Howdy folks, how's it going?
Hope you all have been keeping safe.
Here we are once again, with another update. Fair warning, this one is heavier on the dialogue and lighter on the orky madness, but it is a necessary transition chapter for the madness to come… :P
Also, as a little shameless plug in for those of you who may not yet know of it, one of my stories, Through the Eternities, got a Tvtropes page. Feel free to check it out and expand upon it if you find it interesting.
As always, a shout out to Chaos Productions for his assistance.
And as always, I own neither BNHA nor WH40K. A lot of ongoing nonsense wouldn't have been an issue if I did.
And now, on with the show.
It was just another normal day in the Midoriya household. Inko had had a few work meetings early in the morning (the ability to work from home being one of the many perks of being a freelance legal consultant that had made her take up the occupation), gave the apartment a quick mopping, dusted off Izuku's assortment of figurines, books, collector's items, junk, firearms, bladed weapons and explosive devices, and did her usual grocery run, all with her usual, motherly smile on her face. All in a day's work.
She had just shortly before returned from that last one, and was currently in the process of packing it all away and preparing to make dinner, when a sudden shift in the tv she liked to keep on for background noise caught her attention.
"This just in," The news anchor was saying, a finger to the comm in their ears and an expression of growing surprise in their face that not even their experienced acting could mask. "We are currently receiving reports that there's been a possible villain attack in U.A. High School. Information is still trickling in, but we will keep the viewers updated as thoroughly as-"
"Oh dear." The woman muttered as she processed the information, worried about the possible implications. This meant that Izuku was probably going to be late for dinner, which was a shame…
Her worried musings were then suddenly interrupted when somebody knocked on the door. Or rather, knocked it in, blowing it clean of its hinges.
Into the apartment entered a couple of men, one of them rather tall and lanky, having to hunch himself forward to make it through the doorway, while the other was more normally proportioned, but sporting a pair of curling horns under his hoodie. The duo glanced around the place before their eyes fell on her, and they both smiled with different degrees of malice.
"So, that's her, uh?" The horned one inquired of his companion, looking at her like she was somehow familiar, but he couldn't tell how.
"Yeah, that's the bitch the boss wants dead." The lanky one replied, giving her a disturbing leer. "Damnit, why do I never get the hot ones…?"
Now, the senior Midoriya was not averse to receiving guests, as Yagi-San's frequent visits for dinner would attest, even if other than him it was not a very common occurrence, as not everyone was equipped to handle her son's rather vibrant personality, but she couldn't help but think that this was a rather rude entrance.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am afraid you caught me at a bad time to receive guests, I was just about to get dinner going." She greeted them with apologetic politeness, tilting her head slightly as she considered the obvious pair of thugs. "Is there something I can help you with? Because if not I must ask that you leave my house, preferably fixing the door on your way out."
The duo stopped at that, glancing dubiously at each other, as if asking confirmation that the other had heard the same thing. That… was not really the kind of reaction either of them had been expecting.
"…Bitch, didn't you hear what I just said? We're here to kill you." The lanky one inquired quite crassly, sneering at her. "I got no idea what a fat blob like you did to piss the boss off, but he wants you gone, and well, better you than us."
"There's no need for such language, I heard you perfectly well the first time." Inko chastised the man, giving him that kind of unimpressed look only a disapproving parent would be able to pull. "Being a murderer is no excuse to being rude, young man."
"…You're taking your impending demise remarkably well." The horned one commented, less actually addressing her and more just voicing the thought.
"You assume I have reason to feel threatened, which to be quite frank, I do not." The woman replied, with a certainty in her tone, that quality of someone who's looking at a toddler trying to act serious and finding it absolutely adorable, that made the duo hesitate. Then, without sparing them another look, she went back to what she was doing before, preparing to chop up some vegetables. "Like I said, you caught me at a bad time, and I can't be bothered to deal with your nonsense. If you do not need anything and you are not here to do anything productive, kindly leave my house, and tell your boss that whatever it is he thinks I did, murdering people is no way to handle his problems."
"…Is this bitch for real?" A rather aggravated lanky man stated. "You know what, fuck it. I was gonna make it quick, but now I think I'm gonna take my time."
He stepped forward menacingly then, his fingers flattening and beginning to spin as he went, turning them into buzzsaws. The other one, a bit more hesitantly, drew a gun.
And again much like a disappointed parent, Inko sighed.
"If that's how it's going to be…"
Then she clicked the red button that was hidden beneath the counter.
The two thugs stopped in confused alarm when suddenly a klaxon alarm begun blaring loudly, the lights around the apartment flashing red. Behind them, the light of day suddenly vanished as a heavy steel shutter slammed closed, cutting off their exit. Inko for her part, merely took a step back, as the kitchen counter opened up and the two gatling gun turrets her son had installed there activated, trained on the suddenly a lot less belligerent crooks. Two more such turrets came down from the ceiling, two more from the walls at either side, and one more from the couch (personally, Inko thought that one was a bit much, but her son had made a surprisingly convincing argument).
