Ghosting [DISCONTINUED] - HeartBandages - 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia (2024)

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Izuku Does Literally Nothing But Exist, And The Consequences Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 2: Don't Be Afraid (The Worst Day Of Izuku's Life, Part One) Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 3: (Mostly) Okay Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 4: Bandages Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 5: Izuku Gets In A Lot Of Trouble Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 6: The Months In Between Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 7: Izuku And The Fortress Of Trust Issues Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 8: (Pidgeon Meme) Is This A Coping Mechanism? Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 9: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 10: Almost-Dead Man's Float Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 11: Things Go His Way????? What???? Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 12: This Is Fine, It's Fine, Yes Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 13: Tone Down The Angst A Bit, Geez (No) Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 14: How Was School, Honey? Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 15: Oh Hello Pseudo-Father Everything Is Normal Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 16: Skeletons In The (Crying) Closet Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 17: Smart Rats and Alley Cats Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 18: Monsters Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 19: Bleed, Bleed, Bleed Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 20: This Is Not Very Poggers Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 21: Then He Became An Informant Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 22: Why, Izuku Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 23: Sickfic Chapter,,, Sort Of Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 24: Enter The League Of Villains Stage Left Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 25: Toga Does Izuku's Eyeliner Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 26: Fine, I Guess He Can Be Happy For One (1) Chapter Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 27: Lead Up Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 28: USJ Pt 1 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 29: USJ Pt 2 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 30: USJ Pt 3 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 31: Izuku Midoriya Needs (And Gets) A Hug Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 32: Tea For The Skin Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 33: Wow, Still No Angst?? Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 34: f*ck. sh*t. The Angst Is Back Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 35: *Muffled Mitski Music Plays In The Background* Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 36 Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 37: The Author Is Not A Month Late Why Would You Say That, They're Innocent I Swear Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 38: I Ain't Never Seen One Good Father Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 39: Everything Goes To sh*t (Thanks A Lot Hisashi) Summary: Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 40: discontinued Summary: Chapter Text

Chapter 1: Izuku Does Literally Nothing But Exist, And The Consequences


Fear can become as routine as hunger. -MAG002, #9982211

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"Hey miss, what're you gonna name them?"

Izuku forced a mischievous grin onto his face as the teacher sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. The other students tried to keep back their laughter as he propped up his feet on his desk just like Bakugou. It was uncomfortable a while ago, but now this was second nature.

The teacher- Mrs Nakamoso- leveled tired eyes on him. "What, Midoriya? This better not be another one of your shenanigans."

Immediately he widened his eyes in innocent shock, forcing his lips to part in surprise. "Of course not, miss! I was just wondering what you were gonna name your baby!"

Izuku knew that Mrs Nakamoso was not pregnant. He also knew that she was not fat in the slightest, but this joke was easy to understand and would definitely earn him some grins. If she looked especially hurt, he would write her a note (unsigned, of course) that she was the perfect size and that 'weirdo quirkless Midoriya' was stupid and wrong.

As it was, though, she clenched her jaw in barely hidden exasperation and hissed at him through her teeth. "I am not pregnant, Midoriya- you know this. Detention during lunch." At this she paused, and then- "Why are you like this? Is it your quirklessness or what?"

Now, why was he acting like this? It was a valid question. To everybody in that middle school classroom, he had been this way all of his life. Izuku Midoriya, the class clown. Izuku Midoriya, who disrupted class and played pranks. Yeah, he was quirkless, but at least he was funny.

Izuku forced his eyebrows up, his mouth in a wider grin, and shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe it was the trauma, eh, Kacchan?"

Bakugou growled immediately, shoving Izuku's feet off his desk and popping off explosions in his hands. "Shut the f*ck up, Deku! We both know it's just a motherf*cking act!"

How did Bakugou know it was an act? Probably because he noticed the dramatic change between elementary Izuku and middle school Izuku. In elementary, he was timid and cried a lot. His mouth often tasted like salt and blood, something that should not be nostalgic. Kacchan burned his skin like branding cattle, and he still worshiped him from between charred lips and bandaged hands.

In the void between schools, he had given up on getting a quirk, and simply focused on how he could make people like him. How could he win a smile in his direction that wasn't filled with malice? He was always information-oriented, so obviously he did research. Who earned the most smiles in school? The popular kids, and the class clowns.

Popularity had too many variables to be a realistic goal, so he observed and read and listened to comedy routines and perfected his cheeky wink in the mirror. It wasn't him, but did that matter in the end? If he had to act to be treated like a human being for once in his life, he would do it.

First he stopped bringing his analysis to school, only working on it at home. Then he laughed and made jokes when the bullies knocked him down, acting like it was just some friendly teasing between friends. Bruised ribs and burned skin? It was nothing, he patched himself up at home and pretended not to feel pain. Paste on a smile, flirt with the teacher, get detention and be late home (not that Inko would notice).

Eventually they stopped trying to murder him. The beatings were still there, but they were less. During class, instead of throwing spitballs, they waited with bated breath to see what Izuku would do today. There were still insults, but they were passed off as friendly advice between friends. There were still suicide baits, but they were stuffed between laughter and exasperation.

Except for Bakugou, who acted the same as always, but at least the others let up- right?

"Awwe, Kacchan, it's almost as if you care!" Izuku fluttered his eyelashes innocently, grinning when it made the other boy go feral and try to kill him once again.

Not like he would complain if he succeeded, anyway.

After a bit, though, the class settled down and started to take notes. Izuku did too (as much as he was invested in his class clown persona, he would never give up his education for it), though they were significantly less than he would've preferred. Normal for a normal kid, only one or two pages, intentionally half-hearted. He would write them out across six pages when he got home and explore all his theories, but for now he was normal.

He was not Izuku. He was Midoriya, the quirkless class clown, otherwise average. Once he got home he would let up the mask. But not now. Not now.

They happened to be learning something Midoriya had studied by himself a while ago- probability. He had gotten into it when trying to calculate the likelihood a hero would run into him being bullied and stop it. That largely depended on estimates and some slightly sketchy websites depicting the areas heroes tended to patrol and what time- and even then most of it was just looking at the times and places it intersected.

Okay, sure, it was a little bit nerdy that he's actually doing that. But it meant he knew the safest spot to run when somebody was attempting to rob, beat up, or do generally unsavory things to him on his way home. Safety over looking cool, folks!

Anyway, that wasn't the point! The point was that they were reaching the end of the unit, and the thing was they had a practice test yesterday. Practice tests, in Miss Nakamoso's class, were treated as regular tests, and if you got a higher grade on the practice test, then you could choose that to be your final grade instead.

As Izuku already knew this unit, he was pretty confident he would at least get a passing grade on the practice test.

So when it was slammed in front of his face with a red 0, he was understandably confused. (Instead of showing this, he grinned. "Hey miss, I think you forgot the '10' in front of the 0." She grumbled at him with a glare and told him to flip to the back page.)

No red marks showed themselves as he thumbed through the papers. Every single question appeared to be answered correctly, even the kind of hard one at the end that was just there for extra credit. As Miss Nakamoso promised, though, there was an explanation on the last page.

Not that it was a very good explanation.

CHEATER was scrawled in that very specific teacher handwriting in red pen, like she had studied cursive before and accidentally slipped into it when she was writing too fast. It took him just a second to comprehend the loopy letters and string them into a word in his mind, and then...

Disbelief. Because he hadn't cheated, or at least he didn't think he did, unless he had somehow cheated without knowing it? Maybe it was a mistake? But looking at the teacher, with her limp brown hair and perpetually-damp lips (she had a water-breathing quirk, which meant her breath always held a bit more moisture than anybody else's) there was no hint of joking. Not that she was one to joke in the first place, of course.

After the disbelief was a short stint of anger, and then- as always- acceptance. He was the quirkless kid. Of course he couldn't be smart. Why didn't he just purposefully get some answers wrong? He started to beat himself up mentally for the dumbass mistake that he honestly shouldn't have overseen.

After class was over, filled with Izuku moping and making some more jokes to cover it, Miss Nakamoso approached him. "After school detention as well, Midoriya. You should've learned your lesson by now about cheating- you're almost in high school! I'm starting to think detention isn't enough."

He froze for half a second, heart catching in his throat at her tone of voice. Some part of him wanted to curl in his seat, protect his head, wait for the inevitable pain that was sure to come- but that was too obvious. So he hung a smile on his lips like one would hang a painting to hide a crack in the wall, and asked in a flirtatious way "What would be enough, then, Miss?"

He hoped she didn't catch how his voice wavered.

A bead of water on her lip dropped down her chin as she wiped it away, rolling her eyes at him. "You've been like this for too long. Get your act together or it'll go on your permanent record... suspension is of course an option, but..." She sighed as if it was truly a tragedy that it's come to this. "Expulsion is a distinct possibility."

Izuku couldn't say he was surprised. A little hurt, yeh, but not surprised. After all, he was a quirkless troublemaker. What was worse? Yeah, if he got a mark on his record, he wouldn't be able to go to UA, but... Well, it was a useless dream, wasn't it?

Internally he shook his head at his own hopeless thoughts. Of course it wasn't. UA was different, UA wouldn't judge him based on his quirk, and he could be himself there. He was certainly smart enough to get through the entrance exams. But to do that he had to keep his record clean.

His face sobered. "Okay. I'll be a bit quieter until the end of the year... If you don't miss me, that is." Cue a cheeky wink.

She only sighed.

Lunch was spent as it always was- in detention, which was somewhat better than the lunch room, where people would 'dare him' to eat crazy combinations and beat him up if he didn't. At least in detention the worst things he was forced to do was organize files.

After that, another class period filled with more things Izuku already knew somehow (did he read it on the internet somewhere?? Sometimes even he didn't know how he did it). More note-taking that was painstakingly little, and the painful pressing-together of his lips to keep the mumbling to a minimum.

But you really couldn't blame him for what happened next, alright?

Okay, you could. But it would be unfair. See- it was Bakugou who got annoyed. Yeah, Izuku was tapping his pencil on the table as he thought of how to phrase his next sentence in his notes, but it was Bakugou's fault that the desk got blown up. Right? It couldn't be Izuku's... Right?

False. Because Izuku was quirkless and useless and the instigator of all mistakes, unlike Bakugou who was sure to become a hero. It was all Izuku's fault for existing. As always.

"Izuku, principal's office. Right now." Miss Nakamoso's voice was hard, sharp, chipped from a block of glass. She barely spared a glance at Izuku's notebook, now charred to unrecognizability. Or at Izuku's arms, now reddened and blackened by burns.

To his credit, he didn't cry. He really, really wanted to, but he had given up crying a while back. Now he only fumbled with his bag and then hurried out of the classroom, smiling shakily at the class and throwing out a peace sign as he left the room.

While Izuku walked, he surveyed the burns. Second- or third-degree, definitely, but it wasn't as if he could go to the doctor. At home there was some antibiotic cream, and hopefully if he drank enough water it wouldn't get infected or give him a fever. For now, he stepped into the bathroom and wet a paper towel slightly before placing it on his arm, and repeating the process for the other. The little bits of blackened skin would have to wait, as he knew from experience that peeling them away in the school bathroom was not fun.

Heaven. It took away a little bit of the heat radiating from his skin, and even some of the burning pain that made it feel like his nerves were sticking three feet out of his skin.

Wait. Principal's office. Right.

Even third-degree burns weren't enough to excuse being late.

He waited for a few seconds for the paper towels to pick up the heat of his skin and stop being so heavenly, and then took them off and threw them in the trash. Then quickly, almost running (but not actually because if he was caught it would be an excuse for even more detention) Izuku skidded through the hallways with his slightly burnt bag over one shoulder.

Later he would be forced to piece this afternoon together like a puzzle without all the pieces, searching for each sharp blood-soaked fragment that looked the same as the next. This length of time was missing- how had he ended up in the principal's office? When had his mom gotten there, and did he have more burns than he had before, or was that just an illusion conjured by his confused mind?

"- And not only that, he was late to this meeting. You get it, I'm sure, Mrs. Midoriya. We have no choice but to suspend him- I was thinking about a week or two, and if he doesn't get it together... Well. Expulsion still isn't off the table."

The principle was a sort of thin, greasy man; like a weasel that had somehow acquired a slick white mullet and the ability to change the size and shape of his hands. A quirk that could easily make a good hero, but somehow he ended up a principle whose main hobby was traumatizing children.

Inko sat beside him in one of those multicolor plush-and-metal chairs that tried their hardest to look like they were permanent, but everyone could tell they could fold up anyway. The shadows under her eyes were darker than normal, and it looked like she had put on a pound or two from stress-eating. Nevertheless, her hands twisted in ever-present anxiety as she glanced at Izuku. "O-okay... If you think it's the best."

She was never one to argue.

Not for Izuku, at least. Not even when this was suspension, something to go on his record, something to likely bar him from UA altogether. If he had no chance before, this was even more definite. He could practically feel his dreams crumbling.

But hey, it's not like he could do anything about it. He's the quirkless troublemaker who would do anything just to get a smile. Attention-seeker and useless are only some of the words used to describe him on a daily basis, and the worst part was, they were usually right.

They made their way out of the building with little fanfare and even less conversation. They stopped by Izuku's locker to pick up his things- a battered yellow backpack, no decorations, nothing that couldn't be picked up at a moment's notice. Next was another detour to the bathroom to waste more paper towels, and then…

Goodbye, school. Goodbye, clean record. Goodbye, future.

They walked. At this point Izuku had forgotten why they always walked- was it to knock off some of the extra weight that Inko was always self-conscious of? Was it to increase the odds of heartfelt mother-son conversation? Neither would happen, and Izuku knew from experience. He hadn't really had a talk with Inko since... Well, since he started acting up in school.

She just assumed he was rebelling, which... Well, yeah, fair. But couldn't she at least try a little bit to know him? Couldn't she try harder to talk to him? (He kept avoiding conversations, kept pushing her away, it was his fault and he knew it-)

"So how are you, Izuku?"

His throat seized up, and despite his earlier wishes, there was a distinct urge to snap at her. "Fine." His tone was a bit sharper than he meant it to be, so quickly he fixed it- "I'm fine. Thanks for asking. How have you been?"

Inko wrung her hands a bit, eyes tearing up (she always cried easily, and now her eyes looked like a forest through a steamy window- green and blurry and wet). "Well, I mean- Izuku, you- you didn't really pick a fight with Katsuki, right? I never... I can't believe I raised such a violent kid, what did I do, what can I do for you, Izuku?"

He ducked his head, class clown persona slowly letting go as he made his way from the school. "M-mom... I just... I didn't..." She phrased it as if he needed fixing, as if he actually would anger Kacchan, as if…

The sidewalk was suddenly very interesting. Hm, pebbles stuck between the cracks. He made special care to step over each one, remembering that old rhyme; step on a crack, break your mother's back.

"What did Katsuki ever do to you?" She sniffled, and during a rare bout of maliciousness, Izuku purposefully stepped on the next crack very aggressively.

Well, let's see, these burn scars have to come from somewhere....

"He's such a nice boy, you know, and I don't know why you keep picking fights with him. You always get hurt, too! You know I love you, Izuku, but you just can't keep doing this. With your... Um, quirklessness, you are a little bit more likely to get hurt. Of course I don't care that you're quirkless, but-"

Suddenly he remembered why he didn't talk to his mother anymore.

He tuned her out as she continued to talk, voice stuffy with the cotton-stuffed exhaustion of just-stopped-crying, green hair lying over her shoulders in a half-bun half-assed attempt to make it look presentable.

Izuku ran a hand through his own mess of green hair, mouth turning down at the corners and throat aching. Sometimes there was this confusion, nostalgic and reaching and desperate. Like a four-year-old who had lost their parents at a carnival. That's what he felt like sometimes. A kid who had lost the shine and hopefulness that was once his mother.

Now they were just... This.

Their apartment complex came into view soon, a welcome sight that promised recluse and the only hope of happiness that he might've had. It meant time to do whatever he wanted in his room while Inko forgot he existed. Analysis or reading or sleeping or lying there wondering if he would be missed if he accidentally fell off the school's roof.

You know, normal hobbies.

It was grey and in the sunshine looked somewhat welcoming, but now- the sky grey, cloudy, waiting for rain- like an abandoned building you would see in the zombie apocalypse. A bleak but accurate comparison, Izuku thought as his mother shambled into the building.

Some part of him was screaming, reminding him to panic at the suspension, but honestly he was too far into apathy to really understand how important this was. If UA didn't work out, he could always 'accidentally' get caught up in a villain attack, right...?

No. Bad Izuku. If UA doesn't work out, that's okay, there are many other things for a quirkless freak to do! Like being a burden to your mother without a job until you got kicked out and ultimately murdered on the streets! Or try to get into a different school, be bullied mercilessly, and eventually crack and murder the entire neighbourhood!

Okay, so maybe those weren't possibilities, but-

"Izuku, um, dear, I forgot to mention something to you..." Inko tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, a tic from when she lied, as they stopped in front of the apartment. She was avoiding telling him whatever it was. One of Izuku's eyebrows rose to urge her on. "Your father has, um... Well.... Upon hearing that you got suspended from school, he-"

Before she could finish, the door slammed open, showing a man that Izuku felt like he should recognise but ultimately didn't.

Midoriya Hisashi. Wild black hair, blue eyes, fire-breathing quirk, freckles, a lean and lanky figure. Not intimidating, as you would imagine the word, but rather... Ophidian. Snakelike. Not glaring, as you would imagine the word, but rather... His eyes were thin and shiny and his smile was just a little bit too tight across his skin, the distinct maliciousness almost flinching, almost sharp.

Inko didn't seem to pick this up as she softly grinned in his direction, face seeming years younger for the first time. Happy, naive.

Funny how he thought suspension was going to be the worst thing to happen today.

Don't test fate, Izuku reminded himself before being pushed into the lion's den.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 2: Don't Be Afraid (The Worst Day Of Izuku's Life, Part One)


People will kill you over time, and how they'll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases, like 'be realistic'. -Dylan Moran

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

It wasn't too bad.

I mean, it's not as if he hits me, right? Izuku thought to himself after another hour of being yelled at for not doing the dishes. There was a distinct accusation of being ungrateful, even though he literally just forgot, and then he was forced into his chair to "Relax! No, no, I insist, I'll do it, you've been working so hard!". And yeah, maybe Hisashi slammed the dishes into the sink a little bit too aggressively, and yeah, maybe the sound made Izuku flinch and it made water splash onto the floor that he would have to clean up later.

But it wasn't too bad, just some yelling, and so what if Izuku was so skittish from the bullying that it made him flinch? So what if when Hisashi's steps echoed in the hallway outside his door, he tensed so badly his muscles began to shake? There was no reason that he should be afraid of this man who called himself Izuku's dad.

Why did he have to remind himself not to be afraid?

It didn't matter. Inko kept smiling, something she almost never did genuinely before. She grew thinner, too- turns out that when she wasn't stressed all the time, she actually looked pretty young. The bags under her eyes receded to mere shadows, no more night shifts at the hospital as Hisashi helped pitch in.

That was another thing- he never quite found out what Hisashi did for a living. He made lots of phone calls, of which Izuku wasn't able to pick up many words except the occasional ".... No. Oh my f*cking god-" (said with either absolute delight or maliciousness). That wasn't too worrying by itself, but strange chart-like cards with lines and letters often turned up around the house. A quick google search showed they were from baccarat.

Cash showed up from seemingly nowhere; Hisashi seemed to do nothing but sleep during the day and go out at night. Izuku wasn't exactly sure where he went, but when he came back he was often slightly drunk and dumped everything in his pockets out on the coffee table before curling up on the couch and immediately passing out.

It was after one of these passing-out sessions that the school suspension lifted. Izuku wasn't sure if he was happy or not, seeing as both school and home were different flavours of hell. It was another morning- skipping breakfast, grabbing his yellow backpack and stuffing his homework inside, and then running out the door.

Except... Hisashi was asleep. And on the table was a small pile of coins, that could be easily stolen to get a snack from the corner store after school, or save for a rainy day when Inko forgot to feed him (again) and he was too scared to go into the kitchen when Hisashi's in there.

So he pocketed about half of it. Not that much- about a dollar, mostly nickels (he had read somewhere that nickels were the most likely to go unnoticed). Each clatter and scrape of the coins moving on the table made him tense with the worry of waking Hisashi up, but thank Kami, there was no movement from the couch.

Going to school was normal. A walk along the safest part of the city at the time, with the most intersecting hero patrols, and trying not to get beat up or murdered. It was too short. He was at school, and he was not ready.

Getting suspended was an immediate invitation to be bullied even worse than he would be originally. It meant he couldn't tattle without it getting pinned on him, and therefore expulsion. It meant they could be as bad as they wanted, and Izuku couldn't do anything, because he was at the end of their 'patience'. One more mess-up, even if it wasn't his fault, could get him expelled.

It didn't matter- just another few months at another school that inevitably did not care about him as anything other than cheap entertainment. Now, he couldn't dance on command, so they threw him around petulantly like a child with a broken toy.

The point was that when he got into class, there was no longer an air of mischievous anticipation. Instead, as he set his yellow backpack down, the malicious energy they had been suppressing for years came out.

Izuku looked down at his desk as he slid into it, and lo and behold, there were permanent marker scribbles. Fun. He put his binder on top of them so he didn't have to read them- though he already caught a glance or two. Derogatory phrases and names. Threats. It was all the usual, so he just decided to ignore them.

Class was... well, worse than he had ever really had since elementary, really. Things were thrown at the back of his head, mostly pencils, but he just collected them and took them for himself. Extra pencils, hooray. Izuku didn't say anything to them.

Between classes he was tripped and things were swiped from his arms. Which was normal, until the first punch was thrown. It took him off guard, so much so that he didn't have time to balance himself and came crashing to the floor. This was proven to be a terrible mistake, as from there he could not run, only protect his face.

Pain. Burning, aching, ripping at old injuries and tearing up new ones. It wasn't the worst he'd suffered through, of course not, with the after-school run-ins with gangs and the occasional murderer who had somehow learned of his quirkless status and was just as discriminatory. No, it really wasn't that bad, and this is what Izuku told himself in a chant. Sure, it hurt, but it would be over soon.

Sometimes he felt like his consciousness was tethered to his body by a thin, almost-snapping string, and only pain could truly bring him into his skull. Right now, he was uncomfortably present, and each flash of pain was accompanied by the rush of black school-appropriate shoes against his side. Adrenaline begged him to fight, to run, but he just tensed his muscles.

Giving in to those urges would just make it worse later.

Izuku wasn't even sure who it was who decided he would be a wonderful punching bag. Everyone in the school knew him as the quirkless loser who got suspended, so he was therefore fair game for both upperclassmen, lowerclassmen, and everybody in between.

When it stopped, the hallways were almost empty and he had to rush to get to class and not be late. His ribs twinged as he grabbed his bag and stuffed the papers that had been thrown out back into it. Something was wrong with his foot, but it didn't exactly hurt as he walked, so he just left it. A few random cuts that made little darkened stains on the sleeves of his black uniform- good thing blood looked like water on such a dark fabric!

Just as he walked into class, the bell rang. Technically he wasn't late, but the teacher glared at him anyway.

The rest of the day went just the same, unfortunately. Yellowing bruises; the taste of blood from biting his tongue; flinching as yet another undefinable object hit the back of his head and someone whisper-yelled ten points! Career aptitude tests, thrown out carelessly with a comment about everyone wanting to be heroes. Bakugou's co*ckiness, Izuku biting down comments. And when the teacher asked you want to get into UA, too, don't you? he answered no, not anymore. Because there was no chance anyway, right? He would try, as a last-ditch effort, but it would inevitably fail. The worst part, though…

To set the scene, it was after school. He had gotten through the day well enough, and now it was time to pack up slightly-burnt books in a once-yellow backpack. The warped pages brushed against his fingers, sources of comfort in the whirling chaos. Why did everyone hurt him? Rare anger built up for a millisecond, but came crashing down just as easily, because he knew the answer. Intimately.

It was because fate hated him.

This notion was further proven when Bakugou entered the room, lackeys trailing behind him maliciously. Izuku had stopped thinking of him as Kacchan a while ago- when the first spider lily showed up on his desk, and Bakugou did nothing. Just laughed. That was when Izuku realized that this boy was not any semblance of a friend, and had not been in a long, long time.

It took far too long for the realization to happen. It hurt. It stung, it burned, it made him want to cry so hard he could barely breathe and his puffy eyes were swollen shut so he wouldn't have to see the truth of the world. But that didn't matter. He had stopped mattering a long time ago.

As he finished gathering all of his books, he realized there was a passage missing in one of his notebooks, and decided to scribble it in while leaving the classroom. In this decision, he had practically run into Bakugou while writing.

"I don't know what you think you're doing, Deku, but we're not done." The notebook was torn from his hands, pen scraping against the surface and ruining the whole page with a streak of ink. Bakugou held it as if it was disgusting, and Izuku had to remind himself not to revert back into his scared, helpless normal self.

One of the lackeys laughed at his notes. "What is this? His diary?"

Bakugou flipped through it, then scoffed. "Just some sh*tty schoolwork. I thought it would be another one of his stupid Hero Analysis For The Future notebooks, but it seems like he really has given it up!" Cue cruel laughter.

This was apparently enough urging on for Bakugou to explode the entire thing in his hands, the smell of burnt paper and nitroglycerin cloying and thick, clinging to the inside of his nostrils and each fabric of his clothes. It would take a wash or two to even get the smell to start losing its hold on the school uniform, he knew from experience, but the smell would seem to stick around in his nose for months at a time.

The scent of destruction always hung around Bakugou- a bloody mien, thick and warning and angry.

Black notebook, someone speaking again. Black notebook, thrown out the window as if it were trash. Black notebook, fish food, burnt and water-warped and useless. It reminded Izuku of himself.

The next thing that made its way through his muddled consciousness was a burst of hot pain on his shoulder, and then- as they left the room, muttering and laughing about him- words that were icy in their entirety. Clear, cold, unwelcome, and leaving him feeling as if he had hypothermia.

"You know, if you really want to be a hero that badly, there's actually another way. Just pray that you'll be born with a quirk in your next life and take a swan dive off the roof!"

Izuku turned dull eyes on Bakugou, taking just a second to process the words. By the time that second was over, they were gone. It was better, too, because by the time that second was over, his eyes were tearing up hopelessly.

Take a swan dive off the roof.

Static took up some part of him, then, as shaky fingers collected his backpack and dropped pen. As he walked, body numb and detached, to the entrance of the school. As he carefully took the tacks out of his shoes.

Take a swan dive off the roof.

There were no understandable thoughts at that point, only the echoing of words. Images overlapped, memories of a best friend at four, grinning faces and promises to never stop playing with each other ever! Spicy soba with Aunt Mitsuki, careless laughter while running around and playing heroes, comfort and happiness and complete trust.

Where did that go? When did it morph from let's never ever ever stop being friends, okay, Izukun? to-

Take a swan dive off the roof.

Somehow the happy memories made him want to cry even more, and every part of him ached as he left the school. He could not feel his legs. The memories piled up- the very real sense that the last eleven years of his life had been utter sh*t, and it would continue being that way for the foreseeable future. Izuku Midoriya was hated by fate, and this was how it always had been.

Take a swan dive off the roof didn't seem so terrible, now that he thought about it. And he had thought about it, from the first spider lily that had shown up on his desk. Detached, almost clinically, Izuku pondered suicide. The methods, the science of it, the causes. A long time ago, he had decided that overdose would be the best option, because he was a coward and was afraid of the pain.

But... Hisashi was there now. He was never left alone. So taking a dive off the roof might... Not... Be so bad. UA would never work out anyway, right? He laughed bitterly, some stone of hopelessness settling deep in his stomach. Maybe. Not today- he still needed to write his note and all that. Later? Once he set a date, though, it would be real. He couldn't take it back.

Passing under an underpass, he bit his lip to keep from muttering about his suicide plans. Darkness seemed to sink into every object, sunlight blocked out in favour of suffocating stagnation. It fit perfectly with his not-so-savoury thoughts, shadow nestling into his hair and the crooks of his fingers. It accentuated the already-dark green locks with too much black, too much of his parents. It didn't matter, though.

He would be dead soon anyway.

That thought proved to be truer than he believed, though, when with a disgusting squelching noise came from just behind him. Then some quiet clanking, some vague cursing- Izuku paused for a second, awkwardly wondering if he should help- and then, before he could think, darkness.

More encompassing than before. Green-tinted, slimy, and pushing all around him into any available openings. His nose was clogged soon, eyes watering, stinging, and blurry like he opened them underwater. Panic was immediate, lungs stuttering in the effort to suck in too-thick air that was not really air. Heart beating double-time, adrenaline fast and burning in his muscles. There was something. No, someone- and it was speaking-

"Don't worry, I'm just going to take over your body. It'll be easier for both of us if you don't fight back. It'll only hurt for a minute; you'll feel better soon."

The voice was twisted, strange, and obviously evil, but that wasn't the worst part. You'll feel better soon was the best thing somebody had said to Izuku in, well... A very long time. And it was from a villain, no less! He wanted to laugh, and hysterically, he did- until he inevitably coughed and choked on the slime in his mouth and throat.

It tasted stale, dirty, like vodka and ran-over snow and red, red blood. Too thick. He was choking, he was gagging, tears built up in the corners of his eyes and a frustrated thought ran over and over in his mind: I want to die, but not like this! I could hurt another citizen if I allow it to have its way with my body!

Okay, that sounded a bit dirty, but- get your mind out of the gutter, Izuku, we're being attacked!! So he struggled, clawed, tried to search for a vulnerable point in the ever-consuming black and dark and thick and trapped and trapped and trapped. Breathlessness making his head light, lungs seize in the need for oxygen. Drowning.

"You can't grab me, I'm fluid! Thanks for the help, you're a real hero to me, kid. I didn't think he had come to this city." A real hero. Izuku focused on that as spots of curling, shifting blackness began to overtake his vision.

Some whimpering noise made its way out of his throat before he could stop it, wasting the little air he had left. The slime licked down his throat like a thick tongue, unwelcome and choking and gagging.

I'm dying.

The thought was detached from himself, just a cold fact that you would find in the news. Izuku Midoriya was dying, but what else is new? The adrenaline was beginning to wear off, leaving only exhaustion as his struggles became weaker and the lack of air got to him.

I'm actually dying.

As his consciousness faded, there was a clanking noise, not unlike when the sludge villain emerged. Some muffled voice that sounded kind of like All Might in his deliriousness, and he almost didn't have to imagine the cheesy 'I am here!'. In fact, he was probably hallucinating, but there was All Might, texas-smashing the sludge villain.

But then he felt the lack of slime, and Izuku thought to himself, wait. Wait a second, I didn't think hallucinations could be tactile? Does that mean...?

Before he could do any more thinking and eventual freaking out, though, the black dots that danced around the corners of his vision closed in. Static, the tingling, sparkling blackness filling up his head. And then nothing.


"Hey! Wake up... Oh, good!"

A light patting on his cheek drew away, and Izuku blinked a few times before he could see clearly. There was something... Yellow? Rubbing his eyes, he sat up, and the figure came into view.

Two strands of hair standing on top of his head in that iconic hairstyle, blonde and unbelievable in Izuku's dazzled state. Muscled form covered by a white t-shirt and green pants, out of uniform, then. Apparently life didn't hate Izuku as much as he believed, because he had the luck to run into All Might out of costume!!

All Might.

Honest-to-Kami, All Might. Was he in heaven? Hallucinating? He pinched himself, and upon feeling a pinch of burning, unwelcome pain (ow, he forgot he had a burn there) concluded this was not, in fact, a dream. And that meant that there was All Might. Who saved him. Him.

"Uahhhhh??!!" Wow, very articulate, Izuku. His hands waved around in a desperate attempt to collect his thoughts as if they were floating in the air. What do I do, what do I do, what do I do, there's actually the actual All Might, oh kami, I'm going to die!!

All Might smiled at him (the iconic smile!! Izuku almost fainted) and patted him on the shoulder with a big warm hand. "I'm glad you're okay!"- Oh my gosh All Might was glad he was okay- "Sorry about getting you caught up in my justice-ing."- Oh my gosh All Might was apologizing to him- "Usually, I pay more attention to keeping bystanders safe. But it turns out the city sewer system is pretty difficult to navigate!" At this he laughed heartily, and Izuku was still freaking out.

He just stood there, gaping, as the number one hero oh my gosh continued to speak. "Anyway, you were a big help. Thanks! I've captured the evildoer."

Finally Izuku was able to get ahold of himself and say anything other than stupid half-formed mumbles, fumbling in his bag for a notebook. Once he found it, he opened it to a random page and held it out to All Might with a pen. "Um. Will you...?"

In record time, it was signed across the entire page, and Izuku was left gaping, starry-eyed as he placed his science notebook gingerly inside his bag like it was the most expensive thing he owned (in all honesty, it probably was, now that it was signed by All Might). He would've rambled, but instead kept his mouth firmly shut, not wanting to make himself look weird in front of the number one hero.

"Well, I need to take this guy to the police. Stay out of trouble. See you around!" He looked like he was about to take off, so Izuku did something impulsively.

He grabbed onto the hero's arm. It was just meant to be something to get his attention, honest! Just so that Izuku could maybe get him to answer a question. But he was already jumping into the air, and didn't notice that he was being grabbed by a kid until then.

The air was cold, and thin, and rarefied. It scraped at his face like he was sticking his head out of the window of a car, dusty and sour. Dazzling, sparkling excitement still danced within his skin like champagne bubbles, and now as it mixed with the beautiful adrenaline, there was some impression of happy drunkenness in everything. Colours brighter, smiles something more than simply flashing teeth in an animal snarl.

"Hey, hey, hey! Let go of me! I love my fans but this is too much." All Might's voice was still that same booming tone Izuku had heard on the television all of his life, but now it was irritated and a bit... Panicked? As he attempted to pry the boy off of him.

And despite the tiny voice in his head that went just let go, do it, hopefully you'll die, Izuku protested best he could while the painfully cold air ripped at his cheeks. "If I... If I let go now, I'll.... I'll die...!" He hoped it sounded like he hated the idea of being dead. The number one hero shouldn't be bothered with Izuku's ideas.

All Might muttered some placating words, getting a better grip on him and telling him to close his eyes and mouth. Immediately, he conceded, trying to somehow not fall and not touch the hero at the same time. It ended up like that awkward position where neither of you really want to hug, but it's polite to, so you attempt to not touch them as much as possible while also hugging them. In other words, it didn't really work.

When they landed on top of the building, the edges of Izuku's ears were burning cold fire. He was a burden. A mistake. Already, he was beating himself up for the biggest f*ck-up of his entire life, excluding the f*ck-up of existence. But.. Well, he already dug his grave, might as well lie in it and ask the question. The only one that mattered, really.

"If you talk to the people downstairs, I'm sure they'll let you down. That wasn't a smart move. Now, I really do have to go. Be safe, young man." He began to turn to the edge of the building.

"Wait!" He cried, in a panic, and a bit louder than he meant to be. "I'm sorry. Just... I have a question, please, it'll take only a minute." In any other situation, he would've let the hero go, but as it was... Well. The answer might save his life, might push him on just a little longer. Keep him breathing at least until he gets rejected from UA.

All Might paused, perhaps irritated, perhaps intrigued. Whatever the reason, that was enough time for his question to burst from his lips. Adrenaline with the effort of asking left his heart beating triple-time, sweat gathering in his palms. Izuku's eyes were closed shut to tight he saw bursts of color (red and red, staticky and unpleasant).

"Even if I don't have a Quirk, can I become a hero?" And his voice was a little bit wobbly, his fingers clenched so tightly into clammy palms they left little half-moons.

And when he opened his eyes, trembling, breathless-

There was a skeleton of a man. The angles of his face were gaunt and underfed, blonde hair falling in front of his face in a messy almost-style with two (intentional?) pieces longer than the others in front. Practically swimming in the outfit that All Might was wearing just a few minutes ago. There was only one conclusion, as he had not heard the door open, nor All Might take off.

"Huh. So it isn't a super-strength quirk." He muttered to himself, itching to ask more questions about the transformation and... Everything, really. Some type of time-based power-up would be more likely, seeing as he didn't look like he meant to transform right then. What were the biological aspects? How could the muscles buff up? He probably took in more calories than the normal person to be able to do that, but the skinny version looked unnervingly thin. Maybe it took up all his fat when he ran out of readily available sugars and broken-down foods? That seemed plausible-

"Uh... Young man, you're muttering. I'm counting on you to keep your mouth shut. Don't go talking about this online or telling your friends." At this, he pulled his shirt up, revealing skin that was shattered like glass. A reaching scar, not unlike Izuku's own in the texture and color. But... The way the skin crumpled, almost, was horrifying. Why is he showing me this?

Letting his shirt fall, Small Might took a breath. "I got this from a fight five years back. My respiratory system was pretty much destroyed. I lost my entire stomach. It can't really be fixed. Right now, I can only do hero work for about three hours a day... The rest of the time, this is what I look like."

And of course, there was that little part of Izuku that begged for recognition of his knowledge, so he spat out a stuttering "F-five years ago? So... Was that the fight with Toxic Chainsaw?" And already he knew the answer, because Toxic Chainsaw couldn't have some such a number to All Might. It must be a fight uncovered by the media, or at least glossed over- if they heard of his injury, it would be the top headline for months.

"Wow, you know your stuff." All Might chuckled, and Izuku beamed with the force of a third-grader who had just been told their drawing was good. All Might's impressed. f*ck yeah, I knew all that research was for something! In his internal monologue, Izuku almost missed him continuing.

"... But no. He may have landed a hit, but not this one. Most of the world has never even heard of this fight. I did everything I could to keep it under wraps. I'm supposed to be the guy who always smiles, right? The symbol of peace. People have to believe that I'm never afraid or hurt. But honestly, I smile through the fear most of the time. It's just a brave face. This job isn't easy."

And didn't Izuku know that. He understood putting on a smile while in pain, intimately. It was different, of course- All Might was doing it to save civilians, and Izuku was doing it to save himself. Like always, a selfish little wannabe. But the hero wasn't done speaking yet. He hadn't answered Izuku's question yet.

"Pro heroes are always having to risk their lives. Some villains just can't be beaten without powers. So no, I honestly don't believe you can be a hero without a quirk."

His world cracked down the middle.

All Might's voice was muffled, suddenly. "If you want to help people, there's other ways to do it. You can become a police officer or a doctor. It's not bad to have a dream. Just... Make sure your dreams are realistic, understood?"

Izuku nodded numbly and hardly noticed when the hero left. Sinking to the ground, he could hardly think, eyes blinking repeatedly as if to wash away the experience.

And again, appeared the sentence in his thoughts that had been echoing for too long. Ever since it had left Bakugou's mouth, some part of his mind played it on repeat like a broken tape recorder, over and over in that distorted crackle. Static stuttered in his eyes, mouth, some quiet keening noise making its way out of closed lips.

"Take a swan dive off the roof, hope for a better-" The sentence blurred into a hazy smudge of memory, countless words flooding his thoughts like All Might's rejection had broken a dam of some sort.



"-friend." Oh, and that one- that was Kacchan, Bakugou, somehow his voice mixing into all the others, and it made Izuku so very sad for a reason he could hardly begin to explain.





Then the overwhelming noise silenced all at once.

And the light blue railing seemed to stand expectantly, urging him on somehow, a suggestion. He stood on shaky legs and breathed out the last sentence, in a voice that did not quite sound like his own.

"Hope for no life at all."

That ledge, that railing, the suggestions muttered to him for years had never seemed so welcoming before.

Heart stuttering in a cheap approximation of adrenaline, Izuku could not quite bring himself to care- to think- as he robotically reached down to his shoes and slipped them off, one by one. There would be no note, but did that matter? He would be gone either way.

But just as he had finished removing his second shoe, eyes blurring just a bit, there was an explosion. It smelled like ash, like the sky was burning.

Well, why not go to one last villain fight before I die?

Izuku laughed to himself, humorlessly, and shoved his feet back into his shoes.

((Lines 98 - 110 inspired by I Love You (Means Goodbye) by ughnutmeg))


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 3: (Mostly) Okay


We are all our own graveyards, I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we once were. -Clive Barker

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

The sound was like something he had never heard before.

Or rather- that wasn't exactly true, was it? There was a ringing familiarity in it, like meeting an old friend who had changed much over the years. Because the sound was explosions, and the taste was ash, and Izuku was all too intimate with this sensation.

Some burning hot, scalding air nipping at the edges of his fingers and blowing half-burning ashes in the wind to break apart and cool at contact with the ground. Black feathers, almost, teased by the wind. He didn't know exactly when he started declining the staircase, only that he needed to see what had made that noise.

It promised pain. It promised desolation. But most importantly, it promised something other than this.

He hardly knew what this was. Only that he needed to get away from it. Only that it was stifling and hot and itchy and no no no no no.

It took less time then he would've thought to get to the crowd.

The smell of sweat, people yelling and murmuring and everything in between. Worry and the snaps of cameras, strangers expressing impersonal words for the victims. Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, but never doing anything. Izuku pushed through the crowds, skin tingling and burning every time someone touched him and rubbed his skin the wrong way.

Loud; loud; loud. That was the only way it could be described, and Izuku could articulate nothing else. His ears rang uncomfortably and his breath almost hitched in his throat as nameless bodies pressed, but through it all... There.

A face he knew. Red eyes. Drowning. Shining. And the sickening toxic liquid green of the slime villain, thought to be captured but evidently not. The same smell that suffocated him when he was almost taken made his muscles tense up in anticipation for something. Dust, blood, something distinctly alcoholic.


In that moment, though, it was Kacchan and Kacchan was in danger, his friend was in danger. A tiny voice in his head that went why isn't someone doing something about this?! And then, the creeping, sharp realization that I'm someone.

He could hardly think. The blurring air adrenaline rush, looking around for something to fight, anything, grabbing the closest object and stumbling forwards as if possessed through crowds and blockades and heroes who yelled for him to wait. He could not wait. There was Kacchan.

Izuku could not tell you what happened next. Desperate scrabbling, some bashing at the thing's eyes. It was all murky and, in hindsight, hard to see (adrenaline-driven events almost always were, in his experience). Turning and swirling and pulling his best friend out of the slime.

"Kacchan," He murmured, terrified yet so relieved, except that slime thing was still there oh kami. Giant and angry, now, a hideous creature of teeth and slime and eyes, some twisting wrongness within the way he moved, as if the world was glitching to the side just to let it move into place.

Kacchan let out a muffled curse, still half-way into the slime. It was thick, viscous, and Izuku was struck once again with the terrible knowledge that that is someone's body, oh my goodness. He pulled harder, heels digging in and muscles screaming, stomach turning at the touch of the slime residue on Kacchan's arm.

Pulling, pulling- the panic of uselessness, futile efforts, and the anger of the slime villain as it recovered and turned onto Izuku-


All Might.

Of course.

Because who else would it be? The weather-changing punches, the sheer wave of power. The number one hero, the man every kid (and adult) wants to meet. Some rare spite rose up as the green mass was scattered by one of those famous jabs.

Quirkist bitch.

It was only for a moment- because he was right, wasn't he? And besides, Izuku was stupid for asking something with such an obvious answer. The anger fizzled out, and all that was left was that numbness he had felt on top of the roof. Like he had seen all the world offered, some special type of weariness that did not quite fit him.

Kacc- Bakugou turned on him quickly after that. "Why the f*ck are you calling me 'kacchan' now?! Did'ja finally decide to give up that stupid f*cking act?"

After seeing true villains, Bakugou didn't seem so scary anymore. In fact, behind that hostile tone- was that worry? No, it couldn't be. How could it be with that thing he said today?

Izuku didn't bother trying to smile. He would be dead soon anyway. And these were his last words to Bakugou, so you know what- "Why do you ask?" His tone was bland. "Is it because you're scared of me stopping again? Afraid of me finally realizing, like I did a long time ago, that you don't care? That you want me to take a swan dive?" At this Izuku laughed, bitterly, harshly torn out of his mouth. "Yeah. Sure. Join the club, Katsuki."

He wasn't exactly sure what happened next. Bakugou stood, frozen as if someone had pressed pause on time, his mouth slightly opened as if to say something, and his eyes wide. It was like staring at a wax doll of a person, but Izuku... Didn't really care, if he was going to be honest. There was nothing in the gaping emptiness where his emotions once were, except perhaps a small pinprick of discomfort that he couldn't quite name. Loneliness? Guilt?

Sometimes he wondered how people could name their emotions so easily.

A pausing, disquieting stutter in time. And then noise, creaking painful buzzing in his ears at each too-loud yell. Reporters; heroes; doctors. Someone screamed at him to look at the camera, kid! It was all too much to process, and then someone was grabbing him by the arm and he was being sat down and lectured for trying to save his friend.

Bitter hurt bubbled in his throat, but it was almost laughable, because that didn't matter anymore, did it? The heroes didn't seem to notice that he didn't pay attention to a single word of their speech. It was all inspiration p*rn for the public, a stupid kid being saved by All Might once again.

He couldn't wait to be gone.

Everything was faraway, curled, dizzying- spiraling away and away and away in stereoscopic fractals. It was a level of life that he did not take part of, rather instead as a ceaseless watcher of different species, some simulation. Flat. Staticky, little pixels like snow dancing in the blackness of shadow. Did he have a shadow anymore? He felt see-through. Like it he stopped moving he would just disappear.

As soon as the lecture was over, he was going to. The minute those heroes stopped wagging their tongues, he was gone.

Like a possessed man, Izuku walked without feeling his legs back to that building (it turned out to be abandoned; how convenient).

Yes yes yes yes yes, the sick portion of his mind whispered, screamed, begged. It was starved and it was finally getting what it had always asked for. Finally. Finally. We can die, we can go, we can be gone gone gone-

But, as lost in his thoughts as he was, he couldn't mistake the now-thin figure of All Might in front of him. No more shining almost god-like presence. Just a man, and the thought made Izuku kind of want to cry.

This must've shown on his face, because All Might suddenly looked worried. "Ah! My boy, you look sad! What's wrong?"

"Can you move aside? I'm trying to commit suicide." Is what Izuku wanted to say, but he quickly stifled it with a what is wrong with me, and instead forced his eyebrows up, mouth turning up just slightly, rubbing the tears out of his eyes as if he had just yawned. "Hm? Oh, sorry. I'm just a bit tired."

Technically not a lie. Izuku grinned his best Pure Grin to hopefully convince him, and thankfully, it seemed to work.

This All Might looked sort of crumpled, he noted passively. Like someone had folded him up and forgot about him for a week. Crumpled Might smiled back. "That's good, then. I need to tell you something, and it's very important."

... That sounded suspicious and a little bit creepy.

Izuku's smile ached. "Um, I actually-"

"Great! Okay, my boy, I must start at the beginning."

A great story of two enemies, blah blah blah. Good, bad, and who is obviously in the wrong just because they had a 'villainous' quirk. Okay, yeah, and the murder, but Izuku had a growing conspiracy theory that All Might was quirkist and he would never let it go now.

There was a little niggling thought- why would he tell me this? Izuku was smart, though, so his mind immediately jumped to an admittedly unlikely conclusion. The quirk can be passed down. It makes sense to tell nobody but the successors, anyway, so...?

"Would you accept this quirk?"

And Izuku.... Didn't know what to do.

To want something your entire life and have it given so easily... Well, it almost felt like cheating. Fake. If he had suffered this much already, how could getting a quirk be so easy? And if he was going to be honest, the idea of being the first quirkless hero was dazzling and inspiring. He wanted to prove everyone wrong, without a quirk.

But if Izuku had learned anything, it was that you don't say no to adults.

It felt like having his who torn bloody from his what when he said yes. It felt like betraying himself, like agreeing with everyone who said you needed a quirk to be a hero.

It helped that All Might said that he was wrong about what he said before, but Izuku... Didn't quite bounce back all the way. This was still All Might, and he still respected the man, but can you ever really forgive someone for almost making you commit suicide? Can you ever really look at them in the same way?

Izuku still smiled, though, and it was only a little fake. The child inside him screamed in joy, and he let that kid take over for a bit. He knew it wasn't entirely real, he knew there was still some sickness heavy inside his stomach.

But when All Might smiled at him and told Izuku to call him Toshinori, everything seemed (mostly) okay.


So I guess you're wondering how he got here, standing in the mouth of an alley after bashing a soup can into the head of a guy who was trying to make some unwanted advances on a woman who had just ran away.

Izuku! You would think, horrified. But you were just training with All Might, how did it lead to this?

"Well, kids," Izuku muttered to himself, panicking internally that he had killed someone with a soup can. "Izuku doesn't f*cking know either." And yes, he knew how to curse, thank you very much. He had been around Bakugou for fifteen years, what would you expect?

Anyway- he got here through completely honest means. All Might and him had been training every day for the past two months or so, during which Izuku could feel himself starting to like the man. Toshinori, though scatterbrained at times, was kind and overall good-intentioned. It made him feel guilty for even second-guessing the quirk.

It was just another day, right? And for some reason, being exhausted from the training made him hyper. No, Izuku had no idea how that worked either, but it meant that he often took late-night walks to drive out the insomnia. When Hisashi was gone and Inko was asleep, he usually threw on a random sweatshirt and wandered around for half an hour.

Today, when he was walking along, reveling in the chill that made him feel a little less dead, he passed by an alleyway. And he saw a man, covering a woman's mouth and backing her up against the wall. It didn't look like she enjoyed it at all, judging by how she was trying and failing to push him off.

Izuku could hardly feel his legs run forwards, and just like when he was saving Bakugou, he just grabbed the nearest object and bashed it against the offending person. In this case, it was a soup can, still full and swished as he swung his arm at the head of the man.

When the dude dropped suddenly, Izuku was both relieved and panicked. The woman's wide eyes showed the same, and to her credit, she immediately ran to the closest well-lit area and began to dial the police on her phone.

She was more put together than Izuku, whose only thoughts were the alternating oh my god I killed someone, and oh my god am I a vigilante, what will mom think?? He still stood frozen, the soup can in his hand, and the slumped man in front of him.

As soon as the police sirens were heard in the distance, though, he snapped into reality. Palms sweaty, night cool, he pulled up his hood quickly. In the dark, hopefully his face wouldn't be seen. Being arrested was not on his Fun Bucket List To Do Before I Inevitably Die. In his slightly frazzled panic, he stuck the soup can into the pocket of his sweatshirt, then checked to see if the man had a pulse quickly (he did).

The woman turned to him and started to ask something- probably his name- but Izuku was already running back to his house. His sneakers slapped against the concrete, red and black and battered. The air seemed to get even colder as he ran, biting his ears and fingers with the viciousness of a hungry tiger. Panic welled up like breathlessness, even worse than when Hisashi passed by his bedroom door in the early morning when Inko was still asleep. This was immediate. This was bad.

The police sirens got louder and he slowed, ducking into a different alley and crouching near the back of it where a family of stray cats was curled beneath a mostly empty dumpster. The calico mother hissed at his approach, and Izuku flinched. Unfriendly much? She looked thin, though... Unhealthily so. Maybe he could find something to feed the cats.

A car passed by the opening to the alley, casting a shadow over it. They all froze. Izuku's heart beat double-time, triple-time, waiting for the inevitable chase and catch and jail and cage, like an animal. There was a long, long moment of suspense and breath-catching adrenaline spike, and then... The car passed.

He needed to go. The can of soup sloshing in his pocket was almost dropped, but then- hey, can cats eat soup? He checked the ingredients, and conveniently, it was one of those healthy soups, that literally only included chicken broth, chicken, and little to no sodium. And no flavour, but he was sure the cats wouldn't mind.

So Izuku quickly peeled off the top and set it near the cats before running out. Maybe he would visit them again soon? The calico was kind of hostile. Ah, should he name them?

He shook the thoughts away and quickly focused on running faster to his house to avoid getting arrested. God, one of these days, his distracted mind would be the end of him. Inko always said it was just in his imagination that he was unusually absentminded, but Hisashi was nice enough to tell him that he was probably stupid, or autistic (said like a curse for some terrible reason).

Anyway, he arrived at his house soon enough, opening the door as quietly as he could. Thankfully, nobody was there waiting to confront him for being out so late, so he hurried to his bedroom and locked the door. The sight of dark green sheets (changed shortly after the All Might incident) and soft, easy colors was enough to let him relax. No more bright lights, or stifling noise, or painful shades of neon.

Izuku ran a hand through his hair and removed his shoes, climbing easily under the covers. Bright red socks with black designs of spider lilies, a birthday 'present' from his classmates, hung from the end of the bed. It was too small, had been for years, but Inko couldn't be bothered with that.

Then he opened his computer (lowest brightness, no case and no stickers) and typed in with shaking fingers what is a vigilante in the law?

Because if Izuku was going to be convicted for something, he sure as hell was going to understand why, how, and what.

No empowered human shall use their extra-human abilities in a way that violates state or federal law. Nothing in this stature shall preclude the use of powers for lawful self-defense.... (more)


Relief. Cool, calm, a wave of not-danger that rolled over his muscles like warm water (relaxing, it was easy to breathe again). He didn't use a quirk (he couldn’t), so technically, it was not vigilantism. Izuku could not be arrested.

Collapsing down onto his pillow, there was a half-delirious laugh that bubbled out of his mouth as he let himself melt. There was no reason to be afraid (for now), and he was untouchable by the law. Izuku's mind stayed silent for a couple blissful seconds, stirring around that thought, until of course it was broken.

If I'm untouchable by law because I'm quirkless... What if I was a vigilante by choice?

And what if, indeed. There was the definite of helping people, which was amazing. There was the chance of dying, which wouldn't technically be suicide and would alleviate the guilt on his mother. Instead of my precious boy killed himself, it would be a villain killed my precious boy. That was definitely a good thing! Suicide by proxy, eh?

But it wasn't as if he would go out searching for death. No, he was All Might's protege (even if the title made something uncomfortable turn his stomach) and it wouldn't be acceptable for him to die. The adrenaline rush was a plus too, and the feeling of being able to do something with his worthless life.

There wasn't really... A conscious decision yet. More like, hey, that sounds cool.

And then he fell asleep.

No, the conscious decision came later. To be precise- exactly five hours later, when it was seven in the morning and a new article on the Hero Forums Fandom Page had come out. It was on vigilantes, and Izuku read it sneakily as he walked to Aldera.

The writer had, apparently, been rescued by a vigilante the night before from a man making unwelcome advances. Most of the article was on laws, speculations, and conspiracy theories... But a very small part made Izuku's blood rush in his head.

The vigilante I was rescued by appeared to be a newer one. They were somewhat androgynous, so it was hard to tell their gender, but they wore a black sweatshirt with three tiny cartoon ghosts on the chest. Unfortunately (or fortunately for them) it was in the dark, so I couldn't tell if they wore a mask... But the rest of their outfit was black, barring some battered red shoes and some socks (barely visible; black and red) depicting red spider lilies. Based on that, I've decided to call him Ghost if he shows up again. PM me if you see anything! But, diverging beyond him to the more well-known vigilantes in the Mustafu area, I…

There was more, but Izuku had stopped in his tracks, staring blankly at his phone.


He had worn that sweatshirt last night, a thing he just sort of threw on in the moment! It was crumpled and he barely registered the design in the dark! Oh lord. Izuku quickly clicked out of the article, paranoid that somehow someone would know if they saw him reading it, and tightened his hands on the yellow straps of his backpack.


Okay, this was fine. It wasn't like he was planning to ever do it again, anyway. People would forget about him and Ghost would just be a strange thing that happened to him, a story to laugh about with his future friends. Can you believe they thought I was a vigilante?

Izuku tucked his phone away and tried to smile as Aldera came into view, but in the back of his mind, the seed of an idea was planted.

And soon, it would grow.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 4: Bandages


Adrenaline kills the pain. -Audra Major

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku couldn't sleep.

No matter how he turned, how many times he flipped his pillow to the cold side or positioned himself, there were still thoughts that kept him awake. Frustration, hanging just beneath the surface. And the overgrown vines of anxiety that bloomed with bloody flowers that whispered, wouldn't it be better if I was dead?

Again he shook them away, tearing at the imagined confines as he sat up. It wasn't like he was ever going to get to sleep anyway. Might as well stop trying, and do something productive.

Useless. Worthless. I'm not doing anything with myself, even with All Might's pity. I must truly be nothing if I can be stupid even in this situation. God, I deserve to die, I deserve so much worse. I-

Quickly Izuku tried to shake these thoughts from his head, half-tempted to slam his hands against the side of his head because maybe then they'd go away. But no, that was a thing only crazy people did, so instead he kept inside the keening whimper and went to rummage in his sweatshirts.

A walk. Maybe the cool air would wipe away these terrible notions. Maybe a walk would somehow return him to how he was before, (though to be fair he didn't remember what he was like before this).

The ghost design sweatshirt made itself apparent beneath a pile of green worn ones, and the sight of it almost shocked him. It also made him snort, though, so he picked it from the drawer and threw it on his bed. Why not wear it, right? With his black pants, he would really look like a vigilante. The thought made him laugh lightly, for a reason he didn't know.

Izuku threw it on, and in his numbness, didn't even think about the possible consequences. Sure, the anxieties were there, but they pounded at his consciousness from far away.

It was like, hey, wouldn't it be funny if I wore my 'vigilante uniform'. How cool and fun.

This was probably the bad idea that lead to it all, honestly. Otherwise it would've staled, like an old memory, an old story to laugh about later. But thanks to his insomnia and perfectly-timed late-night depression, Izuku... Well, I'll let you see for yourself.

Another cool, dim night. He had always liked the darkness. Sometimes the light almost burned, but according to Hisashi that was because he was inside too often and was one day away from a recluse. Cold, but not uncomfortably so, and each step grounded him. Hopefully he was tall enough to pass as an adult- he was out way past Japan's curfew for minors.

And then. Of course.

It wasn't just two people this time. No, that would be far too easy. Instead, two adult men and a woman cornered a teen who was glancing around feverishly for an escape in an alley. Whatever they wanted, it wasn't good.

Izuku stopped himself before he jumped in. He knew that if he intervened now, then he wouldn't be able to cease this wannabe-vigilante activity. He wouldn't be able to win against three adults anyway. But... But the teen looked so scared, and there wasn't a hero in sight, and someone needed to do something about this. Izuku was the only person around. And yeah, he didn't have training, but he was pretty proficient with a soup can.

So far he had one plan in battle: find a blunt object, hit someone with it, reap the benefits. So, he did just that.

Blunt object in the form of a rock? Acquired.

Izuku clutched it tight in his fist as he crept up behind the thug most to the back- a woman with greasy yellow hair that looked unnatural. The teen appeared to see him- tired purple eyes widening for a split-second before he smashed his hand into the back of the woman's head.

And... As expected, she dropped, except this time with the added bonus of blood at the back of her head. There was a brief second of pride, then a flash of worry because oh no what if I killed her, and then the other two were turning to him and Izuku realized he should probably be worried for himself.

Because there were two, drunken, fully-grown men ready to beat him up. And there was a kid who was worth more than Izuku who needed to be saved. Really, there was only one option here.

"The f*ck?! The f*ck you doin'? f*ckin' up our buddy like that?! Forget about that kid, we're gonna f*ck you up nice and f*ckin' good!" The man who had spoken's cheeks were ruddy and hung off the bones of his face just slightly. He obviously did not know many words other than 'f*ck'.

The other man, a lithe familiar thing whose face was darkened by shadow, went to drag the friend away. One-against-one, now! There was a significantly less chance of getting f*cking murdered now!

Izuku, stupidly, bared his teeth. His heart was stuttering in his chest and he was terrified but also there was something strange there. A little voice that murmured yes hurt me, break me, kill me, I need to feel something. Some strange anticipation for the pain.

Real fights are not pretty. They are not clear, they are not like dances or ballet. No, real fights are adrenaline-driven feral terrified brawls that leave you fighting dirty and using every f*cking thing in your arsenal. It is blurry, it is unclear, it is unpleasant... Even if this instant wasn't exactly a fight, and more like getting beat up.

And the first punch came before he could quite process it. Pain, something shifting in his nose, that little clicking noise that's followed with more burning. Eyes watering, he brought his hands up to try to do something, but there was another burst of pain in his ribs and he couldn't see through the tears that were wobbling on his lashline in earnest, nose feeling runny and not quite right.

Turning, twisting, blinking, trying to see. Something slammed him against the wall. Pain, slitting and searing, along his back. Aching in his nose. Twinging in his side. Izuku fell, hardly feeling his knees buckle, and then he's wheezing because something has slammed the air out of him without his consent. There was nothing to see because his nose made his eyes water and they wouldn't stop, just figures and shadows and the spinning twirling red red of brick and the dizziness-nauseousness. Someone was yelling, someone else was whimpering, Izuku hurt. He was scrabbling for something, but didn't know what.

There was grit under his fingernails, the ground was dirty and something sliced open his finger, and he was hurting and aching and burning and too much too much not enough not enough too much.

There was a split second of pause, in which Izuku was given enough time to relax, to let his thoughts come back with no, no, no, I need more. Izuku was not a masoch*st, so this was, understandably, confusing. It didn't make sense. It didn't need to, because soon there was more, something kicking at his side, the toe of a fakey pleather boot. He heard someone wheezing again, realized that it was him making that sound, and the man kept kicking in the same place. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just the first hits, but they layer, the pain aching underneath the pain driving underneath the pain burning, and he couldn't escape.

Izuku finally cleared his eyes, and immediately showed his teeth at the man. In school, he would press it down in smile. But now he is allowed to be angry. He is so, so scared, and he is angry, and he hurts.

Immediately there were more enraged sounds, but there was blood roaring in his ears, and he could not make out the words. It was the only warning he got before there was something coming at his face fast. A flinch, instinctive, was not enough to get him out of the way but instead only knocked his head against the hard brick of the wall before a different driving force shoved his head back again.

Izuku has never screamed, as far back as he could remember. Even when he was having a tantrum as a child, the loudest he ever went was a few petulant louder-than-polite complaints or sobs. But now, as the bone-creaking snapping heaving burning registered, blackness crept among the shadows and he wanted to. He ached to scream. Nevertheless the farthest he ever got out of strained vocal cords was a choked whimper, and his skull slammed against the brick with dizzying rate. It was... Blurry. Everything spun, even though he wasn't moving his head, and his eyes couldn't focus. Something wet and warm and strangely sticky was on his face, along with the grit of dirt.

So no, Izuku did not scream. Maybe he lost the ability to, a long time ago.

The man seemed to lose interest after letting out a hearty laugh- yeah, funny joke, beating up a kid. The thought would've made Izuku laugh if it didn't hurt to move. Hurt to breathe. His eyes weren't focusing and it was kind of scary and he felt so nauseous he was afraid he would throw up. But... Strangely, there was a satisfaction in the pain. Well, no. That didn't describe it. It was like not being able to catch your breath after being in danger, and he could breathe better, and there was some sort of tingling in his lungs.

Izuku felt terrible, and he didn't want to be hurt, really. But this feeling drove away the thoughts. This feeling was addictive. That's what they never tell you. That pain, sometimes, is satisfying. Oh, but- was there somebody still here? Yeah, and they were coming closer- oh lord, Izuku wasn't sure if he could handle getting beat up again.

"Um, thank you... For, for distracting them. I, um, can patch you up if you'd like." Izuku blinked a few times, and the blob in front of him became a person- a very tired person with purple hair. They continued to speak while Izuku continued to blink. "I'm, uh, Shinsou Hitoshi. He/him is fine. Do you- agh, sorry, I'll help you up. I have a first aid kit hidden somewhere around here anyway."

Then he came closer, and something in Izuku's skin burned at being touched. He dealt with it as he was forced into a sitting-up position, which made him feel a lot better, actually. Raising a hand to his face and wiping away some liquid; it was red and viscous and smelled like copper. Blood. A bitter laugh burst out of him, making the boy- Shinsou- jump.

He rushed to explain himself, anxiety bubbling up again. "Ah, sorry, just... Thought it was kind of funny, with how familiar I am with blood." That sounded concerning. "Not that it's my blood." That sounded like he was a murderer. "I don't kill people." Izuku stop.

Thankfully, Shinsou only laughed. "Okay then.... Ah! Here it is." From the corner of his eye, Shinsou dug a battered, dirty, and kind of bloody bag from beneath a dumpster. It was brown, but that's all he could really tell until he came closer. Izuku sighed, then remembered he hadn't told his name yet.

"I'm Izuku. Wait, uh, or rather Ghost. Don't tell anyone? Um." Great job, Izuku. Dumbass. Wait, pronouns. Wait, pronouns?? He was a boy, but was he?? Izuku this is not the time to have a gender crisis. "He/him! Yep! That's cool too!" That was awful, Izuku.

