Pre-A/N: Updates, from now on, might be sporadic. I have OJT to focus on. A more in-depth A/N is below.
Beta: L33t Horo
Shirou sighed as he listened to Aizawa's morning attendance.
It was once again the morning of classes. A full day had passed since his talk with Todoroki. The dual-haired teen was much less hostile towards him, especially compared to a few weeks prior. However, Shirou admittedly had less time to be thankful for it.
No, his main problem right now was with the upcoming session after classes.
Shirou had talked to Nezu last night, which was easy to do when you had his number saved. The principal seemed quite enthusiastic about the idea of extra-curricular sessions. So much so, that he said that anyone was free to join should they desire, and that they were free to use it even during the weekends should they so desire.
This was what Shirou wanted, but… he ended up having some… concerns, as to why it was this easy to obtain.
Nezu was hiding something, but Shirou honestly felt little need to look into it. He wasn't as paranoid as Archer, so he wouldn't go jumping at shadows. Also, Shirou admittedly trusted Aizawa, and he trusted the principal, so Nezu had at least some form of reliability. However, Shirou kept that in mind.
As Aizawa continued, Shirou's mind unintentionally drifted towards the current class atmosphere.
In his honest opinion, it was much better than it was yesterday. It had been a worrying thing to consider, that a classmate they've spent a few months with was potentially a spy, but as it turned out, many seemed to care about it less and less. Naturally, those he hadn't interacted with extensively were still a bit wary. They had the right to be so wary, but from acquaintances ranging from Midoriya to Yaoyorozu, they acted like it didn't matter– and if not then, mattered very little.
Shirou noticed Midoriya turning his head back to catch a glimpse of him, but in doing so, caught Aizawa's watchful eye. Uh oh.
"I suppose you've all grown bored of pleasantries. Isn't that right, Midoriya?" Aizawa snorted derisively at his panicked reaction. "Fine. I suppose we've wasted enough time as it is. I'm sure you all know that summer vacation is right around the corner, but of course, it wouldn't make sense for you all to rest for the entire summer."
Shirou could feel some of his classmate's trepidation.
"During the summer, we'll be having a training camp in the woods," Aizawa announced.
As his classmates collectively cheered, Shirou blinked.
A training camp?
Isn't that… almost exactly like what he planned to do with Midoriya and everyone else if they wanted to join? Did Nezu announce this after he asked him… No, this must've been pre-planned. Why authorize extra-curricular training sessions with his classmates if they were going to go on a training camp in the first place?
It didn't make sense.
"If we're out in the wilderness, we'll have to work under different circumstances, right?" he heard Yaoyorozu mutter.
"No matter the environment, we must choose wisely," Tokoyami replied. "... Interesting."
"However," Aizawa activated his quirk, intimidating his students as the excitement rose above what he deemed acceptable. "Those who do not pass the final exam before that… will partake in a hellish summer school experience. That, I guarantee."
The air of excitement now had an undertone of both worry and determination. Even though Aizawa explained when the final exam was and reminded them that they, technically, had enough time to study, that didn't assuage their worries.
… To be frank, it didn't assuage his worries either, not that he was worried about passing the exams.
"That's it for today's class," Aizawa continued. "Remember. There's only one week until the finals. It won't be easy, so study hard… that being said, studying isn't all that will help you. I'm sure you're all aware that, just like in the entrance exam, there'll be a practical component to the tests as well. That'll count for fifty percent of your grade. If you're not confident in your potential practical scores… study hard. If you illogically think that passing the practical will be easy, you might as well drop out right now. A hero must train both their mind and their body. That is all."
And just like that, the teacher left. However, not before sending a nigh unperceivable glance his way.
Shirou sighed as the door closed.
That was when the metaphorical pandemonium erupted.
"I haven't studied at all!" Kaminari lamented as Ashido laughed beside him, having also not studied. "With the Sports Festival and the internships, I haven't studied at all!"
"True… we've had events one after another," Tokoyami muttered. It was a grievance that was mirrored with quite a few of his classmates.
Ashido and Kaminari quickly pivoted from mirthful panic into envious irritation towards their shortest classmate, who knew that with his academic standing within the class, he was sure to at least pass.
Shirou blinked as he considered the academic standings. It had been a while since he had glanced at them, but they should be visible somewhere… Ah, right by the wall.
So Ashido and Kaminari were both 20th and 21st respectively, which was the absolute bottom of the class. That was saddening, but where was he…? Oh, third. Shirou supposed that only reinforced his current confidence, as he hadn't forgotten anything they've learned so far.
"Yaomomo!" Ashido cried. "Help me study! I don't even know where to start!"
"Ah, I'd love to, Ashido-san," Yaoyorozu smiled warily. "But, I have a prior arrangement. I'll be busy this week."
"EH!?" Ashido's eyes bugged out. "NO! Pretty please?"
"Principal Nezu authorized that extra-curricular activities could be held at a nearby dormitory within the campus," Yaoyorozu replied. "The activity in question is one that I've been doing for quite some time. It would be rude of me to cancel all of a sudden–"
"Then what about after?" Ashido pushed. "I can buy you cakes! I have a discount at d'Acier!"
From how Yaoyorozu flinched, it was easy to tell that she was interested. The cafe had been extremely popular, and even on a slow day, there would be a patron or two. How did Shirou know this? Considering he worked at the place for a week, it'd be weird if he didn't.
"The activities are… long," Yaoyorozu grimaced. "If I want to make time to tutor you, I'd have to leave early."
"Damn it!" Ashido lamented, joining Kaminari in his despair. "What's that thing even about anyway?"
"Oh, is it that thing?" Uraraka suddenly chimed in. "You know? The spars?"
"Indeed, Uraraka-san," Yaoyorozu smiled. "Will you be joining us? The principal recently allowed us to use an on-campus dormitory so that we don't need to waste time renting a gym."
"Really?" She tilted her head. "Is Iida and Deku joining?"
"I am," Midoriya nodded.
"As am I," Iida smiled softly, much to some people's surprise. "I've grown accustomed to sparring with you all. I fear I'll grow complacent if I don't."
"Wait, it's just sparring?" Kaminari suddenly piped in, having gotten interested in their conversation. "Then, couldn't you just tutor Ashido after it? It can't take that long for a spar to finish… right?"
And as if on queue, the party consisting of Midoriya, Uraraka, Iida, and Yaoyorozu started laughing to themselves with a cloud of gloom overhanging them.
"You'd think that I suppose," Yaoyorozu muttered. "That's the normal thought process, I suppose. Ahaha."
"... It takes longer?" Ashido prodded.
"Before, it used to be only an hour or two long, but recently, it goes until we can at least get a hit on our opponent. Considering exactly who our opponent is..." Uraraka muttered as her gaze strayed towards a certain classmate sitting at the far back corner, simply watching them all, confused at the attention. "... Yeah. It'd be great if it didn't take long."
"Wait, spar with Emiya!?" Kaminari cried out in shock. "That's what you guys were doing this entire time!?"
"The last spar we had was before the whole Hosu thing," Uraraka added. "But even then, we barely even got him once! It was only a combo attack that let us scratch him."
"And you fought him together…?" Kaminari's brow twitched. "Hey, are you sure that he isn't some secret spy? That's soooo not normal."
"Positive," Yaoyorozu smiled. "After all, why would a spy waste day after day training with his classmates?"
"Well, you got a point there," Kaminari shrugged. "Well, that sucks. Looks like I'll have to nag someone else…. Ugh, I don't want to ask Mineta, but is that the only option I've got?"
"Well, if these spars only last until they land a hit," Ashido had a wide smirk. "Then, if we join and help them out, wouldn't it end sooner!?"
"You're a genius!" Kaminari cheered on his fellow academic bottom-feeder. "Hey, Emiya, can we join?"
Well, that wasn't what he expected. He had expected that it'd take a while before they'd warmed up enough to the idea, so he had initially wanted to sprinkle the idea in slowly, but this worked to his favor.
