Pre-A/N: Warning, this was a double upload. Meaning I've uploaded twice in a row. Go to Chapter 37 if the last thing you remember was a cliff-hanger.
Beta: L33t Horo
"This was an unmitigated disaster."
Aizawa deeply frowned as he sat among numerous professional heroes, some he recognized being the more renowned heroes. Though, considering the topic at hand, he had no qualms about taking the backseat in the discussions to be had.
After all, he was merely representing the teachers of U.A. His colleagues ended up being far too busy, which was another way to say that they were behind on their paperwork. Aizawa scoffed to himself. The one time he decided to clear up his backlog backfired.
… But even then, he still didn't see why he should be here. For god's sake, Nezu could've handled it himself. What was he, a glorified chaperone?
Aizawa sighed. Despite his complaints, he knew Nezu had a reason for bringing him. Until then, he'd wait.
"Seven professional heroes, most of high prestige and renown, were almost defeated live on prime time television in what is currently widely known as the Hosu Incident," Tsuragamae Kenji barked from at the head of the table, the representative of the police of Musutafu. "The Hero Public Safety Commission, while understanding of the current situation, sees this to have the potential to shake up the status quo. We are lucky that the media had the foresight to see this. They've already begun spinning the story towards a narrative in which All-Might and the other professional heroes managed to push them back. Woof~"
Normally, that would be all. An incident wrapped up, followed by actions preparing for the next scenario, in which they'd be much more prepared.
Not this time.
"The fact we even reached such a stage is appalling. Even if we've managed to make the public see this as a victory, they will not be so lenient next time." Yoroi-Musha sneered from under his armor. From how he slouched, it was clear he was nursing wounds from underneath. "Who let the chopper in the evacuation zone in the first place? Did they not understand the magnitude of the battle at hand?"
"A little late to be pointing fingers, old man."
Aizawa narrowed his eyes at the lackadaisical attitude. It reminded him so much of his… lazier students.
"Hawks, accountability must be held," Yoroi-Musha argued. "A blunder such as this cannot be left unpunished."
"And who are we to punish them?" Hawks, the third-highest ranked pro-hero in Japan, said. "You're far too trenched in your old ways, Yoroi."
"And your newer ways would better suffice, I presume?"
"Correctamundo~" he smiled. "In my newer ways, we deal with the problem at hand before we start the blame game. Ideally, we don't play the game at all."
"I am of the same opinion," Nezu agreed. "It is clear that this event was a freak accident, we should treat it as such."
"A preventable accident," Yoroi-Musha corrected. "We must press the importance of distance to these foolhardy reporters."
"Do that, and we'll be at it all-year-round," Hawks denied once again. "Look, let's just focus on the real meat of this meeting. Right, Endeavor?"
All he received was an irritated grunt in response.
Endeavor, after the Hosu incident, had received extensive medical attention. However, he only got it after his agency forced him to go. His PR managers spun it to look like an altruistic act – in which he wanted other wounded victims to take priority – but everyone in the room knew it was because he was too prideful to admit he was wounded in the first place.
Though, the other heroes who participated in the Hosu Incident failed to attend. Their injuries proved to be too debilitating, requiring them several weeks to recover. The only exceptions were Yoroi-Musha, Edgeshot, and of course Endeavor, but that was because they were top heroes. They held themselves to a higher standard.
Aizawa rolled his eyes.
"Hawks is correct," Kenji barked. "It is clear that the measures we have taken towards problematic existences such as Stain have been lacking as of late, or rather non-existent. The Hero Association has seen it necessary to organize a coalition in order to track down the League of Villains once and for all, and put a permanent stop to their actions."
About time, Aizawa thought to himself. The fact his students were endangered not once, but twice – as they had participated in the Hosu incident – was not enough to push them to act. But a drastic change in the status quo? He snorted. That was far over the line apparently.
"Yes, like that's going to work again," said a mustached hero. From the name card set in front of him, Snatch was his hero name. "The last time you all coordinated to take down the Hero-Killer, we found ourselves in this situation."
"We were not prepared for that attack," Uwabami, who sat further to the side, argued. "What we prepared for was one man, who we would've easily subdued."
"Yet that many heroes failed to deal with such a catastrophe–"
"The only reason this near catastrophic event happened was because we, the police, allowed the Beast to escape from confinement. Woof," Kenji silenced them. "If you continue to derail this meeting, I will see you removed from it. Do we have an understanding?"
At the few nods he received, he continued.
"We understand that a coalition like before would likely fail due to the opposition we face. In our present state, we will not be able to subdue, let alone confine, any of the League of Villain members. I'm sure you are all aware as to why?"
"Kurogiri," Hawks sighed. "That quirk is troublesome. Instantaneous movement between any two points, without a clear idea as to the maximum range, that's basically fighting the wind. Completely pointless. Even if we find them, they'll be gone faster than we can blink."
"Which is why an ambush is the only option we have," Kenji said. "For that reason, we have prepared to request professional heroes with quirks specialized in restraining. It is also why Eraserhead was called to this meeting. His quirk will prove extremely useful in subduing Kurogiri."
