This is part of an art trade with a good buddy of mine. This isn't exactly what she asked for, but here's hoping she likes it anyway…
Anyway, say hello to a little canon divergence where a certain Master is not as forgiving as he could be after a certain attack on a school. ;D It also doubles as a fun exploration of going from Quirk to Quirkless.
Earn It Back
"Come here," his master said.
His voice sent a flicker down Kurogiri's ever-moving Warp, injecting a wave of dread straight to his bones. His master appeared to be displeased with the twisted curl of his lip and exposed teeth. Kurogiri approached, one step at a time with as smooth a grace as he could muster through the nerves.
A flash of "escape" appeared in Kurogiri's mind, but he was a fine servant and he did as told no matter how his stomach reminded himself it was very solid as it churned behind his warp.
Upon reaching the side of his master's chair where the sound of his support equipment rang at its loudest, he paused.
"Quirks are a privilege, wouldn't you agree?" Master asked. Kurogiri knew better than to answer. "They certainly do not belong to those who would let them go to waste."
Kurogiri held back the whimper as Master's hand latched onto his arm, twisting it in a way that it should not bend. The grip held too strong for a man so decrepit in his chair that he was half falling apart. The pain shot up his arm and his Warp flickered heavily as he struggled to keep from using his Quirk to escape out of the dangerous hold on reflex.
He'd often dreamed of his master's touch, but never in this way. He knew better than to wish for rough handling from such a cruel man.
Master pulled Kurogiri toward him, his grip ever tightening. Kurogiri could feel his master's breath on his face through the Warp and shivered under the rancid breath. "Don't escape, now."
"Never, sir," Kurogiri replied, his voice high pitched from the pain.
"Servants who are defeated and held down by teenagers may need time to reflect on their failures."
Kurogiri didn't activate his Quirk fast enough to get away.
His master's free hand grabbed Kurogiri's head, his palm digging into his forehead through the warp.
His consciousness returned him to a cold floor at his master's feet. The concrete scraped at his knees through his slacks. He stared at his bare hand, the pale color of flesh bright in the dark room.
"If you'd like your Quirk back," his master said. "I suggest you earn it."
"Yes, sir," Kurogiri whispered, his raw voice echoing in his ears.
The clock ticked onward as Tomura tapped away at the buttons of his game. He sat hunched in the corner of the couch they'd moved into the bar, eyes on the screen. Tomura pressed his lips together, chewing at a loose flake of chapped skin.
"He's late," Tomura whispered to himself, watching the clock during a cut scene. Kurogiri was supposed to have been back by now to serve dinner and take Tomura to the mall to replace a few items he'd broken after his rage over losing All Might. For his usually punctual servant to be thirty minutes later, there was only one explanation. "Master must be keeping him."
After another two hours passed, Tomura put his game away and got off the couch. His stomach growled and he gritted his teeth.
What was taking Kurogiri? Master didn't like talking more than he had to these days. He had to save his strength. So Kurogiri couldn't possibly still be entertaining Master. The servant had to have left for other reasons by now.
Did he forget about Tomura?
No, no—he would never.
Kurogiri didn't forget things.
Another thirty minutes passed and the door opened as Tomura bit into a stale saltine cracker from behind the bar.
A shivering man entered: Dark hair plastered to a pale face by the rainwater. The droplets of leftover water clung to a crooked nose and dull, yellow eyes watched the floor.
The stranger wore Kurogiri's clothes.
Tomura didn't move and neither did the intruder. He remained shivering in the doorway like a stray, staring down like he wasn't sure how to look up. The silence lingered until the man lifted his head and saw Tomura behind the bar.
The stranger's eyes widened and he whispered, "Master Tomura."
Tomura dropped the saltine crackers.
The stranger wearing Kurogiri's clothes and using his servant's stolen voice stared for a moment longer with a ragged breath before he said, "Dinner. I was going to make dinner and take you to the store."
Tomura's fingers twitched.
It couldn't be.
"Forgive me, Master Tomura," Kurogiri said. He spoke in a daze, as if his mind was focused someplace far away. Kurogiri looked down, staring at his hand as he flexed individual fingers, pale and delicate. "I do fear I may not be able to act as your chauffeur for the time being."
"What happened?" Tomura asked, sucking in a breath.
"Master was very displeased with my failure at the Hero brat's academy," Kurogiri said. He took a shaking step forward, walking toward the door at the other end of the bar that led to the living quarters. "I am being punished until I can prove I deserve my Quirk back."
Tomura couldn't take his eyes away from the face, twisted in exposed emotions usually masked by familiar, dark clouds. "How are you going to do that?"
Kurogiri's face twisted in anguish. "I do not know."
