son's room? That room had been empty for two whole months. Memories of what caused her earlier slumber returned to her in a rush. Slowly, her muscles unclenched. That was right, her son was home. Her son was safe. Her son had returned to her and he'd come back... wrong.

There was a part of Inko that was sure it was all a nightmare. Her son never went missing. Her son arrived at school that day. Her son came home and none of that kidnapped nonsense ever happened. At least then Izuku's confusion should've been understandable. The rest of her, however, the majority that dragged her through the past two months, knew the truth. There was something dreadfully wrong with her son and, as she approached his room, it only got worse.

His door was open, a habit Izuku never kept before. She looked through the doorway and saw her son lying on the floor, hands behind his head, as he did sit-up after sit-up. Sweat poured down his brow. Exercise, Inko was sure, had never been of interest to her son but that in itself wasn't so strange. What was strange was his dead eyed, unblinking stare. Strange was the way he didn't react to her calls no matter how loud she yelled. Strange was the never ending stream of words he muttered under his breath. Though she couldn't hear every word, what she did catch made her shiver in unease.

"Don't... hero... selfish... cling... strong... can... better... better... quirk... worthless... crutch," he muttered again and again— each word punctuated with curl of his body. Inko backed away slowly. Something was very wrong with her son. Tears began to fall once more as she closed her bedroom door behind herself. She sat on her bed and struggled to calm herself. Her phone was clutched in her hands. She should have called the moment he returned but everything happened so fast. Another thump comes from Izuku's room and Inko's fingers race across the keypad. She only hoped her unreliability didn't loose her her son again.

Chapter Text

'Don't be a hero. Heroes are selfish. I will cling to my anger because it makes me stronger. I can be better. I will be better. I am quirkless, not worthless. I will be strong for quirks are crutches.' This was the creed bestowed upon Izuku. These were the words he would live by, die by, and embody. They gave him purpose.

His muscles burned like the rage fostered within him. Minutes, hours, days, it didn't matter how long he trained. He would move until his body could take no more. Sleep was not of his concern. His body would decide for him. He would collapse eventually and only then would he rest. When he woke he would greet his mother and go to school after which he would continue to train. The cycle would begin again. This would make him strong.

A presence tingled at his senses. Someone had entered his room for the second time. He payed them no mind. They might not be his mother but, as of yet, they were no threat.

Though he couldn't be sure who, someone in the back of his brain reminded him sternly, "Don't get distracted, Twenty-nine. Lose focus and I just might kill you." Needles to say, Izuku was a master of focus. That's not to say he was unaware of his surroundings. No, for some reason, that too brought a life-threatening warning from the low, rough voice.

The intruder was a man— short, lean, and in a police uniform. He called to Izuku as one might coax a frightened or injured animal. Izuku hated his gentle tone though he didn't dare pause his burpees. He watched as the officer skirted the periphery of his vision. He was being circled like prey. The man was a threat, a threat that was stood behind him. But he couldn't stop. Stopping was quitting. Quitting was weak. So, Izuku kept going because he was to be strong. Up and down, legs and core, breath in and—.

Izuku couldn't move. He could breathe and he could blink, his heart was functioning fine, but his body wouldn't so much as twitch. He hadn't been hit, there was no wound that would fester, and there wasn't a binding in sight. The officer behind him uttered a soft, "Sorry, Midoriya-kun." How convenient it must be to have a quirk so suited for his profession.

Something in the way he was guided into the living room made him want to growl. Why, though, he wasn't sure. Perhaps it was because 'guided' was a kind word for 'picked up and carried like luggage.' The small cop was stronger than he looked.

Three people awaited them: his mother, another officer, and a man whose face tickled the edges of Izuku's memory. His face was kindly— the sort of face his mother could hardly stand since his father left. The few pictures left of the deserter always showed a similar grin.

Without much ceremony, Izuku found himself deposited on the couch and manhandled into a sitting position. His mother, for the most part, simply looked relieved. Because he was in the living room? Because he wasn't training? Why would anyone be happy he wasn't training? Training made him strong. He needed to be strong to succeed without a crutch.