"Which means I'll have to be a part of the vanguard squad," Aizawa sighed. So this was why Nezu brought him along. "I understand. I'll do my best when the time comes."
"No pressure or anything, it's not like you're the most important piece to the plan," Hawks laughed. "Well, almost the most important piece. The real important piece seems to be a no-show. Any news about your newest teacher, Nezu?"
"All-Might has chosen to take a leave of absence," Nezu replied. "While he has been busy in his heroic activities, he seems to have left much of his educational activities by the wayside. He is catching up to them as we speak."
"Grading tests over attending an important meeting like this…" Endeavor fumed. "I don't know whether he's mocking us or finally going senile."
"It was by my suggestion," Nezu defended. "Do you question my judgement?"
In other words, do you question the judgement of a rat with more IQ than everyone else in this room? Wisely, Endeavor snorted and backed down.
"But it would've been helpful to have his input," Hawks chimed in once more. "You know, because he's actually fought both Kurogiri and the Beast, twice at that."
"What he knows, we know," Yoroi-Musha said. "As much as I dislike his choice of priorities, All-Might's presence might be more a detriment than a benefit. We may end up relying on him far too much."
"And it's wrong to rely on the number one?"
"To the point of making yourself out to be inept, perhaps so."
"In regards to the potential ambush," Nezu asked as he disrupted the argument once more. Too many prideful and hotheaded individuals in one room, it seems. "I'm sure that, given enough time, we will be able to pinpoint where their base is. Give or take a month."
"Is that an estimate of our investigations or your own?" Kenji asked.
"My own," he admitted. "I will not pretend to make it seem easy. The League of Villains and its members, if they haven't recruited more by the time we locate them, do not exist within our database. Even cross-referencing the blood left behind in the Hosu Incident has done little to narrow it down."
"I guess the Beast's black blood really doesn't work with traditional forensics, does it?" Edgeshot, who had finally decided to speak up. "Not to mention, the properties of said blood. It brings out… unwanted emotions. A regular person, without the same training that I've undergone, would've allowed their baser instincts run wild. I fear that if I had a larger– or perhaps longer exposure to the blood, I may have lost myself as well given time."
"And we are glad that you reported it as soon as you could, woof," Kenji thanked. "We've had to perform multiple operations on civilians that have ingested the blood, but it's proven resilient to attempts at removal. It's almost as if it's been assimilated within them. Even if removed, there are lasting effects on their psyche."
Aizawa made a mental reminder to look into his own students, to see if they've come into contact with the blood recently. If they had, then he'd spare no expense in their treatment.
"All the more reason to track the Beast down," Yoroi-Musha said. "You've got a month, Nezu. However, it is not a guarantee that they do not strike again before that time."
"Which is why we must be ready to act when they do," Edgeshot nodded. "However, what if we can narrow down where such a strike could occur?"
"Such as?" Endeavor asked, finally intrigued enough to talk.
"A place they have already struck before."
Aizawa's blood ran cold.
"You speak of my school, Edgeshot?" Nezu frowned. "I see, that is a possibility, but one I did not dismiss. I've already invested in more security, and made steps to ensure the safety of my students."
"It would be foolish of you not to have, especially after that media incident, which we already surmised was orchestrated by the League of Villains," Kenji nodded. "If it's alright with you, could we advise you on possible measures to take?"
"Such as?" he asked.
"It's a mere hypothesis that the boys at investigations came up with, but due to its contents, I'm inclined to get both your opinion and permission," Kenji said as he passed a clipboard to him. "It's in regards to a possible traitor and the most likely suspect in your academy."
"We've already noted a possible traitor, but I suppose a suspect would be helpful–"
And then Nezu stopped.
"Is this a joke?"
It was the first time Aizawa heard that tone. Or rather, it was the first in a long time. The last time he heard the principal talk in such a way was when the Hero Association first found him, an experimented animal at the hands of morally bankrupt scientists.
"I'm afraid not. Given the evidence and circumstances against him, it's hard to deny."
As Nezu passed the clipboard over to him, Aizawa felt a migraine rapidly expand from within. This was… troublesome.
Damn it, brat.
"Did you get a cold?"
"No, I don't think so," Shirou replied. He had been stirring a pot of miso, making sure the daikons and tofu were thoroughly cooked, but couldn't think of any reason why he sneezed. Luckily, he had the foresight to cover his mouth with a handkerchief. "Actually, I'm not sure if I ever had a cold."
"Well, you know what they say about idiots and colds~"
"What do they say?"
"You…" he looked up from the sofa. "You actually don't know?"
"No, should I?"
"Of course you should!" Yu exclaimed. "Oh, wait. Maybe it didn't exist in your world?"
"No, it did. I was just seeing how long until you caught on."
"You're lucky that I'm not allowed to come over there!"
Shirou withheld a sigh and continued to stir the miso into the soup. He used a pair of chopsticks to swirl the miso paste around atop a strainer dipped into the pot. In doing so, the miso paste would gradually be integrated into the soup.