By the time that last one had turned up, the two had fully left "belligerent" and entered firmly into "terrified" territory, going by the way they were now hugging each other in fright, standing perfectly still as their forms were illuminated by several red dots from the weapons' targeting systems.
"Now, gentlemen," Inko addressed them, her eyes still firmly on the vegetables she was unpacking. "While we wait for the police to arrive and sort you two out, you can sit down at the kitchen table and have some tea and cookies, or you can try to take this mission of yours to its inevitable conclusion. And before you make your decision, let me inform you that this." She gestured towards the closest turret. "Is just the first and most harmless of the safety measures this house has against unwanted intrusions."
Then she looked up at the trembling would be assassins, that warm motherly smile not once throughout all of this having dimmed.
"So, what's it going to be?"
The duo whimpered something unintelligible she interpreted as a choosing of the first option.
There was a tension in the air of U.A's conference room, All Might found, and it was one that he himself shared. In his gaunt, sickly form, sunken yet still deeply blue eyes glanced around, first to the four seats that were still unoccupied, and then towards each of the others one by one. Not to try to make light of a very serious situation, but when Present Mic was somberly quiet and Midnight dropped the seductive act for a cold and dead serious demeanour, you knew that things had gotten serious.
It was a couple of days after the attack on the USJ, and still they were all reeling from it. U.A was the best hero school in the country, and also the one that was better funded and better equipped to handle unwanted intrusions, but still, for villains to so blatantly try to invade the place and to harm their students was unheard of, something that they all were aware of as a possibility but never something that felt feasible, tangible. Until now, that is.
Shame filled the hero once again as his thoughts turned to the villains proclaimed goals of killing him. He had been their true target all along and he hadn't even been present until it was already all but over, because he had wasted his time like a moron beforehand, and had left the children and his fellow teachers vulnerable as a result.
The only silver lining was that by some miracle, the students had gone through the ordeal without any significant injury. All but one of them, at least, but that one was just further proof of his own failure…
The number 1 hero's musings were interrupted as the door opened and in walked Nezu and Recovery Girl, each of the two taking their place at the table, the old woman frowning deeply and the phylogenetically ambiguous animal… well, it was hard to tell what he was feeling at the best of times, but with how stiffly he moved one could hazard a guess that he was not happy…
"Apologies for making you wait." Nezu stated as soon as he had settled in, starting the meeting in full. "I was checking in on the infirmary just before coming here."
"What's the situation there?" All Might immediately asked the question he suspected most of the others were intending to themselves.
"Aizawa had most of his bones broken, including his orbitals being nearly powdered, while Anakuro suffered some grievous lacerations and muscle loss from her own quirk being turned on her. It was touch and go for a bit, but both are out of danger and on the way to recovery." The school's nurse replied, loosening some of the tension in the air as sighs of relief were had around the room. "Midoriya's injuries were somehow less severe, if no less extensive. A concussion, some fractured ribs, a nasty burn in his right hand, and bruises over most of his body, but none of those were serious enough to be problematic. He's pretty much recovered already."
Well, at least that was a bit of the weight off of his shoulders, but that was not saying much.
"Kid's currently with his mom, right?" Snipe interjected, bringing yet another aspect of the mess to the fore. "She's fine from what I heard, but what about the other family members of the students? If these scum are low enough to go after her, they could go after the others."
Ah, yes, All Might had nearly had a stroke yesterday, when shortly after the attack itself the police had informed them that they had been called to one of the students' residence and found there two villains peacefully awaiting to be arrested, and said residence turned out to be one he knew well. The fact that said villains appeared scared shitless and even relieved when the officers got there was confusing to them (and All Might didn't feel inclined to ponder just what Midoriya senior had done to warrant it, for the sake of his sanity), but it didn't make the situation any less serious.
"I went out of my way to make sure every single known family member of the students was accounted for and safe." Nezu was quick to reassure, his paws tenting to support his muzzle as he leaned forward in ponderation. "None of them were targeted besides Midoriya-San, but we have coordinated with the police and the hero comission to keep them under surveillance and always have a hero on patrol around them. That said, from what I understand, going after his mother was an attempt to spite the boy, and none of the other students seemed to… leave as big an impression on the villains as he did. Further attacks like that shouldn't be an issue, but we're not taking any chances."
"And what of the villains themselves?" Vlad King inquired, a deep, stern frown on his face. "They're all accounted for, right?"
