CHAPTER 46: THE WHEEL

Five months had passed. The Hero Regulation Department had grown even bigger. Its influence and control had increased. Izuku Midoriya coerced and blackmailed his way into more political power. His hands now reached even further than anybody realized. The heroes had no choice, but to bow down and follow the young director's policies. His symbol of balance Nemesis, ever improving, continued its iron fisted campaign to surpass these heroes in every way. It knew no fear, nor pain. It carried out every rescue mission and villain arrest with cold ruthless efficiency.

Izuku had a birthday during these months, coming in at seventeen years old. Not only that but he also grew a few more inches in height and with his constant physical training, filled out a bit more. He was now almost as tall as his ally Dabi. Izuku was honestly happy for the growth spurt. It made him look more mature like an adult, so people took him much more seriously at first glance now.

In other big news in this time frame. His first hero trainees, Todoroki, Iida, and Uraraka were given a special free reign license that allowed them to now act and operate as heroes. All the training and preparation finally paid. Originally Izuku wanted to wait a bit longer before sending them out to work more in the field, but in the end decided there was no time like the present. The three of them went to work as an amazing hero team with Shoto Todoroki as their leader, working with several hero agencies. Izuku taught him how to strategize, plan ahead and lead a group and the dual quirk user took to it with absolute seriousness. His mastery over the fire aspect of his quirk was also coming along nicely.

Iida was taking his training much more seriously. His older brother Tensei was starting to regain his ability to walk again thanks to the new technology. The former hero could never return to active hero duty, but it was a comfort for Tenya to know that his brother wouldn't be confined to chair for the rest of his life. It also made him more determined than ever to find out what Midoriya was planning for the future and help stop it.

Uraraka had made the least progress. Not that Izuku minded. Her quirk while versatile was not particularly powerful and required interaction with physical objects to function. Hence why he preferred a more hands on approach with Ochako by helping to understand more about the nature of her quirk and finding out all the potential possibilities together.

One surprise was his newer recruits Gentle Criminal and La Brava. Izuku was impressed with how quick and efficient they were at plugging the leaks in his department. They had already rooted out several plants from both criminal organizations and the safety commission. Izuku showered them with rewards and perks for their wonderful hard work.

Finally after several months of recovery, physically and mentally, Dr. Higurashi deemed it appropriate time for Eri to start learning to control her quirk. Research was done on it and both Izuku and the doctor believed that they now had a good understanding on how it worked. They decided to start slow, with the girl practicing on insects before moving on to small animals.

"Just try to relax Eri." Izuku reached into the box and pulled out another butterfly. "Like always, we'll take this one step at a time." He gently placed it into the girl's smaller open hands. Eri nervously stared at the pretty insect. "Bugs don't feel pain remember, so you can't hurt it." They were outside in the exercise field of the care center where Eri stayed. The other children were inside for lessons leaving them alone without distractions.

'I'm not sure if that's true.' Aizawa thought, but kept his mouth shut as he sat back and observed. He was there to help with her quirk training as he could shut it down if it went out of control again. Midoriya of course agreed with this concession. It also gave him an excuse to keep an eye on the former villain and maybe overhear something important.

"Now I want you to take this butterfly and rewind it back into a caterpillar." He smiled as he knelled down next to her. "Everything will be fine." Eri cupped the insect in both hands as she attempted to channel her quirk. Her horn had grown a few inches which Midoriya and Doctor Higurashi theorized signified the buildup of energy needed to use her quirk. Golden sparks emerged from her horn and covered her hands.

"Good. Try to rewind it slowly now." Izuku spoke softly. "It's your power Eri. You're in charge of it." The butterfly began to regress bit by bit. In a minute it was reduced back into its cocoon state. Suddenly the sparks began to crackle more aggressively as Eri lost control of her quirk. The creature was covered in a glow and then disappeared, rewound to a point before it existed. The small horned girl looked at her empty hands in sadness. Seeing this happen to each butterfly she touched reminded her of what happened to her father.

"It's okay." Izuku held both her hands gently as he tried to comfort her. The gauntlet felt cold on her skin. "These powers I possess weren't easy to get the hang of either."

'Liar.' Aizawa thought to himself. He'd seen all the footage and even fought the kid in person. Izuku was highly intelligent. All the research and analysis into quirks gave him a huge leg up when he put on that gauntlet and suddenly gained the power he yearned for.

"Hm. Maybe we need to approach this in a different way?" They'd been through dozens of insects in the past week alone. He looked over at the underground hero. "Any ideas from the peanut gallery might be appreciated."