The officer who immobilized him stood behind him, guarding the only free exit. It was almost like they were expecting him to run. Why though? It wasn't time for cardio. The familiar man with the long coat settled across from Izuku in a chair stolen from the dining table. The other officer stood at his right. There were folders and files in her hands. Suddenly, she too looked familiar, though something inside him insisted she wasn't the right pattern. She handed the man a file.

"Midoriya-kun," the man began with a smile, "it's very nice to meet you in person." In person? "My name is Tsukauchi Naomasa. I'm a detective with the police force. Ah, please call me Naomasa. If it's alright with you, I'd like to ask you a few questions." Oh, so that's why he looked familiar. It want often, but that man, Naomasa-san, Had been in the papers before. There was a tendency of his to appear during important cases. Notable acquaintances: All Might. "Midoriya-kun? Oh, just a moment. Ryou-kun, his mouth, please." And just like that he could speak. "Much better, yes?"

"Y-yes," Izuku replied hesitantly. "Am I in trouble?" What on earth was such a prominent public figure doing in his apartment? He glanced at his mother for some sort of explanation but her tired face revealed nothing. Had she always looked so old? No, just the day before, she'd looked not a day over thirty.

"No, not at all, Midoriya-kun. Now, do you know what day it is?"

"Tuesday." Obviously. What other day could it possibly be? The officer taps Naomasa-san on the shoulder once and he nods in return. Strange.

"Right. And you came home late last night because?" Izuku frowned. Hadn't he and his mother had this conversation?

"I got caught in the rain and got a bit lost on my way back to change clothes. I told my mom this already, Naomasa-san." Another single tap finds the man's shoulder.

"Yes, she mentioned that on the phone. I'm just confirming some things, Midoriya-kun, don't worry." He paused for a moment as he reviewed the file. "Take a moment to think. By any chance did you run into anyone of your way home?"

"No," he replied quickly. Izuku really didn't see why it mattered even if he did.

"Not anyone— even in passing?"

"No." Naomasa-san's smile faltered slightly at his tone. Izuku didn't care. The questions were stupid.

"A pedestrian? A villain? A hero? Nobody?" Hero? A... hero? Why would he see a hero? Who needed a good for nothing hero? Heroes are selfish. I will cling to my anger because it makes me stronger. I can be better. I will be better. I am quirkless, not worthless. I will be strong for quirks are crutches. Something was off here. Why was this big-shot detective asking if he'd seen a hero?

'Concentrate, Twenty-nine. Concentrate or you'll miss it.'

No, the first question. The first question Naomasa-san asked— "Do you know what day it is?" Why would he ask that? Why would he— oh. It wasn't Tuesday then. If it wasn't Tuesday then something was wrong with the this situation. Something was wrong with... him?

"No," he said slowly, tasting the syllable as it left his tongue, "nobody." A tap on the detective's shoulder. A lie detector, that's what she was. One tap: a truth or a lie? Truth, surely it must be. But why? Why was this all necessary?

"Alright then. I'll have some more questions for you in a moment but first, I have some important matters to discuss with you." Izuku listened to the man speak. He sat immobilized and heard a ridiculous tale of a boy who vanished into the rain.

 

Although no papers were signed or even served, the fact of the matter was, Inko and her husband were no longer together. He had been a kind looking man with soft eyes and a blinding smile. Truth be told, she knew very little about him and his family. She knew he had a habit of singeing his toothbrushes and always smelled faintly of smoke. He was older by several years though it bothered neither him nor her. (Inko remembered the day she graduated from university. It was the first time she spotted the grey hairs sprouting at the temples of his wild mass of green.)

They dated for a grand total of four months before he popped the question and then were engaged for half that time. They married in the early winter as snow fell outside and had Izuku not long after. Inko had been so in love.

He left four years later without so much as a goodbye.

She knew she'd been used the moment she woke alone in bed. Fooled by a kind looking man— blinded by his smile. It wasn't her he'd wanted but the quirk he'd assumed their child would wield. How disappointing for him. Just thinking about that man made her angry.

However, as she stood, watching her son's mouth gape in disbelief, surrounded by officers of the law, Inko doubted she'd ever hated him more than in that moment. How dare he make her go through this alone? How dare he abandon her son? How. Dare. He?

There was nothing she could do but act as a spectator while Naomasa-san insisted that, yes, two months had passed and, yes, Izuku had been missing. The quiet, "You can't be serious.," her son muttered was heard by all.