Master Tomura helped Kurogiri shower.
His humiliation grew so great, Kurogiri could only accept the young mater's help with a sore tongue as he bit it.
"Is that too hot?" Tomura asked, scratching at his neck.
The sound of his nails clawing his skin grated on Kurogiri's ears as each sound was clearer than the last. He hesitated as his fingers inched toward the water. Rationally, he knew that a warm shower was the aid for his trembling form still chilled from the rainwater after his long, agonizing walk home. However, he hadn't expected to burn himself testing the water.
Or scream from the cold.
He'd gotten so used to judging temperatures through a screen that his ability to judge how hot or cold water could be had been lost.
Kurogiri had gained senses he hadn't had before, but he felt more helpless than ever.
Master Tomura found him with both hands under his arms, leaning against the sink with panicked breathing because he had failed as so little a task. The younger master had taken pity on him and judged the situation accordingly. He'd turned the water back on and tested the temperature for him.
Kurogiri shoved his hand under the water, ignoring the wriggle of discomfort as it continued to burn his sensitive skin.
But he'd suffer for it.
Master Tomura had done enough.
"It's fine," he whispered. "You've provided the perfect temperature. Thank you, young master."
"Are—are you okay?" Master Tomura whispered. Fear laced his words and Kurogiri cursed in his mind, the anger growing in his chest. To make Master Tomura worry was inexcusable behavior. Kurogiri hunched his shoulder inward, biting the edge of his lip. The young master shouldn't have a care or worry in the world aside from his video games and spoiled desires. "Do you still need help?"
"I am fine," Kurogiri said. He steeled his voice. He forced his shoulders back and stood straight, putting a hand on his scratchy vest. "I thank you for your assistance, but I am fine here. I hardly need you to help me change."
"Sure," Master Tomura said. He narrowed his eyes toward Kurogiri before slinking out of the bathroom. "I'll be around."
The young master left the room, scratching harder at his neck. The floor creaked under his footsteps, sounding down the length of the hallway. Kurogiri waited for him to leave before he nudged the door shut, closing himself into the bathroom alone.
Kurogiri's shaking fingers undid the buttons of his clothes painfully slow as he forced his muscles to remember how to work.
He couldn't remember the last time he'd changed clothes. His Warp skin ate away at any human inconvenience such as sweat or filth. He'd always been immaculate without any effort or need to worry for it. This Quirkless state was without question the worst punishment his Master had created to date.
Kurogiri could only pray after a night's sleep that he could figure out the best way to work his way back into his Master's good graces.
He wasn't sure how much longer he'd survive without it.
People adapted to their Quirks.
They became as automatic and as part of a person as breathing as they grew older and adjusted to the unique features that a person would become as known for as their name. Tomura barely thought twice about his finger control these days, though he still put care into his handling of items. Destroying things on accident was never as satisfying as using his Decay with intent.
Slips here or there were inevitable.
A glass shattered on the floor. Kurogiri's fingers shook in the air as he stared at the broken cup.
"Silly me," he said, kneeling to collect the broken pieces. Kurogiri moved like a snail, testing each piece by tapping it twice before picking it up. He set them on a plate and cleaned.
The frustration on his face made Tomura's stomach twist.
His clumsy body refused to obey the commands of its master. Kurogiri's entire life had been defined and adjusted to a Quirk that was literally all encompassing.
Should Tomura lose his Quirk, he'd have little change in his life. Whether he held a glass with four fingers or five, nothing changed.
However, to someone who had adjusted life to the constant awareness that their touch could teleport something, everything had to be different.
What did regular touch feel like to someone who felt everything to a void?
How did someone who passed through space as if it wasn't there deal with being bound to the ground and the distance his own two feet could walk?
Tomura couldn't picture it, but he could see the end results.
Kurogiri dropped another plate and the man smacked the counter with the side of his hand, biting his lip.
His face twisted in anger and anguish, eyes narrowed and mouth pursed. The blank, expressionless mask that brought Tomura such comfort had been wiped away, revealing every frustrated emotion.
Kurogiri looked as ugly as everyone else now.
And three times as useless.
Tomura dug his thumb into his chest, massaging away the small ache that tightened it in displeasure.
He didn't like this.
There was no point to this game.
How did one earn back their worth when they had lost all their tools at their disposal?
Kurogiri sat on the stained couch in his bar, glaring at the bottle of brandy that had joined the latest entry in his shattered cup graveyard. The liquid stained the floor, wasting the precious liquor.
He wanted to get drunk.
The ability to stop thinking would greatly benefit him at the moment.
Kurogiri had wracked his brain for hours coming up with ways he could please his master using the body he'd been cursed with, but he could barely handle the regular, ordinary tasks of living.
