The Way The World Could Be

Izuku Midoriya

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Beep… beep… beep… beep…

Izuku thought it quite dramatic that the nurses at the West Arcadia Hospital decided to hook him up to this loud, obnoxious life support machine. He knew that they were just looking out for his best interest -- and he was very thankful for that, don’t get him wrong! Medical personnel were absolutely the true heroes in this crazy, cruel universe they lived in, and deserved the utmost respect. But… every successive beep just sounded louder, if you asked him, and vaguely reminded him of Kacchan’s incessant yelling at him to ‘get better quick, Deku, so we can make some more cold hard cash!

Truly, Kagome Hirogame’s monetary reward hadn’t quite hit the Heroes for Hire account yet, but Katsuki Bakugo was already frothing at the idea that their business could somehow take off. It made Deku smile, in spite of himself; anything that got Kacchan raring to go do more hero work was alright with him, and if he knew anything about the firecracker of a boy, it was that his obsession with profit and action just masked a deep-rooted desire to help others out. People had argued before that Bakugo was, in some ways, quite villainous, but Izuku had never really seen it that way; passion wasn’t evil. It was just full of fervor, and that type of forward motion could be really fucking scary to some people.

He knew that he felt a similar kind of passion in his gut, even if it manifested quite differently than Kacchan’s did. Where young Bakugo was all wild threats and yelling and posturing, Midoriya trended more toward admiration almost to the point of hero worship. That was one of the key differences between them, Izuku knew; Kacchan seemed to believe in himself just inherently, without any thought to the alternative, and he had to put in so much effort to get to that level of confidence.

…for now he’d just neglect to think about how those self-esteemed problems were directly related to Kacchan’s relentless bullying. That’d be better for the both of them.

Still, somehow they’d managed to pull it off. The Heroes for Hire had rescued the pups and kittens and turtles and other pets, and successfully completed the job they were hired to do. As he laid in his hospital bed, he decided, considering how insanely adversarial their whole relationship had always been, that was quite the achievement.

His next big goal? Getting unattached from these damn wires.

“Nurse?” he called, leaning as far as he could off the bed. When no one responded, his lips curled into a scowl and he reluctantly pressed the big red call button just within his reach.

I don’t wanna bother anyone doing something important, he thought, but I just have to get off this machine.

Within minutes, a peppy nurse had entered the room. Izuku explained, perhaps over-politely, that he really needed to shower, and the young man quickly started unhooking him. “Gotta make sure our patients feel nice and squeaky clean!” the guy smiled. “Need any help or anything? I know your arm’s not fully recovered!”

Izuku blushed at the thought. “Oh, no, I think I’ll be fine,” he smiled, lifting up his good arm and running a hand through his hair. “Thanks, though!”

The nurse disappeared from the room with a nod and a smile, and finally, the green-haired boy was free to stretch his legs. His joints crackled and popped; he hadn’t moved them much since the big showdown at the barn, since Kacchan had very uncharacteristically helped him get to the police car that escorted them to the hospital. His toes touched the green-and-white tile and shivered a little bit, the glossy ceramic retaining the chill of the overly air conditioned room.

Deku smiled; feeling things was a good sign.

Quicker than he’d expected, he managed to make it to the bathroom, carefully removing his sling and hanging it on a hook on the back of the door. He loosed one of the ties on his hospital gown and let it fall to his feet, stepping out of it and into the nice, relaxing -- and extremely warm, thank the Arbiter -- water of the shower. It pelted him, each droplet like a tiny, healing punch hitting his slowly scarring skin.

He took this opportunity to look as much as he could at his broken body. His leg hadn’t fully succumbed to the might of One for All -- meaning it wasn’t broken, thank goodness -- but the bruises running up it were worrisome, nevertheless. Now that he and Kacchan had been expelled from UA, they didn’t have Recovery Girl to help them heal, so his arm still looked almost as limp as a noodle and had basically been turned the deepest shade of purple he’d ever seen when he used it to Smash that goon. This Arcadian hospital had some powerful White Mages working within its halls, so it would certainly heal faster than if left to more rudimentary medical treatment, but they still paled in comparison to Recovery Girl’s efficiency.

Still… he knew this body wasn’t built to last under the pressure of a powerful Quirk like One for All. He had to train more. He had to work harder.

I’ll never be a hero if I can’t handle my own power.

Once he’d cleaned himself to the best of his ability, he slipped on some more appropriate hospital garb -- principally, some that had actual pants, and some slippers to protect his toes from the cold tile -- and readjusted his sling back onto his arm. He ventured out into the hallways of the hospital, and the doctors and nurses were so busy caring for patients that clearly needed more immediate help that no one really noticed his brief departure. He made his way down to the hospital’s cafeteria. He meant to maybe get himself some breakfast when his eyes fell upon none other than Kenji Kurosawa sitting at a table across the way.

Huh, he thought, did I hurt him so badly he had to be brought here? He thought back to the fight at the barn, then looked at Kenji’s wrist -- yeah, the brace told him everything he needed to know. He could also see some bruising running up the brown-haired boy’s cheek and neck from where he’d kicked him. I should apologize, the would-be hero told himself, and then he started toward the other boy, not really thinking any further about it.

Midoriya’s slippers muffled his steps up until he was almost upon Kenji’s table, but the other boy looked up just in time to see his approach. Kenji’s eyes went wide, and then his brow furrowed with so much fury that it stopped Izuku in his tracks. The boy with the lightning bolt zig zagging through his hair stood, snatching his tray off the table and immediately retreating towards the door.

“Kenji, I -- ” Izuku called after him, but was ignored. As the other boy stalked off, Midoriya’s eyes fell to his ankle and he saw the chunky, black bracelet adorning it.

His eyes fell to the floor.

Can’t I save everyone? Isn’t a hero supposed to be able to… accomplish anything?
 

Katsuki Bakugo

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Bakugo could smell the money, though it hadn’t yet hit their accounts. Even before they’d taken their recent lucrative job and their fortunes had changed; there was something in him that knew that he and Deku would succeed. Maybe it was his confidence in himself, wishy-washy Midoriya be damned, that told him he’d end up on top no matter what. Or maybe it was something about self-fulfilling prophecy and the way he willed himself to success. Or, least likely but still possible, maybe it was an ‘every dog has its day’ scenario and their trials and tribulations leading up to the recent windfall of cash had, by law of averages, guaranteed that they were due a win - either big or small - sooner or later.

Whatever the case he was happy that this was to be the last stretch of days he’d be spending in their squalorous hole-in-the-wall. With Deku absent it felt, Arbiter help him, at least a smidgeon less stifling in the office, but it was still not the place he wanted to hang up his figurative hat at the end of the day.

Yet he found himself in the run-down office, this evening, hanging it up all the same. And somehow he felt content with that. Lounged back, feet kicked up on his desk, head pleasantly light from a couple of fingers of celebratory whiskey (and why shouldn’t he celebrate, anyway?), and with a real estate catalogue sprawled out on his otherwise clutter free desk; Katsuki Bakugo felt the best he had in a long time.

