Anyone that knew Bakugo would say that he was he was a good friend.
Sure, he was a little rough around the edges, and was prone to losing his temper. Sure, he yelled a lot, but he was surely the type of person to never abandon a friend.
Few people noticed that the nicknames he gave people, while crude, were never insulting. No, if he gave someone a nickname, it was enough to make them know that they belonged, that he wouldn't turn his back on them.
"Your name can be read as Deku. It means useless. Just like you."
Far, far fewer people would see how, when he lost his temper, when his hands would tremble, and he'd take deep, shuddering breaths until he calmed down, that he'd close his eyes and count his way through steps a therapist had sat down and help him come up with to manage his anger.
Bakugo Katsuki had changed from the boy everyone adored for his quirk. He'd changed from the boy that had driven away his friend over a lack of a quirk. He'd changed into someone he hoped that Izuku would be proud of.
He'd changed into the kind of person he hoped would be able to find Izuku, and help him come home.
It hadn't been easy. There had been anger management and there had been learning to let go and the even harder learning to move forward.
They all had needed to learn. Him. His family. And Inko.
And Bakugo had learned to move forwards. He just had to constantly look back, to remind himself which direction not to walk in, to remind himself not to become a monster.
He looked back, so he knew exactly the kind of hero he wanted to become.
"He'll be a great hero! He has the quirk and personality for it." He'd heard them all say it. "I'm sure he'll go far, that one."
And he couldn't care less. Caring about what other people had thought had filled his head with shit, and he knew it. Caring about what other people had thought had led to Izuku running away, because no one cared and no one helped him.
He knew what he needed to do, and that was all that mattered. He needed to become a hero that could save Izuku. He needed to become a hero that would never leave anyone behind. Because that was the kind of hero Izuku would have admired and trusted to save him. That was the kind of hero All Might was.
And he'd started becoming that hero, by becoming a friend that would never, ever drive his friends away to the point where he couldn't reach them.
Inko Midoriya had managed to move forwards but had never quite mastered the art of not looking back.
Looking back felt too much like leaving Izuku behind, like letting him vanish into the night, a small plastic figure clutched in his hands as his only defence.
But she couldn't rewind time. She couldn't ever comfort her son or make things better for him. (She still wished she could. It still hurt and it would never stop hurting.)
So instead she moved forwards. She'd left Hisashi. She wondered it he regretted it- the arguing, his decisions, his prejudice. She hoped he did. She hoped he was hurting. Their actions had cost them their son.
She couldn't stand it. So she'd left Hisashi behind. But she couldn't leave the memory of Izuku behind, and never would. She'd never forget the way he smiled, the way he'd cried when his dreams were crushed when he was told he was quirkless, and she'd never forget the way she failed him.
He'd always loved heroes. He'd replayed that one video of All Might saving people from a disaster, from something so utterly hopeless, again and again and again.
She wasn't strong enough to be a hero. She wasn't strong enough to save everyone.
But she could save some people.
Inko Midoriya moved forwards. She became a social worker. She worked to give children a better home and a happy ending.
But she never forgot. No matter where she went, tucked away and unseen in her bag, was a small action figure of All Might, with one arm torn off.
UA was different. Bakugo wasn't sure how to feel about it, really.
It almost didn't seem real. The enterance exam had passed in a blur, the screech of metal being blown apart, his hands stinging as the exam dragged on, and so many people, with terrified faces and determined eyes.
Everything was new. At least back at his former school, he'd known people from before. They'd become friends, they'd come to trust each other.
And then he was alone again. Everything was unfamiliar.
Moving forwards was a different kind of letting go. It was strange and startling and surprising. He'd expected to feel a little nervous, sure. He always did, but he never showed it. Because heroes weren't nervous. The people he would save didn't need to see their own fear reflected back at them. That wasn't how it worked.
Instead of just nervous, he felt uncertain and almost daunted. It almost reminded him of a time when he'd thought that he'd never be a hero at all, because he'd acted like a villain and hurt someone he should have been protecting. And it reminded him of how much further he had to go, before he could fix anything.