"Well, as you know, the leader and his second, Shigaraki and Kurogiri, going by the students' reports, got away, leaving the others behind, and yes, all the stragglers have been rounded up by the police." Nezu supplied, his beady black eyes unblinking, but some amusement in his tone. "It's clear they were considered fodder, and going by their performance, they were underwhelming even at that. In fact, they were worse off than us. Many of them were severely injured during the whole debacle. We picked up severely electrocuted villains from the flood zone, frostbitten ones from the ruin zone, and that's not even getting into the ones from the landslide zone that were left outright crippled by an avalanche. I've been told that some of them will, with some luck, be able to sit all the way up without crying after a few years of intense physiotherapy, and that some others might not even make it. Then there's the one confirmed casualty of the whole debacle, the one known as Noumu. Clean up crews are still picking up pieces of him around the complex."
A few of the teachers present cringed at the information. In all honesty, none of them were feeling particularly sorry or sympathetic to a bunch of people that had been trying to murder children that were supposed to be under their care, and left two of their own seriously injured to boot, but that was still a nasty picture.
"Right, that was Midoriya's handiwork, uh?" Present Mic inquired, looking uncertain as to whether he should be impressed, worried, or reaching for a drink. "I can barely wrap my mind around it. Heck, I've seen the footage and I still struggle to understand. What the hell happened there?"
"From my understanding of the testimonies and cameras, when the boy realized that his mechanized suit and its force field, which are rather impressive developments by the way, were not enough to defeat the villain, he took a gamble by overloading the latter's power source and shoving it into his opponent. The resulting force expanded and overcame Noumu's regeneration, destroying him from the inside out." Nezu clarified, shaking his head. "Reckless, but brutally effective. I must admit, I myself am not entirely certain on the exact mechanics of Midoriya's creations, but I am quite curious. Perhaps I should've tried to examine them in greater detail before all this…"
"Don't freaking bother." Power Loader muttered, breathing out the words with a long-suffering sigh. "That way lies madness."
"What do you mean?" Cementoss inquired, voicing the ambient confusion that only increased when the resident tech expert let out a little chuckle that sounded just the slightest bit manic.
"I mean that the kid's tech is literally impossible!" The excavation hero said, throwing his hands in the air in obvious frustration. "Everything he makes is just random bits of scrap that are sometimes literally glued together, and yet it's all perfectly functional, at least when he's doing it. For fuck's sake, I checked what few scraps of the "power source" were left myself, and it was just a damn ordinary car battery."
"Well, that kind of is in the description of his quirk, no?" Ectoplasm asked uncertainly, somewhat off put by his usually collected colleague suddenly acting so… rattled.
"Yeah sure, and I'd be willing to leave it at that. Quirks are weird, find something new every day, all that jazz." Power Loader retorted, his tone thick with sarcasm. "But then when I called him to the support studios to figure out what happened with the missing villain-bot, the kid proceeds to literally pull the damn thing out of his pocket, and I am not even going to get into what he did with it, and when I ask how that works, he takes a little "gadget" out of his pocket and starts spitting out a stream of weirdly accented jargon about "subspace" and "gravitic corridors", that it took me looking through some of the greatest and most widely acknowledged works from the best researchers in the fields of physics, mathematics and geometry, to more or less understand that he basically uncovered a whole brand spanking new dimension of reality, somehow related to the force of gravity, a concept that is literal fucking light years ahead of anything else in our current day and age, and is using it as fucking storage space. Which by all counts should be fucking impossible when the underlying math, which nearly drove me insane trying to make heads or tails of it, is the rough fucking equivalent of saying 2 plus 2 equals fucking fish! That kid does the impossible and it is BULLSHIT!"
By the end of this rant, the excavation hero slumped back into his seat, panting heavily from the venting of his frustrations.
"…Feeling any better?" Midnight, who had been sitting right next to him, inquired somewhat dubiously, leaning away as far as her chair would allow.
"Oh, yes." The helmeted man breathed out in relief. "Sorry, I needed to get that out of my system. It's been bugging me for a while."
"So I see." The principal said diplomatically, making two quick mental notes, one to look into these subjects himself, and another to not obsess over the matter quite so badly. "This is rather intriguing information, but I think we may be deviating a bit from the original question."
"Yes." Hound Dog agreed with a rough growl, speaking up for the first time. "And on that note, I do have some concerns."
"Oh?" The Principal prompted the resident guidance counselor to elaborate, his head tilted inquisitively.
"Naturally, as protocol demands, after such a harrowing experience, I'll be having interviews with the students to evaluate their current mental state and help them work through any lingering issues." The dog-like man stated, looking oddly pensive, as if unsure of how to best say what he wanted. "Since Midoriya's been in school grounds since, I figured I'd start with him, so I paid him a visit in the infirmary yesterday and we had a little chat…"
"Yeah, can't imagine this whole thing could've been pleasant…" Present Mic commented, concerned about his favorite freshman. "So, found anything wrong with the kid?"