"Just be glad that it was only a couple of broken bones," Shirou said as he eyed the scar starting to form on his left arm. Angra-Mainyu's damage reflection had managed to leave a lingering reminder on why he needed to be dealt with. A representative on why he had to get rid of Avenger from this world.
And that bastard isn't exactly helping.
True, Archer did help him learn how to make perception-preventing bounded fields, which would help keep them out of harm's way while recuperating. However, that was all. Archer insisted that there was little he could do to help because he was incredibly busy enjoying his vacation.
It physically made him want to hurl knowing that a version of him didn't want to focus on a potential danger, but after he had given it some thought, he didn't stay angry for long.
After all, locating them would be impossible so long as Kurogiri existed. The warp quirk would end up creating a wild goose chase, one with no end in sight. The only reason they got close to him back at Hosu was because they were expecting him there... somewhat. They didn't really expect the whole army of Black Blood Vanguard.
There was one solution that Archer suggested, one that would irrevocably eliminate the League's potential to cause harm. However...
Even if they were villains hated by everyone around them, I will save everyone!
… He didn't want to be like Archer. Foolish? Almost certainly. Even so, he wasn't about to back down from his ideals, even if it...
Shirou, don't push yourself too hard. Okay?
"Hey, what's wrong?" He blinked as he turned to his adoptive mother. "Something up? You got real quiet."
"It's nothing," Shirou reflexively said. "I was just thinking of our next move. That's all."
"Not even done with lunch and already thinking about work?" Yu sighed. "Got to say, that work ethic is admirable to some people, but not to me! Relax, we have a long way until the weekend. That, and I need at least a week to recover, remember?"
"But while you're recovering–"
"You'll be here to do all the chores and pamper your wounded mother, right?" She smiled. "Certainly not going off and hunting dangerous villains on your lonesome, right?"
"Of course not," he sighed. "I know better than to go on a wild goose chase."
At least… Now he did. The person he was from before the Grail War– or rather before he even arrived in this world would have kept on searching night after night without a single plan or a hint of self-preservation–
Oh no, he was starting to sound like him.
"Right, that's strike two!" Yu declared. "First was contemplation, but the next was sheer horror! There's definitely something wrong with you! Isn't there!?"
"So! How's the relief efforts going along?" Shirou said in a bit too loud voice. "I wasn't keeping track. Too busy setting up a bounded field, you know?"
"You're really bad at being subtle, you know?" Yu muttered. "What? I bet you're the type to strip people and tell them to not ask any questions."
"It was one time!"
"You actually did! With who!? Right, once you finish with that, I'm giving you a crash course on being subtle, because clearly, you have no idea how to do that!"
"Why don't you watch the news or something!?" Shirou argued back. Damn it, now he got why Rin looked at him like that when he told her. Damn you, past-me– not again!
"I don't want to!" Yu whined. "They're definitely still talking about the Hosu Incident. Not to mention, if there's any trouble, you'd probably bolt out of this apartment to go help, wouldn't you?"
"Your silence speaks a thousand words, Shirou."
"The miso is done," he said without a hint of emotion. "Do you want me to set up your plates too?"
"What an irresponsible adult," Shirou snarked.
"What a responsible brat," Yu smiled. "Brings a smile to my face, you know?"
"Just eat your lunch," Shirou sighed. "And afterwards…"
"I got it," Yu frowned. "I got it."
And so, they ate in relative silence. Yu had opted to indulge in some banter, which he obliged, but once that was finished and the dishes were washed, both of them took a seat. Yu was at her usual couch while Shirou sat nearby.
"The internship is over with?" Shirou asked.
"All U.A. students involved in the Hosu incident had their internships end early," Yu nodded. "To be fair, you guys probably experienced much more hero work than they intended you to have. Speaking of which, you might want to talk to your classmates about that when you get back to classes. They might need a friend to talk to."
"That'll be until the last week of June," Shirou noted. "Should I just call them instead?"
"Nah. As my mother used to say, those lack a personal touch," Yu waved. "But moving on from that, our capture of Stain has given the police a good impression of us, and by that I mean just me because I'd lose my head if I told them I brought a minor to fight a notorious villain."
Shirou nodded. He was alright with that. Acknowledgments and accolades mattered very little to him anyways.
"But the bad news is that, because the Beast went on a rampage for a whole night," Yu said. "His threat level went up and beyond. Before, a few top heroes were needed to be a part of a hypothetical assault team…"
Which is what their previous team was. While they planned to take down Stain fast with those heroes, they also planned to turn it around and beat back Avenger should he choose to appear. Things got out of control far too quickly, however.
"... but now we need a whole bunch of heroes, not to mention, a bunch of them need quirks specialized in entrapment. In other words, a specialized team instead of whoever was available at the time," Yu continued. "As a result, heroes are forbidden from hunting the League of Villains alone. We can respond to what they do and any incidents they cause, but actively hunting them down is a big no. They're trying to keep the body count low, you know?"