"Emiya, if those two are joining, then you don't mind if I do as well?" Todoroki, who had silently listened alongside him, asked.
Shirou simply smiled. "That's fine. The principal said that anyone could join if they wanted. Although, I think you all have some... misconceptions. Everyone is only sparring against me because I thought that'd be the best way to improve their practical skills, but that was only after we managed to help them individually."
"Meaning?" Todoroki prodded.
"Meaning bad habits and the like had to be worked out," Iida sighed. "I discovered that I leaned too heavily into my kicks, which ended up disrupting my balance if I get taken off guard. It also made me too slow to react to sneak attacks. Emiya has managed to iron this out of me, but it only truly sank in during our spars."
"I had similar habits starting as well," Yaoyorozu supplied. "I would focus too much on weapons, or my opponent's quirk, which made it easy to be misled by feints. I also thought too much during the spars, which caused me to hesitate in my decisions."
"I also had the same problem," Midoriya admitted. "But, despite how tedious it sounds, it helped a lot!"
"We could tell," Ashido retorted. "You placed first in All-Might's last class, didn't you? I guess sparring with Emiya made you that good?"
"I suppose so," Midoriya nodded.
"Then it's settled!" Ashido and Kaminari both bellowed. "We'll be joining in!"
"And? When's this spar? And where?" Todoroki raised a brow.
"After classes, today," Shirou saw it fit to be the one to inform them. "But, if you wanted to study for your written exams, then why not at Heights Alliance? It's open during weekends, or at least the principal says it is. I'll be there if you need me."
"And why would you be there during the weekend?" Kaminari asked in surprise.
"Well…" Shirou scratched the back of his head. "Nezu made an offer to be under protection until you know what blows over. I thought that it'd be a better use of my time, rather than wasting the weekend doing nothing. We could spend the whole day studying if you want."
"A study session, offered by the third-highest in the entire class?" Kaminari nearly exclaimed. "You'd have to be dumb to say no!"
"Or you'd have to use your quirk," Jiro snarked as she suddenly cut in. "Hey, Emiya. I overheard you'd be having a study session later, mind if we join? I'm sort of good at studying, but I'm not good at quadratic functions…"
"Oh! And me!" Sero chimed in. "I need some help with classical Japanese!"
"Is it okay if I join too?" Ojiro peaked over. "There's… honestly a lot I don't get."
"Looks like you'll be busy during the weekend, Emiya," Todoroki mused.
"Sure," Shirou agreed. "While we're at it, how about joining the training later today? If you think it could help you in the long run, I'm sure I can help you too."
"Eh, why not?" Sero shrugged. "If it could help out my practical score by even a little bit, I'm game."
"Same," Jiro smiled. "Hey, Sato! You in too?"
"Why not?" He shrugged as he turned to his friend. "Oh, and Koda says he wants to give it a try."
"Such a candid gathering shall be a wonderful place to display my magnificence!" Aoyama almost sang. "Consider my illustrious self, joining!"
"By the way, it won't just be studying on the weekends, right?" Jiro raised her brow as she ignored her classmate. "I kinda overheard the sparring thing. If we could spend half of the weekend sparing and the other studying… it's just a suggestion, okay?"
"That's fine with me," Shirou agreed. "Is everyone okay with going to Heights Alliance today? If you're going to be joining on the weekends, then I might as well show you guys where it is as soon as possible."
"If there'll be that many people…" Uraraka muttered. "Then, what about food? Will we have to pitch in and pay for takeout? My wallet is just a bit..."
"It's fine," Shirou smiled. "I can cook something up for when the weekend sessions come around. Don't worry about it."
"But just in case," Yaoyorozu smiled brightly. "I can bring tea! My family loves Harrods or Wedgwood, so if you have any preferences, let me know! It shouldn't be too hard to get a chauffeur to deliver them to the dormitory! And since we'll be studying there too, I can help!"
"True, with this many people..." Shirou muttered warily. Maybe he should've reconsidered the idea about inviting literally everyone? But he already got this far… He'd feel wrong if he rejected them all now. "Thirteen people will be hard to manage on my own."
More like, near impossible.
"Then I can help," Todoroki offered. "However, I'd like a one on one spar. We didn't get to face each other during the sports festival, so a friendly one on one should be fine–"
"Let me in on this, sword-bastard."
Suddenly, the group's talks halted as a familiar spiked blond appeared from behind Midorya, who turned around with confusion written all over his face.
"Don't call me that!" Bakugo berated with a roar before he focused back on Shirou. "Don't get me wrong, I don't care that you can run circles around these mobs, but I want another shot at beating you down. I'll even help you beat the knowledge into these bottom-feeders."
It was honestly surprising how hearing the word help from one man could cause so many to wince in phantasmal pain.
"Hey, you can't just–!" Ashido said in a moment of courage.
Looks like Bakugo's reputation was just as it was before, intimidating. Though, having him before him asking to take part, if in a round-a-bout way, was something to think about. Shirou hadn't properly talked to the guy after their fight at the Sports Festival, though it wasn't because he had avoided him.
Bakugo himself seemed to place that distance, yet he could tell that he still hungered for something whenever he caught the blond staring. It didn't take a genius to figure out he wanted a rematch, especially if what happened during the awarding ceremony was true. Namely, the boy going berserk and having to be tied down.
As Bakugo continued to stare at him– and it was truly a stare. Not an overtly irritated glare or a dismissive sneer, but a look that showed he was waiting relatively patiently for his answer… perhaps this was something similar with Todoroki? Had the teen come to his own conclusions?
Shirou simply sighed. Regardless, he wanted everyone to get stronger to survive whatever Avenger and his allies would throw at them because to think they wouldn't do so was a fool's errand. However, he promised Midoriya and the others a spar today, so he couldn't just go back on that.
"Sure, but if it's just a spar you want, then how about today?" Shirou compromised. "I planned to spar with everyone else first, but if you truly want to, then I can spar with you first."
"Fine with me," he said as he turned away. "Don't chicken out of this!"
"Uh, Bakugo?" Kirishima muttered after looking at his friend march out the door. "Okay… Well, if Baku-bro's joining this, then can I too? I'm not the brightest tool in the shed, but–"
"Sure you can!" Ashido agreed without listening to his reasoning. "In fact, please join. There's no one else that can keep Bakugo from exploding at us... both metaphorically and literally."
And that was an understatement. Kirishima was, without a doubt, the only one in their class that Bakugo had an amicable relationship with, maybe even within the entire campus.
"I guess if there's this many people already joining, I guess a few more won't hurt?" Jiro mused. "I can invite the other girls if you want? I'll tell them when they get back from lunch."
"I'd appreciate it," Shirou honestly said.
All was going according to plan so far. Nearly the entire class was joining into the idea, but actually, maybe the idea of actually failing the finals was the biggest motivator. There was also the bandwagon effect, so maybe they were afraid of 'missing out' as it were.
Regardless of the reasons – ranging from habit to the urge to fight – if it gave Shirou the chance to bolster his classmate's growth, then all the more reason to do so.
"Hey, Mineta~" Kaminari snickered. "At this rate, it'll just be you not joining. You sure you don't want to?"
Mineta, at being called, tilted his head to look at them. "Hey, I resent that! Shouji's not joining either!"
"He is," Ojiro answered in Shouji's place. "I asked him before he left to get lunch."
"I see value in this cabal. This mingling of sweat and blood… It will be both challenging and thrilling."
"You guys are seriously joining this miniature training camp before the actual training camp, aren't you?" He muttered before sighing deeply. His gaze lingered at Shirou for just a second before turning away. "... I'll think about it."
Shirou smiled. Maybe this would turn out better than he thought.
… but now there was an actual use for all that dough in the fridge. Small blessings, he supposed.
A decrepit bar, but despite its lack of customers, the place had undergone a few renovations. Though, when he thought back to what happened back when he first visited, he supposed it wasn't too odd.