When someone steps into an otherwise tranquil running stream they quickly find that their feet have kicked up a kerfuffle in the water, disturbing it, and as a consequence it is very difficult to see into the depths of the previously clear water. Katsuki Bakugo’s focus was a clear running stream: concise, natural, flowing, and undisturbed. Their recent expulsion had muddied up those waters, and thereupon sent Bakugo into a funk. Prone to periods of melancholy and outright volatility when prompted, this had put him into a worse one than usual, much to the chagrin of his bubbly, and yes, downtrodden partner. He could admit it. He knew that the bubbly Deku had a tendency to live under his thumb. And when in his fits, Bakugo could give a shit less about that.

This upcoming promise of payday, however, had tugged him up out of the mire. Now things were back to happy, flowing, clear streams. Granted, Deku was in this hospital so he wasn’t around to see his partner in his more tolerable moods, but that was just as well for Bakugo who absolutely considered himself as more of an introvert. No company was the best company.

Leafing through the catalogue brimming with real estate which was in turn brimming with the prospect of greener pastures and better tomorrows, Katsuki ran a hand through his unruly blonde hair. As it was apt to due, it sprung back into place. Since the payday promised by their recent customer, Kagome, was guaranteed to be substantial, and since he’d been squirreling away a fair amount of rainy day savings on his own; there were several buildings he had his ruby red eye on with substantial price tags dangling from their walls.

One such building, a veritable tower with nearly two dozen floors, was a treat for the eyes with sensible modern architecture both fashionable by the day’s current standards, and hip enough to host a budding business within. The only problem in such a lofty purchase was of course that they had no furniture save for their two desks, the pull out mattresses they stashed in the closets each night, and a couple of desk chairs; all of which he was fine with leaving curbside when they left save for his desk chair. At this point, his ass had grown quite accustomed to it, and it to his ass in turn.

Next on his list was a (comparatively) modest mansion. It boasted fifty thousand square feet, which was a step down from the previous catalogue entry but still a considerable undertaking in the arena of furnishing. Bakugo was no interior decorator - his own dorm back at UA had been sparse in comparison to many of the other students, but lacked some of the class other minimalist decorators in the student body had finessed.

What he lacked in decorative talent, however, he more than made up for as a financier. It was his intention, completely and utterly, to spend the lion’s share of their funds on a building and furniture, and then saddle Deku with the tedium and monotony of home decor. Whether or not the nerd had a natural talent for it would become irrelevant, he knew, because Deku had a talent for proving himself when it came to exceeding his partner’s expectations. Though many things about Deku irked him, Baku had learned his partner’s intricacies, and knew how to exploit them. If Deku thought that decorating a mansion would impress his surly business partner, he would excel at it.

This made purchasing a mansion full of fifty thousand square feet of canvas a little more manageable. Bakugo placed a vibrant yellow sticky on that page of the catalogue, looking it over thoughtfully.

The final entry to his list of potential housing situations manifested itself in the form of an underground lair of sorts. Catalogues like this, while impractical for the layman, were generally built for a certain demographic of people: high society. Heroes, villains, government officials, royalty, and other uncommon breeds of people were the rare sort perusing such a brand of living quarters. It was a bit presumptuous of Katsuki, in fact, to put himself in such a category, and considerably more daring by his standards to elevate Deku of all people to so glamorous a position.

Still, though they were but lowly investigators at this point, they would never be heroes if they didn’t act the part. Looking the part was half, Hell, maybe three quarters of the battle the way Bakugo figured it. Why NOT live in a luxury tower, ritzy mansion, or underground fucking lair? That wasn’t frivolous spending...that was just good advertising.

Lifting his tumbler, Bakugo drank to that notion, and reclined yet further in his office chair. He reclined so far, in fact, that he was dangerously close to tipping - he lounged in chairs the same way he lived his life. On the motherfucking edge. Tumbler in hand, feet on his desk, and ruby red eyes whose fiery pupils were uncharacteristically calm; Katsuki Bakugo began to doze in their office with dreams of velvet robes and hot tubs swimming through the slowly running but very clear stream of his subconscious.
 

Shoto Todoroki

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Life was all about the subtle, soft interlace of chance being woven together into moments, decision, and action. Luck was a narrow sliver of a fortuitous motion that seemed to repeat in an individual’s life.

Todoroki had been given many gifts in life, his prestige offered him opportunities, and he also had the simplicity of luck on his side. In his past, he had experienced pain and trauma. That was inevitable for most people, one way or another. But with the timeless bounds of luck he’d found something between the lines of possibility. With opportunity he seized it, and squeezed out every last drop of success.

Had the best moments of his life been defined by pure luck? Had those moments of his own luck somehow extended out into the lives of others?

It had been a whole day here in the city of a new world. Yet, an entirely new place and he still had held a newspaper in his hand. A phone that couldn’t dial his mother or father, but it could call anyone in this world. Everyone he didn’t know.

The teen walked beneath little skyscrapers that glinted of crystalline mirrors. He walked by and his eyes couldn’t help glance at his reflection. Smeared by the waves in the glass and his slowing stride. His eyes glossed over the burn mark on his eye, covered by the bright pigment of half his hair. His frame, lean and muscular, donning a UA-esque hero suit. His fireproof off-white boots. All in all, Todoroki thought himself looking kind of... Scraggly. The thought never crossed his mind whenever he viewed himself in the mirror, if he ever looked happy. At least... That was before he'd met Midoriya.

Chirp sat atop his head. “What’cha looking at?”

“Hm, nothing. I couldn’t help but to wonder where my place is in this... New place.” He corrected with strain.

“So looking at your appearance in a reflection aids with that?” Chirp observed coyly.

“I guess not.” Todoroki said with his usual cool expression as his eyes peered up at the little humming bird perched on his head like a crown.

“At least you have me.” Chirp reminded him. There was a tone of amusement in the bird’s whistle.

Todoroki blinked in agreement. He liked the little bird. Chirp had made him realize he needed to be better. Made him realize they may have initially been alone. But now they were in this together. There was use for his own ambitions-no his dreams yet.

The hero could feel his practice was paying off even after a single day. His elbows had a smolder of frost spewing from one and the gentle trickle of fire spouting from the other. His body had yet to fatigue and constantly practicing his execution made him feel like he was accomplishing something, as he roamed the streets finding a whole lot of nothing.

Yet in that very moment, Todoroki knew what the very image of luck looked like. The youth saw a figure through the glass, his eyes concentrated to look beyond the image of himself. An extremely recognizable silhouette stood out against the cream colored walls. Still... Shoto couldn’t be sure, he had to have been mistaken, right?

Spiky hair. Broad shoulders. Aggressive stance, even while immobile. Todoroki blinked from the other side of the tinted glass. Hopeful, with a hint of fondness in his voice, “It can’t be.”

“Do you see your soul yet?” Chirp said with a laugh, the joke fell flat and unheard on the hero’s ears.

“No, actually, I know him.” The teen said. He couldn't believe in his wildest dreams that luck would ever look like Katsuki Bakugo.

