A/n: Hello! So we spend A LOT of time with Izuku and Grim this chapter. I also included an extra mini-chapter at the end with Red Riot! Hope you enjoy it!
The drive back to Grim's apartment didn't take long. Less than half-an-hour by Izuku's assessment. Grim pulled the car to a stop but left the motor running. The hood was yanked off Izuku's head, and he squinted as sunlight painfully hit his retinas.
"Get out. I'll be in after I park the car."
Izuku nodded shakily and pushed the door open. Eyes watering, he climbed out in front of the gate to Grim's place. Fortunately it was still open, so all he had to do was shuffle through the courtyard, keeping his head down. He still felt jittery, his hands shook, and his heart thrummed faster and lighter in his chest. He rested his shoulder against the wall next to the door and closed his tender eyes. In a few short minutes, he heard Grim's footsteps and opened them again.
Grim shut the wooden gate and, with some effort, hefted the thick beam into place, essentially barricading it. He walked up to Izuku, his face set in a cold expression. Pulling the keys out of his pocket, he unlocked the door. Izuku followed him in, although he wasn't sure where to go from there.
Grim locked the door behind him and strode over to the kitchen area. Izuku took a breath and followed. He came to a stop at the island counter, standing awkwardly by one of the stools. Grim said nothing as he filled a kettle with water and put it on the stove. His movements were sharp, controlled. Putting his back to the counter, Grim reached into his pocket for his cigarettes. He lit the tip with a metal lighter that had a flip lid. Taking a long pull, Grim stared across at Izuku.
"Go sit down," he finally ordered.
Izuku obeyed. He sat heavily on the couch. His notebook was where he'd left it on the coffee table, and his fingers twisted around each other nervously as he stared at it. There was no taking it back now. He would just have to follow through with his original plan.
Grim came around the couch and held a steaming mug out to him. Izuku accepted it. The smell of herbal tea - something with cinnamon - tickled his nose. Grim sat on the couch next to him, cigarette held between his lips.
If Grim hadn't heard Izuku's answer to the quirk-powered question back with Overhaul, then this was risky, but Izuku would be killed if he tried to pretend he'd said no and Grim had heard him say yes. You can do it. Don't hesitate, Izuku thought to himself. "Why'd you cover my mouth?"
Eyes lidded, Grim stared at him as smoke curled up around his face. "While you're here, you're mine, Tsuki. They didn't have permission to touch you."
Izuku swallowed hard. "I think it was me who brought them to the police's attention."
Grim leaned back, eyes unblinking. "Yeah? Why don't you tell me about that."
Izuku's hand curled into a fist with nerves, but he held Grim's eyes unflinching. "I think Overhaul's working with the Institute," he said quietly but clearly. "Maybe they saw somehow that I'd be protected by the yakuza. Maybe they thought it was Overhaul and not you. I mean, it is his territory, so it would make sense if they made that mistake. That's why they sent the cops to watch him. They think he's double-crossed them maybe."
Overhaul's eyebrows lowered as he took a long drag. "What makes you think the Institute has anything to do with this?"
Izuku reached forward, putting his cup on the coffee table and picking up the notebook. He stared down at it, his heart beating hard against his chest. Oh god, if he messed this up… "I couldn't sleep. Last night. So after cleaning up, I started working in the notebook. On what you asked me to. It's in there. The one you called… Overhaul? He's in the last pages." He looked up at Grim as he handed it over.
Grim stared at the offering for a minute. He put the cigarette back between his lips and held it there as he accepted the notebook. "Drink your tea." He waited for Izuku to pick up the cup and take a sip before he flipped it open.
Izuku sipped nervously at the tea. It was delicious, the flavor light and subtle. The warmth felt amazing in his still uneasy stomach, but it was hard to enjoy as he waited to see if Grim would believe the slightly altered narrative he'd recorded there.
It was mostly the truth. He'd written about his visions with the Institute honestly, but after hearing about Grim's daughter he'd seen an opportunity. He'd had the brilliant idea to include some of the visions with Overhaul in his accounting of the Institute. He'd emphasized how small Eri was and Eri's long white hair to make it clear he'd been in the body of a little girl, but he hadn't put everything down. He'd edited the dialogue of the visions and had made it seem like, at least from Izuku's 'confused' perspective in the vision, that Overhaul was experimenting on Izuku's quirk.
Izuku knew exactly when Grim got to the last pages he'd written on. The man sat up straighter as his breath caught. His dark eyes snapped up to Izuku's. Izuku didn't have to fake the queasy smile that appeared on his face.