Stain set aside a whetstone, which he had been using to sharpen one of his many, many knives. He had lost most of his trusted blades, but it had proven remarkably easy to obtain newer ones. Giran, who he had recently gotten acquainted with, was eager to supply him… provided he had the capital for it.
A man true to his desires, even if those desires were merely material wealth.
"So, are you usually this quiet?"
His brow twitched.
"Must you be so… invasive?"
"Well, I was bored. Can you blame me?"
The Beast, or Angra-Mainyu as he insisted to be called, was quite literally a thorn in his side. From the moment that he agreed to join the League, he had expected to be put to work, dealing with unsavory elements and dispatching them with post-haste. Instead, they had relegated him to the sidelines, merely waiting to be called.
However, he was still able to go on his hunts. The network he had access to prior was through hearsay and rumors, leaving him to confirm them himself. Now, through the aid of Giran, he learned more and more about pretenders wearing the badge of heroism to mask their misdeeds. Foul wretches taking advantage of those they saved. Demons who take great joy in playing puppet masters. Even the occasional officer, who had aided in masking the atrocities committed in the name of heroism, had met their end at his blade. Soon after, Kurogiri would aid in his departure.
Thus, his purges had become much more frequent over the past week.
However, even so, his mind wandered to that blasted child. That damnable fool so deeply entrenched in the mindset of saving all who needed it… It was sickening.
"You know, you always frown," Angra-Mainyu deemed to comment. "That isn't going to make you any friends, you know? We're meeting our newest batch of allies, so that's not the best first impression. Shigaraki said that they'd be fun, but I doubt they'd want to be fun if you're always such a downer."
"Fun is not a necessity in my creed," Stain withheld a sigh. "Continue to annoy me and I shall slice open your throat."
"Sheesh, do you threaten everyone trying to be friends with you?"
"Only murderers who are not worthy of it."
"Well, you got me there," the Beast shrugged. "But seriously, you're like, the only interesting guy to talk to until the newbies show up. It's boring as hell when you're not even allowed to go outside, especially with how uppity the law enforcement's being."
"You act as if surprised," the only tolerable person here, Kurogiri, arrived. "Regardless of the outcome of last week's operation, we've managed to unsettle the upper echelons of the hero association. It is expected that they'd come down hard on criminal activity. We cannot risk you being captured."
"You really think I'd be caught? Besides, you're here, aren't you?" Stain rolled his eyes at the arrogance. "Seriously, I just wanted to screw around in the arcade, you know? My skills are getting rusty."
"If you get caught, then your threat level, in the eyes of society, will dwindle, even if I can easily bail you out," Kurogiri explained with irritation. "If you want to waste your time with frivolous activities, then I'll at least arrange for one to be delivered. Does that sate your need for… entertainment?"
"Yes, actually," Angra-Mainyu smiled. "Thanks, foggy! I knew you weren't all that boring."
"You irritate me greatly," Kurogiri bemoaned. "Nevertheless, Shigaraki has deemed you essential to his plans. Speaking of essentials, our allies should be arriving soon. Do not–"
"Make a scene? I'm not an idiot," he rolled his eyes, despite how much both Stain and Kurogiri would disagree.
It was almost mind-boggling that a renowned serial killer would be this childish. Someone who could easily rip a grown man's head clean off without hesitation was very much a social butterfly. Perhaps that said something, but Stain deemed it irrelevant to ponder.
But… Stain hid the glance he sent towards his tentative ally.
The buffoon's face. No matter how long had passed, he still wore the visage of that misguided child. It reminded him of the current smear campaign against that school, or more specifically, towards the specific student known as Emiya Shirou.
Learning that helped put a name to that zealous child. Had Stain not seen the Beast before the current internet slander fest against him and his guardian, then he would have assumed this was some mere fabrication, manipulation by photo editors, or something along those lines. However, if that were truly the case, then they would have no reason to share a face before that smear campaign was even conceived.
His ally was hiding something from him– from all of them. The two were related in more ways than just facial… Perhaps the Beast may know more about that Sword?
When did he let his thoughts writhe with such wanderlust? Pitiful. No, rather than that child who he wouldn't be meeting again for a long while, what he should be focusing on was…
A bell rang as the bar's door swung open.
… his newest allies.
"Oh? Is Shigaraki– your leader, not in today?" Giran questioned as he stood by the shadowed entrance.
Just as Kurogiri was about to reply, the backdoor opened. Out of it came the leader in question. What he was doing in the backroom, Stain had little care to know. All he cared about, in regards to his newest leader, was whether or not he could be nurtured to follow his idealism. So far, it had been a struggle, but Shigaraki showed signs of inclination.
Whether that was out of boredom, he had yet to know. Though, Stain at least knew that the manchild was capable of rational thought. It seemed that his rumored near-death experience a week prior forced him to consider many things, perhaps even widened the scope of his intentions and broadened his mind.
"Let them in," Shigaraki ordered as if the man was his underling.
"I assume you've read the documents?"
"Reading guides isn't fun," the leader explained. "I want to see these potential party members myself. If they're of no use to me, they'll be left behind."
In other words, he wanted to get to know them himself, and a friend's recommendation can only go so far. Deciphering the manchild's lingo was irritating, but there was wisdom in it, even if basic.
"I suppose I shouldn't question my clientele," Giran smiled as he removed a cigar from his mouth before disappearing, likely to tell the potential allies to enter.
Then they arrived. Two individuals, a far cry from the several few provided in Giran's recommendations, but he supposed he should've known that. Not all of them were readily available at a moment's notice. Stain himself had met a potential one a few days ago, a young idealistic sort by the name of Spinner. He would take great care in nurturing him… though, perhaps he should start on the buffoon's abysmal skill at the blade or complete lack thereof.
"So, you're him?" A tall, gangly teen mused. "I saw a picture of you, but you look gross in person."
"You're the hand guy! And Stain-sama is here too! You're both allies, right? Right?" the school girl practically shivered in anticipation. "Let me join, too! This League of Villains thingy!"
One was disrespectful and another wanted to join because Stain himself was here. This marked the second to do so. Stain eyed Shigaraki to see how he'd react. The manchild of before would certainly cast them aside…
"Gross, he says," the Beast whispered to him. "Just look at the guy, he's literally a patchwork of grafted skin."
"Names," Shigaraki didn't even react to it. "Giran."
"As you wish," he smiled from taking another puff of intoxicating fumes. "This cute little high school girl. As you already know, she's been kept under wraps and her name struck from the media, but she's been on the run as a suspect of multiple deaths via blood loss."
"Toga! Himiko Toga," she introduced with a smile. "It's hard to live in this world, so I want it to become an easier place to live! I want to become like Stain-sama! I want to kill Stain-sama! Please let me stab you, Stain-sama!"
Stain's brow twitched for the second time tonight.
The way that child looked at him… she was serious. Then, he supposed that this child was no mere suspect, but the perpetrator herself. A murderous child who admired him. The mere thought of it sent aggravating shivers down his spine.
"I don't get her," Shigaraki likely frowned, but it was unseeable due to his hand-mask.
"I do," Angra-Mainyu laughed. "She's a complete yandere! Better watch yourself, Stain!"
"Stain," the leader called. "Will she be a problem for you? I don't need conflicting party members."
Oh? Acting considerate to allies? Perhaps he had instilled something in that fool.
"What about me? I'm getting freaked out by her too," Angra-Mainyu whined. "Come to think of it… where do I recognize her?"
"A mere child is no threat to me," Stain answered, shooting a glare towards his ally– temporary ally. Though, Stain couldn't help thinking back to one child in particular. "Girl, if you wish to kill me, then do so after I've ripped the facade off of this society."
"Eh? But I want to stabby stab now?" She pouted. "If I don't stab him, then I can't become him!"
Stain raised a brow and looked at Giran.
"Her quirk," Giran smiled.
Ah, that would explain it. The documents detailed her ability to physically mimic others by ingesting their blood, not unlike his own quirk. Stain frowned and rolled his eyes.