"I guess that's to be expected," Shirou nodded. Not everyone could handle a combination of damage reflection and raw power. It was true that they could remove that raw power by killing his current body, but then he'd possess the nearest pro hero and fight using him, or even go into hiding until he got a new one– A new body provided by whoever gave him his last one.
"Yeah, so if we want to go looking for him, we'll have to be stealthy," Yu explained. "Or even lure him out to an isolated location and fight him there."
"We'll have to make a new bounded field to prevent his essence from escaping," Shirou sighed. "But there's very little chance of him attacking us, especially if he thinks it to be a trap."
And if they stood in an open clearing, with Shirou flaring enough energy to be detected by the Servant, he would think of it as a trap. There wasn't any debate there.
"Not to mention, I'm in no condition to help out, so we need to wait– and we can only move on weekends, when school's out," Yu reminded. "Because I'm not sacrificing your education for this. We agreed on that, right?"
"Quite a whiner for someone who says he's supposed to be eighteen," Yu rolled her eyes. "Anyways, I'll look into trying to get you signed up as my sidekick early. U.A. allows Work Studies, but that's usually for third years. I think I can probably convince ol' Nezu to let you in on it early… If you're good enough to compare to a third-year, that is. And if not… eh, how hard could seducing a rat be–"
"You need a legal reason to hunt the guy, right?" Yu raised a brow. "What's wrong with the idea?"
"Everything," Shirou sighed. "Let's just… go with the work studies idea but not the… convincing part. I'll try to show off with experience to maybe move up a year or two if I can."
"I do hope that they don't do that," Yu sighed. "You'll regret it if you skip those two years. Those were some of the best years of my life and I think they could be just as good for you too."
Shirou sighed. "Maybe, but dealing with Avenger comes first."
"Yeah yeah," Yu sighed. "You're really making it hard, aren't you?"
"Sorry, for getting you caught up in this–"
"But! I wouldn't change it for anything!" Yu smiled. "I'm pretty sure that, if you were a normal kid, I'd have driven my head against the wall a long time ago."
"I'm not sure that's a good thing, Yu."
"… Yeah, it probably isn't," she lamented. However, she couldn't continue as their doorbell rang. "Huh, must be the pizza. Can you go get that, Shirou?"
"You ordered pizza?" Shirou raised a brow. "When we just had dinner–? No, you ordered while I was cooking. Why?"
"I, uh, thought we might get peckish?" Yu shrugged. "Look, we can at least re-heat the thing if we get hungry. Woo! Efficiency and all that, yay?"
"You're unbelievable," Shirou sighed as he went to the door. He ignored Yu's sheepish and unapologetic grin. Seriously. He makes a healthy lunch for her while she's recovering from her injuries and she orders pizza of all things? He sighed once more as he opened the door. "Hello, do you take cash or need a… check…. you're not the pizza guy."
"No," Aizawa frowned. "I'm not."
"But we'd gladly have some," a small creature Shirou idly recalled was the principal of U.A. academy said with a hearty smile as he sat on his teacher's shoulder. "If you do not mind, of course. We aren't savages."
"... I'll get back to you on that," Shirou said as he turned back to the living room. "Yu, it's Aizawa-sensei and principal Nezu. Can I let them in?"
"You can come in," Shirou said as he opened the door wider. "Sorry about the smell. We've just had lunch, but the smell takes a while to fade."
"Oh, miso. How nostalgic," Nezu commented. "Not to worry, this should not take too long… hopefully. It depends on how you and Mount Lady react, after all."
That wasn't suspicious or anything… Shirou kept himself from letting his wariness be known. The fact Aizawa was here gave some measure of security, but there was very little that he actually knew about their principal. They could forgive a little wariness, right?
At least the bounded fields were already in place.
"So, what's the occasion principal?" Yu smiled. "You're not really one to make leisure visits. The fact Aizawa's also here means it's probably academic-related?"
She then faked a gasp.
"Is Shirou failing his studies? I knew he was hard-headed, but I didn't know he was this dense."
"No, it's not in regards to his academics," Nezu chuckled. "In fact, he's done well enough to put him in the top percentage of his year, even in his non-heroic academics."
"Wait seriously?" Yu raised a brow. "You didn't tell me about that!"
"You never really asked about my grades," Shirou said. "By the way, do you want any tea? I'm sorry for not asking earlier, but we were preoccupied."
"No, it's fine. As I respect your time, I'll get right to the point," Nezu said as he coughed to clear his throat. "It may be best that your son resides in U.A. for the remaining duration of his education."
"So… like a dorm?"
"Precisely. Our faculty has prepared one should you accept."
"And why would he do that?" she asked in confusion. "He's been doing fine commuting from here to campus. In fact, he even arrives early. Right, Shirou?" At his nod, Yu gestured as if to say 'see?' and shrugged. "It's kinda weird for you to suggest this Nezu. Have you offered the other kids the same thing?"
"No, we haven't but…" his expression suddenly turned pensive. "Do you not know?"