If he couldn't clean a cup without dropping it, how could he eliminate an enemy? His main method of attack had always been his Quirk. Kurogiri wasn't prepared for hand to hand combat and he certainly had no one that he trusted enough to teach him.
His master must want something else.
This wasn't about earning his Quirk back.
It had to be something else.
There had to be some other reason to torment his servant this way. Kurogiri leaned forward, drawing his rough fingers into his coarse hair. He felt his scalp tingle as he dug in his nails and breathed.
He feared the torment in and of itself was the end goal.
Tomura relied on Kurogiri too much.
He had wanted food and had to settle for what he could scavenge for himself, which amounted to cheap snacks as neither he nor Kurogiri trusted the older man to use the stove in his current state. He'd burned and dropped enough regular items to deal with open flames and heated elements.
He had wanted to visit Master to ask what he was thinking by eliminating one of their greatest resources, but he didn't know where Master resided. Kurogiri had always teleported them straight there, and he admitted that he'd gotten lost once or twice returning to the bar after he was dismissed last time.
Walking there took two hours, which made transport difficult.
Tomura couldn't go anywhere without Kurogiri that didn't involve walking and while he was capable of such a thing, it was rather annoying when one had gotten used to instant transport.
But if Tomura suffered, Kurogiri found himself much worse off.
The older man knelt behind the bar counter, holding himself as he sobbed over a broken bowl of sliced fruit. He held his hand as blood dripped from his sliced finger over the knife he'd dropped in his shock.
Kurogiri had cut slowly and with care, but it hadn't been enough when the phone rang. Startled, he'd jerked and cut himself. Unused to the pain, he'd knocked over the bowl.
Tomura watched the most stoic man he knew, hold a wounded hand before his face twisted in disgust before he dropped to his knees and cried.
"I will collect myself momentarily," Kurogiri said, his hand shaking. "Dinner will be ready soon."
Tomura got a bandage and wrapped the older man's hand. He sent him off to bed with a distinct feeling that their roles had been reversed in some way.
After the matter had been settled, Tomura waited for Kurogiri to disappear to his room before he clicked on the television in the corner.
If he couldn't visit Master face to face, he'd have to call him.
"Tomura, how delightful to hear from you, my boy," Master said, his blurry image filling the screen. The distortion that protected his identity hissed over the television and Tomura sat at the bar stool. "What is it that you need?"
"It would have been kinder to kill Kurogiri," Tomura said. He scratched at his neck and leaned on the counter. "What was the point of taking his Quirk?"
"You sound concerned," Master said. Tomura hunched his shoulders in and flinched at the accusation. "What an odd thing to hear from you."
"You made one of our strongest players useless." Tomura glared at the screen, scratching his neck. His fingers caught in the flaking skin and he pulled his nails away to stare at the blood drying under them. "How do you expect me to react? What were you thinking?"
"That the both of you could use a little tough love," Master said. "Kurogiri is not the only one entirely reliant on his Quirk, now is he?"
Tomura narrowed his eyes and stopped scratching his neck.
"If you want your toy in full working order once more, perhaps you should help him figure out how to return to my good graces," Master said. He hummed under his breath and said, "It's been a delight speaking with you as always."
The television clicked off.
Tomura got up from his seat and kicked over the bar stool.
"I may have to beg," Kurogiri said, staring at himself in the mirror. He had his father's face and his mother's eyes and it reminded him of days long gone. Kurogiri touched his cheek and drew his fingers down before dropping his hand to the side. "That must be what he wants."
Kurogiri picked up his vest from the side of the sink and put it on.
He passed Tomura on his way down to the bar. The young master watched him from his seat on the bar. Kurogiri felt proud of the young man for his responsibility throughout the ordeal, but once again, his pride fell to the shame of putting Master Tomura in such a position to begin with.
He'd lived like this for a week and had nothing he could do to impress their master.
Kurogiri would beg for his Quirk to be returned.
"Are you going out?" Master Tomura asked.
"Yes," Kurogiri said. He stood in the doorway, swallowing. "Though I am not sure if I shall return. Please do not stay up waiting."
"I'll come with you."
Master Tomura would not hear Kurogiri's protests otherwise and insisted on walking alongside him as they took to the streets and walked to their Master's hideout. Tomura walked with his hood over his head and an angry gaze in his eye. Kurogiri continued to feel like the younger one between them, praying that his begging would be enough to return himself to use. There were no words exchanged between them.
There were no words needed.
Tomura stayed to the back as he watched his servant walk with confidence toward Master.
Kurogiri approached the chair acting as their ruler's throne and dropped to his knees. He bowed forward until his head touched the ground and he begged like a dog.
