Chapter 8: Broken Mirrors
Todoroki's world was falling apart. He had always despised his father, but now the world agrees with his sentiments, but that was far from a good thing.
"Your left side is unsightly."
He feels nothing from the whispers of strangers on the train. He had heard those words before and right now he was meeting that person who said those words first, a patient of a mental hospital.
The public outcry about his father, the rampant gossiping of things that were left behind closed doors. Such a thing was a blessing and a curse. Both victim and perpetrator are defiled by the eyes of the public. For a family headed by the number 2 hero, privacy is a privilege. It is a wonder how his family matters have been kept private for so long that even a fanatic of heroes such as Midoriya was in the dark about his situation. As his thoughts drift to his classmate, as he remembers that face, he forces down his fear.
Ever since he started attending UA, he had been forced to face the uglier sides of himself. Despite the power he possessed, he was both powerless and a coward. How selfish he must be, for the only reason of his visit now after all these years were not for his mother's sake, but to simply absolve some of the swirling feelings inside of him.
He talks to the front desk receptionist and locates the room his mother is kept in. As he walks through the hallways of the mental hospital, as he glances at the patients, he can't help but notice something is wrong. As he opens that door, his mother is in view.
As he works up the courage to look his own mother in the eyes, the figure of his mother melts away in viscous goo and it is then he realizes something is wrong. As he bolts out the hospital room, he hears a shout.
Two mental patients with the same face are facing each other.
"If only I wasn't so squeamish about drinking blood."
One of those patients melts away to reveal the naked form of someone Todoroki vaguely knew, Monoma from B-class. At the instant he saw that face, the entire hallway they were in was covered in a thin layer of ice, freezing everything in place, but just like that form of his mother, the form of Monoma melts away. The nightmare continues.
This was the first field assignment of the Ditto Trio, so of course there would be monitors keeping track of the team's performance from a get-away car. Mr. Compress was waiting in the car and it was not by chance he was the one driving it.
Mr. Compress had worked in the entertainment industry before he had settled in this sort of life, though it could be interpreted that he never left. He had dismissed the students at UA as people who had beliefs hammered into them by others with no ambitions of their own, which was why he was intrigued with one them insisting to join the League of Villains.
Mr. Compress, Kurogiri and Monoma all shared a common love for snazzy clothes. Though they all loved top hats, gloves, vests, tuxedos, canes and fine watches, they couldn't really imagine wearing the same thing.
Choice is important; choice is what separates man from beasts and machines.
Decked out in a smiling mask, top hat, fine overcoat and a cane, he had once tried to grab the essence of what made a "Phantom Thief". With his quirk, he could temporarily compress anything into a marble without damaging it, which is to say, he might have been born for thieving.
Monoma by contrast was decked out in a tuxedo decorated with various fine watches. Unlike or Kurogiri, he chose not hide his face. In the end, isn't that what a Phantom Thief should aspire to do, a bold suave gentlemen who stole things in full view while being cheered on my an audience?
He had lent his quirk to Monoma just as Toga and Twice had, for these 5 minutes in which his Copy ability lasts, he was the Perfect Phantom Thief. A master of theft, disguise and decoys. Right now, was simply parked in front of the mental hospital anticipating an easy heist without any complications.
「That place is sure nostalgic. All the vintage Shonen Jump anyone could read.」
Mr. Compress had to suppress his displeasure of having to bring that weird waitress who works at Kurogiri's bar with them who was currently monopolizing the shotgun seat as an "insurance" policy. From that offhand comment, yes, he could totally imagine that waitress belonging to a mental hospital.
The Perfect Phantom Thief had left a public message for Endeavor hoping to make the spiriting away of a spectacle, instead, Endeavor ignored it. To avoid another incident like in Hosu, he used his influence to suppress the media. It seemed that he didn't care too much about his wife who had already bore him what he had wanted and right now the successor Endeavor had wanted was chasing down the Ditto Trio in hot pursuit. As the trio exited the hospital, Todoroki had jumped down several floors, breaking his fall with the ice he could generate and continued to surf on top of it. A chance meeting they did not account for, thus nothing went according to plan despite the operation being a success.
"So this is a son's love huh? Well, I'm certainly not the type to be chased so that has to be it."
Toga had always been a chaser, so this was a different experience.
"Huh!?, What are you saying!? No one chasing you? I would..."
"Enough talking, get in!"