"Aren't you the self-proclaimed quirk expert?" Aizawa fired at him sardonically.

"Aren't you a teacher at a hero school?" Izuku smirked back at him. "Then again you did fail to teach five of them." He rubbed that wound, knowing it was still fresh.

"Four students." Aizawa corrected him with a glare. "I lost four students to you." He knew Izuku was referring to Todoroki, Iida, Uraraka, and Bakugou.

"That's funny because I counted five." He had that arrogant, 'I know something you don't', look on his face again. Izuku didn't give him another word as he went back to focusing on Eri's problem.

'What is he getting at?' Aizawa wanted to know, but decided to leave trying figure out Midoriya's plans to Nezu. Izuku always liked to take jabs at the underground hero and the school he worked for. Aizawa would of course jab back when he could, but trying to win a verbal battle with Midoriya was like pushing a boulder up a mountain.

"I might have an idea." Izuku looked thoughtful as he came up with a new angle to try. "Okay Eri. I want you to close your eyes." The white haired girl followed his instructions. "Now I want you to imagine your quirk as a wheel." Izuku picked another butterfly out of the case and placed it in her open palm while he eyes were closed. "Picture that wheel Eri. Can you see it?"

"Yes." Eri mumbled aloud as she followed along.

"That wheel is your quirk. You have power over it." Izuku explained. "Imagine it turning forward slowly." He watched her horn glow a bit. Not the chaotic sparks that normally erupted when she used it. This seemed more like a gentle pulse. "Now slowly grind that wheel to a halt." That yellow aura was now covering the insect. "Now slowly turn it backwards. Slowly Eri." The girl did what he said. Making the wheel in her mind, turn in reverse. Izuku watched the insect be reverted back to its cocoon state, bit by bit. "Now bring it to a stop again Eri. Good."

The girl opened her eyes and was delighted to finally see her first successful attempt at using her power. It was alive. Reduced back to a younger form, but alive none the less.

"Well done." Izuku smiled at her. "We'll stop here for today." For once Aizawa agreed with him. Best not to push the child and have her lose what little bit of confidence she just gained. "Come we'll have lunch to celebrate." He then turned to the underground hero as he generated a portal with his infinity gauntlet. "Tell Dr. Higurashi we'll be out for a bit." He ordered as he took Eri's hand and led her through without looking back at the scowling man.

"I don't work for you." Aizawa said after they were gone. Glaring at the spot Izuku just was.

ELSEWHERE

Izuku smiled as he led Eri up to his mother's apartment. His childhood home hadn't changed a bit. Not that it had been a long time. He visited his mother at least once a month, sometimes twice if he wasn't busy. He glanced around seeing no journalists in sights. Many of them had tried to hound and harass Izuku's mother to get more information about him. The worst of them was a disgusting vulture of a woman named Chitose Kizuki. Luckily due to his political connections he was able to get restraining orders for his only family member against almost every media outlet and publishers.

Knocking on the door he wasn't greeted by Inko Midoriya, but by the Titan robot assigned, commissioned and programed to protect her. He almost laughed aloud seeing the tall black machine wearing a pink apron. He dismissed the robot with a wave and it obediently stepped aside so they could walk in.

"Mom!" Izuku called out.

"In here sweetie." She called back from the kitchen.

"I brought Eri with me." Izuku led the girl inside. Eri smiled as she ran up to hug Inko. She'd been here several times and Izuku's mother was always so warm and friendly to her. "She made great progress with her quirk today."

"That's wonderful." Inko was happy for her and gently set the girl down. The three of them sat at the table, while the Titan robot ducked into the kitchen to retrieve the lunch that the woman prepared. The three of them had a nice time. Eri looked so happy, Izuku noted. The one thing she wanted was a family, something he couldn't exactly give her, but he supposed this was a nice substitute.

Their lunch was interrupted by a knock at the door. First the robot turned and looked towards it then Izuku did the same.

"Were you expecting someone?" The gauntlet user asked his mother with a curious tone.

"Yes actually." Inko looked nervous, glancing back and forth between her son and the door. "She really wanted to meet you privately."

"I think its safe to assume who this guest is." Izuku had a good hunch who was here. "Let her in." He ordered the Titan. The machine marched towards the door and opened it to reveal Mitsuki Bakugou, mother of Katsuki Bakugou. On its master's orders the robot stepped aside allowing her to pass into the Midoriya home unhindered.