"For the love of–" Aizawa sighed as took out his phone and handed it to the only one nearby to grab it, Shirou. "It seems both mother and child are both ignorant. Just take a look, brat."
And look he did.
Headline after headline, comment after comment, all shared the same topic.
The Beast's potential sibling at U.A.?
A doppelganger hiding amongst heroes?
Danger to the U.A. students, perhaps incompetence?
"… Why the fuck did that mook have your damn face!?"
"Ah…" Shirou frowned. "I forgot about that."
"As you can see, the general reaction is not so good," Nezu said as Shirou passed the phone along to Yu, who similarly frowned at the news.
"And they think that just because they share a face that they're connected?" Yu asked.
"The truth is, the Hero Association's investigative division received an anonymous tip in regards to your unknown background," Nezu informed. "They tied your first appearance to the appearance of the Beast. While no conclusive evidence has been reached, they opted to keep you under close surveillance as a suspect."
"They make it sound like Shirou's a criminal," Yu frowned once more.
"The mass media always overblow their headlines to produce clicks, but the Hosu Incident has done nothing to dampen that. If anything, it has drawn more eyes to the story," Nezu sighed in exasperation. "Unfortunately, this is how the world works. Suspicions steam online and people look towards those with authority for answers, and if they do not have any, they come up with their own. We've received quite a few requests to expel you as a student–"
"Which you can't!"
"Which we can't" Nezu assuaged Yu's claim. "If we expelled every little student for suspected misdemeanors or collusion with villains, we'd have expelled quite a few of our brightest potential heroes. While the situation is much more… serious than a mere misdemeanor, it is nevertheless the same. Meeting with the student in question personally at their home is sure to raise a few questions, of which we can perfectly handle."
Fear and worry. Shirou was quite familiar with those emotions. If he was in the same place as these concerned parents, then he'd no doubt
"So it's back to the ankle tracker?" Shirou muttered.
"Not quite," Nezu amended. "Apologies, but it is slightly more extreme than that. The connection that you and the Beast seem to share, regardless if you believe you do not have any, has caused many to worry. As such, we've been forced to suggest more restrictive measures."
"Meaning…?" Yu frowned.
"Meaning that the brat has two choices," Aizawa narrowed his eyes. "Either he accepts our offer to subject himself to being monitored by the U.A. staff twenty-four-seven, or he remains here, but will still be monitored. This time, it will be officers coming for daily check-ins, private investigators from concerned parties, or even the media once they learn of your address."
"And is it not possible to just assign him to a dedicated watcher like last time? Like I did before? Or better yet, just let me watch over him–"
"We suggested that before, but their denial was quite swift," Nezu shook his head. "Unfortunately, you've been classified as emotionally compromised due to your familial connection."
"And it's not just the brat under scrutiny," Aizawa informed. "It is also you, Mount Lady."
"Me?" Yu widened her eyes. "Why?"
"You took down the Beast the first time he appeared," the teacher started. "Then you appeared at USJ to help the students. Following that, you captured Stain at Hosu whilst the other top heroes were dealing with the Beast. Many also questioned how you alone were able to subdue the Beast when a surplus of professional heroes could not."
"But he was weaker back then!"
"And you think random commenters on social media care about that?" Aizawa snorted. "Omitting details to further their arguments, it's a very common sight. You'll be under a lot of scrutiny from now on, from both your co-workers and the people you save, at least until we can clear the connection between the Beast and the brat."
"Which could take at least until the end of July," Nezu amended. "And that's if I work on this exclusively. Something is very wrong with how quickly the resemblance was caught between the two of you and with how fast it was circulated to the masses. I fear someone may have had a hand in this."
Shirou frowned. This didn't feel like a plan he'd come up with, but the chance of it being so was there. Perhaps someone else from the League of Villains caused this?
Could this have been avoided if he let the fight at Hosu prolong itself? If he had taken out Kurogiri and ensured that Avenger couldn't escape? But if he did that, then so many more people would've gotten hurt, perhaps even died. No, even if he prevented his escape, this situation would have still happened.
Especially since Shirou still didn't know where Angra-Mainyu had gotten that body of his.
With the scrutiny that both Yu and he were getting, they wouldn't be able to be left alone. If they weren't in an isolated area, they couldn't drag Avenger out of hiding. In one fell swoop, they were locked out of moving too freely. However, Shirou knew that he could just leave regardless of the law. Sneaking out wasn't an issue with a couple of Noble Phantasms in his Reality Marble being tailored for stealth.
However, in doing so, he'd bring the entirety of hero society down on him. It would basically admit to being guilty, and while Shirou didn't mind being disliked or detested by others, his actions would not impact him alone. If he left, Yu would likely be detained with her career up in flames. Even the classmates he spent getting to know might end up having a hard time by mere association.
A month of staying put. A month where Avenger and his allies could consolidate their power… Would he have to sacrifice them to go out on his own?
Could he do it?
Shirou closed his eyes and sighed.
"Is there at least a kitchen there?" he asked.