"I'm very serious, Midoriya-kun. I've been part of your recov- eh, search team for a month. We were losing hope you'd ever be found." Inko watched a myriad of emotions flit behind her son's eyes. No matter how strange or wrong her child came back, she could still read him like a book. He was observant, but so was she, and she knew something caught his attention.

"A month?" Izuku questioned.

"Pardon?"

"My case, you've been on it for a month? I don't mean to sound ungrateful or anything but, apparently, I've been missing for two months. Why'd you come on halfway through?" Naomasa-san laughed and rubbed self consciously at his neck. It was a question, Inko deducted, he wasn't prepared for. Trust Izuku to flip expectations. The kindly face he wore looked a bit strained,

"Ah, that. See, you were quite the fixture on the news, Midoriya-kun. Everyone and their dog knew you were missing. Honestly, I was busy with another, quite dull, case but a friend of mine called in a favor. I gave in quite easily." Izuku's eyes seemed to freeze as he put together a puzzle only he could see.

"A friend?" It sounded like a perfectly innocent inquiry, but Inko knew better. She cold practically see the ice that coated his words.

"You've met a couple times, actually. This is kinda hush, hush. He doesn't want his name involved but All Might was quite distressed to hear your been captured again." Inko couldn't help but remember the shreds of All Might's poster she'd found months ago. Something had happened to make All Might fall from her son's grace. Something had made him hate.

Through the quirk that kept him bound, Izuku began to shake.

Chapter Text

It was a lot like snapping a twig— sharp and loud though it wasn't him that was breaking. Faintly, he could hear a surprised squeak emitted from the officer at his back. It didn't phase Izuku in the least. He was free and that was all that mattered.

'Nicely done, Twenty-Nine.'

He stretched slowly, testing his range of motion, and then rose to his feet. He wobbled slightly but then stood firm. All eyes were on him. A slimy feeling oozed over his skin but, in an instant, it was gone. He glanced at his formerly restraining officer. Frustration and confusion warned on his face. There was fear too.

"Sorry," he whispered, voice horse. Truly, he was, but he'd be damned if he was caught again.

Izuku turned his attention back to Naomasa-san who, if the frown and furrowed brows were anything to go by, was concerned. Izuku sighed. Really, what was he so worried about? He opened his mouth— undoubtably to voice the questions that circled rather obviously in his head but Izuku quickly cut in.

"Sorry, again," he started in a measured tone, "I'm awfully tired. I don't think I sleep last night." He smiled sheepishly. "Is it okay if I go get some rest?" Naomasa-san stared at Izuku strangely for a long moment. There was a single tap on the man's shoulder and he nodded.

"Just a quick question before you go, Midoriya-kun. I don't mean to keep you long but have you thought about when you plan to go back to school?" Going back to— oh, right. He'd been gone for two months. Going missing was such a hassle. The homework!

"Monday, I guess. No reason to miss more school." Naomasa-san and his mother exchanged a brief look and then nodded.

"I'll let the school know," his mother said. Izuku smiled at her in thanks. What would he do without her, he wondered. Without another word he left the room— passing the defeated looking officer on his way.

 

"Did you see what I meant?" Inko asked softly. That smile of her son's, it was all wrong.

"Yes, I did. Ryou-kun, are you alright? What happened?" The officer sat where Izuku had been moments before.

"I'm fine but that kid— Naomasa-san, Midoriya-kun did something to my quirk. I can't feel it at all."

 

Across the street, hidden in the shadow of the Midoriyas' apartment building, lurking in a dark van a man smiled a nasty, toothy grin. The monitors showed nothing but good news and pleasant surprises. His thick, gloved fingers typed out a quick message to the boss. They'd have to revise their schedule. Twenty-Nine was proving himself to be quite the success.

 

There was something up with Deku. Katsuki's neck was getting a kink in it from looking behind himself for such a long-ass time. It was Deku's fault. Lazy wasn't the right word he knew as he observed the little idiot. Lax or maybe vacant would be more like it he realized. It could be explained away, he guessed, from his strange disappearance.

Which, by the fucking way, was fucking weird. Who gets their scrawny ass kidnapped twice in a single week? Deku. Fucking Deku.