"Hello Izuku." The woman seemed calm and reserved. Not the usual loud and boisterous that he always knew her to be. A trait her son seemed to inherit. Izuku stood up from the table to greet her.

"Nice to see you again Mrs. Bakugou." He said with politeness, almost robotically. "How is your husband these days?"

"Oh he's fine." Mitsuki tried to smile, but it was clearly forced. "Look at you all grown up. You've gotten so tall now." She tried to lighten the tense atmosphere with some friendly compliments. "I bet all the girls are lining up at your doorstep, especially now that you're such a big shot."

"My position doesn't allow for such things." Izuku replied smoothly. "Just don't have the time." Mitsuki approached the table and noticed the small white haired girl sitting across from Inko.

"This is Eri. One of the children from my friend Dr. Higurashi's care facility." His tone made it sound like that was all she needed to know on the subject and any more information beyond that would not be supplied.

"I'm sorry Izuku." Inko apologized. "She came to me recently and begged for a chance to meet with you, to talk about her son." Her eyes locked with her own child, hoping he would understand. "I couldn't say no."

"You could have just called." Izuku shrugged as if it wasn't a bother at all. "The HRD has a direct line. They would have set up a meeting with me."

"I tried that." Mitsuki huffed with frustration. "Several times actually. They kept saying they would get back with me to schedule an appointment, but they never did. I had to keep calling."

"How odd." The young director feigned confusion. "You must have slipped through the cracks then. It wouldn't be the first. My department is still relatively new and we're currently in the process of working out the last remaining kinks." That was a bold lie. Not the kinks part. Izuku knew full well that Mitsuki Bakugou wanted to schedule a meeting with him to discuss her now fugitive son. He purposely had his offices give her the run around as to avoid this talk. Clever of her to find a different angle by using her connection to his mother and get a meeting outside the office.

"Very well I guess we can just have this now, off the record if you prefer." He smiled in such a fake friendly demeanor. "I assume in private." He walked down the hall and stopped at his old childhood bedroom. It looked the same as ever, only the Allmight name plate that used to say 'IZUKU' was long gone. He opened it and gestured for her to step inside. Mitsuki followed him, glancing back over her shoulder at Inko who gave her friend a worried look. Eri just looked confused for a moment before returning to her lunch, since she figured it was his business. Once inside the bare room the door gently closed behind the blonde woman thanks to the telekinetic power of Izuku's reality stone.

"I never noticed." Izuku started speaking first as he looked around his old bedroom with nostalgia. "How empty and plain this room looks without all the Allmight merchandise. Funny isn't it? How much false hope filled the void in my life." He turned the desk chair around and sat down gesturing for Mitsuki to sit across from him on the bed. "So…what is it you want to talk about?"

"Look…Izuku." Mitsuki sighed quietly. "I know Katsuki hurt you. The interviews and anti-bullying speeches where you used my son as an example were very thorough." She said with shame to know that Katsuki did all those things. At first she didn't want to believe it, but she knew how rough around the edges and mean towards weaker individuals her son was.

"Is that what this is about? Do you want me to stop using him as an example?" Izuku sounded amused. "That could easily be done." He had plenty of other examples after all. The former hero Endeavor was always ripe for criticism, and being dragged further through the mud. Something which never failed to bring a smile to his ally Dabi's face.

"No I'm just asking you to forgive him." Mitsuki spoke with honest sincerity. The room went silent as Izuku just stared at her emotionlessly.

"Why would I do that?" The young director of the HRD asked. "Correction. Why should I do that?"

"Please. The way things are now, Katsuki will be hunted down, he'll probably lose and be thrown in prison." She pleaded to his stone face expression.

"That's how things go…for villains that is." Izuku said rather coldly, not the least bit moved. "He broke the law and will pay the price. If the heroes don't get him, maybe my Titan's will end up beating him within an inch of his life." He began listing off all the ways that her son could be defeated and Mitsuki didn't like any of it. "Perhaps my recent masterpiece might be deployed to defeat Katsuki. Your son has always been the tenacious type. Nemesis might have to go all out to bring him down." Izuku chuckled imagining the potential brutality.

"Please." Mitsuki pleaded again. "What do I have to do to make you forgive him?"

"This has nothing to do with forgiveness." Izuku told her. "Its about justice, fairness, balance. Simple cause and effect. Katsuki will suffer the consequences of his actions and that's all there is to it." He lectured as if he was in front of a classroom.