… No, he couldn't.
"Indeed," Nezu nodded. "We also restock at the end of every week, but you'll have to notify us of any special requests."
"Wait– hang on!"
"I assume that the entirety of the U.A. staff will monitor me during my stay?" Shirou continued.
"In addition to a trusted detective from Musutafu's own station and a hero specialized for surveillance, yes," Nezu informed. "Tsukauchi Naomasa is a trusted individual and Ragdoll, whom I suppose you might recall, wishes to remedy her mistake months ago."
"Then I suppose that's fine," Shirou nodded.
"Are you really agreeing to this, Shirou? It's a month," Yu stressed with worry. That was a month in which they couldn't do anything. "I can get someone else to look after you– like 'Bami-chan or even Shinji! We don't need to bend over backwards just because they're worried!"
Then they'll both be under scrutiny too.
"And cause trouble for others?" Shirou smiled. "Yu, the principal is offering a way that appeases both the police and the general public. Running away isn't going to change anything, it might just make things worse. As much as it sounds bad, this is the best decision."
"I know that…!" Yu hissed. "I just…"
"We understand that this is a difficult decision," Nezu comforted, even if Aizawa shook his head. "However, we can guarantee that, at U.A., that he can continue his education, be shielded from the media, and protected from whoever is circulating this information. We've already taken precautions and are in the process of upgrading our security systems. He will be protected there."
Yu furrowed her brow and grit her teeth, clear frustration on her face.
"… fine," Yu relented. "I'll put my trust in you, Nezu."
Shirou hoped nothing too bad would happen while the situation was being sorted.
Bound like an animal.
Above all, dragged to a prison the likes only whispered about.
Stain knew he was being transported in a cell, one likely attached to a truck. A prison transport that was surely moving him towards a more… permanent residency, one that only cared for the most ruthless and dangerous individuals to society.
Unfortunately, there was very little he could do about it.
His favored daggers and blades have long since been taken from him, stolen by sheep following a misshapen dogma. No longer could he dispense justice, for the confines of this cell exceeded any possible chance he had at escape. His quirk was rendered useless, as there was no jailer whose blood he could ingest. Mechanical dolls stood watch outside his cell while security cameras watched his every move.
Still, Stain kept still. His transport– and the upcoming prison, while well-guarded, was not where his creed would end.
The world had yet to understand the fragility of society.
It had yet to learn of the facade that heroes wore.
His purpose had yet to be fulfilled.
He flexed from his bindings, noting how he could barely move an inch. In doing so, the security cameras brightened, opening the door in front of him and allowing the dolls to enter. In a threatening manner, they raised their arms, which opened to reveal the barrels of a gun.
Ruthless, but he supposed that was to be expected. He had fallen many false heroes, and as such, was a threat. After halting his movements, the robots left the room in about ten seconds. The security cameras also dimmed once again.
Ten seconds on alert, A mere second until they reacted, and little to no progress in escaping his bindings.
Even if he had a month, it was unlikely that he'd escape.
All thanks to a single boy. A misbegotten sheep whose demeanor mirrored his own yet repulsed him to a fanatical degree.
Stain supposed that it was fitting that a boy whose foolish idealism matched that of All-Might, the greatest hero, one who all heroes should have strived to imitate.
And yet they won't. They likely won't even realize until their world comes crashing down on them. Monstrous villains lurk outside the media's grasp, where only true heroes dared tread. Mockeries like Endeavor would never partake in such, not unless it furthered their own careers– because that was always their priority, profit.
All because he was defeated by a child.
But why? Why did he lose?
That child was barely out of his youth, not even at the cusp of his prime. Yet he was skilled, much more so than any child his age had any right to be. Was he yet another one of those puppets, raised from birth to maintain this faulty status quo? It would fit, yet even those dogmatic fools wouldn't strengthen a child who held such… polarizing views.
A government tool who'd save even the lives of villains? Not even the most dogmatic suit was deluded enough to believe that lie.
So why was he so strong?
Why was he so weak?
That child, in his eyes, embodied both what a hero should be, yet at the same time, was complicit in how society grotesquely molded itself. He embodied the very idea of self-sacrifice, yet sought to even save those who were not worth saving. That child adopted his zeal, but towards an entirely different and infuriating direction.
Stain's beliefs were not wrong. He'd be a deluded fool to believe otherwise. The truths that he espoused had yet to be heard to the wider world, to the heart of society, it had yet to reach them– it had yet to reach anyone!
His purpose would not end here! Even if he had to bite and gnaw his way out of these chains, he would–
The sound of crushing stone and explosions, a harsh impact lambasted the transport. The restraints around him kept him chained like an animal, but it also kept him secure as the transport tossed and turned like a child's toy. However, he still felt some discomfort at being thrown around like a ragdoll!
Was someone attacking the prison transport?
Stain frowned, both curious and wary at the connotations. There was little he could do as the robots outside were reduced to rubble. The cameras around him dimmed until they malfunctioned.
A moment of silence, of reprieve, soon came to pass.