"Please tell me what is that you desire and I shall do it," Kurogiri said. "I can not be of service to you or Master Tomura in this state. Please tell me what I can do to earn my Quirk back, I beg of you."
Master wheezed as he breathed, the tubes that kept him alive and tended to his body shifted as he moved. He held out his hand again and waved his fingers toward himself. "Come closer."
Tomura watched as Kurogiri rose to his feet and stepped forward until he stood within touching distance. Master reached out and touched Kurogiri against his cheek, his wrinkled fingers touching the smooth skin.
"You have a lovely face," Master said. His fingers continued exploring, seeing what his missing eyes could not. "I had often wondered what you might look like beyond all the shadows that hid you."
Kurogiri did not answer, but his lips stretched as he stood there.
"What have you learned from all of this?" Master ask. His head tilted toward Tomura, hinting the question may have also been aimed at him as well. "How does it feel to be Quirkless?
"Like hell," Kurogiri whispered. He leaned into Master's touch until Tomura watched a wrinkled thumb press itself into Kurogiri's lip. "Anyone who wants to live this way is a fool."
Master rubbed his thumb in a circle on Kurogiri's lip. "And what will you do if I give you your Quirk back?"
"I shall never take its presence for granted again and be so careless with such a remarkable gift," Kurogiri said. He dropped to a knee and put his hand on Master's thigh. "My past failure will not repeat itself."
"I am not entirely convinced," Master said. He hummed under his breath. "Tomura, what do you think? Has your toy earned his Quirk back?"
"It's annoying for me when he doesn't have it," Tomura said. He licked his teeth. "I don't know about earning anything, but he's been punished more than enough. Groveling belongs to the NPCs, so who cares if he earned it back or not?"
"It's good to see that selfish streak of yours," Master said. He patted Kurogiri's cheek and put his palm on the man's forehead. "The next time, my dear servant, Tomura may have to put you out of your misery himself."
Tomura looked away as Kurogiri screamed. He listened to the man wail until he could no longer keep his eyes averted. He turned his head in time to watch Kurogiri explode into a wave of black as his Quirk returned, wrapping his skin in the dark color. He appeared naked, with the Warp hugging his slim form and his clothes nowhere to be seen.
The edges of his Quirk rose and fell with the man's breath, shivering with his body in an uncontrolled mass. His yellow eyes exploded open. Kurogiri came to a halt, the waves still fluttering gently, and leaned back.
He drew his Warp in toward himself and stood, returning himself to his normal form.
"I think you for your mercy," Kurogiri said, bowing at the waist. His voice sounded strained, as if the agony continued. "I will not fail you again."
"You will," Master said. He put his cheek in his knuckles and licked his lip. "Everyone always fails me. But next time, hide it better."
"Of course, sir," Kurogiri said. He lingered for a moment before he stepped back. "I shall take my leave now."
He approached Tomura with hesitant steps and his Warp flickered. "Shall we return home?"
Tomura nodded and stepped into the familiar, welcoming warp toward home.
He ignored the flash of the man's face his mind overlaid across the shadows.
Kurogiri returned life to normal. He did not know the true purpose of his Master's actions, but he supposed it was not his place to question.
The entire ordeal appeared to have been made on a whim. His declarations meant for nothing more than to cause Kurogiri anxious thoughts and for his mind to suffer as much as his body.
Master Tomura thought much the same.
He was of the same fickle mind of their master, so he would perhaps be a good judge of character for such things.
Kurogiri prepared dinner after taking Master Tomura to the store for his games. They settled back into their routine with ease, both wishing to forget the past week occurred. Kurogiri had no more desire to see Tomura's concerned eyes than he imagined his young Master wished to think of the Quirkless fool who couldn't keep hold of a simple glass without dropping it.
His finger still ached behind his Warp. The bandage had been warped away on accident when his Quirk returned, along with his clothes. The cut, however, remained.
He felt it with every move of his finger and hoped that it healed quickly.
The sooner all reminders of this even faded away, the better.
"When's dinner going to be done?" The young master asked. "I'm hungry."
"Any moment," Kurogiri said. He checked the food on the stove, glad to once more have a better feel on temperatures and smells. His dulled senses made life bearable once more. "Have you made any progress on your next plan to kill All Might?"
"No." Master Tomura sat at the table, awaiting his food. "Those plans can wait."
"For what, if I may ask?" Kurogiri said.
"Until I stop being angry with Master," Kurogiri's young master said. He licked the side of his lip and tilted his head to the side. He watched Kurogiri and exaggerated his frown. "He put us through hell for nothing. If he wants progress on our new world, he can earn it."
Kurogiri felt glad that his Quirk hid the smile that stretched over his face.