Last Chapter! Yay! I want to thank everyone for hanging out with me so far, and I hope you're all looking forward to a little less glacial (though still messed up) BakuDeku in the future when I post the next part of this tiny epic. :D
Last chapter, last big note that'll apply in the next fic: I'm taking a lot of liberties with the Nomu/Artificial Humans. Because I can. But you likely figured that out a while ago since I'm just calling Izuku's artificial human "Nomu" in a generic way, even though I think that was just specifically the one that attacked U.A. but we're going with "It's a Generic Term" because typing "Artificial Human" takes too long. *clears throat*
Anyway, enjoy the epilogue and see you guys in the sequel! Hopefully it'll be up soon. :D
"You could have grabbed Kacchan, too," Izuku said, brushing himself off and gently nudging the Nomu away as it lingered too close to his back as they entered offsite base to secure the Nomu. Izuku had figured out pretty early that Kurogiri had no intention of taking both of them when he saw how small the warp beneath him had been, but that didn't mean he was going to let Kurogiri off the hook for something that should have been easy for him. "We were right next to each other."
"I see no reason why I should pick up your precious little Hero for you after that fiasco. I refuse to reward a failed mission," Kurogiri said. He withdrew his warp to return his appearance to his regular uniform. "Besides, it might be better for all of us if you failed your little night out as well."
Izuku wasn't surprised to hear that Shigaraki's attempt to fight All Might went poorly, and frankly, honestly didn't care about the details.
(But he did care about the fallout.)
"How upset is he?"
"Let's just say he may not honor your wishes to remain out of conflicts that involve All Might in the future," Kurogiri said, "and that there is a hole in the wall between your rooms that had nothing to do with his Quirk."
Izuku grunted, mentally bracing himself for the disaster waiting in the upstairs above the bar.
The Nomu tugged at Izuku's hood, wanting attention like a puppy. It was amazing how such a brutal, violent thing could reduce itself to this state when it wasn't killing things. It was useful though, and not quite as dumb as the other ones that only moved when ordered. Izuku turned and patted it on the shoulder, mumbling "Good boy" near its skin. Satisfied, the Nomu let go of the hood and continued it's stare into nothingness as it followed along.
Izuku really ought to thank Shigaraki for giving him his own personal Nomu, even if Izuku had no desire to learn where he got it in the first place.
(Though he'd also wait for the other to be in a better mood before he did so.)
Izuku and Kurogiri spent the remainder of their walk in silence, only stopping when they reached the back cells where the Nomu waited to be instructed.
"Time for a nap," Izuku said, opening the door to the last cell on the right. He pointed at the bench. "Sit."
The Nomu did as instructed and stared forward. Kurogiri hooked him to the small nourishment and hydration tubes while it waited.
"Don't move until I come back," Izuku said.
Knowing the stupid thing would do as instructed, Izuku followed Kurogiri out of the cell and yawned into his hand as the door shut behind them.
"Shall we, then?" Kurogiri asked. He straightened his suit and Izuku watched the exhale of his chest and the extra flutter of his black mist. Kurogiri nervous meant Shigaraki's mood might be worse than he thought. Kurogiri confirmed it with a simple,"I hope you're ready."
"Not really," Izuku said. He could feel his shoulders dropping and his body slowing down with every step. He hadn't lied to Kacchan earlier; he was tired. Izuku shivered to himself as he thought of the other, content to sit next to Izuku. He felt himself smile at the thought. "But I might be able to cheer him up."
"Is that so?" Kurogiri asked.
"Let's just say that my list of Heroes that are off limits has been greatly reduced as of today," Izuku said.
Kurogiri chuckled under his breath as he opened the warp home. "You may be overestimating your value, but it's worth a shot."
Izuku tugged his hood over his head as he walked through the portal, taking a deep breath as he prepared to meet Shigaraki at his most petulant.
(Nothing he wasn't used to by now.)
Eijirou decided that waking to a white ceiling in a hospital was one of those feelings he'd rather not repeat.
"You sure took your time," a grumpy, familiar voice said from his left. "About time you quit dreaming."
Eijirou tilted his head and couldn't help the tiny smile upon seeing Bakugou in the chair next to the bed. His friend had a knife in his hand and a plate on his lap. Eijirou asked, "Are you making bunnies out of those apple slices?"
"Tell a single person in our class and I'm throwing you back at Izuku, gift wrapped," Bakugou said, pointing the knife at Eijirou's face. As he moved, it further revealed the evidence that Bakugou had split at least two apples into eighths and had a regular nest of bunny apple slices on his plate. Bakugou went back to carving the slice in his hand. "I will know."