Should he keep quiet?
A momentary part of him entertained the thought that the child was back – ready to smite him – and that Stain had somehow succeeded in convincing him that his idealism was wrong. However, once he caught the glimpse of the pitch-black eyes, smug grin, and Nomu-esque skin, such thoughts left him.
A mixture of feelings welled up inside him. Indignation, fury, and perhaps even a hint of confusion. However, above all, anger surged up from within. He pushed against his bindings, trying to tear them apart like a maddened dog, yet how he looked mattered very little when this vile vermin was right in front of him!
"Yeah, that's me," he smiled. "Friendly welcome, I see."
"Well, we didn't really ever properly talk to each other, you know?" That monster dared to laugh at his righteous anger! "Look, I'm pretty sure we only have like, ten minutes until the law comes down on our asses. Bossman's offer is still on the table–"
"After what you did to me, you think I'd join up with the likes of you!?"
Even as Stain had been writhing in anger, coiling at the chance at the Beast's throat, neither could cloud his mind!
It was impossible to forget the suffering he had to endure until that fateful night! Every hour of every second, his body had been plagued by this- this abomination's poison! Not to mention what happened on that fateful night itself!
Driven mad and puppeteered by actions, not of his own. His mental fortitude had left him, leaving him under the control of demons that lurked only within his mind. Any semblance of control he had disappeared, leaving him but a puppet to his–
Puppet? To what? His ideals?
Let madness enhance your soul!
"Dude, I'm pretty sure I didn't do anything to you," he frowned. "The last time we even met was when you rejected Shigaraki's offer the first time round."
"Liar!" Stain growled. "I heard your foul whispers, tainting my mind with vile aggravations! Had your machinations not run rampant, I would not have been so exhausted! I would have escaped–!"
"Wait, whispers?" He frowned. "Huh… looks like that's still a thing. Sorry man, I didn't know about that, but thanks for letting me know. Do you still have my blood running around in you or nah? Because if you do, then you might run rampant again."
The Beast's nonchalance was insufferable! Was he supposed to believe that the monster, butcher of innocents, would accidentally curse him with demonic urges!? Preposterous!
"Yeah, well, like it or not, that's what happened," the Beast frowned. "Look, it's either you join up with Shigaraki or you can join the others in that looney-bin called Tartarus. Between you and me, I think the choice is kinda obvious–"
"I told you and your group before," he snarled. "What purpose is there to a fight without conviction!? His actions are that of a child, lashing out at the world without a clear goal in mind. What sort of change would that bring!?"
"Hell if I know," the Beast shrugged. "To be honest, I'm just along for the ride. If I disobey, then I say goodbye to this body of mine, which is a shame cuz it's a really snug fit if you get what I mean?"
That face… the chances that he was lying were next to none.
This… this buffoon! A monster unrepentant at his unjustified murders– his pointless slaughter! He had thought that the Beast only joined with Shigaraki and his ilk out of some sort of hidden, higher purpose.
But he had none?
Then what was the point? Why did he even join a group of villains? To keep a body? What sense was there in that action? Was that some round-a-bout way to say he was being forced to join? But if that was so, would he not show some degree of anger?
Impossible. This fool… did he just not care about his situation? Did he not care about the slaughter he performed? The people he was working along with or how he vehemently detested him, did he see it as beneath him?
"You…" Stain twitched. "You're even more of a child, aren't you? No, a mere lackey, a follower. I suppose it's fitting that a vagrant like you would be, especially if you were pathetic enough as to murder civilians."
"Well, I am the weakest Servant, which is kind of pathetic in it's own right," he laughed, yet Stain did not see the humor. "Seriously though, are you going to just sit there and wait for the feds to haul you over to a cell? I'd imagine that'd be bad for you, right?"
Stain grit his teeth. The fool spoke true. His future confinement at Tartarus would harm his entire purpose and perhaps prevent him from even changing this facade-riddled world. If he could barely escape the transport like before, then how would he escape that prison–
"You are so… hard-headed, you know?"
Stain narrowed his eyes.
"It's like you're just so focused on one method of doing things that you aren't even willing to try anything else… No, maybe you did try everything else. A man with good intentions going down a darker path?" The Beast scratched at his chin before smiling. "Well, ain't that a classic? I could think of a couple of other people that were like you, not that that's a bad thing. Though, I'm pretty sure most of them died in agony and accomplished nothing."
Stain growled once more. This lackadaisical buffoon was testing his patience–
"How about this," the Beast smiled. "You lack power. You can't achieve your goals as you are now. All your efforts up till now have been for naught if you're confined to that prison. Shigaraki wants a new member, one who has experience in taking down high-priority targets without dragging too much attention to themselves. He also needs someone to guide him and his organization to success. I think we both know that someone isn't me."
The Hero-Killer frowned. "... Even if I consider it, there is little chance of working alongside that fool. A puppet without purpose strung along by mere want. It's pathetic, like a spoiled child."