The fact she knew of him meant that she had followed his career closely, and evidently, taken inspiration to perform her own crusades. However, he had yet to know for what reason she killed others. An easier world? What flimsy words. It looks as if there was yet another he needed to nurture. There were more and more, far more than he initially intended to teach, but allies were necessary for the completion of his crusade.
He also idly wondered if her quirk would work on the Beast.
"And this gentleman here," Giran continued. "He hasn't really committed any flashy crimes like this girl here, but he says that there's something for him to gain. Though, I suppose the person in question should answer that himself."
"Sure," the teen smirked. "I go by Dabi. I've seen what you've done. You really made a fool of the heroes, especially the top heroes. I've never laughed harder than when I saw that. I still have it recorded. I heard it was your idea? I'm a big fan of it."
"So, you want to join because of that?" Shigaraki questioned. "Why?"
"I can help bring down the walls down on this society, one that worships fake heroes like Endeavor," Stain heard true vitriol in his words. Vengeance was his primary goal, it would appear. "I guarantee that I am the key to permanently erase any hope they have in heroes."
"Big talk!" The Beast smiled. "Care to back it up?"
"Even a fan doesn't reveal all the cards in his hand when he plays with their idols," Dabi smirked. "But… I'll give you a hint. He and I have history. That's all you're getting."
"Right, right," the Beast snorted. "Hey, Shigaraki. You've heard their reasons. Are they even worth it?"
"If you two don't dislike them, then there's no conflict," Shigaraki concluded in consideration, Stain found himself surprised at that. "Good. I hate it when I'm forced to use incompatible characters. It makes it much harder. Kurogiri, see to it that their rooms are prepared. Provide burner phones so that we can contact them. They aren't as popular as us, so they won't be actively hunted. We can take advantage of this."
"A wise decision, Shigaraki Tomura," Kurogiri praised. "Very well, if you both follow me to the backroom, then I can–"
"I knew I recognized you."
Stain did not flinch.
The lug of meat that sat nearby him had disappeared in the blink of an eye and appeared before the child going by the name of Toga.
"Do you remember stabbing a dude going by the name of Tada Hitono?" The Beast asked with a frown. "Short guy, worked in a black company. Ring any bells?"
"Uh…?" Toga, seemingly uncaring at the fact she was being stared down by one of the most dangerous monsters in this country, shrugged. "Not really? I've stabbed a lot of people. Sometimes, when I'm thirsty, I go out to get a drink. Are you talking about one of them?"
So many that you didn't even remember their names? Perhaps this girl needed to be educated further than he realized.
"So he died in vain, without a reason, namely because you just wanted a drink?" Angra-Mainyu mused.
Stain twirled his knife–
"What a riot!" he laughed. "And all this time, that idiot thought that he was killed for a reason! A complete mob! My old body was a complete mob! It's hilarious, isn't it!?"
–and then holstered it back.
"Old body?" Toga questioned with what others would call a cute tilt of her head. "Can you change too? Without a stabby stab?"
"Possessing bodies and corpses, yeah," Angra-Mainyu smiled. "But this Nomu body is sick, in a good way. It lets me do so much more than that old one did, and without having to be influenced by the lingering grudges and shit."
"Malarkey," Stain sneered. "To cast aside those who you have slain as under such a pitiful guise–"
"But, it's true," Shigaraki interrupted, a strangely harsh glare on his face, one that was unlike his previous manchild tantrums. "Angra doesn't have a real body. The one he has now is just a Nomu we provided. If the two of you are going to be allies, then you should know that."
It can't be… the Beast was killing blondes early into his career, was it out of this banal reason? Influenced by the will of a dying man, to get back at his killer? There was a chance that they were lying… but a manchild like Shigaraki, as he is now, wouldn't bother lying, claiming it to be too much of a hassle.
No, this was the truth, or what they believed to be the truth.
"Speaking of things they should know," Angra-Mainyu paused. "Toga, right? On the off-chance that you end up wanting to, don't drink my blood. Stain can tell you that it's not a fun idea."
"Gross," Dabi stated. "I'm guessing that this changing body thing is the main reason why you look like that U.A. kid?"
"Partly," the Beast said. "This body didn't really have a face, so I had to grow one. That kid… we have history, even before you heard whispers of my reputation, so I thought that wearing his face would make things just a little bit more interesting."
"The brat has caused all of us a fair share of problems," Shigaraki sneered. "It wasn't my idea, but it's a way to get back at him, even if it won't last long."
"So it's just out of pettiness? Well, can't say I don't relate," Dabi exhaled sharply before turning to Kurogiri. "So, the burners?"
"... Yes," he said. "Now, before we were so rudely interrupted, follow me."
Dabi, and shortly after Toga, entered the backroom. They called it a back room, but in reality, it was a network of corridors that had many rooms. There was a storage room near the back, so that was likely where they were being taken.
"So, how do you really feel about them, Shigaraki?"
"Slightly above average characters," he stated. "With the upcoming plan, they'll help greatly."
"And you are sure of this plan?" Stain frowned. "I still have my reservations, Shigaraki."
"Changing society is hard, much harder than tearing it down from its foundations," Shigaraki smiled from underneath his mask. "But, it's much more satisfying. U.A., the cradle of heroism, is not a safe haven. However, the school itself hasn't seemed to realize that. The sooner we hammer it home, the better… and if we can get rid of that thorn in our side, that'll be wonderful. I'll leave that particular bonus objective to you, Angra."
"Got it," Angra-Mainyu smiled. "I doubt anyone else could handle him either."
Loathe as he is to admit, Stain agreed.
"And if you still have reservations…" Shigaraki mused. "Why not preach to young impressionable children, instead of old fools set in their ways?"
"To begin with, that's the only reason I considered the plan amiable," Stain sneered.
Yes… to tear it all down, the facade of heroism that the world has sought to enforce, it will start where it always did. At the heart of it all.
Midoriya felt jittery in his seat. He imagined that most of his classmates felt the same.
On one side stood Emiya, twirling an ever-familiar kendo training sword. On the other side, Kacchan stood as both aggravation and irritation were evident on him, arms stretched to be ready at a moment's notice.
Both of them, in the casual white shirts they normally wore under their uniforms, were without a hint of nervousness despite being watched closely by nearly the entire class. Though, compared to the Sports Festival, this was nothing… and speaking of nothing. Midoriya took a glimpse around the area, confirming that, indeed, a few of his classmates had been no-shows.
It should have been expected, actually. Organizing twenty or so people to arrive was as complicated as it sounded, perhaps more so. Uraraka's parents had called her early into the day so she had to leave early to help them out. Jiro and some of the other girls also had things to do. Then there was Aoyama, who upon learning he wouldn't be the center of attention, said that he'd be joining on the weekend but skipped today's… event. Was that the right word?
Luckily, they were the only ones, and everyone else was sitting by the side benches watching intently, including the reluctant Mineta. Though, he seemed preoccupied talking with Kirishima about something.
Midoriya found himself surprised that there even were side benches at the on-campus dormitory. However, given that they and the courtyard were made out of concrete, Midoriya suspected that Cementoss had something to do with that. Not that he or his classmates seemed to mind, as they were sharing some snacks around before the two before they finally got started.
He personally held off from that, because he'd probably lose his lunch anyway if Emiya decided to get serious… which, from the looks of it, wasn't going to be happening.
"Hey, Sword-bastard. You're not using that, are you?"
"No, don't worry," Emiya answered as the shinai disappeared. "I was thinking of how I'd try to teach the others in advance."
Midoriya, honestly, suppressed a grimace and offered a silent prayer for his classmates. A glance at both Yaoyorozu and Iida showed they were doing the same.
"Then what're we waiting for?" Kacchan asked politely– well, polite for his standards. "Bring out that spear, that red one."
"Are you serious about that dude?" Kaminari shouted from behind him. "Last time, he whooped your butt with it!"