But, even if it was some post-traumatic shit, something still felt off. That fidgety, animated, loser was still as a statue. Only his hand twitched in a mock of actual note taking. The pencil never touched paper. His eyes gazed lifelessly at the front board completely ignoring the stares and whispers that hadn't fucking stopped since he'd stepped foot in the room. It was a circus, seriously.

Besides all that shit, Deku was mouthing something. Katsuki didn't exactly pride himself on his mouth reading skills or anything but he did have them at least. Quirkless, something, something, hero, something, something. What the fuck? That didn't make sense for shit. Was he still going on about his stupid hero-wannabe dream?

On one hand, Katsuki knew Deku had been through some seriously rough shit. It kinda made sense for the idiot to cling to a dream. Never mind how stupid it was. On the other hand, well, it'd be a fucking frozen day in hell's goddamn volcano when he let Deku get up on him. Katsuki was going to be a hero and there was no way he'd let Deku ruin his goals.

So Katsuki pulled his eyes off Deku and faced the board. He sat and waited for the final bell rung. And, when Deku got up to leave, Katsuki followed.

"Oi, Deku, hold up," he called out. They were out a couple blocks from the school. Far enough away to not get in trouble but not too far to put him out of his way. Though, if he remembered correctly, Deku lived in the other direction. He felt a bolt of irritation spike through him as Deku kept walking as if he hadn't heard. Katsuki stopped forward and grabbed the little shit by his backpack. He spun Deku around. "I said, hold the fuck up, Deku." His snarl was rewarded by a mere blink. What the fuck. Where was the panic— the fear?

"Oh, hi Kacchan," he said in a causal tone as if he wasn't being scowled at, "did you need something? My mom wants me home right away. She's a bit on edge right now." Seriously, what the hell?

"What the fuck is wrong with you, Deku," he growled, "your place is in the opposite fucking direction! Don't fuck with me, dipshit!" He could feel frustrated sparks prickling at his palms. Deku tilted his head, confused but calm as shit.

"Nothing's wrong, Kacchan. I'm perfectly fine, but thanks for your concern."

"I'm not fucking concerned, ass-wipe!" Katsuki grabbed Deku by the shoulders. The flinch was small but he noticed it all the same. Right there was some of the Deku he was looking for. It was time to put the heat on. The fabric of the uniform began smoking under his hands. If the sparks were hurting him, Deku didn't let on. "I just thought you'd gotten a fucking clue."

"What are you on about? I really need to get home, Kacchan. Mom is going to worry." Katsuki had nothing against Midoriya-san but, honestly, fuck her. She could wait.

"Saw you muttering some weird shit during class, Deku. Something about stupid, quirkless, you and being a hero." He felt the body under his hands freeze. Good, the little shit was scared. "Haven't you realized it yet? You'll never be a hero. It's not a job for someone like you. Try retail." The fabric where his hands rested was all but gone. He could feel bare flesh. Deku must have been hurting but the emotion Katsuki saw on his face wasn't pain it was... anger? No, it was something more. Even after years of tormenting the idiot he'd never seen such an expression on that stupidly optimistic face. It was startling to say the least.

Hands gripped his wrists. When the fuck did Deku move and since when was he so strong? Katsukis hand were pried from Deku's shoulders. The bare skin that was revealed looked untouched and out of place among the fraying burnt cloth.

"You don't need to bother, Kacchan," Deku said calmly though his grip tightened like a motherfucker. It seriously fucking hurt. "I haven't wanted to be a hero for quite a while. I have no intention of getting in your way." His wrists were dropped and Katsuki found himself staring after Deku's back. Seriously, what the fuck.

 

'Very good. Now come to me, Twenty-Nine'

Chapter Text

As the toes of his shoes nudged the sand on the litter strewn beach, Izuku wondered what it was about the sea that made his skin prickle with unease. Was it because he'd almost drowned there or because of the goosebumps that were raising over his body? As a mid-spring day, the sea breeze would be crisp and refreshing for anyone in the proper attire: long sleeves and a light jacket. For him, however, it cut harshly over his bare shoulders and made his teeth chatter. Thank you oh-so much, Kacchan.

'Your contact is at the shoreline, Twenty-Nine. Contact is not an enemy and will deliver further instructions.'