Chirp well, Chirp was aghast, the miscommunication led the bird to be quiet for a moment. Hoping that maybe the splice in his companion’s fragile human mind was a temporary one. Of course the Unusual Human knew himself. The human was looking at his own reflection...

However, Todoroki’s eyes found the door of the building, it was a pretty big one. Bakugo rippled from sight and seemed to have taken a turn that would take the explosive youth toward the exit.

Perfect! He must’ve seen Todoroki and had come out to meet him.

Yet, as the revolving doors opened. Bakugo stared straight into Todoroki’s face and passed him by. Without a glimmer of expression on the angry teen’s face. Shoto stood there for a moment, silenced by confusion. Then the teen had nothing else to do so he opted to follow Bakugo. Maybe there was danger. There had to have been. Bakugo was being watched, surely, and couldn’t make any unprecedented movements. The risk was too high. Maybe this world was more dangerous than the half-hero had initially thought.

Todoroki followed the blond for some time. Turning corners, and more corners amid the maze of the city. Bakugo started to make sudden turns, he’d stop in the street and Todoroki would in-turn, stop. Bakugo would cross the pavement and his tail would follow suit. Bakugo’s instincts had told him since he’d left the building, he had been followed. What was weird was that he’d looked his tail straight in the face. The half-colored hair kid was not even attempting to be stealthy! The balls on this guy! It pissed him off. Bakugo eagerly wanted to put a dent in the kid's nose.

Bakugo’s footsteps slowed as he had taken a turn down an alley that smelled of garbage and city musk. Dual walls of brick on either side framed the pair of heroes, narrowing Bakugo’s scope of vision. The casting shadows between them and corners of darkness that Bakugo had stepped into spelled an impending face off.

The fiery teen turned as Todoroki’s shadow lay lurking on the side of the wall of rust colored brick, the strong black outline cast by a warm toned streetlight. The half-hero’s instincts whispered in his mind Brace yourself, he's cornered, he’s going to attack. Todoroki didn’t want to believe it, but in just a fraction of a second Bakugo had launched himself forward, closing the distance between them, and making movements to pin Todoroki against the wall.

Todoroki swiftly dodged. His hair sloshing in the air appeared slower than the movements his body had made.

Bakugo growled, “What’s the big idea?! Why’re you following me, half-freak? And what’s with the pigeon?”

“Bakugo, what do you mean? I thought you were leading me here?” Todoroki now saw he’d assumed the wrong thing. By pigeon, Bakugo must’ve meant Chirp who flew to the building top after he was noticed by the literal walking bomb.

“Why would I lead you anywhere? How do you know my name? And... Why doesn’t your hair just pick a color?” Bakugo’s eyes were narrowed, his tone always angry. Something Todoroki found familiar not just in his friend, but in good ol’ Endeavor.

“My… Hair?” Todoroki’s eye shifted to a strand of his red bangs and then back to the blond hothead. “What do you mean, how do I know your name? You don’t recognize me?”

“How could I recognize a no-name like yourself?” Kacchan challenged.

“I mean, we did go to the same school together. UA.” Todoroki’s face fell into one of icy dissatisfaction. “Drop the act, Bakugo, this is no place for it. Unless there’s real danger you’re not telling me.”

Todoroki’s eyes scoped out the outlines of the alley behind him. Bakugo tilted his head just slightly as though trying to figure out his stalker's angle. It seemed that the kid really did assume he knew him. Well, he'd made the wrong assumption on the wrong fucking person.

And the half-haired freak really did think that Bakugo was being followed or controlled. A substantial miscalculation. Every interaction with Bakugo was like flint to kindling, no matter who he was talking to. “School together? You weren’t there, I think I’d remember your stupid face. So quit following me, unless you’ve got something worth my time. I have important business to do. So get out of my way.”

“You always did want a fight.” Shoto said with an easy tone, satisfaction laid on his lips but didn’t weave into a smile.

“Eh?” Bakugo huffed as he regarded the fire on his opponent’s fingertips. It would have been abnormal for the explosive teen to not leap into a battle like this. “Finally something interesting.”

Each geared up for the showdown in their own way. Bakugo extended his carpals outward before flexing them into a fist. Accumulating the sweat in his quirk felt so natural. Fighting was his sixth sense, or maybe even his first. He wouldn’t lose to this mistaken half-freak who’d followed him halfway along the city.

On the other hand, Todoroki knew exactly who he was dealing with. As if meditatively, the half-hero inhaled. With an exhale, ice chilled the air as fire formed at his feet. He didn’t want to hurt Bakugo. Just pin him down and get him to listen to reason and figure out what the prince of anger knew. Todoroki prepared himself, he always had to reel in his control, he never had the luxury of an overshooting mindset like Bakugo. This was their real divide. Not power, not their quirk. But their mindsets within the lines of a fight.

The hothead threw the first punch. With a fling of momentum they tumbled into battle. Todoroki dodged as Bakugo’s fist blasted into the brick beside his head. Clatters of rubble suspended in the air as the half-hero conjured a flower of ice and forced it into Bakugo’s chest to push him back.

“I won’t lose to you again.” Todoroki said calmly. “I think.. I’ve learned all your tricks.”

Bakugo went skidding as his body smacked against the opposing wall. “We’ve fought before?”

“Yeah, you were pretty good.” Todoroki stoked the fire, just a bit.

Intensity ignited in the hotheaded hero’s eyes. He definitely would’ve remembered this big talking half and half freak. Now Bakugo had to see if the half-freak could back it up. “You’re pretty good for a stalker.” Bakugo sneered. “But if you really did go to school with me, you’d know I was expelled.”

“Huh?” Todoroki seemed shocked. Bakugo saw this flicker of distraction and used it to his advantage. Driving a powerful blast into the elemental hero who managed to produce a shield of ice before it was too late. “What about Midoriya?”

At the sound of his partner, Bakugo’s anger seemed to ignite even more. Over protection? Or just.. Who knew? Bakugo panted with breath as he followed each word with an explosive punch. “What… Do you… Know… About Deku?”

It seemed even in this parallel universe Shoto seemed to have fallen into, some things never changed. Still, there was one thing pressing in Shoto’s mind, if Bakugo knew Midoriya but didn’t know him, what exactly was missing? He wondered if Bakugo knew of the number two hero, Endeavor. Shoto’s dad. The answer to this might explain everything. But due to Bakugo’s fury… Now wasn’t exactly the time to ask.

Another blast, a crimson brick ricocheted into Todoroki's ear. It seemed the hothead’s stalker didn’t know that Bakugo had been on his way to see Deku in the hospital. The half-freak was either a really shitty spy, or well, the truth would come out when Kacchan's fist met this fucker's face. Bakugo’s scarlet eyes told his opponent he was out for blood. They glinted with ferocity. With craving. With outrage. His voice built into a yell, “Why’re you... Holding back?”

Todoroki’s eyes widened. Those words. He had heard them before. “I’m not trying to hurt someone I consider a friend.”

“For the last time... I told you, I’ve never met you!”
 