To his credit, Kacchan didn't immediately try to inflict third-degree burns, but he did send a nasty glare his way. "That's why I want to fight it! I'm not a coward like you!"
Kaminari chuckled to himself, though Midoriya had no idea why. Was there something funny about it? "Seriously though, Emiya. Our resident bomber has a point. What're we waiting for?"
"There are a few others I've invited," Emiya answered as he stood his ground. "They should be here any minute now."
"Make that any second!"
That voice… Monoma?
"While it loathes me to be here around Class-1A," Monoma sighed. "I just had to accompany my friend here."
"You could have just left, Monoma," Shinso sighed as he sat down. "Emiya asked for me, not you. You don't need to be here."
"And leave you, the star of our class, to be alone with these guys?" Monoma shuddered in disgust. "I'd rather not."
"But coming in uninvited is also rude, isn't it?" Midoriya smiled at the familiar voice of Kendo. It looked like she and Shinso were doing fine. He had worried they wouldn't be, especially after being chased for as long as they had been. "I saw this guy tagging along, so I'm just here to keep him in line. Yui's here to help me, right Yui?"
The sigh that her bob-cut classmate gave was both scathing and accepting.
"Why the hell did you invite these mobs?" Kacchan's usual way of talking made itself known.
"It wouldn't be fair if I just invited one hero class, would I?" Emiya raised his brow as he did some basic stretches. "We're all hero course students here. We should be helping each other."
Ah, of course, Emiya would think like that… Midoriya held back a wry laugh.
"So, what is this anyway?" Monoma asked as he sat beside Shinso, who had taken a seat near Midoriya himself. "A grudge match? Can't imagine that goody-two-shoes would invite everyone to see him punk the blond, but I'm not complaining."
"A good way to explain it would be an exhibition match to see if they'd be interested in joining our extra-curricular activities," Todoroki took the chance to explain, despite the curses sent Monoma's way. "A few of our classmates wanted to see why it took four of our classmates to barely catch up to Emiya, despite there being, obviously, several of them being there."
"Those four being?" Shinso asked.
There was no hesitance in answering, despite knowing of Shinso's quirk. "Iida, Midoriya, Yaoyorozu, and lastly Uraraka, who had been called away for family matters."
"Quite a few heavy hitters," Kendo mused. "So, did Emiya want to train with everyone?"
"Less train with everyone and more simply train everyone," Ojiro muttered. "Coming from anyone else, I'd have thought he was bragging."
"Whatever. There's no one else to wait for, right!?" Kacchan's eagerness was bursting at the seams. "Then… make that spear already. I need to have a word with it, with my explosions, before I break it."
For some reason, Midoriya caught the ghost of a smile on Emiya's face.
"You can try."
In that time, despite being far away from the center of the courtyard, Kacchan blasted through the air without waiting a single second to see if Emiya was ready.
However, as Bakugo had requested he didn't hold back, Emiya seemed to oblige.
To meet it, Emiya created the very same weapon that he had created back during the Sports Festival–
Midoriya felt something shudder from inside of him. A quick glance at his finger showed that it was coated in One-for-All.
As Midoriya canceled it and focused on the match, he could only catch the sight of that ruefully red spear spinning in preparation before its tip appeared in front of the approaching Bakugo. For a brief moment, Midoriya panicked at his childhood friend being skewered by a pike, but Bakugo managed to flinch away just in time to dodge it.
Bakugo spun with his explosions midair and repositioned behind their classmate, much like he did against Midoriya all the way back in their first exercise. He was about to blast him into kingdom come, yet the rear of the spear came flying at him as he ended up receiving its blunted rear, yet it was still pointy enough to cause some bruising.
Bakugo held back a gasp from the attack, but in doing so he was nearly hit by a swift swipe of the spear. To his credit, a blast sent him flying away. However, the cloud that he had left behind folded in on itself as something shot out of it towards him–
Kacchan swerved and allowed whatever it was to pass him by, but it was clear that it had been an accident to correct his flight path.
A sword. Emiya had launched a sword at him, just like he had with those Black Blood Vanguard a week ago.
And it happened in two seconds. All that had happened in merely two seconds.
"You…" Bakugo growled. "You're not using just the spear."
"I thought you didn't want me to hold back?" Emiya frowned. "But if it's just this spear that you want, then I can do that."
"Don't be stupid–" his palms burned bright. "–keep doing that!"
However, instead of rocketing towards him as he did before, Bakugo blasted a plume of smog towards him, likely to blanket his approach. Emiya responded swiftly by launching even more of his swords to where he last saw him, but it was only because Midoriya was at the sidelines that he could see his childhood friend launch himself into the air to dodge it. It also looked like the blanket would cover his approach.
However, as if on cue, the previously shot blades curved impossibly and blasted upwards towards Bakugo. A look of surprise filled his face as he let loose an explosion large enough to both conceal him and disrupt the swords' flight paths.
"So that's what he meant by applying vectors beforehand," Todoroki muttered.
"Vectors?" Midoriya blurted. Wasn't that magnitude and direction?
"Emiya told me a little bit about his quirk yesterday," Todoroki replied. "He mentioned having to add vectors to his blades to launch them upon summoning, or else they'll just clutter onto the floor uselessly."
Midoriya blinked, but that would mean... "I see! He predicted where Kacchan would go and left a timed sequence on his blades!"
Was that how he was able to launch them at near-bullet speeds? Wait, if that was true, then couldn't he actually launch them faster than that? Did it require more effort to do so? If that was so, then it'd be very hard to approach Emiya from afar, especially since they knew he could hit a target from seven-hundred miles away. Midoriya didn't forget Aizawa's test easily.
Could Yaoyorozu do that too? Probably, but probably not, as she didn't instantaneously create them as Emiya did.
"It's clearing up now," Ojiro commented, eyes narrowed in focus.
A flash of red light peered out from the smoke before it launched upward like a bullet, clearing away the fog in an instant. However, Bakugo wasn't anywhere above their classmate. Instead, Bakugo had somehow appeared behind Emiya spinning like a tornado– Midoriya recognized that move.
"Howitzer…!" his childhood friend growled. "Impact!"
However, Emiya looked to have expected it. The red spear was gone from his hands, having flown into the sky to clear the smoke, but it appears that he didn't want to use it anymore. Midoriya thought that it'd enrage his childhood friend, but as Emiya created something else, such thoughts quickly faded.
Chains surrounded his spinning classmate, having launched from behind Emiya, ensnaring him in its grasp.
The other side of the chains spun around lazily, but Bakugo held back a gasp of surprise when he was no longer airborne and crashed into the courtyard.
Luckily, the chains prevented him from getting hurt too badly, but he struggled to get out of his self-made prison. And Midoriya did mean self-made.
Using Kacchan's own move against him… That attack uses the rotational power combined with his explosive force to deal a devastating blow, but in doing so, it left him open to being attacked. That rotational force aided in quickly wrapping around him, adding weight and stopping his airborne momentum. The other ends of the chains had to have been launched with an opposing direction, maybe to counteract Bakugo's rotational force and slow his momentum? If he didn't, then the chains might've flown off of him before they could get a secure grip–
"Thank you, for the play-by-play," Monoma drawled. It was only then that Midoriya noticed that he had taken out his notebook and scribbled a diagram describing the action. Was he muttering too!? "I imagine most of us got that… most of us."
"I don't like how he's looking at me in particular," Kaminari frowned. "Hey, buddy, what'd I do to you?"
"Damn it!" Bakugo growled as he struggled to break free. "You didn't do this before!"
"Before, I was surprised," he answered. "But now, I know what to do beforehand."
Bakugo sucked in his own teeth as he got onto his feet. "This isn't over."
"How original," Monoma mocked.
Shinso widened his eyes. "No, wait–"
Bakugo howled and spun once again with the help of his quirk. This time, however, the opposite direction. The chains around him came undone and flew away from him, some towards Emiya, and the others–
Midoriya blinked as Yaoyorozu had created a wall and Kendo extended her enlarged fists out to block them, but they disappeared in blue light before that.