"Honestly? It's more what I didn't find that is bothering me." The muzzled man answered, reaching for the notebook he had brought with him. "Without going into how the conversation went, the kid is in no way, shape or form bothered by anything that went down. There are absolutely none of the usual signs or tells of post traumatic issues."
He let the words sink in, silence lingering in the room as the staff glanced at each other warily. They all knew that certain harrowing experiences in a hero's career would inevitably leave their mark. Hell, they had all been there, in some way or another. Life-threatening injuries, the failure of a mission, the death of civilians and friends and colleagues despite their best efforts, encounters with some of the worst that humanity had to offer… Even the greatest among them could be worn down in time. And these children had been faced with the possibility of most of these things, before their careers had even started, before they had even been shown how to handle them.
Kids, not heroes. Not yet…
"You think he's repressing it?" Midnight asked, voicing the immediate concern of most of them, only for Hound Dog to shake his head.
"No, I would've picked up on it if he was." He grumbled. "There is absolutely nothing in the kid's demeanour, nor his words, nor his eyes, that shows any sort of discomfort or distress. And he is not dissociating either, he's fully and completely aware on a rational level of everything that went down. The fact that people have tried to kill him and his friends? That he was forced to fight for his life and resort to violent methods? That he's beat the record for the youngest hero hopeful with an actual body count? He doesn't care. Far as he's concerned, he did what needed to be done to ensure they were safe, and those people were trying to kill them first, which to be perfectly fair, is not wrong of him." The dog-like man shook his head then. "Izuku Midoriya has not been traumatized by the USJ. If anything, he genuinely found the whole clusterfuck to be fun."
"You've know the boy the longest, All Might." Nezu addressed the gaunt man after a silent while, sounding less concerned and more legitimately curious. "What do you make of this?"
The number 1 hero, for his part, was thoroughly unsurprised at being suddenly thrown into the spotlight, heaving a weary sigh.
"Frankly, it does not surprise me. Like you said, I have known young Midoriya for months, and have interacted extensively with both him and his mother throughout that period." He admitted without preamble. "And even without taking that time into account, well… It's kinda obvious that the boy thinks differently from the average person. Frankly, Midoriya-San admitted to me that when he was younger and his quirk first manifested, it drastically changed the way he behaved, so she took him to all kinds of therapists and psychiatrists to try to figure out what it did to his mind, but after a point they just kinda… gave up."
"Gave up?!" Hound Dog growled only halfway coherently, greatly angered at such apparent negligence. "What could have possibly justified leaving such a potentially problematic situation unattended?"
"…Ever heard of Dr. Hage?" All Might inquired, a seemingly innocent question, yet one that startled both Hound Dog and Recovery Girl, to the confusion of the others present.
"…Oh dear." The nurse muttered with concerned realization. "That was him?"
"I'm afraid so." All Might admitted contritely.
"Ok, I'm sorry, but I think some of us are out of the loop here." Midnight interjected, confusion clear to see on her face. "Who's Dr. Hage and why is he relevant?"
"Hage was one of the most eminent psychiatrists in the country, and the foremost expert in mind-related quirks, especially since his own was one of the most powerful telepathic quirks on record." Recovery Girl explained, clearly reminiscing. "I met him once or twice. He was a brilliant man, good with children too. He was the doctor to go to when parents found their kids levitating everything in the living room that wasn't nailed down…"
"…And he's been dead for 9 years now." Hound Dog continued for her. "There's nobody in the field who hasn't heard of it. He was trying to probe into the mind of a patient, and his head just… exploded. They never did reveal just who the patient was, but the timeline checks out, going by how Midoriya's file says he was a late bloomer…"
"Yeah." The number 1 hero confirmed with a sigh. "After that, Midoriya-San and other doctors on the case kinda came to the conclusion that the more that young Midoriya's quirk is meddled with, the more that it lashes out, so they decided to leave it, and it's potential relation with the boy's mental state, well enough alone."
"…Are you telling me Shouta could've died on the first day?" Mic asked, flabbergasted realization plain to see on his face. "How the heck does that work?! His quirk's got nothing to do with whacky mind stuff, except if it's to shut it down!"