Izuku grumbled unhappily as he wrapped his arms around himself in a feeble attempt of conserving his warmth. Slowly, carefully, he trudged through the sand and trash, climbing and crawling through its maze. A sharp piece of metal caught him on the arm and drew blood. He counted himself lucky his tetanus shots were up to date. A trickling trail of blood followed him as he wove through the garbage. The stench of the beach was just as rank as he remembered— perhaps worse.

After vaulting from the last obstacle in his way, a large, wooden, storage cabinet, he wiped his hands on his jacket. It was ruined anyway. He took in a deep breath and his senses were filled with salty, briny, ocean. A drop of blood dripped to the sand but it was the last one that would fall. He'd need to disinfect the wound later, but in that moment it hardly mattered. A man with a smoke-like body who wore a bartender's vest stood a yard away facing the water. There was someone else, too, trailing a few yards back. They'd been following since he'd left school but—.

'I'm not a threat, Twenty-Nine.'

Izuku approached the man, though he kept a slight distance. The man was a stranger, after all, and his mother always told him to be cautious of such people. It never hurt to be aware. They stood at the shore line together for a long minute before yellow eyes were trained onto Izuku. The man extended a hand toward him— in it was a bundle of cloth. Izuku took it and slowly unfurled it to reveal a dark grey sweatshirt. It was soft.

"I was informed you might be a bit cold. It's yours to keep, Midoriya-kun." Izuku hastily dropped his backpack and stripped off the top of his wrecked uniform. The fresh garment was quickly pulled over his head and instantly, he felt the chill abate.

"Thank you very much," he paused remembering he didn't know the man's name.

"My apologies, my name is Kurogiri. I'll be in charge of your training today." Izuku jolted with excitement. It was about time for his training that day and having someone to lead him would surely help him get even stronger.

"Thank you, Kurogiri-san."

"You're welcome. Now," a large swirling disk of purple and black appeared behind Kurogiri-san, "if you'll just step through my portal here, we can get started right away." Izuku regarded the man for a moment, stared into his unblinking, yellow eyes, and allowed the slightest edge of apprehension to creep into his mind.

Something sharp and stinging shocked at the base of his skull like a joy buzzer. It felt like a— like a what? After his feet began to move and as they propelled him through the swirling portal as if of their own mind, he recalled the feeling he couldn't quite grasp before. It felt like a warning. Kurogiri-san followed closely behind Izuku along with the big, burley, not-threat and the backpack he'd left forgotten on the beach sand. How kind of them to grab it for him.

On the other side of the portal, before he can even think, Kurogiri-san's voice rang out firmly. "Twenty-Nine, stand by." Izuku's head dropped slowly to view the bar's scuffed wood floor.

 

Kurogiri let out a soft sigh as the boy's consciousness was overridden by the order. It was such a shame, really. He'd have to be extra careful with the the child's wellbeing because, apparently, this little experiment had a rather low success rate. One trial run wasn't going to give enough data but it would be better than no data at all.

"The kid's file's been downloaded, Boss. We're ready to go whenever you are." Kurogiri stared down at the man and withheld an irritated flare of his body. The man's name, regrettably, wouldn't come to mind. It was bad form to forget a fellow employee but, honestly, the man was far below his concern.

"I'm not your boss. You might report to me but please refrain from calling me such a title. Understood?" The man stiffened slightly and averted his eyes.

"Yes, B-Kurogiri-san." Better. Without a second glance, he opened a new portal and gestures for the man to follow.

"Bring the boy," he said and the man complied without hesitation.

The lab wasn't nearly as grand or pristine as Kurogiri wished. There was only so much one could do with an old warehouse. The floor was concrete and so were the walls but, at the very least, it was spacious and sterile.

Kurogiri and the man weren't the only ones to use the lab but there was a large area sectioned off in the far back for their particular experiment. Originally, they'd set it up in hope for dozens of successes to be evaluated. It was far to big for a single child but it did leave more room for his tests.

The boy was placed in the center of the arena, a taped off square in the middle of their space. The forgettable man settled in behind the reinforced barrier Kurogiri also sat behind. The small observation area was outfitted for anything they'd need to document the data: microphones, cameras, computers, and the like.

"Subject Twenty-Nine-dash-S-dash-One, is this your designation?" Kurogiri asked. His question carried over the speakers and the boy nodded in reply. Kurogiri nodded and then turned to the stubbly man next to him. "What have his response times been?" The man scrolled through the boy's freshly digitalized file.