Fast, Midoriya widened his eyes. Yaoyorozu had created an object nearly as large as she was within a fraction of the time it would've taken her normally, and Kendo reacted surprisingly quick, despite the fact they were leisurely sitting around.
"That was close!" Ashido bemoaned as she peeked over Kirishima, who was understandably hard. "Hey! Watch it!"
"Emiya canceled his quirk in time, so we weren't in any harm," Todoroki shrugged it off. However, Midoriya did take note of the ice surrounding his feet.
"Did he mention that to you too…?" Iida asked. He had positioned himself to kick them away.
Such a thing… those chains flew at them way too fast. It was barely a second.
Did Emiya react faster than even his childhood friend? The idea sort of shocked him, but considering what he did early on in their first training exercise, deflecting rubber bullets, he supposed this should be expected.
Todoroki nodded before waving for everyone else to settle. Emiya was looking on to them in confusion while Bakugo, noting his opponent wasn't focusing on him, waited in begrudging irritation, most of that said irritation was sent their way.
"Sorry, Baku-bro!" Kirishima shouted. "You can keep going!"
"And maybe be a bit more careful!" Kendo shouted. "We're still here, you know!"
"Then get behind a wall!" Bakugo shouted. "You're the idiots sitting right next to us without expecting anything to happen to you! What? Do you get front row seats in a basketball game without the ball flying at you!?"
"He does have a point," Shinso sighed. "Miss Yaoyorozu, are you okay with creating a more protective wall? Preferably see-through."
"Or we move further back," Kaminari nodded to himself, already noting that Mineta had done so. "Which is what I'm going to do."
Almost as if the spar hadn't been interrupted, though Midoriya was hesitant in actually calling it a spar. Bakugo seemed prepared to maim him, but… he was being much more controlled than he usually was.
What was the reason?
Bakugo tried to approach, yet Emiya stone-walled him with launched blades.
He tried to smokescreen once more. It was blown away with much of the same.
Was there… Was there actually any way around those swords if they're launched at you as fast as they were? As Bakugo was now, there wasn't any way for him to break through such oppressive fire–
"If that doesn't work–!" Bakugo howled. "Take this!"
And then Bakugo threw something.
A trail of miniature explosions followed it– propelled it.
Emiya, realizing that he had no idea what was obscured by howling fire and blackened smog, created a shield to weather the blow. In doing so, he was sent skidding back just a few inches before he canceled his shield. However, Bakugo was right in front of him, having followed behind whatever it was he did.
Midoriya half-thought he'd create his swords again at close range. However, Emiya clearly didn't do so and merely raised his arms up in preparation. Bakugo, seeing this, growled until his teeth were bared and landed with a hop and a skip with his own arms raised.
Emiya threw a straight punch. Bakugo blocked it. He tried following through with a hook but was met with a swift jab to his bicep. Bakugo winced but kicked his leg out. Emiya caught it and prepared to toss him to the side, but Bakugo, having gotten very used to being thrown around by his own explosions, twirled until he landed on his feet.
Then the two of them rushed at each other once more.
"What are they doing?" Monoma frowned. "Can't they still use their quirks?"
"They're sparring, remember?" Todoroki answered, seemingly knowing what was happening. "There's no point to a spar if both sides keep going at it until they're tired. You don't learn anything. All you'll end up with is bruises and wasted effort. Bakugo clearly learned something earlier, so Emiya likely wants to too."
"So they both just decided to practice quirkless fighting?" Ashido raised a brow. "Isn't that… weird?"
"There's nothing wrong with learning how to fight without your quirk," Ojiro seemingly defended. Though, considering both his background and his quirk, it made sense. "Though, Bakugo might have seen it as a challenge and didn't back down."
"That's definitely something Baku-bro would do," Kirishima nodded to himself. "How manly!"
But… Midoriya pondered. What was it that Kacchan had thrown earlier? Was it support equipment? No, there was no way his prideful childhood friend would do that, so what was it?
Emiya clearly had an advantage, being able to counter and redirect most of Bakugo's mostly brutish blows. The only reason Midoriya was able to follow along was because of the prior training he did with Emiya, and later Gran-Torino. He didn't miss a single detail, even as a rock rolled past the two of them duking it out–
A rock? When did that–
He tossed a sweat-covered rock! Kacchan, while attempting to get through Emiya's raining blockade of swords, had been drenching a rock with his sweat. Then, when it was ready, he tossed it with an initial detonation, causing a slowed yet controlled chain reaction of his nitroglycerin-like sweat as it traveled! The initial explosion propelled it, the following did the same, but it ultimately weakened the overall explosion, which was probably why Emiya wasn't sent flying from it when he shielded himself!
He didn't do that before. Did he learn it during his work studies? No, he never stopped complaining that he ended up doing nothing the entire time… Did he learn that move now? In the middle of the spar?
Despite his mannerisms, Kacchan is definitely a genius.
An explosion. Bakugo had given up on quirkless fighting first and tried using his sweat to aid in his punch for more explosive force. Emiya diverted it but didn't expect the rest of Bakugo's body to rocket forth, arms clasping around Emiya in a death-like hug.
And then Bakugo spun once more just like before.
"Kami–!" he howled into the air before turning back towards the ground. A black smog followed their descent towards the courtyard ground. "–kaze!"
And a cloud followed the sound of impact.
A few seconds pass.
"Oh shit," Mineta mouthed.
"Guys?" Kaminari looked over everyone else. "Should we…?"
Midoriya got onto his feet. "I'll check on them–!"
"No need," Shoji answered. He had been talking to both Sato and Koda while the spar progressed. However, he had an arm extended up high with an eye peering down while he stood on the benches for a better view. "They're fine."
"How in the world would they be fine if they crashed back onto the floor like rag-dolls!?" Kaminari rightfully cried out.
"Just look," Kendo said as her palm grew to its maximum height. "I'll clear the view."
With a swipe of her hand, the subsequent gale cleared the smoke and dust. It prompted him to cover his eyes in response, but as a result, he ended up seeing Bakugo, the perpetrator of the cloud, on his stomach as Emiya sat atop of him, restraining him as he pointed Bakugo's arms away from him.
Other than from the impromptu quirkless fight, Emiya barely had a scratch on him.
"But, how did he…?" Kaminari was dumbfounded. To be honest, Midoriya was too, as he couldn't see through the fog.
"Emiya must have broken the hold, and while doing so, used Bakugo's own explosive force to soften their subsequent landing," Yaoyorozu muttered as she blinked in slight disbelief. "It's the only explanation that makes sense."
"That, and Bakugo's grip was flimsy," Todoroki mused. "If he needed both hands to start the explosive rotation, he'd only be holding onto Emiya with his arms, no grip included."
"That's crazy…" Kaminari muttered as he took out his phone. "I should've recorded this! Think of the views!"
"Really?" Sato spoke up from behind him. "Considering what most people outside of U.A. think of him? Not cool dude."
"Wait, I didn't mean it like that! It was cool! I wanted everyone else to see it!" Kaminari defended himself, but as he did so he sighed. "Nevermind, you're probably right."
"I'm still in disbelief," Ashido commented. "I guess there's no doubting that he held back?"
"You guys still thought he didn't?" Monoma raised his brow. "A guy like that? Nah, he must've gotten an apprenticeship under a hero before even enrolling. He's way too strong to be a first-year, maybe even a second-year."
"Not third-year?" Ashido raised a brow.
"I've seen our third years," Monoma frowned. "... Actually, he might be on par."
"Scary," Kendo frowned.
"I can definitely see why you barely scratched him," Ashido muttered. "And if he went all out?"
"At the very least, he could skewer us," Todoroki mused, ignorant of the slight horror on his classmate's faces. "I doubt most of us could even react in time."
Isn't that a scary thought? But…
"I'm glad," Midoriya smiled.