"Aizawa's report on the matter did touch upon this." Nezu commented, as he reached for his pad and looking for the relevant documents. The unusual sight of the dour man coming into his office with a black eye was not one to be easily forgotten. "He said the boy's quirk reacts poorly to foreign tampering, and suggested that there might be more to it than we knew of, and given these revelations, I am inclined to agree. Such an interesting mystery, our dear first place of the entrance exam is proving to be…"
All Might struggled mightily to resist the urge to shiver and so did most of the other teachers. It was never a good sign when the principal of U.A declared something to be an "interesting mystery" …
"But despite all of this," he very swiftly continued, before Nezu could go into his terrifying "evil plotting" mode. "Despite how differently he may see the world, despite how little we actually know of his quirk, Midoriya's intentions can't be ignored. His methods may be extreme, his mentality unusual, but I can say with certainty that he truly, genuinely wants to be a hero for the sake of helping others. He fought to kill, and he even enjoyed the fighting itself, but in the doing he kept the other students safe, saved Aizawa's life, and even took what for all intents and purposes should've been a lethal blow for young Yaoyoruzu."
The number 1 hero looked the guidance counselor dead in the eye, his sunken blue eyes all but glowing with conviction.
"In the aspects that matter, young Midoriya is just like any other student. He just needs guidance, like the rest of them. Just… perhaps a bit more than the average."
"…I did not mean to imply otherwise. If anything, that was the bottom line I was trying to get to." Hound Dog growled, shaking his head bemusedly. "I'm just glad the kid popped up after that Comission scandal a few years back. His profile would've been right up their alley back then. Although I guess you would know."
"I would." All Might replied, steel in his voice at the memory. "And it was exactly to put a stop to situations like that that I did what I did back then."
"Well, with this fascinating tangent on Midoriya seemingly over." Nezu called out, for once reading the gaunt man's mood and deciding to move things forward. "We should perhaps consider other things."
"Indeed. And perhaps we should start with the obvious." Cementoss agreed, his stony expression unreadable. "A villain attack on our grounds right after the first breach we've had in years? That cannot be a coincidence."
"It wasn't." Power Loader confirmed. "Unfortunately, I only realized it after the attack, but on the day of the breach there was an unauthorized access into the school's systems. The media getting in was likely a distraction to allow someone to sneak in and download the class schedule and student info. Before you ask, Nezu and I already went through our entire network with a fine comb. They didn't leave any virus or spyware behind, and I already removed the sub-routine they entered through to ensure they couldn't go that way again."
"It is possible the warp villain might've been involved in taking the data, even likely." The principal confirmed. "I will be making sure the school's defenses will be prepared to handle such intrusions from now on. I've got a few ideas already."
"…Should we consider the possibility that the villains might have an infiltrator here at U.A?" Mic suddenly questioned, his wary and concerned demeanour replaced with one of stern seriousness at the implication. "They have obviously been staking the place out and looking for openings, and they knew where to look for what they wanted. That sounds like an inside job."
"I have already considered the possibility, yes. But if we grow too paranoid about who can be trusted and who can't, we will just be playing into the hands of our enemies and make the life of a potential traitor that much easier." The principal conceded the point, straightening out in seat as his beady black eyes swept across the entire room, a sudden edge of steel in his usually affable demeanor. "I will not mince words, ladies and gentlemen. At the end of the day, the villains managed to pull this off because we grew complacent on our position as the top Hero School. Now however, we know there's someone out there with the means and the will to actually gun for us, so we need to shape up. We're going to be paying attention now, and this "League of Villains" and their potential infiltrator will find that their room for maneuvering has been drastically lessened. No one threatens the children under our care and gets away with it."
All Might had to give Nezu credit. Whimsical and not entirely sane the animal may be, but he knew how to use his words to encourage people just as well as he did to terrify them. There was still tension in the air of the conference room, but instead of uncertainty, it was born of determination, determination that was plain to see in the faces and demeanors of his fellow teachers. None of them were going to let something like this happen again, and neither was he.
"So," Snipe spoke up, breaking the silence. "That is all fine and dandy, but where do we go from here?"
"Well, since you have asked, I have a few ideas for student safety and the upcoming sports festival that I'd like to share-"
"A call is here! A call is here!"
"Shit!" All Might cursed with a startle, fumbling with his pockets to reach for the phone. "Terribly sorry about that, it's just-It's Tsukauchi. Must be important if he's calling."
"Then by all means, take the call." Nezu replied, nodding in understanding. "Any new info on the ones behind this attack could be invaluable."
"If you'll excuse me then." The skeletal man excused himself, heading into one of the side rooms, and picking up. "Hey, Tsukauchi, what's up? Have there been any leads?"
"Toshinori…" The voice from the other side said, and All Might was immediately on edge. Tsukauchi had never sounded so hesitant and concerned before… "I… I suppose you can say that…"
"What's wrong?" The number 1 hero asked seriously, dread gnawing at what was left of his stomach.
"You see, our lab techs managed to…scrape enough of Shigaraki's fingers from the boot of Midoriya's armor for a DNA analysis." His longtime friend explained, sounding like he really didn't quite know how to say what he needed to. "I am afraid… It's very bad news…"
"Fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckk…" Shigaraki hissed in obvious discomfort, as the persistent pain spiked once again, and he glared balefully at his hand like it had somehow personally offended him.