"But he's strong," the Beast said. "A child kicking and screaming annoys everyone, but even the loudest brat can make others listen. What the child ends up saying… well, it depends on what he's taught, doesn't it?"
Again, the Beast tries to convince him, but for what purpose?
"You're too invested in this idea. What happened to being, in your own asinine terms, along for the ride?"
"If I'm dragged on a boring ride, I'm going to do everything to make it interesting," he smiled. "It's better than just saying, are we there yet, right?"
Stain closed his eyes.
"... There will not be any mindless chaos," Stain stated. "There will be a purpose for every attack."
As he was now, there would be no one to hear his creed, the call for heroes to return to the old ways, the purer ways–
"There will be a purpose for every death."
–the false heroes will continue to roam, dyeing the world in their colors, continually seeking compensation for saving lives–
"There will be a purpose for each and every single action we take."
–and fools, both Shigaraki and that sword child alike, will continue in their paths of misguided purpose.
Such would not happen under his watch. He would not allow society to taint another child as it had that child, dogmatic in his belief of inviolable heroism. He would not allow the League of Villains to simply be a ragtag bunch of misfits…
"Should such aimless actions happen under my cooperation, I will kill you all myself. Is that clear, Beast?"
"You know, you can just call me Angra," he laughed as shadows enveloped them. "But, I hear you loud and clear, newbie!"
… even if he had to mold it with his own two hands.
"So, Kurogiri, did you and Angra remember to get him?"
"Yes. However, we've picked up quite a few additions. We believe them to be exceptional."
"Giran's suggestions, I'm guessing?"
"Indeed. The Hero-Killer's addition has boosted our members significantly."
Shigaraki sighed as he scratched his chest. The scar that was sure to linger forever reminded him of who nearly ended him. Strangely, from what the old quack told him, he wouldn't have died from that attack. It was almost as if it was purposely stopped from killing him– as if he was spared out of pity. While he would've been angry to a fault, perhaps even brutalize Angra a few more times to relax, recently Shigaraki had started feeling… contemplative.
His plan, which he believed would have worked, had failed. Twice now, unforeseen variables had snatched victory from his grasp. Once was a happenstance. Twice was a coincidence. Shigaraki did not want there to be a third time. That mere thought had stalled his turbulent mind.
The next time, there would be no third. That brat, Emiya Shirou, would be dealt with.
He eyed the sheets of paper that Kurogiri provided him. He hated being babysat– getting notes from his teacher always made him angry. However, these were not internet guides, but tips and tricks to help him do it himself. The tips and tricks in question were nothing more than reports on who his 'new members' were.
A serial killer, an arsonist, a mental patient, a fanboy, a magician, and even a kid without anything better to do.
No matter who they were, or what their circumstances were, Shigaraki knew that every character had their strengths and weaknesses. Utilizing them correctly so that they would become true benefits to his cause.
And what was his cause? What was the glorious reason they had chosen to join him?
Some would argue he had none. Some would say that they could help him find one, or maybe even create one. No doubt more than a few of his allies had their own ideas about his goals, of his cause, and would only work with him if it allowed their own goals to come to fruition.
Shigaraki didn't care for that. Whether or not he could get them to their goals, they'd have to decide that themselves. However, his goal for now…
Shigaraki let out a raspy laugh.
… was getting rid of the unforeseen variable.
Killing that damn brat, Emiya Shirou!
Next Chapter(s): Late November (hopefully)
EDIT: I meant Late September. Fkn dates and shit. Brain go brr when nose also go brr.
A/N: Yeah, I had Heights Alliance (the U.A. dormitories) built early. I really hope that people don't get their jimmies rustled by that, but they'll probably mald at what I decided to try out with Stain in this fic, which is him actually joining the League of Villains.
Not gonna lie, the original plan in regards to what Shirou pulls out to defeat the enhanced Stain was vastly different from what I had ended up with. There was this nameless scythe that Gilgamesh once used for the original DEEN adaptation of Fate, which drained the energy of whatever it cut through without actually physically harming them. I planned to use that to erase Angra-Mainyu's influence from Stain in an extended fight scene (which is why I ended it in a cut scene, having expected an extended fight). Unfortunately, I had a few people tell me that this is somewhat unfeasible, which led me to look for alternatives, one that wasn't Rule Breaker because it's overused. (Yeah, that was my reasoning for that, sue me. Also, that the taint would remain due to Avenger's blood still being in his system. Idfk, I'm just a guy throwing shit at a dartboard hoping it makes sense enough for me to believe)
But hopefully, now that we got the Stain Arc out of the way and the resulting changes, we can move on to the Final Exam arc. I wager that'd only be two or three chapters long, which will hopefully let me give Shirou more interactions with his classmates, as I think he's sorely lacking in those.
Oh yeah, I got Koyanskaya, but no Oberon because I'm saving for a potential Summer Ereshkigal... and then despair when I don't get her. Sadge.
Now, after posting this, I'll sleep. My nose is running like a literal waterfall (as it's always done for the every fkn end of the month, for some reason). I need to probably take some medicine too. Sheeesh.
Until next time,