Shinsou came closer, and Izuku tried not to flinch as he reached for Izuku's face. Calloused fingers, strange. They made Izuku feel slightly uncomfortable, as nobody had touched him this gently in a long time. They wiped away some blood, but Shinsou didn't look surprised or disgusted in the slightest as he rummaged in the bag (Izuku could now see it was rough-textured, a zip-up ripped thing). "Cool. A vigilante?"

"... No, no no!" Because he wasn't, was he? Izuku could never be a vigilante, those cool lawbreakers that chase adventure and take down villains with ease. Izuku was weak and small and quirkless. "Well... I mean, technically not. The law has some surprising loopholes. Not that I could be a successful crime-fighter anyway." Que a self-deprecating snort and a vague gesture at his pitiful state.

Shinsou hummed in thought as he pulled out an already bloodstained cloth and pressed it to Izuku's nose, letting Izuku take it after he got the gist. "So, an adrenaline chaser? Mood. You should probably learn how to fight though, so that you don't die."

"..... Mhm."

Apparently this was not convincing enough, because Shinsou turned a questioning gaze on him as he removed a small bottle of on-sale rubbing alcohol from his bag. "Do you... Want to die? I mean same, who doesn't, but you probably shouldn't go chasing death. Not like I can stop you though." Shinsou shrugged as he unscrewed the cap and dipped his fingers into the liquid before dabbing it onto the cut on Izuku's face with no sympathy.

It stung worse than when he had actually gotten the cut, but Izuku knew better than to show pain. "Dunno. Let's be honest, in this world though, who wants to be alive anyway."

Shinsou snorted, removing some strangely-shaped bandages from his bag. "Mood."

It was a while before they finished patching him up, using butterfly bandages for the small-yet-deep cuts, some prodding to make sure he didn't have a broken rib (he didn't, thankfully), tips on how to hide and care for a concussion, and the gift of concealer with a scribbled note of the best Youtube videos and Wikihows on how to hide bruises. It was concerning, but they both understood. Sympathy and 'tell someone' did nothing. Shinsou made him promise to give back the concealer when the bruises faded, and scrawled his number underneath the video titles.

When Izuku stood, as well as he could be, there wasn't really a heartfelt goodbye. Maybe an awkward thanks and an even awkward-er you're welcome, but nothing else to be noted. Just the cool night- hours had passed, and it was drawing nearer to four a.m with every minute. They parted, and Izuku began to move painfully back to his house. It was only then that he realized Shinsou hadn't asked for his quirk, and he was quietly thankful.

There was an all-night store open on the corner, and Izuku's mind flashed back to the coins he had began collecting ever since the first day. He must have... What, 7500 yen by now? Maybe he could buy some more concealer or food to stash in his room for when he was too anxious to venture to the kitchen.

It was decided. He dashed into the apartment quickly, got the money from beneath the far corner of the mattress, between the pages of an old geometry book, then dashed back out as quietly as he could (rolling his foot, staying away from the creaky areas, a skill of experience).

In the store, the cashier leant against the counter with exhaustion, smoking a cigarette (even though there was a clear 'no smoking' sign right below them). At least he wouldn't have troubles with that. Dim, sort of dusty, and overall a not very well maintained store. Some of the food were nearing stale, but at least they were half-off.

He picked up a package of granola bars first thing, walking through the aisles. Fruity strawberry Miruko punch! Midnight Midnight melatonin blackberry gummies! Half-off! Buy one get one free! Concealer and a cheap shirt to rip up into cloth and burn cream and duct tape and bandages. A small knife, just under 5.5 centimeters to adhere to the law.

Near the back of the store were frivolous things like toys and costumes. He was about to move past it when a thought hit him- he needed a mask, unless he intended to be recognized everywhere he went.

Princess costumes for little kids; badly-rendered Frankenstein accessories; more dust and ripped 50% off signs. Near the back were medical masks stylized with fake blood or the rare kitsune. Bright colours and brighter designs, all slightly painful and all of them either for little kids or for slu*tty adults. It was almost comical; watching the fabric slowly melt off the costumes as he got closer to the more 'adult' section.

All of them did not work for what he wanted.

Yeah, there were the fancy words for it, but they all were just... Used for Halloween. Which was strange, actually, because it was June (just how long ago was this store last cleaned??)... But that was besides the point. Izuku was not looking for his vigilante gear- no, not vigilante, he wasn't a vigilante- to look like some wannabe Frankenstein.

Just as he turned, about to leave with the rest of his things, he saw it.

No, it wasn't a moment of shoujo manga this is the one. There wasn't any particular feeling in his chest that drew him to the mask, nor any particular thoughts. It was just that he hadn't seen any black masks, only white ones, and in a last-hurrah sort of effort he decided to look closer.

And of course it was perfect, because why wouldn't it be?

A medical mask, all in black, with one small stylized red spider lily in the bottom right corner. Nothing too special, perhaps used for ghost costumes. (The wording made Izuku snort, because he was technically making a Ghost costume.) He picked it up sort of in an indifferent way. Like, oh, this would be perfect, but without any emotion to it. Just added it to the pile in his arms and went up to the counter.

Goodbye to a whole 7400 yen.

Hello to a whole bunch of new supplies.

And as Izuku left the store, he realized that this 'vigilante' gig would not be a one-time thing.


Spotify playlist :

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 5: Izuku Gets In A Lot Of Trouble


Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting nothing, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting everything. -Sylvia Plath

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Another day.

Hot, the smell of concrete and metal. It was edging towards summer, and therefore summer break- beginning July 20th, only a month or so away. Then the second semester, lasting until December, and then... UA. The thought made Izuku shiver (even in the heat), staring out the window into blue sky with something tingling under his lungs. Excitement? Anxiousness? He didn't know- he had never been good at naming his emotions.

The big building, the teachers- pro heroes as teachers, Izuku would definitely faint- and even the students were glamorous, sparkling, almost otherworldly to Izuku in how removed they were from everyday life. Almost celebrities, even though practically everyone dreamed of going to UA, and practically everyone were rejected. But still, Izuku couldn't wait. There was some naive hope that he would actually succeed, with All Might's power, and-


Oh, no.

Bakugou slammed one burning hand down onto the table, smell of smoke and burnt plastic rising unpleasantly (the desks weren't wood, fortunately, which made them easier to clean up. Instead they were the sort of fake wood pattern that all schools seem to have). With a sneer, he got up in Izuku's face- and Izuku caught the second when he saw it.

Okay, but before you blame Izuku, this was the first time he had ever used concealer. How was he supposed to know it rubbed off during the day, or that it apparently didn't look the same in different lighting? At home it looked fine! Sure, there was still the bandage on his cheek, because concealer couldn't cover wounds, but it was small enough-!

Unfortunately though, Bakugou saw the cut on his cheek and looked further, to the barely-covered bruises that were purplish and blackening the underside of his left eye and the cheek on that side. Then his gaze ventured to Izuku's neck, and the slight burn from the alley ground that hadn't quite healed up and was still the tiniest bit red. Izuku's hands, covered in a few plasters.

Izuku saw the moment he drew a conclusion, and what scared him was he wasn't sure what the conclusion was. Bakugou just sort of stood, silent (for once) and looking a bit more shocked than angry, before irritably plonking down in his seat. The sky didn't seem so blue anymore, and he looked down at his hands instead of out of the window.

School went by as normal, unfortunately- being kicked and tripped and et cetera, which hurt that much more because they kept getting the bruises, ow. Normal, normal, normal... Although. Bakugou kept glancing sidelong at Izuku, squinting and glaring and then looking away whenever Izuku met his gaze. It was strange, but not exactly unpleasant? At least he wasn't complaining about Izuku bouncing his leg 24/7.

As said before, the day was normal. Until Bakugou accosted him after school- well, actually, this wasn't that unusual. The unusual fact about it was that he didn't bring any cronies, and he didn't speak up until Izuku questioned him.

"Um.... Hi?"

This was usually an expression that would get him blown up for daring to speak down to his betters. But today, Bakugou only clenched his hands into fists and glared at the nearest inanimate object (in this case, a nub of pencil laying just underneath the legs of a desk).

Izuku was about to awkwardly start packing up his stuff again, but Bakugou mumbled something before he could. "What? Sorry, it was... Quiet..." Great job Izuku.

"f*cking--!" As expected, Bakugou started yelling. But unexpectedly, he stopped himself and took a deep breath. What, was he taking anger management classes now? "I just wanted to sh*tty f*cking ask you if your f*cking dad was being an asshole. I've seen him with Auntie, and I've seen your bruises. I'm not stupid."

Izuku's head spun. "Uh...... What?"

Obviously this wasn't the right answer, because Bakugou's expression twisted into a sour sneer. "Fine! f*cking look down on me! I should've known, sh*tty Deku. Your dad can kill you for all I care."

Abruptly he turned on his heel and stomped out of the room, and Izuku was left reeling. Was this his way of apologizing for telling Izuku to kill himself? Was this some Bakugou way of telling him he cared? Whatever it was, Izuku was just glad it was over, and he focused on slinging his bag over his shoulder and speed-walking through the halls so he wouldn't be late to his training with All Might.

Tacks in his shoes- again. The walk to the beach was long and hot, but Izuku did not dare roll up his sleeves for fear of bruises showing. Every step ached just a little, and he reveled in the pain. It pushed away the thoughts, it pushed away everything. Izuku had heard of self-harm, of course, and he knew it was bad. But this didn't count. It was just pushing a little harder, it was just 'accidentally' pressing against the darker bruises.

He was fine. It didn't matter. And it wasn't as if anybody commented on i-

"Midoriya, my boy, are you alright?!"

Not again.

Pulling up a smile that stretched his bruise a little and almost made him cringe, Izuku tried not to flinch as Toshinori got closer. "Yeah! I was just training with my friend, Kacchan. Sorry for worrying you." Bring a hand up to rub the back of your neck, smile a bit wider, and cringe in good-natured sheepishness. Then the subject will drop. Izuku knew this game well.

But Toshinori did not follow the script when he leaned in a bit to see more of Izuku's face. "Well, he got a nice hit.... But, my boy..." At this the skeletal man grabbed Izuku lightly by the shoulders, seriously. "Come to me if you're ever hurt or in danger, okay? I might not be as strong as I used to be, but if someone's trying to hurt you...."

Izuku's heart warmed just a little bit with that admission. His mouth twitched upwards at the sides in an approximation of a smile, and though he was already planning to lie, it was just a little bit-

"As my successor, I cannot have any harm come to you. You know that, my boy." Toshinori's tone was soft, and he set a big gentle hand on Izuku's shoulder, but already he had internalized the words 'as my successor'.

Of course. Of course he would be worried, the only reason Izuku isn't expendable is because he has been sold to the centuries-old slave trade of One For All. Why would a man like All Might actually worry about a boy like Izuku? It didn't matter.

He just smiled, and made a joke, because it was a habit at this point- "Ah, can I really know anything with you turning me into a brainless jock? Can practically feel the brain cells being converted into muscle."
Flexing one arm dramatically and patting it, Izuku stole a glance at Toshinori, who was now smiling and shaking his head in friendly exasperation.

Goal achieved.

The rest of the training went as planned, other than the times when bruises and wounds hit something and he had to hide a wince with some comment or another. Sand got everywhere, too, but that was not outside of the norm. Izuku could tell Toshinori wasn't fully convinced that he was okay- worried glances with bright blue eyes whenever the pain was just a bit too much to hide- but he didn't comment.

If you thought that was the end of the weirdness for that day, you are entirely wrong, my friend. Because fate does not spread out experiences within months, or years. It largely just throws all the misfortune at you before you can duck and hopes it breaks something. Izuku knew this fact already, but apparently not well enough.

Guess who's having intrusive thoughts at three AM, for the second time in a row?

Izuku stared aimlessly at the ceiling, fed up with all the little intrusive thought goblins that kept existing. There were the usuals- useless, worthless, you should just jump off a bridge- and then the new ones. The new ones said 'you can feel better for just a small price'. And the small price was not 1.99.

'Get hurt. It's easy. You're technically helping people, it's a win-win, you'll feel better-'

Izuku was not strong enough to resist.

The ghost sweatshirt had not been washed yet, along with a small pile of his clothes that kept rising (even though he kept promising himself he would wash it later). This was fine. It was. He just threw it on with the pants and the newly-acquired mask, even tugging on the spider lily socks to keep his whole appearance concise.

Wait oh my god fingerprints, can't they find out who you are with your fingerprints?

The only gloves he owned were some cotton black ones for winter, which were not very fashionable but better than nothing. Add some battered red shoes, grab his new knife, and off Izuku went into the night, in his full vigilante gear for the first time.

This was a terrible idea, and Izuku knew it. But adrenaline kills the pain, and pain kills the thoughts, so... Why not? Besides, it wasn't technically against the law, so the only real danger here was dying. And Izuku wasn't very afraid of that.

Nevertheless. There was less action tonight, a calm-clear sort of nothingness that was so much better than the staled too-small suffocating warmth of his bedroom. Streetlights burned stark against the black of the sky, lighting up so he could hardly see the stars. Only the pollution. Only the dying air.

There were no cries for help, at first. Izuku had to walk around for a bit, and then longer than a bit, with his feet beginning to ache and his side twinging with every step. Somehow it was not enough (enough of what?), and he scratched at the back of his hand idly until the skin was red.

It should've been creepy to walk along decrepit alleyways at nearing three-thirty AM. But in the place of adrenaline was numbness, the same type that made you turn your back to the shadows as a child because you didn't care if the monsters grabbed you anymore.
Not caring about the monsters only leads to caring when they actually show.

And this was true with Izuku, too- for the very first sound of the night was not a scream. Instead, the choked-off whimper of a small girl as she ran headlong into his shins was somehow even more terrible.

Her silver hair streaked down her back, oily and dirty. And when she looked up at him, it was with cherry red eyes. A dirty grey dress almost covered dirtier bandages that made anger spark at whoever hurt her. Another whimper, a flinch at their eye contact, and Izuku finally rebooted and took charge of the situation.
"Hey, sweetie..." He whispered to her, glancing over the top of her head to see if there were any pursuers. "You alright?"

She vehemently shook her head, little tears glistening in her eyes before she blinked them away. "I don't wanna go back." Her voice was quieter than his.
Izuku ushered her to the nearest alleyway that looked somewhat safe, then kneeled down to be on her level. This was how this worked, right? This was how you were supposed to talk to kids? Did he look suspicious? "Okay. Why don't you want to go back?"

The girl paused, looking behind her, then leaned close to Izuku's ear to whisper in that childish way. "Father breaks me and then he makes me better then he breaks me again. It hurts and I- I don't wanna. I don't wanna!" The yelling kind of hurt, but he paid no attention to that. Instead, the words...

Izuku's heart caught in his throat. "What's your name, sweetheart?"

"... Eri."

"Well, Eri, I'm Ghost. And I'm going to make sure that-"

A man stepped into the mouth of the alley, glaring and masked. Normally Izuku wouldn't question this, as many quirks modify the body and a beak isn't too uncommon, but today it somehow set him off. The man started towards Eri but Izuku quickly shifted in front of her. The man scoffed.

"Excuse me, that's my daughter. Eri, it's time to go. You're done playing, aren't you?" He fiddled with one of his gloves, taking it on and off, and flitted his eyes between Izuku and Eri. A threat, perhaps? Gloves, so probably a five-finger contact quirk, that... Deconstructed at will? Then why would he have gloves? The look? Or perhaps, with the mask- a germaphobe? No, wait! Focus on the situation, Izuku!

Immediately Eri darted towards him, but Izuku quickly spoke. "Ah, wait. I was just saying goodbye, we got to know each other pretty well when we were looking for you!"

The man nodded apprehensively, and that was all Izuku needed to dart forwards and quickly speak next to Eri's ear, quickly and quietly enough to not be heard. "I'm going to make sure that you get away from him. I'm going to save you. You're going to be saved, Eri, so don't lose hope."

When he drew away, her eyes were filled with tears again, and hopefully those were happy tears, but he was never that good at reading emotions, especially little kid emotions, oh god. She hugged him though, so probably they were good tears. Hopefully. What are emotions.

Then, with a cheeky wave that was far too sinister, Eri and her asshole father were gone.

Izuku paused for a time, trying to decide whether or not to go after them, but by the time he had decided to watch from a distance they were gone. The experience was jarring, so out-of-place that some part of his mind believed it was not real. As soon as that thought graced his mind he quickly sought to prove it wrong, and in doing so found a length of bandage laying just a few inches from the darkened wall.

How did it fall? No matter. With no reason for doing so other than a primal urge alike to a magpie collecting shiny tidbits, Izuku scooped up the bandage with some sickness below his stomach and tucked it into the pocket of his sweatshirt. He had made the girl- Eri- a promise. And perhaps this would help him remember it.

Still, he hadn't gotten to use the knife. He hadn't gotten to do anything, really, that helped anyone. In fact, Izuku just sent a girl back to her tormentor. What type of vigilante...? A jaw-clenching self-hatred bubbled in his chest like frustration, and there was that urge, to slam his hand into the side of his head or to... To do something, he was sure, like tapping his hand against a surface, but there was no surface and Hisashi said that only stupid people, only autistic people flapped their hands (said like an insult, like always, and Izuku knew it wasn't but...).

It didn't MATTER. It was fine. He was fine. He slammed that stupid, idiotic urge into a box and locked it and threw it away. It was all his imagination, wanting to be special, deku that he was. Izuku growled just slightly at himself, the hatred welling up again. And now he had gotten distracted from the Eri situation again!

He didn't deserve to be aliv-

No. No. It's fine. Everything's okay.

As he began to walk back to his house, fiddling with the knife in his pocket, there was something... Different. Not the suffering and sadness, that was a constant. No, it felt like he was being watched.
Of course. Because Izuku didn't already have enough on his plate.

Sighing at the prickling on the back of his neck, Izuku spoke to whoever. Maybe there was nobody there. It didn't matter anyway. Numbness took the place of everything else except perhaps exasperation. "Whoever it is, just do your worst. I have a knife, but let's be honest, I'll probably just drop it or something. So beat me up or kill me or whatever the f*ck."

A tiny swishing of fabric behind him, the noise of something (someone?) hitting the ground, and the vibrations in the ground from a force hitting it that he could feel through his feet. Then someone spoke, in a voice that was low and rough and strangely gentle. "That's dark. What makes you think I'm going to kill you, kid? It's past curfew for you, isn't it?"

Turning around, Izuku surveyed the man. Tall, close to six feet if he was to guess. Messy black hair, with some sort of scarf around his neck (no, not the right material, perhaps a weapon?), a dark jumpsuit. Underground hero, probably. Izuku had gotten into them after the All Might Incident, and after he realized that aboveground didn't mean better. Who, though? He looked familiar, so he had probably seen him in a photo. Quirk? Impossible to tell so far, although maybe something with sight judging by the goggles. Paralyzing? Magnetic? Maybe-

"You can stop mumbling. It's Eraserhead. And you didn't answer my questions."

Izuku flushed, scratching harshly at the top of his wrist. He thought he got rid of that habit! But now his mind clicked. Eraserhead, quirk- Erasure. Can 'erase' any quirk within line of sight without blinking. Can go without blinking for six minutes, decreasing since age 26 at a rate of .36 seconds per year- "S-sorry. I thought you were going to kill me because I'm stupid and paranoid. And as of two minutes ago, it turned 4 AM, so technically I am not past curfew, sir."

Eraserhead (or Aizawa Shouta, according to fan blog #440832, never confirmed officially, but Izuku had researched and done a few questionably legal things) rolled his eyes, but one side of his mouth twitched. Happiness? Amusem*nt? Irritation? Anxiety? Was it-
"Yeah, yeah. I'll give you the benefit of doubt, as I haven't technically seen you do anything illegal yet. As it's the middle of the night, I'll do my best to escort you home without stopping to do anything unsavory- unless you'd prefer to spend the night in a jail cell instead?"

Oh, right. He was still wearing his mask, which probably looked really suspicious. But he couldn't let Eraserhead see where he lived! That would give up his identity, and... Ugh. Izuku would have to run from a hero.

"See, that sounds fun, Aizawa Shouta, but I'd rather not. Thanks though! And sorry!" And with that Izuku was running as fast as his legs would take him, adrenaline spurring his feet further and further. Wait, he was running towards his house anyway! Damn.

Eraserhead was obviously in pursuit, but not working as hard as Izuku to keep up. There was still the head start, but he was a hero for god's sake, and- oh. He couldn't possibly outrun him, but if he hid, or something got in Eraserhead's way...

Immediately Izuku started to pick up objects and chuck them behind him without looking. This was a terrible idea. This was a terrible idea. He was going to die, or even worse, be exiled by All Might (again). Heck heck heck- and then he tripped, because of course.

You're wondering what he tripped on? He tripped on his own f*cking feet. Yep. In this wonderful chase, Izuku tripped on his own feet, because running from bullies was not the same as running from pro heroes. As expected, a length of capture cloth wrapped around his leg (special hair-lined fabric to appeal to the maternal subtrait of telekenesis in Eraser's quirk-). And because Izuku was Izuku, he allowed himself to panic for exactly 2.4 seconds before creating a plan.

Alright. Knife. I have a knife. I need to escape. I don't know if this will cut through cloth. Wait, heroes care about kids, right? I need to pretend. I'm good at pretending, like class clown, but... Right. Sympathy is a good angle, as Eraserhead is the teacher of class 1-A, meaning he cares about kids at least a little. How can I escape, though? How can I get sympathy... OH. Great idea. Stab self, get sympathy, run while he calls a hospital. I see no way this can go wrong.

Meanwhile Eraserhead looked extremely exasperated, reeling in Izuku like you would a particularly hard-to-get fish. "You going to run again?"

Izuku had read about body language a while ago. He scrunched in his shoulders, looked down at his shoes, and tried to conjure tears to his eyes. Dead puppies, useless deku, failure, mom would be happier without you. The telltale prickle of almost-crying, then with a little nudging, salty drops wobbled on his lower lashes. Hell yeah.

"... Kid. If you don't have a home, you can tell me. I'm a pro hero- I can get you somewhere safe to stay." He sighed, and Izuku slid his hands into his hoodie pocket casually. The knife was right there. Hopefully it didn't make a suspicious shape in the fabric.

Izuku shrugged and looked away. "I don't..." Quick, make up a story. Uh, sh*t, first thing that comes to mind- "I was kicked out, okay? But it's fine. I don't need a place to stay. It's... It's fine." Diversion, diversion. Like card tricks- divert the attention from where the real magic is happening. He was pretty sure he read that somewhere. Slowly, slowly, the knife clicked open, but Izuku spoke over it. "I don't need a place to stay."

Evidently this worked well enough, because Eraserhead was pinching the bridge of his nose, letting the capture weapon loosen the slightest bit. "Why were you kicked out, then?"

f*ck. Uh, first thing that comes to mind... "I'm not a boy." Wait, wait, why was that the first thing that came to mind, Izuku stop, Izuku no. "As in not the traditional one! I mean that as in I like boys." No, wait, that's not good either, f*ck, uh. "And girls! Everyone. Platonically. And, y'know. That's not okay to them?" That was terrible. But at least the knife was out, and the cold metal touched his skin, the point sharp, and oh god he was really doing this.

"... Hm. You're staying somewhere, then? No need for intervention?"

Digging the tip of the knife into his skin was a lot more painful than he needed it to be, but he didn't drag it any deeper, just in case he really would be let off. "... Yep."

Eraserhead's eyes narrowed. "Then what's in your pocket? And how did you know my name?" The last part was hissed, and with a quick maneuver that Izuku couldn't quite react to, his arms were ripped out of their pocket. A sliding, paper-cut, deep burning nerve bleeding pain sprung from his left wrist. Red painted down the side, pretty pretty jewl tones that he shouldn't be appreciating, shouldn't be getting this breath-catching feeling from.

"Ah... Yeah, that was a knife, and I was practicing- uh, acupuncture-"

Eraserhead stared at him with a half-concerned, half-exasperated look. "You're bleeding. Probably hit a vein- stay right there. It will definitely get infected on the streets, and you have yet to tell me how you know my name."

Izuku nodded, trying to look miserable as Eraserhead turned away and began to dial the hospital.

Immediately he slipped his hands around the capture weapon, bracing the part that Eraser was holding on to with one hand to keep the telltale vibrations to a minimum, and quickly unwrapped himself with adrenaline thrumming through his veins like a bunch of wasps (and spilling out his wrist, goddamn that hurt). Once he was free, he ran like a bat out of hell.

Running quietly is a f*cking bitch, if you've never tried it before. While you're still close to the person you're trying to run away from, you have to kind of roll your foot and step with your weight in a specific way, avoiding rocks and cracks, being as silent as possible until you're out of their range of hearing, and then sprinting.

About that, too. Your legs burn, and your breath rips out of your throat like cold fire. Sweat drenches and it's exaustion, but that specific exaustion. The cold numbs your limbs if you're running in the cold, though, which Izuku actually liked better than running in the heat. His feet felt swollen and aching from hitting the ground, and he had a side stitch and it actually burned to keep running, and his arm was literally dripping blood.

Cold air, cold cold cold, somehow burning his ears, and the heaving of his lungs that hurt his ribs and his throat that was too dry, sprinting and something twisted in his foot but he kept running even though it was shifting and it hurt. He hardly knew which direction he was running in, but there- a familiar alleyway.

He collapsed in it, heaving and coughing on air, nose running and arm getting numb at the fingertips. Skin felt swollen somehow from the exercise, growing uncomfortably warm now with adrenaline and blood rush.

Of course it was then that someone else ducked into the alley.

Purple hair, breathing just as heavily as Izuku but more controlled, and they slid down the wall into a sitting position before noticing him.

It was Shinsou.


This would be interesting.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 6: The Months In Between


Touch and feel the skin atop your skull to test the limits and extremities of where this canvas comes to rest. -MAG165, ########-5

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"So. Now that I've wrapped your arm in questionably sanitary cloth, you gonna tell me what happened? But don't expect me to always be your personal nurse, dumbass. I still want my concealer back."

Izuku grinned and laughed a little at that, tilting his head up to see the sky. "Yeah, yeah. Sorry about still not texting you, I left my phone under the couch and my dad fell asleep and I was too nervous to reach under there and-. Yeah. Doesn't matter, I have it now, but it's dead and charging, so... Y'know. Why are you looking at me like that?"

The aforementioned 'look' that Shinsou was giving him didn't really have a word. Well, Izuku was sure that it did probably, but he couldn't be bothered with knowing it. The look was a combination of a slight head-tilt, mouth curved minusculey up at one side (which was strange because Izuku read somewhere that lopsided smiles actually had to be forced, at least until habitual). Positive, definitely, but not.... Hm. Amusem*nt?

With a quick fixing of his features though, Shinsou blinked innocently with no hint of smile. "I don't know what you mean. And thank you for the detailed explanation that I didn't really need about your phone."

Izuku flushed slightly, indignant. "Whatever. Anyway, I was out 'cause I couldn't sleep, and then I ran into this little girl with an abusive father. I'm going to report something to the police, probably, but for now the only evidence I have is a small length of bandage. Gonna figure that out later. But, um, anyway, then I ran into Eraserhead. Augh, you probably don't know who he is, but-"

"You ran into the Eraserhead." Shinsou's eyes were sparkling when Izuku looked to him, slightly surprised but altogether pleased.

"Yeah! You know him?"

Shinsou makes a noise, eyes widened, which must've meant of course. "He's my favourite hero."

"Mine is All-... Hmm. Well, I just found out about Eraserhead like a few months ago, and it's not really a favourite hero if you don't know everything about them, right? I'm always afraid if I claim someone is my favourite hero without knowing everything about them then someone will say I'm not a real fan. So I'm waiting until I know everything to announce him as-"

Shinsou waved him off with a lazy smile. "I get it. Me too. And I would love to geek out about heroes with you-" ("It's not geeking out!") "-But we need to take care of your arm. I admit, I panicked a bit when I first saw you bleeding out, and just some cloth is not the greatest way to take care of it. Continue explaining while I fix you up, will you?"

"... I have one question."

"Shoot." Shinsou slipped his backpack off, and Izuku noticed some pins on it. A hexagonal one, rainbow, depicting a cat who was also rainbow. Beautiful. And new, by the look of it.

"Why do you always carry around a first aid kit?!"

He pulled out the same brown case that was used before and stared at Izuku with a blank-ish look. "It's four A.M. I'm out in the cold with a backpack. Draw your own conclusions. Plus, I tend to get hurt a lot." The last thing was said with a self-deprecating smile, the type that shows an inside joke with yourself.

Shinsou didn't give Izuku time to ponder this, though, because soon he was pulling out a small tube of something, and beginning to unwrap the makeshift bandages on Izuku's arm. "Anyway, you didn't finish. What happened with Eraserhead?"

So Izuku explained, while Shinsou poured some uncomfortably-cold bottled water over the arm, then wiped it off best he could before unscrewing the cap of the small tube. This was when Izuku got to the part of the story where he was planning to stab himself, and Shinsou very rudely interjected.

"You stabbed yourself. You stabbed yourself-"

Izuku let out a small squawk and shook his head vehemently. "Look, no, it's, it wasn't like that. It was a logical solution to get out of the situation, using a hero's natural sense of sympathy against them, and it was just a little stab-"

The other boy sighed. "Izuku, first of all, the phrase 'just a little stab' sounds at least ten times more unhinged than you think it does. And second of all, you shouldn't be turning to... Ugh, I hate this phrase, but 'self harm', to escape situations. I get that it was your first thought, but please try to find another solution that doesn't involve stabbing yourself. If only so that I don't have to apply liquid suture again."

Izuku didn't give an answer, but it didn't seem like one was expected. They sat in somewhat companionable silence while Shinsou squeezed some of the glue-like stuff onto Izuku's arm, which was still sluggishly bleeding, then holding the edges of it closed. When he finally took his hands away, Shinsou looked up at him with a tired-yet-curious gaze.

"What're you going to do about the girl? And when?"

With a little self-deprecating snort, Izuku shrugged weakly. "You know, I'm not very cut out for this. I'm just going to try and find out more about the guy and his quirk, and then give the information to the police. Maybe by then I'll be a good enough fighter to actually join, y'know?"

"You better learn how to fight. I'm not gonna be your nurse forever." Shinsou said, screwing the top to the liquid suture back on with a grin. His canines were pointier than the average smile, and it gave a feral tinge to the whole affair, somehow endearing.

Izuku simply rolled his eyes, but his lips, too, turned up against his will.

The arm hurt bad for weeks afterward, and it was surprisingly hard to keep it covered at all times. Changing at home, showers, locker rooms. There was a rumor that he had tried to kill himself, probably from this very wound, but he hadn't been gone from school so everyone assumed that was all it was. A rumor. Bakugou sometimes stared at him strangely when he pulled down his sleeves nervously, but nobody spoke up. He was thankful.

And just as Shinsou had suggested, Izuku started to learn how to fight. He probably could've asked Inko for martial arts classes, but he was afraid of wasting their money, especially on something that wasn't necessary. So on Youtube he searched for the most legit-looking ones, checking and double-checking from different sources and mixing a few styles. There were even some videos with tips on street-fighting, which turned out to be doubly helpful. Sometimes he roped Shinsou into sparring with him, but he and All Might were already working on fighting, so this was just another reason to practice.

Eraserhead was a dilemma, too. Sometimes the figure would be watching in the distance like a rip-off batman, ready to protect the night from villains. Sometimes he wouldn't be seen for weeks at a time. But as Izuku grew better at fighting, he also grew better at finding his way around in the night. The police were a lot more competent than the civilians would like to think, and a lot of the time Izuku found himself running from them. Maps of alleyways that were as familiar as his own home grew in his head, and soon he knew the surrounding area fairly well. Some fights he lost, a small portion he won, but mostly he distracted the criminal until the victim could get away and the police could show up. Oh, and he kept running into street cats, who were getting more comfortable around him because he kept feeding them.

About Eri? He kept the bandages as a sort of reminder as he went on a deep-dive within the internet, finding some questionable sources and other even-more-questionable sources. The important thing was this: Eri's father was called Overhaul. And Overhaul happened to be very powerful. Izuku was pretty sure he ran some gang from the look of it, but the information was too dicey at that point to take it for granted. There still wasn't enough information for the police.

Another article on Ghost showed up. Toshinori tried to make small talk about it and Izuku almost had a heart attack. But another thing on Toshinori, something that happened just a week or two after the Stabby Incident.

Izuku sat alone on a bench near the beach right before practice, early morning light with a slightly ethereal quality to it. Staining the ocean red, then orange, then a pale, pale dawn blue. The birds had just begun to sing, shrill high calls in short staccato bursts that accompanied the small blue-winged magpies that landed alight in each tree. It was warm for early morning, though not uncomfortably so.

And on that wooden bench Izuku shifted, arm itching as Toshinori sat beside him. "Hello, my boy," he said quietly. He had become a lot quieter after noticing how Izuku flinched at loud noises, though whether this was good or not was to be decided. "I wanted to ask you about something, if you wouldn't mind?"

Izuku laughed softly, cinnamon freckles scrunching up in a smile. "Of course not. What's up?" Casual, easy. Conversation had become like this, and there was some fondness there.

"Well... You always seem to have long sleeves, even in the summer. Now, I don't mean to assume, of course," he paused to cough lightly into an already-bloodstained handkerchief, "But, ah... How do I say this... Oftentimes people with wounds on their arms cover them up with fabric. Do you...?"

There was something in his tone that was caring, soft. Like someone trying to coax an alley cat into eating. There was something in his tone that made Izuku want to tell the truth, and was there really any option? He wouldn't lie to All Might. It was arrogant to think he was even able to.

So he pulled up his sleeves and showed the undersides, then the tops, of each one. Toshinori's gaze caught and settled on the scabbing wound on his left arm. Long, deep, tapered on either end. Nearly reaching from elbow to the bottom of his thumb. Yellowing bruises lay underneath, but those go unnoticed in favor of it.

"Young Midoriya..." His voice was sad, concerned, and quickly Izuku shook his head before another person could think he tried to kill himself.

He ducked his head sheepishly in a way that Inko used to say was cute. "I know, I know. It just looks bad! I was getting ready to chop something up, and then my friend decided he wanted the knife, and... Well, I slipped. Ugh, it sounds so stupid now that I'm saying it! We went to the hospital though, got a liquid suture and all that. It's fine now, long as I don't injure it any longer while it's healing."

It was sort of true if you looked at it from the right angle. He was getting ready to chop something up, which just happened to be his own arm. Aizawa did decide to take the knife from him, and technically, Izuku did slip...

Izuku made himself frown, rubbing the back of his neck. "Sorry for not telling you, I thought it was fine..."

"No, no!" Immediately Toshinori shook his head. "It's fine. I'm sorry for being suspicious, my boy." He smiled gently, and Izuku wished he felt bad for lying, but in reality he felt nothing at all.

Maybe it was the apathy. He hoped it was.
Otherwise, the months went by smoothly. He got a lot stronger, muscles swelling underneath skin that was just a little too tight around his ribs. They would've been bigger if he had been able to stick to the diet that All Might outlined, but for now it was all he could do to stomach down a meal a day without gagging it up again from anxiousness or over-exercising.

And Shinsou? They never really talked about home lives, or anything important. Sometimes, at three AM when they were both awake and Izuku was too badly hurt to go out, they texted. About cats, owls, memes, food, books, and everything in between. It was... Nice to have someone see his real self. Not the suffocating class clown mask that still tried to wink when he was pushed down stairs.

Night, day, night, day, night, day. Detentions, glares, being yelled at by Hisashi and mostly forgotten about by Inko. Was Hisashi getting meaner or was that just him? Day, night, day, night, day, night. Darkness became a comfort instead of a fear, because it was the only place he was allowed to be his truest and deepest self. Bruises and cuts and fractured ribs, burns and paralysis and learning the hard way how to do first aid on any sort of wound. Night, day, night, day, night, day-
And suddenly, the entrance exam was two days from now.

And suddenly, All Might was standing in front of him, grinning in that iconic way. It was late afternoon, and the sun was just beginning to dip lower in the sky. All Might reached out a hand that Izuku could hardly keep himself from flinching away from, and then the golden hair became apparent.

One single strand, spun gold, shimmering in the almost-sunset darkening sky. Izuku was confused, but his brain began to work overtime to provide a reason for this. Is he going to make a joke? Maybe it's serious, like his hair is falling out because of his stomach. That can happen, right?

"Eat this!"

"... What?"

All Might coughed into his palm and shifted back into Toshinori, wheezing for a few moments before straightening back up. "One For All is passed down through DNA. Didn't I mention that...? Ah. Suppose not, then. You're going to have to eat my hair, unless you prefer to explore the culture of cannibalism through history."

Quickly Izuku shook his head, a sick feeling climbing in his gut, even as he remembered the articles he read. Supposedly it tastes like pork, although I would not like to think about that anymore. "The- the hair is fine, thank you."

Izuku would like to think he isn't a very picky eater. After all, there were people starving, and who was he to refuse potatoes just because the texture made him gag? When Inko and Hisashi had spared money on it? But this was undeniably disgusting, even as he forced his face to stay still as he placed it in his mouth... Just in case Toshinori thought he was being ungrateful.
Have you ever tried to swallow a hair? It takes a while to go down, the scratchy uncomfortable feeling, with (thankfully) no taste to speak of. Just that awful tickling in the back of your throat and the urge to pick it out. All Might's hair was no different, even if he was the number one hero. Izuku just hoped Toshinori was in the habit of taking showers on a regular basis.

But in the end, he didn't feel any different.

"Um... I don't-"

Toshinori cut him off with a laugh. "You don't feel anything? That's normal. It'll take a few hours for you to digest it, and we can begin practicing tomorrow. For now, just make sure not to throw it up!"

With another swallow to get rid of the phantom hair on the back of his throat, Izuku tried not to look as terrified as he felt.


We now have a spotify playlist, friends! I can't do the link embed thing, but here-

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 7: Izuku And The Fortress Of Trust Issues


Even sharper than the joy of becoming is the agony of being opened and remade. To have your who torn bloody from your what, and another crudely lashed into its place. -MAG101

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

The first time he felt the quirk, it was bright.

It felt bright, beneath his skin a torrent of lightning and terrible sparks screeching out like vultures overhead.

The energy in his skin grew, twisted vine-like. There was no way to really accurately describe it. Izuku could never have had a quirk before, so this? This? This was awful, and it was amazing, and it was everything in between.

Beauty and terror balanced on a knife's edge.

It was at night when it came in. Insomnia and that special three-am feeling that was slightly unreal and unplaced. Izuku just lay there, fingertips tingling; ignorant of what would come. First there was warmth in his stomach, like swallowing ice cubes or too-hot tea. It spread out to his fingertips- numbness, but that certain comforting type- and then down to his toes. Warmth, warmth, and it felt like he could breathe a little better. Like he could stand a little easier. Stronger. Firm and stable.

But that wasn't where it ended. It became... Hot. Warmer than warm, still with that special comforting feeling there, but now painful. Each thought hurt, screaming, almost-tangible ripping in the way his skin burned and pulled. It hurt. It hurt, it hurt, it was like the weight of everything in his chest but reversed in some real, terrible way.

Somebody had turned his skin inside out, but Izuku stayed still, writhing on the sheets silently. His mind was on fire and he was trying not to whimper in a little animalistic way. The surroundings blurred, but he had read about how to suppress pain, and now he tried to keep it in his mind.

It was... The world, sort of became distant. Dissociating. Izuku knew this, he knew it intimately, but now... He dissociated from himself. He made his mind separate from his body and he made it a whole different thing. Sensation was centuries away, and though he felt like he was dying, it was a little bit better.

His ears rang after a little of this. It was numb. It was terrifying. At some points he felt like he was dying and tried not to scream, forcing bed-sheets into his jaw and clamping down because noise was not safety, noise was a pain of its own ilk and Izuku did not know what to do. If someone, specifically Hisashi, saw him like this...

It didn't matter. Because soon, blissfully, almost suddenly, it was over. It was over and Izuku didn't feel like he was second away from killing himself or dying once again. It felt better. The sighing of relief, the whimpering of bones creaking as they settled back into place.

But now the strength was gone, too, and the warmth, the comfort. Izuku wanted it back. But he didn't know how to get it back. He didn't know how to recover that feeling, and it made him want to die because it was the best he had ever felt. There was something inside his muscles that could help him, but he didn't know how to get to it again, and the thought made him want to cry. Or hit something. Or get hit.

Izuku would've gone out vigilante-ing. But he couldn't, because he didn't want to be sleep-deprived tomorrow when they were training the quirk. (One For All. Not his quirk, never his. Just one passed down out of pity and necessity, he reminded himself for the thousandth time.)

But he knew what made him feel better. Pain. Izuku wanted pain, and he wanted it to be gone, and he wanted to feel better.

It wasn't self-harm. It wasn't. (He knew from the beginning that it was, but lying to yourself is healthy, right? Right?) It was just little pinches, and then when that wasn't enough, Izuku brought his wrist to his mouth with little hesitation and bit down. Bite, bite, bite. Deeper. He didn't know how it still wasn't bleeding, but the good part was that it wouldn't form a scab and he would still be able to wear short sleeves tomorrow.
Yeah! So it was fine. It wasn't actually self-harm. Izuku was fine and he was fine and he was fine, even as he looked at his tooth-marked arm in the dim moonlight from his window and thought. That isn't as disgusting as I thought it'd be. He didn't mind it. (And not minding something is the first step to accepting it, you know.)

The morning he woke up, he didn't feel bad. But he didn't exactly feel good, either. It was the specific sort of numbness that came with sparkles beneath his lungs, seeping into the lining of his stomach with little resistance from the too-human flesh. Nervousness, almost, but there was something more than that. It was... Excitement? This was excitement, right?

Whatever. He just cared that it made him pull on his shoes without the weight on his chest, or at least- not as big of a weight as normal. It didn't take as much effort as usual to open his eyes, because oh my god the entrance exam was tomorrow and he had a quirk and he wasn't so hopeless anymore. He had All Might's quirk, and he didn't mean to presume because he was a stupid little deku who could never find his place in the world, but he would surely get into UA with All Might's quirk. (Unless he was so useless that he failed anyway.)

The sand was beneath his feet before he knew that he was on the beach. How did he get there? He wasn't sure. Paying that little attention was a bad idea, he could get kidnapped or something. Stupid. Well, it didn't matter at the moment, though.

Because there was Toshinori. And he was smiling at Izuku, and he asked loudly so it would carry to him across the small distance. "Did it come in yet? How did it feel?"

Izuku did not want to tell him how it hurt. He did not want to tell this man who had so kindly taken pity on him that it ached to receive the gift. That is burned. So Izuku smiled and he made sure his eyes crinkled, and he said "Yes." He said, "It was the best thing I've ever felt in my life."

At first it was at least, so it wasn't technically a lie, was it? Was it? And it didn't matter. Izuku should feel bad about lying to his mentor, but he didn't. That was probably really terrible, but he just couldn't find it in himself to.

The sand shifted underneath his feet as he walked a bit closer to Toshinori, and they sat together on the sand and talked about nothing. He didn't ask about the new tiny bruises on Izuku's arms, or the little red spots where he had broke the skin from biting. Maybe Toshinori didn't notice. Whatever. Izuku didn't want him to notice anyway, he wasn't expecting anything. He didn't want him to notice, so why did his stomach drop in hurt like it did?

It didn't matter. It didn't MATTER. He kept getting distracted. The point was that they were training, and first they sat and spoke. The sky was bright and almost white, and Izuku's chest was just a little heavier than it was before. Toshinori smiled at him. "So, how're we doing this?"

In the end, with a few failed explaining attempts, Izuku just took it on himself. He searched for the quirk inside him, thought of it over and over until he realized that he first felt it in his stomach. Maybe that's where the sensation would be. A liquid, a sort of wasp-like thrumming that would blur into his fingers and toes and grow warmer and warmer until he burned himself on his own bloody inside-out skin.

Taking a slow, deep breath, he focused. And then he tried to imagine the feeling that he had in the bedroom, before the fire. Tried to describe it, writhing hot liquid boiling, then push it down into true feeling. He touched upon it a few times, then took a deep breath and stretched out an internal hand instead of trying to catch it.

Tentative warmth growing in his stomach, leeching outwards into his arms and fingertips. Then it began to grow warmer, but Izuku stopped before it could hurt and tried to hold it there. He opened his eyes, and... Red. Red and yellow and orange, like fire, energy dancing along his fingertips and toes in a slightly-painful firework crackling. Somehow beautiful. It scared him, though, and the shock of seeing something he didn't expect made him let go.

Pain. Gasping, terrible, making red burst out of the undersides of his eyelids and let colors out underneath the darkness. It was burning, inside-out all over again, but quickly he pushed away the power and placed it into a box, locking the box and then pushing it even farther into his body. It was nothing. He couldn't feel it. And if he repeated that enough, it could be true.

When he opened his eyes again, there was Toshinori, grinning and totally unaware of what had just happened. There was pain, and here was Izuku. They were separate entities, and he reminded himself of this as he smiled back. His cinnamon-dot freckles scrunched, just as he always made them, and he made sure not to dissociate when Toshinori spoke.

"That was amazing, my boy! I didn't have it for longer than that. Honestly, I didn't expect that you would get a handle on it so fast, but that's amazing. Try 'smash'-ing something, okay? Don't push yourself too hard, though."

Izuku tried not to whimper in a little anxiety-induced urge. "Okay."

So, to put it simply, he did. There wasn't much, if any, trash left on the beach- so Izuku aimed towards the sand. The thing was, he wasn't sure how to do it, and it was stressful and made his throat hurt because Toshinori was watching and judging him for not knowing immediately, for being stupid. He clenched his eyes shut and reached again, in his stomach, warmth and trickling heat that came just a bit faster now than it did the time before. Fingertips, toes, and lung-stuttering confusion and frustration.

Then. Then. He focused, took a deep breath, and tried to direct the warmth energy feeling. Wriggling worms in his right arm, uncomfortably hot and boiling him from the inside. His blood was steaming and he felt like it was trying to burst out of his skin, but that was fine. He turned it up, pushed all of the power he could muster into his arm. Breathed, pushed past the crying-aching-painful, and clenched his teeth as he punched the ground. It must've looked stupid. There was a bit of air that pushed the sand, he guessed, but nothing much else.

But it burned. Oh, there was a snapping type of pain that Izuku already knew. Yep. He opened his eyes, and it wasn't visible, but he definitely broke something. Or at least fractured. Well, it's fine, Toshinori couldn't be bothered with that. It would heal.

When he looked to Toshinori, though, he was looking so prideful that it made Izuku guilty. "That was wonderful! You did look like you were in pain for a moment there, though- are you okay?"

It was a test, Izuku was sure of it. What else would it be? Of course it would be a test. "Nope! Just some muscle straining." He smiled but shame built in his stomach because he hardly even did anything, if he was trying then he should be able to change the weather like All Might. How pathetic. A broken arm was nothing. All Might probably felt worse pain every day from his shattered stomach. If Izuku couldn't work with a broken arm, how could he be the next symbol of peace? "Let's do it again."

Toshinori nodded, and so they did.

By the end of the day, there was hardly any visible progress, and Izuku wanted to cry. The back of his throat was stinging because the only thing he got out of this was a possibly-broken arm and at least four fractured fingers. He was just waiting for the moment that Toshinori decided he wasn't worth it after all. Worthless, stupid, idiot deku who deserved nothing but death-

"You did well, young Midoriya! I'm sure you'll have control surpassing mine soon!" Toshinori patted him on the back with a bright smile, and Izuku wanted to argue, but he bit his tongue and smiled back instead.

Time, time, time, time, oh god it passed. He was on the beach and then he was at home, and then it was the morning of the entrance exam and Izuku was considering crawling into a cave and never coming out ever again. It was too-too fast, sudden, the snapping of leaves falling and growing, the ticking of clocks never-ending.

Panic climbed up into his chest and throat, stuttering breath. He would fail. He would fail he would fail he would fail hewouldfailhewouldfailhewouldfailhewouldfail. Izuku curled up into a ball, rocking very slightly from front to back before he noticed what he was doing and stopped. Unacceptable. He was unacceptable, he was useless and stupid and he could never pass and why was he doing this there was no hope oh god. Quirkless deku. Idiot child.

With a deep breath he forcefully pushed those thoughts away, stiffly making his shoulders go back and his spine straighten and his mouth curve up in a smile. It was fine. He needed to be brave, or at least look it. This was the UA entrance exam, and though he had studied extensively the subjects that he needed to know (and some that he didn't), doubt still crept in as he pulled on some jeans and a slightly-burnt black hoodie.

He opened the door to his room carefully, blinking wide dark eyes and creeping to the kitchen. Usually he skipped breakfast, but Izuku figured that he needed something extra if he was going to pass. Ugh. Food. None of it looked appetizing, or seemed like it would take too much effort, so he just sort of grabbed a granola bar and ate it as quickly and neatly as he could.

And... Almost out the door...



Hanging a smile on his face, Izuku turned to face Inko. "Hi, mom! Just, uhm-" he could tell the truth, but she would belittle him, and the thought made his throat constrict with anxiety- "going on a run!"

Her face was still sleepy, and she smiled back at him in a distant sort of way. "Ah.... Okay then. It... It's the entrance exams today, did you know? I thought you'd be applying, but... Ah, this must sound horrible, but I'm thankful you're not. It would crush you, baby! I know you think you could do it, if... If you really tried, I'm sure you could, but I'm glad you're being realistic again." Tears gathered in her eyes as a smile scrunched them, and Izuku swallowed down resentment before it could show on his face.

"Yeah." He laughed lightly, eyes probably dull but Inko never paid enough attention to notice. Light, light, keep it light and unassuming and joking, otherwise it will all fall apart.

After that, there was nothing except a slightly-awkward moment where he and his mom kind of sat in silence for a moment, then a "Well, goodbye." And "Bye!" From both of them. It was intensely cringey and Izuku never wanted to do it ever again, but sadly, he was going to be subjected to that very thing the moment he got back. Family was forced-lightness and eggshells and not being able to talk about anything serious in case it was belittled.

And on that extremely cheerful thought, Izuku was off.

To the entrance exams.

The UA entrance exams.

Oh god, he was screwed, wasn't he?


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 8: (Pidgeon Meme) Is This A Coping Mechanism?


Ayo! I'm sliding in with an extra update! This is a pretty heavy chapter though, detailing some anxiety, self-deprecating thoughts, and minor self-harm. If you're sensitive to this, there's a summary at the end!! Please take care of yourselves!! There is no shame in avoiding triggers.
(Sjjdjsjaj I just read through it again and it is a LOT angstier than I remember writing it. Quinn don't be worried :))

My dreams slice me to pieces. -Anne Sexton

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Standing in front of UA, Izuku felt like he was going to throw up.

Or rather, that was kind of general, wasn't it? He always sort of felt like he was going to hurl in social situations, and especially after eating, which he (unfortunately) had done that morning. No, it felt worse. Like someone stabbed through his chest with a knife made entirely of adrenaline and dread. The thrill of fear was not normal, and he reminded himself of this as he forced his shoulders back and his feet into a wider, friendly stance.

If he was going to fail, might as well go down kicking, right?

Oh, who was he kidding, there was absolutely no semblance of confidence in the anxiety-induced internal screaming that made his hands keep sweating even as he wiped them on his jeans. Someone brushed past him rather rudely, and even the smallest amount of contact was (apparently) reason enough for his whole body to recoil.

Nevermind. Nothing. Izuku was fine.

The students were a herd of animals, skittish and dark-eyed and flicking long lashes towards each unexpected noise. Each classroom picked off more, more kids, until there were less and less and the emptiness was somehow worse than the crowd, someone could pick him out and yell at him and what if he wasn't going the right way? For a split-second Izuku wished his quirk was invisibility, but quickly crushed that thought. Having a quirk at all was a dream. Even a quirk that made him want to cry when he used it.

The right classroom number came into view, and Izuku double-checked a few times before hesitantly stepping in. Most people were already there, and they must be staring at him. Nervously, instinctively, he pushed his shoulders back farther and grinned. "Hey, y'all, the eye candy is here." Izuku stop, no, you're supposed to be yourself here.

A few students glared, and anxiety tightened in his chest, but he channelled that energy into a bit of laughter. He would've dropped the act, but... Well, it was hard to explain. It was like...

When Izuku was little, he was told to go into a shed with wasps inside. There was a nest and all the little shapes thrumming dangerously, and as a six-year-old, he was terrified of wasps. There was a bone-deep inability to step into the shed, for all that he was scared of the consequences if he didn't. Sweat gathered in his palms and he tried to move, he really did, but it was physically impossible. Like there was so much danger that his body was forcing him to stay in place.

This felt the same. Like Izuku was unable to stop pretending, like if he did there would be wasps and pain and pain, burning and striking and flinching. There was something in his chest, a primal urge that protected him, that in this case made him freeze in a smile and not be able to stop.

The teacher sighed at him good-naturedly, and Izuku realized it was cementoss oh my god, before he was handed a thick packet and sent to the back of the class. Great. The last person there.

What if they hated him oh my god they did, they did, they must, oh my god what had he done.

Shut up, brain. He picked up the pencil sitting innocently on the table, and tried to focus on the first question, but anxiety constricted his throat at the sound of other people beginning to scribble in their answers. How much time had it been already? Was he this stupid? Wait, no, read the question. Passing his eyes over the letters, Izuku tried not to cry, and then had to read it for the third time because he got distracted in the middle (again).

If a water tower is 18 meters high, and casts a shadow 5 meters long, then how long of a shadow will the 6 meter high tree have?

f*ck. He knew how to do this, he really did, but he forgot, and he knew he learned it, but he always forgot it after the unit was over. Was this multiplication? Subtraction? Wait, how did multiplication work again, he never memorized his tables??Stupid deku, idiot child, should just die-

He couldn't work like this.

So quickly, silently, Izuku scratched the top of his hand until it was red and burning. The pain was a flinch of release, from the stares and the stupid stupid stupid, and it allowed him to do things. The predictability of it, of the exact same type of pain every time and the exact same relief, was... It was... Comforting. A breath of air. You wouldn't- nobody would really understand unless they had experienced it, but pain became good, sort of? After a while it was a way of self-soothing, stroking your own hair and murmuring 'it's okay' under your breath to yourself while having a panic attack in the bathroom. Not that Izuku had ever done that before.

Just- he knew how to do it so nobody noticed. He knew how to morph and strangle a sob into a laugh, he knew to dig his fingernails into the pad of his thumb or bite the inside of his cheek until it bled. Body language and facial expressions and concealer and the most convenient parts of himself to accidentally get caught up in vigilante work-

It didn't matter! It didn't- it didn't matter.

Izuku swallowed the sudden anxiety in his throat and quickly went back to the test.

The rest of the section went okay-ish, as math was never his best subject, but he skipped over the ones he had absolutely no idea on to come back to later.

He would probably be kicked out for having a suspension on his record, but that was fine. For now, there was only the test. Scrabbling of pencils on paper, of nails on already-scraped skin, of kanji formed in shaky lines. There was always a certain atmosphere to tests that could not be recreated, like it was a turning point, no matter how small. Or maybe that was the trauma from being yelled at if he got anything less than an A. Whatever the cause, Izuku finished the English and Japanese sections relatively easily.

The analysis and morals parts, though.... They were fun, if he would dare think it about a test. They were the last section.

How would you, personally, describe your morals?

This.... This was too much. Izuku could rant about literally anything. Little sparks jumped beneath his lungs and he took a second, trying to figure out if it was a negative or positive emotion, then decided on positive because he wanted to wiggle his feet and hum, which usually wasn't a negative thing. Anyway! This was so interesting, and there was energy building up underneath his skin, and what could he write about, there was literally anything, and he was pretty confident that he could make a good essay!!

Uh... Right! Heroes! That's what they want to hear about! So Izuku let his pencil fly across the paper (after taking a little bit to plan, of course) as pure interest fueled him. There was too much excitement in his body and he was afraid he would burst if he stopped. Hmm, idols! A paragraph or five on Eraserhead, of course, and then some on Present Mic, and then one on All Might even if it made the his chest tingle uncomfortably. Of course, there was a counterargument about heroes he wouldn't want to be like, for example Endeavor. The conclusion would be so long but he couldn't bring himself to shorten it. Ooh, what about-

Too-soon he was finished, and it made Izuku unnaturally sullen because he wanted to write more, read more, immerse himself in the subject until he was eaten up by the sparkles in his lungs and burst into little green fireworks. Wait! The time! It was a timed test! Izuku looked up at the clock and he only had two hours left, oh god, oh no, he was going to fail and suddenly all the excitement was gone and-

Breathe. Izuku swallowed all his panic, picked at it and shaped it into tiny cubes before dissolving them into the air like sugar in water.

The rest of the morals section was interesting, and Izuku did write at least three paragraphs for each one, but tried not to use up too much time. Ethics was just so enthralling, and he couldn't explain it, but the subjects that he was interested in made his heart swell and they felt like home, sort of? That was weird. He was weird. But he could talk about it for hours, days. Random quotes about it memorized, and he knew he was advanced, but surely not that much (stupid deku, stupid stupid stupid-).

And then he was finished.


There was still an hour left.

Shouldn't there be more questions? Did he miss something? Quickly, Izuku flipped back to the front page and went through all of it, making sure his eyes landed on every line. They were all answered, but that wasn't right, was it? He probably did them all wrong. But there wasn't enough time to redo all of them! Oh no, he probably ruined it. Deku, stupid stupid stupid failure useless deku. He's a vigilante! He should be able to deal with this! Unless he was a terrible vigilante, too. But then what was the point? If he was bad at everything, Kacchan would be right. He really would be better off taking a swan dive-

Nope. Not spiraling in the middle of a classroom.

Instead he closed the packet, violently pushing aside what was left of his emotions, and became Class Clown Izuku. (Roll your shoulders back, renew your smile, straighten your back, eye contact no matter how uncomfortable and brain-scrambling.) Time to stand up, and turn it in.

Stand up, Izuku.

Stand up. You can do it. Nobody's looking at you.

Except everybody would be, wouldn't they? It was safe sitting down, but once he got up, everybody would watch him walk, and what if he tripped, or- or made a fool of himself. Or he missed an entire page of the packet. Or he did something else so obviously wrong, nobody would like him anymore and he would be an outcast and?!

Whatever. Negative emotions was for weak Izuku. Pretending his legs weren't shaking, he deposited the papers on Cementoss' desk. He would've fanboyed, but at the moment he was focusing on repressing all emotions he had ever felt. And the trauma, that too. And probably the un-diagnosed mental illnesses. And the oncoming panic attack (or was it anxiety attack? Izuku kept reading the differences on the internet but still couldn't understand).

"Thank you! Wow, you finished that quickly. I don't think anybody has written much in this amount of time-" They (he? she?) flipped through it before giving him a thumb's up. "But you certainly have! Well done. Ah, though I digress- you may head outside for a break before the physical exam. Good luck."

Digress. That was a pretty word. It fit nicely on the tongue, the shape of the word falling in a positively delighting way. He mouthed it to himself a few times after he left the room and was alone. Because it was... It was weird to do around other people, alright, he was weird.

He wasn't allowed to- to be weird. To be this. To be stupid and to fake. Because he was faking, wasn't he? Even when alone, he was faking. Everything he did was for unseen cameras, eyes, attention-seeking from the ghosts and stalkers. Imagining some entity watching him, imagining everything he wrote down being read. Therefore... Attention-seeking Izuku, lonely Izuku, who had to pretend fictional characters were comforting him when he wanted to f*cking stab himself for the third time that hour.

Stop. Just in case there was someone who could hear his thoughts. Stop thinking.

There was time before the physical exams, but this was not comforting. Outside, heat was just beginning to leech into everything, stained and sweet with the concrete-metal scent of summer. Not overwhelmingly so, just like the sun warming his skin (closer, closer than anybody had ever gotten before). Honey and slender wrists peeking out of too-warm-for-the-weather sweatshirts. It was better to overheat than be bare, bruises and arms out on display, where he had scratched a bit too hard last night and now there were barely-visible red marks.

Not many other students were out yet. Just a small group of girls, red-cheeked and laughing, who were attempting to play tag with strong-sleek limbs and ponytails that swished with each movement. It made Izuku's chest tighten with the knowledge- that wasn't him. He would never play with such breathless joyful yells, lost to the smell of grass and sunlight. Too far gone, wasn't he? Hopeful kid, but now he scraped bitten nails over his own skin and desperately tried on new personalities just to be better liked.

Nope. Izuku was not crying in public. That was simply not allowed, a bone-deep rule to never cry ever in front of anyone, ever, so he laughed instead. It was hollow, but the energy needed somewhere to go, and every good pretender knows that sobbing can easily be twisted into giggles. They use the same muscles in the stomach anyway.

As he sat on the grass and watched the blue sky shift with clouds, Izuku laughed softly to himself.

And if anybody asked, he would say the weight on his chest was a little lighter.

(He would be lying.)


Alright folks who decided to skip! The summary is basically: Izuku takes the written exam and is unable to stop being the class clown because otherwise he would break down. Anyway, he writes like 10 paragraphs for the morals and ethics sections on every question, and uh... Oh, he also scratches his hand a lot, and has major social anxiety because he finished an hour early.

Ello the rest of you, too. How's it going. Am I supposed to introduce myself? I dunno? Call me Ro, they/them,,,,,,, ah yeah that's it, go say hi to my friend @dyingsureisfun !!

And as always, of course-- Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid. Go praise them! Do it!



The mortal garden grows and twists and screams and bleeds. It is loved by the hands that tend it, but that love sows nothing but misery and fear. It is the worst place that has ever been beautiful and it should not exist. -MAG171, ########-11

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Okay, so in his defense he wasn't- he didn't- he didn't mean to.

It was the logical thing, alright? At least a little bit? Hopefully? Because what type of person would just go full-throttle at a motherf*cking robot that was like, 600 meters tall without it being the logical thing to do?

Let's back up. Start from the beginning. Whatever those phrases were. Izuku spent the rest of his break being resolutely normal, and rubbing the pads of his fingers together to try and get rid of some anxiety. Nobody looked at him, or tried to touch him, or really even noticed him. It was good, gave him an excuse to be able to curl into himself in the shadows and pinch and pull at the skin on the back of his wrist.

And then, and then the hour was gone, suddenly. Present Mic (Present Mic!!!) led them to the buses, where Izuku did his very best to be himself and not force it, but yeah, maybe he made a joke when he stepped on someone's shoe by accident. Or maybe they tripped him. That didn't matter. Izuku had a quirk now though, so of course it was an accident, nobody would trip him since he had a quirk!

Anyway, nobody sat beside him, which was good in the long run anyway because if someone touched him he was very sure he would have some sort of meltdown. The bus smelled like, well, a public school bus, but maybe a little better because come on. This was UA. Everything was better here.

A boy yelled at him for fidgeting while the orientation went on. Izuku made a mental note to stop fidgeting around people, even if it was uncomfortable, because being yelled at made his breath stutter and skin turn hot and he shouldn't be reacting like this. It made him panic and tell a joke in front of the whole school about 'sorry, guess I was just getting out the energy your mom couldn't last night'. Seriously. Izuku. Why. Nobody even laughed, aside from the one or two that echoed. Present Mic (Present Mic!!!) reprimanded him, too. Not a hint of a smile. Izuku wasn't even in school, and already a troublemaker, already an annoying boy who made 'your mom' jokes. Why? Whywhywhywhy- stop.

There was hardly any warning about the beginning of the exam! Just a 'start!' while everyone was waiting for a countdown. Izuku should've expected this. He should've! The press of the bodies all around told him that he wasn't the only one caught off guard, but he was definitely the only one who flinched at the loud noise. God, what was wrong with him?

Perhaps a moment, a hairline fracture of time, that everyone paused. Quiet. Maybe surprised. Maybe catlike, the pause before the pounce. Izuku was a part of this- his reactions were worth nothing but a flinch and maybe some inappropriate recoiling when someone innocently touched him. Just breathing, just hesitation, the slow-motion of a bullet before hitting and shattering a beautiful mind.


"Well, what are you waiting for?"

The bullet struck.

All of the kids of families, sons, daughters, children rushing into an arena with deadly robots just to enter a f*cking high school that will set them up for injury again and again. Child soldiers raised to idolize dying at 26. Izuku was no different. Just those red sneakers pounding against the concrete as he pushed forward, trying to use a little bit of his vigilante strength (but not too much just in case they could tell or something).