"To see Bakugo get bodied?" Kaminari asked as he snapped some blackmail photos. Some part of him felt envious that he was brave enough to do that.
"No, not that," Midoriya continued. "I'm glad that Emiya is this strong. If the League attacks us again, we can at least rely on him."
"That's if he isn't with them in the first place," Mineta mumbled.
"If he was with them, then he'd have gotten us all killed back at USJ," Todoroki mused. "If he was with them, he wouldn't have saved us back at Hosu. If he was with them, Principal Nezu wouldn't even let him be here. Can't really argue against that."
Midoriya nodded. That was exactly the reason he still trusted Emiya. He would admit, the news had been weighing down on him ever since he heard it, but he was glad he trusted his gut.
"He could just be… gaining our trust…?" But even Mineta didn't seem convinced of it. "Fine. I guess I can't fault that…"
Midoriya withheld any remarks he had about that. It was surprisingly easy to forget that he had fought alongside the diminutive teen. He, alongside Todoroki, had fought tooth and nail to protect their classmates. Midoriya suspected that some insecure part of him hated remembering that, or perhaps even blamed Emiya for putting them in that situation, but he had fought to protect them too. Thus, some small part of them trusted him.
It was surprisingly easy to forget.
It truly was.
He hated liars.
"Are we done?"
Bakugo grit his teeth, and with heavy– heavy reluctance, nodded his head.
He had lost, completely and utterly. His superiority, which he believed to have had against the teen, had been completely quashed without remorse.
His swords were flimsy while his explosions were powerful. His blades were only capable of reaching so far while his reach was far farther. The combination of his sheer talent and hard work had carried him thus far, farther than those mobs back at his old school.
But he still lost.
His explosions weren't as powerful, for they could barely deflect the storm of swords. His explosives could not reach him. The combination of his blood, sweat, and tears, could not even land a lasting blow. The only damage he left on the bastard was from quirkless fighting. He stood more of a chance against his classmate when they were both powerless.
It hurt– it enraged– it infuriated him to know that his efforts thus far were crumpled by someone who completely outclassed him, even if – on the smallest chance – that the bastard had trained far harder than he had been, for the past ten years of his life. Even when he pulled out two new tricks – Smoke Bomb and Kamikaze – but still came up short!
But didn't he already know that?
That day, at the Sports Festival, he had seen the bastard finally let himself go on stage and shattered him– cowed him, until he had to let loose everything he had like a wild animal, lest he would be devoured by one. Nothing, absolutely nothing, came close to the feelings he had at that moment.
That's right, relief! He was relieved when the battle was over– for a split second he, like a weakling, was glad it was over.
He hated that.
He hated the Bakugo capable of feeling such weak emotions. But he would not lie to himself to think that he was incapable of feeling such. He was not a liar. No, liars were the true weaklings, not even worth being stepping stones for his greatness.
He got up and frowned at the bastard.
Yet he lost to a liar and a hypocrite…
He turned back to the mobs sitting while watching them and growled.
… and he was still losing to a liar and a hypocrite.
Bakugo was falling behind, whether he wanted to admit it or not. He was not a liar, so he fully realized that he needed to push himself further than he had done before. To do that…
"What are you preparing for the next sessions?" Bakugo asked calmly.
… he'd need to take the best path in doing so. The only reason he got the idea to make those two moves, which he was going to sharpen and shine before the next time they fought, was because he had attended his stupid spar. He'd have to be the biggest idiot on the planet to give that up.
The Sword-bastard smiled. Bastard. "Same old. Spars after classes at five."
"I get dibs on the first spar," Bakugo demanded. "The mobs can't handle you at a hundred yet."
Neither could he, but he'd be damned if he told the bastard that to his face.
"That's fair," the Sword-bastard nodded. "And the weekend before the exams?"
"I'm not a liar. I agreed so I'm not backing out now," Bakugo growled before turning– no, glaring at the gawkers. "You hear that!? I better not catch any of you sleazeballs drooling all over your notes or I'll flambé you!"
He didn't bother hearing a response. They weren't worth it. Not yet. One day, but he'd beat Emiya down before then.
Though some… one, never will.
After all, Bakugo hated liars.
And Deku was the biggest one he had seen so far.
Yu filtered through some papers.
She'd much rather be outside, tackling the villains that were undoubtedly using her dwindled reputation as an excuse to act up, but out of consideration for her secretary's advice, she chose not to. Tensions were still high, and it was common practice to stay out of the limelight until it blew over, which it always did.
People, whether they liked it or not, always forgot sooner or later. Horrific tragedies fade into memory and newer exciting scandals always snared their attention. This was what they advised her to capitalize on otherwise it'd be harder to win back some of that lost reputation.
But… waiting for something like that…
You… are worthy!
It didn't sit right with her.
That was probably why her professional email had been spammed with hate mail and the front of her office egged once or twice. Security did do their best to shoo them away, so she really couldn't fault them. In reality, it was her choices that led to this moment. Luckily, she knew very well that these were done by low-lives without anything better to do in their lives, so she moved on easy enough.
She signed a document that asked to confirm her appearance on a talk show. She had done many before, but she wanted to sort out most of the bad rumors surrounding herself. Where better to do than live on TV, with some of the harshest critics in the world, that being the audience?
Yu half expected this document to not even be here, but it seemed that her secretary had more faith in her than she first thought if he was willing to thrust this on her instead of simply burning or shredding it.
She laughed warily at the damage reports. A patrol had gone wrong earlier today. A villain with a heteromorphic quirk that gave him claws for hands, believing that he could get away with robbery by calling out to the League of Villains, was easily caught. However, the guy showed no worry as he was hoisted off to prison.
Some sensationalists decided to depict it as her failing, that because a suspected League affiliate like her arrested him, that he was being foisted off to the League itself instead of the local prison.
A single blog report by one anonymous user suddenly spread about social media? The public might not see something wrong, but as time passed, Yu could only believe that Nezu was right. Something was pulling the strings around here. As such, it was impossible to hide her suspicions that it was the League of Villains doing so. Did they have some tech-wiz or maybe they hired some guys to simply nitpick at both her and Shirou, before spreading it like wildfire?
Damn girl, it's only been a week, and you've lived alone for three years already. You can do this.
Her secretary probably already knew, but the reason she was even at her office and not at home resting was that she found herself feeling… lonely. Though, Yu was sure she was able to hold on regardless. A month was left until Nezu could finally figure out where the League of Villains were laying low, and plan an assault accordingly. Hopefully, she could join them too, if only to beat them down.
Until then, it was a waiting game, one where she had to do her absolute best until then.
Her phone, not the work phone but her personal cell, rang beside her personal laptop. Yu took a quick glance at the caller and frowned. It wasn't Shirou. Of course, it'd be her calling, especially with the news mentioning her once or twice daily, whether it was out of praise or suspicion… but…
You… are worthy!
… but in the end, she let her phone ring until it faded. Loathe as she was to admit, she wasn't ready to answer it just yet. No, not yet. Even more loathsome was that his words– the words of a mere villain, had gotten to her to this degree.
Was she really worthy?
As soon as his spar with Bakugo ended, Shirou had wanted to continue with everyone else. However, their spar took longer than he had thought. As a result, most of the class decided to head back home. He did get them to agree to come to the weekend session, regardless of the motivation for some of them being purely just to pass their written exams.
The usual group hadn't stayed behind either. Yaoyorozu wanted to prepare for the upcoming weekend so she left soon after. Midoriya didn't want to worry his mother. Iida was much of the same, though he didn't need to say it out loud.
Honestly, their class rep had become a bit more contemplative ever since Hosu. He still acted as a role model student most of the time, but he was always unusually unfocused during the practical-focused exercises. He'd often stare into the distance when he thought nobody was watching.
Shirou thought back to Stain and how he had ultimately escaped.