"As long as they're for me, I won't say a peep," Eijirou said, relieved to see his friend okay and his usual grumpy self.
A few moments later, a nurse came in and checked Eijirou's vitals and gave him the injury rundown: stitches in the shoulder, broken leg, multiple contusions everywhere. Eijirou could deal with that; it could have been far, far worse.
Bakugou had stayed through it all, fiddling with his apples and trying not to look concerned as the injuries were listed one by one and Eijirou received instructions for the call button.
When they were finally alone, Eijirou said, "Thanks for coming to rescue me."
Bakugou grunted in return.
(He took that as the embarrassed "You're Welcome" it was.)
Eijirou lifted his arm and tested his grip for a moment. When it didn't hurt, he remembered it was the other shoulder that had been ripped open. He snorted to himself and reached for an apple slice with his good arm. "You going to tell me what happened after I blacked out?"
"Izuku's personal chauffeur showed up and warped him and the Nomu out of the picture, letting them all escape like bad cartoon villains, but not before Izuku decided he wanted to murder everyone in the school," Bakugou said. He huffed and popped one of his apple slices in his mouth. "Long story short, they're building new dorms on campus called the Heights Alliance and we're moving in at the end of the week."
"That seems like a really condensed version," Eijirou said, hoping for a few more details than that. The last thing Eijirou saw before the Nomu's grip started cut off his oxygen was Midoriya talking about how he'd rather murder people than share Bakugou with anyone else and then he woke up in a hospital room before falling back asleep. That was a huge gap he missed. "I know I was a little distracted trying not to suffocate, but didn't you and Midoriya get into a fight?"
Bakugou snapped an apple slice in half.
"That bad?" Eijirou asked, leaning back into the pillow.
"Izuku hasn't changed at all," Bakugou said, rolling the half slice between his fingers. There was something Bakugou wasn't saying, but Eijirou let him collect his thoughts. Bakugou licked his lip. "He's determined, reckless, obsessed, and smart as shit when he wants to be. He just shifted his damn focus from Heroes to being a Villain."
"Bakugou?" Eijirou asked.
"I keep underestimating him," Bakugou whispered. He put the plate on the edge of Eijirou's bed and rubbed his face with is hands, leaning forward. His voice came out strained and unwilling, like it hurt him just to say it: "If our plan to have Hagakure follow him around while he was distracted with me and wait for an opening hadn't worked, I'm not sure if Aizawa and the others could have actually stopped him and his pet Nomu before they killed you.
"We were really close to losing, Kirishima," Bakugou said. He grabbed Eijirou's hand and squeezed, hard enough that it might bruise. Bakugou narrowed his eyes as he looked at the far wall. "That's not going to happen again."
"Remind me to thank everyone," Eijirou said, unsure if he should comment on Bakugou's vulnerability. "I'm glad you guys came to get me."
"Of course they did," Shinsou said, entering the room with a small vase of flowers next to this hand. He waved with the one finger and dropped his gift off on a side table next to a stack of cards Eijirou hadn't noticed before. Shinsou shoved his hands in his pockets. "1-A's just one big happy family.
"I'm sure they'll all be in here to wish you well one after another after they get past Aizawa downstairs who's declaring you need more rest, or they'll figure out there's another entrance like I did." Shinsou nudged Eijirou in the arm and pulled over a chair on the opposite side of the bed from Bakugou. "But in all seriousness, the whole class was worried when Bakugou came back with broken ribs shouting 'Izuku took him!' at the top of his lungs, attempting to get to Aizawa. He barely kept his explosions under control as he panicked."
"I wasn't that bad," Bakugou said, eyes narrowed and face red. Which meant he had been that bad, if not worse. Eijirou chuckled under his breath and was rewarded with an apple thrown at his face. "Shut up! You're the idiot that let himself get caught in a portal!"
Shinsou chuckled under his breath and man if that wasn't a great sound.
If there was anyone other than Bakugou who'd taken the Midoriya situation hard, it was Shinsou. Eijirou played with an apple-peal ear from the treat and smiled as Bakugou and Shinsou teased each other over the bed with their own unique brands of sarcastic banter. Shinsou still felt guilty about his part in Midoriya's fall, but he had started to heal.
"Oh," Eijirou said, sitting up further, wincing when he jostled his arm.
"Careful, idiot," Bakugou said. "Don't hurt yourself."
"Sorry!" Eijirou said. He held a hand up and waved it. "I just remembered something!"