So he'd kept his head held high. He'd walked into his new school, his new life. He'd seen his classmates. All of them were strong, crafty and determined. It was plain to see.
Aizawa's test came as a shock. Not because of the test itself. Being able to use his quirk for a test was so liberating. He was moving forwards, he was finally closer to becoming a hero!
But then Minoru Mineta was expelled. He was last in their class, and he paid the price for it. There was yelling, but Bakugo didn't remember exactly what the boy had yelled.
He remembered the hoarse hope and desperate denial. Then the defeat...
And suddenly it was all real. They were going to be heroes. There was no room for doubt or 'maybe'. From here on out, they had to be enough, or else someone would pay the price. From here on out, they had to keep moving forwards, they had to keep up, otherwise they'd be left behind. And by doing that, they'd become strong enough to never have to leave anyone behind. At least he hoped so. He really hoped so.
After the disaster of the first day, the entirety of class 1-A had turned and walked back to their classroom in silence. It had felt like acceptance.
The next day, there was someone else sitting in Mineta's seat. Someone else willing to take Mineta's place. Someone else ready to be put to the test, ready to become a hero.
Everyone was moving forwards. So he would too, and he'd become a hero that everyone could look up to.
And they'd move forwards together. He'd find friends among his classmates, and they'd move forwards together, because heroes wouldn't leave each other behind. Heroes wouldn't leave their friends behind or drive them away.
And Bakugo was going to become a hero everyone could look up to, some day yet. He wasn't there yet- he had a long way to go, and he knew it- but this was a start.
Meanwhile, All for One was proud.
Never before had he been so pleased to have one of his plans be completely ruined. His plans were normally perfect: carefully crafted and with room for error. Every single idea had a thousand back up plans. Rarely, so very rarely, would one of his plans go so wrong that it was completely unsalvageable.
So Tenko Shimura had been a surprise.
The original plan had been simple. He'd let Tenko Shimura become Tomura Shigaraki, the very monster Kurogiri had seen. And Tomura Shigaraki, childish and cold and careless, would become unstoppable.
By thinking like a child, Tomura would become unpredictable. He'd believe that anything was possible, and he'd believe that he could and would win, because he'd believe in his own happy ending more than anything else.
He'd have the same drive and determination as the very heroes he'd want to destroy.
But then all of those plan shattered when Tenko showed compassion. He helped another child. He'd saved someone and he'd grown to care about them.
And then he'd started to grow.
There was no going back to the childish, selelfish monster he'd intended to create. But this was better. Far, far better.
People were so much more dangerous when they were scared of losing something. And Tenko Shimura would rather die before letting anything happen to Izuku, or Kurogiri, or even the mentor who'd taken him off the streets and given him a purpose.
And so Tomura Shigaraki valued loyalty, and had a plan for the end game.
All for One sat alone, surrounded by chemicals and wires and static, and stared intently at the bright screen with a bright future. Tomura Shigaraki stood in a crowded bar, full of villains. They listened as he spoke.
All of them had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Society had chosen their path for them, they were outcasts, they were poor, they were villains. All of them had wanted change, they had wanted something to belong to, and they'd found the League of Villains.
And Tomura knew all about pawns. Every single piece in the game was important. If kept alive, a pawn could always become a queen.
These people mattered. If the League was going to become big and powerful, if the League was going to become a threat, then Tomura needed them.
And All for One was proud. The plan had potential. The very values of perseverence and camaraderie that were a core part of heroism would be turned against the mighty 'good guys' and they'd fall.
They'd fall to the very monsters they'd created.
So as Tomura stood in front of people, who were wiling to listen, willing to try, not quite yet willing to follow unconditionally (but the possibility was there, if they could pull this off...) and spoke of glory and futures, All for One was proud.
As he assured them that he had a plan to get them all out safely, that showed that he thought they mattered, that they were worth saving, All for One was proud.
He knew they'd win. Tomura had Izuku behind him. Tomura had the League behind him. Maybe they wouldn't win the first battle, but they'd definitely win the war.
The age of heroes would end with the League of Villains, this plan, this attack- it was all only the first step.