Perhaps it was that? It was no secret to him that Iida was clearly training to fight him in an effort to avenge his brother, but when that chance was ripped from him, what was he to do now? Shirou expected him to prepare for their next potential encounter, but his listlessness was slightly concerning. He'd probably have to approach him about it soon or get Midoriya to do it as they were much closer than he was.
"So," Monoma mused. "Spectacle aside, where do I sign up?"
"There's not really a signing process or anything," Shirou answered. "You can pretty much just walk in and join. It isn't a club or anything."
"Might as well be a club," Kendo commented. "After school sparring club, maybe? Nah, too tacky."
"Whatever it is, I want in," Monoma chuckled to himself. "So many quirks to practice with…"
"And there are his real intentions," Kendo sighed as she turned to Emiya. "You wanted Shinso here to help him with his quirkless combat skills, right?"
"Once he gets caught out of using his quirk, he's mostly a sitting duck. There's also the chance his quirk just plain doesn't work," Shirou honestly explained. "It's just an offer, but–"
"Say no more," Shinso nodded. "I'll join. I know my shortcomings, and only an idiot won't try to fix them."
"You won't mind Yui joining, right?" Kendo smiled, even as Kodai glared right at her. "Or anyone else from Class-1B for that matter? You got a good thing going here. I'm sure everyone else in the class would want to join… even if only to get their rocks off. We have our own battle junkies, you know?"
"Go ahead and invite them," Shirou smiled. "I'll have to prepare more for then, though. First time I've tried cooking for forty people."
"And he cooks too~" Kendo smiled as she looked to Kodai. "Lucky~"
"But, before we join…" Monoma suddenly cut in. "I just have one question. Why now? Why didn't you try to start something like this earlier on in the year? It's not just because you're bored under house arrest, right?"
"Hey, Monoma. That's rude," Kendo admonished. "You and I both know that those rumors are just dog water."
"Did I say I believed in those rumors?" Monoma rolled his eyes. "I'm perceptive. Not like those idiots who didn't see the literal rocks floating above the arena– and I'm certain only idiots like those people would believe it."
"Still…" Kendo tried to be considerate.
"No, it's fine," but Shirou was fine with it. "To answer your question, I only started this now, and not earlier, is because I think it's necessary."
"Necessary?" Shinso raised a brow.
"Aven– The League of Villains are a big thing right now," Shirou hastily corrected. "You already remember the last work studies we had. What's to say something else won't happen sooner or later? What if we aren't prepared for it? I hate to say it, but we weren't really prepared."
He wasn't prepared at all, despite all his planning. Their apparent targets had swapped and caused so much misery. Shirou couldn't be there to protect his classmates from the League, because it was inevitable that he'd have to fight Avenger on his own. Would they be strong enough to survive it, or at least weather the storm?
Shirou, as sad as it was to admit, didn't believe so.
"So it's preparation for an attack?" Monoma frowned. "Do you not think that the school can handle it?"
"If they can, then that's great," Shirou agreed. "But, there are always unforeseen circumstances. It's still better to get stronger sooner rather than later."
"Point taken," the harshest critic of Class-1A agreed. "I'll try to get everyone to join every session from now on. Not sure how it'd work out, but I'll put my trust in you, Emiya."
Shirou snorted. "Even if I'm some kind of League spy?"
"The fact you can make a joke like that just tells me you aren't," he replied. "And even then, you saved my classmates at Hosu. I'd be a bastard if I didn't repay you for that."
"I'm… almost certain that Midoriya and Todoroki could've saved them without my intervention," all he did was launch some swords. Todoroki was the one who finished them off.
"It's the thought that counts!" Monoma sighed. "Never mind. I know when I'm talking to a broken record. I'll see you tomorrow, and the rest of your class too I suppose."
"Take care, Emiya!"
"I look forward to it."
Kodai said nothing but give a simple nod. Shirou returned it with his own as she seemed to hastily follow her friends.
With luck, they'll all show up.
He just had to wait until then.
Slide the door open.
Take your shoes off and put on the indoor slippers.
He arrived home late, so the security around the estate had initially pegged him as an intruder, but upon noticing the distinctive hair color, they let the young Todoroki scion inside.
… and evidently, they also called their boss to let him know that he had come home. Todoroki eyed his father sitting with his back towards the entrance, facing the living room and watching the television. Although, it was clear he barely paying any attention if any.
Todoroki... Shoto sighed.
Since when were you attentive enough to care? Though, Shoto kept such thoughts to himself. He didn't want to earn some disciplining, despite the fact that Endeavor hadn't been doing so recently. It still didn't prevent him from being cautious.
Shoto still hated him, after all... though, he wasn't sure if it was as intensive as before.
"A friend invited me to watch a spar. It took a while, that's all."
"Who is this friend of yours?" the Todoroki patriarch asked. Though, coming from him, it felt less like a question and more a demanding statement.
"You probably already heard of him," Shoto said. He really wanted to just retire to his room, but he knew that Endeavor waited for no one. Shoto could rest when this impromptu talk was done with. "He was tied with Bakugo in the Sports Festival."
"The Emiya Shirou kid," the second-ranked top hero huffed. "What was his quirk again? Sword Creation?"
Of course, he'd already know. Endeavor was obsessive with being the best, so he'd keep tabs on everyone else that Shoto was currently able to match with so that he could help, in his usual twisted ways, Shoto get better than them.
"He doesn't seem limited in creating just swords," Shoto knew when he wanted him to explain. "He can make spears, shields, and–"
"I suppose?" Shoto raised a brow. That was unusual. "He made an arrow during our first training exercise and shot a tennis ball wedged into it."
"And how far can he shoot it?"
He's... getting very into the specifics.
"Last I checked, his range with a bow was seven hundred meters or so," he answered. Where was he going with this? "But, I doubt he'd use arrows when he can–"
"–Use swords in their place."
"... I was going to say launch swords instead, but I suppose so," Shoto mused before an odd image of a sword being launched on a bow took shape. Nah, that was too weird. Why do that when he could already add momentum and direction to his created weapons?
... something was off.
"Fine. You're dismissed," Shoto nodded begrudgingly, but just as he was about to leave, Endeavor got up from his seat and tossed something his way, which he was only barely able to catch in time.
"Give that to your sister. She left it behind at work."
And what reason did you have to visit her workplace!?
Shoto kept the confusion and aggravation to a minimum, simply deciding to nod and walk upstairs towards Fuyumi's room. In doing so, he was able to hear the top hero say something, likely his phone.
"... get me everything you know about him."
Emiya, I don't pity you. What did you do to even get his attention?
Next Chapter: 2021 (Reasoning Below)
A/N: Before we get into the meat of the Author's Note, I have to thank the usual people. L33t for reading through and improving the chapter with his suggestions. Also, I have to thank the TVTropes users for making one for this fic. It was fun reading through it every once and a while.
Now, the reason I'm not going to be updating as frequently as before (though, I will still try to update both fics once a month) is that it's currently my second semester for my last year in college. I don't know how different it is for other colleges but this semester I have to undergo OJT (On the Job Training). Due to our current health climate, it's been advised that students undergo an online form of this. However, I am unsure if I will be able to do so, so that means I'm also preparing for a physical OJT. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to disclose anything else, so I'll refrain from doing so. I'm merely painting a picture of why I may not be able to update in the coming months.
It sucks, but I'm experiencing that fear that most students eventually get when we're about to graduate, the uncertainty of our future and standing in society. It honestly sorts of frightening, and a part of me worries that, if I continue as I am, I'll crash and burn harder than ever before. This is the closest that we're gonna get to a hiatus, but you know I stick to deadlines as much as I can. A chapter for my fic(s) will come out sooner or later.
It's kind of weird, looking back at the early chapters and the A/N's I left behind. It's like a record of my life, in a way, from the start of my Senior High up until now. I've never really imagined I could stick to a project like this for as long as I have, even with the ups and downs.
Anyways, I just wanted to let you guys know. I ghosted you all the last time for 6 months last year. I don't want a repeat of that.
Until next time,