Twice could not finish his sentence as he and Toga were dragged into the getaway car by Monoma as Mr. Compress floored the gas pedal. No one bothered to close the car door to the annoyance of all the other motorists, but good thing they had "insurance" from All Fiction.
The 5 minutes of Monoma's quirk were up, and the compressed form of returned to its original state. Their target was literally on their laps. Despite how one would normally react after being kidnapped, Mrs. Todoroki, true to being a literal ice woman, stayed cool. She looked upon the incident with total apathy. Like a piece of furniture, she has gotten used to being moved around by others.
Despite being in a car, Endeavor's "master piece" was gaining on them, but it was then when the car reached 88mph, Kurogiri who was waiting at a nearby café appeared on the road at the designated spot and opened up his "warp gate". The car disappears in a puff of black smoke leaving behind skid marks along the road. Despite usually being cool-headed, Todoroki couldn't help but curse.
A tired white haired woman watches a recording of the sports festival with her captors in a dimly lit room. Though the extraction of Endeavor's wife was successful, it was illegal and aspiring heroes like Monoma who helped with the operation had to be misled. Toga, who was a serial killer, ironically was more trustworthy around the hostage and with her quirk; she was indispensable in deceiving Monoma by posing as the woman's mother. As far as Monoma knew, he had done a good deed by freeing a woman from her abusive husband. What would happen to Monoma after word gets out that Endeavor's wife was kidnapped was still up in the air.
The ice woman presents no resistance and simply watches the projected recording, the only other source of sound in the room being a pen rubbing against a notebook and incessant muttering coming from that petite curly green haired waitress.
"Of course, Eccrine sweat glands are most numerous on the feet, face, palms and armpits so it's only natural that Kacchan can…."
Toga crashes onto the sofa and breaks the silence out of her boredom. The pen stops.
"So this is what you do in your free time huh, you must really love that wimp…."
「Wimp? He's one of the coolest people I've ever known!」
"Of course you wanna be like the one you love. It's natural. You take notes, trying to be like him, but for you I guess, it was out of your reach….I don't really understand your taste, but I love tattered guys reeking in blood, so I can't really judge you."
「I don't really understand it either. Kacchan might just have been a big fish in my small pond. His personality was garbage, so I thought it was just the sparks he could make with his hands at first that won me over…..」
A smile blooms on the freckled face. For someone like Midoriya, everyone shines so brightly that they can't help but be blinded by it. Those without light naturally reach out for it.
「That's why, I cut off his hands…….but he didn't stop being amazing. My feelings did not change, so that meant they weren't shallow.」
"Well, from what I can see, he has hands…... You're lucky; I can only carve up the ones I love once….."
With a hand on the chest, feeling for that familiar heart beat, trying to make the story that was just said a heartfelt one.
「Yet, because they didn't change….I wanted to take everything back…..and somehow it was like I never existed…...」
To be or not to be, that was the question and the child had chosen not to be.
Being projected was a green haired boy with bald spots standing on the podium for second place. That freckled face is mirrored for an instant between reality and the projection, before a fist plants itself into the projected image. As opposed to a TV screen, there was no dramatic cracking of glass and the action could only come off as lame, especially as the one who threw that punch fell over onto the floor ungracefully.
It was there , Mrs. Todoroki felt something.
"Your left side is unsightly," those were 's words as she poured boiling water onto her son's face. She too had wanted to disappear that day.
"Failures", that was the word her husband used to refer to their children that did not inherit the fire and ice quirks in the correct ratio like he had wanted. The fact she bore a child like Shoto, who inherited both their quirks perfectly after only 4 attempts was no small miracle. Endeavor may have been the number 2 hero of this era, but there were others who held that rank before, including one with green curly hair.
"The Tornado of Terror."
「Yet that boy, born instead of me…..born because of me… with the same circumstances…..seeing him, I can't help but think…...」 frustration wells up within the smile.
「I lived my life All Wrong…..." was when the laughing transitioned into sobs, tears literally streaming down the freckled face before being comforted by a pair of hands.
Life is a mundane miracle, but as people experience life's displeasures, it is only natural to take that life for granted. A zygote is formed by the union of a single sperm cell and a single egg cell, but while there is 1 egg cell, there are anywhere between 40 million to 1.2 billion sperm cells. The probability of any one individual being born is essentially close to zero percent, which is enough for anyone to herald one's birth as a miracle, but by that same token, it is a curse. There was always a near 100 percent chance that someone else would have been born instead, someone more deserving of that gift of life.