"Looks like a half hour the first time followed a minute later by a full break and about three minutes for the second. However, both times he engaged it was under emotional distress. Each time, after his heart rate spiked, the quirks were neutralized within thirty seconds." The man seemed rather pleased with his work but Kurogiri couldn't help but be disappointed. The boy was a success and yet so slow. Thirty seconds was plenty of time to get in a punch.

"I see," he muttered, wake the boy up."

 

'Look up, Twenty-Nine, and do what Kurogiri-san tells you to.'

He blinked and the floor turned from wood to concrete. How weird. Izuku raised his head and took a quick yet thorough look at his surroundings. The wall to his left was concrete, as was the one at his back, but the walls ahead and to his right weren't walls at all, rather long curtains suspended from the ceiling. In the corner, backs to the cement, Kurogiri-san sat with a large man behind large pane of glass. He was not a threat.

"Hello, Midoriya-kun," Kurogiri-san's voice greeted from overhead. An intercom? Izuku waved in response doubting they could hear him from so many yards away. "For training today, some friends, whom I've invited, will come to attack you one by one. You'll have two minutes for each opponent. This will be perfectly safe so, do your best and don't hold back. Are you up to the challenge, Midoriya-kun?" Izuku thought seriously for a moment. Turning down a challenge would be weak. He couldn't be weak, especially not in front of Kurogiri-san who was taking time out of his day to train him. On the other hand, he had no idea who his opponents would be and that put him in danger. Sure, he'd trained well but, they all had those damnable crutches.

Two minutes though. He could survive that... probably. So he nodded an affirmative. "I'm up to your challenge, Kurogiri-san."

"Good, you have thirty seconds. Prepare yourself." A countdown began and panic began to bubble up. He paced hurriedly back and forth between the tape and worried at his fingertips. He could do it. He could almost definitely survive. But that 'almost, was tearing at him. What if he couldn't do it?

The sound of the curtain being opened startled him still. His hands dropped to his sides in clenched fists and determination steeled his face. As his opponent approached, Izuku felt himself relax. He wasn't going to survive. He was going to win. The count down reached zero and a loud horn echoed through the area. A bolt of lightning shot toward him.

 

Across town, Inko rushed to answer the door. She smiled in amusement. The thought of her son coming home but forgetting his keys was so utterly normal it was almost like no time had passed at all. She swung the door open, ready to playfully scold her son, but stopped before her mouth even opened.

A teenage boy stood at her step but it wasn't her son. No son of her's would have hair that blond. "Katsuki-kun?" Inko asked slowly. The teen scowled at her but it didn't phase her in the least. She hadn't seen an expression other than that on his face since he was small.

"Hey, uh, hello, Midoriya-san." His manners were awkward and he looked downright uncomfortable standing there but he pressed on. "What the fu-heck is wrong with D-Izuku?"

Chapter Text

Headaches were no stranger to Naomasa. Tension, dehydration, and stress headaches— all part of the job. The Midoriya case, however, was a different type of headache entirely. There were no leads, no clues, no evidence. The biggest break they'd had was the kid returning home. According to Midoriya Inko-san, the child who came home to her was behaving vastly unlike he did before he left. 'Strange' was the word she used. After a visit of his own, Naomasa couldn't disagree. Poor Ryou-kun still hadn't recovered.

He groaned and rested his head on his desk. Papers crinkled under his forehead. It was almost time to head home. His work might come with him but at least he'd be out of his stuffy office. A few more hours and he'd be free to have a good meal and get some much needed sleep before looking at the files again. A restaurant had opened up near his apartment a week or so ago. Maybe it would be a good chance to try it. There was a lull in the case, Midoriya-kun was home safe, he'd worked hard and he deserved a treat.

Unfortunately, all plans of delicious food catapulted out the window as his phone rang loud and harsh though the quiet office. "Naomasa, sorry to bug you but we have some old lady saying she saw someone who's description matches Kurogiri. I know you're busy but we need you to come take a look." And wasn't that just fantastic. Goodbye food. Goodbye sleep.