Katsuki Bakugo

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There was confusion in his opponent’s eyes, and Bakugo had to wonder what delusion the half-hero was laboring under that would cause him to believe they’d met before. Katsuki was many things: brash, obstinate, hot-headed, and stubborn to name a few; he was not, however, forgetful. Class 1A had been diverse but tight-knit and though he chose to ignore many of its members he was aware of their faces at the very least. The scarred face in front of him was not from his Class 1A - of that much he was certain.

“Shut up about your delusions,” growled Bakugo, hunkering down and grinning fiendishly. “There’s only one thing about you that matters right now, and that’s how hard I can beat your ass before you cry.”

The firecracker launched forward using the ground as a springboard while simultaneously hurling dual controlled explosions behind him to the effect of a cannon launch. Before the white and red haired stranger knew what hit him, there was a ballistic Bakugo centimeters from his face; yet, somehow, the stalker from parts unknown knew what to expect. He stepped off to the side, and though he moved but inches it was enough to avoid the fist Baku had launched.

Ground Zero, as the papers were now calling the ash blonde teen, flipped over in midair and broke his own momentum against the brick wall of the alley behind Todoroki. As if suspended momentarily he stopped there and threw his ferocious gaze at his stalker while bringing both arms up towards his collarbones; his hands crackled with effervescent nitroglycerin, which he detonated post-haste. The area grew congested with an unnecessarily large explosion, such was the style of Bakugo, and the air grew thick with acrid smoke directly afterward.

When it faded, Katsuki stood tall, lean, and hungry to bare down on his foe. That foe, however, was missing - at least from the spot Baku expected him in. Out of his peripherals the furious firecracker spotted a sheen of white-blue. He locked his sights on target and found that a vivacious wall of ice had formed off to the side and at a forty five degree angle - the stranger, it seemed, had skills...and on top of that, he’d known what was coming.

Rearing up to his full height, cocky and mad, Bakugo spat on the ground with all of the derisive energy of a bratty child denied a valued toy during playtime.

“You knew,” he murmured, trailing off tellingly. Whatever talk his heterochromatic foe had tossed about, he seemed able to back up, somehow. “How did you…?”

Bakugo scowled, and then his scowl grew rancorous. “I bet Deku put you up to this.”

The stranger, who had said but little at this point aside from a few anecdotes that had only served to set Katsuki off, stepped around his substantial ice wall and took a step towards the explosive teen - which caused Baku, in turn, to recoil.

“Midoriya didn’t send me,” explained the ice wielder, his tone calm and patient not unlike a teacher explaining something to a student who just wasn’t getting it. “I know you, Bakugo. My name is Todoroki. We’re a part of the same class, Class 1A.”

This explanation, concise though it was, served only to stave the fire in the already prickly Bakugo.

“Shut. UP!” roared Baku, throwing up a hand already alight with the hisses and pops of a new explosion.

But he wasn’t quick enough, and Todoroki had already foreseen this attack and countered. His eyes, stormy grey on one side and steely blue on the other, had seemed trained on Bakugo’s own eyes of ruby red; in reality, they’d been focused just a few inches lower on the wrathful hero-aspirant’s dangerous and explosive hands - with admirable sleight of hand, Todo had utilized the Quirk on the right half of his body the moment he’d noticed his opponent preparing to attack, and as such froze Katsuki’s hands together at the wrists without a moment’s hesitation.

And Bakugo was fucking livid about it. He felt angry, first and foremost, but patronized more-so than that. This oddball, this NERD, had tracked him down while he was in the middle of heading somewhere important, and then had the audacity to stunt his quirk with some sneak attack?

“Asshole!” bellowed Baku, and a vein throbbed angrily at his temple as he did so. “Who the Hell do you think you are!?”

Todoroki, impassive thus far, seemed to allow his mouth to move imperceptibly. Maybe it was his imagination, but Katsuki could’ve sworn that he saw the faint traces of a smirk at the corners of his opponent’s lips.

“Todoroki,” the half-hot, half-not teenager answered coolly. “Do you believe me now? How could I counter you in such a way if I did not know you?”

The fiery, furious pupils of Bakugo seemed to dilate with rage and in an instant a concussive blast popped the ice chamber entombing his hands and set his powerful fists free. The smell in the air was sickly sweet, that of burnt sugar, and marked a notable shift in the Explosion Quirk user. This meant he was sweating - whether that be from anger or from effort was indiscernible. Only Baku himself could tell.

“You’re making me late to a FUCKING APPOINTMENT!” Bakugo hollered, throwing his head back and snorting.

He flung his arms out and let out a jetstream, his hands like two dragons or jet engines, and then lifted into the air where he hovered with a precise and practiced control through the use of his Quirk. His eyes drew beads on Todoroki, who was wise enough to show concern through his usually placid expression.

“I’ll kill you,” hissed Bakugo.

And then he rained explosions, four of them to be exact, down into the valley of the alley from his high vantage point.

One of the downsides of his Quirk was that, though it was very powerful, it created a troublesome smokescreen in its wake. This instance was no exception, and whilst Katsuki Bakugo hovered towards the top of the brick dead-end brick lane in the quieter parts of Arcadia, he was unable to tell how effective his irrational maelstrom of pop-blasts had been on his infuriating opponent.

“Todoroki!” he yelled down into the smog, the smell of which filled his nostrils with a comforting burnt scent. “I don’t know what you think you’re going to get out of this, but it isn’t going to be what you want! You may not have realized it, but you’re really pissing me off! ...I love a fight...but you’re making me late for another battle. A WAY more important battle. The battle...of real estate!”

The smoke began to clear, rising up through the top of the alleyway through upward air currents, then filtering out into the sky above where it could damage the ozone freely and without restrictions. Down below, Bakugo spotted a veritable dome of ice. Like a figure in a snowglobe his opponent stood tall and unscathed, though part of his right side looked a bit frosty. Curiously enough, however, that frost seemed to diminish while something Bakugo had not yet witnessed took place on his fascinating opponent’s left side: licks of flame seemed to have flared to life seemingly from nowhere...maybe from the depths of Todoroki’s spirit itself. His face, previously alight with unchecked animosity, took on an expression renewed with a dash of respect.

“...so, you’ve got a little fire in you?” Katsuki noted quietly, scarcely loud enough for his quarry to hear. “...you love to see it. I get tired of beating down nerds like Deku, or no-name thugs like the last batch I fought. Let’s see what you’ve got -”

He was cut off by a wave of flame that cut through the air and sparked a hasty barrel roll out of Bakugo. Tumbling through the air, he threw out his hands and shot off another controlled stream of micro-explosions to hover, looking indignant.

“What the Hell was that!?” Bakugo yelled.

But before he’d turned to look down at Todoroki, another splash of fire had washed his way, sparking yet another quick roll in the air from which Katsuki was left to catch himself once more. Ground Zero - the name was growing on him - rose up a little higher to try and put some distance between himself and his opponent whose Quirk was clearly more than Bakugo had assessed it to be.

“...two can play at that game.”