Whether it was Stockholm Syndrome, sympathy or mere sophistry to soften her guilt as a failed mother, Mrs. Todoroki wrapped her arms around the sobbing figure and said the words that had been said before.
Such were familiar words with no meaning to the inferior fish people called Zako.
"It's not your fault."
"In the case where a human turns into a monster, due to a complex or an obsession on a bad habit, an explosion of frustration caused by a wish to transform or dissatisfied desire causes a sudden transformation starting from an abnormal cell reaction. There have also been many cases of living beings other than humans turning into monsters triggered by things such as pollution. This is a living being reborn as another being, not a limiter being broken."
(Excerpt from On the Origin of Quirks by Dr. Genus)
Iida knew something was up with Todoroki, for he was once the same way not too long ago. There was something clearly wrong if he was storming into the dining area of class 1-B in a way one would only think Bakugo would be capable of. For that reason Iida tailed him.
The tone used was clearly a threat.
"Does everyone in A-class lack tact? You better not drag the rest of the school down with you."
Just as Todoroki was about to put his hands on Monoma's neck, oversized hands stopped his arms.
"I know his behaviour is less than friendly at times, but I can't condone what you're trying to do right now."
Though the orange haired Kendo was part of the minority of B-class who had no ill-will towards those of A, there still existed a line that A-class should not cross. It was at that moment Iida crossed the line that separated the lunchroom line that separated the classes.
"I apologize on behalf of Todoroki, there is no excuse, but I know he has his own reasoning for doing this," were his words while lowering his head, such was the natural course of action for a class president. Monoma did not stop his attack.
"Everyone has their reasons. Doesn't mean they're good. Just think of Endeavor. Right now…"
"I'm just like him, is that what you wanted me to say?" The threatening tone did not disappear even with Iida's intervention.
"You really do have your father's eyes don't you?"
The vine haired girl in the back of the crowd was contemplating whether to restrain the interloper. She was a grass type, meaning she was double weak against an ice and fire type, but she never needed to as Todoroki calmed down. Public image was important to Monoma and with that line of reasoning; Todoroki forces down his swirling emotions and achieves a sort of balance, carefully forming his next words.
"You're not someone who gets into trouble like us as you say. You're also someone who doesn't do things for no reason. What you did that day, that group you were together with, I want in."
"So you're eating alone again?"
That was the question Saitama had asked is disciple in the cafeteria. It was a common occurrence. The strong are solitary, is what many like to claim, but that is not the truth. Just like in the jungle, it is natural for living things to avoid the strong to continue on living. In the distance at another table, Uraraka was bothering Bakugo once again.
"So, Deku eats katsudon every opportunity he gets...do you have anything to do with that Katsuki?"
"Your brain is clearly rotten, LET ME REPLACE IT FOR YOU."
With fireworks crackling in his hands Bakugo was lit, but fortunately Kirishima was there to serve as a wall to block the inevitable explosion.
As Saitama eyed to fried pork and rice combo on his disciple's tray, he couldn't help but associate it with the police, but he had long forgotten why.
"Wonder if the police station serves the same food."
Regardless of how wise Saitama-sensei may appear to Izuku, some of the things he says could only be taken as random not unlike that frog girl.
"Saitama-sensei, is there something I can do to make up what I'm lacking?"
"Well, you're still young. People don't finish developing mentally and physically until age 25, at least that's what car insurance companies say. Don't sweat it. You'll have other problems once you get there."
Such were words with no meaning to the one who can't achieve anything people called Deku.
As Izuku currently stands, he had infinite strength, but that alone did not guarantee victory. When facing his peers, his power was simply too much, yet when faced with life or death situations, Izuku was still lacking. Even if he himself is invincible, he can never call himself a hero if he can't save all the lives in front of him, regardless of how hard he wanted to be one. To be or not to be, that was the question and the child had chosen to be.
The strength he had now had isolated him from his peers, yet he still sought out more for he was born weak.
Such was a madness born from weakness. For someone like Midoriya, everyone shines so brightly that they can't help but be blinded by it. Those without light naturally reach out for it.
"But he was different. A common birth, a common life, no qualities whatsoever, a simple ordinary person. With effort alone, he pried open the door of his limits and broke his limiter. Seeing the common sense defying strength of someone that had removed their limiter and evolved by themselves….Just remembering makes me laugh at how comical my own ambitions were."
(Excerpt from On the Origin of Quirks by Dr. Genus)