And for a second, Izuku forgot he wasn't powerless.
All around him, metallic monsters that loomed too-high above, dark moss green. They tracked movement and all, tried to hurt students, but already they were taken down with such powerful quirks. Izuku was out of place. He wasn't supposed to be here. Quirkless Izuku, masquerading as someone who deserved- who deserved anything at all. Turning, blinking, breath stuttering, the pressure was too much-

There was a time limit. Panicking wasn't an option, especially now. He steeled his face and slipped a little bit into his vigilante headspace. It was too loud, but he pushed it down and looked with sharpened eyes. Analysis. Where were they coming from? To get the most points, he needed to find a place with a lot of bots, and he needed to go after the higher-pointers. Right. No more emotions, just logic and pure truth.

That way, between buildings, dodging, pausing before a two-pointer and reaching out a hand to the warmth in his stomach before punching. Firey pain, but it was down, and he continued to run. His hand hurt. Izuku hurt, he wanted to cry, but he blinked a few times and stiffened his face before going after the next robot.

All around him, destruction.

Fire and the smell of burnt plastic, hot metal, earth-shaking crashes as yet another body hit the ground. His ears were ringing, hands on fire with pain. When you break a bone, it's- there's a dull ache, but also some shards of glass digging between inside. If you've done it before, immediately you know that it's broken, and Izuku had broken things before. Ribs and arms and wrists and even the rare toe. His ankle, once (while running from Eraserhead, the bitch).

A headache. His fingers ached and yet burned. Robots were going down too quickly, too loudly, and he only had about 14 points (?). The light blinded, but he aimed for a three-pointer and swallowed a whimper when his already-mangled fingers burst out in new agony. 17 points. This was going too slowly. Stupid deku, he was going to fail.

And then- f*ck.

Someone was yelling.

Should he-? It's an exam, surely nobody would really get hurt. But, but- those vigilante instincts- he needed- there was hardly any choice-

His legs were moving already. Towards the rubble of a faux-building, a purple head of hair, dirty and appearing to cough as they tried to push some rocks off their legs. Izuku wasn't needed, probably, stupid that he was, but... He pushed anyway, tried his best to help, pulling the person out. His wrists burned and something shifted and he wasn't whimpering he wasn't he wasn't he wasn't. Nope. Vocal cords paralyzed, throat closed, no noise.

There wasn't a very good view of their face, especially with all the grime, but they looked somewhat surprised to see him. Whatever. It was probably because they knew he was a stupid-

Nope. Not having those thoughts right now.

Even if they were true.

Anyway, there was-! There was no time to think. The person was out of the rubble, and were now standing. Izuku anxiously switched his weight from foot to foot for a second before giving them an awkward wave, then running off. Robots, or- there was, it was, spinning? The vision was hot and stuttering up and down and Izuku blinked a few times, swallowing. Ringing in his ears, loud, with each noise. People were yelling and explosions, why the hell were there explosions in an entrance exam with children isn't that dangerous or something??

Loud. Izuku wanted to find a small space, wanted to curl up underneath a desk and turn off the lights. That was weird. He was weird. Shut it down. Instead of doing that, he grit his teeth and reached for the burning-fire-warmth in his stomach, spread it to his fingertips, and went after more robots.

Rumbling. Thunder. No, it was in the ground, brontide-low faded within the tremors of earth, something emerging. The zero-pointer. Best to just avoid it and try to bring down a couple other robots, and Izuku began to do just that, looking around.


Another. f*cking. Scream.

Don't do it Izuku. It isn't worth it. You only have, like, 20 points. Don't do it, don't do it, you'll fail if you-

His legs were already moving.

f*cking reflexes or whatever. Maybe it was because his last three brain cells were spent on finishing that stupid written exam. But he was running towards whoever screamed- a girl he didn't recognise. A choppy brown cut of hair that stopped suddenly at her chin. Flushed cheeks. Izuku's mind was a blur and he couldn't remember anything else past that but the primal, feral need to protect.

When someone is crouched behind you and they have nothing but you for protection, there is... This mother-bear absolutely overpowering anger. Adrenaline in the form of growling, in animalistic I will not let you hurt. It was a feeling that can hardly be described for how strong, and Izuku was running, and running.

(Without a plan, of course, because he was a f*cking dumbass. But y'know, who needs a plan when you have adrenaline and enough repressed trauma to statistically become a serial killer? Head empty, time to go save some kids from a super tall robot who made him feel even shorter. Damn his 5'3 himbo self.)

The girl hardly even had time to yell out a wordless gasp of a scream before he reached the robot. This- this thing had dared come close to innocent students? Kids who didn't know the world yet, didn't know blood or the clicking of your nose when it breaks or the hopeless, desperate emptiness of mama, mama please be proud of me. And the teachers weren't stopping it. They weren't stopping it.


As always, you could not depend on adults. Izuku swallowed down his rage, used it to feed and reach for the burning anger in the pit of his stomach and let it catch fire in his limbs. Warmth. Pain. It consumed him, the newfound power, and it scared him, but most of all it didn't matter. Because he needed to protect and he knew that there was nobody else.

Only him.


And with some burning, crackling pain in his limbs that he had come to recognise, Izuku brought his twisted purple-bruised fist back, pushing off his back foot with a burst of slightly-enhanced energy.

And he let go.

Snapping. Aching. His ears were rushing with blood and ringing with too-too-too-loud, swallowing down the pain swallowing down the pain swallowing it all until he was silent and safe again. The robot was tipping.

Izuku was falling.

Now; he had thought about falling before. It was a thought he most often only indulged in late at night, where patrols had been quiet and he climbed a building just to see the concrete down below. It wasn't serious, not really- looked at distantly from a clinical point of view. Some vague curiosity, perhaps. Would time slow down or speed up? Would his life flash before his eyes? How quickly would he fall? From this height, would I die?

And now he can tell you. When you're falling, time doesn't slow down or speed up. It just flows, like it always has. Wind buffeted his face, and it was not majestic. It was a panic, a clawing desperate animal no no no no no. Falling is not the finale to a tragic piece of music. When you fell it was discordant and you realized that this, this was not how it was supposed to end.

The ground was coming closer. He was too high up, he knew this, twelve meters is the death zone for falling and the robot must've been fifty.


He could see the girl. Her cheeks were flushed, he thought before, but now it looked as if it were a part of her quirk. Otherwise she looked rather pale. It was no wonder why.

Young, he was young, he was a child, these were children and it was not fair and he didn't, he didn't want to die he didn't, small Izuku green hair flushed cheeks can I be a hero please don't no no no he wants to smile again-

Concrete, dust, the overpowering smell of metal he couldn't tell if it was blood or iron anymore, but something soft brushed his arm, was the girl reaching out? And then-

Very suddenly, Izuku was not falling anymore.

Too suddenly. His stomach swooped, but he swallowed bile, blinking at the ground. Izuku was not dead.

But as the beep rang out that signaled the end of the entrance exam, he realized he only had about twenty points. And then he wished he was dead, because if he didn't pass into UA, there was basically no reason for existing anymore. After all, you know what capitalism says! You gotta work your dream job or you're a failure! (Which is not true but Izuku didn't really have any other reason for life at the moment, so take your inspiration where you can. Even if it's from capitalism.)

Izuku smiled shakily at his own dark humour, and the girl let go of him once he was in a safe enough position.

"Thank you so much for rescuing me! Are you okay? Oh, your hands are all messed up... That's not good! Did you think you passed? My name's Uraraka! We can ask a teacher for medical- oh! Recovery Girl! She's sooo cool, she-"

Wow. This girl talked. A lot. And normally he wouldn't have minded, but for some stupid reason there was pressure in his chest and inside his throat, ears ringing each time her voice spiked up from a murmur. "Uh, yeah, I'll- thank you." Better make friends now or people will figure out that they hate him. "I'm, um... Midoriya. You're looking a bit green yourself?"

Good job, Izuku!! You're being yourself!! Now just keep it up for another hour or so. You can do it. It'll be fine. Go Izuku! We're doing good.

The girl (Uraraka?) cringed and nodded. "Yeah. It makes me feel a bit nauseous to use my quirk. Oh, and you're looking green too! Get it, because your hair is green!! Anyway- I, um- do you think you could get me out, or?"

The simple answer was no. He wasn't certified in rescuing her from rubble, because what if it shifted and killed her? But then he would sound self-centred and like he didn't care. He couldn't do it! But he couldn't not do it, and it was too much, and it wasn't enough to just say 'no'. What could he say, then? Maybe? That's too rude! She'll yell at him. And he'll deserve it, too.

His throat was closing and his tongue was too heavy to speak and the coordination of moving his mouth was too much. It was times like these he wished he knew sign language- after all, Izuku's hands ached to move, and that's what it was, right? Wanting to express himself through sign? He was probably faking though, he could force himself to talk and-

Wait. Uraraka. Right. Gotta push on through that Weird No Talk Urge. Haha. He was a normal person.

"Um. I think? It, um, might be best if we... Waited. For an adult who knows what they're doing?"

That was awful. That was terrible. He should take social interaction classes or something. It was either class clown or f*cking awkward, apparently. This was the #1 reason that Izuku Midoriya should avoid all situations with other people ever. And the #2 reason, and the third, and- well, you get the gist.

Thankfully though, she just smiled. "It's okay! Now that I think about it, you're probably right, ehe..."

Who actually says 'ehe'? Wait, that's judgmental, stop being mean Izuku. People can say whatever they want as long as they're not hurting someone. Welp, at least she wasn't yelling at him yet!

The adrenaline was wearing away though, and the heat in his palms had started to feel prickly-painful, little stabs of remember me?

But- it was strange, looking at your own body and seeing it damaged. Blinking, breathing, the knowledge that you are just another living creature who can be slaughtered just as easily as the cows in an abattoir. Flesh twisted so easily, paper-thin and crumpling. As humans there is something so fragile in our nature, and yet so many of us feel immortal. Was it because of quirks? Or something immutable in human nature?

Here he was, getting all philosophical over the purplish red that climbed down both his hands and over wrists. Stupid. He was too stupid to really understand this, pretending to be smart. Quickly Izuku shook away the thoughts with a knot of guilt inside his stomach, and then blinked.

Swelling. Dark. Yeah, there was definitely something wrong here, and whenever he shifted his hands it was gasping pain (though of course, he didn't give into the urge to let out noise). This wouldn't heal on its own- or if it did, Izuku would probably never use his hands again or something like that.

"Children, are either of you hurt?" An old woman- hair in a tight bun that appeared to be held by a syringe, and another syringe that she used as a cane in her hand- trotted over.

"Um," He started, because suddenly his hands didn't really seem all that severe, and should he really tell someone? Really, it didn't matter that much, right? With a bottle of painkillers and a strong will-

"Dear... Both of your hands are broken."

Recovery Girl ended up kissing him (an awkward experience for him, but probably nobody else because Izuku was always awkward) and wrapping his hands, then giving both of them gummies. Uraraka was pretty easily extracted, which was embrassassing because he could've done it, but he was such a burden that other people had to do it for him. In the back of his mind he knew it was the adult's jobs, but... But.

And then the exams were over.

Very suddenly, because that's how time worked. You just. Suddenly notice that things are different, and the whiplash almost shocks you. Izuku had 20 points. Izuku heard others with 40, 50, 60 points. Izuku had failed.

He had failed.

And if you've looked forward to something your entire life and it's suddenly ripped out of your hands, what do you do? What in the world would you do to have your dreams smashed against the concrete, your entire reason for continuing to live?

Now, Izuku was very stupid (hopeful) and decided to wait for the letter anyway.

But in the meantime...

Ghost was back.


For some reason I'm really proud of the line 'falling is not the finale to a tragic piece of music'.
Welp, anyway, hope you enjoyed ^^

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 10: Almost-Dead Man's Float


A voice sings of showing him what a real parasite can do. -MAG032

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text


As soon as he walked in the door, of course, he had to be accosted by none other than Hisashi Midoriya. He wore a black t-shirt that was sort of torn in places, or maybe that was how it was supposed to look? Ah, it didn't matter. Hisashi wasn't very broad, nor particularly muscled, but he was surprisingly strong for a thin man.

Izuku kept this in thought as he pushed down the urge to snap at him. "Hi, Hisashi."

With a hearty laugh, the man pulled him into the room. "Call me dad, little Izu-kun!"

Demeaning, but not... Bad. Izuku tried to smile because truly, Hisashi meant no harm, right? He was doing his best, just as Inko was doing her best. Maybe it wasn't the type of parenting you saw in books, but nobody was perfect! Why was he even calling them by their first names? He should love them, should stop putting them down in his mind, because truly they were just doing their best and they loved him.

His muscles ached slightly as he walked, hands twinging. Maybe Recovery Girl didn't do enough, but that was fine, she couldn't be expected to use all her energy on him. Plus, it was his fault for breaking already-broken bones. The little twinges of pain were to be expected, or even deserved. Karma, perhaps, for being quirkless. For being wrong, right at his center. Nope, that's getting too angsty Izuku, everything's fine, your hands just hurt a little.

".... Hmm." Hisashi paused, leaning in (a bit closer than necessary, and out of instinct, Izuku cringed backwards). "You're a bit sweaty. Not the best smell, either. Did you go on a run? Seduce some girl, perhaps?" At this the man wiggled his eyebrows in a meant-to-be-friendly way. Izuku tried not to think too much about the expectation to have sex when he wasn't even in high school yet.

"Uh, I-" f*ck, what excuse had he used with Inko? Probably the run thing. Or training. Or... Something like that. "I was just taking a run. Sorry I went so late, I got distracted in town and decided to look around a bit. I hope you didn't mind!" Why was it so easy to lie? Why did it come so casually?

There was a nod of satisfaction that Izuku barely saw before he was rushing up the stairs, calling out a gonna take a shower! He had grown to like Hisashi a little bit. Not love, no, there was too many periods of absence and too many scenes of him passed out on the couch. But it had grown to be normal, and yeah, he got yelled at sometimes. And yeah, the muscles in his back sometimes tensed in pure fear when he was hugged by Hisashi. But those were small, and inconsequential, and had no reason to overpower the normality-ish of everything else.

Strip off your clothes, get in the shower, try to strip off your skin. Overthink the day while lathering the wrong type of shampoo into your hair. Realize that falling from a large height was probably a 'traumatic experience', then continue to ignore it as a normal person will do. Cry a little. Get out of the shower.

Yay, now he smelled a bit better probably maybe! He forgot to condition his hair but that was fine! And soap wasn't really needed, right? It took too much effort anyway. His bones were lead, weighing him down with every step- but at least his muscles didn't scream at him anymore.

After throwing on a different black sweatshirt that looked exactly the same as the one he just wore, and a different pair of jeans, Izuku crept downstairs. Anxiety curled itself beneath his stomach, a little ball of whimpering and prey-like flinching. Family dinners shouldn't make him this anxious, right? Eh, it was probably just because he was an introvert-inclined ambivert. Antisocial, as Hisashi liked to call it.

The stairs creaked. Izuku almost jumped a foot in the air before realizing he was the one who did it.

Wow, thanks, vigilante reflexes. You sure help with being scared by inanimate objects.

"Izuku?" Inko's wispy-yet-somehow-always-worried voice drifted up from the dining room. "Are you going to come down?"

There was the very distinct urge to just bolt, but Izuku was somehow able to hold it back as he descended the stairs (every time they creaked, he had to hold back a cringe). "Um, yeah! Sorry, just..." The sentence trailed off, and he was probably expected to finish it, but there were like 3 ways to finish it popping up in his brain, so he just ended up not speaking. Wow, smooth, Izuku. You're doing real great with this social interaction thing.

It was a rather domestic scene, with hot food on the table and plates all set out. Inko was chatting quietly with Hisashi, giggling at something he said. Izuku felt horridly out of place and tried to be as quiet as possible as he slipped into his chair (a bit too small, wooden, rickety, uncomfortable). They still spoke, though their eyes flicked to him for a second.

"Oh really? And what did he say?" Inko smiled at her- husband? boyfriend? as she spoke, and he poked her nose gently in a nauseatingly sweet way.

"Does that matter? All I know is that I'm here with you, lovely woman." Cue a sweet little nuzzle into the neck of said lovely woman while Inko squeaked in embarrassment.

Izuku was glad his parents were in love. Yeah, he had a bit of a turbulent relationship with them, but Hisashi would never hit Inko, let alone make her feel unsafe. It was them against the world- and, apparently, Izuku. They cared about each other. It was a perfect family; Izuku was the only one harboring bad feelings, really, and wasn't it his fault then? Didn't matter.

"So," Inko started, spooning rice onto her plate. "How was your day, sweetie?"

"Um. Well, I spoke to Shinsou a bit. And he said, um, that he took the UA exams! So that's pretty cool." Not completely a lie, because Shinsou did say that, but it was two weeks ago.

Hisashi furrowed his brow. "... And this Shinsou, what's his quirk?"

"Uh, I'm not entirely sure. All he's told me is that it's mental-based."

With this there was a slight, disbelieving snort. Or rather, a forceful breath outwards from the nose. Amusem*nt. "Ah, whatever people want to believe, you know? As long as it makes them happy, delusions and all. If he wants to be a hero with a mental quirk, good for him! But that doesn't mean I'm going to encourage him. He can't hurt people with some book-reading power, right? Therefore it only makes sense that he won't make it. I'm not trying to be the bad guy, just facts."

... What? Quirk discrimination? In my household?

But he couldn't argue. Even if he disagreed, the irrational feeling of unsafe around Hisashi made something inside him cringe away from the thought of arguing. Still, Izuku had to. He couldn't just agree. "Uh... Well, um, actually, he's pretty good at fighting. Maybe you should meet him before you make judgments, and um, offer the basic respect of not discriminating based on quirk?" He was never good at arguing. Already cringing away from the rejection sure to come. "Not that I'm forcing you to! I just... Yeah."

"Okay, first of all, respect is earned. Not given. I don't respect anyone unless they give me reason to. Now... These people aren't entitled to make me conform to their delusions. It's fine if they do it on their own! Hell, I don't care! But these people- Izuku, they're just going to fail. It's a useless dream, in my experience. Give it a few years and it'll fade, just you wait. And isn't it kind of silly to play along to a child's game that'll only end soon anyway?"

Izuku hated how Hisashi made it sound logical. Made it sound like it was the right decision. And most of all Izuku hated how he could understand the logic, as twisted as it was. It was wrong, but Izuku could understand it. And he couldn't argue, because you can't argue with someone who is so stuck in their beliefs.
Something swelled in his throat (tears?) but he blocked it off, blocked himself off from it, cut his consciousness away from his body until it floated like a balloon and he was physically unable to cry. Not like this. Not in front of Hisashi.

"... Alright." He didn't agree. He didn't, but there was no choice. No choice. Never any choice. He was detached from himself; bobbing on a breeze from the living room fan.

Hisashi continued to talk, and when he didn't answer, Inko filled the empty space with empty comments of I don't understand them either. Izuku's vision slipped out of focus. (He didn't know why this affected him so much, why it was a flinching and hurtful thing to hear. Yeah, he was quirkless, but that didn't mean he had to be so affected…)

The food on his plate was cardboard and the light above kept fluctuating; everything was orange-ish, then dark like someone had dimmed everything, then too-bright again. Free-falling. Dissociating. Izuku knew what this was; and somehow he was a backseat observer to his own body, flat settings and unreal hands somehow moving in front of him in the grainy movie-screen filter.

Time moved like paper burning and spilled milk from then on; like sanded still-splintery wood planks and fingerprints smudged on window panes. Like the bloody almost-pink water left after washing a wound and wet ink bleeding across the already-drenched page.

He knew Hisashi got up first, pecking Inko on the cheek and thanking her for the meal. Izuku knew that somehow, he had gotten up too, went to his room, but it was faraway and dizzying. All angles and pains and endless fields of undulating wheat in a thunderstorm, and then it wasn't.

His arms were red and irritated. White flaked skin underneath his fingernails. No wonder how that happened. They stung, and Izuku tried his best to ignore the sudden discomforting feeling- instead he reveled in the knowledge that he was no longer dissociating.

Well, on the bright side, now I have a legitimate reason to be wary of Hisashi other than the fact that he's creepy! Yay, I guess! Quirk discrimination!

There was some other emotion bubbling up between his ribs, too-strong guilty shameful liminal space sort of disturbance, bitter. But Izuku crushed it down and tried to focus on the notebook spread out in front of him.

Analysis of Cementoss. He had started it almost an hour ago, but still, the only thing on the page was a name. His mind kept wandering, to everywhere and nowhere, being reminded of something and having to flip back to it. Analysis wasn't always like this; sometimes, it was all he could do not to take up three pages with incessant writing all in one night. Excitement light everywhere and spilling out through the pen.

But... Nights like this were hard. He could hardly do anything. One thing reminded him of another of another of another, mind wandering off. Frustrating. The pages he started on times like these would often go unfinished for months before he finally got the motivation to work on them again.

Hisashi left, again, and Izuku wondered (as he always did) where he went. There was a calling out of "Love you!" and then the slamming of the door shut. The noise made the muscles in Izuku's back flinch and tighten, instinctive and animal. Once Inko went to bed, he would de-stress.

De-stress, in this case, meant pile on more stress until he was numb. In this case, it meant that Izuku was going to be motherf*cking stupid and slip out the cold-frosted front door after Inko fell asleep.

Dark chilling breaths growing white flowers blooming, icy, stiffening fingertips and pure black hoodie streaming out as he walked, then jogged, then broke out into a full panicking run. For no reason other than he could. For no reason other than it hurt, and maybe maybe it would change the outcome of the entrance exam if he worked a little harder now. Maybe he could change.

In the comics, in the books, vigilantes ran on roofs and never ran out of energy. They were bright, pseudo-superheroes. Izuku was... Well, he was nothing like that at all. Some vigilantes were, but the bright ones never seemed to last. Caught, or killed.

Of course it was a handy skill to know how to climb roofs, but overall unrealistic in the long run. Paths were made to run on, and if you weren't specifically trying to be stealthy, roads worked just as well. Keeping to the shadows was good, but why run everywhere? It used up energy. Humans are endurance predators, not pursuit, and Izuku knew these types of nerdy things. He relied on information.

Even if sometimes the information came from inside his head. Fake sources, memories mixed with dreams and intuition mixed with that flinching untrustworthy feel. Each step was too heavy against the ground, every time there was a scream or a whimper it burned.

Victims, mostly. But also people all alone, homeless and drugged, suffering by themselves with no assailant to capture. Or people trying to dart out into the traffic. Or gang fights. Or domestic violence, or murders, or any other f*cked-up sh*t that people all around the world do.

Or Eraserhead.

God, and of course as he thought that, the shadow appeared again. Why in the hell was he always on top of buildings? It wasn't sustainable, surely?

"Hey, dumbass! Izu-zu-zu-zu-zu." Is someone... hog-calling me? "Human. Yo. Are you ignoring me?"

Shinsou. Goddamnit.

He was too tired to talk, too exhausted to make his tongue and mouth move together. Something haunted his stomach and spilled bitter self-hatred like spoiled milk down his tongue. Absolute despair in knowing that he had to give more of himself up in a conversation. No. Izuku was buried, covered in moss, aching over and hallowed (hollowed) by the rain.

"..... Dude. You look like sh*t." Shinsou entered his field of vision, giving an appraising slightly-concerned look. "Did anything happen?"

Izuku rubbed his forehead, ducking into the alley Shinsou had just walked into. "... Nah. You're the one that took the entrance exams today." And probably got in. Unlike Izuku, the useless, quirkless... Emotionless, monster.

Moving to sit on the floor of the alleyway with his knees to his chest, Shinsou tilted his head. "Yeah, about that. You didn't... Take the entrance exams, right? You're not looking to get into UA?"

What was the use of telling the truth? He would fail anyway. There was no doubt that he failed, so why tell something that will only lead to pain later? Besides- Inko's voice echoed in his brain, a million different phrases with all the same undertone- don't talk about yourself.

"... No. It'd be useless, anyway. But that's okay! This isn't about me. I just figured I'd go out patrolling tonight. And..." The urge to tell Shinsou about the bullsh*t his parents were spewing, and then stuffing it down, chastising himself for being an attention seeker. "... It doesn't matter. That reminds me though, you said you found a baby owl in your backyard. How's that going?"

The conversation from then on was a bit stiff, but wore out to something more comfortable after a while, like shoes broken in. Shinsou had a new owl friend, which fit him in a way Izuku couldn't understand. It was easy. Knowledge in each other, yet no pushing to tell the important stuff. Casual. One of the alley cats cuddled up to Izuku during this time, but refused to go near Shinsou- who, with a strangely guilty look, said it was because he probably smelled bitter. No more information was given on that front, but the cat (a mangy calico) was named Beans and some Sodium Free Chicken Soup was given to her.

And then, of course, time ran out and Ghost went and saved college kids from impaling themselves on fences. And talked down drunken idiots who wanted to fight, and all the other sh*t that law enforcers have to deal with. He was tired. He wanted to hurt. Or feel. Or cry.

And in the back of his mind, still: quirkless, worthless, didn't you hear Hisashi, something wrong, something out of whack, right at your core that you can't change. Some haunting internal mechanism twisted wrong at birth. Shame buried right beneath his ribs, wrong beneath his ribs, wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

Another domestic violence case. Then some kids kicking a cat bloody. The horrible truth of human nature all over the world, the same violence seen in Japan seen in Germany seen in the UK.

Another two weeks of this.

Eraserhead. Shinsou. Death. Blood.

Another week of this.

Insomnia. Worry. Dissociation. Hisashi.

Another day of this.

Internet. Apathy. Inko. Practicing OFA.

Izuku was tired.

And then--


The letter. The letter from UA, in his mother's hand, right after he got home from a walk.

Of course. Because the universe hated him, didn't it?


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 11: Things Go His Way????? What????


Hold fast to the joy of the rise; despise all thoughts you might descend. -MAG165

Quinn thank u for the inspiration have another chapter *throws words at you*

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

There was a.... A pause, almost, where Inko looked at Izuku and Izuku looked at Inko and at the same time neither of them were looking at anything at all.

The envelope, innocent, creamy expensive paper, lay in her hand. Crisp. Too thick to lay limp.

"Izuku," She asked, her voice shaking with some type of weightiness. "Izuku, why did UA send us a letter?"

In her eyes: Izuku, why did you lie to me?

There was a panic-attack stricken fear in his chest, almost. When someone called his name, or- or confronted him, always that awful tension of terror. It was an overreaction, Izuku knew this, but... It was prey staring down a predator about to pounce. It was freezing in the face of desolation.

"I.... I didn't...." A moment of stuttering, then the boxing up of his panic, shoving it to the dusty back corner, "Well, it's just fair that we open it before we discuss the contents, r-right? So, um, so, how about we read it together? Then we can speak a little bit."

Hopefully he could twist his failure into a story of "I went in, but it was way too much for me, so I decided to leave,". Hopefully he could get out of this at least alive. At least breathing.

Inko breathed in shakily, then nodded. Guilt pooled in Izuku's stomach. "Alright. I'll go get Hisashi."

"What do you need me for?" And of course. A slightly irritated voice drifted in the room. Whose would it be except for his?

That smell- aftershave and coffee and something distinctly toxic, like gasoline or cigarettes. Slick, thin, cinammon-dot freckles that dusted stark across his cheeks. Strangely snakelike blue irises that Izuku had learned looked green in the right light. Leaning into the doorframe, catching sight of the letter and twisting his expression into a slightly confused frown.

The emotion, paranoia, frantic, petrified, threatened to spill up Izuku's throat. This man will hurt me. No reason for it, irrational, irrational. Still. This man will hurt me. A bug in the back of his mind that said, from this angle he could smash his elbow into your face.

"Well, Izuku got a letter from UA, and we're going to read it as a family." Her voice was shaky, worried, wispy as always. God, did she ever sound confident?

Hisashi nodded and plucked the letter out of Inko's hands, striding to the table and sitting down with a groan. Inko perched beside him on the edge of a chair like a wary bird. "Alright... Let's read this, then."

There wasn't any sounds except for the distant ticking of the clock from across the room, and then ripping and a disk fell from the envelope and-

All Might. Who else? Of course it would be the face of the man who broke Izuku's heart once already. Who better than to do it again?

"I am here- as a projection! I came to this town to work at UA." Oh, goody goody. No- that's mean. Toshinori was trying his best and it was bad of Izuku to think such things. "You passed the written exam with flying colors- an amazing 98%! Nedzu would like to speak to you. But, sadly, you got 20 points on the physical exam... Which isn't enough to pass."

Isn't enough to pass.

Inko looked sadly at him while Hisashi shook his head in pity. Izuku just... Stared. He wasn't- his whole life, there was no other reason, no other way, no other purpose-

All Might's voice interrupted his internal monologue sharply. "If that was all to it, that is! Take a look at this video!"

Quickly switching to a different video feed (slightly grainy, possibly a security camera) it showed the girl from the entrance exam. What was her name? Ukra? Ukrara? It started with U. Izuku shook the thoughts from his head and tried to focus when she began to speak. "Uh... The boy with the curly green hair and freckles. Would it be possible to give him some of my points? I just don't think it's fair that he almost died because of me, and then- and then not pass!"

Switching back to All Might, who grinned even wider his iconic smile (if that was possible). "The entrance exam was not graded only on villain points! How can a hero course reject people who do the right thing? Rescue points! Izuku Midoriya, 70 points altogether!" A green point board showed on the screen, with a big 2 next to Izuku's name. He got... Second place? Seriously?

Second place. Pride swelled in his chest.

"And Uraraka Ochako, 45 points! You both pass!" She probably got all of her points from villains. Her quirk was cool. Her quirk was her own- whereas Izuku had a stolen one.

But this! This!

Inko was- tearing up? Her eyes shimmered at the lashline, drops dipping below and then spilling onto her cheeks. A trembling in her chin, muscles contracting, but a wobbly smile. "I- I, I don't-" And then her voice dropped, cracked, shattered onto the table with a light heave of a sob.

"Great job, Izuku!! God, I knew you could do it. My son. Of course you could! What did I say, honey?" Hisashi grinned, wide and open and shimmering. Izuku felt a tiniest twinge of irritation at the hypocrisy but he passed he passed he passed he passed.

His hair was ruffled by a big hand, and the cringe wasn't nearly as big, and the world was bright and... "I can't! I can't believe it I can't believe it can you guys believe it?!" Izuku bounced up and down on his toes, energy building up inside his chest like sunshine, warm and stunning, and he brought up his hands to shake them excitedly. "I got into UA! Second place!!!"

A watery laugh from Inko as she pushed back her chair and raced across the room to envelop him in a motherly hug. Warm. Warm and it barely prickled, and it was the best thing he had ever felt in his entire life. It was not too tight but somehow the pressure made him forget about what she was saying. But when he finally turned in it almost broke his heart. "Oh, honey. I'm so proud of you, so proud, you're going to do amazing, but... It'll be dangerous, I know, you're fragile, and... But, oh, if it makes you happy. I'm so proud, I'm so, so, so sorry." Repeated over and over in a quiet, gentle, stuffy tone.

Izuku almost joined in on her sobbing, but wrapped his arms around her instead. He was taller than her. When did that happen? How had he not noticed?

"Let me join in on this cuddle fest!" The deep voice of Hisashi, and suddenly everything was right, and maybe the hug was little too hot and maybe some part of him still was wary of his parents, it seemed... Better. Like none of the past ever happened.

When they finished hugging, there was a sort of awkward maneuver onto the couch to all sit together. A moment of silence in which Izuku fit just right under Inko's arm, for the first time in so long. Thankfully, Hisashi decided to sit next to Inko instead of Izuku. (Maybe he really should call them Mom and Dad, maybe he imagined everything else, maybe they were amazing and he was just dramatic-)

"Okay, honey. How did you- how did you manage to pass?" Inko said this tentatively, as if somehow she was knocking down walls to ask. Izuku swallowed.

Should I tell her about the power? She'll find out eventually anyway. I can just say I found it while training up my strength, and.... Oh! I didn't tell her because I wanted it to be a surprise after I passed. Right. Cool. We can do this. "Well.... Mom," the word sounded foreign on his tongue, "I have a quirk."

"W-what?" Soft. A breath of a word, hanging warm in the air. The clock ticked from across the room.

Hisashi turned to him, leaning so he could see Izuku over Inko. His face was slightly hostile, but other than that unreadable. ".... You were hiding it, all this time?" A monotone, even voice. It brought out some preylike fear in the pit of Izuku's stomach, panic and adrenaline from something as small as an expression.

".... Um, no, I just, well, I f- I found it when, uh, I was tr- training my strength, for um, the entrance exams. And, and um, I wanted it to be... A surprise. For when I.. Passed?" Terrible. He would be accused of lying, why did his tongue stutter, why why why. Why was it easy to lie with some things, and then harder with others? I'm going to die I'm going to die oh god he doesn't believe me aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thankfully, Inko spoke up first, though. "Oh, honey. That's amazing! You can protect yourself now! You're, you're normal, aren't you so glad? I'm so happy for you, baby. Can we, can we see it?"

There was no room for protest, not to that tearstained and hopeful face. Izuku's heart kind of broke at the 'you're normal' comment, but whatever. He reached for that warmth, the power, that was getting easier every single time, and molded it like putty into his limbs. Thrumming of wasps, burning warmth, and strands of red in his veins. The pain never gets easier. It never got easier. Izuku got better at pressing it down, though, so he was able to stand there with lava running in his skin as he was stared at. A spectacle. Circus unusual sight.

Hisashi's nose wrinkled. "That's all it can do? Make pretty lights?"

With a light laugh, Inko hit his arm. "Hey now. Making pretty lights is a wonderful quirk!" It was playful, but Hisashi's face wasn't. It was... Disdainful, almost. It felt like Izuku's heart was hitting the bottom of his stomach.

"No. It's, um, it's a strength quirk. I think that's why I needed to get stronger before it showed up, 'cause it's really powerful and would've probably blown my limbs off or something." A bumbling, mumbling explanation as the red leeched out with the pain. "I would try it out in front of you, but erm, it's pretty destructive so..."

With a cry of joy, Inko squeezed him in her arms again. "My baby has a quirk! After all these years, huh? You had to keep everyone in suspense!" She giggled, and he smiled shakily at her. Tentative happiness tried to climb up his limbs when with a quirk look at Hisashi it was confirmed: everyone was at least pleased.

"Uh, yeah, mom. And I'm going to UA!!" He was going to UA. The dream, the end goal, the reason for continuing to live on those bad days and nights and weeks and years. There was no other option. Ever since he was born there was nothing other than heroes, other than this. Another career was never seriously considered. As a hero he could be known, be remembered, be loved- but most of all he would be useful and he would do the thing he loved the most. Saving people.

And now he was living it. He was living it!! Flowers bloomed bright and happy in his chest, glimmering and perfect. Izuku was... He was right where he was always supposed to be. With Inko- his mom- and Hisashi- his dad. Happy, perfect, cat-nuzzling and sweet humming and purring felt right in his jaw where happiness always seemed to reside. Energy in his hands, he wanted to bring them up and shake it out.

But that was weird, so he didn't.

Still! Still the joy! There is- when you have finally achieved what you have been working your entire life for, what you have dreamed about for years and years... It's absolutely stunning. Stark against the blackness. Hope against the nothingness. Izuku had never seriously thought about another career- other than being dead, but did that count? He had never thought about another life, never dreamed about something other. It was practically the only choice in his head.

When you are this obsessed with something, you will stop at nothing to get to it. In school, analyzing heroes. After school, before school, working feverishly towards this one goal. Seeing that it wasn't just a fever dream was.... Indescribable.

So Izuku didn't describe it.

He just waited, and trained, and slept, all with excitement bubbling up everywhere. Happiness.

The first day.

Inko, "Izuku, your first day is-"

Shinsou, "Midoriya, my first day is-"

Even the news, "UA is opening-"



Izuku stared at his uniform, giddy, and hugged it to his chest one last time. In the morning, he would go to UA. UA! Still, hardly dampened, fizzing tingles in his stomach and fingertips. He would be loved in UA. Bullies weren't tolerated there. He had a quirk now. It was all, all, so... Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

(He should've known it wouldn't last.)


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 12: This Is Fine, It's Fine, Yes


But we joke and laugh. Otherwise we would start screaming. -Charles Bukowski

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"And you're sure you have everything?"

Izuku laughed gently, placing a hand on Inko's forearm. "It's fine, Mom."

Ever since he had been accepted into UA (or rather, told her that he had a quirk) she had been a lot more caring. Or, in her terms, a lot more anxious on his behalf. This was good, because finally he had the attention he had always wanted, but... On the other hand, she had come dangerously close to finding out about Ghost, and often restricted his comings and goings. Hisashi was around a lot more, too.

"Well... If you're sure." She tucked a handkerchief into the breast pocket of his blazer (UA blazer!! Izuku was reeling).

Today was the first day. Today was the first day. Was he going to throw up? Possibly. But was he the most excited he had ever been in his entire life??!!! Hell yes!! Ecstatic, almost! The embodiment of pure energy!!
Okay, maybe that was a bit dramatic. But you get his drift.

It took only a second to kiss Inko on her cheek, a second to run out the door. He was going to UA. It was almost like living in a dream, the sky bright bright robin's egg blue, and the world seeming realer than it had in a long time. Children and their mothers being lead down the street, alley cats winding between stranger's legs, laughter drifting down the street. Low, comforting chatter of the crowd. Everything smelled- Izuku inhaled again just to get the full experience- like bakeries and paper and people.

And people! They waved at him with smiles when they saw him wearing the UA uniform! Instead of avoiding him on the street after hearing of his quirklessness, they waved. It made Izuku want to cry, or grin until his mouth hurt. But he did neither of these things, and instead just bathed in the warmth of hope, taking a deep breath; a cat stretching in the sun. That was how it felt. Wonderful. Perfect.

The walk went by too fast, too much excitement. A phrase that soccer moms always said floated past his thoughts- time flies when you're having fun. How could he have fun when he's literally just walking? It didn't matter. Because there was UA, all blue glass and reflections and high intimidating walls. The famous shape of the building- looking more like an H than a U in Izuku's opinion, but whatever- and the reporters clamoring around.

This was it. This was who he wanted to be. And knowing that you're becoming who you want, that you're on the right path... Izuku thought his chest would burst with this light, humming, emotion. Definitely positive. There was no word for it, but it made him so happy.

Okay. Okay. You can do this Izuku. Okay.

Just.... Go in. Just walk in.

It was the hardest thing he had ever done. The easiest. Oh god this was UA!! This was UA. And he was walking on UA grounds. And he was going to a UA class. Sparkles fizzed beneath his lungs and in his jaw and all between his fingertips. UA!

Wait this is UA I need to make a good impression, am I walking right, oh my god is my hair messed up?? He had thought about putting a barrette or two in his hair this morning, because they made him feel even more light, but Hisashi saw him doing it a few weeks earlier and said he looked like a girl, so he didn't. Was it fashionable? God, wait, that didn't matter because who cared if it was, he was in UA!!!

The building was so big and shimmering in the sunlight. Izuku paused, for just a second, taking it all in- and then realized he didn't know what time it was so he should probably get going before he was late.

Winding, shifting hallways. They had numbers, ones that barely made sense, but after a few confusing twists and turns he managed to find it. A frankly huge door... Although it was more like an archway, because there was nothing to open or close. And that meant that Izuku couldn't take a moment to prepare himself before he was thrust into the judgement of his classmates.

The horrifying ordeal of being perceived.
Eyes. All looking right at him. Dark. He didn't know what they wanted, scrambling pupils making his heart drop and clatter into his feet, all heavy and anxious and sudden. He couldn't think. So, panicking, his mouth numb- "What, you guys just can't take your eyes off my handsome face?" Flirty tone drifting from unfeeling lips.

A boy from within the classroom scoffed. Blue hair and glasses; the same boy from the entrance exam. "If you refuse to take class seriously, then I must ask for you to leave! To treat such an institution as a- as a stage for such disgusting shenanigans..."

"Hah, alright. Figures that with those glasses you'd be such a stickler, eh?" Izuku was dying. He couldn't breathe. Why was he still talking?? This was supposed to be good, but he was ruining it.

A prudish, offended gasp later, Izuku was in the classroom. How? His feet, surely, didn't move? It was a blurry smudge of unimportant memory erased before he could experience it.

"Alright, Izuku." He muttered almost-silently to himself, setting his shoulders back. "We can do this. Okay. We messed up a little," the stinging pinches of guilt within the haunting wrongness was enough to remind him of this, "But it can be fixed. Just apologize and it'll be okay. We'll be okay. It's not ruined yet."

It was stupid, to comfort himself like this. To pet at his own hair, mutter sweet nothings to himself in the middle of a panic attack. But- nevermind. He was in UA! It didn't take much to suck in a shaky breath, then push it out again. Little tingles of excitement (dampened, but still there) began to reawaken in his lungs. Right. It was okay. It was fine. It was okay. Another deep breath, then survey the surroundings.

A door in the front. Windows all along the side, which wasn't surprising in the slightest considering the appearance of UA. He could break them if he really needed to escape. There was a tree near enough that maybe he could climb it. No hiding spots, really, except the ceiling vent- although climbing through the vents was something only in books. Maybe not, though? Who knew. He would try it later. Approximately 12 students, new ones leaking in every now and then. Dangerous, but as they were hero students, it wouldn't get physical if they decided to hurt him- probably.

Someone sat in the seat beside him and his skin prickled and tingled and this cringing flinching sense that meant too close. More than uncomfortable. Izuku sat as close to the window as he could, pressing limbs into his torso. Whoever sat near him would get the silent treatment, as per the New Izuku Personality. Class Clown Izuku would've cracked a joke and tried to talk to them, but now he wasn't! That was, like, progress... Right?

Or maybe it was being antisocial, but whatever.
A quick glance out of the corner of his eye showed a boy with straight black hair and dark eyes. Unclear quirk- there were strange wrinkles around his elbows, though, so maybe something having to do with the joints? Detachable arms, maybe? Fascinating. Izuku's fingers itched for his notebook, wanting to theorize and try to get as accurate as possible. Wait- no, he can't- but yes, he can. Because he was going to be himself. That meant it was okay to analyze.

But not right now! Just... Not right now. Because what if, and the boy with the glasses was watching him, and it was rude to write about people without their permission. Plus, class would start soon, and it was a waste of time, and shouldn't he be a little bit more normal, just to offset that class-clown affair?

And then, with an unnecessarily dramatic entrance, Bakugou.

You know the drill; blonde hair that looked like it had gone through an explosion, messy uniform, dangerous glaring eyes. Ugh. Somehow the back of his mind flinched, flinched in a way that made his mouth draw thin in a too-sharp smile. Fight or flight, the books said.
Fight, flight, or smile. Fight, flight, or f*cking act your ass off. Hyperventilating muscle-clenching energy, that made him grin and- "Kacchan! What a wonderful surprise! You here to give your faa~vourite person a visit?" f*ck. No. He didn't mean to, that-

A growl. Popping explosions in his hands, and in the background Uraraka tried to move closer but Iida stopped her. His mouth was moving but Izuku couldn't hear anything over Bakugou's yells of "f*ckING DEKU! HOW THE f*ck DID SUCH A USELESS IDIOT GET INTO UA?!!"

Yeah. I wonder. How did such a useless f*ck-up deku- nope. Not gonna get into those thoughts today. "Oh..." This word was trilled flirtily. "You think I would tell you? It's a wonder how a rabid dog has learned to speak!"

Rushing mind. There was no choice. It was habit, it was immediate sharp comebacks that were pulled from beneath his tongue. Bakugou was too easy, it was too easy to fall back into old routines when there were these same instances that he used to know how to respond to. Because knowledge of pain was better than not knowing at all.

I'll do better tomorrow. After a little research. Tomorrow I'll apologize. Right now I'll just scope out everything. It'll.... It's fine for now.

Oh, a burning hand coming close to his head. Maybe it would scar. A nice explosive smack across the face, or maybe his desk would be blown up. Or his uniform. God, no, please not the uniform, it was really expensive.

Heat. So close, like a flame against your palm, sweet nitroglycerin burnt sugar, swimming hot air mirage, gasping burning flinching at the anticipation of all-embracing pain. Blinding black spots in his vision like looking at the sun for too long, except everything was the sun and it was too hot and he was burning, burning, ash crumbling stuttering, breathe.

"Fighting will not be tolerated here. If you're going to spar, do it in the gym or not at all."

Someone was speaking; Izuku was watching life through a flat-screen TV. Bakugou got out of his face, and though the world was no longer filled with red eyes and explosions... It was not better. Nope. Because now he saw their teacher- who was currently introducing himself as Aizawa Shouta- and realized who it was.

This.... Is not good.

But UA was still good! Sure, maybe he got off on the wrong foot and now he was getting glared at for fighting. Maybe Uraraka was avoiding him now because the boy- Iida, apparently- had told her something. Maybe Eraserhead was his teacher. But that was okay!! There was still time to fix it! There was- it was- Izuku swallowed down the sudden prickling in his throat. It's okay.

"Put these on." Oh, hooray. Gym uniforms. Izuku could only hope they were washed, but of course they were, because this was UA. The fabric was probably made of stardust and gold, or something. Izuku snorted at his own thoughts and earned another glare.

"Do you have something to say?"

Midoriya swallowed, lips beginning to tilt upwards nervously. Why did he always smile when he was nervous?! "No, sir." Wait, was his voice recognisable?? Oh no. Oh lord. Why. Why was he living. This was not the plan.

Whatever. He got out to the locker rooms with little to no trouble, and hid himself in a shower stall to change. Urgh. The sleeves were short, but thankfully not the pants. Maybe some scars were visible, but that was fine- no wait, the scar from the knife and Eraserhead, and he'll see and know-!! Whatever. It was mostly faded by now, and if you weren't looking for it, it would probably escape your notice. Right. It was fine.

Bakugou kept giving the arm a weird look, though, so Izuku kind of just... Casually avoided him. It was fine. It's fine. Everything was fine. Izuku was definitely not going to hyperventilate. Nope. Why would you think that?!

Isn't this classified as torture?? Izuku thought once he got outside, because it felt like the sun was melting his skin and crawling it off in sweaty drops. And then he shook his head at his own thoughts. Having your nose broken was much worse. In fact, real torture was hardly comparable to this, and he shouldn't be complaining, even if he's uncomfortable. Uncomfortable was nothing, not when the world could be bleeding and he could be a two-headed calf and he was so lucky.

"We're doing quirk apprehension tests. Ball-throwing, endurance run, all of that." A tired statement, said with a slow blink. Izuku tried not to think about the fact that Eraserhead was standing less than 10 feet away. The rest of the students, though, began to chatter excitedly- someone yelled 'this is going to be fun' but Izuku didn't hear who.

He just thought; fun? Do you think hero work is fun? Do you think life is fun? And then he shut it down, of course, because these were children. They were children. (Why wasn't he including himself in that group? Why did he feel like he was their protector, somehow?)

Izuku was the only one holding back, though, because Eraserhead's eyes narrowed and he took a threatening step forward. "Fun? If you think this is fun, you'll love hero work. Being maimed, killed. Friends being torn apart in front of you." His stance was- it made Izuku's shoulders tense in anticipation. "Fine. Whoever comes in last... Is expelled."

God, did you really need the dramatic pause? Izuku thought, detached. Kids around him began to panic, but he was just... Kind of worn out. Like, really? The world really needs to make this even harder for me?

"Right. Bakugou; first place on the entrance exams. Would you mind stepping up and throwing this ball without your quirk? Don't leave the circle."

Of course Bakugou was first place in the entrance exams. Of course he was above Deku- he always would be. Izuku let out a humourless breath through his nose, mouth quirking up in a bitter smile for just a moment before it dropped again. The novelty had worn off a bit by now, replaced by the sight of Eraserhead and the very real danger that he would be discovered.

Even now he saw tired black eyes from the corner of his vision and tensed. Danger everywhere, and it was taking all of his self-control not to crack a joke. But... What if that was what they wanted?

As Bakugou threw, Izuku's mind was going triple-time. What if he would be liked better if he just let himself go all-out? Class Clown Izuku was liked. Class Clown Izuku brought him this far.... Actually, why was he even trying to be himself? If it was this hard to, wasn't his real self the Class Clown anyway?

Yeah. Yeah, he'd just do what felt natural, and people liked Class Clown Izuku!! So... It was okay.

Aizawa called out a number that Izuku didn't quite hear; reprimanded himself for not paying attention, and then resolved to tune in. Next was Uraraka, then a kid with blonde hair and sparkles that Izuku couldn't quite identify as either gender, then the rest of the class. Uraraka made the ball float into space!! And got an infinity!! Something inside of Izuku itched to write this down, but there was no material, so he settled for bouncing on the balls of his feet and rubbing the pads of his fingers against each other.


Oh no oh f*ck oh no oh f*ck oh no oh no no no, no thank you goodbye. Except he couldn't just leave because, one, this was UA, and two, people would look at him. Well, time to go make a fool of himself in front of the entire class! On the bright side, he was used to this. But on the other hand... If he failed, he would fail. As in being kicked out of UA. Hisashi would probably laugh at him for days.

Bakugou was saying something about him being a quirkless loser. Eraserhead didn't even stop him, which- yeah, fair. Izuku wouldn't either. But, this was UA. Nobody argued...

Weren't they supposed to argue?

With shaking legs he made his way into the circle, hardly processing the world around him. The ball in his hand was strangely smooth, and heavier than he would've thought. Not much of a challenge for him, though. A warmth in his stomach to reach out to, spread thin over each muscle, let seep in like lotion. Warm, warm, then hot as he gently nudged the energy to herd to his throwing arm.

Wind back, and then-

Forcibly taken. The support out of his limbs, the blood out of his veins. Something was sinking beneath his feet. Powerless again. Quirkless, useless, deku, taken away, he was nothing without it, give it back, he was nothing without this stolen worth please give it back. His fingers curled around nothing, eyes slamming shut, and his lungs were paralyzed and the air was too heavy and too close and stay away from me no no no stay away stay away stay away don't touch me please don’t don’t don’t.


With that one word in Eraserhead's voice, his eyes snapped back open. The panic was bubbling dangerously, but he forcibly pushed it onto a back burner and slammed a lid on it. Right. Feel emotions later, make sure you don't get kicked out of UA now. Thankfully, nobody was laughing, or looking at him with anything other than mild annoyance. Or in Bakugou's case, absolute rage, but that was just how he was, right?

"... As I was saying, someone like you should never be allowed to enroll in this school. You don't have control over your quirk." Izuku almost snorted, almost shot a look at Bakugou, but thankfully he had self-control. "Were you counting on someone else to save your useless body after you wreck it in a battle?"

He wasn't looking for a response. The red eyes and floating hair meant no nonsense. The urge to crack a joke was hardly there in the face of this sort of danger, and thankfully, Izuku resisted it. That didn't stop Eraserhead's writhing capture weapon from snapping dangerously close. "No matter what your intentions were, you'd be nothing but a liability on the field. With your power, there's no way you can become a hero."

Eraserhead blinked once in his direction, red eyes becoming black and his hair resting upon his shoulders again- and something changed. Izuku's feet felt a little more solid, and something had returned. Whole again.

That didn't stop Izuku's mind from resting and flitting around the words no way you can become a hero. With a quirk or without a quirk, eh? Useless deku nonetheless. Stupid deku. It must just be him then, right? His personality?

Wow, huh, the panic that he had shoved into the back of his mind? It was frothing, overflowing onto the floor. Hmm. How nice and convenient. Was Eraserhead looking to kill him?! "Wow, fantastic." Izuku muttered to himself, earning another quirked glare that made his toes curl in sudden panic-hopelessness-uncomfortable. (He resolved to avoid any more glares.)

Concentrating. Alright. No breaking his arm. No being a liability. Did that mean he could break a finger? No, of course it didn't, working around the rules just earned being yelled at, not compliments. Easy enough, just don't go past the warmth into burning-boiling skin. Well... It would be pretty cool to not want to die every time after he used the quirk anyway. (He would want to die no matter what he did.)

So, picking up the ball again and watching it shine slightly in the sun, he coaxed just a bit of the quirk into his hand. Enough that it was lukewarm- but probably not enough to do much. Once he started channeling more than that tiny bit, though, it was hard to stop. Like a flock of sheep following the few that broke off.

Red sparks caught in his fingers, beginning to become unbearable, creaking bending, kinetic energy. That's when he cut it off, like pushing rocks into a stream. A little bit still trickled through, but he was able to clench his teeth and draw back his arm and-

(The anxiety crawled up his chest, sharpening into tiny kneading claws at the best-worst finale moment-)



Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 13: Tone Down The Angst A Bit, Geez (No)


No-one gets what they deserve. Not in this place. They just get whatever hurts them the most. -MAG178

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

More than 700 meters.

That's what Izuku threw. More than 700 meters. He couldn't remember the exact number, but he did remember how Bakugou ran at him with fingertips burning hot and bright. How it smelled like burnt sugar and how instinctively, Izuku's mouth turned up in a nervous smile. How he made some dumbass remark about attitude, and how nobody looked scared after that.

But that didn't matter, because there was danger and the sudden adrenaline-driven need to cover his head with his arms, but also to joke and smile, fighting against each other. In the end his hands were halfway up but his eyes were all scrunched in a grin. Contradicting. Ugly.

Before he could take the pain or make another stupid comment, though, Bakugou was bound up in the capture scarf. Even Eraserhead didn't look at Izuku with sympathy. Just mild annoyance (of course, because he was a deku no matter what-). Just a sharp raven's beak tearing look. It reminded Izuku of Hisashi. Contempt no matter how well he did. Ink pools spilled inside eye sockets. Empty dark gaze.

Soon, the scores were revealed. Izuku was close enough to the middle to be unexceptional (unnoticed, the best way to avoid bullies), but close enough to the bottom to feel ashamed. He could've done better, could've done better, but he only ended up using his power on like two of the tests. The vigilante work probably helped him with the others, but still. The perfectionist inside him, the ex-gifted kid, was utterly unhappy with the result. What did that matter, though?

Eraserhead revealed that nobody was getting expelled, yadda yadda yadda. Izuku should've been more excited. But the constant high panic took something out of him and now there was only a heaviness that sat right at the bottom of his stomach and pulled each step downwards through air like quicksand. Sinking and drowning and leaving, again. Arms and legs in the way, too many fingers and not enough eyes and...

Yeah. Unnatural. Izuku just swallowed and tried to focus on his breath and the way that the light hit his hands. On the long, fading scar on his forearm. On changing fast enough that he wasn't late for his next class. Time blurred like a fingerprint smudge in a window, frantically pulling on clothes because the passing periods were always too short for changing at a relaxed pace. That was until he came out of the room and shut his uniform in his locker.

"Hey bro, where did you get that gnarly scar?"

Izuku jumped at the sound of someone's voice far too close to his ear. Turning, a boy with stiff red hair (shiny and hard with far too much hair gel) and a shark-like grin appeared to be the one who spoke. Nervously, Izuku started to smile in return. "Um...." A pause, uncomfortable. People were peering curiously at him to try and see the scar. Panic and panic and there was no excuse and what was the excuse-

"Angry ex-girlfriend with a spork. You know how it is." Crossing his arms in a way that was almost casual to cover it. A winning grin as he straightened out his shoulders. Falling back into old habits. Comfortable. So uncomfortable. Panic resided in the hollow of his throat and gathered there like rainwater.

Another unwelcome voice weighed in. "We all know that's not how you got it, stupid deku." Bakugou's voice was at a normal tone for once, but also strangely gravelly. Izuku didn't need to guess why- it was probably because he thought the scar was from a suicide attempt.

(In a rare bout of malice, Izuku didn't try to correct him. If he ever did try to die, then it would be largely Bakugou's fault. Why not let him believe what almost became the truth? It's not like there were physical marks from that day on the rooftop. There was guilt in this action but also cruel satisfaction. Even a fleeting thought that Bakugou deserved it, that was crushed down immediately by the growing fear that Izuku was a monster.)

It didn't matter. Izuku made his way to his next class, which just happened to be English with Present Mic, and tried to avoid being touched in the hallways. Eyes down. Hallways were always the most dangerous, second only to locker rooms and sometimes bathrooms. It was almost impossible to get positive attention there, so be invisible.

Bell ringing and shattering through his skull.

The rest of the classes went well enough; bright yellow heroes and personalities inside a learning cage. Some of them did stupid get-to-know-you activities, while others got right into the work. Present Mic had everyone introduce themselves with their pronouns and favourite song. It was achingly easy, although that was good, after the stress of the morning. (Present Mic did look at him strangely, sometimes, though.... Maybe he was just surprised Izuku wasn't expelled yet.)

Izuku could hardly bring himself to write down notes on the heroes right in front of him. Instead he sketched a few poses in the margins of his paper- cheesy superhero ones. Drawing was always sort of an escape. Most of the time he just did pencil lines, and practice for new hero drawings in analysis. But... Alright, so sometimes he did other stuff. There was always some shame in doing something just for him, so at least this he could write off as useful. (Because if he wasn't useful, what was he? If he wasn't useful, then...)

It didn't matter. He floated through the rest of the day with pencil smudges on the side of his hand.

Lunch? It wasn't like anybody wanted him to sit with him, and Inko hadn't remembered to make a bento or give him money (why was he expecting that of her, it was his responsibility anyway, he was old now). So.... Yeah, maybe Izuku skipped lunch. But to be fair he probably wouldn't have been able to stomach it anyway, and the growling in his stomach was, in a cruel satisfactory way, a reminder that he was alive.

Alive. Yeah. He was alive. Alive. Why was that so foreign, again?

And then the day was over. His first day at UA, over. Wasn't the best, but Izuku supposed it could be worse. Plus, there was always tomorrow, right! And maybe Uraraka would come around, and the boy- Iida- would apologize. Actually, Izuku should apologize.

As the last bell rang, he nodded to himself. Hope was not lost yet. He just needed to be funnier. In UA interrupting classes was obviously not the way to go, and now he knew that 'your mom' jokes weren't either! Learning from failures was, like, a good tactic! Right? Something like that??

Shaking the thoughts away, Izuku attempted to focus on putting away his things. His mind just kept wandering at all times. This was not exactly the best thing, as Cementoss had started a new math unit today (obviously it was new, first day of classes and all). So yeah, maybe he hadn't paid attention. But! But there was still time to get it! He would study after school today, he promised himself as he heaved his backpack over his shoulders.

The girl from before passed, Uraraka. Her bob of brown hair bounced with every step in that bubbly girly way, you know, how you can see their hair swaying from behind. Izuku couldn't help but think that he wanted to braid it, maybe. His was far too short. Wait! Maybe she would walk with him? Isn't that what friends do?

Quickly though, he shook the thought from his head. If someone wanted to interact with him, then they would do it. He didn't need to be forcing his presence on everyone. Right.

Eraserhead was looking at him.

Now, this was usually a normal thing, especially in classrooms. Teachers tended to look at their pupils, if only to check that they were paying attention. But even after class, Izuku felt the dark gaze. There wasn't anything creepy about it, no. If anything, it was only disconcerting because he knows about my vigilante identity aaAaahhhhh I'm going to actually die.

If you knew Izuku by now you knew that he made very stupid and impulsive decisions that look absolutely reasonable in the moment but are actually awful. One of these decisions was meeting Eraserhead's eyes head on and smirking. "What, Aizawa? Too dazzled to look away?" Should he stop here? No, that made it sound like Aizawa was a pedophile, and Izuku respected him too much to do that.

"... By my clothes, perhaps? It's understandable, when all you live in are black sweatpants. Can't your eleven cats take you shopping? Oh, no, sorry. I suppose alley cats don't really count as pets, but then again, does a cardboard box count as a home?"

No honourific, to be as inappropriately intimate as possible without saying 'Shota'. Hopefully the cheeky wink was enough to separate Angsty Vigilante Ghost Who Stabbed Himself from Izuku Midoriya. Maybe he overdid it a little, but it was better than being discovered. Right?

And as expected, it did its job. A little too well.
Eraserhead narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaw before turning to address the class as a whole- or at least the ones who hadn't already darted out of the room. "This is your only warning. Messing around in class might have been acceptable at your old classrooms, but if you disrespect me or your classmates, expect an immediate expulsion. Midoriya, this goes doubly for you."

"Geez, being called out a little here, aren't we?" He muttered to himself, throwing his bag over his shoulder and pushing through the throng of classmates to try and get to the (currently bottlenecked) door. "The bell has rang, my dudes. Bully Izuku Time is over."

(In reality he knew that he deserved it. In fact, he probably deserved much worse. But there was... There was no choice. He wanted to cry- but in a backwards, twisted way, wanting to cry made him laugh. If he didn't laugh he would cry and there was no other option. He dutifully filed away the 'no disrespect' card, though.)

One last thing Aizawa called before the entire class had filtered out- "A classmate is joining us tomorrow. He's late due to... Extenuating circ*mstances. I expect you to be respectful towards him. Dismissed."

The halls of UA were no less of a maze than they were that morning, but thankfully the stream of students led him to the exit easily enough. Pushing bodies, warmth and the smell- ugh, high school boys were no different in UA than anywhere else. Maybe even worse, because of all the physical activity. And they kept touching him. Izuku didn't mind touch from a few very select people, including Shinsou and literally nobody else, but this made his skin burn. He could feel each brush of the shoulder minutes after it happened, and it tingled and ached strangely and just.


Whatever, it was.... Fine. Soon he was outside, with the strangely cool air hitting his skin and the short sleeves of the uniform feeling too short for a moment. Finally. It wasn't as if he hated UA, of course not, how could he hate the school that he idolized for years? But school was always draining. Perhaps moreso than it was expected to be.

The students left in waves- some of them rushed to catch a subway, some of them walked at a leisurely pace. Some with friends, some without. Izuku was left alone, but it was the first day, and really... It was optimistic of him to think that he would gain friends so quickly. No, it would happen soon. That's what he promised himself.

The sky- greyish. Birds seemed to be quieter, all muffled out by the ceaseless chatter of students that seemed to not be able to stop talking. Mouths moving in words still. Don't they ever run out of things to say? His ears were ringing.

One step in front of another. He would pass the gates soon. Another step, another step, again, just don't fall-
"Midoriya!" A voice, and then someone was touching him on the shoulder and his breath caught and he had to shove it away, had to flinch away, primal tensing of the shoulders and a quick spin to face his opponent. Oh. It was Uraraka! Her cheeks were flushed even more now from running to him, and Iida walked quickly to catch up.

"Hello~! You-" He was about to make a joke just then, something flirty and uncomfortable, but Izuku quickly shut it down and took a breath. She was the only person that didn't hate him, there was no reason to ruin it. "Um, d-do you have something you need me for?"

She nodded with a little bit more enthusiasm than the situation called for, bouncing on her toes. "Yeah! I was wondering if you wanted to walk with us, at least a bit of the ways! We-"


Iida caught up just then, and he wasn't even out of breath. Or at least not out of breath enough to deny Izuku his only chance of happiness, thanks a lot. "I'm sure he has other things to do. People to insult inadvertently, perhaps, or to make inappropriate quips whenever the situations do not call for it?"

A tightening of the chest, ignored with a snarky internal comment. Rude. You just don't know humor when you see it.

"Iida, he's-"

The boy clenched his jaw, beginning to chop at the air in quick motions. Izuku did not flinch. "I cannot allow you to sully your reputation so! This.... This scoundrel has disrespected UA and its inhabitants not once. Not twice. More than three times! And that's only today. Unacceptable. Uraraka, I mean this in the kindest way. You will be ruined if you associate with him."

"Wow," Izuku muttered under his breath while Uraraka was shocked silent. "Didn't know the 'your mom' joke was enough to make me a scoundrel. Kind of rude of you, but go off, I guess."

Iida looked about ready to yell at him again but thankfully the only nice person here spoke. "Ah- um, okay. I'm not sure we go your way anyway! But I'll talk to you tomorrow-" A not-so-subtle look from Iida later and her voice quieted. "-maybe."

I can tell where I'm not wanted, Izuku thought with bitter drama, but instead just smiled. "That's okay! Have fun!"

God. One day at UA and he had already ruined it, hadn't he?


This chapter was bad but you don't get a different one <3

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 14: How Was School, Honey?


A living hell is, after all, still living.

This is a really triggering chapter. It doesn't depict self harm, but it does feature a lot of thought about it. There is also a kind-of suicide attempt. If you're likely to be triggered, PLEASE skip this chapter. At the end is a summary. :)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

After school, there was hardly any choice than to pull on his dark sweatshirt and black spider-lily adorned mask. Stress relief, right? It was earlier than he usually went out to fight crime, but at least the sky had darkened. He hadn't done homework or studied like he'd promised himself, but he'd do that.... Later.

Inko wouldn't notice anyway. And Hisashi? The house was dark. Gone. Where? Izuku didn't know, and didn't particularly care.