The next lick of flame that came his way, Bakugo punched through with a concise and focused detonation that split the flame in two, freeing up a path not unlike Moses parting the red sea. A maniac’s grin slashed the firecracker’s face from ear to ear, as he floated there, and then he dropped straight out of the air and somersaulted before landing on the ground deftly on one foot then the other; he faced Todoroki, squaring his shoulders, then lifted his hands from his hips and spread his fingers asplay so that his palms were an open maw facing the half-hot half-not Quirk user.

“You’re at a disadvantage,” warned Todo, whose opposite halves frosted and flared respectively. “If you really don’t know me, then you’re not playing with a full deck.”
 

Shoto Todoroki

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For the half-and-half hero, his innate nature was complete calmness. The opposite of the blond demon. But something about the situation was wrong. Bakugo was a lot of things but never a liar, which meant he was somehow telling the truth. But how could this be possible? There wasn’t time to think. Bakugo was irate, flashing between seething breaths and bursts of explosion forcing Todoroki to maneuver around them. The ashy-haired teen kept muttering something about an appointment?

Todoroki crouched down and pressed his fingertips into the layer of ice lining the pavement. At his touch, the ice melted into steam which hung in the air as a thick and heavy fog. Clouded vision in this close combat would favor the explosive Bakugo, however Todoroki just wanted him to listen and the cool-headed hero had a plan to get his way.

If winning the fight was what it took for this to happen, then so be it.

Strings of ice formed invisible tripwires at Bakugo’s feet. A clatter of ice immediately told Todoroki where the shatter had originated. The half-and-half hero slid with his back against the ground, controlling his movement with only his fingertips, ice propelled his body like a sled. Yet as Todoroki slid into the dissipating view, Bakugo was waiting atop a dumpster. The explosive youth flung himself from above with a readied punch. “ENOUGH of these games!”

Honestly, had Bakugo not had prior plans, he might’ve enjoyed the battle against his mysterious and worthy opponent, however crazy he seemed to be. Ground Zero’s launch from above combined with gravity added extra force to his volatile attack. However, Todoroki accelerated his icy slide right past the earth-bound comet that was Bakugo and ended up blasting the ground as he fell into the pavement with a single knee and fist.

Just then, Todoroki enacted his trap. An icy prison surrounded Bakugo’s entire crouched body. Leaving only room enough for the young hero to breathe. The icy teen tsked his lips, “You’re so stubborn, just listen to me! Now well, you have to. You won’t sweat with ice covering every pore of your skin.”

The imprisoned Bakugo grunted, he wouldn’t allow himself to be chained for long. He just needed enough time to catch this half-freak off guard. It seemed his opponent knew his weakness. But Bakugo always had something up his sleeve. He would force himself to sweat, panting heavily and disguising it as quiet anger.

“I don’t know what’s going on, I just got here. I’m not sure why you don’t remember me, or if there’s something I’m missing…” Todoroki explained. His voice was even-keel yet strained. “But believe it or not, Bakugo, we might not be quite friends but we are on the same team and at least for me we were in the same class of rising heroes. I’m just trying to figure out why I’m here, in a world I don’t recognize and why the only person I recognize is you.” Todoroki pointed at his opponent meaningfully, despite the disappointment on his tongue. “And why you don’t even know me as a classmate is something I can’t explain. Have you heard of my father? Endea-”

An explosion of ice and glassy debris erupted from Bakugo’s fists, freeing the fiery demon and interrupting Todoroki’s explanation. “I told you, freak. I’m late for an appointment. I don’t have time for your insignificant existential crisis. I have better things to do.”

Bakugo had used his explosive force to launch past Todoroki, who stood still, not even bothering to turn around. Bakugo hadn’t even heard him out. This was a true defeat.

More than one of fists could deliver.

His opponent had escaped. Todoroki trudged back into the glinting light of the city streets. His chin down, ice formed beneath the elemental hero’s feet and he used this glaze to speed his pace along. This time, out of Bakugo’s sight, Todoroki would follow. Bakugo had mentioned “Deku” as Midoriya, if he was anywhere around, he would listen to reason and maybe even get Bakugo to listen too.
 

Izuku Midoriya

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Fucking Kacchan.

Izuku Midoriya sat in one of those seafoam green hospital waiting room chairs, finally dressed back in his normal clothes -- though with the addition of a stylish sling for his still mostly-broken arm. His uninjured foot tapped impatiently against the ground, forming a percussive orchestra with the smacking of chewing gum emanating from the receptionist’s mouth. Izuku wasn’t one to let minor things like that… annoying noise get to him, but Kacchan’s tardiness had already put him in a sour mood, so the woman’s incessant jaw clapping was beginning to really set him off.

He sprang to his feet, turning and trying his fest to contort his face into something smiling and positive. “I think I’m just gonna go,” he grinned fakely, holding up a hand to wave good-bye as he started for the door.

“Y’sure, sweetie?” the receptionist smacked at him. “It prob’ly ain’t good for ya to be walkin’ all the way home on that bum leg.”

He stopped in the automatic, sliding doorway, looking down at his leg. In his jeans you couldn’t see the aggressive bruising still climbing up his skin, but it existed, nevertheless. The pain had started to numb, though, so maybe he’d be fine to get home -- although with any luck, Kacchan would show up with a ride somewhere along the path back to their rinky-dink office and help him out.

He didn’t audibly respond to the receptionist, but simply turned and smiled at her one more time. The smacking had been too much.

He crossed the threshold and out into the fresh air of Arcadia’s Midtown district. Here, the buildings were just a little bit higher than they were everywhere else, some even reaching past where the city’s airborne sectors hovered. The floating districts always fascinated Izuku -- he’d never been wealthy enough to get into any of the swanky events that happened up in the sky, so he’d never really seen a reason to go. Nearly fifteen years as a scrawny, Quirkless waif of a boy had been provided disappointment enough; there was no reason to go chasing more.

Midtown, too, was a bit outside of Izuku’s purview. He certainly hadn’t grown up in the sticks -- the rural sections of Arcadia that held places like Tarried Cock Farms -- but nevertheless he’d been much more a suburb-bound boy than a city one. The UA Dorms had honestly been his first experience with an extended stay in the city proper, and while the fast-paced lifestyle had been a welcome change, his short stay at the school meant he didn’t exactly have a lot of time to get used to it.

The sights were meant to be seen, though, so as the would-be hero took a slow and careful walk back towards he and Kacchan’s home-office-combo, he let the city’s glow -- its glitz and glamour -- sink in. Kacchan had visited him at one point while he’d been in the hospital -- a much kinder gesture than Deku expected from the ash blonde -- and been going on and on about a skyscraper he’d wanted to lease for their new Heroes for Hire base. It’d been here, in Midtown, right? The green-haired boy had laughed it off, convinced they would have absolutely no need for that amount of space. A sizeable office, maybe not even a whole floor, would be just fine for their purposes.

Besides, he knew that Mrs. Hirogame was planning on paying them a sizeable sum, but there was, like, absolutely no way it was going to pay for a Heroes for Hire tower.

Right?

Heroes for Hire. The name brought a smile to Izuku’s face, even if the morning hadn’t exactly been going as planned. It was a small thing, sure, but it meant a lot to the fifteen-year-old that he got to call himself a hero and feel like it was at least a little deserved. Yes, sure, they’d thus far only managed to wrangle a ring of small-time pet-nappers, and they’d only saved some common house pets, but fuck. He was proud.