The good news were that Sensei, ever a thoughtful man, had been kind enough to let him borrow a regeneration quirk for his missing finger joints. The bad news were that the regeneration was slow as server maintenance, arguably hurt even more than having the missing bits bitten off, the doctor had said there was a good chance that, even with it, his capacity to use his quirk with this particular hand would be weakened, so not only did he have nothing to show for his raid, but he was also actually walking out of it with a fucking demerit, and the little baby-like nubs that just barely passed for fingertips he now had in place of open wounds on the digits in question looked somewhere between ridiculous and creepy as shit.
He glanced around the bar, looking for something to vent his anger out on, but Kurogiri had wised up to his temper after the second glass and had left anything that was even remotely portable and not vitally necessary safely out of range.
And thus Shigaraki turned to the next best thing, fantasizing about the painful demise he'd inflict upon the one responsible.
"That little shit…" He growled hatefully. "When I get my hands on him I'll-"
"Now, now, Tomura." A calm, if gravelly voice suddenly spoke out, as the tv in the room turned on to a black, static-filled screen. "That attitude will get you nowhere."
"But Sensei!" The pale-haired villain protested with a whine. "I had everything planned out! We were supposed to have the perfectly built party to finally kill All Might! And it all went to shit before he even got there because of one. Damn. Brat! I want him and his entire bloodline dead!"
"Ah, yes, the good doctor was quite disappointed that his creation failed to live up to expectations, and wasn't even left in salvageable condition to boot." The voice said genially. "The latest crop of brainwashed fools from U.A proved to be more capable than even I had expected. Intriguing, and meriting further investigation, but the fact is, that even with that unexpected development, I didn't really think you'd be successful in this endeavor."
"What?!" Shigaraki croaked, feeling like he had just been slapped in the face. "But-"
"Your plan, while effective in its simplicity, was terribly sloppy." The voice continued, sounding as casual as if it was discussing the weather. "You were banking on far too many things that you had no way of controlling to go as expected, put all of your eggs into one basket. So the moment a single variable proved to be different, it all came crashing down, and you paid the price for it, to an even more spectacular degree than I envisioned."
"But, but, but if you were so sure I wasn't gonna succeed, why did you let me go through with it, Sensei?" The gruesomely-masked villain stammered, his tone uncomprehending, even hurt and a bit betrayed.
"Because, while I am your mentor, Tomura, sometimes, failure is the greatest of teachers." The voice replied with no hesitation, the affable politeness suddenly growing stern. "You are a disciple with amazing, untapped potential. But you have grown to expect everything to go your way, and to let your anger rule you when it doesn't, preventing you from becoming what you should be. I had hoped that the sting of this failure would make you realize this and help you improve. And instead, I find you doubling down on this behavior, and I must admit I am somewhat disappointed. What did you expect to gain, targeting the boy's mother?"
"What else? I want the damn brat to suffer." Was the swift reply, like it was such an obvious thing that it didn't even merit consideration. "Stupid, incompetent fodder can't even take care of one civilian properly…"
"And that is where you failed the worst of all in this entire little test." The voice bluntly retorted, once again making Shigaraki feel as if he was physically struck. "There is a reason, Tomura, why villains, at least the more mentally sound ones, don't usually specifically target the families of heroes. An unspoken rule, or more of a guideline, if you will. Not for anything like a moral opposition to it, mind you, but because it's usually more trouble than it is worth. You show the world that you are willing to cross that line, and the world will escalate in turn to bring you down. Even I at the peak of my power never resorted to such things, Tomura, despite how some of my most zealously loyal minions might have thought otherwise, because it was beneath me. You acted rashly for the sake of petty revenge, and not only do you have nothing to show for it, again, but you also made the heroes and the general public angrier at the move than frightened by the boldness of your attack, meaning they will be that much harder to face the next time, while also weakening your position in the underworld by coming across as an unstable weakling throwing a temper tantrum."
"But all I am doing is to bring down this rotten society and the filthy lies it was built over!" The quite clearly unstable villain yelled in whining frustration. "What's the point of playing by the rules if all I want is to break them?!"
"Simple. Because you are still nowhere near strong enough or secure enough in your position to be able to handle the consequences of breaking them. Not yet." The voice said with finality. "Life is not like one of your games, Tomura. There are very real consequences for every action, and you must live with each and every one. Your hatred for the world makes you strong, but let it consume you all the time and it will be your doom instead. We are villains, Tomura, not classless brutes with no brains. Be better than this."
"Then… what should I do, Sensei?" Shigaraki asked after a long, long moment of silence, sounding confused, lost, pleading for direction.