The fabric was too scratchy, dollar-store stuff, but Izuku just ran faster. And maybe his toes were starting to numb because his shoes were falling apart and it was a chilly night. Maybe he dug his fingernails into his forearm until it gouged when he couldn't find a fight quickly enough. But after talking a middle-aged man down from a bridge and finding a girl crumpled and attempting to put her stained shirt back on in an alleyway, he wasn't Izuku anymore.

Teeth seeming sharper than they were as the Class Clown, eyes brighter. It was strange- like pulling on the costume made him a different person. The uncomfortable quality of the mask faded away, along with the cold of the night and the uncanny roughness of something in his shoe. Listening only for screams or police sirens. The everlasting anxiety of needing to be useful melted away with the relief knowledge of helping.

A crunching of tires on gravel. Ghost pulled his hood down with one gloved hand as he noticed a police car drawing close.

No sirens, or lights- probably someone on lunch break, or at the end of their shift. Judging by the time of evening, the latter would be more likely. Soon enough, though, he was spotted- pretty easily, as he had started to become more popular, damn that reporter. Lights went on, and a quiet little 'woo-woop' warning of sirens. It made Ghost smile for some reason, because the sound made him wanna wiggle a bit in proportion to it, okay, like dancing, a lil shimmy-

AAaaaaa wait they saw me time to go.

The car had started to chase him, albeit half-heartedly. Actually, cops in general had been noticing him more lately, but that didn't really make a difference? Police were technically supposed to catch vigilantes, but they were noticeably lax towards those who didn't cause harm. From listening in on police radios, Izuku had already learned most of the regularly-used 10 codes (such as 10-42 for an ending shift, or 10-10 for a fight in progress). At this point, he was half-convinced they wanted him to know them with all the yelling of codes and names and sh*t.

Officer Sansa was Ghost's favorite to mess with- Izuku left tins of cat food at his frequently patrolled areas and the like. It was amusing. Doubly so when, one uneventful patrol when Izuku had enough time to stake out the cat food, and Sansa rolled his eyes visibly. That wasn't the end of it, though- after being pestered by a fellow officer about it, Sansa actually stuck a finger into the cat food and ate it. Izuku almost fell off of the building laughing, and got a middle finger and a few curses for his efforts. Still.

As expected, though, the car gave up after a few turns into thin alleyways and a clumsy hop up onto a dumpster and then onto a roof. There hadn't been a lot of activity today- maybe more underground heroes were out, or the stupid college students were too busy with the first day to have parties. In any case, this gave Ghost time to break.

Which was actually a bad thing because now he noticed he was hungry (not eating anything but a granola bar for at least 48 hours will do that to you). And he noticed that he was tired, and that he ached, and that he hadn't spoken to Shinsou in nearly three weeks. Most of all, though, it gave his mind a chance to transition from Ghost into Izuku again.

It's only after the fact that you really register when something bad has happened, in Izuku's experience. He could chop off a finger and be absolutely fine, and then five months afterwards he would shoot up in bed and just- what the f*ck. So in this case, he began to register the absolute f*cking idiot he was in school.

The first day of UA and he was that much of an idiot? Goddamnit, Izuku. He was supposed to meet with Nedzu in a few weeks as well, once the beginning-of-the-year testing was finished and graded... But let's be honest, though he may be book smart, he's a complete f*cking idiot about social things.

Even as a vigilante he still acted like a kid! Even when he turned 15 he still was acting so young. Shouldn't he be, ya know, actually good at stuff by now?? Good at anything other than pissing off strangers? Ruining self-impressions and being a general failure. Some pervasive anxiety and need to do something with his life.

Izuku scraped his hand across the gravelly concrete of the roof, then remembered he had gloves on when it didn't hurt. He growled almost tearfully in frustration, shoulders creeping up to his ears as he fumbled with the black cotton- and then stopped. Paused. See, Izuku wasn't stupid. He knew what he was doing from the very start. But now, seeing the patterns in his logistic way... Bad thoughts or emotions turn to an urge to hurt himself. Yep.

There was a very strong urge not to think about it anymore. He just swallowed, pinched his arm a bit too hard, and focused on school. That was definitely a problem.

He needed to make up a new personality. They didn't like Class Clown, and as far as he could see, Normal Izuku was unacceptable as well. What if he started out with the Class Clown thing, but adjusted his humor away from disrespect and towards memes? People liked memes, right? Or, adjusted himself based on how they reacted? Yeah. They might hate him for the first week or so, but then after he changed they would warm up to him. You can't change too quickly or they'll think you're faking, which you are.

Nodding to himself, Izuku pulled his hood up closer around his face. Eraserhead's shift would start soon, and he didn't particularly feel like facing his apparent teacher right now.

And once he got home, he dismissed the papers stacked on his desk and laid in bed, something heavy weighing on his chest. Pinpricks of guilt stabbed at him- do your homework, bitch!! But he was so tired. The air was sticky syrup and it took effort to breathe, oxygen thick and leaving residue in his lungs. He could hardly think, the world seeming less real than it did normally. Doing math like this would plummet his grade worse than a missing worksheet.

... He'd study tomorrow.

He did not, in fact, study tomorrow.

Or the next day. Or the day after that.

In school, he struggled so badly he wanted to cry, but always promised himself he would fix it at home.... Whereas at home it felt hardly important, faraway. Schoolwork was usually easy for him, so damn easy. UA was made for advanced kids, though, so now finally he was getting a challenge- and of course Izuku, unused to academic challenges as he was, got frustrated any time something didn't make sense immediately.

At least through Ghost he was able to help. That tenseness in his chest eased a little bit with each whimpering child dissolving into laughs, with each criminal delivered to justice, even with each homeless person lead to a shelter or given some Sodium-Free Chicken Soup. Why was there always so much Sodium-Free Chicken Soup? All the alley cats loved him.

Oh! The alley cats!! He classified them as his only friends and family. His favourite was a mother cat he named Brindle, who was the first cat he found. Still hostile and still a bit thin, but she had warmed up enough that she allowed him to pet her.... But only if he gave her food first. The kittens were much more trusting, a mixture of tabby and calico in dirty fluffy fur. Three of them.

One kitten was extremely courageous, white underbelly but with little patches of black and orange all over her tail, back, and ears. She clambered into his lap almost immediately after the mother deemed it safe to do so. Izuku wasn't sure about a name for her at first, but after asking Shinsou, she was deemed Beans And Toast- Beans for short.

The second was always hiding behind her mother, so Izuku never knew she existed until one day at feeding time she crawled out from underneath Brindle's paws. All black but with a neat little patch of tabby orange across her nose and onto her chin, like someone had put orange paint in the middle of her forehead and it had dripped down. Little bits of brownish orange were also seen scattered across her coat in the streetlights. In homage to this, Izuku decided to name her Marmalade. It also kept with the breakfast theme.

And finally, there was Kyle. Named because.... Okay, maybe Izuku had binged vines with Shinsou for an hour and a half, and step the f*ck up, Kyle! was stuck in his head. Was it normal to get phrases stuck in your head? Whatever. He was pretty much a normal brownish-orange tabby cat. The only defining features were a whitish spot on his nose, and an orange tabby patch curling around the inside of his left eye.

Often he found himself talking to them while they ate their sodium-free soup or (when he could afford it) tins of on-sale cat food. About Hisashi, about Inko, about school, and... Well, about Shinsou.

Second day. Remember the 'visitor'? That Aizawa announced?


The moment Izuku saw that head of familiar spiky purple hair in the doorway he was absolutely, totally, completely, utterly f*cked. Aizawa probably introduced him to everyone before sitting him down in the back (conveniently near Izuku- thanks a lot, Eraserhead). No words were said at first, just staring- Izuku noticed that Shinsou had white pupils- and then there was something slamming down on his desk. And hands and too close and something terrified made him whimper and show his teeth in what would've been a snarl but looked a bit too much like a grin.

"You- you f*cking- lied. You lied. Did you hate me that much?? Do you think it's- f*cking funny!?" Izuku did not think it was funny, but he couldn't stop smiling because that's what you did when you were afraid, you smiled, because when you smiled you weren't yelled at for crying.

Shinsou took this differently. Izuku didn't completely remember the words he said next, something about pretending and how he already had it bad enough without Izuku. Whatever. Sure, he didn't remember. That didn't matter.

It didn't really matter, because what he did remember was how absolutely devastated it made him. Like a punch to the stomach, air pushed out of your lungs and gasping and whimpering and clawing. He pinched himself in small periods throughout the rest of the day to keep himself from crying, but the next day when he woke up and saw the class there was no emotion at all. Like yeah, he registered that he used to feel bad, but that had been pushed from his mind and something guided his thoughts gently away when he tried to revisit the emotions. That was bad, probably.

But you know what was even better than that gem?! The fact that Shinsou absolutely ignored him afterward. Uraraka sent him apologetic glances for the first week or so and then forgot about him. It was just glares from everyone else. Or the neutral ones- like Koda, a rock boy with an animal speech quirk- were scared off by Iida's dislike of him. Because Iida was lawful good, Iida was the class president now, and nobody was willing to be ostracized as well.

Still, Izuku had Brindle! And, and he had Beans, and Marmalade, and Kyle. He didn't need anyone else. Yeah, his mom was acting more and more anxious lately (thin shaking hands checking in on him a minimum of twice an hour). Yeah, Hisashi (his dad? Should Izuku call him that?) had started drinking a little bit. Maybe his grades were falling fast and maybe he got two hours of sleep every night and maybe he needed to scratch a little deeper to get the relief now.

But he was handling it! He was handling it. He had his sketchpad (that he didn't dare bring to school anymore because kids thought it counted as 'friendly teasing' to take it). And he had Ghost! Izuku was completely fine. He was.

Izuku was handling it.

So how did it end up like this?

That was the big question, wasn't it? How did Izuku go from a slightly-bad first week at UA to sitting on the edge of a different, taller, building and considering joining the concrete?

Well, it wasn't really an easy answer. No, that was a lie- it was probably really obvious... But Izuku wasn't in the practice of letting simple things be simple. He combed them out and fluffed them up and made small problems into tidal waves. For example, the math homework that he didn't do on the first day had already built up into 17 missing assignments. For example, the little quirkist jabs from Hisashi that Izuku didn't correct built up into hour-long rants.

For example, the quick little scratches and scrapes had turned into gouges. Fingernails and blood and ripped skin. They started to scab, but Izuku didn't care enough to bandage them, so yeah- maybe they scarred. Not obviously, just darkish pink lines. When the second or third one appeared, Inko asked him worriedly how he had gotten them... So obviously, he lied and moved to a less apparent place. No lesson learned but 'hide it better this time'.

It was a cliche, he knew! Kami, he knew what he was doing, alright? Not like anybody would care though. It felt like every single thing he did was fake- from class clown Izuku to vigilante Ghost. The only way to escape the encompassing haunting feeling with pinpricks of shame was to... Well. Sometimes it was to stop the numbness, or to punish himself, or even just as a stupid habit after a good day. It just... It helped, okay? And it wasn't as if it would hurt anybody. If he had gotten the wounds any other way, then it wouldn't have mattered. Nobody would find out, so... It didn't matter.

Oh, but Izuku! You would probably say. What about Inko? Haha, got 'em there. Now he will absolutely stop f*cking stabbing himself once he thinks about his family!! :) :) :)

Haha... Well ya see.

A collection of images to sum it up. Frothy beer. Bitter tang. Fluttering nervous hands. Overworked, tired eyes. A strained voice asking him not to leave the house. Raised voices. The feeling of being an outsider. Stifling hugs and having to suffer through eye contact. Sharper features. Love served on a platter, but tough and hard-to-swallow.

Oh, but Izuku! You would probably murmur, trying to find another worthless excuse. What about your friends at school? Surely you've warmed up to them now! Surely at least the teachers are willing to help!

Burnt fingertips. Ashy white fabric. Notes thrown in the trash. "Friendly teasing". Finding a closet at lunch to eat in, and possibly cry in. Disgusted looks at lighthearted jokes. Sympathizers quickly pulled away. Teachers being kind and understanding at first, but just becoming exasperated when he failed to turn in the twentieth assignment.

It was hauntingly alike to middle school. Quirkless Izuku treated the same as quirked. Pain no matter where he was- even in UA, the best hero school out there. Even if All Might had taken pity on him and forced a painful power into his bloodstream that would never really be Izuku's.

Maybe he was just meant to be broken. And that was the thought that got him. Made his chest feel concave and ache.

Because he would never escape, would he?

That's what made Izuku find his way here. Kicking his feet against the rough concrete on a tall, tall, tall building. Abandoned, probably. It wasn't like he was going to jump, probably. Strangely, the thought had barely crossed his mind- no, it was more like a zombie distant morbid curiosity. Would he kill himself? Who knew? Not him. He wasn't afraid of dying, anyway.

Sure, the heaviness in his stomach said to do it. The way that the world felt all not-real. Izuku remembered wondering as a child if he was in a coma and if life was all a dream, and... It felt like a dream. Unclear and unstable. He could hardly remember anything in the past month or so- just like waking from a nightmare you couldn't quite grasp.

He was just so tired, okay? Tired of being angry and then fizzling out. Tired of the quirkist speeches and how he was disliked at school no matter what. Tired of the scabs that were growing in number at an alarming rate on his thighs and were beginning to feel like not enough. There was no overwhelming sadness anymore. Just exhaustion, and the very solid belief right in his chest that he did not belong here. Everyone was so different and alien, thought processes incomprehensible.

Izuku's only plan, really, was being a hero. His only backup, his only hopes and dreams, only light in the distance.

Turns out the light at the end of the tunnel isn't daylight. It's a car. To run you over. And then back up to run you over again! Just in case you weren't rendered dead the first time.

A lingering glance over his knees, over the edge that soon turned into a stare. There were minimal cars, but the ones that did speed past showed him no mind. Izuku wondered if he would be found. Izuku wondered if he would rot. If the people would walk around him with a slightly disgusted look, and then continue on with their perfect lives. Better not inspect the dead kid, for fear that their perfectly-ironed clothes would rumple as they crouched.

Wait. The quirk. The quirk that needed to be passed on. And the meeting with Nedzu, two days after tomorrow, moved forwards because some kid had made explosions in the support department that set off the fire alarm. And what about the drawing of Eraserhead petting a cat that was only half-finished in his notebook?

But still; the temptation. It didn't seem nearly as deadly as it should; maybe Izuku was desensitized from heights because of the vigilante life. Y'know, roof-hopping and all that jazz.

Concrete. There was a large chance of full or partial paralysis if he jumped. A large chance of surviving, but in more pain. Still... What if? What if he died? Fingertips clutching the edge as he tipped just a little bit closer, just a little bit closer, just a little bit closer-

And then he was jerked backward forcefully.


Summary: Izuku has a bad time. He's getting bullied at UA and the home situation has gotten worse. He's also started to self harm more. He doesn't intend to kill himself, but finds himself on a roof during patrol, and leans over the edge a bit too much for it to be casual. Then- BAM! He gets jerked back !! Omg what happened??? :p cliffhanger

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 15: Oh Hello Pseudo-Father Everything Is Normal


This August I began to dream of drowning. -Anne Sexton

Surprisingly, this isn't as angsty as it sounds. If you got a summary of this chapter you would say Hoo Boy That's Angsty, but it. ...... Isn't???? Anyway enjoy :)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Face to face with eyes that were a bit too red and bloodshot- facial recognition took a hot second to load, and then Izuku was making direct eye contact with Eraserhead. Welp, least it isn’t All Might.

12 inches, the distance of a mother to her child when breastfeeding, the best distance for bonding- he read that on a 2am Wikipedia dive. Why did it pop into his head now??? Izuku stop????

"What in the hell are you doing?" Eraserhead's voice was gravelly. More so than usual. What, did he swallow some f*ckin' rocks or something? Wait, no. He probably thought that Izuku was trying to kill himself..... What a weird thought. It wasn't suicide. It was just... Just...

The point was, it wasn't actively suicide. He didn't want to die. He just wanted it to be a little quieter, a little darker. He wanted to be able to let out the child keening in his chest and to be able to be a little happier. That wasn't suicide. It just felt like surviving in a different way.

Wait, he needed to respond. Thankfully the Ghost uniform was on (habit, pulling it on every time it was night and he left the house). "What, Eraser? Can't you let a poor boy enjoy a beautiful night?" This was said bitterly, somehow different from Class Clown's joking. Izuku's mouth twisted into something reminiscent of a grimace. "Sometimes nights just look a little prettier when you're sitting on the edge between death and life."

Wow, getting poetic here, aren't we?

For the first time, Izuku was getting a close-up look at Eraserhead. Too close, but that was fine. The fabric of his black sweatsuit thing was strangely soft, yet also grainy- like a worn sweater. Smelled weird. Like cats. Figures he would actually own cats. Dark eyes, darker circles underneath. A vision in black! Like one of those grungy monochrome movies. Hmmm. Wait, his eyebrows were drawn together, and even though Izuku felt faraway, he was able to decipher the expression. Concern.

Haha yeah well concern would be the normal emotion in this situation, when it looks like a nine year old is about to jump off a building. Mm, no, I'm a bit taller than a nine year old. Maybe a ten year old. Yeah.

Wait, his mouth is moving. Speech. Izuku should probably listen, huh? The thoughts banged on his consciousness like hands against a glass fishbowl until suddenly he snapped back into reality and forced himself to concentrate. "-want to do this? Talk to me. What are you feeling?"

Wow, he spoke as if Izuku didn't already know those cookie-cutter words from watching a million suicide talk-downs before. Even if he hadn't already memorized them, it wasn't as if he would tell the truth anyway. "Dude. I was just looking." That was a lie. "Take a breather. I feel fine-" Another lie. "... Well, fine enough. But you look like you're about to keel over. Ever heard of sleep?"

Eraserhead's eyebrows didn't unfurrow, but he did huff out a bit of a laugh and allow some slack to his capture weapon. "You're the talk of the town at the precinct, you know. All ratty black hoodies and Ghost this, Ghost that. Anything to say for yourself, Mr. Acupuncture?"

Damn. Izuku thought he had forgotten about that particular insult. "Um," A pause in which he rubbed the pads of his fingers together to ground himself, "Well, you know. I guess they would be pretty amazed that a kid got so far with nothing." A bitter laugh. He wanted to bite his nails but the mask was on so instead he just clenched his fists.

"... You're a kid? Of course he's a kid, f*cking...." Eraser's voice trailed off towards the end as he pinched the bridge of his nose with two fingers exasperatedly. Izuku always thought that was a weird gesture. "How old are you?"

Izuku just wiggled his eyebrows in a playful sort of way. "Somewhere between eleven and two hundred, that's for sure."

There was a little bit of time in which Aizawa spoke to the air in a very tired way. He either said 'Why, kami, why have you done this', or 'A brat. Of course he's a brat, why wouldn't he be, what have I done to deserve this'. Maybe he said both. Izuku wasn't really sure, but after the man was done with his angsty muttering he turned to Ghost with a type of angular movement.

"Listen, kid."

"It's Ghos-"

"Yeah, yeah. Ghost. I'm not going to try to turn you in." Izuku raised an eyebrow, skeptical. Aizawa must've seen this, because he let out one long tired breath and released Ghost from his capture weapon. "I'm being truthful. Hate to admit it, but you're doing more good than harm at the moment, and the precinct is short on officers- like always. However-"

"There's always a however," Izuku grumbled under his breath, eyeing Eraserhead carefully as the man eased himself down to sit on the edge of the roof.

His voice was strangely soft as he spoke the next sentence- and Izuku noticed that he brought one hand up to feel his capture weapon. Not as an intimidation tactic or anything, just as if he was feeling the fibres. Was it some sort of fidgeting- wait whoops he was talking Izuku should listen. "There are the obvious catches- don't attack police officers, don't kill people unless they're trying to kill you and you have no choice. Don't attack the innocent... Yeah, I don't think we need to go over that. But we do need to go over what you said the last time you stabbed yourself."

"It was acupuncture, alright, I've heard it does wonders for the muscles!" Where was he getting all this sass? Who knew. Maybe it was the mental illness.

Eraserhead let out a short, harsh breath- a laugh? Maybe? He looked outward at the sky, then glanced back in Izuku's direction. Never direct eye contact, which thank kami, eye contact was awful and brain-scrambling and impossible. "Sure. My point is that you said you were kicked out. You look disconcertingly thin, even for a teenage boy- don't try to deny it, you're far too short to be anything but a kid. My guess is that even if you have parents, they're neglectful."

Or I skip meals because of the nausea. Or I'm too lazy to pack my own lunch. Or it's my fault for being too scared to go to the kitchen. Or I don't want to waste their money on me. Besides, I can't be that visibly thin. He's picking at straws, probably wants me vulnerable so that he can dissect my brain and kick and destroy and break and jail and- okay then, intrusive thoughts.

Izuku paused, though, before he tried to debunk the theory. This could be a way to mislead Eraserhead on his identity! Because Izuku's parents were amazing, and he could use Ghost to play up all the slightly-sometimes bad things they do. But Izuku didn't have abusive parents- Shinsou's old foster parents were worse, judging by the few times Shinsou had spoke of them. Yeah. This would be a good disguise.

"Well..." Izuku started, mind turning, and said the first thing that came to mind. "I mean, H-" Wait, normal kids call their parents by 'mom' and 'dad'- "Dad. My dad sometimes says dumb stuff about quirks, you know, discrimination or whatever." That wasn't bad enough to be abuse. Add onto it. "And, um, sometimes I'm afraid to get food because he sleeps on the couch and he scares me, you know." Not bad enough. "Because... Um, one time he hit my mom around, you know, just a little, and she was being annoying anyway and really it shouldn't still affect me but um."

Not a lie. Well, sort of a lie, because it wasn't Inko- it was a cat- specifically an orange tabby Izuku named Acorn- in an alleyway near the house. And though it had been months since, some part of Izuku couldn't stop thinking about it. Maybe because Izuku was the one that had to take care of Acorn afterwards, even though he had no idea how to care for cats.

The immediate guilt still hung like a cloud. There was difference between kicking a cat and a person. Izuku was stupid to be trying to fake trauma. It was offensive. And Hisashi could be in danger of going to jail! His family was normal, and sure it wasn't happy 24/7, but no family was. But he couldn't go back! Oh god, he had already lied, already a useless little-

"Anyway! How was your night." What an amazing, casual, change of subject. Eraserhead would definitely never pick up on that.

".... Kid, that's abuse. My night was fine- as fine as it could be, with all the robberies- but that doesn't matter right now. I get it if you don't want to talk about it. But if it ever gets bad... I can't believe I'm doing this." Eraser grumbled to himself before pulling out a notepad from one of the numerous pockets on his jumpsuit, scribbling something on a sheet before tearing it off quietly and placing it on the concrete between them. "This is my number. Call me if you are in danger."

Hehehe. So much mischief could be created with this one slip of paper. Group chats, like in those stories he read sometimes! Or, or prank calls. It would be just like Izuku had real friends! Maybe?? He took it quickly and stuffed it into his jean pocket.

Wait, nope, this is a serious situation, get your head in the game Izuku. "I lied. I'm not being abused. I thought it would make a good story so you don't look into me. I'm happy with my parents." There we are! The guilt lifted a little bit at the admission, but then came down twice as hard when Aizawa responded:

"I don't believe that. But alright. Just be warned: if you're not out on patrol for a week or so, I'm going to call you. If you don't pick up, I will assume you are either kidnapped, dead, or dying- and respond accordingly."

Fantastic. Izuku said nothing, just straightened his mask along his nose so it better covered up the smattering of freckles. He wanted to say something- the silence was bearing down- but the words weren't coming and his throat felt weird (like humming or holding your breath, like the color dark ocean blue). So he stayed silent until the moment passed and it was too late to say anything at all.

Eraserhead didn't seem to think that it was strange, running his hand over his capture weapon a few more times with the edges of his fingers- quickly, little sharp motions. There was silence for a undecipherable length of time until Aizawa stood. "Well, I need to get back to patrol. Try not to mangle yourself, kid."

The man must've been buildings away before Izuku's brain completely processed his words, and he wrinkled his brow in slight irritation. "I'm not a kid!" He called in Eraser's direction, but there was no response.

Damn Izuku's sh*t reaction time, or whatever it was. Hisashi would've teased him about being on the 'short bus' if he was back at home. (Which was not an insult, he was being incredibly rude to the neurodivergent folks, but Izuku didn't want to argue.)

Speaking of home, it was almost at the end of the patrol, so he might as well head in that direction. Maybe drop by the cats- Brindle, Beans, Kyle and Marmalade- and feed them some well-deserved soup so that perhaps they would listen to his woes once again.

He was kind of glad that Eraser had stopped him from jumping. Not that he would've, but now he could pet cats for another night! sure, life sucked, but Brindle would miss him at least. Where else would they get their soup? Where else would they get their pets? Well, technically he could leave a note for Shinsou or whatever but--- the point was, how would he know that Marmalade or Kyle grew up safely! They were sweethearts but had no preservation instincts, unlike Beans who was smarter than Izuku! All the cats deserved all the chicken soup in the world!!!

His thoughts about cats apparently lead him to them, because as soon as he knew it he was running into the iconic alleyway with the dumpster. Izuku's real quirk: detecting Good Bois. There weren't very many distinguishing marks to the alley except that someone had stuck an old peeling All Might sticker on the wall near the entrance, which was since vandalized with a second-grade-esque drawing of a penis. Very mature, guys.

Most importantly, though, Brindle and her children were there!! Izuku had put down some towels in their cardboard box, so it was a little bit softer. Marmalade (true to character) was hiding beneath them, simply a lump in the fabric that suspiciously had a tail.

A flash of white and then a weight scrambling onto his pant leg, apparently unable to wait for him to sit down. Finally, some good company who appreciated him. There wasn't a lot of time before Hisashi got home, though, so he simply patted Beans and got nibbled at by Kyle before taking off again.

Back to the house.

Hisashi wasn't an alcoholic, but sometimes he drank. The house wasn't dirty, there weren't beer bottles strewn across the floor or plates piled on the counters- but then again, Inko was a stress-cleaner. It was constantly sparkling, except at night, when Hisashi messed it all up again. Now there were three or so bottles lined up neatly on the coffee table, next to a few dirty dishes. An unconscious body laid on the couch, and Izuku didn't have to check to know who it was.

Sneaking across the floor and avoiding all creaky spots was pretty easy, except for the one time he messed up and it was a too-loud noise and Hisashi shifted. But nothing happened. It was okay. Izuku was just very skittish, that was all, that was why he flinched.

Up in his room. There were scissors on his desk, right next to Eri's bandages (he hadn't forgotten, he hadn't forgotten). Silvery and sharp. Inko had them laying around on her makeup table sometimes, and they worked well for cutting paper just as well as hair. Sharp.

There wasn't any thought before he did it, not really, not any conscious decision. Just vague curiosity as he brought it up to his hair, breath catching slightly, and snipped. Guess what happened? He cut a lock of hair off. Yep. Turns out that's what happens when you cut your hair, it actually gets cut. Who would've thought?

A curling dark green clump of hair. Short strands that he hadn't caught fell onto the floor, and somehow it was disappointing. Izuku swept it off the desk into his hand and dropped it into the trashcan underneath. What did he expect? Some sort of crescendo? A parent bursting into the room to yell at him, bringing panic and yet another problem?

Next he brought the scissors to his skin.

Later in bed, after cleaning and dressing the wounds of course, he was a little bit surprised. All the sites talked about how cutting was a last-resort scream for help. About how devastated a person would have to be to turn to it. Izuku.... Well, he didn't feel any different at all. Maybe he was always on the edge of giving in.

The day was good, in fact! Sure, he tipped a little closer over an edge than he meant to. Sure, he was belittled at school for doodling. Maybe Shinsou ignored him and Izuku was too scared to get food for the second day in a row and sure, his grades were worse than ever. Sure, Hisashi's comments were sharper lately and his body felt like a doll sometimes. But....

He turned over and thought about cats instead.


I got fanart on tumblr and I am going to /yell/:

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 16: Skeletons In The (Crying) Closet


Intelligence doesn't make you less prone to taking on bad ideas, it just makes you better at defending them to other people and to yourself. Smart people can believe some truly ridiculous things, and then deploy all the reason and logic at their disposal to justify them, because a disbelief doesn't begin in your mind. It begins in your feelings. -MAG153, #0120204

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku hadn't meant to make it a thing.

Well, of course he hadn't. What type of person would just pick out a closet and say 'this. this will be my assigned crying area'. Nobody does that- well, that Izuku knew of. The important point was that he had started calling this one broom closet 'The Crying Closet' ironically in his head and then it stuck. Stuck like chewing gum on the bottom of a desk, pink and shapeless, some disgusting reminder of mold in the back of his mind.

Because what type of idiot would actually need to cry often enough that they have a closet for it?

This one, apparently, Izuku thought bitterly through his blurry eyes. It was surprisingly easy to cry silently- or maybe he was louder than he thought, and people were just ignoring the sobs from a broom closet. Understandable either way. The wood and plastic of cleaning tools dug into his back, uncomfortably not-spacious.

He had been pushed into closets a few times in his middle school years, the door locked behind him, so by all accounts this should make him panic. But... In the dim, with one thin line of light in the crack underneath the door, and with the ache in his throat and stuffy nose dripping disgustingly onto his upper lip... There was nothing to panic about, because he was utterly alone.

Some child in his chest cried out in despair at that. A strangled noise out of Izuku's throat, but he muffled all further sounds with a quiet hand tight over his mouth. Quick breaths that weren't quite hyperventilating, but were made lighter so they made no sound. Ugh, ew, snot dripped onto his hand. His throat hurt.

The shadows were blurry with water and the tears weren't coming at the same rate but they dripped down his chin over his mouth, disgustingly salty. The taste of pure misery; forcing yourself to be quiet while having a mental breakdown in the closet, angling yourself from the door so that if anyone came in you could quickly pretend you were okay.

Another contraction of the muscles in his stomach in a silent sob. Wow, this was some cardio or something, felt like doing sit-ups. Fun new exercise- having mental breakdowns!! Burns calories better than any workout before!! He snorted wetly before his face crumpled. Ah, back to crying.

Why was he crying? Great question. Maybe because Hisashi was a tiny little bit drunk in the morning, and he made some stupid meant-to-be-funny comment about Izuku being worthless. Perhaps it was because Bakugou tried to burn his uniform, or because Shinsou pretended not to know him, or because Uraraka just sent him sympathetic glances from across the classroom. But what really set it off was when some kids from class 1-C found him sitting alone at lunch and teased him about not being a real hero because nobody in his class liked him.

Yeah. It was a sh*tty day. Wasn't helped much by the line of scab on his arm (bandaged of course, he knew better than most about infection and scarring). Or the bruise on his face from a robber succeeding in punching him. (Izuku stole Inko's concealer to deal with that little problem, sticking the tube into his pocket just in case some got rubbed off during class.)

Wait. Low muted sounds of shoes on carpet.


The telltale vibrations in the floor (dry your face with your sleeve, grab an object from the shelves to pretend to fiddle) and then the jiggling of the handle (force your eyebrows upwards, shoulders back, and smile). Izuku didn't expect for someone to wedge themselves in the closet next to him and then slam the door shut again, their own breath starting to hitch.

Maybe he should, like, announce his presence? Did they not notice him?? In a sort of whisper, he began to speak, tentatively getting louder with each word as if feeling out a path in the darkness.

"H-hey there demons, it's me, y-"

With a shriek, the person pushed him away. "Holy f*ck! What the f*ck?!" Judging by the tone, they were male, but then Izuku sternly thought to himself that you can't assume gender just because of how someone sounds.

"Profanity!" Izuku said in a panic, his voice sounding sort of stuffy. He discreetly wiped his nose on his sleeve (yes, it was disgusting, but better than being caught crying).

"..... Izuku?" The person looked up and in the tiny shard of light glowing up from the floor, he just hardly saw grainy flashes of purple and a tear-stained familiar face. Of course. Because life just refused to give anyone a break, and if Shinsou was miserable than that meant Izuku needed to be even more miserable. Yay, echo-chamber of sadness.

The small room made them uncomfortably close, and though they weren't touching, Izuku was suddenly very aware of it. Claustrophobia, but only around other people. Sometimes he got panic attacks when cornered. Probably a holdover from some 'childhood trauma' or whatever.

Now it was breath-hitching, bird wings trapped inside his ribcage, pressing and pressing. There was no answer to the one-word question (if that was a question), and the building panic only raised at that. He pressed his jagged fingernails into the back of his neck to try and keep all the emotions from bursting out. Shinsou hates me. I should go. I can't go. I can't face outside but he is here and he is here and he is herehereherehere I can't do anything. Frozen with adrenaline, closing your eyes and hoping it'll just go away.

It didn't go away. Instead Shinsou sniffed wetly and quietly, and Izuku was pretty sure he was crying. "I'm not leaving, you know."

Some tiny piece of Izuku was angry at that, lashing out with sharp glistening hungry dog-teeth. But he shut that part down and just said nothing, shifting quietly. Somehow his throat burned again, deciding that he hadn't finished crying, so he turned to the wall and put his head in his arms.

This was fine, right? Shinsou wouldn't tell anyone because he was crying too, and- wait. Why did crying seem like a crime that he needed to cover up with as little witnesses as possible?

Hehe, murder=crying. Izuku almost laughed at his own thoughts and then was very concerned with himself and his mental state. Eh, probably the childhood trauma or whatever. Just blame everything on the childhood trauma.

There was silence for a while there, or as close to silence as it could get. There was sniffling from time to time, but apparently both of them liked to hide their emotions, because there was no sobbing to speak of. The shifting of clothes, or the footsteps from outside that made them both freeze.

Funny how when people usually talk about two boys together in a small closet, they mean something very different. Yeah, this was much more depressing.

".... Um." Izuku sort of wanted to ask a question or something, because they had both calmed down and weren't you supposed to talk after that? Or something? "Why, why were you..?" The sentence trailed off awkwardly and was met with nothing but more silence. Maybe he should like, never talk again, ever. Fantastic idea-

"Not that you'd care, but-" a pause, to sniff aggressively and then clear his throat, "You know I'm in foster care or whatever. I recently switched to this new foster home, because- well, things happen. This one isn't too bad, but they aren't particularly fond of my quirk. It's, I mean, it's fine. But they just, sort of, I'm not allowed to talk, really."

"And of course that's why you're wearing too-dark concealer." Izuku deadpanned, but quickly backpedaled when Shinsou's fingers clenched. "I mean, um, no. Not, I didn't mean to make that an insult? I meant, um, I'm not going to ask and I'm not gonna tell. Telling someone is probably the right thing to do but I'm not gonna force you unless you're actually in life-threatening danger."

A smile, barely visible. "Thanks...?"

Shinsou then wiped his face with the back of his wrist roughly, then checked it in the thin light from the door. There wasn't much there, but a little bit of too-dark concealer was smeared. "f*ck. Of course." A little bitter laugh as he ran a hand through his hair, a few purple strands pulling loose.

"... Actually," Izuku started, remembering the bruise on his own face and the concealer in his pocket, "I have some you can use. Y'know, um.... Vigilante stuff." A tentative smile, a bit too small, but not exactly fake as he dug it out of his blazer pocket and dropped it in Shinsou's hand (purposefully making sure their skin didn't touch). "It's waterproof, so... Mental breakdown proof!"

Shinsou blinked once at the object in his hand, as if surprised, and then turned his gaze to Izuku again. An appraisal? Oh god, looks meant so much, what the hell did this one mean??? Izuku's shoulders raised slightly, paranoia in the back of his mind whispering about the intent to hurt him. No- this was Shinsou. But still...

"Thanks." The boy murmured with a sort of half-smile, voice even smoother and softer than usual (voice quirks tended to do that), and applied a bit onto his finger before smearing and blotting it around the inside corner of his eye.

Black eyes, as anyone who had gotten one before knows, weren't around the whole eye. They tended to curve with the eye socket, near the bridge of the nose, like a dark circle but more yellowish and brownish and dark. A bit swollen, but not noticeable unless you really looked. Shinsou appeared to have taken care of it, and Izuku wondered for a fleeting second if this meant they were friends again, but of course not. This was nothing.

(Sickness gathered in his stomach as Izuku forced himself to internalize the fact that he was hated. At times he had to force himself to feel the right way. It was better like that.)

Although- as Shinsou applied the concealer, Izuku started to notice some other things. Like how lunch was probably drawing to a close at this point, and how burns crept from beneath Shinsou's sleeves as gravity pulled them down. Now, Izuku knew burns. He knew how they felt hot hours afterwards, and the creeping warmth, and the blackness of burnt peeling skin. But these were decidedly not explosion burns (nor acid burns, nor any of the type that Izuku had gotten on patrol).

These were strange, circular; some pinkish, while others were still scabbing with yellowish flesh. Some deep, deep red with black around the edges (more familiar than the others). They were smallish, too- just the right size that Izuku had no trouble assuming what they came from. Cigarettes.

"Shinsou?" Izuku asked tentatively, and the boy in question raised his eyebrow. Izuku just made a vague, wordless gesture towards the spotty skin, and there was this fleeting, almost undetectable look of pure panic on his face before a smooth liar's nonchalance slid into place.

He laughed, almost convincingly. "Oh, these? They're nothing. I was attempting to cook-" Shinsou stopped here, to clear his throat and get rid of the little warble in his voice, "Sorry. I was attempting to cook this stupid dish in the kitchen, and then of course I dropped the, rice. Turns out that sh*t burns." He finished with a strong voice, and he might've believed Shinsou if Izuku hadn't lied so much about the same sort of things.

"However you got them, that wasn't it."

Shinsou froze, panic returning to his features, but Izuku tried to ignore it as he continued to speak.

"-I'm not going to force you to tell me, though. I have my own problems that I'd rather keep secret, from the vigilante-ing to... Other things, and long story short? I get it. I won't tell anyone. I, um, I could, I mean if you.... Kami, I'm sorry, I'm stupid, but I could help you treat the burns if you ever needed. I have experience, but of course you don't need me because you probably know better and um." Stop talking, Izuku. Just. Stop.

There wasn't really a verbal answer, rather just a sort of thumbs-up that was a lot more awkward than it could've been. In the dim grains of the darkness, Shinsou finished up his concealer, and then dabbed a bit on the pinkish burns on his arms. (In a fleeting way, Izuku thought that he smelled a bitter sort of herbal. Like factory ash and thick disgust and something cheap.)

As Izuku was reaching for the door handle, knees protesting at the movement, Shinsou stopped him. "I'm, uh, I'm sorry that I sort of ghosted you. Oh, wait- get it- ghosted you. Ha. Haha. Um, anyway yeah. I get it, I guess, but if you're not going to stop being such a jerk in a social setting... I'm not going to be the friend of the class clown. Just Izuku is fine, but... Yeah. That's. Um."

It's wonderful to find someone that's actually worse at social interaction than you. Shinsou tore the door open and the light promptly blinded them. Fully standing up, little spots appeared in Izuku's vision, strangely colorful and blacking out everything else. It happened from time to time. He ignored it (as Shinsou pretended not to know him yet again).

He was halfway to Aizawa's classroom when Present Mic stopped him in the halls (a warm hand between his shoulderblades that he flinched away from on instinct). "You haven't forgotten, right?" A big bright too-sharp smile. His voice was smooth too; like Shinsou's.

Izuku tried to smile as anxiety writhed beneath his ribs. "What? Another missing assignment? I'm trying to get them in, I swear. I only have three more to make up in your class-"

"No, no, nothing like that, listener!" The man smiled wider and Izuku, overwhelmed, looked at the carpet. "Nedzu's supposed to see you right now, isn't he? I know the mouse is a bit spooky, but-"

"Oh, f*ck." Izuku whispered under his breath, then quickly flushed and apologized when Present mic looked overly horrified. OF course. How the hell did I forget oh god I'm a terrible person can he see the tearstains wait I need to fix my body language aaaaahhhhhhhh.

It was only a few hallways to Nedzu's office, which in some was was a blessing, because it didn't give him as much time to overthink. On the other hand, it took away his best measure to procrastinate and hopefully never ever have to actually do this meeting.

Wait. This was a smart mouse. As in the smartest in the world sort of smart. This meant he was easily capable of seeing through all of Izuku's masks. Class clown and vigilante, both. The security cameras probably had studied body language already, so he couldn't change his baseline all that much, but if he just... Shifted his shoulders forwards a tad, and took in a breath in a picture of confidence... Yeah. He could pretend to be pretending to be class clown. With enough smoke and mirrors, maybe the vigilante side would be overlooked.

Stopping by the entrance, that big intimidating dark oak door, was the worst thing Izuku had faced in his entire life. (Okay, maybe that was a bit of a hyperbole, but... Whatever.)

Putting on a purposefully-fake smile, Izuku swallowed.

And opened the door.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Guys look!! We have more fanart!! :DD if you want to make some, feel free to send it to chaospidgeon on tumblr, or [emailprotected] !!!

Chapter 17: Smart Rats and Alley Cats


Is evil something you are? Or something you do? -Bret Easten Ellis

Sorry, I abused parenthesis like there was no tomorrow in this chapter. Haha...

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"Ah, Midoriya!"

Izuku blinked.

Nedzu was a lot shorter in real life.

The office was strangely homey, with worn green couches and a coffee table between them with a steaming pot of tea. It smelled like a friend's house, animals and something welcoming. The mouse-rat-dog... Whatever he was, swung his legs from his perch on the seat of one of the aforementioned couches. There was a very small part of Izuku's mind that was fighting the urge to just.... Pet. Pet the small animal. Come on, you know you want to.

These are even worse than the usual intrusive thoughts, he thought with a wry smile.

The small animal in question grinned with an unnatural quality, and Izuku wondered if that was what people looked like when smiling. "I almost believed you would be late to this meeting! Although, it is heartwarming to know you're finally making up with... Ah, Shinsou, is it? Oh, sit, sit!"

Izuku narrowed his eyes and moved to uncomfortably sit across from the chimera. "How did you know about Shinsou?" This conversation was already looking like a game of chess- except Izuku had no idea how any of the pieces worked (okay, that was a lie, maybe he had studied manipulation a little bit, but who hadn't?).

"I have my ways. I'd normally lead someone to believe that I am all-seeing, or at least partly a god, at this point in the conversation... But you must know why you're here today. You're smart. Why do you think?" A searching gaze that was perhaps too friendly. It made Izuku's nerves spike- people being too friendly was always a warning of worse things to come.

With a forceful clearing of the mind and sharpening of the eyes, pushing into an analytic vigilante headset, Izuku rolled his shoulders back minusculey. Curled his hands a bit too tightly and felt his jagged bitten-down fingernails driving into his palms with sharp points of pain. "Well, that's sort of obvious, isn't it?" Wait nonono that tone was disrespectful wait I need to fix it- stop being so pitiful. You're a vigilante, aren't you? Shut it down.

"I mean, um," Stop stuttering. He took a too-cold breath and gathered his thoughts before speaking again. "I got a high score on my entrance exam- one of the highest in years, if I believe. My grades have been dropping recently, so that could be a variable. However, this meeting was mentioned in the UA acceptance video, so that's off the board. Possibly to discuss... New classes? Something that offers more of a challenge? You wouldn't have to talk to me directly for that, though. There are only a few options left, and though this may be an arrogant assumption, I think you're going to teach me."

Izuku's jaw clenched in irritation at himself. Sure, that is sort of what his instincts were telling him, but that wasn't allowed to just expect things from authority figures who had other things to do. This was a mistake, but he couldn't show regret either- Nedzu seemed like the type of person (animal?) to jump on any signs of weakness instead of calm down at them.

The clapping of tiny paws jolted him out of his thoughts. "Fantastic! Your analysis is already a ways ahead of your classmates. Going with your gut isn't shameful, Midoriya. In fact, you were correct! Still, we need to work on the magnitude of your evidence. And if you're going to alter your body language, please don't do it so obviously. More in-depth analysis lessons!" Nedzu hopped off of the couch and poured more tea into his cup, offering some to Izuku (who declined politely). "Do you have any examples of your analysis laying around? What do you consider yourself good at?"

Nothing, his thoughts whispered- growled- screamed. Nothing.

The rest of the meeting went surprisingly quickly, and though Izuku's stomach felt like a knot of rubber bands stretched to snapping, by the end of it he was markedly less terrified. Not that he would show that. If you are weak, they will tear you apart from that ragged edge. Still- Nedzu asked for Izuku's analysis, and he was handed a small notebook hidden beneath everything else in Izuku's bag. The drawings there were smudged, and it wasn't good enough, but it was the only stuff that he had. When Nedzu smiled, there was strange guilt at being complimented; this was nothing. He could've done better.

Flipping through the pages- some stained with tea, another with a suspicious reddish-brown spot that was passed off as hot chocolate- the shame got worse. Nedzu's smile seemed too sharp, and each analysis that seemed good while he was writing it was now juvenile and ignorant. Nervously, Izuku commented on some pages when they passed- "I made a mistake here, Midnight's actually quite good with poisons and would likely notice-" or nervously rambled in lieu of corrections- "And Momo could technically make antimatter, though that would obviously kill her- but still, the costume doesn't have to be so showy."

He still felt like an absolute idiot, though, so in the end he shut his mouth and watched the steam curl from Nedzu's cup of tea. Green tea, rose-scented, to be exact. The type of drink that always smells sort of questionable until you take a sip and decide you like it. Sun streamed through the window of the office, the window cracked slightly- birdsong from far away that accompanied the occasional flipping of pages.

It was strangely peaceful. Reminded him of when he skipped a day of school in first grade to go to the science museum with Inko, back when they still thought he would get a quirk. That freedom, that happiness...

He swallowed and looked at the hands in his lap instead.

(Analysis classes would be replaced with personal lessons with Nedzu, the rat said after a few excruciating minutes. They would learn the basics- taxes, analysis, quick smart reactions in battle- but also in-depth manipulation and body language and psychology. Izuku's hands curled and he knew he would mess this up, one on one with an adult. But there was no choice, so he just went on with his day.)


Inko was out of the house that evening.

That must've been the reason why. Because if Izuku had gone with his mom, it wouldn't have happened. If he had just been less lazy, if he had done his missing work when it was due. Yeah. Clutching that black pen, writing shaky kanji within the lines and trying to make things better.

Izuku sometimes liked to work out in the living room, so that he wouldn't get yelled at for being antisocial later, even though the blasting cheesy music from the TV made his mind scramble and lose trains of thought. All game-shows and flashing too-bright light onto Hisashi's face, stark against the dim of night. It was worth it if he was a good kid.

Izuku sighed, resisting the urge to bang his head against the table. He had been working on this problem for the last fifteen minutes even though it was the easiest on the sheet. In reality, he just. Couldn't. Focus. When he bounced his leg to hopefully make it better, Hisashi told him to stop in an annoyed voice, so he chewed on his pen, but the disgusting plastic taste got too much in the back of his throat, so...

Yeah. This was so f*cking stupid and he shouldn't have done it, he knows, he knew it was his fault. But he took a breath, trying to hype himself up, before opening his mouth. "Uh, can you turn the volume down?"

There was no response, the game show blasting just as it had before. "You'll win a whopping 10,000 dollars!" A man's grainy voice announced in English, and the color of the glow changed to a bright green that reflected in the co*ke can on the coffee table.

Swallowing, Izuku inched forward. There was no reaction, so he sat on his heels on the floor in front of Hisashi. "Can you turn it down?!" His voice was raised to try and cut through the sound of the TV, and it appeared to work, because Hisashi turned to him with a sort of startled look.

The good news is that the volume was, indeed, switched down to a stand-able level. The bad news...

Hisashi had a bad habit of leaving his shoes on inside the house. These were black lace-up ankle boots, the functional sort rather than the fashionable. This detail was insignificant but it burned into his mind for months (years) afterwards. They drove into Izuku's side with little to no warning. "God, can't you just leave me to watch my show? You're so ungrateful, you know?"

It wasn't even screamed. Just said in a strangely reasonable way as Izuku toppled over onto the hardwood and his head banged the edge of the table leg. Another kick with those f*cking black boots. The burning in his stomach and the cracking sort of pain and curling up instinctively and covering his head with his arms and this was his dad.

Teary eyes that blurred with the neon glow from the TV. The pain that layered with each kick, like in the alley with Shinsou and suddenly the table behind him was too much like the brick wall, boots driving and his head banged into it again. There was pain blooming everywhere, spreading, body tensing instinctively and trying to be small. So small he couldn't be hurt. So small he would just disappear.

"I bet you're not even doing your homework! What can a quirkless kid like you do? f*cking..." Izuku was dying. There was a disconnect. This was different than the normal Hisashi and it wasn't him, it was a clone it was someone else it was not him. (It was him. Izuku didn't want to face it. He didn't. He didn't want to think about it-)

Then it was over.

With a roll of the eyes and laugh, sitting back onto the couch; illuminated with the TV screen but otherwise starkly dim. A too-clear moment of awareness that quickly was washed away with the always of dissociation. The volume went back up.

"And the winner is Miss Burnett, for a wondrous ribbon dance!! In the next tournament, her act will go for 100,000-" The game-show host continued to ramble as the light changed color again to a saturated yellow. It shone all on Hisashi's face and the co*ke can and the table. Unearthly in the dark of the apartment.

Izuku got up. He went to his room. Legs were shaky, relearning to walk. He almost collapsed on the floor.

Sort of stupid, isn't it? He'd gone through so much worse. It didn't even hurt that bad compared to other stuff. Hell, Hisashi had laughed! It was practically play fighting. But... But this was Hisashi, who sometimes had conversations about school with him! Hugs and warm-ish smiles! Izuku's brain had some strange wall between 'Dad' and this one. This one who made quirkist speeches and kicked Izuku in the ribs. They were different. He couldn't connect them.

What hurt the most was that Hisashi wasn't even drunk. It wasn't even an accident, there was no excuse except that Izuku was a stupid, stupid, stupid-

(Shinsou's foster parents punched him when they got mad. Shinsou's foster parents literally threw chairs at him sometimes. Izuku was fine. Izuku shouldn't be so dramatic and why did he want trauma? It was insensitive of him, really, to say this was abuse, or even bad. It was his fault, after all.)

His homework went unfinished that night.

When Inko came home with hands full of groceries, Izuku remembered feeling nothing at all. Remembered, never in the moment, always a memory even when experiencing it. A puppet standing nearby and watching Hisashi kiss her on the cheek. She doesn't know, he thought numbly- but then quickly squashed the thought down because there was nothing to know and he was just being dramatic and it was his fault anyways. Hisashi didn't tell him to keep quiet, but that just meant it wasn't bad enough to keep quiet about. If he told anyone, he would be laughed at for thinking it even meant anything.

(Some feeling of disgust, distant and inward-turned, registered in the back of his mind like another presence. Really? It said, like it was disappointed. Like he was a speck of dirt on the ground, being a bother by crying all too much about nothing.)

Ghost didn't go out for patrol. His hands were still too shaky. He sort of wanted to cry, which made no sense because this was nothing. Izuku locked up his wrong feelings in a little box and replaced them with the right one. Indifference. Because this was nothing. Nothing.

Why did his feelings just do stuff without his consent?! It's like they were a whole different person than his mind! In reality he knew this was nothing, but his eyes just wouldn't stop tearing up!! It was a whole different kind of frustration to have your own body be so stupid. His ribs hardly even hurt anymore. And his head wasn't bleeding! It was okay, it was okay, it was okay, it was okay.

Even if he felt a little bit like that alley cat that Hisashi had kicked a few weeks ago.

But Izuku stayed inside his room for the rest of the night- just in case. And he was a little more cautious around Hisashi, just in case. Kind of like how you wear safety goggles during a science lab! Nothing happens, usually, but just in case. Just in case.

(Everything was fine.)


One weird fact: I almost cried while writing this chapter, but I didn't cry while writing the suicide chapter. Hmmmm.

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 18: Monsters


You have always approached everything terribly truthfully. You have wanted to pet every monster. -Friedrich Nietzsche

This chapter has one paragraph where Izuku questions his sanity, and generally gaslights himself. If you want to skip it, stop reading when Izuku starts thinking about Hisashi, and then continue reading with the phrase 'somehow Izuku hadn't stopped thinking about it'.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Another normal-ish day.

The weather was beginning to cool down from the heat of summer, blue sky turning a bit grey; color spilling down each cloud and leached away by the sun. Izuku's mind was foggy and distant from all the vigilante activity at night. Not that he would stop, even with all the missing assignments.

Normal, that is, until All Might came crashing through the classroom door.

Immediately there was an uprise of shouts- the discordant screeching of chairs being pushed back in shock. Squeezing unimpressed hands over his ears, Izuku just waited for it to stop- but it didn't. This kid with red hair kept shaking Kaminari (Izuku remembered their name in particular because he didn't want to get their pronouns wrong). All bursts of excitement, childish and hero-worshiping.

Izuku just remembered the scars on All Might's stomach. Remembered the sight of his pomegranate red shoes on the roof, and stared down at his paper. Doodles lined the edges of the lined sheets- poses half-rendered in sketchy approximations of classmates' bored faces.

(He didn't draw heroes much, anymore.)

Uraraka was clapping excitedly from the corner of his vision, while Mina kept squealing in high-pitched sounds that cut uncomfortably through all other noise. Noise, noise, noise. A whine grew animalistic in the back of Izuku's throat and he tried to casually cover his ears even more, but make it look as if he was just propping his head up. Yep, he was normal. This was normal.

With a booming laugh, All Might made vague 'settle down' gestures with his hands. "Alright, young students! Yes, I am here!"

Another cacophony of ecstatic cheers before it calmed. Izuku probably could've taken his hands off of his ears at this point, but it muffled everything nicely- like being underwater. Spilling noises that still seeped into his skin, but were a little less rough this time around. It made him realize that the lights were too bright, now that he wasn't focused on noise. It burned, but he ignored it as All Might spoke again.

"Today, we'll be doing battle trials. We meant to do it earlier in the year, but, er..." An awkward pause where he appeared to have forgotten what he was saying, and then it was gone like it had never been there at all. "Aizawa said you guys needed to have a bit more practice first. Ah- but that's no matter! Grab your hero suits and then come out to the main area to meet me!"

Izuku's heart caught in his throat at the thought of removing his hands from his ears, especially with the newly-arisen chatter once All Might had stopped talking. It didn't matter if he felt comfortable or not, though, and people would think he's weird- so he did it anyway. The sudden noise makes him almost-flinch, but he was quickly corralled to the changing rooms with the rest of the class.

His costume isn't as showy as he used to make it in childhood drawings, he noted as he opened the opulent yellow case.

The green of his jumpsuit is darker, now, with those childish bunny ear All Might copies gone. A hood hangs from his shoulders, with a small hook on the underside that can clasp onto the mask if needed. No eye holes, but the fabric was see-through one-way.
If they can't see your eyes, they don't know who you're going to attack next- or that was Izuku's thought process when making it. All that used to be white was now a dark grey that, if you really looked, held green tones within it.

The mask? No more strange white teeth. Just a simple black metal mask to keep out any toxins released into the air (or air-borne quirks), with a small indistinct hole at the top for the hood to latch onto. It was strangely hard to put on, but when fiddling with the buttons on it, Izuku found that he could make his voice quieter or louder when the situation called for it.

(He set the mask to mute any noises he made. It was better that way.)

Looking down at the heap of fabric on the floor, Izuku wondered how there could be more to this costume, but then mentally kicked himself for daring to complain. Skintight black gloves slipped over his hands, leaving a small expanse of skin between them and his jumpsuit. The utility belt was black, too, to hopefully blend in with the shadows- and regretfully, his signature clunky boots were no longer red (though these were quieter and had a better grip).

God- damn- f*ck, Izuku thought as he attempted to jam his feet into the boots without actually untying the laces. He can do it if he tries hard enough, right? The answer to that is a resounding no, and he (unfortunately) had to actually untie the boot laces to get them on. Strangely velvety, weaved together just tightly enough that it was high-quality. Seriously, UA. Why does everything have to be high-quality?! Even the boot laces??

It didn't matter, because at least now he was covered. The problem with hero costumes was that they took a while to change into and out of- even with practice- so that meant Izuku didn't have the time to wait for a shower stall to open up. Usually Koda took one, and Shoji took the other.

That meant changing in front of everyone- carefully turned to the lockers, hiding all the scars and scabs and other assorted concerning things. Some from a fight- a few from middle school- and the rest from the pencil sharpener's blade hidden in his bookshelf. The bruises on his ribs had faded the day before. Thank goodness for that, at least. Quickly buckle that- tie the other thing- attempt to reach for another.

And then it was done. And everyone else looked like heroes, making their ways out of the locker room with bright colors and smiles.

Looking down, anxiety curled in his gut. Regret. This was the outfit of a villain. Of a vigilante. Not of a hero. Because would a quirkless boy ever be a hero? Even with this stolen quirk and this too-expensive outfit with a thread count higher than Inko's yearly wage?

It didn't matter. Everyone was still talking, and as Izuku was one of the first ones out, he got the chance to observe. Momo, Jirou, and Iida made a little circle, chatting quietly among themselves. Kaminari was being bullied (lightly) by Aoyama about his fashion sense. Izuku was fairly certain that the bird-headed one was making a cult with Ojiro, but there was no way to tell. Finally, Koda was crouched on the ground and smiling gently at a beetle.

(That made Izuku wonder. Could Koda control Tokoyami? Maybe he'd bring it up with them, as they didn't seem to openly hate him, at least.)

"Hey Deku." Bakugou passed behind him and hissed. The redhead was distracted so apparently it was Izuku Bullying Hour. "Finally figured you're not a hero? With that Grim Reaper type outfit, it-" He cut himself off. Clenched his teeth. "... You're nothing."

This wasn't his usual style of insults, Izuku noted numbly as the blonde moved away to be tormented by his friend group. At least he stopped himself before he delivered another suicide bait! That was an improvement! Maybe! Still, he was right- everyone was kind of eyeing him. The bird boy gave him a nod of camaraderie (dark outfit solidarity??), but none of the others seemed positive.

Well. Not that they liked him in the first place anyway. He retreated to the back of his mind and decided to watch the proceedings like a too-close TV screen. Distance always makes things easier to handle, no matter what the thing is. Pretend you're not a part of your own life and then- bam! Fantastic coping mechanisms that work 100% of the time when you want them to, and like 90% of the time when you don't.

"All right, young students!" All Might started talking so suddenly and loudly that Izuku almost couldn't stop himself from covering his head in a full-body flinch. "Today we will be doing battle trials, and-" He paused to quickly flip through a small book about the size of his hand- "Uh. Yes! I have set up groups for you! And they will be projected on the wall... Right now!"

There was no image projected onto the wall. Awkward silence seized the group, punctured only by occasional quiet coughs. All Might flushed and laughed loudly before quickly fiddling with a remote for a couple minutes. Quietly, the vice president- Yaomomo?- stood next to him and began to explain how to work it in a respectful murmur while pressing buttons.

The bright light of the projected image glowed on the wall. All Might nodded at her in bashful thanks before clearing his throat loudly (Izuku tried not to flinch) and shook his head as if to clear it. "Okay! Well, there will be two types of groups. Villains, and heroes! The heroes will try to touch the bomb inside the fake building while not getting captured, and the villains will try to capture the heroes while keeping the bomb safe. Cool! Alright. On the screen are your groups, so um, get with your partners! You're already labelled as either heroes- green- or villains- red."

Izuku scanned the screen, blinking a few times, and almost missed his name when skimming the list. He was grouped with Uraraka, and they were going against.... Bakugou and Iida. Of course. Of course, because who else would he be grouped with? The people who wanted him to die.

At least Uraraka would be able to protect him a little bit from Iida, because they were friends... Right? Plus, this way Uraraka would maybe talk to him!

Izuku took a breath and nodded his head, trying to tame the anxious beast in the back of his head that told him literally everything would go wrong. He pressed the pads of his pointer fingers and thumbs together subtly, trying to gain some comfort from the action. When it didn't work, he pressed his nails instead. Pain always worked as a comfort. Strangely.

"The first up is Momo's group and their corresponding villains! Let's go, young students!" All Might was trying so hard to be a good teacher. Izuku kind of wanted to laugh.

They got to watch all of the groups' battles on the presentation screen, apparently, which was... Honestly, kind of tedious. Izuku's brain was wandering off by the second group, no matter how hard he tried to concentrate. Off to what happened about a week before, when the sky was dark and Inko was gone and the light from the TV shone saturated yellow on empty co*ke cans.

But the bruises were gone. And Hisashi had acted like it never happened. In fact, Izuku had probably imagined it, hadn't he? There was no evidence anymore. There was- there was no evidence. It could be a false memory. Swallowing, blinking, he went back further in his memory. If there wasn't evidence, then did he really experience any of... anything? Inko could be nice. Anything could be a figment of his imagination and suddenly he was reeling because you can't trust your own mind, can you? At least he still had the scars, at least he had scars, at least that way he could prove Bakugou was real. At least the pain was real.

Somehow Izuku hadn't stopped thinking about it ever since it happened. It wasn't a problem or anything, or even abuse, so this was what confused him. Why did his brain keep making him f*cking think about it?! If he tried hard enough, he could stop, right? But he couldn't. He fell asleep as he wondered if Hisashi was abusive, and woke up to decide he wasn't. Schoolwork was done while half of his brain rewound the moment again and again and again and again.

He was so tired of thinking about it.

(But he hadn't tried hard enough to stop, had he. He wanted to be special, didn't he? Making himself think about it so that he would be worthy of attention and sympathy. An attention-seeker. Selfish.)

"-Midoriya's group!" All Might's voice was sudden and breath-catching, startling him violently from his thoughts.

Swallowing, Izuku smiled nervously. "Ah, what..? My turn?"

Nobody answered except with disdainful looks. He wilted (internally of course, you can't show weakness). "Alright then. Cool. Um.... Uraraka??"

"Whoops! Sorry!" A short bob of brown hair weaved through the crowd of students to get to him, cheeks pink. "I didn't, um, I was talking with Mina over there! But yeah, it's our turn now. Lezzzzgo!"

Are people really this enthusiastic? Izuku thought for a moment before pushing it out of his head. "Alright, so here's what we're going to do..."


This chapter was Horrible but have it anyway I guess.

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 19: Bleed, Bleed, Bleed


When he smiled it was toothy and fake and when he laughed it was a cacophony if metallic hollow sounds that reverberated through his small body and chilled the bones of those who knew this was not the boy they used to know. -K.C

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

It was deathly silent as Izuku eased open a window and slipped inside.

That is, until you heard Bakugou screaming for stupid deku to show himself. It echoed in the compound, all concrete walls and smooth floors. Uraraka had floated them both up to the top floors to give the advantage of an unexpected attack. This was... Almost like a lucid dream, or liminal space. There was yelling from somewhere you can't hear, and the surroundings are all one color and everything was just.

Blurring together.

Izuku blinked a few times, adrenaline making things sharper but never sharp enough. His mind was foggy and he tried to clear it but it was never- never.... Normal. He clipped the hood of his mask onto his mask with shaky hands (why were they shaky?) and gazed better through the dim of cloth. Finally things were better made out. Muted light was always strangely calm.

"Deku!" He almost flinched at the loud noise, but that didn't matter- his mind was already slipping into a different space. One where he was brave and untouchable and a hero. But the boy was getting closer.

"Come in Uraraka. I'll need you to round the corner in a bit to avoid Bakugou. I'll distract him. Over." He pressed a button on his mask, suppressing all sound once he had reported. He needed to have the most advantage he could, and if that was a sneak attack? Well...

Playing dirty is the best way to win.

As unheroic as that sounded. Izuku laughed a bit to himself (the sound not coming through at all, which only increased the strange dreamlike quality). Bakugou's yelling was getting closer, and more vulgar, by the moment. Strong and fast and unapologetic. Izuku's eyes sharpened.

And then he came barreling around the corner.

Now, Izuku knew that fights were not simple. He knew that they were blurry, and not at all like dances- they were brawls in the dirt. But something about Bakugou made him expect different. The lines crossed in his fuzzy, fuzzy head- something broken, something useless- something deku-


And then he was running. This was only partly a distraction tool (Bakugou would follow him away from the bomb), but also because adrenaline kicked in at the sight of Bakugou's stupid f*cking face. Clear skin and red eyes that glimmered dangerously. Red, but brighter than blood. More like cherry candies. Fake and staining everything that awful color.

Izuku wished it was the color of blood, he really did. It would fit better, wouldn't it? But Izuku was too familiar with gore, and he could say with certainty it was browner.

He lost sight of those eyes as his boots hit the ground in a stumbling run. The impact of each shoe on the ground, never-worn-before and unfamiliar, shocked him with the noise. Explosions- loud and burning and the heat- only spurred at his heels. Like a dog being whipped to run faster. His thighs burned, something numb and his mask still took some getting used to.
But now at least he wasn't breathing ash.