Bakugou huffed, "What?"
Eijirou leaned forward and said, "Before you showed up and broke down the wall, Midoriya mentioned Shinsou."
"Me?" Shinsou asked.
"He said he wasn't mad at you anymore and he was upset that he forgot to tell Bakugou to let you know, though I'm not sure if that's something you still want to hear," Eijirou said. He rubbed his hand through his hair, messing with the loose strands. "He didn't say why he stopped being mad, though."
"Thanks for telling me, anyway," Shinsou said. He laced his hands together. "Did he say anything else? You were the only one there before Bakugou showed up, and as for as afterwards, Hagakure's been kinda tight-lipped about the whole thing. She said everything she heard was kinda personal, so she only told the teachers."
Eijirou glanced at Bakugou who shifted in his chair; a topic for later. He put his warped apple slice back on the plate and changed the topic. "Midoriya talked a lot, but it was all some variation of 'Why does Kacchan like you more than me?' while he had the Nomu rough me up. It's not exactly a lot to report on unless they need more confirmation that he's obsessed with Bakugou."
"Right," Shinsou said, eyes watching Eijirou carefully before he looked away. "Thanks."
Eijirou shifted in the bed as he glanced at Bakugou. He wondered how much worse that dialogue had gotten after Eijirou couldn't see or hear the other two. Bakugou had to be taking this badly. Eijirou was still disturbed and he'd only caught the beginning. Let alone what it must feel like to be the subject of—
"Stop fixating on it," Bakugou said. He slid down in his seat and put his chin in his hand. "Izuku's been hero-worshiping and following me around since we were four. I'm so used to this bullshit it pisses me off."
"I have a feeling this isn't quite the same, but we'll leave it alone," Shinsou said, acting as a surprising mediator (normally he went out of his way to rile Bakugou up). He yawned into his hand. "And we'll have more than enough time to talk about this back in the dorms and next week. For now, you should get some rest, Kirishima. It's going to be a long year trying to share a dorm with that class."
Kirishima nodded in agreement and shared a glance with Bakugou that promised they'd talk about it later, too.
(That's just what friends did!)
"Just one more question, though," Shinsou said. He pointed at the plate and asked, "Who made the cute bunnies?"
It felt good to laugh when Bakugou threatened Shinsou with explosions for his silence, even if his chest ached from the bruises.
Things were going to be okay.
"We need more players," Shigaraki said, sitting sprawled out on the floor in his room. He had his back against the wall and his hand in Izuku's hair, a thumb rubbing circles around the bruise he'd just put there. "Co-op isn't working with just two."
"Do you have anyone in mind?" Izuku asked, shifting to a more comfortable position against Shigaraki's bony side. He eventually settled with his head on Shigaraki's shoulder and his back against the other's side. "We haven't exactly been drowning in recruits."
Shigaraki grunted, and dropped his arm out of Izuku's hair and heavy on his shoulder. (He was proud he didn't wince.) Everything ached from their straight-up brawl after Izuku made the mistake of trying to stop Shigaraki from destroying his own room, but it was a good sort of hurt. The kind that he could focus on instead of thinking about Kacchan's face as he looked at Izuku like he was some sort of broken toy.
(Izuku was a broken pet; not a toy.)
"You didn't really like our last option," Izuku said. He licked his teeth. "Not that I did either."
"We'll find them," Shigaraki said. He laughed and tilted his head down. "Like I found you in that alley, crying over your precious All Might autograph."
"The first time we met," Izuku whispered.
"If I can make a Villain out of you, I can make one out of anyone," Shigaraki said. He poked Izuku in the cheek and grinned. "Let's tear them all down, one by one and rip their precious future generation away from them."
It wouldn't go that easy, but Izuku had no desire to ruin Shigaraki's good mood.
And the idea of new teammates didn't sound so bad, really. Kacchan was the only person who could excel at going solo anyway, or at least he could have before U.A. got their hands on him and stripped him of everything that made Kacchan, Kacchan.
(Izuku breathed; calmed himself.)
Besides, if Kacchan could go and make new friends, so could Izuku.
Then maybe he'd get what he wanted.
(Kacchan. Kacchan. Kacchan.)
But until then, Izuku settled into Shigaraki's side and tugged his hood up and over his head again, blocking out the light from the rising sun. "I'm taking a nap. Don't wake me up."
Shigaraki tugged on his hair, but stayed quiet.
Tomorrow was a new day, and Izuku wanted to be ready for it.
Kacchan wouldn't know what hit him.