"Now, you rebuild, and bide your time." The voice answered, affable politeness back in full. "Rebuild the League, focus on quality, rather than quantity, and keep an eye out for another opportunity. You have suffered a few setbacks, Tomura, but learn from them, grow past them, and your time will surely come. By your hand, the world will know despair."
Yes… By his hand, it would all crumble down… And Shigaraki couldn't wait for the destruction of all that stood in his way, starting with All Might, then that green-haired little shit, and then the rest of this broken, flawed world…
It would be beautiful.
The mood of eager anticipation for the victories to come was then promptly interrupted by another sharp spike of pain.
A short while after the meeting found Nezu in his office, reviewing a few documents while he awaited for his next appointment, which, according to his calculations, should be arriving just about…
Ah, he did so love precision.
"Come in." He called out, and the door opened, to reveal the smiling face of Inko Midoriya, just as expected. "Ah, Midoriya-San, right on time. Come in, come in! Can I interest you in a cup of tea?"
"Thank you, Nezu-San, but no, I am good." The woman declined politely as she entered the office. "I was told that you wanted to see me?"
"Indeed I did! Please, do sit down, there were a few things that I wanted to discuss with you." The principal requested, taking a moment to let the woman do just that. "If I may be so bold, how is your son doing?"
"Oh, he is quite alright." Midoriya-San reassured, letting out an amused little chuckle. "He's in quite good spirits, after all that went down. Which is fortunate, or else I suspect Recovery Girl would've found him a harder patient to deal with. My son doesn't much care for hospitals."
"Indeed? Well, that is good to hear." Nezu replied, filing away the tiny detail for later evaluation. "Well, then Midoriya-San, I will not beat around the bush. I wish to apologize to you, on behalf of myself and the staff of this school, for the danger you and your son were placed into due to our complacency, and to reassure you that we are taking steps to ensure that such things do not happen again."
"Oh, it is quite alright, Nezu-San. I am aware of the dangers that come with being a hero." The woman swiftly dismissed, and while Nezu would be the first to admit that he was, sometimes, prone to missing the finer details of human displays of emotion, she seemed quite genuinely unruffled by the whole ordeal. "I knew what I was getting into when I let my son walk this path. It was for that very reason we had our countermeasures in place."
"I must say, Midoriya-San, you are taking the attempts on the lives of both you and your son remarkably well." The principal could not help but point out. It was in his nature, to be curious about things that didn't fit a pattern, and Midoriya-San's entire demeanor quite markedly did not fit the situation. A symptom? A cause? Either way, it was a mystery, and mysteries were the little things that made life worth living, after all.
"Nezu-San." The woman replied in an amused, knowing tone, her warm, motherly eyes locking with his own beady black ones, almost as if she could tell what he was thinking. "One does not live with my son for as long as I have without learning to take certain things in stride. It just makes life easier."
"…Indeed." The principal replied, giving a small chuckle of his own, now more than ever convinced that he was making the right choice. Oh, he could tell that this was going to be fun. "Well then, Midoriya-San, that leads us to the other reason I called for you. You'll be the first person outside our staff to know, that in response to this attack, we are planning to make U.A into a boarding school, to better ensure the safety of our students. Cementoss is getting ready to begin construction as we speak. And with both that and your safety in mind… I have a proposition for you."
That amused, knowing smile seemed to widen just the slightest bit.
"By all means, I'm listening."
Later that night, Toshinori found himself back in his apartment, slumping into the couch and staring blankly into the wall, wishing dearly that his stomach was not so messed up that he couldn't drown his sorrows in booze.
Tomura Shigaraki… the villain that had dared to attack U.A with the intent of killing him… who had dared to try and harm innocent children just for the chance to get at him… was Tenko Shimura.
Tenko Shimura, the grandson of Nana Shimura, his beloved mentor, the one person who believed in a poor, quirkless kid when nobody else did…
How could he have failed so badly? How could it have taken him this long to learn about the disaster that had befallen Nana's legacy? He thought he had been honoring her wishes, him and Torino (and oh God, how was he going to tell this to Torino…?), by keeping their distance, letting her family live free of the burdens of heroism… and to now find out about this? That he could have possibly prevented so much from going so horribly wrong, if he had just paid attention…?
"Nana… I'm so sorry…" He slumped forward, fresh tears running down his gaunt, sickly face. "I failed you…"
He staid like that, crying his heart and his soul out, for a very long while. For the briefest of moments, he could have sworn he felt a hand gently touching his shoulder, the sensation familiar, nostalgic…
In his mind's eye, he could picture her, his mentor, standing tall and proud, giving him one of her goofy smiles…
…Then the image changed. A familiar boy, green hair and a wide grin…
And amidst the sorrow and regret of past failings, a new resolve ignited in the symbol of peace.