Another loud yell that he tried to drown out. "What?! Are you not gonna fight me?? Coward. I knew you were a faker but I didn't know it was this bad! Eh, Deku?! You gonna continue to be a wittle freak?"

And against his better judgement, Izuku stopped.

(Normally he wouldn't have. He hadn't felt anger, real anger, in years. Maybe that irrational annoyance whenever someone stopped him in the middle of a task, but nothing else. Was that normal? To not feel... Angry? Ever? He didn't know. But now there was all-encompassing rage that exploded from deep in his stomach like a fire piston's fuel.)

Right in that self-serving little bitch nose of his, Izuku threw a punch. It didn't slow down, or felt like anything big. Just a lightning-fast movement that made him fall back with hot hot hot explosions in Bakugou's hands like flames and childhood nostalgia of branded skin.

Izuku could feel the cracking under his fist and could almost-almost hear it, too. Bakugou shook his head like a hurt dog, growling and wiping his face with the back of his hand, and then it was blurry. "Don't call me useless." Izuku hissed.

But Bakugou grinned, sharp sharp gleaming canines. "What do you have to do about it?" He leaned in closer and then slammed Izuku's head against the wall. Ringing. Static as noise. Something warm against the side of his head, a disoriented wavering grasp for control.

Helpless again. Worthless, useless Deku. But now- he reminded himself, or rather- there was the warmth of borrowed strength in his lungs. As the boy's burning hands let out dizzying pops around his ears, Izuku remembered he was not in middle school anymore. Those notes in his Hero Analysis notebooks weren't for nothing, and as Bakugou tried to give him an explosion to his covered face, Izuku pushed it away with strength he didn't have before- warmth inside his fingers, becoming hot.

The right hook, the oh-so-familiar right hook. But Izuku ducked, and a sharp left elbow to Bakugou's throat was a bit of a deterrence.

Was that ethical? Who knew, who cared. Bakugou made a choked sound and there was some stupid sense of satisfaction but then something burned, in his hair in his back in his skin over over over again. Were his ears bleeding? Yes, yes, something uncomfortably warm on his forehead dripping into his eyes and stinging-

He grit his teeth and kneed Bakugou in the crotch.

A howl. The boy stumbled backwards and the fighter in Izuku knew that you had to be relentless, you had to keep coming until they didn't get up, you had to storm forwards into the space they vacated and beat them into the ground. But against his better judgement, Izuku paused, because he didn't want to hurt Bakugou. Didn't want to hurt a child.

(He didn't want to make his tormentor gasp, make his head knock into the wall or kick him in the side over and over again. Izuku- he just- he didn't-)

"Do you know what these gauntlets do, Deku?" Bakugou hissed, and Izuku didn't freeze, you can't afford to freeze in a fight, but he did take a second to look. They were almost like bombs, alligator-skin and green and- did they store something? Of course they did. And since they were connected to the gloves-

Sweat. They stored nitroglycerin sweat. And that meant the explosions.... He didn't speak, because his ears were ringing too bad, but he knew he needed to finish the fight before Bakugou moved. A chokehold? Pressure points? Faster thoughts that raced and pushed together and cancelled out-

A crackling from the ceiling that made Izuku's bleeding ears turn numb. "Stop! That will kill him!" All Might's voice, and it made Izuku's chest feel weirdly concave and Aizawa's stern-worried tones in the background and-

"Only if he doesn't dodge!"

If Izuku hadn't spent months being beaten and burned- and learning how to fight back, the hard way- then he probably would've. But luckily (unluckily? would he be better off-?), his reflexes were little jumps of the tendons inside his legs. Survival. Something painful in his hip- his arm, his-

It was numb. It was bright. It was silent.

Dust kicked up in the air, his ears all clogged up like he was underwater. Whenever he tried to take a breath he coughed, and it smelled like childhood, somehow, some burning sense of youngness and blackened skin. Blood, iron, pennies and copper all in his nose like roasting pork but distinctly human and, and-

He was on the ground, wasn't he? Izuku couldn't feel his legs. Did he have legs? Was he thinking? He was floating. It was warm, here. The sun was too bright, wasn't it? Was he lying in a field of grass, the sky burning white summer sky and gravel beneath his back? Dead again? Back with Hisashi? Had he ever stopped being there, had he ever moved from that spot where the co*ke cans reflected sickening yellow?

Izuku was warm. It was starting to get uncomfortable, really.

And now that he thought about it, his ribs really stung. Had he ever gone to his room afterwards? Was he still There? Maybe he was younger, maybe he was in the park with Kacchan, maybe this had all been a dream.

He felt young. He felt tired.

Maybe he would close his eyes for a bit.


"Stop the exercise! Anyone continuing to fight will be expelled." Aizawa jumped from his chair. "And you, All Might? Stay. You've done enough." The tone of voice was patronizing, but suited the context. All Might didn't argue. "Call Recovery Girl if you want to do anything. There's sure to be injuries."

And with that he ran for the compound. Out of instinct almost activated his capture weapon before catching himself and taking a breath. Nobody needed to be restrained. These were students. Not villains. Midoriya may be annoying with his class-clown antics, but there was something concerning in his demeanor, too. When he fought it was reminiscent of streetfights and necessity. And... Well.

The point was that there was no way Midoriya could become a villain. Aizawa wasn't sure in the case of Bakugou, though.

It was no use of thinking of that now. Bakugou leaned against the outside wall casually and Shota glared with quirked eyes as he tried to move. "Nedzu's office. Now. Argue or go elsewhere, and you will find yourself expelled." The boy stiffened, eyes widening a bit- then quickly slouched off in the direction of the door. Shota got the feeling he had never been reprimanded much before.

Iida and Uraraka's feet pounded down the stairs in a run, and they stopped in front of him. Uraraka was the one that spoke.

"Is Midoriya okay?? Oh my gosh, he- I can't believe it, Bakugou just like-"

Then Iida was joining in, interrupting her, which normally would've been out-of-character. "I'm sure they riled each other up, Sensei, they both tend to-"

The clamoring of both their voices was not something Aizawa needed to deal with at the moment, so he waved his hands in a 'settle down' sort of motion. "I don't know how he is right now. He'll most likely be alive, but you two need to get to your class. Iida, make sure nobody's freaking out too badly. Keep everyone from running off or doing something stupid." His voice was rushed, but thankfully, the little paladin followed orders immediately and with haste. Uraraka followed.

Now, it was his job to find a student, and hope to Kami he wasn't dead. God, the lawsuits. But more importantly, the fact that a kid died beneath his watch. Two teachers could've prevented this, but no, and now his heart was beating faster.

Throughout hallways- up stairs- and there, a motionless figure laid on the floor. He was curled up, as if protecting his stomach or ribs, and half-behind a pile of rubble. He must've tried to pull himself there, Aizawa noted with some sort of clinical numbness.

In this line of work, you need to know how to remove yourself emotionally. Heroes die young. Tragedies happen every day, and you are the one to witness every single one. It's a necessity to separate yourself from the situation you're in, to draw a line between this tragedy and your tragedy. It may sound heartless, but that's how you keep your sanity.

Move to check for a heartbeat- two fingers below the jaw. Wait a second- two- and there it is.

A relieved breath burst from his lips, a sort of pressured sigh, and he ran his hands over his capture weapon a few times just to feel the fibers and calm down. This kid wasn't dying. He breathed- one two three- and watched the kid's chest rise with his own breath.

Another second to contain the emotion and put it aside. He then carefully checked for wounds- the fabric was UA-quality, and towards the higher end for them, even, so not much of it was burnt. There was, however, a burn around the mask Midoriya wore (heat-conducting, of course it was) and his exposed wrists. The abdomen area was burnt. His fingertips were blackened, too, but luckily the nails were fine. If Aizawa never saw melted fingernails, it would be too soon.

It could be dangerous to remove the mask, especially without painkillers or a real doctor, so he left it. But he did raise some of the burned areas that he could above the level of Midoriya's chest. There was some clothing stuck to some of the burns- which tended to happen with severe ones- so there was nothing he could do there.

But now that he looked, was that a scar on the exposed skin of Midoriya's left wrist?

It ran down the vein, almost like... Something in his brain clicked, and he carefully stood. He recognized that type of scar.

Izuku Midoriya was not the person Aizawa thought he was.


Hi :) sorry but also not sorry :) love u guys <3 :)
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Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 20: This Is Not Very Poggers


There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you. -Maya Angelou

This chapter is short And terrible so have fun being tortured. There's ,,, like,,, an almost panic attack BUT since it's the 20th chapter you guys get some hurt comfort. As a treat. :)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku woke up to the smell of rubbing alcohol and hospitals.

This wasn't a surprising smell, as he often got hurt. It was, however, a bit of an alarming one- hospitals tended to turn away quirkless people, and Izuku was no exception. Plus, if he had gotten too hurt on patrol, they could've known his identity.

But he wasn't scared. He wasn't anything. Maybe a little bit annoyed at the sharp smell, but otherwise... It might've been the painkillers, but as Izuku's eyes opened, he was floating. Thoughts sounded far away, like there were muffling clouds stuffed right in the hollow of his skull. A balloon tied and left to be torn which way by the wind.

"Am I dead?" He said out loud- he didn't know why he did, because logically he was not dead. Maybe it was to test if he could speak.

Everything was nicely padded and numb and soft and blurry. Izuku giggled a little bit. He couldn't feel his lips. It was nice.

Someone moved into his field of vision, obscuring the marshmallow-sugar-milk tones of the ceiling. Black hair, and black eyes, and ohhhhh this is eraserhead!! "You're not dead, Midoriya."

Izuku almost giggled, almost heaved himself up in the bed, but something told him it was a bad idea. With indescribable effort, he lifted his hands up to survey them. "Mr Aizawa!" He gasped. "I'm bandaged! .... My hands are too big." Izuku nodded to himself, as it was a true statement, and there was a little bit of a laugh from beside him.

"Go back to sleep, problem child."

Izuku didn't need any more prompting.


When he next woke up, his head felt decidedly less fuzzy- or at least normal enough to function. Kami, he couldn't believe he just. Said stuff. To a teacher. You're supposed to be quiet! But no, the pain meds made him stupid, made him unable to keep his worthless comments to himself.

The first thing he did was push himself up higher onto the pillows so he could survey the room better. This proved to not be the best plan, because pretty much his entire body began to scream at him. Aching and then burning, like someone had stretched rubber bands too far. He just grit his teeth, though.

You can't make a sound. He knew this, he knew the rules better than most. And here they were: be quiet. Even if you're in pain, especially if you're in pain.

Breathe through it. And then it's fine again, and there would've been no point in asking for help in the first place, would there? Just the embarrassment and the realization that you were better off quiet. Quiet. Quiet.

Of course, as the class clown, he had chosen to ignore this. But sometimes it was a different type of quiet to say sh*t you don't mean just to get positive attention. You had to lock down your real thoughts and replace them in your mouth. For example, now, as Recovery Girl came into the room (the real Recovery Girl! His hands were itching to take notes and ask her questions) he bit down the unfair complaints about 'pain' and twisted them into something else.

"Heyo, what was that painkiller? You trying to get me all woozy for a reason? I know I'm attractive but you only had to ask..." A waggling of the eyebrows. Was that good enough? It sounded too fake. Oh no, was it in bad taste to make a joke about something that dark?

She didn't smile back. She usually at least smiled at his antics when he got sent to the nurse's office, and now his palms were sweating and he was starting to make more jokes to cover it up, because what did they know what did they know what did they know.

"Roses? Wine? You know, I can make a pretty good pasta carbonara. Not to brag or anything." With a click of his tongue, Izuku almost moved to set his arms behind his head, but decided that was a bad idea as both of his wrists were bandaged up.

Aizawa came into the room too, and it added a different level to the panic, because he was trapped now. She shook her head solemnly, and sat on the chair beside Izuku's bed while Aizawa continued to stand. "Dear... There's no easy way to segue into this, so I'll just say it outright. Have you been hurting yourself?"

Izuku choked on his own spit, and then started to cough. His throat burned, and it took a good minute or so, but after he caught his breath he was able to gasp out: "What?"

Aizawa spoke next. "We've found a... Concerning scar on your left forearm, Midoriya. Seeing as there's not much else that can make that type of scar other than a knife, and you haven't been in any fights documented by the police... Well. It's only the logical conclusion. We're here to help you."

Something in his chest deflated. So they didn't find the cuts on my hips. Alright. We can work with this. "Miss..." He started, brain working overtime.

Maybe he could play it off as a 'quirkless boy making mistakes' thing, since he knew for a fact they wouldn't believe the kitchen accident excuse. Plus, they had already honed into the mental health issues thing, and it would be hard to divert them. So... If he just built onto it, changed it a little, created distance...

"Well... Yeah. It was a long time ago- over two years now." A lie. His voice was warbly and high so he took a breath and made it better. Because if Izuku knew anything, it was that you were supposed to be quiet. "I was in a lot of pain, and being bullied by my classmates. I was just a kid, you know, not a lot of sense or knowledge about the world. So when someone told me to kill myself, I was curious. I... I didn't really think. It was late, and I was stupid, and I panicked as soon as I saw blood. I pretty much got scared off from the idea of killing myself ever since. I wasn't suicidal, I just didn't exactly understand how permanent death was yet."

Perfect. His voice was now stable and normal- maybe a bit solemn. His expression was the well-practiced look of regret and embarrassment, ashamed yet not too ashamed. Just playing up the innocence of being a kid, because adults tended to believe that sort of stuff.

Aizawa didn't look convinced, which- yeah. Izuku wouldn't be either, with that stupid warble in his voice. Goddamnit. "I get it, kid. But we're still going to have to keep a better eye on you, because... This whole class-clown sh*t? It's, one, annoying, and two, not helping your case of 'totally fine'. You don't have to use that to get attention."

This was not news to Izuku. It did not make his world turn, or make his brain go blank. Maybe it could've, if he was really listening, but his whole focus right now was on acting. On convincing. Because he knew, now, that he was in a metaphorical leg-hold trap.

(Those types of traps are only used on animals that don't want to be caught. On wild things like raccoons and big cats, that sometimes resort to biting their own limbs off to get away. Izuku knew that he would be doing himself a disservice by lying, he did, he did. But the animalistic part knew better: that he was trapped, and that he would do anything to escape.)

"I know, Aizawa." He smiled, and it was almost genuine. Force your eyebrows up, a little bit of a laugh on the exhale, the crinkling of eyes. It was almost natural now. Almost perfect. "But I'm good, really!" He almost said fine, but that was sort of the universal word for 'not fine', so... No.

"We're just worried about you, dear. I trust that your parents know?" Recovery Girl's eyes became hard, daring him to lie.

(What was she gonna do about it if he did? Hit him? He'd gone through worse.)

Izuku smiled a little, but solemn enough that it was believable. "They do. I got a talking-to, and Mum was really worried, but they got me a therapist for a while. I'm all grown out of that now, though. Talked it out, did some drawing, whatever. The bullies left me alone after they heard I did, too." A light self-deprecating laugh. "Kinda wish I'd done it earlier." This was obviously joking, a tone of class-clown.

Was it convincing? His heart was pounding and he was pretty sure that his hands were trembling, now, too, and they felt sweaty and wrong and too big and it was a little bit hard to breathe. But he knew, he knew, he knew that you can't afford to be loud. Not in a trap, you have to keep your breath even and silent and you have to keep the traces of your blood off the ground. Because predators will follow. More injury will follow this one if you let it be known.

Their gazes did not believe him. "Izuku, we talked to your mom. She had no knowledge of this scar."

That was the tipping point. A moment where he didn't say anything at all, but his breath came out in a long exhale, and then- a shorter inhale, and then shorter still, panic setting in, and then-

Then he wanted to scramble back. He wanted to give into the panic attack brewing in his chest, to curl his arms around himself in a little ball and to just hyperventilate and cry until the end of time. But instead he held his breath for a moment, closed his eyes, and then exhaled. Let himself breathe, and push back the emotions.

This was not how it was supposed to go- they were supposed to accept his answers with a nod of the head and a fake-sympathetic smile and maybe even a 'you can talk to us' that they didn't mean. He didn't know what they wanted and that, most of all, made him want to die. Want to be anywhere but here, would rather tear off his own limbs than be trapped here, trapped here, trapped here.

Even animals are afraid of the unknown. He would rather be back in that alley with his head being kicked into the wall than be found out. Would rather die than have his secrets flayed open and bloody words spill from the space between. He knew better than most what hurt was like- bruises, panic attacks, wounds. Those were easy to deal with.

But being cared for? He would rather burn. He could do it himself, as he always had. Izuku was not a- not a f*cking child. He knew better than to believe the flimsy word of 'care'.

Izuku opened his eyes, and he took great care to continue breathing. In- five, hold- seven, out- ten. In- five, hold- seven, out- ten. "I'm sorry I lied. I don’t think about killing myself anymore, I just didn't want anyone to be worried."

But his breath was starting to shake, no matter what he did, and there was a thrill of adrenaline through his chest. Hot and sickening and strong. He smiled- it sort of tickled in a backwards way. When you're afraid, you smile. Smiling was better than crying, smiling was the instinct and the bandage on the wound. It helped. Panic attacks did not.

Aizawa set a big gentle hand on his shoulder- Izuku noticed that he tried to make eye contact but the pupils flitted away as soon as they met his, which was a relief. Maybe he would be able to see that Izuku was Ghost if they made eye contact. "What's going to happen is that we're going to talk about why you felt the need to do this, and the plan if you ever feel like you wanna harm yourself ever again. Then we're going to let you go home, alright? Your mom has been informed but she was caught up in the hospital, so I assume you'll be meeting her at home. Okay?"

And... Strangely, most of the tension bled from Izuku's shoulders and back down his throat to where it pooled and dissolved. It was stupid that it was this easy, wasn't it? But now that he knew that punishment wasn't on their agenda, it was easier to breathe. Easier to let his heart rate calm, even if he was still distantly terrified about Inko and Hisashi.

(And now that he knew the topics, he could construct little scripts and preparations ahead of time. It wasn't uncharted territory anymore. It was... Safer, now.)

Aizawa didn't continue to speak, seeming to wait, and Izuku took a second to realize that he wanted a response before he continued. He wanted Izuku's agreement. The fact was somehow touching. Nobody had cared if Izuku wanted anything before. "... Okay."

"Okay. My phone number for emergencies is in the sheet you took home on the first day. If you need it again, ask me. And if you ever, ever feel like hurting yourself- or even feel particularly bad- then call me. Text, even. Just tell someone. I don't know what will happen if you tell anyone else, but here's what's going to happen with me." Aizawa paused, and Izuku got the feeling that he saw how safe it made Izuku feel to know what was happening.

(Something grateful and unfamiliar rose to his cheeks. He clipped it from its stem and stored it to dry in the back of his head before he said anything stupid. Maybe later, but not now. Never now.)

"If you text or call me about this," Aizawa continued, "I'll come to you or we can meet up someplace. Whichever works best. The dorms are getting set up soon, so I can quickly visit your room. If it makes you uncomfortable to be alone with me, we can go to a semi-public or public place. And then, you have a choice. You can talk it out, even go to Hound Dog if you want to, or we can distract you. I can call a movie night in the dorms, or we can walk around for a while. Anything that takes your mind off of it. To help you. The goal here is not to get you to go to therapy or spill your secrets. Just to keep you from hurting yourself, or from being in a bad mindset."

Izuku nodded, then swallowed. "I'm pretty much good now, though. I have a quirk now, no bullies, lots of friends..." Well, maybe the last two points weren't exactly true, but whatever. "I, um, appreciate it. Though."

"Hey. Listen to me." Aizawa tapped the little guard thing on the bed to get Izuku to look at him. "I'm serious. Even if you don’t feel that way right now, any of the staff here would be happy to listen if you do in the future. You're safe here, Midoriya."

He didn't know what to say to that. What can you say, when someone's looking at you with dark concerned eyes? With some sort of hopefulness, because they want you to be better? This was a situation he had never tasted before. Inko had said the same things, but emptier, and she was so fragile that he doubted she would actually be able to handle it.

Before, Izuku thought that comfort was only a thing you could receive in storybooks.

Aizawa was different. As Ghost, he had allowed him to get away, and sometimes they spoke on the rooftops on a rare quiet patrol. They were... Not friends, but there was enough trust to be more than acquaintances. As Izuku, Aizawa didn't belittle him for the times he got overwhelmed in class, but didn’t ignore him either. Better than other teachers- teasing in a deadpan way, calling the class 'gremlin children'.

So he smiled, though this wasn't a baring of animal teeth, a nervous reaction to danger. Shaky and genuine. "... Thank you."

Aizawa huffed out a breath, and set a hand on Izuku's head, ruffling his hair gently for a second before falling away again. Affection seemed to be hard for him- same, honestly- and it made Aizawa seem weirdly human.

… Teachers hadn't really seemed human before.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

It's so hard to balance izukus 200 problems u guys like have u forgotten about eri yet?? Man we've only had like 1 vigilante scene. Actually the only thing happening is izuku being in pain. I will step up my game I pinky promise

Chapter 21: Then He Became An Informant


Being watched, being followed, having your deepest secrets exposed. Needing to know, even if your discoveries might destroy you. The feeling that something, somewhere, is letting you suffer- just so it can watch. -MAG111, #0173006

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku rocked back on his ankles. "We need to find a way to keep Sensei from knowing about... Me."

They were crouched in an alleyway a couple blocks away from Shinsou's foster home, brainstorming about the vigilante sh*t. Inko hadn't returned home tonight. He didn't know when she'd be back, but at least that meant he wouldn't get confronted until later.

Izuku had started to pull back his bangs in a little ponytail at the crown of his head during vigilante activity, hoping it would keep him from being recognized, and pulling his hood down further. It wasn't foolproof, though, and as Shinsou rubbed at a red spot on his cheek idly, he began to speak.

"Okay, so, what sorts of stuff helps you recognise a person?" He continued to the next sentence a bit too quickly, to keep Izuku from answering- "There's appearance and stuff, and that's pretty big. Do you think you could get colored contacts? Or, I don't know... Conceal your freckles, maybe. Oh, you could dye your hair with some sort of wash-out gel."

"Ah..." Izuku bit at his lip thoughtfully through the lip, worrying a piece of uneven skin between his teeth. "I don't know what my reaction to contacts are, and I've never put them in before- not to mention I wouldn't know where to get them. The gel is a good idea, as is the concealer, but... If he's seen this stuff already, what does it matter? He probably knows already." He let his head drop gently against the brick wall, hair and hood making a dull sound.

Shinsou snorted. "Don't give up now, idiot. Even if he knows, that sort of stuff will be useful for other criminals. Uh.... You could also work on changing your posture, voice, fighting style, sh*t like that. I'm pretty sure that would be hard for other people, but you're good at acting."

Was that a veiled insult? He wondered for a second, but then at Shinsou's smirk there was no more questioning about it. "Rude. Why am I friends with you?"

"Because I used my spooky mind powers to make you." He wiggled his fingers at Izuku's face, who giggled and scrunched up his nose. The joke wasn't quite as light as it should be.

Smiling gently, he responded in a friendly way, lightly bumping their shoulders together. "Don't put yourself down, Shi. It's because I like to steal your concealer, obviously- hey, that rhymed. Plus, you're a fantastic medic." A wink, and Shinsou laughed with a relieved sort of undertone.

"Yeah, yeah. Don't you have work to do, or something?" A roll of the eyes.

Getting up, Izuku retied the mini ponytail at the crown of his head before pulling the hood back up. "Yep. Protecting the city from nefarious villains, or whatever. You gonna be fine here?"

Shinsou nodded, running a hand through his purple hair and gesturing to his worn black backpack. The pin that Izuku had noticed all those months ago turned out to be a pride pin- the reason that he kept getting kicked out at night, to supposedly make him strong enough to fight off 'the gay'. The pride pin was hidden inside now.

"Kay. Be safe." Izuku saluted at him and went veering off into the darkness.

He had a patrol route now, and a general time for it, too. Pro heroes weren't really a problem, as long as he wasn't hurting anything and wasn't too easy to catch- even working along with him sometimes.

Patrol hours started at about midnight, when there were the most sexual assault cases. Two AM was a popular hour for alcoholics, and then it tended to lean more towards drug addicts, domestic abuse, and that sort of stuff for the rest of his patrol. At three or four, depending on how tired he was and if there was school the next day, he went back to the house. Hisashi didn't return until six AM, usually.

His shoes slapped the pavement and it made him wince, but running silently was unneeded now. It would be nice to know how to parkour, or run on buildings, to have that cool vigilante look. You know, like all the books said? But he was- he was a little bit afraid that once he got up on the rooftops he would want to do something a little more permanent.

Whatever. He ran a little bit faster, pushed his muscles a little bit more, just to get the thoughts out of his mind. The streets were familiar now, and he could recognise the storefronts all closed up and dark. The city was different at night, but there was a certain comfort in the darkness. Sure, you can't see other people, but with Izuku's growing collection of knives taken from the kitchen and skills with using random objects as weapons...

You're the thing in the dark. You're the ghost.

(Haha, very funny, Izuku, he thought to himself with a half-hearted snort.)

Then he heard it.

It wasn't anything sinister; or at least, it didn't appear to be, at first. Just the low murmuring of conversation in an alley near a seedy bar. He wouldn't have stopped, normally. But something twisted in his gut, and wasn't it better to be safe than sorry? It was easy enough to climb the fire escape of the next building over and lay on the rooftop to eavesdrop.

If they were speaking about the weather, fine. But he couldn't take the chance to go against his instincts, and it wasn't like the city would suffer much from his disappearance. The concrete was hard and scraped against his cheek, but he strained his ears and picked up the voices.

"-So, are you joining us?" This was a man's voice, proper yet strangely wispy; it echoed.

A disbelieving breath. "Dude, I'm a villain, but I'm not going to f*cking kill some random kids. f*ck- sh*t, stop!" A little bit of a scuffle, and then the second man sounded higher and more panicked. "I'm not going to tell anyone! Do whatever you want, but this sh*t's not for me."

"... Fine. But if you ever feel like joining us, we'll be meeting up at the 17th- 2PM- to figure out a date for the attack. And remember, this is a wonderful time to get revenge on All Might... Eraserhead... And the future heroes." His voice was smooth, but not particularly emotional.

There was silence for a minute, and Izuku stayed frozen still.

"I'll do it if there's money involved."

A laugh that echoed disturbingly. "What, ye of little faith? There'll be pay if you survive."

There was a choked noise, and then silence again. This felt more permanent, final, like the end of a conversation. Footsteps and relieved breath confirmed this too, but Izuku didn't move.


His mind rolled over their words. Maybe he had missed something- but no, there wasn't much way he could misunderstand the phrase 'kill some random kids'. By the way that the first man commanded attention, the way that he was supposedly able to go against All Might... Yeah. Izuku wouldn't be able to go against them.

So, they were meeting on the 17th, at 2PM. Supposedly the first man had some sort of teleportation quirk, and they were going to be attacking Eraserhead and All Might, as well as future heroes. He had three days until the 17th. He couldn't protect the class against that many villains.

Izuku bumped his head against the concrete, trying to knock some sense into himself. What if he was absent that day, and went with the villains to find out when it was? Or... Frustration gathered in his throat. There was no way he could do this on his own, but the mere thought of getting someone to help was offensive.

Sighing quietly, he crawled across the roof on his elbows and scurried back down the fire escape. From there he started running again, breath catching in his throat. This was a sprint, though streets and alleys and he knew he was missing crimes but he needed to find a payphone because he was pretty sure they could track texts or something?? Skidding around a corner and his breath was quicker than it should be and maybe it was because with every second he wasted, more kids might be getting murdered.

There. By a dusty storefront and the alleyway with Brindle and the kittens. Maybe he would visit them, but only after this phone call. Pausing by the green payphone, his brain blanked, because who would he call?

He didn't have Tsukauchi's phone number, nor Sansa's, and dialing 110 only brought up one of the operators. That left Eraserhead. Dammit. But who would believe Izuku? He was just some teen vigilante. Maybe he would ask Eraser to bring Tsukauchi. Yeah. Okay.

He had already wasted enough time. Pushing the correct once-white buttons and sliding three 10-yen coins into the slot. Shifting from one foot to the other, studying his red converse and wondering briefly if he should get an actual vigilante costume.

A click, and then Ghost was clutching the phone to his ear as a tired voice came through. "Hello? Hizashi, I thought I told you not to call during patrol-"

"Eraserhead?" He swallowed- wondering who Hizashi was, and there was movement on the other side.

Aizawa's voice was tight and a bit alarmed when he spoke next. "Ghost? f*ck. How close to dying are you to call me?"

"No. Listen, you-... Tsukauchi has a quirk that detects lies, right? I have some important information. Time-sensitive. Both of you, I need you to meet me at-" Izuku paused and looked around- "The supermarket in Dagoba district, the one more westward. Y'know, cheap, super dusty. Thanks. Bye."


"Dude, I'm running out of time on this payphone, and I'm not injured. Thank you. Please take this seriously?" Then he hung up.

Wow. He was absolutely fantastic at phone calls. Izuku groaned and collapsed in the closest alleyway- and then came face to face with some unfortunate graffiti on an All Might sticker. God, people were so immature. He was so tired. When he got home, he needed some stress relief. A razor? Knife? Did it matter? He sighed, but his despair at generally being alive was quickly distracted because a fluffy pile of kitten jumped into his lap.

"Hello, Beans." He murmured, smiling gently and running a hand through her fur. The others were engaged in a playfight with Brindle's tail. As he waited, he watched them and let Beans knead his sweatshirt.

This might not have been the best idea, though, because he didn't exactly notice Tsukauchi or Eraserhead approaching. And they saw him talking to cats while they climbed all over him, in a situation that was supposed to be 'time sensitive'. A laugh was the only reason why he did notice them.

And even then he had the sneaking suspicion that Eraserhead had a few pictures of that on his phone.
"Is this the 'time sensitive information', Ghost?" He said this with a bit of a humorous tinge, but also with warning underneath. Izuku swallowed and quickly got up.

"No. I'm- I'm sorry, I was just petting them when I was waiting for you to show up but I get now why that was a bad idea and I hope you forgive me, it really is time-sensitive and I probably woke you up-"

Tsukauchi shook his head. "No, no. It's okay. What was the information?"

"Well.." Izuku started, trying to grasp at strands, trying to find somewhere to start. "Someone's planning to attack the students. They're gathering villains for a group attack, and they apparently think they can take down All Might. I'm- I'm saying this now, because they're going to be doing it soon. On the 17th, all the villains will meet up to, um, be told when it is, and where, presumably. I want to join, and tell you guys where it is so you can prepare."

The two adults got steadily tenser with every word Izuku said, but by the end, Eraserhead was shaking his head. "No. You're young and inexperienced. I'm not sending a child to gather intel."

"I'm not a child." He spat. "I'm a vigilante, and probably one of the only ones you can trust. I might be asked to go, as I'm close enough to a villain, and well known enough to be good firepower. If they don't ask me, you can send one of your heroes, but they might be recognized. I'm the most reliable for this."

As Tsukauchi began to speak, Eraserhead raised his hand, making him pause. "Wait. I have a question for you, Ghost."

Izuku raised an eyebrow. "What? I think I've been pretty trustworthy insofar, Eraser."

"Do you want to hurt any of my students?"

Izuku blinked, surprised at the question. "No, of course not."

He raised his eyebrows, surveying Izuku's face. "I'll ask again. Do you want to hurt any of my students?"
"I'd pinky promise, but I'm like 99% sure that isn't legally binding."

"I'm the one with the truth quirk," Tsukauchi interjected, rolling his eyes. "I'll ask. Kid, I trust you don't have any intention to hurt them, but this is just a formality. Do you want to hurt any of Eraserhead's students?"

Again, Izuku sighed. "Nope."

There was a pause in which Tsukauchi's eyes widened slightly, then he took a step back. Voice hardened. "Aizawa, restrain him."


"Restrain him!" Tsukauchi yelled, and then the fibres of Aizawa's capture weapon was wrapping around Izuku before he could blink. It was tight and uncomfortable and his arms were affixed to his sides, unable to reach the knife in his hoodie pocket or the soup can near the mouth of the alleyway.

"What the hell-?!" Izuku asked, voice panicky, because he couldn't really think of anything else to say. Did he lie? What did he lie about? He didn't want to hurt any of Eraserhead's students, not even Bakugou! Then what-



Izuku was one of Eraserhead's students, wasn't he?

And he wanted to-... There was no choice but to tell them now, was there? Or they'd think that he was a villain and arrest him. He didn't necessarily need to reveal his identity, if he... Okay. Okay. He could do this.

"No! Wait. Wait, I can explain."

Eraserhead turned on him, eyes dark. "I don't think you can. But we'll let you talk." His voice was venomous and it almost- almost made Izuku flinch. Just earlier, that was the same man that said Izuku could tell him anything.

(Adults can't be trusted, Izuku's mind whispered.)

"Okay. Um. I... I was one of Eraserhead's students, in the past." True. He was, just this morning. "But... Well, you know. I was quirkless." True, not his fault that they connected the two statements. "Most people didn't give me a chance, and..." A shrug to finish. Technically none of that was wrong. "Um. Anyways, I don't want to hurt any of Eraser's students, except, um, me. 'Cause. Uh, I don't... Treat myself the best."

Another shrug, and then Tsukauchi's voice (softer, apologetic). "All truth." Immediately the capture weapon retracted, and Tsukauchi continued. "Sorry about that, Ghost. Do you.. Er, need anything? Obviously therapy, but..."

"How the hell could I have expelled you?" Eraser ran a hand through his hair, fingers catching on a couple tangles. "God, I want to go back and slap myself. I don't even remember having any quirkless students- is that how awful I am?"

Izuku didn't know what to do. There was so much... Support? Something accepting and regretful? Soft and trustworthy? And Beans was headbutting his shin, and these two adults were apologizing? To him?

You didn't have to apologize to him. He was quirkless. This...

"Um, it's. It's fine. I deserved it. Also, no offense to you two, but I would rather be talking about literally anything other than my self destructive habits." Izuku laughed a little.

"Okay. But, uh..." Eraserhead swallowed before slipping a black hair tie off of his wrist. There was a metal bead on it, instead of the usual seam; he pressed it into Izuku's hand. "Snap it whenever you want to harm yourself."

Tsukauchi didn't comment, so Izuku figured he didn't need to, either. There was a little bit of surprise in knowing that Aizawa had problems with that sort of stuff, too, or at least knew how to deal with it.

A breath, then the detective brought them back to the topic. "Okay. Start from the beginning. Tell us everything."

And Izuku did.


Nearing the end of the patrol, Izuku crouched in an alley, taking a moment to catch his breath.

Calling Eraserhead had turned out to be the correct decision- even if his cheeks burned at the mere thought that they had found out about his tendencies. There was one problem, though. The meeting was during school, and if he was absent that day, it would be overwhelmingly suspicious. Now, with the self-harm connecting them too, he couldn't take the chance.

Now, there was the obvious answer- faking sick. If he started to look sick on the day before, it would make it more believable. Izuku scrunched up his brows and dug his fingers into the concrete, black cotton sticking in the grains.

Oh! That's it. He could force himself to throw up at the end of the day. That way, there was no suspicion of him faking- because what type of person would make themselves throw up just to skip class? And if he went out on patrol a little longer that day too, ate a little less... He would look sickly, because, well, yeah, he would have to treat himself pretty badly. But did that really matter? It was just a means to an end.

(In the back of his mind, Izuku passively registered that he probably shouldn't do this. That it was dangerous, and that he shouldn't be so casual about causing his body harm. But it didn't matter. That was what he had been taught.)

Nodding to himself, he ran the few blocks to his apartment. Exhaustion was starting to blur his eyes, which wasn't really all that good, but he wouldn't be fighting anymore that night. Limbs heavy, he unlocked the door and stripped off his shoes and mask, stuffing the latter into his pocket. Pull out the ponytail, and then he was just Inko's son again. Just another civilian.
That was, until he heard Hisashi.

He usually isn't home right now. Izuku thought- distantly, ever distantly- and held his breath as he made his way to the stairs. Hisashi was... Talking on the phone? No distinct words were made out.

Weight balanced carefully on the balls of his feet, adrenaline sharp and heavy and sickening in his stomach. The floor tended to creak near the wall, but there was no way to know exactly where. And the stairs were a danger area, too, but he needed to get back up into his bedroom. What if he just spent the night outside? Maybe they wouldn't notice.

(They would, and that was the worst part. Inko would be so worried. She would cry. He didn't want to do that to her, but he didn't want to risk a rerun of the Incident. That's what he called it now. The Incident, because surely it wouldn't happen again.)

But the door was already shut, and it would make a noise to open it. Izuku was frozen in the stairwell, too afraid to move but knowing it would eventually kill him if he didn't. His heart pounded through his head, hot blood rushing in his ears but his feet were still and his muscles wouldn't move. Hisashi would come in soon, he was sure of it. He couldn't move. He would be found.

A minute passed, and Izuku was still just as tense, because he was so so so sure that the minute he moved he would be caught. Hurt. He cursed himself for not moving earlier, but right now he couldn't afford to because it was... It was just too dangerous. He couldn't.

"Great, thanks a lot, bastard. You won't be getting a deal next time. Yeah, bye." Hisashi huffed and from the sound of it, he sat on the couch. On the couch, the same position he always did. Where Izuku was kicked. Where he was hurt.

"Don't think I didn't notice you, Izuku!"

Oh, f*ck. His breath stuttered, just a little bit, but out of habit he concealed the nervous response and peeked out from behind the doorframe. Try to smile. Try to smile, shoulders back, act sheepish and maybe a little tired, the quick lie that I was going out for a quick walk, woke up after a nightmare- yeah, it was about some witches, zombies, that sort of normal stuff normal kids have nightmares about. Not at all about dying or being threatened with a beer bottle, no-siree!

"Sorry about that, dad. I woke up after a nightmare, and was kinda spooked, so I figured I'd go for a walk." Izuku's hands were shaking. Was it visible? Was it visible?!

Hisashi laughed, a gentle warm laugh that was genuine and fatherly. "Oh, I get those all the time." He patted the couch next to him, and Izuku stiffly sat, trying not to think about how close they were or how from this angle Hisashi could probably elbow him in the face. "D'ya wanna watch a movie with me, Izu? I'm pretty sure there are some awful westerns on right about now."

Oh god, Izuku could see how good of a dad he was, now. And how dare he for being scared? When this was his father? He was loved, and it was selfish to think anything else. That incident was nothing, and Izuku probably imagined it, because now they were watching westerns on the TV with Hisashi's arm wrapped around his shoulders like a friend or, or a dad.

(Izuku felt nauseous from the adrenaline constantly running through his stomach, never used. Guilty, most of all, that the adrenaline existed in the first place.)

At one point, he must've drifted off.

(And that was a sickening realization. Strangely defiled at the thought of falling asleep next to his own dad. Like he needed to wipe his mouth or scrub out the inside of his own dirty skin. It didn't make sense.)

But he must've drifted off, some point during the night.

Because he sure as hell woke up, didn't he? To Inko's tired face? Stressed lines drawn between her eyes and at the edges of her mouth like crumpled paper?

There was hardly time to rub the crust from his eyes, or realize that Hisashi wasn't there anymore. Because Inko was talking, and his head was reeling and blurry and not-quite-awake-yet. Because he knew that worried look was because of him. All his fault. And he knew that he would hear her crying in the room down the hall again, and feel sick again.

"Izuku, honey?" She asked, and he knew he knew he knew that this wasn't a question that he should answer.

"I think we need to talk."


This is the only chapter actually. I really like the way I wrote this one idk ajhskdhs

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 22: Why, Izuku


I wanted to be untouchable and have no need. -David Wojnarowicz

Tw; this chapter has references to eating disorders, and Izuku makes himself throw up. He doesn't have an eating disorder, this is just to fake sick. Nevertheless, if you want or need to skip the throwing up (not graphic) then skip from the line beginning with 'the bathroom shone clean and white...' and continue reading at '"Stop!"'

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"I think we need to talk."

Izuku swallowed, looking up at Inko. Her mouth was set in one hard line, that specific stressed-angry type of look that teachers gave before they lost their patience with the class. That same type of look that drove adrenaline hot and sick right through his stomach.

Not so tired anymore, was he?

"Oh. Um. Okay, w- what about?" He asked, shifting uncomfortably and trying not to focus on the crick in his neck.

"I think you know." Oh, and her voice was cold, before she took a deep breath and tried for a softer approach. "You know, Izuku, I worry about you. I really, really care about you, and... I just, I thought you would be better in UA. I thought that maybe you'd stop that rebel phase of yours, to become a hero. Especially with the new quirk, you were better than ever!"

Was that a compliment? It didn't feel like one. It really didn't feel like one.

"But," she continued, "This attention-seeking behavior needs to stop. I- I just... I know that you're probably having a hard time with everything- don't think I haven't seen your grades- and I know I'm not very good with emotions. But, honey. This is no way to deal with things."

Her eyes got a little teary, water beading up. Crying again. Guilt built up and crashed down in dizzying waves between Izuku's lungs. This was it? She thought he was continuing his class clown act in a more dramatic way? Should he set her straight?

(He knew he shouldn't. He swallowed back the words on his tongue, because it's better to protect the ones you love. Better to keep it all locked up, because once your neck is bared to the world? You have nothing to show for it but one bloody, deafening bite.)

"I know what self harm looks like, Izuku, and that's not it." She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, and something in the back of Izuku's mind understood. Inko was a doctor. Of course she had seen suicide attempts. Of course she knew this was fake.

Sickness grew in the back of his throat. But wasn't it better that she thought he was fine? Wasn't- shouldn't he be grateful? Didn't he want this? Yeah- yeah, of course he did. Besides, she was right. It wasn't from self harm. Maybe he had harmed himself before, but this was nothing. It was fine. He shouldn't be acting like this.

So he nodded, and looked at the ground with a quiet sigh. "Sorry, mom. Do you.... Um, do you want me to say anything to them? I know I haven't been the most upstanding citizen, but- but if you want I'll turn it around!" His voice got faster at the end, like the words were being squeezed into a box. Like he was writing the wrong answer for a homework question.

"Izuku. You know I love you. I do- you're such a good kid, normally. I know you're smart, and you do, too. That's why I don't want to have to pull you out! But if it's the best for you, I will. Honey, please. I'm worried about you! Of course I am, I'm your mother. I don't want to make you..." She gestured vaguely, as if Izuku was supposed to know the end to that sentence.

He didn't.

The house was too quiet when nobody was talking. It hardly creaked. It hardly did anything at all except collect dust, much like its residents at times. Now, it was stifling. Strangely thickened air, like someone had slammed a hand over his mouth and nose.

"I'll be better." He murmured, because what else was he supposed to do?

Inko sighed and brought him into a hug. It wasn't too tight or too hot or anything else, but it made something squirm in Izuku's stomach anyway. Maybe it was anger at the fact that she dared to take UA away from him. He didn't know. He had forgotten what anger felt like.

At least Hisashi wasn't home, he thought to himself while getting ready for school- which mostly consisted of eating three granola bars in quick succession, stuffing four into his backpack, and two into his pockets. Just in case. He wasn't a food hoarder, like those abused kids in stories that needed to do that to survive. He just thought it was useful for when he wanted to be.... Considerate of a sleeping Hisashi, and not eat loudly and wake him up inside the house.

(Guilt grew at that. How dare he think of his parents as bad? Nausea, sickening shame at being so so so stupid-... He squashed it down and boxed it up and forced himself to think about anything else.)

School. Then home again. Then patrol, for a bit longer than usual to make himself look tired. It worked- unfortunately, because his eyes were drooping and it was hell to get out of bed... More so than usual, at least. He skipped breakfast as usual, but ate the granola bars in his backpack anyway because he needed something to metabolize before he throw up.

In class, his hands already felt shaky and now that he was thinking about it he couldn't stop. Would it be better to do it with someone else in the bathroom so that he had a witness? How easy was it? Would it really burn through his throat? Should he drink something before- or after? Was there a way he could sell this? Be quieter? Hold his stomach, maybe. Oh, he should've decided on a specific sickness to find the exact symptoms and fake them that way. What if he acted dazed? Or-


Blinking a couple times, Izuku looked up. "Sorry, yeah?"

Aizawa sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Please open your book to page 342. Then you can answer question two. Go. If you get it right, maybe you won't get detention."

"Yessir." Izuku said, trying to make his voice a good balance between 'class clown chipper' and 'depressed Izuku hates himself'. The book on hero ethics was turned to the correct page, and luckily, it was a pretty easy question- something about the laws of quirk discrimination in the workplace. He had seen it firsthand, so he answered easily.

"Quirk discrimination is common, although it's technically illegal. Kids with weak quirks or no quirks at all tend to be the victims of bullying, harassment, and even murder- as well as kids with mental quirks or quote-on-quote 'villainous' ones. In the workplace, prices might be raised for customers with not ideal quirks. They might be outright turned away from jobs. As heroes, it's our job to make sure we don't discriminate with the people we save. Children, pregnant women, the sick, and the elderly should be the priority. Not strong quirks." Was he talking too much? He swallowed, suddenly remembering what Inko had said, and his voice dipped; quieter. "So, yeah. Sorry if I was off track."

There was silence for a couple beats, awkward- or maybe stunned, Izuku wasn't really sure how to get the tone of a silence. He knew, though, that it was uncomfortable. That people were surprised he wasn't stupid; a beaten dog learning to roll over.

"That was good, Midoriya. We haven't gone over that yet, so I was expecting a guess, but you seem to have a full comprehension of this subject- despite your quirk." Aizawa nodded at him, some mix of appreciation. Izuku didn't feel anything but maybe a slight stinging from 'despite your quirk'.

He caught a glimpse of Shinsou out of the corner of his eye as the lecture started. Staring at him with eyes wide, surprised, a little bit apologetic. They had never made up, really. Just started hanging out again in small intervals, an unsaid agreement to ignore the stresses between them. Sure, maybe it wasn't exactly truthful, but it was better than nothing. And oh kami, Izuku would do anything to keep from nothing. He had been at nothing for too long, alone, alone, alone.

(At least now he wasn't alone anymore. Wasn't he?)

The rest of the period went as usual, except for the fact that his mind always circled around the same subject of villains and faking sick and suspicious behavior. Skittish thoughts, nipping at the concept of fingers down his throat before quickly being shooed away to classwork again.

Facts got mixed up with anxiety, swirling and aching and his notes were filled with scribbles too messy to read because his mind wouldn't stop. He had to think about it because it was happening soon and he had to be ready. Ready, ready for any possibility, just in case he was caught- in the bathroom or in the meeting alike.

Shinsou kept shooting looks at him. Aizawa kept shooting looks at him. At least he noticed! He made sure to act a little more class-clown like! Quickly making a reference to a vine that makes Kaminari snort- but then everyone glared at him so Izuku was alone again.

But it's normal again. And they think he's normal again. So it's okay.

It's okay. It's okay.

And then he was sitting at the cafeteria table, half-eaten bowl of chicken katsudon in front of him, and there were fifteen minutes until the end of lunch. His hands were shaking; his chopsticks wobbled accordingly. Katsudon hadn't been his favorite food since he was seven- he wasn't sure if he even had a favorite food. But he didn't want to throw it up, not really. Too acidic and disgusting and almost burning.

(It didn't matter. He didn't want to do a lot of things.)

So he got up and dumped his katsudon in the compost- there was the urge to save it, of course, but there were no containers for that unless you brought your own. And he walked out of the cafeteria. He supposed it was better that Shinsou sat somewhere else, because nobody asked where he was going. Not even Ojiro or Shouji or any of the other quiet students at his table- but it was to be expected.

So nobody asked where he was going, but that was to be expected, too. Adrenaline built up slowly in his stomach the closer he got to the bathrooms, so naturally he lifted his hands to-... He didn't know. It was an urge, like going to sneeze, but it was cut off instinctively before he did it.

Izuku shook his head and pressed two fingers underneath his jaw, feeling his pulse for a couple seconds instead. The walk went by too fast. Was his mind blurry? Hands sweaty. Was- could he-... It would be alright. It would be fine.

The bathroom shone clean and white, porcelain floor making quick sharp clicks under his shoes. The door of the stall creaked when it swung open, and more sweat gathered in his palms, but again he shook his head. Bounced on his toes to get some confidence, and then opened his mouth.

He didn't kneel, like all those illustrations of people at toilets. Just sort of awkwardly stood there, before separating two fingers and reaching them into his mouth. It reminded Izuku of when he had to do this in the first year of middle school, when some kid had dared him to eat spoiled food. Afterwards he was so afraid of throwing up that he just wanted to get it over with, but never had the courage to go past the first gag.

It went on for a while; after the first few tries he switched to three fingers instead. Spit dripping down his hand. Disgusting, sickening, and why was he doing this, it was a terrible idea, but at the same time a strange obsession with finishing the task. He must've spent five minutes already, he needed to do it, class would start soon. Almost- almost- the clenching in his stomach-

(Distantly, he thought he heard a creaking, like the stall door was being opened-)

And then quickly, ripping his fingers away before emptying the contents of his stomach into the toilet. It wasn't a lot, though- maybe he'd have to do it again? He wiped his mouth and fingers with a few pieces of toilet paper and grimaced. His throat burned, but if this was the only way to skip school, then wasn't it better this way? Besides, if he tried he could almost imagine the pain was the relieving, purposeful sort. Turning it into something pleasurable, and then he reached for his open mouth again-

"Stop!" Someone's hand was tearing his away, blurring, dizzy, and his throat burned and he scrambled back- arm ripping away; spun clumsily to see who.

Todoroki Shoto.

His eyes were wide, but to his credit, he hardly paused in pulling Izuku away from the toilet and slamming the lid. "You were making yourself throw up." A deadpan voice, as always, but it tilted up at the end as if it wanted to be a question.

Todoroki didn't know Izuku very well, and vice versa- so one could imagine that seeing the class clown making himself throw up in the toilet would be a rather shocking first meeting. Izuku was just frozen, lungs stuttering inside his chest for a half-second, mind blank with panic.

"Are you bulimic?" He asked, a bit softer than usual.

And he didn't know. He didn't know because his mind was foggy with pure adrenaline being pumped into his veins, fingernails discreetly pressing into the pads of his fingers for more pain just to fix everything. Was he bulimic? The syllables were suddenly gibberish- and what if he did have an eating disorder, his fingers recently had gotten gaps in between them- ribs more defined. But that didn't mean anything, it wasn't a choice. Was it? Could he trust himself? Did his memories get twisted in some horrible, dark way? Was there any evidence? Could he trust himself- did- was-

"Um." Izuku bit his lip, once, short, hard. It didn't bleed, but it hurt, and made his vision clear. His mind go a little bit- a little bit quieter. "I, I was- I don't have an eating disorder. I was just feeling sick, and- and I thought that if I made myself throw up now then it would be better than, um, feeling nauseous the whole day."

"Then why were you going to do it again after you threw up?"

"... I was still feeling nauseous?" He knew it was a bad coverup, but better than nothing. Better than nothing. That was his motto these days.

Todoroki didn't look like he believed him. "Midoriya, I know what these sorts of things look like. I'll... I can help you. My mom used to have troubles with these sorts of things. The road to recovery isn't so far away. I can check with you after meals or something."

It didn't pass Izuku's notice that Todoroki didn't think to tell adults. Normally, everyone else would be rushing to get a teacher or parent, but not this time. He was grateful. Kids are more predictable than adults, easier to fight off if it came to it.

(It did pass his notice that maybe they were both traumatized and should get an adult. Well, hindsight would always be 20/20.)

Izuku knew that it would be probably really bad to fake having some sort of eating disorder. He also knew, though, that it would be really hard to find a different way to pass this off without telling the truth. Of course, the guilt of faking would eat away at him, so why not a half-truth? But he needed to add something concerning in there, because why else would he lie about it?

"Well.. I don't have an eating disorder. I just needed to skip school, because my da-... Mom's boyfriend is coming home before the end of the school day. And, um. I just, I need to hoard some granola bars before then, because I was stupid and forgot this morning. Because- uh, he scares me, just a little bit." There! A half-truth. But he was making Hisashi sound too bad, so quickly he fixed it, you need to fix it. "But! Nothing I can't handle. This was a terrible idea. I'm sorry."

Izuku laughed a little bit, skimming a hand over the back of his neck. It was too easy. Todoroki wouldn't believe him. It would fall apart. The hand dug in a little bit, but not painfully- just giving a point to focus on rather than panicking.

"... Oh." Todoroki blinked, then his mouth turned up in a sort of quick sympathetic half-smile. "Yeah. I get it. If... If you have bars with nuts, or fig bars, they tend to keep you full for longer. And if you have your hands in your pockets while you get them, it'll muffle the crunching sound. If it doesn't, you can just say you have receipts from shopping, but in that case you have to actually carry a receipt. Just in case they want to see it."

Then he cleared his throat, seeming to realize that knowing these sorts of things aren't normal. Izuku blinked once, twice, to let his brain turn over the information. It wasn't a surprise, not really. In analyses, Endeavor was aggressive, manipulative, and tended to blow up if his patience was tested. It made sense that he was an abuser.

So they nodded to each other. Izuku flushed the toilet, and they walked back to the 1-A classroom.

When they opened the door Todoroki was the one to speak. "Aizawa-sensei."

The man stopped in the middle of his sentence and turned to look at them, taking in Izuku's rumpled look and Todoroki's calm one. "Yes?" He raised an eyebrow and Izuku's stomach began to churn from something other than sickness.

"Midoriya threw up in the bathroom. I believe he is sick."

"Take him to the nurse's office." Aizawa said, turning back to the board. "Thank you. Feel better, Midoriya."

(Izuku really, really didn't feel better.)


Hey I hate this chapter and did it through and Brain Fog (tm) but have it anyway I guess
Thank you so much for all the comments and readers, especially the ones that come back for each chapter! Because there are getting to be so many, I might not answer each one- probably only the questions or long comments. Nevertheless, love you all :) -Ro

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 23: Sickfic Chapter,,, Sort Of


Secrecy flows through you, a different kind of blood. -Margaret Atwood

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

After he threw up, Hisashi came to pick him up- Todoroki gave him looks of sympathy tinged with fear. The good part was that, due to UA policy, if a kid threw up they had to be taken out of school for at least 48 hours. The bad part about that was that he didn't know how he would justify leaving the house when he was sick.

In the morning, his throat was feeling better, no longer burning acidic; still exhausted, but less so from the full ten hours of sleep. Blinking slowly, he rolled over onto his back and wiggled his toes. They hung off the end of the bed, still. Bare and pale.

That made him sad, somehow. A weight dropping a little lower from his chest to his stomach. He swallowed, and then Inko was coming into the room without any warning.

"Hi, honey- I made miso soup. Hopefully it'll be light enough to keep down, but if you can't, just tell me." She sighed then, placing a bowl onto the bedside table with a little trouble. "Why are there so many books here, Izuku? I swear, it's almost as if you're trying to intercept me." The tone was light, and Izuku tried to smile.

"Thank you. And it's obviously because my one goal in life is to drive you crazy." His voice was innocent in return, reaching for the bowl and the porcelain spoon rested upon it. It was obviously very hot, practically burning his fingers, but he had dealt with burns before.

She laughed, patting him lightly on the head. "Wow, sassy. Did you get enough sleep?"

The spirit of a touch-starved demon must've possessed him at that moment, because he leaned into the hand like a cat. It was hard to be touched, usually, a burning not-feeling that was almost instinctual. Like someone was pressing burning metal to his skin and it was only logical to get away. The only people so far that were deemed 'safe' to his brain was Inko- and, unsurprisingly, Shinsou.

"Who's this sleep you speak of? I don't think I know her."

"Oh, hush." She laughed again, and it eased something- a knot, maybe, in his chest. It had been a while since they laughed together. "You should know her- or at least be acquainted, seeing as you're taking exams in UA that you need to pass."

Izuku rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Fine, mom." This was, apparently, the socially-acceptable moment that she took her hand away and went to go do whatever she did in the rest of the house, and he sat in his room alone for the rest of the day. But he was not letting go of the positive contact.

It wasn't... A conscious intention, at first, but he leaned with the hand that tried to leave. Inko was naturally the one to notice first, because apparently the universe hated him. But what else is new?

".... Are you a cat?"

Sputtering, Izuku tore away and glared at her playfully. "No, definitely not. Why would you think that I'm secretly an alien cat come to steal your family? Haha, definitely not! Ha..... Haha.... That'd be ridiculous..."

She laughed again, eyes crinkled. "Of course. I believe you."

It had been too long since they had joked. He should call her mom again. He forgot when he stopped.

"Um, but... I'm feeling a lot better now, though, so I think it'd be safe to say I can go to school on monday. Plus I still need to make up a few assignments."

Inko- Mom sighed, running another gentle hand through his hair. "If you can eat that entire bowl of miso soup, I'll let you. Speaking of missing assignments, this is a good time to make up some. If you're home, you can handle a little bit of work. Tell you what, eat the soup, clean your room- it's getting grimy, Izuku, don't give me that look- and do your missing assignments. Maybe when you're done, you can help clean the rest of the house. You're home, and all this stuff needs to be done anyway. Chop-chop."

Izuku blinked a couple times. Wasn't that a lot of stuff to tell your supposedly-sick son to do? Well, it didn't really matter. She was right. Sick days tended to be treated as work days in the Midoriya house, and they always had been. It's possible to heal while you're scrubbing, and plus, they didn't force him- especially if he had a bad fever or was really nauseous.

Why was he trying to justify this to himself? He furrowed his eyebrows, but looked up when Inko- f*ck, Mom spoke again.

"What are you waiting for? Eat." She motioned to him, then left the room.


That was eventful.

The thing about miso soup, though, was that Izuku didn't really like it. Okay, scratch that, maybe the texture kind of made him want to gag whenever he ate it. It was in the same category of bananas and potatoes and oatmeal; the type of food that tasted fine, but was absolutely awful anyways. Inko didn't understand whenever he tried to explain it to her as a kid.

But that was okay. Just because he didn't like it didn't mean that he wouldn't eat it. Food is food, and sometimes you just have to choke down the stuff you hate because it's placed in front of you. Ah, that would be a good metaphor for life, actually-

Izuku shook his head, gently picking up the spoon. Now is not the time to be deep.

So he ate his soup (swallowing with effort but doing so nonetheless), and cleaned his room, and started to do the rest of his missing assignments.



The window latch was cold and brass and squeaked too-loudly when he attempted to pry it off. This was why he had never used it insofar in vigilante outings-- everyone knew that it was stuck, and it had been easy enough to get to the door. Except for now. f*ck.

But of course, Inko had to stop him from going out. It was a reasonable decision on her part, to keep her sickly child from going out to infect the rest of Japan... But unfortunately, he had indeed faked sick for this, so 'reason' was thrown to the wind.

Cringing, he attempted to cover the latch with his sleeve to muffle the sound as it opened. How well it worked was debatable, because he sure as hell wasn't sticking around to find out. Izuku grabbed his yellow backpack that held his costume (being caught half-out his own window in his Ghost costume was not a good scenario).

This was going to be an adventure. Note the sarcasm.

Sure, the latch was now successfully un-latched! But the more glaring problem was that the window led nowhere but empty space. Izuku wasn't particularly scared of hurting himself or breaking a bone, as he had done both innumerous times.

Purposefully or not.

But that wasn't the point! Why was he so distracted?! Kami. Okay. He just needed to get out of his window without, like, breaking both his legs. Breaking one was fine, but y'know, it would sure be a shame if he broke both! Anyways, if he kind of- used his shoes to skid down the wall, or used, like, handholds- or! Oh! He could hold onto the sill of the window and then drop down that way, because then he would be dropping a lot less. And then he could... Maybe try to find footholds on the bricks?

Yes. Foolproof plan. And if he threw his backpack ahead of him, if he fell, it would be a softer landing than onto concrete. This was not stupid at all!! Nope!!

Izuku laughed to himself humorlessly, half-having an existential crisis, but then he thought he heard Inko coming up the stairs and his eyes widened.

Time to go.

As promised, he threw his backpack first- it made a thumping noise, uncomfortably distinct. Then he heaved himself out of the window, wincing as the latch scraped at his arm, dull pain that suddenly reminded him of those days where he hadn't yet learned to hide the cuts. This didn't stop him. It was less of a graceful, strong, vigilante manoeuver than a scrambling panicked boy falling out of a window, though.

Well. Can't win 'em all, can you?

With the training from Toshinori, he thankfully had gained a good amount of strength, which meant that he didn't just tumble down two floors. And yes, two floors was actually enough to break a bone, so Izuku would rather be careful, thank you very much. So he hung from the windowsill, hands sweaty, slipping on the smooth wood-

Until, inevitably, he dropped. It wasn't intentional, and it sort of made his breath catch in his throat for a second- like going down a slide backwards- and then it was harshly knocked out of him. A wheezing noise, though he could hardly feel it. His backpack only ended up a little bit in the way, which was- fine, it was fine.

(Yeah, the dull pain would probably bruise badly, but he could tell it wasn't a broken bone. That was distinct in itself.)

Alright, so now he needed a place to change into his costume. Heaving himself up, he looked around. Changing in an alleyway was stupid and he would never have the confidence to do that anyways- locker rooms were bad enough. So he needed to find, like, an abandoned building? Or a park bathroom? Or...

Oh! There. At the sight of a fast food restaurant, Izuku had to seriously ask himself if he was going to risk being chased by the employees. Was it worth it to change in their bathroom?

The answer was, obviously, no. But that wasn't stopping him!

He pulled up the hood of his nondescript black sweatshirt and slipped through the door (titled 12 Tacos in big blue letters). A tired employee leant against the cash register, blinking in his direction. Izuku looked at the ground so that his face wasn't seen as he speed-walked towards the bathrooms.

"Hey, uh, we have a policy that you have to buy something before you use the..." They trailed off as Izuku pushed open the surprisingly heavy door. Ah yes, the famous singular unisex-wheelchair bathroom. The employee probably assumed he hadn't heard. Good.

Locking the door and unzipping his backpack- the yellow was stained with brown-red in some places, despite his best efforts- he quickly switched out his sweatshirts. Then his socks, pulling a mask over his face and brushing his fringe into a small ponytail with newly-gloved fingers. It hit him, once again, that his costume was the exact opposite of professional. This was probably why some people, upon not recognizing him, assumed that he was another criminal.

Ah, well. He flicked the hood up. At least I'm intimidating enough to be called a criminal, right?

Into his hoodie pocket went a kitchen knife, another kitchen knife, and... You guessed it, a third kitchen knife! Of course, there was a nice medium-sized rock in his jean pocket too for blunt force damage. Yes, he should get more weapons too- dammit. Well, these had worked so far...?

Whatever. He shook his head and blinked a few times, breathing, before opening the door again (backpack now full of the other clothes and heaved onto one shoulder). Alright, he just needed to casually walk out the door.

Yep, totally normal- don't notice me- ahahahaha I'm so stupid what the hell am I doing-

"Hey, you have to buy someth- holy sh*t is that Ghost?! Dude what the hell?"

f*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck. Izuku froze for a second before turning slowly and totally casually to the employee. "Nope. It is I, Spirit, his twin brother." Cue a winning smile that... Was unfortunately hidden beneath the mask. But just trust him, it was really convincing.

They laughed, not believing him but thankfully taking it as a joke. "Look, man, I'm not gonna call the police on you, but could I get a selfie?"

"Sure, I guess." This was going a lot better than he thought it was. "I honestly expected more people to be here- it's only, what, 2:30pm? It is a weekday, but still."

The employee nodded. "I would've quit if not for the lulls. Plus, this is a sort of obscure shop, so... Smile!" They held out their phone in front of them both, smiling, with no warning. Izuku held up a peace sign awkwardly, and he was never so uncomfortable with the fact that strangers generally didn't respect personal space. The click of the camera, yay.

"Thanks, dude! Good luck on your vigilante duties!"

Waving, Izuku practically sprinted out the door.
That was nice, but people are f*ckin' scary. He shivered, then continued to jog towards the meeting place.

The address was around the shady side of town, shattered windows and graffiti. Grimy bars, nightclubs, and cheap apartments were the only things really common here- other than crime, of course. Specifically, the place was a certain bar that was mostly deserted (no surprise, it was the middle of the afternoon). But instead of walking in the front, he saw a couple villains slipping in through the back door.

His palms were gathering sweat at this point, heart beating in his ears. He never imagined that he would actually be important as a quirkless kid, never mind being a spy. If he messed this up he would die. No, actually. He would probably be murdered. Fun!