Naomasa grimaced as the smell of garbage and seawater wafted in his face. How unpleasant. He really wished he hadn't answered the phone. He was a detective! Villain sightings were for patrol cops to deal with. Sure, it was a possible Kurogiri, but still, his day'd been almost over. Honestly, he was exhausted. He sighed as he made his way down the beach, avoiding the sharp litter in his way. Maybe this little trip would be a decent distraction— get his mind off Midoriya-kun.

Crawling through the piles was difficult for someone his size. The winding paths through were narrow and often obstructed. He persisted anyway. He'd learned long ago, nothing good came from giving up. The sleeve of his overcoat snagged on something jagged. It didn't cut him but, for a brief moment, he thought it might have. There was blood; mostly dried and obviously not his own, but blood all the same. His eyes followed the trail it formed and a sinking feeling lodged itself deep in his gut.

For all the blood Toshinori was always spewing, Naomasa had never been a fan of foreign bodily fluids. With a quirk like his, seeing such fluids was more than an annoyance no matter how much easier it made his job. It went like this: Naomasa met a lot of people throughout his life through school and work. Each and every one of those people had blood and saliva and mucus running though their bodies and any time those fluids left them it created a signature, like D.N.A., that only Naomasa could recognize. If he met them, Naomasa knew their fluid. Fluid Recognition made college an… experience.

As he followed the trail of blood, he took note of the long, winding path it took. It was almost like Midoriya-kun had been trying to avoid someone. Had he been followed? It would make sense. Suddenly, the sighting of Kurogiri seemed all the more foreboding. When the trail ended, so did any trace of Midoria-kun besides a beat-up uniform shirt and jacket. So much for taking his mind off things.

 

There is precious little that can stop lightning. It is quite literally a force of nature. It strikes quick like a coiled snake, destroys what it touches, and is gone in the blink of an eye. Izuku didn’t stand a chance. As a sparking, crackling bolt of electricity raced toward him all he could do was dive out of its way.

He wasn’t nearly quick enough and it caught him by the shoulder. Every nerve was on fire. His muscles contracted painfully; he would’ve creamed if he could. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t breathe. It was like drowning in hellfire and barbed wire. Just as it arrived, it dispersed in a flash and Izuku was left writhing on the cold rough concrete. Distantly, through his haze of agony, he heard a disappointed hum followed by footsteps and an ominous crackling.

“Oi, Kid, get up,” his attacker demanded, “what the hell are you doing?” Izuku could only groan in pain. The man sighed, the crackling stopped, and h turned his attention elsewhere. “Are you kidding me, Kurogiri? The kid’s fucking weak.” Weak? He was weak? “Do I keep going? ‘M probably going to end up killing the brat.” He was going to die? The intercom clicked to life and Kurogiri’s voice reached both their ears loud and clear.

“Keep going. It’s only been forty seconds. If he can’t deal with you for a measly two minutes, it’s his own fault of being so pathetic. Don’t hold back.” It was an order no one would refuse. Weak, though? Pathetic? He was in pain; he could barely move. Did that make him weak?

‘Yes, Twenty-Nine. Stop this right now. You have to be better or you’re worthless to us’

Oblivious to the redoubled sparking lightshow and the bloodlust closing in on him, Izuku rose slowly. He couldn’t be weak. If he was weak, then he could never show those heroes. He’d never be able to show them how useless their crutches truly were. Like water, the pain slid from his shoulders freeing his muscles from their seizing. He could breathe, he could think, and he could stare down his opponent. Once more, lighting shot toward him. That time, however, he was ready for it.

 

Shaking hands unlocked the apartment door. The blood, which seeped from his scrapes and cuts, smeared messily on the doorknob and mixed with the other blood that had stained his palms. Tiredly, Izuku toed off his shoes and trudged down the hall. Absently, he noted the pair of shoes left strewn by the door. They weren’t his mothers, nor his own, but he thought no further on the matter.

His backpack dropped to the floor of his bedroom near his desk and, with a thud, he followed. He ached. Every inch of his body was sore from the exertion of his training. A heavy sigh escaped his lips and his ribs twinged painfully. Something was broken— bruised at least.