"You could stop that from happening." She argued back. "A single word from you would prevent that. You two were once friends." She tried appealing to his humanity this time with a link to his past. Unfortunately the young director of the HRD held no attachments to whatever fond childhood memories he had with his former friend. Not that there were many fond memories to begin with.

"I don't play favorites. Everyone gets equal treatment." Izuku supplied with a smile, reciting like some business man giving a bad deal. "I just gave a speech last week about it. How would it look if I suddenly decide to just let Katsuki go with a slap on the wrist?"

"Please. As a mother I don't want to have to see my son nearly killed and thrown in prison." She tried again with tears in her eyes, hoping he still had a heart in there. She knew he did, or he wouldn't have brought that little girl with him to visit Inko.

"Even if he deserves it?" Izuku queried. He just stared at her silently expecting an answer that he knew wasn't coming. He took a moment to consider this. "Fine. I'll make sure Katsuki Bakugou is as unharmed as possible. He's still going to end up in the very least a correctional facility, but on my word you and your husband will have visitation rights."

"Thank you." Mitsuki sighed knowing that's the best deal she was going to get for her son's sake. However the next thing he said made her freeze in shock.

"I'm still going to take away his quirk though." A said so casually as if discussing the weather.

"W-What!?" Misses Bakugou immediately lost her cool. "You can't do that!"

"Actually I can." Izuku smirked arrogantly. "The prime minister gave me permission to use the quirk known as All for One to take away the quirks of dangerous villains and heroes who I deem unfit for their position. This applies to rogue hero students as well." He said holding open his hand, showing her the purple soul stone lodged in the palm slot. "It's in my contract." The smile still didn't leave his face.

"Please I'm begging you-" She was interrupted by his sudden rude laugh.

"There it is." Izuku said with mirth. "You all act like being quirkless is worse than a death sentence. Quirks are all that matter in the world. Never mind actual skill or merit, it all comes down to power you were born into. Nothing is earned anymore." He ranted as his chuckles died down. "I spent my whole childhood quirkless and look where I ended up."

"You and Katsuki are not the same." Mitsuki tried to argue.

"You are exactly right, we're not. I'm much smarter and stronger willed than him." Izuku answered back. "God forbid that the boy born with such a powerful and magnificent quirk, the boy born with everything handed to him on a silver platter, suffer any hardships in his life." He suddenly stood up from his chair. With his added height he could look down at people a little better than before. "You have my word that your son will be alive and in one piece when he's eventually captured. He won't be getting to keep his quirk." That matter was said with such finality that it left no room for argument. Saying all that he needed to say Izuku smoothed out the front of his suit and walked out of his now plain and empty childhood bedroom, leaving that last piece of his past with Katsuki Bakugou behind.


Hey look whose back. Been working like a dog to pay bills and spiraling into a self-destructive depression over and over again. Told myself that the New Year would be different, but we're not off to a good start. Another problem was that I kept choosing to drink alcohol in the little bit of free time that I had. I'm really trying to do better. Been cutting out things in my life that I think are making me miserable, like the news and alcohol. Trying to go back to things that made me happy like painting and writing. I'm not an artist anymore. Back when I was I had no money, but I did have an absurd amount of free time, so I could crank out chapters. That's not the case anymore.

Enough of that crap. Let's talk about the chapter. I had to really gut this one, hence why it's so short. I had a friend who took writing classes read this story and give constructive criticism. She said my best chapters were the ones where I focused and followed one character. Some of my chapters I do jump around from places to characters a little too much. Originally I was going to do the same here, since this a time skip, showing where everybody is and what they are doing, but instead just went with Izuku's perspective here.

I had this scene in my notes for so long where Izuku has a chat with Bakugou's mother. It was supposed to happen a little later, but I felt now was good after the time skip. There's a part of Izuku that doesn't want to hurt Mitsuki, but there's another part that really wants to hurt Katsuki, so this is him reaching a sort of middle ground here. Not going to physically harm him, but taking his quirk away will mentally crush him.

I do follow the manga. Its giving me a lot of ideas that I might play around with. Specifically with how quirks are used. Horikoshi did something I was already planning to do myself in the third arc of this story. So I was like "Dammit! He beat me to it!" I'm still going to do it though.

I want to thank everyone who follows and supports this story. Seeing all those reviews and follows, really does motivate me to keep going. I've said it before, I really do want to see this story through to the end. I'll probably be burned out by the end, so this might be the last story I write. I hope not.

I'm glad to be back. I really missed this.