Izuku shook his head and made it his mission to look like he knew what he was doing as he walked. That seemed to be a reoccurring theme at this point. The thing, though- there was a sort of... Bouncer? Security guard? Who seemed to be checking everyone who entered the bar.

Their voice was the same as that voice in the alleyway; haunting, echoey, a voice that travelled further than it should have. Now that Izuku could see them, it made sense. Wispy threads of smoke, purple and black, wove around their body like dry ice. Two eye-like shapes punched between the fog like lights inside a house's window.

They were wearing a suit, too, and that fact made Izuku's fingers itch with the need to write down analysis. That meant that the fog- smoke- whatever, must be higher density than the suit. If he was scattered, would he die? Could he be scattered? If not, it meant that there must be something keeping him together, something physical- maybe a core of some kind with gravitational pull. How could that exist, though? What was the physics of it? What if the 'eyes' weren't really eyes, and they could see from anywhere on their body? His mind whirred and something inside his chest was intensely interested, excitement and just... He didn't know. Curiosity, but stronger.

And then they looked at him. Wait, if the eye theory was correct, that meant that they could've been looking at him the whole time and it was just a habit to turn their head.. What if the 'eyes' were just developed to scare away attackers, like a butterfl- wait pay attention.

Izuku found it funny that the wispy person looked at him like he was an actual vigilante, and not a f*cked-up chaotic teen who just barely escaped a fast food employee.

"Hello, Ghost."


Izuku this entire chapter: This is a terrible idea!!! I guess I'll do it!! :^)

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 24: Enter The League Of Villains Stage Left


Isn't that marvelous? Free will is simply ignorance. It's just the name we give to the fact no-one can ever really see everything that controls them. -MAG147, #0182007

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"Hello, Ghost."

Wow, how unnecessarily sinister, Izuku thought lightly. "Hello to you too, Mx. Surprised to see me?" Hell yeah, that was almost, like, cool or something!!

"You could say that. I thought Ghost was a hero lackey. Not here to spy, are you?" They blinked, tilting their head slightly to the side. Strangely, their voice wasn't intimidating- hardly changing at all.

Quickly Izuku shook his head with a snort. "After what All Might did to me, I'd love to see him burn. Not to mention society as a whole. I like saving people, but heroes are rotten. I'd rather be marked a villain and see All Might fall than stand aside as a vigilante and watch him corrupt another generation."

(The speech was too true-feeling for a spur-of-the-moment opinion. The anger in the words that he spat out weren't fake enough. Izuku wondered if he meant what he said. He didn't find an answer.)

"Ah." They nodded their head once in acceptance. "Fair enough. Come inside."

That was easy... Surprisingly, suspiciously easy.
Inside, it was dark and smokey, smelling like the sharp barley of beer and the almost floral aroma of sake. And, of course, sweat. It wasn't pleasant. It was crowded. Several people were in arguments, some were leaned up against walls and lighting cigarettes like they owned the place. Most of them had visible quirks and where they didn't, they had visible brawn.

Izuku sucked at his teeth and tried to push his way through the mess of bodies, looking for a pocket of peace, on his toes- there. Everyone seemed to be avoiding a young man who didn't have much intimidating about him at first. Simply a figure with pale blue hair that draped down towards the nape of a very dry and scratched-up neck. It didn't look like eczema... Maybe dermatillomania? Compulsively picking their skin? Why were people avoiding them? Was it contagious? What was their quirk? Why were they here? If-

"What are you doing?" Someone hissed to him, tearing him roughly backwards.

As if he hadn't realized what he was doing. As if Izuku wasn't constantly, compulsively aware of what he was doing. Like a prey animal; eyes wide and searching for any danger. Was it trauma? Perhaps. It was useful at times, though- like now, where it had stopped him from having a panic attack at the touch on his arm.

"Who, me?" Izuku blinked a couple times, attempting to 'flutter his eyelashes' like those people in stories, but probably just looking like he had dust in his eye. "I was simply observing that attractive young human over there! With the scratched-up neck. They single?"

The person who had pulled him away presented in a traditionally feminine way, smudged eyeliner and long purple-dyed black hair that was pulled into a loose unbrushed ponytail. They brought a cigarette to their lips, rolling their eyes. "No, and if he was, you'd probably be murdered before you could say 'cheesy pickup line'. That's Shigaraki Tomura. Anyone who's anybody knows him... Specifically, to avoid him. Don't be dumb."

"I'm always dumb. Is he a head honcho, then? What about the wispy one? Ooh, I've been wondering, do they have a gravitational core?"

They breathed a cloud of smoke into his face, quite rudely. "Actually, Kurogiri doesn't use pronouns. Don't know and don't care about the gravitational core. Shigaraki is, indeed, everyone's boss... Though he acts like a child half of the time. Who even are you?"

"I'm a vigilante, Ghost. They/them." He was saying that mostly to protect his identity, but he didn't mind being called 'they' either. "Maybe you've heard of me...?"

Before, they had been disinterested, but now they turned to him fully- looking him up and down. "You can call me Coyote. She/her. I thought Ghost was against attacking the innocent? To be honest, I pictured you a lot taller." She snorted.

"Hey. Rude. And nah, All Might's anything but innocent. I've been wanting to shank him for months. Can't believe the entire hero industry's fooled by him, honestly. I would prefer not to hurt any kids, but if this is the only way, ya know?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I get it. That's about the way I feel, although those hero kids have been conditioned to become another All Might all their lives. If I had a heart, I might feel bad for them." Coyote laughed, a not unpleasant sound, though scratchy and rough. The cigarette burned shorter between her fingers.

Their conversation slowed to a halt as the rest of the room quickly became quiet. It was the creeping sort of silence; curious but distressed, everyone shifting and breathing. For a moment he looked around, trying to find the cause. Easily, immediately, he spotted a girl with a yellow 'she/her' pin on the breast of her school uniform and two messy blonde buns on the side of her head. None of that was particularly out of the normal, even considering her sharp smile or the bandages on her thighs... That is, if not for the fact that she was standing on the counter of the bar.

"Shut up, everyone! Tomu-chan's got something to say!!" With that she hopped off the counter, just to climb onto the lap of a very scarred man who immediately pushed her off as she giggled.
Rather than standing on the counter, Shigaraki sat, looking very unhappy that it was impossible for everyone to see him if he was on the ground. "Hello, NPCs. I'm sure you're wondering about the whens and the wheres, all truly stupid questions. On the bright side, I will take mercy on you and answer them. The boss battle will be on Monday, 10am sharp."

"He means the attack!" Yelled the same girl from earlier, who was now sitting cross-legged on the counter with a bag of dark-chocolate-covered potato chips. Shigaraki glared at her but continued speaking anyway.

".. We'll be meeting up at the bar. If you're AFK then, that's fine- you're all replaceable. But you won't be getting paid."

There were sounds of discontent at that, though nobody was brave enough to protest being called 'replaceable'. Izuku was still a bit confused on why everyone was so scared of this video-game-obsessed dude.

From the back of the crowd came a voice, though- "How much are we getting paid?"

"You'll get paid in your life." Shigaraki growled, eyes searching the crowd threateningly.

But of course, the scarred man interrupted him. "About 50000 yen, depending on how much help you are. And, of course, if you survive. Don't listen to the manchild."

Turning sharply to the man, he reached out a hand towards his face... To which he dodged. "Dabi, come back here! f*cking cheat. I'll murder you! I'll kill you!"

Dabi stuck his tongue out lazily. "Don't you have a speech to finish, Shiggy?"

(The crowd all sort of stared at them uncomfortably, stiffening when Shigaraki became angry and relaxing when he calmed. Everyone attuned to his movements, like a mouse at the mercy of one unhinged snake. Izuku still didn't understand. He would, soon.)

Shigaraki seethed, but at a look from Kurogiri, appeared to calm down a bit. "Okay. Fine. Whatever. Now, we're not going to be providing anything else, so you better bring your own weapons (?). If you forget something, don't ask me."

He slid off the bar with a grumpy look, rather like a child, and the noise began to rise again- only for Kurogiri to speak.

"If you decide to inform heroes or other uncooperative groups of our attack, we will know. I assure you, it's quite easy to find one criminal in the streets of japan, especially when you have as much power as we do on our side. What will happen afterwards? I can say it won't be pleasant." Kurogiri nodded once, politely.

"And I'll cut off your fingers!!" The girl burst in with excitement, throwing her bag of chips to the floor where it inevitably spilled. "One by one!" She clapped a few times, seeming truly happy.

Wow. Okay. So apparently they all had a few screws loose. Made sense, though- villains tended to be made only a few ways, and one of those was a major breakdown.

"Then we'll feed you to the Nomu." The scarred man smiled.

Not intimidating at all! Izuku was definitely not scared. He smiled at the ground, half-having an existential crisis for the second time in one night. He went from running from fast food workers to this- and in less than 24 hours... And isn't that one hell of a villain origin story?

There was one question that ran like a ripple through the crowd; who are the Nomu? Even Coyote co*cked an eyebrow.

Ghost was just... Well, maybe he was a bit curious, but more than that: he was numb. A situation like this normally would've been overwhelming, too-loud and unfamiliar, shattering fractals of the world that his shaky fingers couldn't piece together.

But now he was sharp, and he was firm, and he was numb.

(Was that concerning? Was that- was that natural? He didn't feel anything with the anxious thoughts.)

"You want to know what a Nomu is?" This was Shigaraki's voice, again, joyful and just a bit off. "Here's our most advanced version- they're a hack. Sensei made them and they're practically MVP! They're sure to take out All Might." The man's name was hissed, like a curse or a bit of rotten meat spit out of disgust. "Nomu!"

It only took a few moments before it was entering the room.

It being a horrible mass of flesh more than anything recognizable. The skull was cut down so the brain was visible, a faintly throbbing thing with reddish brown blood accentuating the shapes. Always Izuku had thought that cartoons and such had exaggerated what brains looked like based on outdated beliefs, but this... Pinkish grey, wrinkled thing was real.

Not only that; usually human eyes were more forward in the skull so they didn't knock into the brain. But these eyes were set, unable to move as they didn't have a socket or muscle, unable to blink. Staring, birdlike things on the side of the brain- head? Was that meant to be a head? And- Izuku didn't- metal was attached...? It was hard to comprehend. A creature. A creature, that's what it was. Defying all laws of nature, standing close to six or seven feet tall, with blackish-blue skin draped over muscles that rippled beneath the skin like worms.

It wore tannish shorts- which Izuku was thankful for. He didn't want to be any more mentally scarred than he was already, thank you very much. Oh look, the emotion is back. Fun.

"Nomu," Shigaraki said smugly, sweetly, like talking to a pet. "Turn around for me."

It did as told, a prized possession shown at all angles. Shigaraki continued to speak. "They have shock absorption and super regeneration, not to mention their strength! Doctor Ujiko and Sensei worked together to make them a masterpiece." He sounded almost entranced, amazed. Like a starry-eyed kid.

A masterpiece?

Shigaraki- he couldn't have been older than 20, but he was already torn away from a normal life. The dude could be working in a coffeeshop or something. He could be happy, but instead his life was lead by revenge, calling monsters masterpieces. Who deserved that?! Nobody did. Izuku just- he wanted everyone to be happy.

Maybe it was just his 'hero instincts', but he wanted to save Shigaraki. He knew he did. Because that? That was a child, still starry-eyed, still looking for approval. Sure, maybe the man was older than him, but Izuku just wanted to protect him. It might've been wrong, but he wanted to protect everyone. So, so badly. Something inside him ached with it.

He shook his head. Not now. Later. He would save him- just later.

Now, he needed to figure out how to kill that creature. There was a twinge of sympathy there, too. Damn. Please tell me I don't want to save it, too. If it used to be a person, I feel bad for it, but I think it's gone a bit off the rails. The most merciful thing at this point would be to kill it.

The most obvious answer was the exposed brain and eyes. Izuku didn't know how it sensed its surroundings, but the eyes were a good bet, as he couldn't see any ears or nose. Blunt force would probably take longer to heal, as with most regenerative quirks- but with the shock absorption, Izuku wasn't sure. Breaking its limbs might be a good bet. Open fractures took the longest to heal, so if he could figure out a way to force one...

Messing with the brain was often deadly, too. If he used sharp tools, it would have more damage potential, but it would also take a shorter time to heal. If he combined both blunt force trauma and penetrating trauma onto the Nomu's head, it would take it out of commission for a while. And then he would have to break or cut off the limbs- preferably so if they healed, they would heal wrong and keep the Nomu from moving. If a piece was fully separated, hopefully it wouldn't grow back.

And then... Well, he'd have to get ahold of quirk-cancelling cuffs to truly kill it. When he reported to Naomasa and Aizawa, then he would have to tell them to bring the cuffs. Then again...

Sneaking a glance back at Kurogiri, Izuku shivered. The villains couldn't really find out what he was doing, right? Yeah. Of course not, nobody was all-seeing. That would be impossible. Besides, Izuku would gladly die if it protected children who didn't deserve to. He would gladly die a thousand times if it protected anyone else.

Maybe that was the depression talking, but even if he was mentally stable, he would do it. He swears.

Still, it was a gamble. Shigaraki was feared obviously, but if he had another person to look up to- sensei- then what did that mean? If they created something with two quirks, then they had to be very powerful. And... Izuku's mind whirred, jumping back to his- All Might's quirk. The backstory... Two brothers...

Someone who can give and take quirks.


No. No, of course not. All For One was dead. This was just a small group of villains looking to get revenge on All Might for- uh, presumably some villainous reason. Izuku wasn't really sure. But that was fine! Just a cliche villain group. It wasn't as if they could harm Izuku.

So as Shigaraki sent the Nomu away, Izuku breathed and spoke a bit more with Coyote. Pleasantly, casually- avoiding personal topics. The brawn began to file away, stamping out their cigarettes and leaving them burnt-out and stamped on the ground. Bits of paper receipts, too, and other things like lint and unidentifiable rubbish.

Now, Izuku had assumed that he would be allowed to go on with his life like another one of the anonymous lackeys. He had assumed that he wouldn't be singled out.

(He had assumed that he would be allowed to leave.)

This assumption was wrong, but- thanks to his fantastic luck- he only realized this as he was stopped abruptly at the door. It was stupid to think he would be safe. What, because he was a vigilante? Izuku swallowed bitterly and stopped himself from lashing out at the girl who blocked his path.

"Excuse me," He said, as if he expected her to listen. As if anyone had ever listened before.

She grinned, a sharp-toothed playful thing. "Hello! I'm Toga Himiko, and your costume is, like, horrible, so! Seeing as you have somewhat of a presence, we're gonna help you look super intimidating by our side. I've tried to do this with Tomu-chan, but he's all angsty with his emo clothes. Same with that crispy fried man over there."

From across the counter, Dabi yelled an irritated "Hey!".

"-And anyways, Sensei said that it would help our image if you were here. But! You look kinda stupid in a hoodie. I'm the only one here with fashion sense, obviouslyyyy. That's why I'm gonna help you! I think we should keep the red and black color scheme-"

And, naturally, while he was distracted, Kurogiri eased the door shut with a deafening click.

Wow, this was a great situation! A UA student, trapped inside a bar with the very people who literally wanted to murder him? Izuku loved where this was going!!!

(He didn't. And he wouldn't.

It would get worse.)


Hey guys! I'm not going to be posting a chapter next week, because I have a big assignment due, but posting schedule as normal will resume May 17th. Thank you <33

Oh, but on a more cheery note: here's some Toga lore! She's eating chocolate potato chips because those two foods are high in iron, and I headcanon that she needs a Lot of iron every day (her threshold is much higher, or else she'd get iron poisoning from drinking blood).
Also, she's wearing a pronoun pin because Twice is bigenderfluid, and she didn't want him to be the only one with a pin and feel lonely :)

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 25: Toga Does Izuku's Eyeliner


I am myself. That is not enough. -Unknown

Small TW for mentions of quirkless hate crimes.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku shifted in the bar stool. "Do we really have to do eyeliner? You'll probably blind me."

"What, you don't trust me?" Toga grinned, her death stick of liquid eyeliner brandished in front of her. "I'm hurt."

He had been corralled onto the stool shortly after she cornered him. He didn't get why exactly Toga needed to do his makeup. It certainly wasn't a very essential part of a vigilante costume.

The thing was, too, that someone was near his face. So instinctively he leaned away, which apparently wasn't very optimal for this. It wasn't as if he didn't like makeup- often he had wanted to wear it before, but Hisash- Dad always made mean comments about that sort of stuff. Shinsou wore eyeliner sometimes, which both made Izuku jealous and a little... Shocked? Each time. His breath caught a little.

So no, it wasn't as if he didn't like it! It was just that he kept thinking about the pen stabbing him in the eye. And Toga's touch was uncomfortable in the way that all touch was uncomfortable, and- and-

"Hold stiiiiillll," she whined, and accordingly, Izuku tried his very best not to flinch at the slight feel of something on his upper eyelid. He dissociated through the rest of the makeup obediently.

Because, as he kept reminding himself, he could be killed otherwise. Despite the quirk, he was still a quirkless person at his core. People on the street and from his middle school probably still recognized him as quirkless- maybe he had pictures online. That meant that he could be murdered. Or assaulted, or raped, or anything else. The statistics of such were a staggering ten times more likely for a quirkless person in japan, and he knew it intimately. That meant he had a 40% chance of being sexually assaulted in his lifetime, a 10% chance of being kidnapped, and many other concerning statistics. There were stories online of quirkless hate crimes where their pinky toes were cut off; phalangeal-tarsal mutilation.

The world was an unsafe place for people society didn't like.

Her touch was gentle, and after a while, she moved to the second eye. The liner was a bright red color, which Izuku hadn't seen before. He supposed the point was to match it with his new costume, although it sort of defeated the point if he wasn't already wearing the costume. Shouldn't he have put on the outfit before his face was made up, though? Didn't makeup smudge or something?

Toga took her hand away with a self-assured grin. "Alright!! We're done. Don't look yet, we gotta dress you all up!!"
Something jumped in his throat when she brandished a pair of scissors. It was annoyingly familiar, and yet the panic never ceased.

(Yes, Izuku, you have an animal in your throat that scratches in its panic to escape. Yes, Izuku, we all know you feel frozen and boxed-up and so so so scared. So can you just shut up already?)

A too-sharp image of her bringing the scissors to his throat or his eyes. He pushed it away, pushed away the paranoia in the back of his mind that focused on where her hands were in relation to his throat.

"Okay. So, I'm planning to cut the sleeves off of your sweatshirt there, 'cuz you look pretty attached to it and at this point it's a distinguishing feature. And then of course we gotta hem it so that it stays in place- kurogiri promised that I'd get to borrow the sewing machine for this. I didn't even know we had one, or that kurogiri could sew?? Anyways, and then, um, we'll... What was I saying? Oh yeah! Okay, so we have these checkered shorts-"

God. She talked so much. While she was doing so, she heaved a sewing machine onto the bar counter, which was a little bit too thin for the whole sewing machine to fit, but thankfully it didn't topple. She also popped a drink out of behind the counter, leaning on her stomach to reach it. The bottle was titled TBC beauty peach-apple flavor.

"Wait. I forgot where I put them." She giggled and made a circular motion around her ear with a finger, letting her head drop to the side. "Going crazy here!" He couldn't help but smile a little at her antics, even though she was a villain. "Okay, okay! Umm, I also have this jacket for you-"

She paused to throw a small heap of fabric at him, laughing when he sputtered and struggled to get a handle on it. "Give me a little warning next time, will you?" Izuku grumbled.

"No promises!" She grinned, sharp teeth glinting catlike. "And then... Oh! Here's the shorts. And then obviously you need pockets, so uhhhhhhh...." Toga trailed off, leaning behind the counter again, before bouncing back. Her hair was frizzing around her face now, two buns almost falling out and face flushed with the blood rushing to her head. "Right! I got everything now!"

More stuff was thrown at him with no warning, and he almost dropped everything. Great. Thanks, Toga. ".... Thanks. Got a bathroom I can change in?"

She nodded enthusiastically. "Yea, but first, gimme your sweatshirt there! You have a t-shirt under, right?"

"Uh.... Yeah? Why?" He gave the sewing machine a semi-terrified look.

".... Don't worry about it!" Toga smiled brightly, giving grabby hands until he obliged and stripped off his sweatshirt. "Okay, so bathroom, right? Don't forget your clothes! Just go behind the bar- no, the other way- and then take a left, and then another left. And then there's this door... You see it? Yeah, it's- the handle should be burnt, or maybe it's gone if Tomu-chan got to it again. Don't worry about it, I think he's sexually frustrated. Have fun!"

Fun? Was changing fun? For Kami's sake, he really hoped that she hadn't sneaked a snake or something into the pile of clothes.

Inside the bathroom, it was surprisingly clean, other than the small pile of dust in what was presumably once a soap dish. And the burn marks on one wall. And the small suspicious dots of reddish-brown substance near the tiny shower cubicle. But that was fine! None of it ruined the fantastic edgy villain aesthetic of black tile and fluorescent red lights.

(The lights actually kind of hurt his eyes. Why couldn't they just be normal. Aahhh.)

Finally, cautiously, he dumped the pile of clothes on the floor. Nothing alive came skittering out, so he figured he was safe- but nudged it with his foot anyway. Nothing happened. Ah well, better safe than sorry.

Picking up an article out of the tangled mess, Izuku discerned this thing to be a jacket- or a button-up shirt, who knew. It was mostly white, but when he turned one of the sleeves right-side-out he saw that the inside was a bright candy red. The buttons and collar were the same hue.

Great. Fantastic. In the low lighting, he wasn't exactly sure how it would actually look, but why would the inside be a color if he was wearing it?? Nevermind. He dropped it to pick up the next thing.

And yes, he was aware that dropping clothes on a bathroom floor probably wasn't the most sanitary, but in his defense he didn't really care. Let's be real, he could be murdered or be found out by Eraserhead or starve to death- sanitary clothes were the least of his worries.

The next thing in the pile was the utility belt that Toga had dumped on him. It looked kind of like Aizawa's, except the pouches were a bit bulkier, and the actual pouches were white while the belt stayed pitch black. Izuku really hoped they hadn't stolen this.

It was, again, dropped on the floor. The only things left were boots and red-and-white checkered shorts, which were self-explanatory. The only thing worth mentioning about them was that they had bigger pockets than he expected. The boots? They were basically, uh... Boots? He didn't know much about shoes, but he did know that when he tried to jam his feet into them, he was unfortunately forced to actually untie the laces.

Wait. He should put on his shorts before the boots, shouldn't he. f*ck.

Izuku wanted to bang his head into the wall. Instead, he got dressed, because he was definitely mentally stable. Pulling off his jeans- but leaving on the mask in case there were security cameras- then putting on the shorts, belt, and shirt-jacket-thing. He buttoned it up snugly over his t-shirt.

Now. For the boots. He had left the spider lily socks on, because sue him, but he was not getting rid of them. Even if it was a mean gift, at least it was a gift. At least it meant they had remembered his birthday, right? But by that same train of thought, shouldn't he be grateful for this? Shouldn’t he be grateful for the villains? Shouldn’t he be grateful for Hisashi keeping him in his place? His mind spun.

Y'know what, no. He wasn't having a crisis today. He passive-aggressively tied the boot laces in a cheerful butterfly knot.

Judging by the bulkiness, they wouldn't be much good for parkour- not that Izuku could do that, but it would be really cool and he wanted to learn. At least they had good grips? And would probably be good for kicking people? He gave an experimental half-hearted kick at the bottom of the toilet, and jumped when it made a noise.

And I call myself a vigilante. What the f*ck am I doing.

The walk back to the counter was somewhat easy. Nobody accosted him, so he had that going for him at least. And on the counter, were three choppy lengths of black fabric....??

"Toga!" Izuku gasped once he realized what she had done. "Why the hell did you cut the sleeves off my poor sweatshirt?? And- wait, did you turn him into a crop top, too?? What the hell! He had a family!"

She laughed almost hysterically, not looking up from hemming the left sleeve- machine whirring rhythmically. "I had a family too, but that didn't change anything for me!"

".... Ominous."

"I know! Anyways, it's because this is the new fashion. Plus you would look sooo hot in a crop top... Heyy, don't glare." Toga pouted dramatically, shooting him big blood-red puppy dog eyes. "I'm putting my effort into this! And- why did you button up your jacket? That's fashion sacrilege, you look so stiff-"

Izuku sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Listen, just gimme the sweatshirt. I think I can deal."

"Nooooooo! I designed this outfit for you. Don't you like it?" Her voice was soft, but somehow dangerous. He had gotten too comfortable here, somehow. He had forgotten that the playful exterior hid something twisting and rippling underneath.

He swallowed.

"Hey now, I get that you're maybe a little hurt, but don't worry! I love it. You did an amazing job. How the hell did you work the sewing machine, though??" Okay, so maybe it was a little fake, but Izuku knew fake. He knew how to smile just right.

And Toga smiled back. "Well, I..."

(Eventually, Izuku switched out his shirt for his sweatshirt. It was strange, and most of all he couldn't stop thinking about how stupid it was to have his stomach uncovered because he could be stabbed and the extra fabric could be used anyway for a tourniquet even if it didn't provide any more protection and... It didn't matter.)


Izuku tried not to look over his shoulder as he pressed a familiar number into his phone. He was leant against an alleyway a few blocks from the bar, taking a winding path there. Some voice in the back of his head kept insisting that he was followed, so he made a few more turns just to be safe. And then some more. And then doubled back. It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you, right?

He sighed as the phone rang. Once, twice, three times- and then-

"This is Shota Aizawa. Who's speaking?"

"Uh." Izuku swallowed. "It's Ghost. I have some intel for you. And a theory that may, or may not, be correct."

There was the muffled sound of rustling from the other line. "Okay. I'll meet you wherever you are- sharing information isn't safe over phones."

He wanted to say I know. He didn't, because he might get yelled at.

"Okay. Um. Cool.... Bye?"


Izuku accidentally hung up halfway through the word. He was so amazing at phone conversations. It was, like, his #1 most talented skill. Definitely not awkward! Nope!! Hahaha..... And now he felt like sh*t. How could he even call himself a vigilante if he was this bad at everything? If he was so ungrateful as to pin the word abusive on Hisashi? Because he wasn't. Izuku wanted to dissect his own brain and pull out all the wrong parts.

He slid down the brick wall, clothes catching on the stone in some places. There were no cats in this alleyway.

So what if he had a new outfit, new eyeliner, new things now?

They weren't his. All of this could be taken at the drop of a hat. All Might's quirk could be taken back. Hisashi could kick him out. The only thing keeping him alive at the moment was other people's pity. Wasn't that stupid? He should get a job so that he could have a source of income if that ever happened.

(It didn't occur to him that maybe, maybe children are meant to be taken care of. Even if it did grace his mind for a second, he would laugh humorlessly. Sure, it was a nice concept, but the world is made of power. The young are weak, and as horrible as it is, animals always pick off the weak first.)

It was a while before Aizawa would show up.

And he was left alone in the dark.

Izuku let out a breath and tipped his head back against the wall. Some things never changed.

Time passed. He was never very good at knowing how much time anything was- one time he laid facedown on his floor for an hour when it felt like five minutes. Now, that could've been the depression, but the point here was that he had absolutely no earthly idea to tell how much time it had been before Eraserhead dropped down next to him.

(And Izuku, true to character, flinched. What? He couldn't help it. Okay, so maybe he could, and he heard Aizawa coming up, so logically he couldn't have been that shocked. Then why? Was it habit? Or was it some sort of- unconscious faking?)

"The information, Ghost?"

"Oh, right." Izuku laughed a bit nervously, and stood. That was respectful, right? Besides, it was weird to be on different levels during a conversation? "Uh. No Tsukauchi this time?"

Aizawa shook his head. "He has heaps of paperwork, because someone didn't complete a report on an assault on the 27th. Without much evidence, it's become a bunch of work. But that doesn't matter much." He paused to pull a small notepad and a pen out of one of his many pockets. "What went on in there?"

He coughed. "Right. So, villains named Shigaraki Tomura, Kurogiri, and Toga Himiko are planning to kill All Might and presumably a few 1-A students. Toga and me chatted a bit, and she doesn't seem to be the most mentally stable. There's also a villain named Dabi. Altogether, I'd estimate about 30 thugs as well, but I'm awful at counting so just prepare for a lot more. Uh... Oh right, uh, it's on Monday, 10 am... Uh, there's also this giant monster thing that has multiple quirks, and it might be connected to the underground villain All For One. But don't quote me on that."

The entire speech Eraserhead looked mostly unruffled, but at the last sentences, he blinked a couple times and his pen stilled. "You know who All For One is?" Like always, his voice was monotone, but it curled up at the end like someone had brought a lighter to a piece of paper. Cautious, and curious, and dark.

"..... You have no evidence." Izuku panicked and made a joke. Then panicked some more and awkwardly raised two thumbs-up while backing away.

Kami, he was great at this 'conversation' thing.

"Kid. If you're in danger from him, which you probably are if you even know who he is, then we need to make sure you're protected. We're moving the students into the dorms soon. There'd be a space for you. Please, Ghost. We don't want you to die."

And wasn't that a shock? To hear someone say that after so long? It shouldn't have turned his world upside-down, leaving all the well-worn furniture to crash downwards. It shouldn't have felt foreign but hopeful. A taste of a summer fruit everybody talked about but he had never held.

We don't want you to die.

When had he started assuming that everyone did? And why, why, why was such a sentence almost casual, said as if it wouldn't set Izuku's worldview on a whole different axis?

He should respond, shouldn't he.

"... I, um, thank you, but no. I can't."

What was the reason? Hadn't he told Aizawa that Hisashi was abusive before? Should he really have disagreed when Aizawa said something so weirdly touching?

Would it make Aizawa take it back if Izuku didn't submit? Would he lose his worth if he wasn't agreeable and quiet-?

"My mom, I need to stay there with her. And... Well. Anyway. What about the attack? Do you have any plans for it? You should probably bring quirk-cancelling cuffs to bring down the Nomu- that's the thing with multiple quirks. Although you probably know better than me and I shouldn't make suggestions and you don't really have to listen sorry."

Aizawa sighed, leaning his shoulder against the side of the alley wall and effectively cutting off Izuku's thoughts. "Actually, I was thinking, Ghost. If you insist on getting yourself into this, you should go to the attack on the side of the villains. You'll get more intel that way, and if you don't reveal yourself, it could be a good way into their forces. But keep in mind that protecting yourself and your life is above getting information. If-"

"Wait. Ah- sorry for interrupting! I just didn't want to let you monologue when I'm not going." It was a logical choice to be there as Izuku, The Student. He could possibly be more well-liked by his classmates if he fought well- but most of all, he could protect the people he cared about. Shinsou. Uraraka. Maybe even Aizawa, if he needed it.

(Not that Izuku cared about Aizawa. No! Totally not! It was just that- well- he was the first adult to ever care. So. Who could blame him if he got a little attached?)

"... Why aren't you going?"

"Uh. Um. I have.... Homework!" Wait, f*ck, he just gave away his age- but Aizawa called him 'kid', so did it really matter-

Eraserhead looked at him in a deadpan way. "I'm going to pretend you didn't say that. While we're on the topic, that's why you have a new costume, correct? So you can go to the attack and look like a real villain?"

A couple of beats passed before Izuku realized he wanted a response.


"Then I think it's a pretty good idea to go. If things get too out of hand, we can 'capture' you, so you can be safe. I believe in you, Ghost." Aizawa's eyes flickered towards Izuku's for a second, but the second they met, both looked away. "You're our best chance at this. But nevertheless, you're young. You still have a life ahead of you, and if you have to get out to live, do it."

"Th-" Izuku's voice cracked in the middle of the word, but he cleared his throat to disguise it. "Ahem. Thanks, Eraser. I'll do my very best not to get murdered."

"That's all I would hope for."


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

.... Extra long chapter to make up for the wait? Three or so more chapters until the USJ, folks~ sorry for the long lead up, but I am incapable of writing good : )

Chapter 26: Fine, I Guess He Can Be Happy For One (1) Chapter


He wasn't happy, but then he wasn't unhappy. But then I don't believe anyone is a nothing. There has to be something inside, if only to keep the skin from collapsing. -John Stienbeck

Have fluff. Fortify yourself for the chapters ahead.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

When he awoke in the morning, for once, it was slowly. Drowsily, and softly, consciousness slowly seeping to the surface of warmed sheets and fuzzy vision. No exhaustion, nor the lingering adrenaline of a nightmare- nor, even, the soreness of injuries or over-exercising. The scabs were just starting to disappear.

Instead, for the first time in a while, he woke feeling okay. Of course, he did get eleven hours of sleep and Inko had forced him to drink two full water bottles the night before. But... It was strange. It made him want to stretch and blink and breathe. To reinvent himself somehow, make breakfast and make peace with the weight in his chest all in one morning.

He rolled his ankles, curled his toes gently, then just laid there for a couple minutes. Reveling in the comfort of his own body heat, and the light glowing gently through the curtains.

Maybe it would be a good day.

... For once.

He had finished his work, Izuku realized slowly. Ghost couldn't go out in the daytime, and he had no schoolwork, and no wounds to tend to- not even the self-inflicted sort. He didn't even feel depressed enough to lay in bed all day. In fact, he was... Fine? It was strange. Was this what normal kids felt like all the time?? What did they do all day?

Hm. Izuku thought, sitting up. Maybe I'll be a normal kid today. I can visit Shinsou at, like, a... Cafe? Where do people even meet? Oh! I could do analysis! I haven't done that in a while.

Rushing to his desk, he ripped open a drawer- and then blinked a few times. It was dusty. It hadn't been that long, though, right? Maybe a few months at the most? Then again, he didn't remember doing anything like that since he started at UA. There was just no time. Between the vigilante work, his semi-failing grades, and his probable collection of mental illnesses, doing anything else but sleeping in his free time was nigh impossible.

He brushed off the grime with a sad smile, flipping through the notebooks until he came to his newest one. The pages were crumpled, just a little bit, by the hinge. Beside it was the burnt-and-wet one from The Worst Day Of His Life. Yeah, it had a specific name, don't judge him. He liked naming things. That way, it made it different- like how the time Hisashi kicked him was The Incident.

That way Izuku could fool himself into thinking it wouldn't happen again! Because it wouldn't. It was getting better. Probably.

He stopped while he was in the middle of copying the burnt notebook's analysis' into the new one. Flipping through- it stopped in the middle of one about Hawks.


The best time's the present, isn't it?


The buzzing of his phone interrupted his train of thought on whether Mirko could learn to scratch out people's eyes like rabbits did when panicked. He sighed, perhaps a bit more dramatically than was strictly necessary, and threw down his pencil.

[You have: (1) messages from Shinsou my boiiii.]

He typed in the passcode, and was about to, indeed, click on the messaging app, when his phone buzzed again. And then again.

[You have: (2) messages from Shinsouu.]

[You have: (3) messages from Shinsouu.]

[You have: (6) messages from Shinsouu.]

Snorting, Izuku clicked on the notifications, fully expecting a gay panic. Or maybe a panic over homework. Or maybe, even, panic over cute owls or how cute Aizawa's cats were. You never knew with Shinsou.

But this wasn't what he expected.

Shinsouu -> [link attached]

Shinsouu ->midoriya

Shinsouu -> midoriya istg

Shinsouu -> look at this

Shinsouu -> f*cking kami

Shinsouu -> you're famous, bitch

Izuku choked on his own spit. Despite the small action, it made his throat burn and his eyes water, so it took him a few moments to compose himself enough to respond.

What???? <- Izu

Shinsouu -> i said what i said. go to the link

How dare you be so cryptic <- Izu

Shinsouu -> thats me. cryptid.

Shinsouu -> link. go. chop chop

And there wasn't any choice, was there? Izuku was one of the types of people who would rather know than live in willful ignorance. So, with slightly shaky hands (had he forgotten to eat breakfast? Perhaps) he clicked on the link. It was.... A Twitter thread? And- oh f*ck.

The selfie. The selfie that he took with the fast food worker. God, Izuku was an idiot. He was actually .... an idiot. What did he expect would happen?? Of course it would be posted on social media. And of course it would go viral. Because, as was Izuku's motto by now, the universe hated him.

He let out a heavy sigh, scrolling down past the photo to the comments. There was a strange prickle of dread, as if the internet could somehow figure out his identity, or- or somehow hate him from one photo. Anxiety cramped in his stomach. But hey, he was a vigilante, right? If he couldn't handle this, then he shouldn't be out on the streets.

Right. He could handle this.

spaghetti12: adksjdsl he looks so uncomfortable

Transpiderman: same

TheTreessz: im simping for ghost ngl if he aint single im going to cry

hozier_ismygod: he is literally a dude in a sweatshirt why are the straights simping

Transpiderman: heyhey nobody knows their gender lets settle down here

HawksCHicken: its not just the straights simping, don't discriminate kyle

hozier_ismygod: wtf my name isnt kyle

HawksCHicken: uNcULtUreD-

cinnamon_r_oll: no but guys im going to have a stroke look at themmm!! I'm going to ask ghost for a selfie when i see them aha

mountainlady420: ghost needs to get an accoutn and this is a Threat

spaghetti12: waitwait if you're looking for ghost to get a selfie.... it's ghosthunting…

Christina_HeroHunt_Official [verified]: Let's go #GhostHunting guys!!

xxsleepyxflowerxx: #GhostHunting

PriceLotorUwu: yoyoyo yess #GhostHunting

Izuku was kind of afraid that Ghost hunting season was now officially open. Kinda ominous. But... It was sort of flattering? That people would think he's attractive, or worth hunting down. They would be disappointed. As he scrolled down, there were more positive comments, and... No negative ones so far, actually.

They pushed away his thoughts that said he was worthless, and he hated it. The comments made him feel slightly good about himself, and in that, was shame. Because Izuku, quirkless Izuku, didn't deserve to like himself. Not until he saved more people. Worth was a thing you earned.


Why the hell am I viral im literally, ,,,,, a teenage hooligan <- Izu

I'm so chaotic why do they think i know what the hell im doing <- Izu

Shinsouuu -> do not question the public, these are the same people that keep begging for a shrek 16

Why did they even make 15 shrek movies <- Izu

Shinsouuu -> don't f*ckin ask me, I don't know

Shinsouuu -> but don't change the subject. I know what ur doing

Uuughhhhhghgh let's just talk in person my fingers hurt from typing (╯︵╰,) <- Izu

Shinsouuu -> already? wow you should text more then :/// also kaomojis are too wholesome for u depressed bitch

Like you're any more mentally stable. Anyways, stop calling me out and just pick a meeting place >:/ <- Izu

Shinsouuu -> meet me at the Famed Alyson

Shinsouuu -> f*ck. Alleyway*

Yessir, the famed Alyson <- Izu

Shinsouuu -> im going to actually steal your organs

Izuku laughed a little, still a bit surprised whenever Shinsou said these types of things. Sure, there was lots of slang on the internet, but he was mostly on the hero forums, and... Well, he hadn't exactly had much of a friend to talk to before.

But that was kind of sad. So he ignored it, which is totally healthy and not at all avoidance.

He sneaked down the steps, cringing at the creaking, then quickly realized that nobody cared. So he just walked normally. And at the door, he looked back, wondering for a second if they'd want to know where he went. So- just in case, Izuku left a note on the table saying that he was going out with Shinsou. Otherwise Inko would think he got kidnapped or murdered or something.

He had practically memorized the route to Shinsou's Alleyway at this point. Sure enough, there was a head of purple hair around the corner, sitting on the ground criss-cross and watching something on his phone.

"Hey." Izuku tapped him on the shoulder and almost got elbowed in the face, but was fast enough to dodge. "Oh. Sorry, I mean- It's just me. Izuku. Sorry. I shouldn't have snuck up on you like that." He coughed a few times, awkwardly. Shinsou looks up at him for half a second before gesturing for him to sit.

"Nah, it's fine. Good to know that your instincts are still sharp, though, right?" Just like always, Shinsou's sentences almost overlapped with how quickly he rushed to keep Izuku from answering the question. "So. The photo. I don't suppose you'll tell me how you managed to get a selfie with a fast food worker viral."

Izuku groaned, letting his head fall back against the brick with a dull thump. "So, long story short, I was... Sick? Uh... I don't know what I can tell you, so yeah, I faked being sick and made myself throw up in the bathroo-"

"You what?"

"I threw up in the bathroom, keep up." He smiled a little so Shinsou knew that it wasn't meant to be mean. "Uh, but, anyways... Um. Right! I threw up in the bathroom, Todoroki showed me, and... I'm pretty sure that conversation is classified, but he agreed to lie for me, so anyways- I got out of school for Thursday and Friday. On Friday, I had to escape through the window, and I couldn't change in my room because I had a meeting with some villains... Because I was working as a, spy, person? So I needed somewhere to change, and nobody was in the store, so I just sorta changed in the fast food place. And they stopped me for a photo, so... Yeah. Oh, did I miss anything, by the way?"

Shinsou looked stunned. He ran a hand through his hair. ".... Wow. That's a lot, even without your confusing style of explaining it. You're... Spying on villains? And no, you didn't really miss anything. The reporters were f*cking stupid and broke through the gate, but they're getting a huge lawsuit, so nothing there."

"Yeah, I'm spying on villains for Aizawa, who doesn't know I'm Ghost. Might get murdered, but what's the point if I'm not. That- that was a joke." Izuku clarified when the other boy looked at him pointedly. "Anyways- uh-" Floundering for a topic- why was talking so damn hard- "I didn't know you had a Twitter?"

"I don't." Shinsou snorted. "Tumblr keeps me updated about all the other sites. Twitter is uncultured. And for the record, you should probably get an account, just to keep them off your back."

He nodded in a detached way, not quite paying attention anymore, and silence enveloped them. It wasn't uncomfortable, but only because Izuku's brain was a bit foggy, and he had forgotten how to socialize. Another topic was probably a good idea, but... Having conversations was hard. He knew how to listen, liked to listen, but talking was a level 200 friendship quest.

... That was weird. But true. Also, he should probably do something, shouldn't he. He didn't feel awkward, but maybe Shinsou did, so... Oh, wasn't there a cat cafe over here somewhere? Shinsou looked like someone who would like cats. Alright, now to make this idea look natural and like he Just Thought Of It. Okay. Cool.

"f*ck this." Izuku said suddenly-ish, jumping up. "I am not having to deal with a cold concrete crouching torture thing when there is literally a cat cafe a few blocks from here. And before you ask, I know because I've pretty much memorized this area."

Shinsou grinned, rolling his eyes, but pushed himself from the ground anyway. "I'm always down for cats, but you know that neither of us actually has money, right?"

"If worse comes to worst, I'm confident we can work out a dine-and-dash. Nevertheless, though, we're hero students so of course we would never do that." He continued smiling and walking a bit too cheerfully for the subject while Shinsou caught up.

It was getting hot out recently. Izuku kept catching himself as he walked out the door in a hoodie, and now, it was almost weird to see green sprouting up from the cracks in the sidewalk. Izuku stepped over each one, in a lighthearted quick way. He wouldn't call it dancing, because that was cheesy and really, who would dance because it was green out?

Shinsou noticed him doing it after a while, but instead of saying anything, joined him in hopping over the cracks. Skipping? Because it wasn't dancing. And yeah, maybe they were both smiling a little bit at the ridiculousness of it, and then Shinsou had decided it was his goal to step on Izuku's feet, so it progressed to full out grinning, but-

But that didn't change anything. Yeah, it was green. Yeah, he had woken up happy, and yeah, they were visiting a cat cafe together for the first time. Like real friends. But that didn't mean anything. Izuku had friends before! Maybe! It was just...

This felt different. And weird. And good.

And f*ck, Izuku really really didn't want it to end.
Weirdly? It didn't. The high mood didn't end suddenly the moment they entered the shop. It didn't end, even when they had to sit down without ordering anything. They were just.... Happy. Was that weird? In a shop that smelled of pastries and coffee and all the best types of things? Quiet and filled with soft lo-fi broken up by the clinking of dishes?
And then Izuku had to ruin it.

"Okay, but who the heck made me famous. What the f*ck."

Shinsou laughed, then patted Izuku on the shoulder, looking too smug to be reassuring. Or maybe that was just because a cat had decided to sit in his lap. "Hey, look on the plus side. At least you're not famous for the first time you tried parkour. You literally started out with a cat leap, who the f*ck- even I, the appointed Dumbass, knows you have to start with vaults and falling practice-"

"I didn't knoww, okay," Izuku paused to raise his eyebrows and point at Shinsou, almost knocking over the salt shaker and making the rickety wooden table wobble, "And you're one to talk with how many times I've seen you tied up in your capture weapon. But you're missing the point. I'm famous for changing in a fast food place. Why would- I just. Wh. Why."

It was at this point that the boy's face lit up, purple eyes widening. "Mido, people are stupid, I think you know this by now. But I just remembered, actually, uh.... Well, Aizawa finally asked about me coming to school all beat up, and I have a new foster family now. It's technically classified, but who cares for the 'law' or whatever," -It occurred to Izuku distantly that hero students probably shouldn't joke about this- "Uh, so basically, it's, sort of, Yamada and Aizawa?"

What. What. What -

Izuku paused his crisis to reach down and scritch between the ears of a black cat who was purring like an engine.

Okay. Back to the scheduled program of Izuku Crisis Time.

"Yamada. As in the voice hero. and Aizawa. As in the literal Eraserh-"

"YES!!" Shinsou shook his head as if trying to get rid of the remnants of his too-loud voice. "Yes. And they're- like, surprisingly wholesome?" He laughed a little, and if Izuku didn't know any better he would call it a giggle. It was nice. Endearing. He thought about it a little more than he should have. "Yamada asked for my favorite food first thing, and allergies and stuff, and then he just- he had a notepad, and the next morning he made pancakes?? Because, uh, pancakes are one of my favorite foods and.. Yeah. Whatever. And they have three cats. It's..."

"Heaven?" It sounded like heaven.

Mom tended not to remember little things like that. It wasn't a bad thing, per se. These things were treats rather than stuff to expect, but... It sounded a little nice, to have someone care enough to write down your little opinions. It sounded easier to decode as love, rather than the too-stressed pleads to be careful.

Shinsou just smiled a little in response, nodded.

Comfortable silence, and Izuku wished this would last forever.

It wouldn't.

Oh, it wouldn't.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Yall I am So excited for summer break I might get the time to write more >:) but more probably I'll waste all my time. Anyways, hope you enjoyed!

Sorry to Feral for accidentally butchering the plot, but in all honesty, it developed a mind of its own... ;^^

Chapter 27: Lead Up


You are here, concealing within yourself another you, so real it hurts. -Mieczyslaw Jastrun

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

While at the cafe, Izuku had thankfully remembered that he needed to have an alibi for Monday... For once in forever. He wasn't in the habit of remembering things.

It was easily fixed. He and Shinsou would take a couple selfies, and then they would act as proof that they were together during the USJ. Shinsou would have to skip, but he assured Izuku that it was fine. He didn't know all the details about the villains and whatnot, but to be fair, Izuku didn't know many either.

The rest of the weekend went by in a blur of sleeping, analysis, and shaking hands extracting something sharp and thin from his dresser once again to carve away the anxiety. It never got too bad. He felt better than that day a few months ago at least, when Aizawa had saved him from the ledge. Sure, he thought about it sometimes. But what type of vigilante would he be if he just died before he could help them? And besides, he didn't really have a problem with hurting himself. It wasn't a problem. He could stop if he wanted to.

Besides, he had bigger things to worry about. Like today.
The USJ.

His hands were shaking from the moment he woke up. His tie, usually made up in a comical way, wouldn't work, clumsy fingers and frustration- but he pushed through it and did it anyway. If they noticed something was off, then it would ruin everything. Shaky fingers were nothing. The sickness of anxiety deep in his stomach was nothing. Some things are more important than fear, and this was an example.

He couldn't afford to be afraid, so he pushed it away and locked it up and pushed his shoulders back. Izuku fell into his Class Clown face before he even got dressed. It was a comfort, in some ways. This was a mask he knew. He slipped his arms into the UA jacket, fabric silky and far too expensive, and pretended it was the same one from middle school.

Pretended he was okay again. Pretended that this whole thing wasn't his fault, pretended that- that he wasn't working with literal villains. Hisashi wasn't on the couch this time, so he quickly made some toast before popping out the door. He wasn't worried. He wasn't.

It was going to be okay.

(Sure, something in his chest- something falling, something shattering- like a foreboding waterfall, like something hiding in the shadows beneath- told him otherwise. But Izuku had always made a habit of ignoring his emotions. They were just that, right? Emotions? Illogical in general, unneeded, and Izuku's emotions were wrong, usually, they did the wrong things at the wrong times and-... It didn't matter. It didn't- it didn't matter.)

The streets, that seemed comforting and like one big hug on the first school day, felt suffocating. The scents of the bakeries were drowned out by gasoline. People waved, yes, but now he knew it was because of his uniform, not because of him. The shoulders that touched his weren't friendly, they shoved. The heat wasn't nice, it hung in the air. How he could've mistaken this for something good, before, he didn't know.

The world wasn't friendly. If you gave them the chance, people would hurt you. One slip and they would take advantage. One misstep and it all would come crumbling down.

One stupid, stupid, innocent question and your father would be driving his boots-

Not right now. Izuku swallowed the emotion in his throat too quickly to identify it, taking a deep shaking breath. Teachers were gathered around the gates, he noticed as he came up to the school. Like they were defending it from something.

Good. Seems like they took my warning seriously.

A hand caught him on the shoulder before he could slip inside, and, naturally, he tensed up like a flinch all in his chest and shoulders and stomach. Just like always. He was so tired of flinching. The hand retracted almost immediately just as Izuku was starting to process the warmth seeping through the fabric of his jacket.

"Sorry, kid." Aizawa nodded in a way that seemed almost apologetic, like a duck of the head. "We're trying out a new security procedure today, which means everybody's badges are being checked before they're allowed inside." He seemed tenser, but not jumpy, exactly. Jumpy was for inexperienced fighters, for young heroes on their first mission. Aizawa was ready.

Maybe it would be enough.

"It's alright! I, um, I think-" He paused to dig around in his pockets for his ID, heart jumping in his throat after a moment until he found it. "Here. Sorry."

Aizawa looked at it for a little, then up to scrutinize Izuku, before he waved them into the school. "Thanks. Be safe."

He wouldn't. Was there a way to be safe here? Should he have skipped the whole day? No, then he would miss more work than he had already and probably fail UA and then die on the streets alone. But... There was something wrong here. He was sure. Something he had forgotten, something he should've done. It wasn't enough. The people would be killed, and it would be his fault.

The kids. They were still kids, and he had just condemned them to death-

"Midoriya. You're going to be late."

With a nervous laugh, he went on his way. As he was speedwalking to his classes (Iida would never let him get away with running, but he still needed to be on time) he continued to worry a frankly unhealthy amount. At this rate, he would work himself up into a panic attack.

Alright. He couldn't miss any more work. No more emotions. He just needed to do his work, and to stop getting distracted by random thoughts. To just try harder.

Everyone sat in their normal spots, chattering normally. Everything was so achingly regular. They were children, oh god, oh god these were children. Mina was ranting to Kaminari about her new nail polish, and Bakugou grumbled about Kirishima draping himself over his desk. Asui organized her papers neatly on top of her desk, held down by those tiny fake frog erasers that never did anything but smear the lead around.

They would die. And it was his fault.

The anxiety dissolved suddenly, leaving him to numbly make his way to his seat. What else is new? Yeah, Izuku ruined everything. But he's quirkless, what else would you expect? The only thing that surprised him at this point was the fact that nobody had graffitied his desk with threats yet.

(Yet being the operative word here.)

So he slumped in his chair, and got out his notes, and got ready for the day.

And he resigned himself to the fact that if it came down to it, he would die for them today. That was his job, as someone who knew how the world was. Not that he was better than them, no, not that- never that. Rather that they were his responsibility. They were going to be heroes, and he was just a receptacle of OFA. Their lives were worth more.

Nobody came to check on him. It was expected.

(He was alone.)


They would visit the USJ after lunch, which meant that during lunch was when Shinsou and him would make their escape. It was best this way, too- Izuku already had a cover story forming in his mind, which would work perfectly with the selfies they had of themselves at the cafe.

Before reaching the cafeteria, Izuku sighed in clear view of one of the security cameras, then grabbed Shinsou by the sleeve. "You wanna get out of here? The food is getting boring, and I'm pretty sure there's a cat cafe a few blocks from here."

Shinsou rolled his eyes, gently ripping his sleeve away, and looked around (pretending to miss the camera). There wasn't anyone around apart from Satou and Tokoyami, who were lagging a bit behind the rest of the class- but they weren't gossipers. "I told you that we're not friends in school, not until you get your act up. But.... Ugh." He drew a hand down his face, looking uncannily like Aizawa in the moment. "Fine. There better be some kittens."

Izuku grinned, and thanks to his class clown practicing, it hardly felt fake at all. "Hell yeah! Okay, I don't think there are any alarms, but there are teachers watching the entrance. Still, there's not a specific rule saying that we can't go outside campus for meals! I checked! And if there's not a rule against it...."

"They can't yell at us for it." Shinsou finished in a deadpan voice, but there was a little bit of a smile twitching at the edges of his mouth. "Alright. Lead the way."

The way out of the building itself was easy enough, as there wasn't any security. But once they reached the actual gates, they ran into... Present Mic? He was a teacher, so it shouldn't have been so surprising, but he looked more somber than his usual self. They definitely couldn't sneak past a pro hero, but if.... Oh! If they could get his permission, then it would just be another alibi! Fantastic idea.

Shinsou looked a bit panicked when Izuku bounced up to Yamada, but that could work in his favor. If Yamada knew that there was danger near UA, then he likely wouldn't want his son to be near it.

"Hey, Yamada! I'm sorry for interrupting, but me and Shinsou wanted to go visit a cafe for lunch, and I wanted your permission!" He grinned, a Pure Smile, one that had worked on everyone before he got annoying and stupid.

It worked perfectly. Yamada smiled back, relaxing and looking down at Izuku through his tinted glasses. "Hey hey, lil' listeners! That's totally fine, but if you don't mind me asking, why are you escaping? Finally got tired of Sho' and his nagging?"

Izuku tried not to cringe at the too-loud tone ringing in his ears and instead smile wider. It felt like a grimace. "Ugh, yeah, finally someone points that out. He's such a dad. But actually, as amazing as Lunch Rush's cooking is- I would literally marry him, don't get me wrong- I was dying to visit a cat cafe with Shinsou. He seems like a cat person."

"Oh, he totally is." Yamada laughed, moving aside so they could escape. "Have fun, you two! And make sure to come back before lunch is over."

Izuku paused, mind turning. "Uh... about that... I was a bit anxious, and Shinsou too, about how the teachers are guarding the entrance. Is... Is something happening? Wouldn't it be safer for us to just stay out the rest of the day? I don't- I don't mean to, like, um... I'm not trying to make you let us... I'm sorry." His eyes teared up a bit, as they tended to do whenever his Bad Emotion Acting was particularly good.

(It was weird. He didn't mind pretending to be sad, or angry. It was easy, and yeah, he felt fake and awful for manipulating them afterwards, but not for having the emotions. Real emotions were harder. It was harder to let himself be real. That was probably something a therapist should look at.)

Yamada set a hand on his shoulder gently. It was smaller than Aizawa's, but was just as genuine. The teachers here were too nice. Izuku didn't want to think about how they would get hurt because of him. "It's alright. Midoriya, if you two really need a mental health day, then you can stay out. Hitoshi, text me, alright?"

It was almost heartbreaking how easily he bent to teary eyes. Izuku wanted to destroy something, destroy himself for daring to manipulate someone so genuine and caring. God, he was terrible. Izuku just smiled and nodded, murmuring a quiet thanks before slipping out.

They walked for a couple of silent minutes, pretending to be carefree while still in the sights of cameras, before Shinsou turned to him. "What was that?"

"That," Izuku responded somewhat bitterly, never looking away from his path, "Was good acting. Get a move on, I'm expected at the meeting place in.... Ten minutes, about."

They didn't speak any more after that, just walked on Izuku's familiar path. He often walked home on this same route, when he wasn't changing it up out of paranoia. So many days were spent walking on these paths, the same rocks being kicked up and then back again. If he wasn't careful today, this could be the last time he....

No. He shook the thoughts out of his head just as they came across the same cafe that they visited the day before. Izuku looked over Shinsou, committing to memory the mesmerizing white pupils and the way his uniform was specked by cat hairs. He would be a target, as an UA student.

"Take off your jacket. The crest is on it. It might be good to be recognized in a friendly environment, but I don't know how my stupid mission could affect you- okay- you good? Actually, maybe you should pretend not to know me, but make sure to be safe-" He looked Shinsou up and down again. "I just- do you want a knife? I think I have a letter opener in my bag if that's..."

"Mido. I'm fine. Go do what you have to. I'll be fine." Shinsou's voice became achingly genuine at the end, eyes searching Izuku's for a second. It was too caring.

A lump gathered in his throat that he promptly ignored. "Alright."

Nothing would happen, he reminded himself as he set off. He would protect them. He'd told Aizawa all he knew, and the teachers were ready for an attack. But what if he hadn't done enough? It was his responsibility to protect them, and he was the only one-

He breathed, and walked. It didn't matter what he did or didn't do. What mattered was what he was going to do.

And what would he do?

Well, what all heroes would do, of course.

He would save them all.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

I'm excited for the next chapter folks!! Don't worry, he won't die. :)

Chapter 28: USJ Pt 1


Feet pound silent whisper silent blood on lips blood on teeth blood scent of prey flows through veins and into feet pound silent in pursuit. -MAG176

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"I was beginning to think you wouldn't show up."

Kurogiri's voice echoed around the bar, wispy and impossible. Too many eyes turned to stare at Izuku, who was naturally looking disheveled. In his mad rush to the bar, he had almost forgotten to stop and put on his Ghost costume, which would've resulted in things much worse than an attack on UA. After his hurried stop at another fast food place, it was only natural to look disheveled, alright??

"Yes, well, I'm here, aren't I?" He smiled under the mask, slipping back into humor as his nervousness got the better of him. "Please, do go on."

Kurogiri sighed, a sound like a gust of wind or a slight breeze. "Stand by Toga, Ghost." He quickly obeyed, sidling next to the girl who giggled and tried to hug him. He didn't know what to do, so he awkwardly patted her back until she let go. Kurogiri continued to speak. "Today, we'll be invading UA, as I'm sure you all know. Students of class 1A will be on a field trip within campus, to something called the USJ, or the Unforeseen Simulation Joint. I'll be using my quirk to split them up into groups, from which you can mutilate them accordingly. Remember, we aren't necessarily looking to kill. That job is for Master Shigaraki, and it gives us a chance to turn the students to our side if they're bitter that the heroes didn't save them. We'll be coming in last, as Master Shigaraki would like a dramatic entrance. Toga will be coming mostly as a handler of sorts for Ghost, and if she wants, she'll be helping with the... Unethical dismantling as well."

Kurogiri's expression remained unchanged throughout this speech from a calm stoicism or amusem*nt. Izuku felt sick.

"But what is your quirk, 'Giri?" Toga called from the back of the bar with exaggerated curiosity, even though he was sure she knew Kurogiri's quirk already. As it was, the villain's eyes squinted slightly in what looked almost like a smile.

"I call it Warp Gate. Sensei was kind enough to gift me it. I create and manipulate... Portals, in simple terms. This means that we can easily transport ourselves into the USJ, and easily split up the hero students."

That's what Izuku was missing.

That's why it felt so wrong to leave, why there was something missing. What good was his 'talent' at quirk analysis if he couldn't even figure out a simple portal quirk?? Now that he thought about it, it was obvious. No wonder Nedzu only brought him in for one meeting so far.

Izuku swallowed, trying to think about his options. It would take the same time from their classrooms, if not longer, for the teachers to get to the USJ now that they were stationed at the gates. Something was stuck in his throat, sharp and covered in noxious clay. It stopped him from swallowing. Were his hands sweating? Were they shaking? Was Toga looking at him from the corner of her eye?

"Line up! Kurogiri's portals can't get all of your fat asses at once-" Dabi yelled from his perch on the bar, pouring himself a too-tall glass of gin. Someone shot him a middle finger, which made him laugh. "Yeah, yeah, don't look so offended, I'm the crispy fried dude. I'm allowed to make fun of other people."

Toga pouted. "Aren't you coming, Dabi? It's so much less fun without you!"

"Nope. I'll be busy testing all your alcohol- don't look so put out. You'll be okay, doll. Besides, don't you have a new toy to play with?"

Toga's eyes shifted to Izuku as if she had forgotten he was there while Kurogiri opened his portal to allow the first people in. She grinned, and Izuku got the very distinct and uncomfortable feeling that he was a mouse staring down a very hungry cat.

"That's right...!" She chirped in a way that probably wasn't meant to be threatening but was anyway. "I almost forgot!"

Izuku smiled nervously back. "Aww, you forgot me, Toga-chan? I thought we had something good going on!" Wow, what the hell was coming from his mouth. Was he seriously teasing a villain? Izuku, why?

She grinned in response, but before she could say anything, Kurogiri was waving them over. Well- less than waving. It was more of a gesture filled with all the grace of a sociopath's butler, which was pretty much what Kurogiri was.

As promised, the 'important' people went last. Shigaraki was... Wearing? Hands on his face and body, this time. Izuku sure as hell hoped they were fake, but something about the grey color and the stench gave him a very different reality. His smile was a bit too manic as he disappeared into the portal like being swallowed by waves of ocean, Nomu following behind.

Toga was next- she went with a grin, laughing as if ticklish, then... Then, Izuku. There was nobody else in the bar but Kurogiri and Dabi (who was now digging around in the cabinets and pulling out bags of chips and bottles of low-quality vodka). "Go on. I need to go last, as I create the transportation." Kurogiri said politely.

So Izuku had no choice but to step across the scuffed floor and into the not-particle mess of shifting colors and shapes and blackness and blankness and something else.

It was... Wrong. More than anything, wrong. Someone had punched a hole through the very fabric of space, jagged and like a cliff's edge in the particles falling like loose rocks around. Going through the portal was like choking. Like something lodged deep in his throat, like the clay of his body was crushed up before being rolled out again. Cloying and disintegrating and something in his stomach twisted, nausea, head spinning, everything glitching to the left-

Too-fast it all stopped, and within the same step with which he was stepping inside the portal, he was also stepping out. It was more like an archway than a tunnel, he supposed. An archway that led, very abruptly, to a space with sandy floors and what looked to be a ginormous glass roof.

More noticeable than that was the crowd of curious students.

Students. The young, the innocent, those who didn't know boots against their ribs or panic-attack growls in their throats or the sharp-thin line of a blade against their forearm. Why them? Why so young? They were still kids-

"Sensei, is this a part of the exercises?" The pink girl- Mina?- asked, beginning to tense up at Aizawa's obvious wariness.

"No. These are real villains. Get behind me." His voice was hard as he stepped out into a fighting stance, hand coming up to grasp his capture weapon. Quietly, Izuku thought that he said f*ck, but there wasn't any way to really be sure.

He was too busy concentrating on the word villain. That's what he was, wasn't he? Technically, he was helping the villains, and he hadn't done enough for the heroes to be a true spy. Being called 'useless' was only one part of the childhood bullying. Of course he would be called a villain too, the worst thing in their society. Here he stood, in his weird cape-like jacket and hoodie crop top, all red and black and apparently some form of 'fashionable'.

Looking like a villain. Not a hero. Something less- but shouldn't he be used to that by now?

Before he could begin to wallow fully in his depression-driven teenage angst, Kurogiri was opening portals all around the students for them to slip through. Seeing it for a second time didn't make it any less nerve-wracking- it was like reality was torn open with a jagged knife and things were shoved in the crevice between. The 'things' being children, hero-wannabes, young and dying young and-

Eraserhead's eyes turned a bright shade of red and then it was nothing but a blur. The 'most important' villains were bunched together in one loose protected group by the wave of brute force towards Aizawa. Izuku's breath caught each time someone's weapon got a bit too close to Eraser's throat for comfort. He clenched his fists and tried to focus on the pinpricks of pain through his gloves instead.

Toga grasped his arm excitedly, gazing with sparkling eyes at the fighting going on. "Look! He's really going for the throat, huh? Ahh, none of them are lasting..." She pouted slightly and Izuku rolled his eyes good-naturedly.

"Yeah, but I bet when the Nomu's called then he'll let go. Don't worry." He chuckled a bit, watching each and every villain being absolutely destroyed by the underground hero, and tried not to be worried. It didn't really work, but hey! Izuku was fully capable of lying to himself.