Oh god! Would Grim kill him now that he knew Izuku knew about the experiments? Because it was clear to Izuku that Eri's torture was connected to whatever product Overhaul was making. Izuku hadn't known that Grim was the one backing Overhaul's experiments when he'd decided to add Overhaul to his Institute visions!
"I don't…" Izuku cleared his throat nervously. "I don't have all the answers, but you saved me. When you covered my mouth. If you hadn't, they'd know I know about their partnership with the Institute. They would have turned me over."
Grim held up his hand. He looked back down at the notebook and finished reading. Izuku bit his lip. It took all his self-control to force himself to sit still and silent. After what felt like an eternity, Grim looked up once more.
"Overhaul did this?" he asked in a low, dangerous voice. Izuku's heart jumped in his chest as Grim's eyes bore into him.
"Yes," Izuku confirmed in a tight whisper. "Over and over, I was pulled there. So the Institute could test my quirk."
Grim very slowly reached forward and put his cigarette out in the ashtray on the coffee table. Voice dark, he said slowly, "Overhaul is not working for the Institute, little seer. He did not know you had possessed that child."
"But then what…?" Izuku made his expression confused, but he tried not to lay it on too thick.
"He is using her for a different purpose." Grim got up, slow and controlled. He walked between the chairs to stand in front of the rose painting.
The silence stretched, and Izuku felt sweat roll down his temple. "I don't understand. Why else would he do that?"
Grim turned to face him. Something dark glinted in his eyes. He came around the coffee table, stopping just within arm's reach. He reached down to twist a lock of Izuku's hair between his fingers. Izuku could smell the tobacco on them. "If I tell you, then you cannot leave until I have things settled here, Tsuki."
Izuku trembled as he looked up into Grim's unblinking stare.
"Do you still want to know more?"
"What I felt… What he did… If it wasn't for the Institute…" Izuku straightened his spine and said firmly, "I have to know why, Grim."
Grim sat on the coffee table so they were eye level, less than a foot apart. He spoke quietly, staring at Izuku intently. "Last year, Overhaul came to my boss and asked for money. He believed he could create a drug that would permanently erase quirks."
Izuku's mouth fell open, his face going pale. Heard in his head Overhaul screaming at Mirio, 'But I shot you! You don't have a quirk!' Izuku had suspected it was something to do with quirk suppression, but permanently erase them? Oh god! If that power fell into the hands of villains, the heroes would be ruined! The world as they knew it would be over.
Grim smiled, cold and dangerous. "Exactly, little seer. Exactly. Three weeks ago, when I put pressure on Overhaul to either return the money with interest or deliver the product he promised, he gave my boss a prototype. It's a hollow bullet that injects the drug directly into the body. It worked but only for a day or two. Overhaul insisted he was close to perfecting it, so my boss gave him more time."
Even temporary quirk erasure was revolutionary and dangerous, but god it was so much better than permanently losing your quirk! "Are you saying…" Izuku had to swallow, honestly horrified. "That he's making that drug by torturing a little girl and taking her blood?"
Izuku went still as Grim leaned forward and grabbed his jaw. Eyes like tunnels, Grim promised in a soft, deadly voice, "I'll make sure you're never taken to that chair again." Releasing Izuku, he stood and strode for the door.
"Where are you going?" Izuku demanded, shaking.
Grim turned around. A cruel smile twisted his lips. "I'm going to put that yowamushi down." Tilting his head, he asked almost gently, "You want to come, Tsuki?"
Izuku knew following Grim out that door meant he wouldn't come back the same as when he left, but what was he supposed to do? Stay locked up in these rooms forever? He was here to stop the future that he'd seen, save a tormented little girl, and end Overhaul's plans for good. Setting his aching jaw, Izuku got on his feet.
The sun was just beginning to rise when Katsuki boarded the train back to Nighteye's agency for their Sunday shift. Everything yesterday plus his fucking breakdown plus not getting much sleep meant he was not in the fucking mood to deal with Mirio's shit. Instead, he glared out the window, pointedly ignoring the blond.
"I want you to talk to Tamaki with me."
Katsuki whipped his head around. "What?"
Mirio met his eyes without flinching. There was no hesitation or equivocating. "I think you're right. He's depressed and has been for a long time. I think it has to do with his dad. He told me once when we were in middle school that his dad used to hurt him. When I told him we should tell the police, he got extremely upset and insisted it had happened a long time ago. He begged me to let it go. I made sure to visit his house often, but I never saw anything suspicious and I never saw a mark on him, so I dropped it. I didn't know what else to do. Then we got to high school and we both got wrapped up in training. That's no excuse to neglect a friend, but that's what happened."
"What the hell do I have to do with any of this?" Katsuki demanded, glaring.