He had failed his mentor, nothing was going to change that. But he was not going to fail his kinda sorta protégé.
His mind then went back to some of the things Nezu had informed that he had missed from the rest of the meeting. The new boarding system, the sports festival going forward as intended, and beyond that, the internships…
He made a decision.
Reaching for his phone, he looked up a familiar contact and made the call. The phone rang, and rang, and rang, until…
"All Might!" The voice on the other side happily called out. "It's been a while! How's the teacher life been treating you?"
"…Eh, yes, yes it has. And it's certainly been an experience so far." Toshinori couldn't help but chuckle, bemused despite himself at the eager cheerfulness. "And I believe I've told you before, you can use my actual name."
"Oh crap, that's right, sorry, All-Toshinori." The voice fumbled, suddenly sounding so sheepishly hesitant. "I try, but… it's kinda hard sometimes, you know? To believe this is all real…"
"It is real. You have made it so. Never doubt that." Toshinori confirmed, in a tone that brooked no arguments. "At any rate, is this a bad time? I am aware it is a bit late…"
"Oh no, not at all, I was just getting some training in, in fact. Can't work if I let myself get rusty, right?" The voice replied quickly. "And you know I'd make time for you regardless. Is there something you need?"
"I was meaning to ask for a favor, actually." The gaunt man replied, growing more serious. "You've heard about the attack, correct?"
"…Yeah, I did." The voice confirmed somberly. "The villains must be getting either really ballsy or really stupid to try a stunt like that. At least none of the kids got seriously hurt. Small mercies and all that, right?"
"True… Anyway, despite the attack, the sports festival and the internships afterwards are still proceeding as intended. A show of strength and all that, and well…" Toshinori hesitated slightly, briefly considering how best to word things. "…I was wondering if you could take on a student?"
"…Pppppppffhhahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Oh man, I didn't know you had it in you to tell jokes like that, Toshinori. Learn something new every day, uh?"
"…Wait, you're serious? Oh my Lord, you're serious." The voice mumbled in obvious disbelief. "What the hell, Toshinori?! I mean, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the faith in me, but… Well, this is ME we're talking about here. Are you trying to kill off this kid's career before it even starts?"
"Quite the opposite, in fact." Toshinori replied with that calm certainty of someone who had no doubts. "This boy is… something of a special case, you might say. I can think of maybe four heroes in the entire country that would be able to give him the help he needs. One is me, the other two are Eraserhead and Snipe, and since we're all U.A staff, we're out. That leaves you."
"But my reputation… He'll suffer from it."
"Trust me, he won't care. Hell, he's quite a fan, actually. Knowing him, the entirety of the top 10 could make an offer and he'd still pick yours over theirs. Frankly, you can't do much worse for his reputation than he already will. Kind of a loose cannon, this boy…"
"Will have no say in it. Between Nezu and a legal consultant I know with a vested interest in his success, they won't be able to do shit about it."
"…I don't know, Toshinori." The voice replied, sounding very hesitant, maybe even a bit vulnerable.
"I do not expect you to tell me yes or no right away." The number 1 hero was quick to reassure. "Tell you what, come to the festival, see for yourself what the kid is capable of, and then make your decision. Whatever it is, I will respect it."
"…You know I won't be welcome." The voice said sadly.
"You can be in the private booths, I'll work it out with Nezu. And if anyone tries to start trouble, they will have to answer to me." Toshinori said, the steel of the greatest hero in the world clear in his voice.
"Well… alright," The voice conceded, sounding rather touched. "I will come to see for myself, because you're asking me. So, who's this kid that has you so interested, anyway?"
"His name is Izuku Midoriya. I'll be forwarding you his file soon as the call is done. I believe you will find him quite interesting." Toshinori reassured, a soft smile in his face even if it wouldn't be seen. "I'll be seeing you at the festival."
"That you will, Toshinori, that you will." The voice confirmed, sounding amused. "Be seeing you, then."
With that, the call ended.
Far away, inside an inconspicuous building in a poorer part of town, the speaker patiently waited until the ping on her pad signaled the arrival of the promised info, and promptly begun reading.
"Izuku Midoriya, uh?" She muttered, casually twirling a lock of blue and pink hair in her fingers. "Where have I heard that name before…?"
If you believed, for even a fraction of a second, that I WASN'T going to bring our Mystery Woman into this story, you are clearly not grasping the concept.
Also, just to nip this off in the bud, unless canon eventually countermands me, which is not looking too likely, this is not a Dad for One fic. I repeat, NO Dad for One here.
Next up, the settling into the dorms way ahead of schedule, and then, the festival begins… :P
Before that though, next month we got Through the Eternities, so look forward to that.
Cya all on the next one, stay safe and take care.