And the students- his limbs ached to be helping. They all might hate him, but they were still people, and people who didn't deserve to be 'unethically dismantled'... Yeah, that phrase didn't really make massacre sound any better, Kurogiri.

Shigaraki stayed angsting near enough to Toga and Izuku that he could keep them nervous, but far enough away that he looked like his own person. He watched the fighting, unreadable, and Izuku tensely searched his face for boredom. Bored was never good. Izuku knew- with Bakugou, Tsubasa, and the others, when they got bored, they got worse.

Bored meant progressing from one form of pain to a worse one.

Izuku wasn't going to wait for that to happen. He turned to Toga and smiled a bit. "Why don't we wander around a bit and watch how the students are faring? I'm sure, as to-be-heroes, their fights will be entertaining."

"Sure!" She grinned, sharp-toothed, picking at the bandages on one of her thighs absentmindedly. He wondered if she killed time with razor blades, too. He wondered why she was a villain.

As they walked towards the shipwreck zone, Izuku's mind was turning. If he could somehow get her to leave him alone, then maybe he could end up helping the students. He shouldn't have to be thinking of this sort of stuff, should he? Shouldn't he be having his first crush and learning rebellion and figuring himself out by now?

They were almost there. Toga chattered happily about how Dabi agreed to have his nails done with her, while Izuku tried to block out the noises of pain behind him. Tried not to look over his shoulder to make sure Aizawa was still in one piece, Shigaraki was still entertained, the Nomu hadn't moved-

"And then I was like, come on, of course we're doing blue, it'll match your eyes! But then he kept begging for black, which is nice normally, but like, everything he has is black, y'know? I tried to convince him for red at least, but nope. I guess emo boys never change."

Izuku laughed a bit at her story, but his shoulders were too tense to really allow for it. They were behind the trees now, hidden from prying eyes or ears, though the forms of the kids on the boat were now stark. "Yeah, yeah. Uh- Toga. We're here. And..." A deep breath, then speech pushed out too-quickly. "Please let me help them. I know we're not supposed to, but they- they're kids. This is cruel and it will ruin their childhoods. This is their time for exploration and rebellion and romance, not f*cking watching their best friends die."

She blinked, seeming surprised for the first part of his speech, but then settled into a comfortable mix of sadness and pity. "You know I can't. And now that you've told me, I have to tell 'Giri! Aw, I was hoping you would be a good one." For all her humor, her voice sagged at the end as she retrieved a knife from her pocket- but didn't move to do anything yet.

The villains in the water moved like sharks underneath, dark shapes and foreboding weapons. Izuku could've sworn they multiplied.

"Listen- Toga, please. Just like how you aren't bad because of- say- your quirk, these kids aren't bad because of their hero idolization. These are children. Like you or me. They don't deserve this. They don't know the world yet, not like we do." Izuku's voice came too truthfully for his liking, but it seemed to be convincing her, so he rolled with it. "We've suffered enough. They've suffered enough. They're good people, and whatever slight they have made, they made by accident. They're nothing like All Might. Please, Toga. Just give me- just give me some time. You don't even have to come."

Her eyes were sad. "I wish I could, but I could lose my job, y'know! They're my family, and... I wanna let you! But that's sorta... Traitorous, and I don't wanna be kicked out. They give me blood!"

"Then don't let me." Izuku's voice came rushing, breathless. "Say you fought me, say you underestimated me and that I slipped away. I could even give you a few wounds to sell it, if you want. You can- I'd let you drink some blood of mine. As payment. Just give me thirty minutes, Toga. Just give me that long, and then you can come for me all you'd like."

"You'd... Give me your blood? Just like that?"

(Too heartfelt. Too little time. Izuku nodded, and he didn't know why she teared up.)

She grasped his wrist, and with a bit of hesitation (looking up at him before the bite), she brought it to her mouth. Ulnar artery, known for being one in your arms, closest to the skin. Known for being the one that some people choose to bleed out from. Izuku would know.

The pain of being bitten was something he knew, too- though not from sharp teeth like these. Sometimes when things got too much, he was away from his razor and his fingernails didn’t seem enough. So of course, he had impromptu sessions of unusual relief, but nothing was such a mix of strong-steady pressure and razor sharp. He had never gotten bite wounds to bleed before, but that was probably because he didn't have teeth sharp enough. Toga? Toga did. She bit until he bled, the kind of pain that left marks, and then licked the blood from the wound.

(He wondered at her quirk, meanwhile. Was it a vampire quirk? Could she create things from the iron in her blood, therefore having a higher tolerance for it and needing more?)

When she looked up, brownish-red smeared around her mouth and his arm like a toddler, she grinned. "You're nice. I like you."

"Th... Thank you?"

"Yeah! Alright, so, I'll cover for you for the rest of the attack so long as you don't do anything, like, really stupid. And, umm, they'll probably come for you after this. Like, with all their allies. I'm not supposed to tell you this, but... They have someone from the heroes on their side. So be careful, Ghost-kun."

He swallowed, and nodded, and rummaged in his belt for a bandage as she slipped away. Izuku didn't want to think about what this meant. Eraserhead couldn't be the traitor. Right?

As he wrapped the length of fabric around the still-bleeding wound on his arm, he turned his eyes on the underwater villains.

On the shipwreck zone.

This would be fun.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 29: USJ Pt 2


There are horrors beyond life's edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man's evil prying calls them just within our range. -H.P Lovecraft

Warning for a little gore in this chapter, as Izuku cuts of one of Shigaraki's fingers. :) As He Should

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

As he came closer, the figures of the students became starker on the boat. Kirishima and Asui. Good- some of the most level-headed kids in the class. If it was Bakugou, Izuku wasn't sure what he'd do.

But that was beside the point.

How could he help them, exactly? They were in the middle of a moat of water, surrounded by villains which were slowly growing more and more confident. He couldn't exactly fight his way through the water, so.... Oh. What if they came to him?

"Asui!" He yelled, hands cupped around his mouth towards the two. Villains turned their heads, but (recognising him) probably just figured he was going to try and murder the students. How savory and not at all angering! At least he could work with this. He could work with this.

The girl tilted her head, expressionless, but looked at him nonetheless. They weren't too far away, but definitely not a good distance. "What do you want?" She called back, on-guard.

(Distantly he thought that she should know someone's quirk before responding to their calls. Hell, he could have a voice quirk activated by responses!)

Right. If he needed both of them over here, though, then... How could Kirishima cross the water? Without a quirk that was suited for it, he would drown if Asui just swam. Plus, with villains with water quirks, it's likely that Asui would have a hard time overtaking them, as they all were on an advanced level.

Alright. So if water was off the board, then if... Hm. She had pretty much all traits of a frog, right? "Do you think you can reach that support beam with your tongue?!"

"I believe so, kero. Why?"

Why the hell was she even listening to him, was the real question. Wasn't she taught not to talk to strangers, or something? Wasn't that a thing that parents were supposed to teach children?

Izuku swallowed. "If... If it can support enough weight, then maybe you could- hold onto Kirishima, and, uh.... Swing?" He cringed. Oh god, it was a stupid idea, he knew as soon as it left his mouth. Of course she couldn't. Izuku was an idiot. Wow, he should've actually stayed home.

She didn't respond, only nodded- Kirishima looked nervous, but seeing as neither of them seemed to have any other plan, he was glad they obliged. A little bit. If they drowned, it would be his fault. Of course, he would save them before they had the chance, but still, if this failed, he would hate himself forever-

Asui grabbed Kirishima around the waist, saying something to him quietly enough that Izuku couldn't hear (probably 'hold on', if he had to guess) before wrapping her tongue around the support beam in the ceiling. It was weird to see, a combination of frog and human traits, like a lizard catching a fly from midair. She climbed with steady feet onto the deck, balanced for a split-second in a way that made Izuku's heart jump, then jumped herself.

Kirishima made a little squeaking noise, but none other complications arose as they sailed across the lake, weightless in the air. An aerial artist, green silk hair and lengthened skillful limbs. Asui's tongue let go at precisely the right moment, leaving her to roll to the ground next to Izuku. Kirishima just hardened and let himself drop into a messy copy of Asui's movements, leaving some damage to the ground beneath and some dirt skids on his forearms.

f*ck, that shouldn't have been as stressful as it was. He wasn't even swinging with them. But Izuku put a hand to his chest nonetheless, taking a breath, before steeling himself. They were scared, he reminded himself, even if they didn't act it. These were scared students, and right now, he needed to say the things he needed to hear.

"That was good. You two aren't hurt? Wow, that's good- and surprising, too. You did well back there, and inaction is better than getting hurt. You hear me? Now, get yourself somewhere a little safer. You might have to fight, but you'll get out of this alive and kicking. I believe in you both." He tried to smile a little bit at the end, something motivational, but it seemed to make the kids perk up enough.

Kami, he hoped they wouldn't come out of this traumatized.

"Thank you, Ghost, kero." Asui bowed her head, expressionless but somehow thankful in the way that her hands twitched to press together. "Call me Tsu."

Kirishima furrowed his brow. "Wait wait wait. You aren't, like, going to ask any questions? Dude, where did you come from?? Are you a hero? Ohh, an underground hero, I bet. Like Aizawa-Sensei. Weren't you with the villains though? What's your name? I feel like I've seen you before somewhere-"

"Alright, that's enough of that!" Izuku clapped Kirishima on the back a bit too strongly, earning a look from Tsuyu that made him feel like his very soul was being seen through. Great, thanks, he never wants to think about that ever again. If his classmates ever find out he's Ghost... That's worse than only one thing, and that's Aizawa finding out he's Ghost.

(Or, you know, Hisashi. Or the villains figuring out his identity. Or everyone dying, or running out of food, or... But we won't talk about that.)

They reached the main area just in time to watch Shigaraki's face fall in boredom.

Boredom means progressing from this form of pain to a worse one.

Of course, Izuku was right. He wished he wasn't.
As Eraserhead landed another hit on Shigaraki, blood dripping down his forearm from his elbow, he finally took the time to blink. His hair lowered around his shoulders as if in water, eyes shifting from red to black- Izuku really wanted to study that up close, actually.

Then Shigaraki shifted. Tilted his head. Done with fighting.
"Nomu... Kill Eraserhead."

If Izuku thought the thing was horrifying enough as it stood still, its animal-like lope towards his teacher was even worse. Those same muscles that rippled beneath the skin now squirmed, centipedes crawling underneath, even from this far away. Its never-blinking eyes were trained on Aizawa, and he never had a chance.

Blood. Izuku was frozen as much as the students behind him.

Arms twisted- something distantly snapping, a muffled yell of pain from between gritted teeth. Teeth. The Nomu had teeth, Izuku realized now. And a tongue. Unsettling in its birdlike mouth- tearing, and oh god Izuku wanted to help.

There was so much blood in a person.

He should help, oh kami he should help, he should help, he should-

But his legs were frozen, his stomach was unnervingly bare- defenseless- with this stupid crop top and it was cold and it smelled like desperation, it smelled like being kicked while your head knocked harshly against the alleyway wall, it smelled like bloody noses. It all felt- more than anything- unreal. Unreal. Like he was watching an act from outside of his body, abject horror yet unable to look away. Like Aizawa would stand up and prove that he was unharmed.

Aizawa didn't stand up.

And Izuku wished he could move. He begged himself to move. How could he be a hero like this? He needed to move. It was the small whimpering of one of the kids behind him that spurred him into speech.

Quickly, Izuku turned around to them. "Don't look. He'll be okay, but you don't need to look. There's a lot of blood in a person, and a lot they can lose before it gets iffy- so yeah, it'll look pretty bad, but if I have anything to say about it, he'll live. How about you two go and try to find other students, yeah?" His voice was hushed, and he really hoped it was doing something to comfort them.

It seemed like it did, until the last moment, where their eyes widened. Izuku would've had to have lost all of his awareness by now to really not know why. Something- someone- was behind him.

"I don't like that idea." Shigaraki's voice was not the voice that normally intimidated. It was less low and smooth, and more of a teen boy's high crackle. A shiver of hot adrenaline ran through Izuku's stomach anyway as he spun around.

"You know, I thought you were on our side! Turns out you're just part of the next level." The man pouted, casually picking up a small rock from the ground and letting it dissolve into dust in his fingers.

Izuku hadn't seen his quirk before. Now, he knew why everyone was afraid. It must've been some form of... Disintegration? Five-finger touch, possibly a natural speeding-up of the breaking down process- like erosion.

Shigaraki's hands began to move upwards, and immediately, Izuku pushed the students back. If anyone was getting hurt today it would be him. He pulled a knife from his belt- an actual fighting one, thanks to Toga, with a black blade and red handle to match the 'color scheme'.

Hands. Hands cracked, hands dusty, hands moving towards Izuku's face as he stood, just watching, hardly able to process. He was going to be dead if... But it was faraway. The world was unreal. He was going to die, but the fact was years away. The hand came closer, and it was all he could do to murmur a quiet "Don't look," to the students behind him.

(About to die, and all he could think of were the kids- the trauma- his body would crumple before their eyes, he hoped they didn't look--)

The fingers touched down, and Izuku braced. Every single muscle was tense, throat all hot and frozen- like he was still in the hallway before Hisashi. Poisonous anticipation. The expectation of pain overlapped with reality, a flinch backwards that met-

... Nothing.

Nothing, because... He was fine. The dry touch of all five fingers did exactly nothing, and when Izuku blinked back into reality enough to register Shigaraki's face, he realized the man was smiling.

"You're so cool, Eraserhead." He cooed at the bloodied face of the man defiantly staring at Shigaraki, quirk straining. Red eyes, blood running down the bridge of his nose and from lacerations in his scalp, down his chin and all gathered in the cracks of his lips. Still Aizawa stared, through gore dripping into his eyes, though his hair was tangled and stuck-together with the drying stuff. Arms held back and crumpled in the wrong ways.

Izuku wished he could be as heroic as that. He wished he could give Aizawa a break.

So he did.

Just as the Nomu slammed Aizawa's face back into the ground with a sickening sound that Izuku didn't want to dwell on, he brought the knife up and towards Shigaraki's hand with force.

Chopping off a finger was like chopping through green wood. There wasn't much skin there, nor muscle, so once you hit the bone there was a short stint of shock before it went through. His hand was close to Izuku's face, the knife therefore far too close for comfort, but luckily, he managed to miss (a small cut on the bridge of the nose notwithstanding). The blade went through and hit another finger, although it didn't manage to hack off that one.

A howl-like scream from the man's mouth as his finger fell to the floor. Bloody. Bloody. The stump didn't spurt blood, only major arteries tended to do that, but it did drip down his arm, curving with the bone as he brought it to his chest. White bone of finger jutting from one side, partially obscured by dark, dark flesh. Izuku bared his teeth and pretended not to mind Shigaraki's blood all spattered over the left side of his face. It tasted like iron and adrenaline.

Everything was sharp, and Izuku felt animalistic.

"What did you do? What did you do?!" He screeched. Kurogiri hovered around, trying to suggest something or maybe bandage up his master, but Shigaraki ignored him. "Nomu!"

Oh f*ck. Well, at least it wasn't on Eraserhead, right?

Izuku clutched his knife with white knuckles, red in the crevices of his fingers- wiped blood from his eyes as the Nomu released Aizawa.

At least it wasn't on Eraserhead.


Sorry, this chappy was a tad short. Can't wait for the next,,,, three chapters or so. Finally Izuku will get a hug >:)) but don't worry there will be a tad more angst after that before the full Recovery And Love Arc begins. Technically it's already kinda started but *shrug*

Also!!!! We have more fan art folks ^^ @hauntedtelepone made this one, and it's beautiful.

Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot!! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 30: USJ Pt 3


Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing. -Hunter S. Thompson

Slight warning for gore and mentions of vomiting (doesn't actually happen). If you've survived through Izuku cutting off Shigaraki's finger, though, you'll be good. Nothing too graphic.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

The nomu's eyes were pinpricks of black in seas of wide white. They managed to stare straight through him nonetheless as it charged.

Even on constructed legs, it ran faster than Izuku would've thought, a four-legged lope that scratched and scraped across the floors. Its muscles writhed beneath the surface, some horrible mixture of human and animal, artificial black-blue skin with a waterlike sheen. Red scars pulled taught over it too- new scars. Izuku would know.

It came too close all at once. Hardly a moment to fumble for a second knife before a giant hand reached. Izuku didn't want to know what it wanted to do.

He swung, a slashing motion up towards the incoming danger. The blade didn't hinder the Nomu in the slightest. It just continued to push, as if it didn't feel pain or pressure. Like it had one goal, and that was to destroy Izuku. No human concepts such as 'pain' or 'laws' would get in its way. Or, you know, a knife through its hand.

Its eyes stared. The hand slid painstakingly down the blade as it continued to push. Izuku knew he wouldn't last if this continued, especially since it didn't seem to tire. The world an adrenaline-driven bloody blur, Izuku ripped the blade out of the beast's hand and rolled away in one painful movement. His back- shoulders- hip- ached. Blood coated the black blade and made it shine reddish.

As it turned to face Izuku again, he ducked under an arm in a heart-stopping movement, mind racing too-too fast. Dragged his hands up and drove the knives into the flesh. Drove the blades with too much force and too much blood and too much sound. Then, quickly, he pulled one out and set it higher with a spurt of blood.

(He was climbing a brick wall. He wasn't here. This wasn't blood, it was- dirt. He was wedging the blades between bricks, not tendons. He wasn't here, he wasn't here, he wasn't here, he wasn't-)

Hands futilely reaching for him- fingernails the size of his entire hand. Apparently they made Nomus with giant blind spots on their backs. He wasn't gonna complain. Izuku stubbornly clung to the knives slippery with blood in his grasp, and made his way to the thing's head. Now-- to make some damage.

While one knife was dug in further, splitting apart black skin, the other was stabbed firmly in the side of the Nomu's neck. Izuku didn't want to think about the dark, dark, dark red coating his hand, or how it spurted in sickening bursts with every assumed heartbeat. A strangled noise made its way from a throat- Izuku could feel the vibrations of sound- guttural and choking on its own blood. Izuku didn't want to think about it.

So instead, he took the same knife and plunged it deep into the Nomu's brain.

This type of bleeding was like a flood. Welling up and then making its way down the side of the skull. The Nomu wasn't intelligent enough to know why its vision was being obscured red, so it was left partially blind and whipping its head from side to side like a wet dog.

It felt real. Everything was real, and sharp, and Izuku.... Izuku had forgotten how much he'd missed this adrenaline. It was a strange thing to miss. But the only time he felt real nowadays was when he was in life-threatening danger. Like he was built to kill and die and fight. It was like an addiction, he guessed. Or a 'traumatized child' thing.

He dragged the knife down and then released, just to let it drive down again in a different place as the Nomu let out a cry.

Weird thing to be addicted to.

The body below him gave a great shake- his mind conjured more images of wet dogs- and his body weight shifted. Oh f*ck. At least his blades weren't dislodged. Actually, the wounds were probably made worse-


Was- oh f*ck, was the nomu going to roll-

Izuku was pulling out his knives from flesh with a wet, sickening sound before he even processed the thought, messily throwing himself to stable ground and ending in a very rudimentary- but functioning- parkour roll.

The only bad thing about avoiding the giant body crushing him was that now he was in reach of those giant hands. Course and broad and Izuku couldn't help the image of them tearing him in two, bones and blood and a gory mass of flesh. They came closer, and it was such an angle that he couldn't roll away, instead just brace-

Being picked up was like being weightless. Like being cared for, like being a child.

Being thrown was much worse.

Air rushed past his face for half a second, blood rushing in his ears, hood almost being pushed off before hard wall met his back. It didn't feel like a wall in that second, but then again, it hardly felt like anything tangible. It felt like pain. A crack, something digging inside his bones, tearing, a chisel digging-

Izuku clenched his teeth against the sudden, burning pain in his lower ribs and made an aborted sound. It hurt even worse to try to talk. Bile crawled up his throat as he laid there, begging himself not to throw up, because he still had his mask on and he sure as hell wasn't taking it off. Pressure in his chest, lungs feeling like they couldn't get enough oxygen with every too-short breath. And each breath, too- it irritated whatever was broken and when he breathed in, pure fire licked up his body. Probably a broken rib. He tried not to breathe.

He did cough, though. His mouth tasted like iron. That probably wasn't good.

"So, the great vigilante was defeated by an animal? Never would've thought." Shigaraki's voice was mocking, and reminded Izuku of pre-pubescent kids who tried to get a rise out of the other players in VR. Instead of looking at the villain's face (and the hand on it, ew, seriously dude) he stared at the floor... And what was on it.

... Did Shiggy seriously have the same shoes as him? Jail. Izuku was never going to wear his red converse ever again.

"Says the one with the same shoes as me. I know I'm cool but you don't have to steal my fashion sense. Seriously. Like, what're thooos-"

In hindsight, angering the villain while having broken ribs was not the smartest idea. It was the most amusing one, though, and Izuku couldn't quite bring himself to regret it, even when those same shoes were soon driving into his stomach. It was close enough to his ribs that they twinged with renewed fervor, but far enough away that he didn't feel like dying. The only downside was that it was teasing with his self-control not to vomit.

It stopped soon enough, leaving Izuku's mouth filled with blood. He wished he had stabbed Shigaraki's ankle while he had the chance, though if he had tried, his ribs probably would've punctured a lung or something... If they hadn't already.

"Nomu, stand near Eraser and wait for orders." Shigaraki crouched down in front of Izuku, a smile twitching at his dry lips. "Do you know why I'm doing that, Ghost?"

... Izuku really wished he could spit the blood at him. Damn this mask.

Without waiting for an answer, the man continued to speak. Ah yay, the Evil Villain Speech. "Let's play a game, hm? If you move..." Shigaraki paused to place a hand on Izuku's upper arm, "Eraserhead dies. So let's try our best to be still." The last sentence was hissed, and Izuku froze.

The sleeve of his jacket was disintegrating underneath the man's fingers, and adrenaline pounded through his head. The knowledge of pain to come, but unable to avoid it. It was strangely reminiscent of a child's fear before a vaccine, stock-still and trying not to look. Because if he avoided it....

An image of Aizawa's face, caring and soft, turned bloody and protective. The only teacher to care. The only adult to really ask are you okay? and then wait for an answer. He would not let that man die, not when there were so many lives Aizawa had saved, when class 1-A was waiting for their teacher on the other side of this mess. They needed Eraser. Not Izuku. So the pain...?

Izuku couldn't avoid it. He wouldn't.

The first touch almost made him jump, but the knowledge and sight of the Nomu standing beside Aizawa was enough to make him clench his jaw. Reminiscent of burning, of scraping knees against pavement, of something stripped away but left behind somehow. The grit of dust in the wound- blood sticking the rest of his sleeve to his arm.

There was so much pain. Ribs, head, back, stomach, arm, and even the tiny cut on the bridge of his nose. His whole body was burning, and Izuku couldn't move couldn't make a sound couldn't breathe. He stared at Aizawa, still facedown and crumpled bloody on the floor, and dissociated.

I'm not here. I'm with Eraser, on a rooftop, and we were just in a battle and he's just taking a nap and-

Another point of pain- this time on his upper shoulder, far too close to his neck for comfort. Izuku's entire body tensed, eyes shifting to stare up at Shigaraki.

Tangled white-blue hair fell over the hand as he frowned at Izuku. "You aren't paying attention. It's almost as if you want your teammate to get hurt...."

(Pain. Pain pain pain, blurring his vision, bile crawling up his throat, pain from everywhere, burning awful heaving layered eroding pain in his bones and muscles and tendons. He wasn't a person, he was a self-consuming fire, an entity made up of suffering, each swathe of skin with nerves that screamed all at once.)

"Don't touch him." Izuku pressed out, clenched jaw so tense with pain he almost couldn't make it move. "Touch him and I'll take off another finger and make it into f*cking jewelry. I'll sever it with my teeth."

"Nomu..." Shigaraki almost sang, almost a sing-song sort of lilting tease. "You know, I'm getting sort of bored." He said to Izuku then, voice lower and dangerous-calm.

He froze. Adrenaline. Too much adrenaline, and his mouth watered with nausea sickening hot. Desperate and wrong and the knowledge of something so messed up, and it was your fault.

"No- f*cking-" Izuku's breath caught, earning him another burning fire in his ribs. "Don't. Please- don't hurt him. I d- I don't care what you do to me, just don't..." Izuku coughed harshly, something rattling in his chest upon the inhale, before he could finish. Mouth tasted of blood and the salt of sweat around his lips.

"Oh, Eraser? He's a done KO. But since you asked... Nomu, have some fun with this new toy I brought you."

Shigaraki moved out of his crouch then, stepping away just in time for Izuku to catch the Nomu stepping away from Aizawa and towards him. And he couldn't move- he tried, he tried, he swears, to pick up a knife or anything, sharp fingernails, but it was too late. His broken body refused to do anything but scream in pain (a muffled, cracked whimper making its way from between clenched teeth) as the Nomu was upon him.

It took his arm between hands that were too-smooth, polished obsidian that was hot and uncomfortably sweaty. What happened next was obscured in his memory, a too-sheer wave of pain. Maybe he passed out for a second. Maybe it all became too much, and his brain decided it was better if he just didn't remember. Maybe that would help save his sanity.

(But in the moment, Izuku felt it all. The pain, the cracking, the aching of something deep inside his bones- a spiral fracture, he knew, knew intimately, almost always created when an adult grabbed a child's arm. It wasn't all that bad on its own, really, but... But, he hurt. His body burned. His mind floated and tried not to experience it anymore.)

All that he knew next was that his head was being pulled back roughly, about to be smashed into the ground, the knowledge that he probably wouldn't survive this-

"Nomu!" Voice high and panicked. Izuku was too dazed to wonder why.

... His ears rang, suddenly. Was that a gunshot? Of course it was, he had heard too many to mistake them at this point. Why would there be a gunshot...?

Oh. Oh.

The heroes had arrived.


Feral came up with the idea and much of the plot! Their Ao3: @feraljuicecryptid

Yo thanks for the people debating in the comments section about making Shigaraki's fingers into jewelry!! You inspired some lines ahskhd
Next chapter might be a bit late-- probably not, but this week is a little crazy for me. Take care of yourselves!

Chapter 31: Izuku Midoriya Needs (And Gets) A Hug


I'm not used to being loved. I wouldn't know what to do. -Scott Fitzgerald

Finally a soft chapter ^^

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku wasn't completely sure how he managed to get out.

There was some yelling, that was for sure- hands pulling. Pain and blackness crawling out from the shadows in the corners of his eyes. But in all fairness, he had knives, and he was willing to do near anything to get out. Colors flashed, suffering pushed away to the back of his head after a while- a constant buzz that never quite went away. They never tell you that once you're in pain for long enough, it just fades into the background so you don't have to focus on it anymore.

He was pretty sure he threatened people blindly with his knives to escape, but with his ribs and arm- he could hardly stand, let alone walk, so how...? A flash of blonde hair in his memory, perhaps, but at the same time- that could've been anyone. It could've been All Might come to save everyone. That was one thing he was sure about.

(He would recognize the voice of the man who almost made him kill himself anywhere.)

However he did it, though, he was here. Alive.

.... Izuku looked around again. Where, exactly, was here again?

It was- it was bright. He knew that. And... He moved a hand along the ground just to feel out his surroundings. It was rough, scraping, uncomfortable concrete or maybe brick. Honestly, he was too tired to look. Everything felt unpleasant, but at the same time, his body was heavy and he desperately craved sleep. Like when you've pulled an all-nighter and want to curl up on the floor of the classroom- no matter how uncomfortable.

Right. No. No sleeping when you have injuries. Isn't that a rule or whatever? Maybe it was just for head injuries, but he wasn’t entirely sure if he had a concussion or not, so better to be safe than sorry.

Alright. So, the ground was rough, and... What else? His shirt was wet, and warm. Actually, the sun was warm, too, heating up his black clothes and making it even more tempting to sleep. Everything smelled like iron. Ugh, blood. I really hope I'm not bleeding out.

The blood had dried by now. Tight and strange on his skin. Some of it was still wet, but that was only because some wounds needed stitches that Izuku couldn’t give them. Well, he probably wouldn’t bleed out. Death hadn’t claimed him insofar, right?

Wait. Wait, f*ck, how could he forget. What about the kids? Were they alright? And Shinsou, what about Shinsou-.. Izuku really needed to figure out where he was, didn't he?


Prying open his eyes was a lot harder than it should've been, and the sun immediately made him hiss and slam them shut again. Who the hell made the sun that bright. Why did they have a grudge against him? Eventually, he was able to (barely) squint out at the world.

Huh. Actually...

Was it just him, or was this alley suspiciously familiar? Yeah, and that All Might sticker on the wall was vandalized inappropriately, almost exactly like....

A soft meow from beside him. It was the best thing he had ever heard in his life.

"Hey, Brindle." Izuku laughed weakly, wincing as he reached out his non-broken arm towards the tabby. She looked concerned- could cats look concerned? Maybe he was just projecting- at the immense amount of gore on the pavement. Izuku had to agree. It was very rude of his body to continue letting blood spill out of his wounds.

Brindle nuzzled into his hand and purred, a movement extremely out of character for her. Maybe it was because... Oh! He had read that sometimes mother cats purred to reassure kittens. Maybe she was trying to reassure him? More likely, though, was the possibility that Izuku was just starved for comfort and was trying to get that comfort from a cat.

(Yes, he was self aware, thank you very much.)

The softness of her fur helped a bit, though. Something comforting and warm; the feel of her ribcage expanding under his hands was like life itself, fragile. Another creature, another living thing, next to him. Somehow grounding. Somehow calming.

He was tired. And he doubted he could move, with how his muscles had tightened up. There was no way he could get in contact with Shinsou, either.

... He would die here, wouldn't he?

Nobody would look for him, anyways. Nobody would… Had they ever, though? When had he started expecting that people would look for him when he died? It didn’t matter. He was used to it. He should be used to it, at least.

And Izuku didn't have his phone anyway, he couldn't call anyone. He didn't know if Aizawa was alive. Oh kami he would die here, wouldn't he? What about One For All? What about class 1-A? What about Aizawa? What about the villains, what about Kirishima and Tsuyu, what about....

Brindle nudged his hand again and Izuku petted her idly. Despair gathered a bit heavy in his stomach but he focused on petting her.

He didn't want to die.

Not now. There was too much to experience, too many loose ends. He needed to see it through. Just for now. Because what type of vigilante would he be if he didn't? He didn't know when dying had become a thought to fall back on- a second option. If things go wrong, I can just die. He didn’t know when dying had become a thing to look forward to, to crave- but then again, he also didn’t know when he had stopped craving it.

Now... Now he couldn't. He wouldn’t die, he wouldn’t let himself die. That was a good thing, right? It didn't feel like one, but not a bad thing, either. Just... It just was.
His eyes were getting heavier.

Maybe he would take a little bit of a nap, just until Shinsou found him. He couldn't die during a nap, right? Yeah, that only happened in movies. Besides, he was really tired. After getting some energy back, he would be more able to move and find his classmates. Sleep was good for healing, too!

Brindle curled up by his side, warm and soft and purring with a panicked edge to it.

His eyes drifted shut.


"Hey! Hey, wake up! sh*t. sh*t, f*ck. sh*t. If you don't wake up, I swear to Kami I'm going to call an ambulance right now. Just- f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, if you're dead, I swear-"

A panicked voice, honey-smooth nonetheless in the way all voice quirk users had, registered slowly. Like sinking through sugar, something slow and sweet and clawing. Through that same groggy nothing, Izuku blinked a few times, the world all blurry- strange- unfamiliar. "Wha’..? No? Wh... I don't think death wants me, I’ve tried but… I think I’m just immortal."

A purple blob in his vision laughed. Sobbed? No, definitely laughed. Izuku blinked a few times, but the blurriness stubbornly stayed until he lifted a hand to rub it away. Shinsou's face came into view, and he could've cried in relief.

"f*ck. f*ck, Izuku, I thought-... Well. It doesn't matter what I thought." A sad-relieved-grateful smile. The boy ran a hand through his hair, leaving strands sticking up soft and lavender. Izuku wanted to touch them. He wanted to smooth the stressed-sad expression off of Shinsou's face.

"Think you can get me out of here?" Izuku asked before coughing harshly, wincing as his lungs rattled and a new wave of pain shuddered through. To Shinsou's sympathetic face, he smiled a little. "I'm not quite dead yet. Once I get cleaned up and have some pain medicine in me, I'll look just fine."

He nodded shakily. "Yeah, yeah, okay. Uh, right. Kami, I’m just so glad… Sorry. The house I'm staying at isn't too far away, but I think you should take a few painkillers before we try to haul you over there, because, uh, it's gonna hurt. Can you give me a brief of your injuries? Please."

Izuku wasn't.... Completely sure that he would manage to make it to the house, but he desperately wanted a shower, and all the blood was tacky, half-dried and uncomfortable on his skin. He could probably walk if he tried, right? He was only bleeding a little, and sure, he had a broken rib (probably), but his legs still worked...!

"I have a disintegration wound, a cut on the bridge of my nose, probably another disintegration wound over there, and then a... Broken arm? Yeah. Also, I would guess a broken rib, because I'm coughing up blood but I read that you could heal on your own. A bunch of the blood isn't mine, it's from cutting off a finger, and then performing an impromptu lobotomy-"

"Hey, sorry to interrupt, but what the f*ck." Shinsou's face was suddenly a lot less concerned and a lot more horrified. Hmm. Wonder why that is.

Izuku shrugged, wincing when every swathe of skin decided to burn in symphony. "All in a day's work. Please tell me you have painkillers on you right now, because if you leave me, I'll cry. That's a threat and I will make it true. Make true on it? Whatever."

A watery laugh. "I do, I do. Kami, I'm just so f*cking glad you're alive."

"Me too." Izuku said, and it didn't feel like an act. "Me too."

It was easy enough to crush the Advil between his teeth- Shinsou apparently carried it around in a plastic bag, which Izuku pointed out looked a lot like drugs. Seriously, bringing a plastic bag full of Advil to UA was just asking to be kicked out.

Anyway- the getting up part was sort of a problem. In the end, they managed to heave him from the ground with only a few moments of world-ending pain, which Izuku counted as a hesitant win. Each step was a twinge from then on, but he had gone through worse. He could handle it.

The Yamazawa House (as Shinsou had called it) was small, but homey. The only downside was that it had stairs to the door, which made Izuku question if some great being had a grudge against him. Actually, no, it just reinforced his belief that there already was a grudge against him. Or many grudges against him.

The house itself was a comforting wood, dark and nondescript and perfect for an underground hero. Present Mic's home wasn't on record (Izuku checked the page far too often, okay), probably to keep his private life separate from his work one. And oh, wasn't Izuku thankful for that now. If he had to bleed out in any house, it would not be a bright yellow bird-themed one.

The door had... Three locks? No, two locks (one keypad, one deadbolt) and then an alarm up top. Shinsou opened them all with ease, leaving Izuku to wonder about the paranoia of the inhabitants. Well, they were pro heroes, so.... It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you!

"Okay- f*ck, can you.... Listen, you can't collapse in the entranceway, as much as we both want to, because blood stains carpets and I don't want Eraserdad to sit me down in that Concerned Adult Way again. So..... Yeah, if you.... Yeah." Shinsou's voice was low and smooth and why did voice quirk users always sound so f*cking good, seriously. That was a normal thing to think though, right? Yeah. Izuku ignored it, like he did with all his problems.

More importantly, though... "Wait, uh. Where do I put my shoes? They were gifted to me by some very evil organization... People, and I doubt you would want that bad vibe getting tracked in. Ugh- f*ck, how would I even get them off. I hate living."

It blurred after that. Pain and adrenaline always blurred in this way for Izuku- his mind left and came back online when everything wasn’t dangerous or harmful. Not that Shinsou was harmful, but, well… It hurt.

Some snippets:

Pain. Shinsou's blurry face and smooth voice. A living room, cluttered in a homey way. A cat slipping around the corner- two cats? More pain. The smell of coffee, cats and something sweet disturbed by iron blood. Everything hurt. A warm brown couch that he ached to rest on, slightly warped but comfy-looking in all the best ways.

Something ached. Something soft. Izuku wanted to rest- to cry- to be held.

The cold porcelain of the bathroom shone white and Izuku settled in the bathtub easily enough- hopefully blood didn't stain porcelain. Did it? Oh god, he hoped not. His vision cleared a little bit now that he wasn't moving and the painkillers had started to kick in. A little bit more awareness. A little bit better.

Shinsou approached with a wet washcloth, green and soft, in his calloused hand. Izuku focused on that hand instead of on the concerned features. The hand came to his face, wiping Shigaraki's half-dried blood gently from his cheekbone. The water was warm and dripped slowly down his face from where there was too much on the cloth.

Another stroke. It was silent and comforting and somehow made Izuku's throat burn. He hadn't been cared for in.... In who knows how long. Now it was just this bathroom- with the soft-soft multicolored towels, purple and black and yellow. The slight noises of the fridge from the other room, and now, with the dripping of water back into the bowl that Shinsou kept rewetting the cloth in.

"Thank you, Shi." Izuku said, softly, and somewhat out of the blue. Not just a thank you for all the medical things, or for wiping the blood from his face. For everything. But that would take far too much time to say, far too many emotions, so Izuku just settled for hoping that Shinsou got the message.

The washcloth stilled, just for a moment. "I know you would do the same for me.” Voice soft, quiet, sincere. A pause before he continued. “And... Uh, you can call me Hitoshi, if you want. I mean, you don't have to, but..."

Izuku smiled, and it only pulled at the dried blood on his face a little bit (there was only a little bit left that Shin- Hitoshi hadn't gotten to, after all). "Hitoshi. I like that." It rolled from his tongue like only a few others, like something he wanted to repeat over and over and over in silence, in aloneness. Hitoshi. "You can call me Izuku, although you've been doing that for a while."

Hito stayed silent instead of apologizing, something that wouldn't have happened a few months ago. It was nice. People shouldn’t have to apologize for things unnecessarily.

It was quiet after that. They carefully stripped off Izuku's jacket and sweatshirt to more easily reach his ribs and disintegration wound, earning a few hisses of pain and tears gathering dangerously in his eyes that Hitoshi let him wipe away without comment.

Another two pills crunched between his teeth, bitter and reminiscent of the time he had numbly taken ten just to see if it would kill him in middle school. Meanwhile Shinsou looked through a couple medical sites on his phone, only setting it down once Izuku was done. They wiped the blood away from around his disintegration wound, then Hitoshi searched for other droplets of dried blood around before just wiping down most of his skin (and hair).

Izuku would normally protest, but... It was nice, being taken care of. And in his defense, he had almost died. Didn't he deserve a little bit of relaxation? Just a little? Didn't his beaten body need a little bit of care, if only to continue to work? It felt like an excuse, but he didn't mind. Not when these gentle hands fed something so starved in his chest.

Hitoshi went to get him an ice pack for his ribs, as per Google's recommendation, after telling him to take deep breaths. With little irritation, Izuku obliged, no matter the pain or the rattling. Because he should be grateful. And he was. Oh kami, he was, and something so big and fragile with it in his throat begged him to say thank you again. Again, until the words were so worn out they felt like a well-loved cloth upon his tongue. Meaningless but comforting nonetheless.

But when the purple-haired angel (shut up, it was an apt description) came back, Izuku couldn't make himself talk. Instead, he stared in a way that he hoped would convey the extent of how much Hitoshi saved his life.

And no, not just with the ice pack, although it was heaven on his aching ribs.

Next, tweezers were taken to the disintegration wound, to try and get out some of the bloodstained ash left behind. It was more of a mush than anything at this point, and they both made disgusted faces (and pained, in Izuku's case) as they got most of it off with the help of the cloth.

(Now, Izuku had been trying not to think about this, but now that he was shirtless... Well, his scars and cuts were dangerously close to being uncovered. Thankfully, he had never strayed from his hips and thighs, but still. Anxiety cramped his stomach.)

It smelled like blueberry shampoo and the warm water was lulling the adrenaline back to sleepy calmness. Hito seemed to pick up on this- on Izuku's drooping eyelids and relaxing shoulders- because he lightly flicked his nose. "Stay awake, at least until we can get you changed. I don't want Dadzawa to discover you in Ghost's uniform."

Aizawa. Izuku snapped awake, looking desperately to Hitoshi. "I need to tell you about what happened. He-"

"Hey. Calm down, greenie. Whatever it is, it happened in the past, and it can wait. Relax." A bit of a smile, before a thoughtful look passed over his face. "Actually, uh... Okay. Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to bandage up your wounds, then I'm going to leave you in here with the wet washcloth and some of my clothes to wipe off the rest of yourself and get changed. Then you can take another painkiller if you need it- I looked it up, you can take up to six in a 24 hour period. After that we can make some hot chocolate, or tea, and you can tell me what the hell happened."

Izuku nodded as Hitoshi left the room to get some clothes for him to borrow, and wow.

How did he ever get such an amazing friend?


Guys ,,,,,,, hhhhh there are So Many Comments and kudos thank you sm???? Over 30,000 reads what???? Uh??????? I keysmash and u guys are just like 'fantastic, amazing'-

Anyways there is more fluff next chapter because obviously there wasn't enough this chapter :/ oh well. How sad. I'm sure you guys would hate that :/

... did any of you guys notice that Shinsou asked Izuku questions this chapter-

Feral, our God and savior, came up with the idea and the plot. Their ao3 is @feraljuicecryptid and I love and envy them in all ways

Chapter 32: Tea For The Skin


You've felt it, haven't you? Those feelings that seem to get so big in your chest, like something so beautiful it aches? -Heather Anastasiu

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"Okay, how the f*ck.... Okay, cool, uh, Google is being useless, so I guess we'll treat it like a stab wound that glanced off the bone...??"

Shinsou (no, Hitoshi, Izuku kept forgetting) muttered to himself, shuffling through the truly impressive amount of first aid that the Yamazawas possessed, while Izuku let a catlike grin grow on his face. "So you admit that all wounds are basically big papercuts."

"... Well, yes, but also no-"

"Yeah! I knew I'd make you come around eventually- ow, what was that for. I'm injured. Hurt. Right in the feelings, Hito-chan."

Hitoshi rolled his eyes, not looking at all apologetic for the flick to the nose he had just delivered. "Never call me that again. Plus, I admit that only penetrating wounds are papercuts. Otherwise, there's stuff like blunt force trauma, or-"

"... Penetrating." Izuku giggled childishly, which naturally earned him yet another gentle flick to the nose.

"I'm putting you in jail." Hitoshi said, very seriously- though the way that his fingers danced around Izuku's shoulder in a too-soft way belied his real thoughts. Something very fragile and strange rose in Izuku's chest at the thought of someone not wanting to hurt him.

"Alright, folks, I'm gonna put some honey on your wound- don't judge me, it's worked as an antibiotic for centuries and we ran out of neosporin yesterday when Yamadad got scratched by Meowette and cried." Hitoshi announced what he was going to do before he did it- probably a habit, to talk to himself, but it eased Izuku's mind just a little bit. The bottle of honey was shaped like a bear, all orange-yellow and glass, and it just... It just... Something was full in his chest. He didn't know.

It didn't go away, even when the smear of honey became painful (Hitoshi apologizing in incessant murmurs) and a thin layer of gauze was applied. Over that, self-adhesive bandages were wrapped awkwardly around his shoulder and neck- a strange almost gummy texture that pulled slightly against his skin.

"Yeah yeah, that's fine." Izuku responded, voice detached and distracted. "But, uh... Who's Meowette? One of your cats? Oh kami, please tell me Aizawa named her, I will tease him about it forever."

"No, uh, actually, I named her. And yeah, she's one of our cats. Uh, it's a reference to a Tumblr thing, Miette the cat. 'Course you wouldn't know because you're uncultured." This was said easily, one brow raised, while a small band-aid was unwrapped from its packaging. It happened to be light blue and patterned with little black cats and paw prints. Izuku enjoyed imagining Aizawa being forced to wear kawaii bandages when he got hurt.

Izuku was about to question it, actually, when it was stuck onto the bridge of his nose- right over the small cut.
A snicker. "If people ask how your nose got hurt, you could just say you're embodying the soft boy aesthetic."

"The what?"

"... Nevermind." Hitoshi sighed. "Just- do you have any other wounds? There's the shoulder one, the cut on your nose- oh f*ck, your ribs. I don't know if we can really do anything for that, though. Just be gentle with them, take deep breaths, and all that sh*t. And for your arm, um- we actually have a sling, but if you think you can maneuver it into a new shirt first, then... Here."

Some fabric worn and black was thrown at Izuku's face- a half-second flinch, then a realization of what it was. He lifted the shirt from the pile (soft, smelling like blueberries and coffee and something else) while Hitoshi continued to speak. "These are some of my clothes, so that you can change from your stinky vigilante gear. Just in case you need it, I'm gonna leave the wash cloth here- yeah, no, I'm not going to stay while you change, that would be creepy. If you suddenly feel weak, or whatever, just yell at me and I'll come over. Capisce?"

Izuku half-smiled at him, too tired to try to laugh. "Capisce."
And then he was left alone.

Slight panic at that set in, because he was shamelessly vulnerable- hurt, half-naked, barely able to stand. If someone came into the room with the intention to kill him, then they would succeed. It didn't pass Izuku's notice that he let Hitoshi that close in a time when he could've easily hurt him. There was some softness at that- some flinching panic at letting himself trust so much- some bare hatred at Hitoshi for daring to be worthy of that trust.

And now he was sitting in a bathtub, bloody-clothed and aching. At least the dried blood was stripped from his skin now, and instead made murky shapes in the bowl of water still laying on the white tiles.

... Heaved himself from the tub. It was like the feeling after over-exercising, Izuku thought. Muscles shaking, the weakness and the physical inability to continue but pushing anyways through the twinges of pain. Pushing through, just like always.

Standing in front of the mirror was a strange experience. It always sort of was, for Izuku at least- knowing that it was his reflection, but hardly recognizing it anyway. Dark green curls and freckles scattered across the bridge of his nose, sure, but it was more like someone had smudged across the liner that made up his body. A lack of ability to see himself, really.

He shook his head, which pulled uncomfortably at the bandages on his shoulder and welcomed another twinge of pain. Stripping off the checkered shorts (which were now stained brown in patches) and red spider lily socks was easy enough, even with some parts stuck to his skin with dried blood. Truly- blood could get messy. It stained through things, dripped down flesh, and there was just far more than you would expect in a human body. It was sort of annoying.

... Wait. That sounded unhinged. Well, whatever, not like he hadn't thought worse.

Pulling on the loose galaxy-patterned pajama pants that Hitoshi brought him would've been a pleasant experience- he hadn't felt something so fluffy since he pet Brindle a few hours ago, but... But his scars. Scars, in lines near his thighs and hips. White and raised for the older ones, the deeper ones, whereas some were pinkish while they still healed. No scabs, not right now, at least- he hadn't cut for a week. That was good, wasn't it?

Looking at the scars, something- a sigh, almost, except as a feeling- settled and wound up the bones in his spine with fragile strands of spiderweb silk. Sad, but in a slight way. A way that said I've been there, but also I am still there, and the gentle knowledge of Hitoshi right outside.

He had more scars than that, though- in the mirror, he noted the slight burn scar (almost unnoticeable- hidden with triple-strength concealer as a vigilante) on the bridge of his nose from the heat of his metal mask in the training exercise. Bakugou's explosion scars were mostly shiny and pink-white, or a mess of raised flesh, with no in-between. They ranged across his back and chest, to his shoulders and arms- but never any that couldn't be hidden from Inko. That was intentional, Izuku supposed.

The knife scar. The thin white ones from Tsubasa's fingernails that almost looked like the scars on his thighs. More than that, even, from his vigilante work.

God, Izuku was a mess of scars, wasn't he? And his canvas wasn't even done being filled. He briefly wondered if, as a pro hero, he would just be one mass of scar tissue- but then decided that was mostly dependent on him surviving to be a hero in the first place.

He shook that out of his head. Death wasn't a thing he wanted, right now.

After pulling on the illegally soft t-shirt that he had been given- which was surprisingly hard even with a broken arm, Izuku made his way out of the bathroom. making sure to first pour out the bowl of water and clean what he could from the bathtub. Now that he wasn't in as much pain, and wasn't covered in dried blood, he could finally appreciate the home that the Yamazawas had made for themselves.
And that's what it was. A home. Izuku's house was one too, he guessed. It was that cluttered feel of books and papers and half-drunken hot chocolates sitting on the coffee table. This one... Was fuller, though? It felt better- though that was probably prejudiced.

(Izuku wondered if Aizawa had ever kicked Hitoshi. Izuku wondered if Hitoshi ever felt like he was alone in a full house.)

Speaking of the boy, though, he laid with his legs hanging over the edge of the couch, practically sitting sideways while scrolling through his phone. Next to him were two mugs- one black, and patterned with white cats, while the other one shone navy blue with stars scattered all over it. It was domestic and heart-achingly.. Sweet? Good? Izuku didn't know, so he just smiled and waved awkwardly to get Hitoshi's attention.

"Oh, hey, Izuku. Pick one: tea or hot chocolate? The tea's herbal, and it's meant to help your skin or something- Yamadad got it because of that, but I just drink it because it's lavender and blueberry... Plus it's purple, so, uh, yay. The hot chocolate is fantastic too though, because obviously I made it." He gestured vaguely and widely at the mugs with one arm, placing his black-cased phone facedown without locking it. It had a cat-shaped black popsocket... Because of course it did.

"Uh." Izuku blinked. "I don't know??" His shoulders began to tense and raise, taking a bit of a step back (which he stopped of course, because ow, shoulder wound, dude). Decisions were always hard- no, more than hard. They felt like scraping his teeth along the metal of a fork until its screech vibrated in his skull.

Thankfully, though, Hitoshi didn't comment and instead casually picked up the navy blue mug. "I'll take the tea, actually, if you don't mind? Hot chocolate has a lot more nutrients than tea, and you need them to heal and all that sh*t."

"Sure. Thank you." He picked up the remaining mug and appreciated its weight in his hands (heavily braced on the working one). Warm, almost uncomfortably so, but not hot enough to drop or burn.

A few minutes were spent drinking warm drinks- Hitoshi leaving to get the arm cast, and then helping Izuku put it on. A fluffy blanket, white and black in patchwork colors, was draped over their laps.

And then:

"So. What happened?"


Sorry for late chapter. Chapters will be every other week instead of every week until about July 30th. Thank you and I'm sorry- summer classes are absolute sh*t and I'm doing a full year of classes in a month.

Feral came up with the idea and plot. Ao3: feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 33: Wow, Still No Angst??


You touch me and suddenly I feel a little less war-torn. I'm not sure what peace is supposed to feel like, but I think it may feel a lot like you. -anatomy-of-rains

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku blinked a few times before his mind caught up to what was being asked.

What happened?

He wasn't even completely sure himself, having been incapacitated for half of it, or blacked-out. It was probably good to start at the beginning- where he dropped Hitoshi off, but should he kind of avoid some things? No. The truth was better. And now, here, with something warm in his hands, one arm supported with a brace- with clean unbloodied skin and warm body heat underneath borrowed pajamas- with the smell of coffee and blueberry shampoo...

It was safe enough here to be himself. No- to be someone calmer and happier than the himself that he thought he was. It was strange. He mostly knew himself as a bloody dog, biting and cowering and snarling. Nothing this domestic.

"Alright." A pause, a breath to gather his thoughts while feeling the fibers of the blanket. "Well. Uh. I went to the villain base, and then there was this person with a portal quirk- name's Kurogiri, no pronouns- and um, we were portal-ed....? Portaled? Is that a word? Can you look it up? I wanna know now."

"Izuku. Finish telling me what happened and then I'll maybe look it up."

".... Fine." He sighed, maybe a bit dramatically, before continuing in a bit more solemn voice. "We were brought to the USJ. You know how there was a field trip today? Yeah. I was f*cking stupid and thought they’d just try to walk in the front doors. f*ck. But anyways, the whole class was there, and they were portaled all over the place to split them up. There were a ton of villains, too. Aizawa fought for a while, and he did it really well. But there was this, sorta, monster thingy? It's called a Nomu, and it was really tall, and scarred, and it had a beak, and its brain was uncovered- like its skull was open-"


"Shush, shush, I'm not done. So, uh… Oh yeah. I pretended to be with the villains for a while, but then I convinced one blood-sucking villain, Toga, to let me help the students if I let her drink my blood. She's also pretty good at eyeliner. She did mine once, actually… Damn, that looked good, and I have no idea how to apply it- wait. Story. Right. Anyways, I helped Tsuyu, and Kirishima. ‘Cause I was closest to them. And then this one dusty guy, Shigaraki, set the Nomu on Aizawa. It.. Um, broke his arm, I think, and... Probably a concussion, I don't know what else, though. Broken nose? Sorry. Um, and then Shigaraki tried to kill me, and he almost did, but then Aizawa erased his quirk, and so... I'm not dead? Yay? So then I cut off Shigaraki's finger!"

Hitoshi sighed, very deeply, and then gently set his cup down on the table. "Sir. You... You did what exactly? I don't think I heard you correctly."

"Well, I cut off someone's finger, so if you heard that, then it was right. Actually, it's surprisingly easy, you know, like chopping through green wood-"

"And that's enough of that!" Hitoshi interrupted, expression a strange mix of 'existential crisis' and 'far too cheerful'. "Just. Please. Finish it. I beg of you." He swallowed, and the next part was quieter. "I want to know what happened to Aizawa."

"Okay. Okay. He's alive, Hitoshi, I promise. That's all that happened to him. Um, the Nomu was set on me, after that. I stabbed it like fifteen times, and then I stabbed its brain, but probably not enough. So y'know. It still tried to kill me. I got thrown into a wall, I think, and then broke my ribs, and then Shiggy kicked me because I insulted his shoes."

(Though he stared at him with a mix of horror and amusem*nt, Hitoshi didn't say anything edgewise.)

"Yeah. Um, then, he- um, he ordered the Nomu to stand by Aizawa." Izuku blinked a few times, surprised at the way his throat was deciding to close up, but continued anyway. "And Shigaraki said that if I moved, he would kill- uh, kill Aizawa. So. Um. Yeah. He disintegrated my shoulder and I was just trying to keep Aizawa alive, you know, he saved me so many times on the streets and just-..."

f*ck. f*ck, why was his voice getting all weird. Why was he even getting emotional now? Hitoshi's face softened, as if he was about to try to comfort him, but Izuku wasn't finished yet. He cleared his throat, discreetly blinked away the blurriness in his eyes.

"Uh. Sorry. The point is, I stayed there, and that's how I got the wound on my shoulder. Then Shigaraki got, um, he got bored and set the Nomu on me. It... Broke my arm, I think? I can't really remember. Then... Uh... I don't know. I think the heroes came but I don't know how I got out." He swallowed, almost reached to fidget with the short hair on the back of his neck, then abruptly remembered his broken arm.

"Izuku..." His voice was gentle- not like talking to a hurt dog, or coaxing a street cat. Hitoshi was talking to a human and his voice showed that, too, but caring. "It's alright to be hurt by this. You don't have to try to be strong, because you are already. But it's okay to be upset." Shifting just a bit closer- just to be able to look Izuku in the eyes. "Hey. We'll get through this, yeah?"

And oh- a caring lavender gaze, the smell of blueberry shampoo and tea and chocolate- everything so warm and nice and... And, and, who could blame Izuku for wanting to relax? 'Course, it wasn't all that easy, with the almost instinctual need to be quiet be nice don't cry don't scream don't frown.

Izuku looked into Hitoshi's eyes, and hesitantly let himself go. Just a little bit at first, and then fully, setting his cup on the table so it wouldn't spill and he was free to curl his hand into the too-soft blankets. The strained aching in his throat traveled up to sting behind his nose and eyes, leaving him to blink away the beginning of tears.

"Yeah, thanks. Um, sorry." He said, still futilely trying to stop his voice from wobbling.

(A voice in the back of his head whispered about how it was pathetic he was actually affected by this. How he had handled much worse without any support- how in this safe environment, logically, he shouldn't even feel bothered anymore. How he would drive Hitoshi away if he kept being this pathetic; shut up- just stop- be quiet.)

But nothing really happened, in the end- or at least anything negative. Izuku continued to do his strange silent half-crying, and Hitoshi sat next to him so their sides were brushing gently. Warm and soft and caring, and Meowette jumped up onto the couch at one point to say hello. Her fur stuck up messily, mostly white and very long, like a ragdoll. They pet her, and sat, and let their muscles untense.

"Dad's okay, though, right? He'll live?" Hitoshi asked quietly, disturbing the silence of purring-breathing-shifting.

He hesitated. "From what I could see, yeah, but- I can't guarantee, and I'm not even sure what happened when I passed out, but.... Uh, yeah. I'm pretty sure. I'm sorry. I wish I could be definite, but..."

Izuku was waved off, not unkindly. "It's okay. Thank you for saving him."

Said as if he was grateful- said as if he didn't expect Izuku to do it, as if it wasn't Izuku's job, wasn't his purpose. As if he wasn’t born to live and die for other people. And oh kami, the tone- the softness.

... He still wondered, though, if all families were like his, and he still wondered if maybe Yamada and Aizawa were different behind closed doors?

(Izuku's mind wandered back to the yellow-shining co*ke cans, to Hisashi kicking him- there was no emotion attached to the memory, anymore. But... But wait, what was the show Hisashi was watching again? Was the girl on the TV ribbon dancing- or was she doing ballet- and did he do his science or math homework beforehand? Why was Hisashi even kicking him- Izuku couldn't remember what he said. All he could really remember was how his boots were still on. And they were black, they were ankle boots. Just like always.)

He had to ask.

"Uh... Hito- shi?" Izuku asked, drawing out the word because he was going to just use 'Hito' but he wasn't sure if it was annoying or- okay, calm down. "I, um, I mean, does the-... Have Yamada or Aizawa ever, like, um, hit you. Or. You know, made you... Feel bad?"

The boy blinked and turned to him. "No, of course not. They would never do that, and y'know, when, uh, if parents do, that's abusive. Unless it's genuinely an accident, in which case they apologize and all that sh*t. The Yamazawas are... Really good at all this-" He gestured ineffectively, "Stuff. Yeah. Um, if your parents do that, it's really easy to assume everyone is like that, and you're being selfish by wishing for a perfect parent. But being abused isn't just some tiny mistake. Are you... I mean, um. If your parents ever hit you or did anything like that, you need to tell someone. Me, maybe."

(Back to the avoidance of questioning. Izuku was curious, but didn't ask.)

"They. I mean, they don't really, I guess. It's- anyway, it doesn't matter. It was only once, but then- ah, sorry. Never mind. It's fine. Please don't ask, it's- yeah, it’s fine. It'll be worse if you tell, you know how it is. Um... Why did you call them the Yamazawas?" Izuku's mind raced as he changed the subject with a clumsy tongue.

(Only once- only once, it was only once that he was ever actually hurt by Hisashi. But then again, doesn't it matter just the same when they make him cry until his throat hurts? When do the good times stop cancelling out the bad?)

Hitoshi laughed, a little short sweet sound. Like a bit of candy, there and then not, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate shared between siblings. "They're married....? Izuku, did you not know that Aizawa and Yamada are together??"

"They're together??"

"Yes? I literally just said that- why else would they be living together-"

Izuku huffed lightheartedly. "Well, friends live together all the time. Plus, queerplatonic relationships! And! I don't know!"

About to respond, but then a clicking from the door. The frantic sound of metal-on-metal for a half-second, a key in a lock, before the door was slammed open. It hit the wall with its force, startling Meowette from her place on the couch.

"Hitoshi!" A quick panicked sort of voice burst in alike to the door, sudden and breaking the peace-silence. A blur of yellow-bright spared Izuku no attention.

Yamada was checking over Hitoshi with no pause, taking his face gently into his hands to turn it this way and that before sighing. A breath of relief just to hold someone safe and warm in your own arms, just to make sure they were okay. Cradled, something- soft? Like love, but Izuku's family didn't love softly like this. Izuku's family loved in a harsh way that hurt as much as it protected. Hitoshi sat sort of stunned-still for a minute before returning the hug- the difference of sitting and standing making it so his head was more pulled into Yamada's chest than anything.

"Oh kiddo- if you weren't safe, I don't know what I would do." Yama pulled away to assess Hitoshi once again- then, deeming it safe, ran an affectionate hand through his kid's hair. Hitoshi leaned into it a little, something soft in his expression. "Shouta's class got attacked by villains. He's in the hospital, and- sh*t. Where's Midoriya?"

He blinked. "Um... Here?" Voice quiet again.

The man turned to him with some look of relief. "Good, good- wait. Wait a second." Oops. Izuku could practically hear the moment his eyes zeroed in on the sling. "I thought you two were going to a cat cafe? Why are you all banged up? Oh fu.... Crackers, did the villains...?"

"No!" Izuku said, a bit too quickly, then cleared his throat. "One of the cats was a... Panther." No. What. f*ck. Why.


"What Izuku meant to say," Hitoshi smoothly interrupted, shooting him a 'playful' glare, "Was that we were practicing our quirks together. He managed to overestimate his, um... Bone's ability to not break."

Wait. That could actually be believable, because his quirk... Actually did that. "Yeah, my quirk breaks my bones if I go too far. I was trying to go past my limits, and, as you can see, I did." This was followed with a self-deprecating laugh, face morphing into light-hearted regret with hardly any direction from him. Lying was getting far too easy.

(Lying was getting too easy, Izuku thinks after he literally just said that he was attacked by a panther. In his defense, that was a joke…. Maybe.)

Yamada let out a little breath, sitting on the edge of the sofa near Hitoshi. "Okay. I'm glad that Hitoshi opened up to you about his quirk. He used to get bullied for it, even though it's such a cool quirk? Oh- was it a problem for you? Sometimes when Hito's practicing it with me, I get a little out of it- y’know, dizzy and all."

"Yeah, it's fine for me. His quirk is really cool! Honestly, I don't get how anyone can be bullied for their quirks, since all quirks are amazing." Izuku responds vaguely, because he still has no idea what the quirk was that they were even talking about.

Hitoshi, meanwhile, looks somewhat pale- wide-eyed. His dad picked up on it- surprisingly, in Izuku’s eyes, because nobody ever picked up on his expressions- and changed the topic.

"Well, we can bring you to recovery girl, but you'll probably have to wait a few days. She's, uh... She's working on healing Shota, right now. Aizawa, I mean. There was an attack on the students." The man's voice was softer, now, eyes flicking between the two kids. "Everyone's mostly alright, a few minor injuries, all except for Thirteen and Aizawa. He'll... Um. He'll live, but his quirk is affected, and he's pretty much covered in casts. It would've been a lot worse without a vigilante at the scene, though- Ghost. Thirteen, on the other hand, is... Well, they'll recover, though I don't know the details. Especially with their anatomy affected by their quirk."

There were a couple moments of silence before they realized that Yamada was probably expecting them to be shocked by this news. And, y'know, wondering how villains could get into UA and all that jazz.

So they talked. Acted like this was all the worst tragedy that they've never heard of before, and pretended that the bathroom didn't have a heap of bloody Ghost uniform in it- hidden only by the closed door. It was still a warm house, still a safe house, but the presence of an adult made it a little tenser. A larger body, harder to fight against, someone who would be more-trusted if the kids ever spoke out about them.

In the end, there was silence again, and that was when Yamada turned to him. "I could drive you home on our way to the hospital, if you want, Midoriya? Before you ask, they aren't letting anyone but family in with Shota quite yet, but I'm sure Hitoshi here can text you when they do."

"Uh... Yeah, a ride to my house would be, um, nice. Thank you."

(Normally he would've declined, but really, how else was he going to get to his house when his head was woozy with painkillers and his body hardly worked?)

"Yeah, no problem, lil' listener." Yamada responded with a smile that was softer than his hero persona's. It felt like comfort, like something warm, and Izuku knew that he didn’t deserve it.

The only problem now was Inko, right? With the healing sorted? Hisashi would be worried about how he got his injuries, right? They wouldn't yell at him for it... Right?

As they piled into Yamada's nondescript yellow car, it was quiet.

Yeah. Yeah, this would go fine.

He was confident. After all, his parents made mistakes, but they weren’t bad.

This would go fine!


Ahdksha sorry for dragging one scene out into 3 chapters. Also, did you notice- the panther part is from this one comment. Sorry, I can't remember usernames, but I remember you <33. So thank you to them, and remember, whatever you comment isn't safe >:3c I may just put it into the story >:3c

The chapter's bad but at least it's long : ) thank you guys for all the reads and kudos!!! Cannot believe it <3333

AhEM and. As always. Feral is our God, feral is our savior, go pray to feral at their account @feraljuicecryptid. Also I'm so sorry feral for accidentally running off the rails with this, please stab me, I would be grateful

Chapter 34: f*ck. sh*t. The Angst Is Back


Sometimes things aquire a tenderness, a monstrous tenderness we don't expect from them. Monstrous tenderness gets tangled in with guilt differently than intentional cruelty. More deeply. And for longer. -Herta Muller

TW! Hisashi uses the r-slur in this chapter. Be safe!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

It didn't go fine.