"I'm afraid if I ask him to see someone, he's going to think I think he's weak or damaged," Mirio admitted. "He looks up to me. He always has. I'll be there, of course, to support you, but I think hearing it from someone else would be better. You seem to know a lot about it, and you were the one to actually think to do something about Tamaki's depression, so I thought it should be you."
Katsuki crossed his arm. "Fucking fine," he gave in.
Mirio gave him such a bright smile Katsuki actually had to squint against it. "Thank you, Bakugo!"
Unfortunately, the confrontation with Nighteye did not go nearly so well. When Katsuki and Mirio stood in front of Nighteye's desk to check in, the hero looked utterly exhausted. "Mirio, go out on reconnaissance with Bubble Girl. She will fill you in on the mission."
"Yes, Sir!" the blond cried, saluting. He gave Katsuki a reassuring grin as he left the office, shutting the door behind him.
"What do you want?" Katsuki ground out through gritted teeth. He would not respond well to another fucking lecture right now.
"Tell me the truth, Bakugo," Nighteye asked quietly. "What did Midoriya tell you before he left?"
Katsuki stood straighter, scrutinizing Nighteye closely. Slowly, he said, "I fucking told you. He said the Institute got to him and he had to go."
"And yesterday?" Nighteye stared at him. "What happened yesterday?"
Katsuki almost laughed. "Now you fucking ask me that." He glared into Nighteye's yellow eyes. "She called me Kacchan and begged me for help. It was Deku." With a venomous glare, he added, "Blondie sent her to her death."
Nighteye sighed and took off his glasses, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Unfortunately, I don't think so."
Nighteye lowered his hand and pushed a file across his desk. Katsuki held his breath as he opened it. There were photos paper-clipped inside. He pulled them carefully free. Izuku - his hair black and long, his eyes an aqua blue-green - was standing by a car with a tall, lean man in a suit. There were marks low on Izu's cheeks near his jaw. Small ones. From fingers? His lips were chapped, his hair tangled. There was fear in his expression, his freckles standing in sharp contrast to his pale cheeks, but he wasn't restrained. That had to fucking count for something, right?
"Where were these taken?" Katsuki rasped. He couldn't bear to look away from the images to read the report for himself.
"Outside Overhaul's compound. The man he's with is bad news, Bakugo."
Katsuki's eyes flashed up. "Who the hell is he?" he demanded, but he already knew, didn't he?
"They call him the Grim Reaper," Nighteye told him. "Unknown quirk, but it's death related. Everyone in the yakuza is terrified of this guy. He's the grandson to a very powerful branch of the yakuza based out of Kobe. He's next in line to be the boss when his grandfather retires or dies. I have no idea why he's here. I have no idea why Midoriya is with him. I can only speculate that in addition to the visions orchestrated by the Institute, he saw into Overhaul's compound as was our goal, and he possessed the little girl who ran into you. Whatever he saw drove him to the yakuza. He is likely trying to rescue her on his own."
Katsuki said nothing, still holding tightly to the photos.
Tired yellow eyes looked back at him. "I know you do not trust me, but I am telling you the truth. I did not inform the Institute that Midoriya would be here. I was unaware they were planning to initiate an experiment utilizing his visions. I knew it was a possibility, but I thought I had more time to negotiate or I would have warned Midoriya about it."
"You should have told him the minute you suspected they might do something like that!" Katsuki snarled, fury rising from his core. "Instead you fucking waited around trying to negotiate behind his back!"
"Perhaps," the hero said stiffly. "But that is not the issue right now. You have to know, maybe especially if you think I am in cahoots with Institute, that the last thing I want is for Midoriya to be killed." He pressed his fingertips to the desk. "Right now, it is possible that Midoriya has gone rogue and is on an unauthorized undercover mission that will likely get him killed. The man he is with is exceptionally dangerous. Arguably more than Overhaul himself."
Katsuki took a deep breath. He would not be pressured into rolling over on Izuku. He had to think for himself. So that's what he was going to fucking do. Think. — Say he told Nighteye everything. About Grim and the visions. And wasn't it interesting that All Might hadn't told Nighteye about Grim already? There must be something behind that. Aizawa had also not advocated for telling Nighteye. Fucking whatever. If it helped Izuku, Katsuki would tell whomever he damn well pleased. But would it? What could Nighteye do at this point? Try to make contact with Izuku? That could blow Izuku's cover and get him killed!
"Midoriya shows distress in these photos and evidence of some minor injuries," Nighteye pressed, assuming by Katsuki's sudden stillness that he was making progress. "He's in way over his head and will need our help to make it out alive. So, please. I need you to level with me, Bakugo."