He closed his eyes as he walked down a surprisingly less crowded street, letting the sounds of the city flow into his ears. Their city. He’d been born in Arcadia, and grown up here, but for once in his life he felt like he truly owned this place -- like here, he could do anything. Noise of some scattered chocobo squawking their way past him filtered into one ear, and in the other, he vaguely heard a news report playing from some TVs in the window of an electronics store. Something about an evacuation on Govermorne or something, the glass muffled the story --

“Deku!”

Kacchan.

His eyes snapped open and his face scrunched as he saw the ash blonde hair of Katsuki Bakugo bobbing down the street. Notably, he didn’t seem to be piloting a rental hovercraft… or a rental chocobo… or a rental vehicle of any kind, which only served to amplify Deku’s slight irritation. “You’re so late.”

Kacchan’s brow furrowed and his scowl, which was already spread across his features like normal, deepened. “Don’t get your panties in a wad, ya damn nerd,” he crossed his arms. “I got held up by some crazy fucker. Said he knew me. Fought me in an alleyway.”

“Kacchan!” Deku squealed. “Our first week as legit heroes and you go and get into an alleyway brawl?”

“Whatever, the icy hot bastard asked for it,” Katsuki Bakugo shrugged.

Izuku groaned. “Did you at least find a way for us to get home without walking? Or at least so I don’t have to walk on this leg?”

He lifted up his pant leg to show off some of the still very-purple bruising, and could’ve sworn he heard a noise of disgust escape the other boy’s lips. For a moment, Bakugo simply looked at him and his messed up leg quizzically, as if that had never been something the smaller boy had asked for at all. Then, all at once, it seemed to hit him like a ton of bricks, but he didn’t exactly look as repentant for forgetting what he’d agreed to as Izuku hoped he would.

“Oh, yeah, no,” he said, “We have more important stuff to spend our money on, like fucking real estate. And I figured you could take it.”

Izuku almost protested, but a weird feeling stirred inside him as the last sentence left Kacchan’s mouth. Was that supposed to be… a compliment? He knew his freckles probably jumped off his face in shock, but Katsuki Bakugo hadn’t been caught dead saying anything even close to a compliment about him in -- quite literally -- their whole entire lives, so he felt his surprise was justified. He’d always hoped, deep down, that Kacchan recognized and respected his strength, but he’d also never thought he would get the satisfaction in a million years. Not that this really counted as satisfaction, since it was so vague and he’d spent a sizable amount of time vacillating about it in his head.

Midoriya went to ask Bakugo what, exactly, his plans were, then, when he suddenly noticed the boy standing just a few meters behind his business partner. The other teen panted a bit, as if he’d sprinted to keep up with Katsuki; his whole body seemed to have almost frozen in place, hunched over, hands on his knees, catching his breath, his stare still fixated on the green-haired boy. Izuku felt the weight of his stare, feeling quite abruptly like he’d awakened a flurry of memories inside the newcomer’s head. His green eyes met Todoroki’s dual colored ones. The other boy’s gaze sparkled with recognition, but…

Izuku had no idea who this boy was at all.

“Uh, Kacchan,” he lifted his un-broken arm, pointing to the new arrival. “I think your 'crazy fucker' followed you.”

Bakugo spun around. “Oh, you creepy fuck!” the firecracker said, starting toward Todoroki. Gritting his teeth nervously, Izuku did his best to put himself between Kacchan and the other boy, holding out his good arm and catching the blonde boy’s eyes.

“Now, let’s not be hasty -- !!”
 

Katsuki Bakugo

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Katsuki glared past the obstacle - Midoriya, that is to say - and fixed his ferocious eyes on his stalker.

“This punk-ass has been following me all over the city babbling some bullshit nonsense about how he knows me! Keeps saying he was in Class 1-A!” Bakugo spouted, fuming, and leveling an accusatory finger in the sheepish looking Todoroki’s direction. “I’ve got a fucking appointment, and I’m not going to let the two of you muck up my real estate acquisition!”

Deku looked from his hot-heated partner to the stranger, who looked as if he’d been split down the middle and two different people had designed his right and left side. Taking a breath, Izuku finally rested his gaze on Kacchan - that same gaze he always got when he was about to say something annoying. Baku could already feel his irritation, the flames of which had been stoked nonstop all day, beginning to roar back to life.

“Did you consider just...hearing him out?” asked Midoriya, his voice an irritating harbinger of annoyance.

“Why the Hell would I have done that!?” Bakugo seethed through grinding teeth. He crossed his arms and turned away. “He’s an asshole, and he’s making me late.”

Deku gave his partner a measured look, and shook his head. “Just give him a chance to speak, Kacchan.”

The ash-blonde head of hair hesitated, then turned away, acquiescing with a small grunt that was as close as he was going to get to agreement. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall of a nearby shop looking mad but not as disconsolate as he might otherwise. Despite his irritation there was still a lot of money in his account, and despite his protestations to the contrary, the young firecracker had left early to make a good impression on the real estate broker and as such might have allowed himself more time than he was admitting for a sidebar. This, he communicated in the form of silent fuming from his building side post. Even civilians passing by on the otherwise busy sidewalk gave him a wide berth, though Midoriya actually stepped closer to his partner in solidarity.

“It does sound odd that you’ve been following Kacchan, and that you’re spouting off minute details about his life like some kind of…” Midoriya paused, avoiding the word stalker. “...nevermind. Do you have some kind of explanation, uh…”

“Todoroki,” the half-hot half-not teen proffered, sounding relieved to be able to speak his piece. “Shoto Todoroki. And I don’t just know him, I know you, too, Izuku Midoriya. Something happened to me and I found myself in an odd, dark place. I was falling for what felt like a long time, and when I came to, I found myself deposited here. It doesn’t seem like my Earth...and since I’ve arrived, I’ve found my ability to control my Quirks diminished. The only thing that seems to be the same is the two of you - except Kacchan let slip that you’ve both been expelled. My Bakugo and Midoriya were not expelled.”

Midoriya looked thoughtful, which served to further irritate Bakugo whose face looked like someone who’d smelled something especially unpleasant. Noting that his partner was not forthcoming with any productive conversational add-on Izuku Midoriya contemplated, then began to speak.

“That is odd,” Deku tacked on in agreement. “But it’s not completely unheard of. Dimensional interlopers do show up from time to time in the Crossroads. It’s not a phenomenon that’s common, necessarily, and there hasn’t been any definitive research that explains why it happens but there have been recorded cases. That may be what has happened here. And alternate versions of us!? That’s fascinating! A reality where we weren’t expelled, even, could mean-”

“Nothing. It could mean nothing,” interjected Bakugo in a harsh growl. “We’re here, not there. And we’re about to be better off than we ever would’ve been in UA if you two dumbasses don’t make me miss my appointment.”

Bakugo pushed off from the wall and turned on his heel, starting down the sidewalk. Midoriya hastened after him, and Todoroki in turn tailed after the green haired Quirk user whose arm was still on the mend.