Izuku sat in the alleyway beside his house, knees pulled up to his chest, darkness pressing down. Cold night air; cicadas chirping. Something empty in the way that his borrowed shoes sat upon icy concrete. The door was locked. The door to his house was locked, even though the lights were on inside, and- and they wouldn't let him in. He had knocked! He had knocked, but maybe he was being too annoying. Too loud. Izuku couldn't scale a brick wall that was smooth like this. Maybe they'd leave him out here for the whole night. Maybe it was intentional. A punishment for the worthless boy he'd proven himself to be.

It wasn't.... Intentional, though. Right?


Let's rewind a bit, why don't we? Rewind to Inko's stressed-tired-relieved face, her too-tight hug when she met him at the door. Something shuddered, a little bit, in her. Like the release of so much worry had the ability to shake the world. It didn't get rid of her tired eyes, her tentative demeanor, but rather gave strength to her appearance of a mother.

Even if she was hugging him when he probably had broken ribs, but she didn't know that.

Yamada met her at the door, introduced himself, and Izuku watched her practically push Yamada out of the way to get to Izuku. Her son. And they must've looked like the perfect family, because how could they not? Inko was a charming woman, smart and gifted in math and science and health-related things. When Hisashi rushed out of the house, too, it only added to the picture of a perfect family- a strong man who checked his son for anything hurt.

Once they got inside it was a different story.

(It was Izuku's fault, though. Because Yamada mentioned, in passing, that they were lucky Izuku wasn't present at the USJ. They were lucky that Izuku decided to go hang out with Shinsou.)

"I was so worried, Izuku, I just- I just, I'm so sorry.... I should have kept you home, are you alright? I just... Izuku, I'm sorry about all your friends..." Inko sniffled, eyes all watery and shining, trying futilely to blink them away as Yamada and Hitoshi drove away.

Watched them drive away. Watched the yellow car recede. It felt a little bit more alone.

"Honey, he skipped class. I think he's quite alright." Hisashi's voice was.... Colder, now? It was sharp, and hard, too- chipped from a block of ice. "He even put on all those stupid bandages to fool us! Huh, you think we're that stupid, Izuku?! Should I be offended?!"

"Uh- no, I just... I didn't, I was training my quirk with H- uh, Shinsou, I-"

"Ohh, the mind control boy." He hissed in response, eyes glinting unpleasantly. "Come inside so we can have a real talk."

(Izuku didn't want to. He really, really didn't want to, but since Inko was there, he wouldn't do anything, right? Right?)

He didn't really have a choice, though, did he? Lead inside like a dog on a leash? Adrenaline straight through his chest and stomach, but they wouldn't do anything to him. They wouldn't hit him or anything, they would never want him to be hurt. And plus, even if they hit him, they wouldn't leave bruises or anything, not when he was going to school with pro heroes.


Anyways, that- that wasn't the point. Just- he just stepped into the living room with his parents on either side of him, crowding like guards on a prisoner. Izuku just needed to continue walking, continue breathing, continue waking up every morning. If he could do nothing else, if he couldn't fight or hide or stop dissociating, at least he could focus on continuing.

"So.... Izuku." Hizashi started, and it had no right to send adrenaline down his spine like it did. "You can stop acting now. We're done. This isn't f*cking funny anymore, you know. It was cute at first, and I guess that's my fault for encouraging it, so I admit that. But it's stopped being cute. I think we all know you weren't really training."

The spit in his throat was too thick. Inko was hovering near the door while Izuku was crowded onto the couch. Presumably to make his dad seem even taller, and therefore, more intimidating. Funny. As if Izuku wasn’t already unreasonably terrified of this man who surely was harmless.

"Where- where, where... Where did you think I went?" He swallowed carefully, and instead tried to focus on how uncomfortably firm the couch was. He much preferred the Yamazawa's, actually.

(Fuuuuuuck, f*ck, f*ck f*ck f*ck, the back of his mind screamed. Izuku decidedly ignored it- before reminding it to stop cursing that much.)

The laugh that burst from Hisashi's mouth was almost incredulous, almost made his eyes flash in a way that made Izuku swallow shakily again. "You're gonna act stupid? Alright, okay. Fine. If you insist on acting like a goddamn retard, I can fill you in. I don't particularly care where you go as long as you attend school! Just be safe. I f*cking trusted that you would go to school, get good grades, and try your best. But what did I find out?! You were messing around with some mind-control freak. If you had asked- gotten permission, and not f*cking faked those stupid wounds... God, it even happened during an attack! How'd you know, huh? Did my little baby Izuku help the villains?! That's not who we raised you to be!"

He slammed a hand down on the table, then, the loud noise making Izuku flinch back for a half-second. "I'm not even disappointed anymore!"

The way he was insinuating that he was already disappointed made Izuku's eyes tear up just a little bit, not enough to normally be noticed, but... Well, it was noticed. Izuku said nothing- other than maybe a little bit of a sniffle- as Hisashi started to laugh. It wasn't cruel, exactly- because Hisashi could never be cruel, he was Izuku's dad.

If anything, perhaps a little mean. But he probably deserved it for being so stupid, for daring to lie to them. Honestly, they should do worse- he deserved worse.

His throat was tight- a stinging in his eyes that he desperately tried to wipe away.

"Oh really? You're gonna cry? Inko, would you look at this sh*t-" He wheezed through another laugh, almost holding his stomach. "He's not even faking well! Like, come on! If you're going to try to get me to pity you, at least f*cking act well!"

Inko sighed anxiously from the doorway, a little resigned sound. "Listen, I don't want to fight.... Guys, calm down, I'm not in the mood to fight. Let's just calm down, alright." But her voice was quiet and desperate and went mostly unnoticed.

This, as it happened, was what made Izuku snap. His mouth was open before he had a chance to think about what he was going to say. "Really? Really, Mom? You don't want us to fight? Tell that to the man f*cking yelling at me, not to me. This isn't fighting, this is called being yelled at while you cry!" His voice broke, just a little. "I just- I just think that you two could stand to be a bit better parents!" The last sentence was spat out with some mixture of hurt and hatred.

Hurt and hatred. Hurt and hatred. Funny how they twisted together, wasn't it? So sad and hurt and heart broken apart that your words come out like shattered glass, leaving your tongue tasting of blood. Sometimes things got so aching that it was hard to differentiate the hurt of why didn't anyone save me and the anger of why didn't you save me?

Hisashi's laughter broke off roughly as Izuku spoke, and now his face was the exact opposite of mirth. He waited for a few seconds as Izuku got control of his aching throat before speaking. "If you keep acting retarded, you're going to spend the night outside. We'll see how fast you sober up once you experience the real world."

Izuku- well, it was weird to think, but he wasn't really scared at the threat, which was stupid. It was just that Hisashi always sort of threatened to kick him out, casually, in almost-joking ways. So yeah, he'd heard it often enough, but it'd never been followed through on.

So instead of looking down, apologizing, steeling his face like he was supposed to, he just swallowed and stayed silent- tears still making slow tracks down his cheeks. Curled his fingers in the uncomfortable stiff-roughness of the sofa and blinked at the floor. He couldn't look at Hisashi's face right now, okay? Something so angular and starkly unfriendly was almost jarring after such softness at the Yamazawa's.

Weren't all families somewhat like this? Moms with their hesitant unwillingness to intervene, with their exhaustion and their worry and their love that is suffocating and not-quite-right? Fathers with their gentleness, with their humor, but then- with their adrenaline anger and sharp refusal to apologize?

Izuku felt so alone in this house.

He felt so alone and unreal in this room.

(The fabric of the sofa tethered him as everything was tense, and quiet, and worryingly TV-screen distant.)

"f*ck! Alright. Alright, you- just go." Hisashi- Father- Dad pointed to the door with a harshness, and Izuku's heart jumped to his throat. "You can come back in when you're composed and ready to be a real man."

A real man? He almost asked before realizing that this wasn't a debate. It was an order, and it was one right now. As much as Izuku was tired and doped-up on painkillers, he knew that if he stayed, then he had a higher chance of getting hurt. In his current state, that was a very bad idea.

So Izuku stumbled out the door, scraping his arm along the entranceway. It slammed shut behind him with a too-loud noise.

At least his shoes were on.

(Inko didn't even argue- didn't even say anything. Why didn't she say something?! Didn't she care? She did, didn't she? ...Didn't she?)

Well, now he was outside. Cool. This day had gone completely sideways! This entire day was just one thing after another, wasn't it? Izuku sighed, dragged a hand down his face, and then sat down on the steps. It took too much effort to stand, and his muscles were too-tired from the fighting anyways. The day was beginning to grow cooler, though the sun still shone down, and the concrete steps were pleasantly warm.

He was left to think, and process.

Sometimes his mind didn't process things right- it took him ten minutes, at least, to catch up with where he was right now. His mind was still back at the house, but now that he'd moved, it would take a little while to understand the difference. Like dissociation, or the slow syrup of his consciousness seeping down experiences.

So now he just breathed, and thought it through. I was kicked out. That was true. Although really, kicked out was a bit too serious way to describe it. They wanted him to come back, just once he was composed! And yeah, he had a broken arm and some other wounds that still ached and twinged and burned with every movement... But he could push through. He always had.

... What Hitsoshi had said earlier, about his parents being abusive... That wasn't true. Right? Izuku swallowed, glancing behind him at the door, then shook his head quickly. No. Of course not- that was just stupid! They had done so much for him- how dare he even consider that they were anything less than wonderful?

Then again, Hisashi did call him the r-slur a few times. And kicked him, but only a little bit, only once.

Still! It was selfish of him to want them to be perfect. Nobody was perfect! Houses where everyone felt happy all the time were unrealistic and only existed in storybooks. The only reason that they hadn't noticed Izuku's horrible mental health was because he was stupid and closed-off, not because they were neglectful!


(In reality- he wasn't so sure anymore. Maybe he was being neglected? But he didn't want to be taken away from his parents!! He didn't want to live anywhere else. Maybe he wished, sometimes, that there was a bigger hand that ruffled his hair kindly. An older voice to tell him that he would be okay. A body to protect and teach rather than to intimidate. But that would never happen, and Izuku loved his parents, despite all they did.)

Time passed- not slowly or quickly, it just did. Izuku had always had a hard time getting bored, so he just... Sat. Thought. His mind was too crazy to really get bored, even if he was left alone for hours at a time. People walked by from time to time, cars zooming past. He wondered where they were going- what their quirks were- what they were thinking about.

After a while, Izuku's throat had stopped burning, but he waited a few extra minutes anyway and tidied himself up. Maybe he should take off his sling, because they thought he was faking and...? No, that would just make it worse. Alright.

He tried the door, ready to walk in, emotions safely locked away. But.... But, it wouldn't open? He rattled the handle, trying to turn it in different ways, because maybe it was just stuck? After a little, though, he had to accept the fact that it was locked. The door was locked, and therefore, he was locked outside with it.

He tapped on the door, waited, tapped a little harder. They must've heard it- the lights were on, but they weren't opening the door? Just to make sure, he slammed his hand against the door with a loud bang, which.... Yeah, it was ignored.

Well. They would let him back in. They would! They probably just needed a little time, Izuku reasoned, and sat back down on the steps (which were not-so-warm anymore). The sun was going to set soon. It was growing cooler, and darker. Crickets and cicadas chirping. There was even a crow in the distance that cawed, once. Less and less people milled through as time went on.

And Izuku just tried not to have a panic attack.

It would be fine. He would be let back in. He scraped his hands against the rough steps a few times to calm himself, and then when that didn't work, he just ran a hand through his hair. Over and over, the soft short hair at the back of his neck. The movement made his ribs ache.

Something inside Izuku wanted to scream, or listen to too-loud music, or to run or hit a wall. Or maybe to cry, to go to sleep, to check on Aizawa, on the kids.

Izuku rested his head against the doorframe, and watched cars pass, and waited.

He waited for a while longer, and that's when he heard the door unlock.


...... OK so I know I said I would continue normal updates but we'll see how that goes, I'm lazy and we'll update when we update!! Once every week or two weeks depending I guess-

Feral came up with the idea and the plot, and I would probably die if they didn't exist, they're a God and probably created this plane. Their AO3: @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 35: *Muffled Mitski Music Plays In The Background*


The audience is only safe when the story isn't about them.

Slight tw, all might texts in caps! Also in reference to the title chapter, the mitski song is 100% class of 2013.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

A click, then the squeaking of the door opening. It really needed to be oiled, which Hisashi always complained about, but never actually did it. Of course, it wasn't Hisashi who met him outside, though.

"Izuku? Honey?" Inko poked her head out of the door, and her forehead wrinkled upon seeing him. "Why are you still out here? It's dark."

"... Well, seeing as the door was locked, I couldn't come back in." His voice was less angry than resigned, not as aggressive as it was before. More- accepting, of this? Most people don't understand, but you get used to it after a while. You get used to assuming that your parents just won't notice- won't realize. Won't care, really.

Her eyes were strange, flicking away. They looked darker in this lighting. "We- I, I thought.... Well-" A little strained laugh, "Hisashi must've forgotten... I thought you were up in your bedroom! I checked, but... Oh, I'm so sorry." She crouched by his side and enveloped him in a hug. Warm against the chill of the night.

Meanwhile, Izuku's ribs, arm, and just generally his entire body decided to express their dislike of this action. It was okay, though. It wasn't as if he would actually tell her about it, right? Reflex, at this point, to hide pain.

She brought him inside, more mindful of his arm than he would've expected. There wasn't any hot chocolate, nor any soft blankets draped over his shoulders. There was no talking of Hisashi, no mention of what had happened before. Hisashi just sat on the couch, watching TV, perfectly placid.

He didn't look at Izuku when they passed.

This always happened after family altercations, really. After all the emotions died down, it would be tucked away, never mentioned again. Nobody would dare suggest that something was wrong, because it wasn't- outside of those rare moments when they were so, so, so wrong that it hurt.

So the night went as it normally did- Izuku sat in his room and wasted time while Inko and Hisashi watched TV in silence outside his closed door. Except, well, he tended to be paranoid after these things happened. More careful, to make sure they didn't happen again, and preparing in case they did.

So yeah, he decided to make a... Well, emergency bag? What would you call it? A precaution? It was just in case, and it would be good for vigilante work, too! It wasn't made out of paranoia, or the belief that his parents would actually kick him out. It was just... Good to have a back up plan, right?

It wasn't much, just a spare backpack. They had gotten into the habit of just having a few extras, because during middle school, he went through one or two a month. It had put strain on their already-strained budget, but at least they got the cheap ones (unpatterned usually, sometimes with childish spiderman or All Might designs) that would've fallen apart anyways. The specific one that he chose was a nondescript black, simple and functional. It was one of the less cheap ones that he never had the confidence to wear- they'd be ruined anyways.

Inside was a blank notebook, some pens, some pencils. Granola bars. A hunting knife that Toga gave him, which was really cool. It was like a switchblade, except those were illegal, so instead it used a carson flipper- a sort of mechanism that made it easy to open quickly. A matte black, with a serrated part and the rest like a traditional knife.... Okay, yeah, he liked it way too much. That wasn't the point. Stuffed alongside it was a change of clothes, a couple thousand yen, a lighter, and a small length of cloth, among other things. You would be surprised at how much you can do with a knife, cloth, and a lighter.

Well.... It was just in case, he reasoned. It would be good for vigilante work, too! He could put medical supplies in there for future injuries... It was just in case. Kind of like how, when he was younger, he had a tin full of as much yen as he could spare. Just in case something happened. What he was preparing for, he didn't know, but better to be safe than sorry, right?

The bag was hidden in his closet, pain shooting up his ribs with every step with the extra weight. He was pretty sure he tore open a closing wound- he could tell, with the specific sharp pain. It was something he had grown to recognize. Hard to avoid re-opening the deeper cuts if he was training.

But this was fine. He sighed and collapsed on his bed, wincing. He would change the bandages later. Maybe he didn't have the best parents, but they were trying. Every time they did something 'bad', he would always get so sad- and angry, and empty. But... There were these periods of family bliss in between.

Did it make up for it? Did it matter if they really did love him?

He shook his head instead of answering those questions, buried his nose in his borrowed sweatshirt that still smelled of coffee and lavender. The 'abuse' wasn't even bad.

... Then why couldn't he stop thinking about it?


The next week or so was hard. Izuku wasn't sugarcoating it, okay? It was hard.

Hisashi didn't do anything much- well, other than passive-aggressively ignoring him, but that didn't count. Inko didn't yell at him. He didn't go out as Ghost, and he didn't go training, and he didn't do much else. School was out because of the USJ, too, so that meant no homework, and just time to recover... And write some analysis. But that was sort of the entire problem.

Every day was a whole lot of nothing, and he was sort of going insane.

He couldn't even train, because his f*ckin arm was broken. Izuku would've gone to recovery girl, but she was busy most of the time, working on a schedule of healing Aizawa and Thirteen as well as mandatory quirk breaks. Shinsou was designated lookout for any pauses in her schedule, since he was pretty much at the hospital with Aizawa all the time.

Meanwhile, Izuku just.... Well, mostly sat around in his room, to be honest. Wasted time on his computer, mostly on Youtube, learning Top 20 Shocking Facts About Donuts or other things that he would never use in the real world. Top 10 anime betrayals or otherwise, Izuku felt downright off-put.

So, obviously, he decided to try to annoy All Might into training him with a broken arm! What else was a boy to do, honestly? Izuku shook his head sagely. This was a fantastic idea, right?

All Might's name on his phone was still Crumpled Might from when Toshinori first put his number in. Izuku hadn't had the heart to change it when it was so true.

Crumpled Might

Hey mr toshinori :) <- Izu

If ur not busy, then we could train! <- Izu

Idk you're probably busy but just so you know I'm totally free and uninjured and ready for some boss battles sir <- Izu

I dont have a broken arm <- Izu


Why are you yelling,,,, toshinori,,,,,,,,, I Have Been Yelled At Enough In My Lifetime,,,,, <- Izu



Uh,, shouldn't you be doing your paperwork though? I'm not complaining but- shouldn't you figure out your reponsibilities to be a good role model....??? Or something?? <- Izu


Ok! :-) <- Izu

Crumpled Might -> WHAT IS ':-)'?

It's,,,,,, It's a smiley face,,,,,, turn your head to the side <- Izu

Crumpled Might -> OH!! I SEE! :-)

..... Ok. This is getting to me. To turn off caps lock,,,, press the little arrow button on the left side, it should go away <- Izu

Crumpled Might -> Ah. I see. Thank you young midoriya!! I will see you at the beach :-) :-)

Izuku sort of regretted teaching him smiley faces. He would regret it even more later, when All Might would refuse to send a text without a smiley face (or the rare frowny or angry face) accompanying it. It was sort of cursed, but on the bright side, Hitoshi thought it was hilarious.

As it was, he now had something to do! Heaving himself from bed was a challenge of its own, but he had pretty much gotten used to his body's constant screaming at this point. Even simple stuff like putting on clothing was a test to see how much pain he could avoid by twisting himself into strange positions!

(And yes, it was noon and he hadn't gotten out of bed yet. It was.... Self care. Yep. Not a depressive episode. He was fine.... Even if the new cuts said otherwise. Damn. Yep, even with his injuries from the USJ.)

It was a long walk, though it was easy enough to slip out the door. Hisashi pretty much ignored him, as he had taken to doing, while Inko yelled 'be safe' as the door slammed shut. Outside it was beginning to grow colder, but it was fine- he was used to wearing far too many layers of clothing. A habit, from being cold all the time.

So cold. So, so cold.

But other than that angst! Izuku shook his head a bit sharply and focused on the way that his shoes hit the concrete, a bit worn and fraying at the edges. There was a hole in the top of them, and although Inko always bought him clothes when he needed it, always bought him new shoes without him asking, he liked these better. The comfort of the same shoes he'd always worn, the same path he always took. Routine. To some it was boring, he was sure, but... Without routine, things got messy and blurry and all tangled-up. Static and bright sour candy laces.

The beach looked much better these days. It was less garbage and shiny metal wrappers, the smell of dog sh*t and rotten food. Before, there was almost no sand showing, but now the fine white grains laid like silk. No smell except for the salty humidity that comes with beaches.

And Toshinori, sitting on a rickety wooden bench, the silhouette peaceful against blue blue sky and the gently crashing waves. A sudden moment of nostalgia before he shook it away and went to join his mentor.

"Hey! Sorry it took so long for me to get here."

The man turned, a smile on his face as he patted the bench next to him. The moment he saw Izuku, though, his eyes widened. "My boy! What happened?" Toshinori's hands moved anxiously around, as if trying to help but doing absolutely nothing anyway.

"A panther." Izuku said tiredly. He continued before All Might could question him. "Anyways, that doesn't matter. I'm bored, so can we train? It would be a good challenge to try to fight without my arm, because I could be hurt like that in battle."

".... Young Midoriya." Toshinori sighed, "We're not going to be training you with a broken arm."

"It's not broken! It's fractured!" Izuku blatantly lied with zero guilt, but nevertheless, All Might didn't look cowed. Strange, he had no problem with breaking Izuku's will to live before! Adults were weird like that. They easily broke your heart, soul, and vision of the future, but looked horrified when you suggest that they should just hit you instead.

Toshinori shot a side-eye glance at him, and after a few moments, let out a breath. "I'm not training you today, except maybe a couple stretches. You don't have to go home, though. There are a couple cafes near here- we haven't talked in a while, and you need some more muscle on you."

"Uh, but, I don't have any money?"

"That's fine. I'll pay."

And through Izuku's arguments, Toshinori did end up paying. Granted, Izuku purposefully chose the least expensive item on the menu, but he didn't seem to notice. They settled on a small shop painted a pleasant sage green, with wood floor and homey shaggy rugs. It was nice. Much nicer than at home, even if the conversation was a tad awkward.

Toshinori ordered a green tea, and sadly, forced Izuku to eat something. It was probably a good idea, seeing as Izuku hadn't really had food other than granola bars lately (yes, super healthy, he knew- he was just lazy, honestly). Nonetheless it was frustrating, but at least Katsudon was cheap here!

"So." The man said as soon as their food arrived, changing the subject from the previous one about quirks. "I have to ask, and I'm sorry if I'm wrong, but are you safe at home?" His voice was soft, gentle, and maybe that's what made it worse. Hadn't he asked this before?

"Uh, yeah?"

His face was less sharp now- more like gentle gentle eyes searching Izuku’s. "My boy. I've seen you very hurt across our training numerous times, and I know you say you're safe, but sometimes kids lie just to protect themselves. I won't be mad if you lied before. There are different kinds of abuse, too- neglect, physical, emotional. You don't deserve to be hurt."

Izuku couldn't help but let the corners of his mouth turn up in a bit of a smile. It wasn't fake, no, but he couldn't feel the emotion behind it. Maybe sadness? "I know, sir. I'm safe at home."

Because he was. He is. Mostly. And besides, what's the use of telling someone if there's no guarantee that he really will be safe afterwards? He's thought about it. But foster care seems worse, more unpredictable than this one home. At least he knows his parents, and he knows where he stands, and what to expect. If there was a guarantee, maybe he'd tell someone.

But he didn't. And he doesn't.

The rest of the visit went quietly, peacefully, and Izuku wished he could've stayed longer. The katsudon was perfect and warm, the conversation became easier and more humorous. It was sunny and soft, and he wished that every part of his life was like this. He wished that he could just smile with Hitoshi or drink tea with Toshinori or fight in tandem with Aizawa for the rest of his life.

But he went home soon anyway. School would start tomorrow, at least- on a Wednesday, actually. They wanted the teachers to have more time to rest. Back to math (torture), homework (torture), English (torture), and quirk study (not torture).

All good things end, Izuku knew, and he knew it well.

All good things end.


I messed up my updating schedule :D anyways
Only 5(ish) more chapters until Izuku gets away from his parents!!! I can't believe we're almost there already-
Anyways!! If you're not too bothered, I'm actually curious, what age do you think I am?
As always we bow down to feral, our God and savior. @feraljuicecryptid

Chapter 36


Never, never tell them. Try and remember that. Never tell anyone anything ever. Never tell anyone anything ever again. -Ernest Hemingway (this quote is my favorite haha)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

"Hey, lil' listeners- and Shota, of course!"

Aizawa sighed, moving a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. They had just finished a lecture on the importance of calming victims in hero work, which meant that there were 10 minutes left in class where Izuku could relax. Aizawa could sleep, Kaminari could mini-shock Bakugou until they got chased around the classroom. But then Yamada had to come in, and ruin it.

"Now, I don't mean to intrude on-" Yamada paused to take an exaggerated look at the blank whiteboard, "Whatever you're doing, but! I have been told to gather a certain listener!"

"Get to the point, Hisashi."

He laughed at Aizawa's sour mood, which was probably not a good plan. But Izuku supposed since they were married, Aizawa wouldn't kill him... Probably. "I'm here to collect Bakugou Katsuki!! I have a certain delivery for him." The last sentence was delivered with a wink, something that made the 'delivery' seem unnecessarily suspicious.

Drugs? Izuku's mind unhelpfully guessed.

Bakugou, on the other hand, tensed up a little bit, and hardly even grumbled as he left the room.

Aizawa left soon, too, to 'get some coffee'. Izuku suspected he was just going to take a nap.

Though most people were quiet in the time that it took for Bakugou and Yamada to come back, there was hardly even the murmur of voices outside the door. Probably not for lack of Bakugou being f*cking loud, but that the walls in UA were soundproof. It made sense, seeing as the work or activities done were sometimes... Violent, to say the least. Or having to do with quirk experiments. At least this way, with walls that had extra layers, the students wouldn't blow a hole in the school.

Well. At least most of the students.

The point was that Izuku had a lot of things to ponder when Bakugou came back, mainly what they were talking about, and the construction of the school. Therefore, he had slipped back into a muttering habit. In middle schoolhe had often tried to bite his lip to stop this habit, but lo and behold, that became a habit too. He hadn't stopped muttering, really, only started letting out muffled words that to some could be offensive.

Right. It's pretty obvious where this is going.

Bakugou walked in, seething, though his ears were red at the tips, and... Oh. There was something in his ears, too, if Izuku was seeing right. They were small, that was for sure, but... Hearing aids? With Bakugou's quirk it made sense, especially seeing how he almost destroyed Izuku's hearing as a kid.

So yeah, Izuku was muttering about Bakugou. Which Bakugou heard.

"What the hell?!" The boy was yelling before Izuku could even comprehend what was happening. Because he hadn't even realized what he was doing wrong. Hadn't even noticed he was muttering.

"I didn't ask for these f*ckin' things! Stop f*ckin' muttering about me! I know they look stupid! But you have no right to say that, Deku!"

Izuku blinked a few times, truly confused, before Bakugou was grabbing him by the front of his shirt. "Don't make fun of me!"

"I'm not making fun of you! Of course, there are a lot of things to make fun of-" Damn it, he didn't mean to say that, the class clown was coming backnowof all times- "But not your hearing aids! You thinkIof all people would be ableist-"

(Bakugou almost made Izuku deaf for a very short time in middle school, something that was... Avoided. Not brought up often. He wore hearing aids for about a month, learning JSL in the meantime, while his mother tried to find a doctor with a healing quirk willing to work with a quirkless kid. Most of them believed Izuku would just be a waste of time, but thankfully, he got his hearing back. It was a weird month. Quiet. Hopeless. His dreams almostcrushed.)

At this the boy clenched his teeth and looked away, storming to sit down in his seat. The rest of the class sat in stunned silence for about one second before the noise erupted out.

"What's ableism-"

"Midoriya, that was extremely out of line! Apologize immedi-"

"I knew it, Midoriya's a villain, I didn't see him at the USJ either way-"

"He wasn't at the USJ?"

"Kaminari, I swear to Kami, shut your mouth-"

"Midoriya's not that bad."

It was chaos and noise, but Izuku picked up his own name far far too much. It had been awhile since he had last been called a villain. In middle school, they usually tended to go for the 'too useless to even be a villain', but sometimes, the bullies theorized he would just snap. They said that becoming a low-level criminal was the best that he could hope for.

The words made something in his chest collapse, breaths a little harder. He didn't know the emotion that this entailed- maybe sadness, or lack-of-hope, or... Betrayal? No, surely not something as dramatic as the wordbetrayalwas.

"Wait," Uraraka said a bit loudly in all of the chatter- a few people quieted to listen. "He's hurt, you guys. Are you blind? He's- his arm is straight up broken, and his nose is bandaged, and he's sitting weird. If you're gonna accuse him of something, then don't accuse him of being a villain, because I'm sure that he couldn't have been at the USJ with those wounds."

At that people nodded, either relieved or grudgingly.

"Wait, but didn't that vigilante guy have the same sorts of wounds...?" Kaminari asked from the back, and apparently life hated Izuku, so people actually paid attention to them for once. Fantastic.

Iida's eyebrows furrowed as he turned to Izuku from where he was talking with Momo. "... Actually, yes. What do you have to say for yourself, Midoriya?"

"Hey, hey, you guys." Izuku laughed, raising an eyebrow, even though he was dying inside. "I know I'm cool, but I'd never actually break the law like that. I'm looking to become a hero and get girls, not end up in jail!" While he spoke, he casually turned his back to the wall, just in case someone tried to be violent.

"Don't avoid the question-"

Hitoshi sighed loudly, loud enough that the people near fell silent. "Shut the f*ck up. One, Ghost is probably dead. You can't survive that. Two, Iz- Midoriya's far too much of a dumbass to fightanyone,let alone the leader of a villain group. And three, Aizawa has been standing at the doorway for three seconds, and he's going to yell at us if we don't pay attention."

Everyone shivered at the notion of Aizawa yelling, and quickly went back to their seats.

(And meanwhile, Izuku shot Hitoshi a thankful look. They were getting far too close to the truth.)

The man had a largemug of coffee, patterned with cats, but nobody was brave enough to comment. More importantly, he had new bandages wrapped up his neck and arms, and moved stiffly with pain. Guilt moved like a wave up into Izuku's throat, stinging nettle catching on each vein.

"Alright, gremlin children, it's time to do your work. Get out those papers we worked on last Friday."

"Sensei, I lost mine! Also, we aren't children."

"... Dammit. Get a new one from my desk. And you're right, you're not children. Gremlin toddlers-"

The class exploded in noise again, and Izuku faded into the background.


"Uh, sensei?" Izuku started quietly, awkwardly. He had been hovering at the man's desk for a minute, debating with himself whether it was worth it to talk to the man. It was stupid, but Izuku sort of wanted more affirmation that Aizawa was okay? At least if he spoke, then he could apologize.

Apologize for not being there.

Right- because Aizawa didn't know that Izuku was there. Because Aizawa thought that Izuku was just busy messing around, instead of helping hisclass at the USJ.

"What do you want." The man responded without even looking up from the papers he was grading, and though he acted like this with everyone, somehow it felt like a declaration of annoyance. About how Izuku was useless, and how he was due to f*ck everything up. He always ruined everything by accident, and that's what made it worse-

"Um," He interrupted his thoughts, because honestly he was done thinking, "Are you okay?"

Of course he's not okay, you idiot. He is covered in bandages.

"I mean to say that, uh... It's. I'm worried, I guess, which is kinda stupid because I wasn't even there. But do you know when you're going to heal? How bad was it? Did it affect your quirk..?" He trailed off at the end because Aizawa was holding a hand up as if to saystop, child.

"Shush. I'm going to heal within a few weeks, as it wasn't too bad. I had a few... Allies, of sorts, helping at the USJ. It isn't your fault that you were absent. My quirk is completely fine, Midoriya. I appreciate your worry but it isn't warranted." His voice was low, now, too, a comforting rumble that would reverberate through a chest. It was rare that the man attempted to make eye contact, a fact which Izuku was grateful for, but now he did- for a couple of seconds, at least.

Izuku blinked back and tried not to pay attention to the healing scar on Aizawa's cheek. "I know... I just- uh, yeah, well. I dunno." He scratched a hand along the back of his neck. It felt incomplete, still, it felt like he needed toreally know.Not just the sort-of-know of a math test two days after you learn the material. It was stupid, but some part of him wanted tomake sure. To be told, over and over, that yes his teacher was fine, yes Aizawa was going to be okay, yes yes it was all okay now.

After the USJ he hadn't gotten a whole lot of closure- sure, there were mandatory therapy appointments set up for every child there, but it wasn't... It wasn't the pure, close human connection that Izuku really wanted. He hadn't had his appointment yet- it was in a week or two, actually. But he already knew it wouldn't get rid of the nightmares. It wouldn't simulate some bigger, calloused hand running through his hair. It wouldn't erasethe neglect of his parents, or the nightmares of worse things all mixed up.

A gentle rap of knuckles on Aizawa's own desk to bring Izuku's eyes up to the man. To startle out of his thoughts again. "Kid. It's alright." And oh- gentle eyes, too, dark but warm. Solid and stable and steadying. Something... Relaxing, almost, like acreature curling up underneath a bigger animal's belly. "I'm alright. We're okay. The USJ is over, and the Nomu- the creature that was with the villains- is gone. I'm sure you've heard the inflated story on the news, but really. Midoriya, Recovery Girl is healing me on a schedule, and I'll be just fine."

Suddenly his throat a little stinging, Izuku just nodded. Swallowed, took a breath to hopefully ward away the touched feeling. "Okay. Okay."

"We're fine. Yeah? Repeat after me:nobody was killed."

Izuku had to bite the inside of his mouth harshly to keep emotion from intruding on his words. "Nobody was killed," He repeated.

"I am not dead. All the damage done is fixable."

"I am not dead." He managed that part, but with... The softness? The care? Of Aizawa's demeanor, his voice cracked a little bit on the second sentence. Because it might've been his mental state, but he always kind of believed that he wasn't fixable. Izuku was broken. It wasn't what Sensei was talking about, but it touched him anyway. "All- uh, all the d-damage done is fixable."

Aizawa smiled, just a little bit, then. A quirk of lips, an almost-imperceptible nod."Good. Now, while you aren't dead, youareinjured. Would you like to tell me how that happened?"

".... No, not really."

"Let me rephrase that. Tell me what happened." He said, raising an eyebrow.

Izuku awkwardly smiled. "Um... Later? I just- well, it's. I can't, right now. I want to, and I will!" Maybe that was a lie, but whatever. "Just later. Just, um... Yeah."

Aizawa looked at him for a moment, then sighed. "Yeah, fine. I'll let you avoid the question for now, but I'm holding you to that. The only reason I'm not hounding on you is that Nedzu wants to see you, and I'll bet he's getting tired of waiting. Normally I would love to annoy him, but he's... Dangerously hyper whenever he's bored."

"Ah. Okay."


"B... Bye??" Izuku said, awkwardly, because he wasn't sure how to end conversations.

Aizawa snorted. "Bye."


@feraljuicecryptid came up with the idea and much of the plot. <3 to them!

guys you guessed at least like 5 years older most of the time,,, should I be flattered? anyway, my updating schedule is officially ruined, and I'll just,,,,, update randomly,,,, every 3 weeks or so?? Who knows :)
edit: guys!!!!! 100,000 words???? Im!!! aa :')

Chapter 37: The Author Is Not A Month Late Why Would You Say That, They're Innocent I Swear


My God, My God, whose performance am I watching? How many people am I? Who am I? What is this space between myself and myself? -Fernando Pessoa

alternate title: *Wii Music*

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Midoriya. It’s been a while.” The mouse- dog- chimera- whatever, smiled a bit too wide, a bit too happy to see him. It had, indeed, been a while, and it was customary to greet whoever was entering the office, but damn if his smile wasn’t creepy.

“Uh, yeah.” Izuku said in response, because honestly, he didn’t know what else to say. The office was the same as it always had been, just as it had been the last time- clean, a little cold, and smelling strongly of tea.

… Oolong? Yeah, but with a mix of something- chamomile? That sounded right. It was calming, or rather, it should’ve been. If not for the fact that Izuku had absolutely zero ideas about why Nedzu wanted him here.

He was gestured warmly onto the couch facing Nedzu’s desk, and poured a cup of light flowery-smelling tea that steamed from a delicate cup. Too delicate, and way too pretty, so Izuku didn’t dare pick it up. Was this an intimidation tactic or what-

Oh f*ck, body language, right, he was supposed to have a handle on what his body was saying…. But oh well. It wasn’t as if he had the energy for that, no- he hardly had enough energy to keep breathing most of the time.

Numb and tired and- the air, chilly yet not cold at all, shivering and wondering why the hell he was so cold these days. Panic of having someone in front of you expecting something, someone you are not- smarter, quicker, more interesting. Without shaky hands and a shaky voice. He wasn’t built well, maybe. A cloth doll that had been standing for too long on its own- seams stitched together falling apart.

Nevertheless he fidgeted aimlessly and waited for Nedzu to speak. It wasn’t his choice if he wanted to be here or not. Most things were not his choice, anyway.

A few moments passed. They might've been awkward, but he wasn't paying enough attention to notice, and Nedzu seemed to be busy shuffling the pile of papers on his desk. It was actually quite a funny thing to watch, the rat's paws managing things that seemed much larger than they really were.

While Izuku was staring almost... Wonderously, deliriously, and very, very tiredly at the papers being shuffled, Nedzu began to talk. It took a few too-long moments to get his attention. Don't judge him, he was stressed. And tired. And probably depressed.

"We need to talk about your masks."

Izuku blinked, still not all the way there. He was pretty sure he had somehow lost some brain cells. "My masks? Like.... Emotional, physical....."

Maybe it was a joke. Maybe it was just a painfully true statement. Either way, nobody laughed.

Nedzu took a sip of his tea. Izuku.... Just wondered how he was managing to hold the cup, because he didn't think paws worked that way? "I'm speaking about the emotional aspects. Everyone has masks, of course, even I do! And it's quite helpful as a hero, you know, to have different personas for your hero and personal lives. You're... A conundrum, I'd say. You keep slipping up. But it seems as if... There isn't a real you that you've shown so far. Interesting, interesting."

A hum, light and airy and uncaring, before he continued. "Really, it's curious that you think that you've done a good job concealing it all. But I suppose that's what you're here for. To learn."

Izuku bit his tongue as hard as he could manage.Nedzu thinks I'm a villain? Or personality-less? What has he seen- is he referring to Ghost, or to the class clown? Both? Neither? What does he know-

"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about, sir," He responded before he could think anymore, an easy grin finding its way onto his face as he leaned back in the annoyingly comfortable chair. Knowing the creature, the comfort would just be to lull people into a sense of false security. "I hide things, yeah, but with all due respect? I'm a teenager." A snort, playful raise of one eyebrow.

Ah yes, defaulting to the class clown when he was nervous, what an amazing decision in this conversation.

The rat took another sip of his tea before placing it down with the delicate, pretty clinkof china-on-china. "There you go again. Please don't pretend there's nothing wrong, it sort of goes against the purpose. What you did there was the smile- real ones are immediate, and though yours was pretty well-executed, fake smiles come about .3 seconds later. You can catch it if you try." The tone was pleasant, as if between friends.

..... As if between friends. Funny. Izuku had never really had friends, so he wouldn't know how to interact either way. Except... Wait, he did now, didn't he? Hitoshi. Weird thing to think, to remind himself of after all this time. A change from thinking of himself as the loner, the victim, the last bottom-of-the-barrel scrape for years and years and years. Foreign.

His mind was wandering off. It was okay. That was normal lately. He tuned back in.

"I've read that, actually. But, uh... Then how can you make it more authentic?" It was a question to avoid the real anxiety ofdoes he know I'm a vigilante,but also some sort of curiousity.

"Feel it as if it's real," Nedzu suggested with a grin, furry paws once again grasping the delicate rose-patterned china. "It's not acting if you feel it. This tactic works well against truth quirks, too- I've experimented with it with Tsukauchi. If you make it a habit to mold yourself to your own ideals, well, you can become anyone you want."

Izuku blinked.

"Uh. And how do you do that, exactly?"

"Well, it's quite simple, really. Do what the ideal version of you would do, feel what they would feel, and think what they would think. For example, if you wanted to pretend you were happy to be in this office with me-"

Izuku felt extremely called out, honestly.

"Then you would... Hype yourself up, is the phrase. Pretend until it becomes a truth."

He couldn't help himself. He snorted. "So, fake it 'til you make it, but fancy version this time?"

Nedzu laughed, too, or presumablyhe did? 'Laugh' was sort of a loose word, really- kind of, it was a... Growling chatter in the back of his throat, but similar enough to a laugh that you could guess what he was trying to do. Spoiler alert, it was way creepier than it needed to be.

"Of a sort, I suppose. But you do know, a child isn't supposed to have as many masks as you."

Izuku clenched his teeth for half a second, scraping his tongue against the sharp edge. "With all due respect, sir, life is not a game of chess. It's a game of poker, and whoever shows weakness first is taken advantage of with no sympathy. Masks are not only useful, they're essential."

... That sounded smart, right? Yeah. Right....? Yeah, yeah, it did, sure, let's go with that. More than that: there was anger in it, hidden, like always. Life shouldn't be a game at all, in Izuku's eyes. It should be soft-quiet, the sunlight-warmed fur feeling he got sometimes. Home and safe and routine and easy familiarity. Not some cold-hard game of masks and analysis and blood. But isn't that what it always turned out to be in the end, anyway?

"Hm. Interesting."

I know, I'm so interesting, Izuku thought sarcastically as he watched the glint in the rat's eye. "Thank you, I am super cool and all, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded of such."

There was silence for a half a beat while Nedzu took a sip of tea- holding eye contact the entire time. Izuku wasn't sure if it was intimidating or just really, really weird.

"You're young. Far too young, and I know I've said this, but children usually don't develop such masks unless they have trauma. I know trauma- I lived in a horrible place for a while, and I have scars for it." His paw twitched up, as if to touch the scar running through his eye, but it quickly stilled. "My point- well, my point is that I see you, Izuku Midoriya, but I do wonder. Where's all that trauma coming from? And am I missing a mask or two?"

Izuku didn't know what to do, so he laughed nervously and finger-gunned.

Listen, he didn't have any social skills, and he knew it, okay. But at least he could've said something. Instead, nope, reverting back to the classic- a nervous laugh and some finger-gunning. Great job,you f*cking dumbass. No intelligent answer in this conversation? Am I f*cking stupid?

"It's alright, no need to answer." Nedzu said a bit too agreeably, with a bit too wide of a smile. "I can figure it out myself."

They spoke for a while longer, transitioning from heavy topics into lighter ones, studying together the intricacies of detecting lies and playing the long game of analysis- among other things. Surprisingly, his missing homework was not once mentioned. Somehow he had expected to be yelled at least once.

But still- when he left he was left feeling shaky and strangely raw, like someone had peeled back an old scab just to see the wound beneath.Masks.Yeah, he had them, far too many. He had all his life. At this point he wasn't really sure who he was beneath them. A nameless, faceless consciousness that had invaded his body with no connection to it? Was he Ghost, or Izuku, or Midoriya, or something else entirely?

Underneath it all the only thing he could really trace tohimselfwere the scars on his thighs. They didn't make him feel better or worse about himself, just present. Like friends, in a way, that would stay forever.

TheIzukuthat he was at home was surely a mask, and at school, too. Ghost plastered up some weak parts of himself, so that was a mask too. Maybe he was true with Hitoshi, but then again, maybe not.

He shook it off, pressed his tongue against his teeth a little bit hard to scrape.

Taste the blood, taste the only realness of himself he had ever really had.


*slides in, pretending nothing happened with my updating schedule* hiiii bestieeessss,,,,,
I'm not abandoning this but I have like 4 pages of government homework every day and 3 D's in my classes so uh ,,, im just vibin,,, chapters will probably be very sporadic until I get my sh*t together! on the bright side i might get put on depression meds :D maybe theyll give me the motivation to write lol
but you didnt ask for the novel on my life,,, anyways thanks for reading!! hope I haven't completely ruined your interest yet ^^

pls don't yell at me for the short chapter i wrote it in like 2 days :') and my parents yell at me enough *finger guns*

and of course. credit to feral, our lord, our savior, an angel, grace, wonderful creative mind that basically made the plot and the characters and everything. i love them /p thank you feral <3

Chapter 38: I Ain't Never Seen One Good Father


(It) sings that I am beautiful, sings that I am home. That I can be fully consumed by what loves me. -MAG32

CW for hisashi being a dick.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku stared a bit numbly at the length of bandage laying like a dead snake on his desk. It was Eri's. It had been months now.

Don't get him wrong: he never forgot. Kami, no, no, never. He thought about the bandages every time he sat down at his desk, the guilt lapping up his throat. It was normally a habit of his to avoid anything that made him feel negative emotions, but lo and behold, avoiding it made him feel even worse.

... Not like it was anything but his fault, though.Oh no, I feel guilty because I didn't save an abused child I promised to save.Well yeah, dude, of course you do. He deserved the guilt. He deserved worse. If he told Hitoshi, he would agree. Izuku had done something horrible and now he needed to bepunished.

But hey, when he searched 'how to punish myself' on google, only articles on why that was a bad idea came up. So. He would have to solve it by saving Eri.

(And what a sick thought that was. Did he not care about the actual child?Only about his own emotions?? What the f*ck waswrongwith him?)

He had enough information, anyway. The guy was basically a mob boss who had a five-finger-touch quirk. Presumably a destructiveone, seeing as people seemed to be scared of him... That was a theme nowadays, villains with destructive fiver-finger-touch quirks. Anyway.The maneither had a disease sensitive to cross-contamination, hated germs, or both. Izuku's notebook was open on his desk again recently, with a page on the man. A sketch, and the little information he had on both him and Eri.

Sadly though,according to the internet, 'creepy germaphobe abusive man mustafu japan' was not a very common search. There was, however, a helpful number tocall the abuse hotline!As much as he appreciated it, did anyone ever really call those numbers that google gave out when you searched concerning things?

... He hoped they did, but he doubted it, if they were anything like him.

Whatever. He would ask Eraser about the dude on patrol later. Maybe he had some more information. Because Izukuwouldrescue Eri this month, no matter what. He wouldn't go back on his promise.
He had done that enough these days.

It was night anyway, and he hadn't gone out in a while, so why not go out as Ghost? Hitoshi didn't have to know, and his ribs were, like,mostly healed. Kind of. And his arm... Yeah, okay, so it was a bad idea. But maybe he wouldn't have to fight. He needed to talk to Aizawa anyway, figure out what he was going to do about Eri.

Chilly outside. It was only about midnight, so a bit surprising. A quick silent-walk to the door (but Hisashi was out, again, so it didn't matter all that much), then remembering his costume and turning right back inside. He threw on his costume Toga made, except left the jacket because it just got in the way. Then he waswinding throughout alleyways for a few blocks. He stopped by Brindle and the kittens for a moment and appreciated how big they were getting- seriously,so fluffy- and fed them, of course.

Then he, sort of... It was really weird to explain, and it made him sound like a creep, but he used the fire escape of an apartment building to climb onto the roof. Yes, he accidentally looked in some people's windows, and made eye contact like once. It was very, very, very awkward.

At least they didn't scream. They just wrinkled their brow, confused, a little horrified, mouth slightly open as if to say 'what the actual f*ck'.

Izuku eased the curtains shut so that they didn't have to make any more eye contact, and then continued to climb. It was, quite possibly, one of the most chaotic moments he had been in as a vigilante (other than the famous fast food selfie).

So his plan was to basically just sit there and wait for Eraserhead to notice him on top of a building, which was actually pretty stupid. Because, one, the roof was hard and uncomfortable, two, he didn't know if the man was patrolling after all those injuries, and three, being vulnerable and out in the open is just a bad idea.

At least the sky was pretty. Black and specked with stars;paint flecked. At least the cold and rough of the roof kept him in the moment and pushed away the heaviness just a little.

Eri could be dead, and here you are staring at the sky,some thought murmured, and it was right. Izuku bit his tongue, looking around for a second, then cursed. He didn't bring his phone, because of course he didn't- it was just asking for it to be burnt or cracked to bring it on patrol. But he needed to text or call Eraser to figure this out.

Ugh. Back home again, then. At least walkingdown stairs was easier than walking up them. His fingertips were becoming a little numb with cold, though. Thanks, Toga, for thefingerless gloves,they'retotallyuseful. Honestly, he should've used a different pair. As 'aesthetic' as these were, fingerprints and frostbite were still two very real problems.

So he ran back down the streets, cursing quietly from time to time- cold air stinging the inside of his throat, mask sucked against his face with every breath. And with every step, too, pain ripped claws down his side and arm. Yes, this was stupid, but comeon.He would rather be stupid than ignore a child's pain for another day... Like he had done for months.If anything, hedeservedthe pain-

Nope. Not going down that rabbit hole.

Right. Once he got inside, he would call Eraser, and the man would probably panic, because Izuku never called. But sacrifices needed to be made, alright. His mind was occupied while unlocking the door, and really, it was understandable. Sometimes guilt came down hard, the feeling of being avillain, and the need for repentance.

The click, slipping inside, slipping off his shoes before taking a step towards the staircase, preoccupied, not paying attention, comfortable, assuming-

"What thef*ckare you wearing."

Grating voice, grating like wood with a shredder, uneven splinters that embedded into your skin for days to come. Harsh. Unfriendly. It was obvious by now who it belonged to, because who else would it be? Of course it would be the man who constantly ranted about how he hated people who 'flaunted' their weak quirks, hated people who broke the law, hated those 'fake heroes' who roamed the streets.

Izuku's blood rushed to his head as he turned around, adrenaline already filling up his chest with some sort of spark. Tingling and breath-catching and setting his skin alight at the very edges. "Ah. Dad, I was just-"

Some sort of... Disgust, maybe, or barely-held-back rage, flared Hisashi's nostrils. He was normally an admittedly attractive man, for his age at least- sharp features, a mischievous air. But in that moment he looked monstrous, ugly, grotesque. Standing above with his warped shadow. The monster creaking up the stairs at night. "Justwhat,exactly,son?"

And again, the wordsonwas spatlike a distasteful bit of stalemeat.

"... I was..." f*ck, f*ck,f*ckhis hands were shaking he needed an excuseright now,say something, just sayanything- "I was going out with Shinsou, actually, and he thought it would be fun to skateboard at night.Y'know, it's- uh, aesthetic? It's a thing people are doing nowadays, y'know. And I needed my coolest outfit, y'know, and I was cosplaying..?And it isn't that late, so I figured you wouldn't care, um, sorry?"

Better than nothing, right? Better than staying silent?Izuku stared at the spot between Hisashi's eyes blankly and tried not to pay any attention to how everynerve in his body was screaming bloody murder.

"With that mask on? With thespecificoutfit I know is credited to a certain vigilante? Excuse me, Izuku, but I'm not as stupid as you seem to think I am."

"I don't think you're stupid-"

A hand slammed a bit too close to Izuku's face, flinching away with arms instinctively flying halfway up. "Don'tf*ck with me!" The words were growled, and Hisashi's eyes- associated with warmth, care, or the attempts of such- were just the same as always. They weren't colder. That wasn't a thing to detect. It was the same face of the man who was called Dad.

Maybe that's what hurt the most, in the end.

"I'm not- I swear, I'm-"

"Shut the f*ck up. Go to your room. I'm not dealing with this today." Hisashiclenched his jaw and breathed deep through his nose, as if some great picture of self-control.

Izuku didn't wait to comply.

Not like he slept that night, anyway. He didn't feel like texting Aizawa anymore- somehow scared that the man wouldknowabout Hisashi- weird, because there wasn't anything to know, anyway. It was Izuku's fault. His- hisdadof all people, finding out? How could Izuku have let this happen?How stupid must he be??

It was easy enough just to strip off the costume with shaky hands and climb into bed, briefly thinking of his razor before shaking his head. Better to save it for tomorrow, when things would be worse. That way he would have an excuse to go deeper.

He didn't sleep much that night. But when did he ever? After an hour or two, he got up. Walked around a bit, as quietly as he could- glanced at his phone to consider texting Shinsou. In the end the only thing he did was stress... And, for a period of time, look through his Backpack Of Being Kicked Out (tm). Y'know... Just in case, right? At least Hisashi was nice enough to let him stay the night, but there was no guarantee about the next morning.

Morning came too fast. Too fast. Didn't it always? He didn't want it to come- he didn't want to get out of bed- he didn't want to face Hisashi again. The moment the sun rose he sat half-frozen in his sheets, afraid to move, afraid to breathe too loudly. It was Izuku's fault, so why was he scared? The worst that would happen is being kicked out, maybe yelled at, maybe hit a little. And that was fine! He knew how to deal with all of that, so why was he still scared?

After all, it's not like Hisashi would kill him, right?


*slides in after a month of inactivity * yo. heres your monthly dose of suffering *disappears into the void *

as always, credit to feral!!! I love them and you all should worship them!!!

Chapter 39: Everything Goes To sh*t (Thanks A Lot Hisashi)


im scared of how many things i have in my inbox so ive decided to not answer any of them <3
AHEM but anyway. TW for graphic description of self harm at the end. starts at 'tension seeping out that it gave... It felt like it was worth it.' and ends at 'He could go for another round, maybe.'. Also, ofc, TW for abuse. sorry for this angst chapter bUT on the bright side.... wel..... u will see :)


Listen to the music of your panicked flight from those who long to take what you have stole. -MAG165

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Izuku was right in the end, you know. Of course he wasn't killed. Maybe there wasn't anythingtokill- maybe his heart was just an anxious erratic thing after all this stress. Maybe he was never alive in the first place.

It didn't matter. He wasn't dead. He was alive, and he- well, maybe he wasn't in the best situation, but he wasn't hurt. Maybe a bruise or two, a couple self-inflicted wounds along his thighs, but hey. Those things couldn't be escaped, sometimes.

Exhaling heavily, breath shaking just a bit, Izuku came to terms with his situation.

Cold concrete beneath his jeans, chill seeping through to rise little goosebumps like toothmarks up against his skin. His backpack was clutched against his chest, and it was day, but it just felt so... Dark. Alleyways and colorless things and smoke and grit. Most of all, the panicked shaking of his body and his breath, like a panic attack always half-cut-off. Little constant flinches and unevenness, but never an actual attack.

No. Even his body knew he wasn't safe enough for that. The streets made himvulnerable, and who knew how long he'd be on them this time? A week? Two?

The rest of his life?

Alright, so maybe it would help to go through the events. Think about it and breathe a little bit- what was it that he kept hearing about on the internet? Box breathing? Yeah. Okay.

So, first... What happened was.... Well. Izuku went downstairs on slightly-shaky legs, yeah, trying to stop his hands from trembling and repeating to himself over and over in his head the same phrase:it's okay, he won't hurt me, it's okay, he won't hurt me, it's okay, he won't hurt me, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay.

Of course, before that he procrastinated quite a bit, but it was better to get it over with sooner than later. Nothing too bad could happen, after all.

The stairs creaked as he went down them, and he stuffed his hands into the pocket of his hoodie to hopefully seem more casual. Hisashi was sat on the couch, watching old westerns in black and white, just like always. On the TV was a scene of a saloon, the type of violent one with fake gunshots and no blood at all.

As soon as the man heard Izuku coming down the stairs, he looked up, face calm, almost... Welcoming, even. Like the man Izuku had grown to know, with warm eyes and a warm smile. It always hurt so bad when it turned cold.

"Come sit with me for a little while." Came hisvoice- not soft, not hard. Unsubstantial, maybe. Empty calories. Said just for the taste on a tongue, with no thought for the effect it might cause.

Izuku did, of course. Because what else could he do? The couch was soft but made him uncomfortable anyway. Cheesy lines in staticky southern tones. Another gunshot from the TV as one black-and-white character fell to the floor. He watched stiffly, pretending not to be hyper-aware of the shifts beside him.

"You know, I never liked vigilantes." Hisashi sighed lightly, reaching for the remote to switch the movie off. "I always thought they were, well, simply pretending to be something they were not. Heroes. I can't blame 'em, hell, Kami knows I'd love to be a hero- but who doesn't..." He paused here to laugh. "What vigilantesreally are, though, are fakes.I'm not trying to be overly negative or anything like that. It's just that they lie. I don't like liars."

It was only now that Hisashi's eyes slid over to him, sharp-cold. "But you would know that, wouldn't you?"

Something cold and heavy settled in Izuku's stomach, uncomfortable, like swallowing an ice cube and feeling the freezing water slip all the way down your throat. He stayed silent, looking away in the hopes that would be taken as some type of deferral.

"It's strange, you know," Hisashimused, eyes boring a hole straight through Izuku'shead until hewas almost scared to make eye contact, "You would never think it's someone you know. But hey! If youjust follow the sound of complete and utter betrayal, it turns out it's pretty easy to weed'em out." He hissed that last part in a sickly sweet tone, too close.

"It- I mean, it, it wasn't... Betrayal. I never promised you that I wouldn't- and, I mean, I never lied, I am a hero-in-training, and-"

"Bullsh*t!" Hisashi growled, standing suddenly. Izuku half-flinched.

It was silent for a second before his anger grew colder and more impersonal. "Izuku, I'm a good parent. I'm a good dad. I've tried my hardest to prod you into line with gentle compliments and punishments, like all fathers do. But sometimes, kids need a bit more....incentive.I didn't want to have to do this. But remember, this is all for your own good."

He reached forward, softening slightly, and cupped Izuku's face in his hand. It was calloused, thin, and a little warm. They both ignored how he tensed at the touch. It stayed just like that for a moment or two, and maybe this could be real caring. Maybe they were just a father and son in that moment, warm touch and shared room. Simple human connection.

Then Hisashi brought his hand back, lightning-sharp, lightning-quick. Slammed it across Izuku's face- a flash of pain across his cheekbone, almost hot, almost burning- head snapped to the side-but he didn't have a chance to process it before the hand screamed over his other cheekbone in a backhand. Something tasted like iron in his mouth, and distantly he knew there were cuts on the insides of his cheeks, but most of him was just focused on the burning skin on his cheeks. Something- he- leaning forward to get a hold of himself, painfully swallowing the blood because if he spit it out on their good carpet thenbad bad bad worse things would follow-

Knees- hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath, wrap his head around-and then there was another light touch on his cheek which heflinchedfrom, breath catching, ready for the next slap. It followed the movement, not harshly, but rather... In a way that was almost apologetic. He opened his eyes.

Hisashi rubbed his thumb gently over Izuku's cheekbone, sighing lightly. A dull pain echoed where their skin touched, thanks to the violence only seconds before.

"I love you. And it's because I love you that I teach you lessons. It's not my fault you're so stubborn. Now, can you tell me what you learned?""

Still slightly dazed, cheeks still stinging, and throat still full of fear, Izuku opened his mouth. Distantly he noted that he was shaking. "I- I'm not- I shouldn't be pretending to be a hero. And, um, I won't, I won't- uh, I won't go out vigilante-ing."

"And what else?"

"I sh- I shouldn't, um," He desperately searched for something else within the conversation to grasp onto and apologize for, "Talk back?"

Hisashi paused, looked Izuku in the eyes as if searching for some sort of lie, and then released him."Good. Now, go to your room. I need to have a drink," he muttered the last part, as if- as if Izuku's actionspained him,when really, sh*t, it washarmless, and Hisashi should just-

No. Breathe. This is not the time to get angry. This is the time to follow orders and focus on calming the erratic breaths that were beginning to rip apart his throat in their panic to escape. Quickly up the stairs, quietly, hardly processing the world around him. It was a dream, or- blurry, at least, like his body wasn't his. Some simulation, perhaps?

The skin of his cheeks still felt sickeningly, painfully warm, like fire was licking up his chin. It still burned.

Was he up the stairs? Yes- wait- he was already in his room. Close the door, slide down it like a rag doll. Something.... Was wrong. What would make it right? What would let him wrap his head around whateverthatwas??

.... Oh. The thought came to him as an urge more than anything, as an image in his mind of a small silver blade. It's not like spilling his own blood had ever really helped, but kami, it really really felt like it did. For the few minutes of cleanness,calmness, tension seeping out that it gave... It felt like it was worth it.

Izuku didn't think as he went to get the small box he had hidden his blade in. He didn't need to. It was instinct at this point to lock the door, sit on his bed, pull down his pants, and roll up his boxers so he had ample access. The routine of it was calming, too, and his mind went fuzzy- in a better way. No words, just the first point of pain at his thigh.

He dug the sharp end into his skin and then, quickly, pulled it across. The cut didn't bleed at first, instead showing a styrofoamy white. Red seeped in from the edges slowly, slowly, before beading atthe precipice.

He didn't that sense of relief yet, though, so on the next swipe he made sure to pay attention to the pain. The blood slowly making its way out. Once it began to drip, he grabbed a tissue from his bedside table and dabbed at the wounds. The white turned red in little dots spreading outwards, sickeningly pretty.

Finally, there came that rush of relaxation, slightly melancholy, but most importantly,calm.Everything made sense in the moments he was bleeding. He wasn't meant for math tests and logic and human society, he was meant for blood and paint and messy animal things. Maybe if he was wild he would feel like he belonged.

He set down the blade gently on his covers after wiping it on his thigh, breathing in the relief and breathing out the thoughts that yelled at him for resetting his clean streak. It's okay. It's okay, he had a reason. And it was sort of routine, now, to slice open his skin every time Hisashi made his lungs ache with a panic.

He could go for another round, maybe.

But before he could start again, there was... Noise. Downstairs. Maybe conversation? He couldn't risk it, someone could come up, Inko could come up here and try to calm everything. Like she always did, smoothing ruffled fur and pretending nothing had happened. The family was still perfect, nothing had happened, they were happy, happy, nothing had happened, they were happy. Happy.

happyhappyhappyhappy. put a smile on, put your razor back, pull up your pants even though the wounds are still bleeding. itll be ok, his hoodieis long enough to cover his thighs, and even if it stains he's wearing black jeans. the last time he stained his blue jeans he had to bury them underneath a pile of clothes in the closet and never look at them again-

Someone coming up the stairs. Quickly he sat on his bed, quietly, breathing deep and straighting his spine. Thinking of- normal kid things? Like, uh, p*rn and girls and comic books?? He didn't know, he had learned all of that from TV, what did normal teenage boys think about-

Wait f*ck.What if it was Hisashi, coming to throw him out, he needed to get his bag quickly so he would have time to grab it if-

They were almost at the door, and yes yes those were man's footsteps, not quite heavy enough to be Hisashi's normal steps, but familiar still. Maybe he was so angry that he was walking strangely and- Izuku wasn't breathing right, he dug in his closet for the bag and quickly slung it on his back just before the door opened-

It wasn't Hisashi.

For that matter, it wasn't Inko, either. Nor Shinsou, nor anybody else that he would evenmaybeexpect. It was Aizawa, with a concerned-looking Nedzu perched on his shoulder.

"Kid... Whathappened?"

Izuku ran.


as always, credit to feral, feral ily, i cant remember your username rn but im pretty sure its feraljuicecryptid. remember their link profie is still up there. i am tired.

Shout out to hauntedtelephone also for being the best <3 they are my internet bestie now but dw i love all of you too

i gave up on putting italics so sorry u had to guess whats supposed to be italic. fun game i guess, side quest!!! except i DID italicize the third-to-last word. so. you get a head start <3

k hope u enjoyed see u in another month or smth

Chapter 40: discontinued


the title,,,,, yeah sorry yall

Chapter Text


first of all thank yall so much for the love surrounding this fic, but I've decided to abandon it for the following reasons:

I feel like I haven't communicated enough with the original author of this idea. This fic feels like a betrayal or a copy, and though it was my own writing, I want to get into contact with Feral before I continue writing it (if I ever do). No hard feelings to Feral, the whole mix-up in the beginning is my fault. I'll be keeping this up because people seem to enjoy it so much, but it won't be continued.

Second, I've lost interest. Sorry, y'all, but I highly doubt I'll be motivated to write this story again. I lost my hyperfixation on the MHA fandom, and now it seems like a moot point to write on things I don't read anymore.

Again, thank you all so much for the love. If any of y'all want to write spin-offs or anything, it's fine with me (though you may want to check with feral). Goodbye to Ghost! Loved writing him while I was doing it. And thank you, all the commenters.

I still read every single comment, by the way. And yes, i recognise you if you comment consistently.

Thank you all, goodbye, and maybe check out my other fics! I might be getting back to writing sometime soon. :)

Ghosting [DISCONTINUED] - HeartBandages - 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia (2024)
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