“Izuku?” He stated at his mother’s voice. It was muffled, likely from the living room. His eyes drifted down to his beat up body. His mother would no-doubt panic if she saw him in such a state. Her guest too probably. Carefully, minding his wounds and his noise, he grabbed a change of clothes from his dresser and crept down the hall to the bathroom. If he was sneaky enough, he could avoid worrying her. He locked the door and started the shower. Faintly, he heard his mother call him again— quiet enough he could pass it off as not having heard.

The blood dried on Izuku’s skin clung to his clothes as he stripped. The cloth pulled uncomfortably at his scabbing wounds. The pain was distracting. Enough so he didn’t hear the loud, stomping steps nearing the bathroom.

 

He went there for answers. Not to be handed tea and then sit in a long-ass awkward silence. Even an hour after his arrival, he was still sitting there with a barely touched cup of tea. He hated tea. Midoriya-san was too worried to pay any attention to Katsuki’s questions. With every minute that passed, the lady looked more and more haggard. The fucking nerd was late. It was only when she began to pace, however, that he blew his lid. At that moment she reminded him too much of the dumbass.

“Oi,” he growled, “Answer my f-go-sh da-rn questions!” Midoriya-san jumped slightly at his volume. He wouldn’t be surprised if she’d forgotten he was fucking there. She sent him an apologetic smile.

“I’m sorry, Katsuki-kun. I’m just a little— “

“Worried, yeah, whatever,” he interrupted, “just, sit down. Freaking out juswt freaks you out. Calm the fuck down.” Shit. “Eh, sorry.” Midoriya-san didn’t even blink at his language and instead took a seat on the couch next to him. She sighed heavily like her lungs were cloapsing under the weight of the world.

“Right, right, sorry. You asked about Izuku?”

“Yes!” Fucking Finally. Katsuki set his tea aside on the coffee table. He strategically faced one side of it away from them. He may or may not have cracked it in his frustration. At least it wasn’t leaking. “There’s something up with him isn’t there? He was like a completely different person.” Midoriya-san was quiet for a moment— he feared she’d gone back into a panic. Yet, after a minute, she spoke softly.

“He, well, going missing for a long time would change anyone, I’m sure, and there’s nothing wrong with him physically, we had all that checked out during the weekend, but when he came home a large part of his memory was missing,” she said in a long breath. There was a glint in her eye that he recognized; one of knowing; of observance. “He was behaving strangely when he first came home but, since that first day, he hasn’t acted out of the ordinary. If he was acting oddly today, well, I can’t say why. I’m afraid, if you’re looking for answers I’m not much of a help. I’m as in the dark as you are, Katsuki-kun.” He could feel a frustrated warmth prickle at his palms. He was getting fucking nowhere. Both of the room’s occupant’s froze when they heard a click— the closing of a door. They waited for a moment and heard some shuffling and a thud. Could that be—

“Izuku?” Midoriya-san called. The nerd had some spectacular fucking timing. There was some more shuffling and a few hurried footsteps. Was the little shit trying to escape? The pipes shuddered to life as the shower was turned on. “Izuku?” She called again. No answer. Katsuki had absolutely had it. If Midoriya-san couldn’t answer all his questions he’d just corner the little fucker himself.

He jumped to his feet with a force that jostled his hostess but he didn’t give a shit. He tore down the hall, following the sound of running water, and reached to opened the bathroom door. It was locked. He took a moment to send a very sincere mental apology to Midoriya-san, who’d followed behind him, and then kicked the door down.

Deku jumped, startled, and turned toward the broken door. His eyes widened at the sight of his mon and Katsuki. Deku was naked, he realized. Naked, ripped as fuck, and covered in blood. What the actual fuck, Deku.

 

The first thing Naomasa noticed as he approached the apartment was the blood smeared messily over the door and its knob. Some of it was Midoriya-kun’s but the rest—. The second thing he noticed was the loud crack that came from inside. The third was that the door had been left unlocked. Upon entering, it was obvious he was the least of Midoriya-san’s concerns. She didn’t even spare him a glance. Nor did the blond teen who’s eyes, just as Midoriya-san’s, were glued to something in a room halfway down the hall. What was the slime villain survivor doing there anyway?

Naomasa stepped further into the home and followed their stares into the bathroom. The first thing he noticed was the broken door. The second thing he noticed was the boy covered in blood that wasn’t all his. Really, he thought as he stood behind the rapidly paling mother, the Midoriya case was a category of headache all its own.