“We should let him tag along with us, at least until he figures out what’s going on,” Izuku offered, struggling to keep up with Bakugo’s purposeful lop. “Heroes for Hire.”

Baku growled, and hastened his pace. “Whatever, nerd. But you’re in charge of him. Heroes for Hire is head straight to the top, and if either of you fuck this up for me, I’ll kill both of you.”

Deku smiled wanly, and dropped back to keep pace with Todoroki who lagged a little behind probably out of self-preservation. Bakugo could hear them exchanging words in hushed tones - presumably Deku was explaining that they’d take the half-hot half-not Quirk user in, and giving him some backstory about Heroes for Hire - but his attention was ahead. The hospital, tall and looming, stood out in the distance and in front of it would be the real estate agent, the broker of his destiny. ...oddly enough, he noticed, there was also the same odd little bird from earlier twittering around in the air above them. If he didn’t know better, he would’ve sworn that the pesky little avian critter was also stalking them. A day wrought with stalkers...not exactly what he’d had in mind.

With a wry smirk, he noticed a woman in a well pressed suit up ahead, out on the sidewalk in front of the hospital building Midoriya had been discharged from earlier the very same day. Bakugo approached, his constituents not far behind, and offered the woman his strong and calloused hand for a shake.

“Katsuki Bakugo,” he offered, putting on his friendliest tone, which still wasn’t very friendly. “Chief Financial Officer of Heroes For Hire.”

“Jane Stenburg,” she offered in return, meeting his handshake with a respectably firm grip of her own. She offered him a smile, and he noticed for the first time that she was rather good looking with an easy grin but a shark-like look to her. She was well groomed with dark brown hair pulled back in an easy but stylish bun, and she wore a pressed suit that was smart but fashionable. “...and I’ll be showing you and your...associates-” she cast a glance over his shoulder towards Deku and Todoroki, who waved amiably. “-the mansion you’ve requested.”

“These are my associates,” Katsuki admitted reluctantly. “At least one of them is. The green haired nerdy one, whose name is Izuku Midoriya. The other one is his associate. Todoroki, or something.”

With introductions out of the way they set out as a quad, whose aura was one of awkward tension. The broker made idle chit chat along the way, which Bakugo answered in a series of forced grunts and sounds of affirmation which was as much as he was willing to offer in the way of small talk. Midoriya, not certain as to what his role was in this interaction, hung back a few feet but followed, which added to the stiff tension of the gathered individuals. Lastly, Todoroki followed Deku, perhaps the least certain about what part he played in all of this. There was much to discuss between all of them, but Bakugo’s transaction obviously took precedence - at least for the hot-head.

Then, they were there.

“What do you think?” asked Jane.

No answer was forthcoming - for his part, Katsuki was stunned. He hadn’t grown up poor, but he hadn’t grown up extravagantly. What stood before him was luxury beyond his imaginings. Mouth agape, he took it in, and took a step back to do so.

They stood at the gate, an open maw to something much more intricate, and from their vantage point there was a lot to take in all at once. In the foreground stood a sprawling lot vacant of any vehicles at the moment; it wrapped in a large letter ‘U’ where its dual forks stopped abruptly at an enormous veranda. That veranda, beautiful white and of some kind of polished stone - maybe marble - went on uninterrupted for only a few paces before it broke into an enormous pool, decorated at its center with a water fountain so ornate that it transcended unnecessary into a category of showmanship reserved for the truly Elite or the truly arrogant. Bakugo checked one of those boxes, at least.

“Interesting fact: his used to be three properties until an inter-dimensional gladiator purchased up the land about seventy years ago and combined it for his pet project. He hired a team of architects, and ran them into the ground designing this home. The pool was a result of his obsession with cardio - it was his belief that outlasting one’s opponent hinged on impeccable lung capacity!” explained Jane, upbeat as a poppy elevator tune. “Come on, let’s go inside.”

Bakugo picked his jaw up off the ground and followed behind, speechless, in the center of the trio of teens. Midoriya flanked his left, Todoroki his right, and they followed behind Jane as they toured their way directly across the pool via one of many walkways - walkways which the pool ran underneath.

Jane Stenburg led them through a set of double doors, one of many, and into the parlor. Vaulted ceilings kept the room tethered to their plane of existence, but Bakugo felt as if he’d stepped into another world. Ornate, marble, with dual grand staircases leading to an untold number series of hallways and rooms; the parlor was large enough to contain their old rinky-dink hole in the wall office many times over. They could’ve set up shop in the parlor alone, and it would’ve been more than enough for Heroes for Hire as it existed as an entity. Yet Bakugo’s eyes were as big as his now jam-packed wallet.

The tour proceeded - ten bedrooms, an entertainment room, an interesting door that led to a garden with an open ceiling right in the center of the house, a walk-in closet that Midoriya mistook for another bedroom, several living rooms, a kitchen that would require a staff, an actual functioning doctor’s office with several patient’s beds within its walls, a yard so large that many weddings could be held within it concurrently, a hedge maze, several offices, an area somewhere between a dining room and a great hall in its grandeur, and many other features.

Altogether the tour took several hours, and when the trio had completed it and parted ways with Jane they were either unwilling or unable to discuss what they’d just seen on the long walk back to the dumpy part of town that housed their old office. Opening the door to that office and stepping back into the dimly lit shithole killed a small part of Bakugo that he wasn’t sure he’d ever get back, and in looking at his desk, and the chair he appreciated more than any other piece of furniture, he decided that this would be their last night here.

“We’re buying it,” Bakugo stated clearly, his voice firm.

“I don’t know if we can aff-” Midoriya began.

“Shut up,” the hot head asserted flatly, giving Midoriya a look that would wither a vine. “Izuku, it is ours. I will deal with the finances, and if you interfere, I’ll kill you.”

He sounded deadly serious, and pulled open his closet whereupon his barely contained pull out bed came spilling out so quickly that even the lightning quick Bakugo could barely step out of the way quickly enough. He hung his ash-blonde head, took a measured breath, and reminded himself that they wouldn’t be here much longer. Then, he sat down on the bed that was really more of a cot, slumped his shoulders, and looked back and forth to each of his companions, then over to his desk. The office was quiet. Todoroki looked ever placid, his face both calm and cool, though he’d been a fish out of water all day.

He hadn’t noticed it earlier in the day, probably too wrapped up in the excitement of the tour, but the bird from earlier was resting on Todoroki’s shoulder. Oddly complacent and uncharacteristically quiet, Bakugo took the teen in silently. It wasn’t in him to believe in fate. People, in his opinion, made their own destinies. If nothing else, he and Deku were a prime example of that, as much as he hated to lump himself in with that nerd. Something about the circumstance was strange, however. Given time to cool down, and having made his appointment without being tardy, Bakugo had decided that it was unlikely that the chimeric newcomer was an enemy. Deku’s judge of character could be questionable, as exemplified by their last mission when he fell in with a street thug, but Baku considered himself a natural at judging folks. He was naturally suspicious, and prone to disliking people. Yet he did not dislike Todoroki, despite the circumstance of their first meeting. That had to count for something.

“Here, rookie,” offered Bakugo. “You sleep on the floor.”

There were three blankets on his cot, and he removed two of them with a quick swipe and lobbed them towards Todoroki, who caught them deftly.

Then he took his attention away from both Midoriya and Todoroki, and turned it towards the whiskey on his desk. He poured himself a single tumbler. He didn’t like to drink nightly, and he’d had a few drinks the night prior in celebration, but this evening he decided that he would have a single drink to clear his head. Thoughts of the mansion still pivoted dizzyingly about his memory, distracting him. He sat back down on his cot which groaned against his weight though he wasn’t very heavy, and there Katsuki Bakugo tuned out the world around him and took a deep sip, scenting and tasting the fine single malt he’d splurged on as a present to himself.

“It’s best not to bother him when he’s like this,” Bakugo heard Midoriya explain to Todoroki in hushed tones. “He’s really not that bad. Just has a bad temper.”

Contemplating that, Bakugo turned away from them and stared at the white wall, nursed his whiskey a few more minutes, and then laid his head down for the evening where he fell asleep to the quiet ambience of Todoroki and Midoriya talking about something he couldn’t be assed to pay attention to.
 

Izuku Midoriya

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Despite his best efforts, Izuku couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was the fact that his arm and both legs remained in near constant pain, or that the bed in this office-apartment combo pack was less than comfortable, but no matter how much he tossed and turned, sleep wouldn’t take hold. If he were being honest, slumber had been a far off dream for him since they’d conquered Rooster Cockburn and his motley crew of thugs. The hospital had taken perfectly good care of him -- even made him feel very comfortable -- but there wasn’t anything the nice nurses and doctors could do about the thoughts racing around inside his head.

They’d managed to defeat the chicken man and his goons… and, in the process, gain a little bit of notoriety in their little slice of Arcadia. Unfortunately, the ensuing popularity had quickly gone right to Kacchan’s head. Katsuki Bakugo’s self-confidence never really needed any boosts, so the newfound attention had worried Deku from the jump, but his delusions of grandeur had grown to new heights recently.

Like… a fucking mansion?

Who the hell did he think they were? As of right now, the ‘Heroes for Hire’ barely even earned that plural title. They were two strong, plus the stowaway currently curled up on the floor just across the room. Deku’s eyes fell to Todoroki, watching as the boy lay eerily still as he slept. Were it not for the most gentle rise and fall of his chest, the young hero might’ve thought their strange visitor from… another dimension, or something… wasn’t actually alive at all. He stifled a chuckle. That would certainly explain a lot.

He sat up and slid out of bed, grabbing his blanket and tiptoeing as quietly as he could over toward the half-cold, half-hot hero. Even with lighter steps, his legs crunched with each motion, pain shooting up through him from his toes to his hips. He laid the covers over the other boy; he couldn’t bear the thought of him freezing, though considering what his powers reportedly were, the green-haired boy wasn’t totally sure that was a concern. Still, the sight of Todoroki without a blanket saddened him, and he knew he wasn’t going to be using it for a little while, so he donated it for now. Taking one last look at the red-and-white maned boy, Deku turned and crept out the door, grabbing his green kimono and wrapping it around himself as he ventured out into the chilly Arcadian night.

The noises of the city were calmer after the disappearance of the Crossroads’ suns, especially in their little suburban corner. Izuku stared down the cobblestone street, vaguely tracing a path back to UA. He hadn’t been able to bear the idea of considerable distance from the school of his dreams even after he and Kacchan had been expelled, and insisted they set up shop nearby. So it wasn’t a far trek until he found himself standing in the windy avenue before the gates of the place. It towered before him, its campus stretching out towards the edge of the district. Through the big, steel gates, he could see the silhouette of the dorm building he and Bakugo lived in for a short while standing behind the main academy complex.

He blinked a bit. Did Todoroki’s UA look like this? The mysterious boy hadn’t been incredibly specific about the parameters of the school in his universe, just that it had existed, and that -- somehow -- Deku and Kacchan had been there. Katsuki’s response to this had gone much as expected: violent repulsion; Izuku had yet to even really wrap his mind around the idea.

His eyes drifted up to the sky. He had no reason to believe Todoroki was lying. He didn’t know the guy all that well, but in his limited experience, the dual hero seemed trustworthy. And after all… there were many other planets in the Crossroads, so what was to stop whole other universes existing even farther out? The boy scowled a bit; he’d never left Erde Nona, and if he were being honest, he’d never even really considered doing so. He vaguely remembered from middle school his lessons about the other planets, but what did he really know? The basics: don’t go to Kraw if you wanted to live; the general outline of the social strata on Mesa Roja; vacation on Nos’talgia, but probably not anywhere else.

Their hero-ing -- if it could even really been called that yet -- had been confined to this one place. Did they need to expand?

The slight buzz of a tavern behind him finally reached his ears, and he turned to look through the windows and see the bustle of activity. Arcadians much older than he laughed and drank their troubles away, and a television set near the back of the bar played a news story that seemed to have overtaken the television sets since he’d been in the hospital waiting room earlier. He hadn’t taken much note of it before, but the words sank in a little bit more now: “Govermorne Lost…

Lost?

He moved to enter the bar, but a large bouncer quickly slid in front of the door. “No way,” he huffed. “What are you, like, twelve? Get the fuck out, kid.”

Izuku blustered, a scowl crossing his features as a chilly wind blew down the street. He knew he could probably have knocked the bouncer out with a single punch, but between his broken arm and unmoving morals, he pushed down the urge to thunder past this man to see what was on the television screen. He pulled his robe around his body, the wind cutting through to his very core; his t-shirt, boxers, and sandals did little to fight the cold, and this thin kimono wasn’t much help either, but at least they offered some protection about the cold of the night.

A hand touched his shoulder, and suddenly his whole body seemed to warm. He glanced over his shoulder to see Todoroki, wrapped up in the blanket the young man had offered, smiling softly at him.

“I don’t really need this,” the pyrokinetic hero smirked.

“Yeah,” Izuku giggled. “I didn’t know.”

They smiled at each other, and then Todoroki’s gaze turned up toward UA. “It looks just like mine,” he confirmed for the green-haired boy, and Izuku’s curiosity about what lay beyond Arcadia, and Erde Nona, and even, Arbiter willing, the Crossroads themselves, only intensified.

But who was he to have such thoughts? Just a few minutes ago, he’d been lamenting about Bakugo’s delusions of grandeur trying to expand their operations here, and now he found himself longing to gallop around the galaxy and get caught up in interstellar conflicts? He sighed, his broken, slinged arm brushing against Todoroki’s as his gaze fell from the hero academy to the floor. He had such visions of what good they could do, about the world -- no, the universe -- they could create if they could just managed to do enough good… but even now, even with everything they’d gone through and the luck they’d managed to stumble upon…

He felt so powerless.

“Let’s go home,” he muttered. “We should try to sleep, at least.”

Todoroki nodded, and the pair of boys strode off into the night, leaving their dreams and wonderings behind.
 
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