Katsuki was thinking. — Nighteye still didn't have enough evidence to take down Overhaul. They were still scrambling around, spying and shit, trying to get enough for a warrant to raid his fucking place and arrest him. Did Nighteye want it bad enough to use Izuku as the excuse to bust in? Maybe frame it as a rescue mission? Shit. That had to be the last resort because then the cops and heroes would know Izuku went on the run. They'd know UA had a hand in it because they never reported him missing.
"You will not be punished in any way if you reveal you know more than you originally reported." Then slow and deliberate, Nighteye asked, "What did Midoriya tell you?"
Thinking — No. Izuku didn't look that desperate. He wasn't hurt enough to justify throwing everything away. They still had a chance to save that girl and keep their hero careers. He just had to follow Izuku's plan and hope to hell he wasn't making the wrong fucking choice and Izuku fucking died. Katsuki threw down the photos on top of the file.
"I fucking told you. He said the Institute did shit to him and he had to go." Katsuki crossed his arms. "It looks a little like Deku in those pictures, but how the hell would he have been able to change his hair and eyes. Maybe it's just a coincidence. That kid looks smaller, too, and Deku doesn't own any clothes like that. Besides, your theory doesn't make any fucking sense. Why would Izuku go run off to the yakuza to save a little girl and then not save her? That was Deku in her body asking for help. And Blondie stupidly gave her back. Overhaul fucking killed her."
"Overhaul has the ability to disassemble and reassemble things," Nighteye countered coldly. "It's possible that Midoriya's quirk would register that process as murder. If I'm correct, then Midoriya experienced many deaths as that little girl."
"Why would Overhaul do that?" Katsuki demanded hotly.
"That's what I am still trying to figure out." Nighteye stood up and leaned forward, hands pressed to the desk. "I may not have the specific details, but I know a pattern when I see one. The Shie Hassaikai is gearing up for something big. The League is now involved and so is a very powerful sister branch of the yakuza. Overhaul is the nexus, and if we don't act soon, many, many people will die and suffer. Do you understand that, Hero Primus? By keeping silent, you are putting Midoriya in mortal peril as well as endangering the entire country!"
Katsuki looked him dead in the eye and said, "He woke up freaked the hell out. He said the Institute did shit to him in his visions. Then he said he had to go. I lost him in the city."
Nighteye turned away from him. "Report to the call desk."
Katsuki turned on his heel and stomped out.
Grim drove them one city over into downtown Tokyo. It took just over an hour, but they'd hit a lot of morning traffic. Grim hadn't made him wear the hood. The man's apartment wasn't that far from Nighteye's agency, actually, in one of the residential areas just outside of the downtown area. Knowing how close Kacchan was made him feel safer, stronger, somehow.
They parked in one of the garages. Grim hadn't said a word since leaving the apartment. Izuku fidgeted as he followed in the man's wake. He wanted to ask so many questions, but there was an intensity about Grim that made Izuku hesitate. He already felt like he was walking a tightrope. How much more would Grim let him get away with?
They walked for close to thirty minutes. By this time, it was midmorning, only a few short hours away from noon. Izuku was growing tired - from not sleeping much before Grim had pulled him out of bed, from the adrenaline and fear, from the chloroform and stimulant, from the anxiety of trying to spin it that Overhaul's torture was just part of the Institute's experiments - but he refused to say anything. He chose to come, to play an active part. He couldn't back down now!
Grim turned and held the door to a shop open for him. Izuku lifted his heavy head and smiled faintly, stepping inside. He didn't expect the booths, tables, chairs, and long counter full of baked goods. A waitress called her welcome as she bustled between tables. Grim gently took Izuku's arm and guided him to a booth in the corner. A waitress appeared quickly, smiling brightly. Izuku stared at her dazed. Grim made their order and leaned back, watching Izuku through lidded eyes as he lit a cigarette and drew deeply on it.
"What day is it?" Izuku blurted.
Grim smiled slowly. "Sunday."
Izuku nodded, fiddling with his napkin. Sunday. He'd been with Grim since Wednesday night. Had it really been only a few days? It felt like weeks. "UA's going to start asking questions when I don't go in tomorrow. If you let me write a letter or make a call, I can tell them an excuse."
Grim sat silently for a long minute. Blowing out smoke, he asked, "What about your parents?"
Izuku was ready for that question. "I only have one, and they work all the time. Whenever I was gone for a while, I just told them I was staying over at a friends. They never questioned it."
"The school's not going to buy 'you're staying over at a friend's'," Grim pointed out.
"I'll tell the school there was a family emergency and I'll be back in a week or so to discuss remedial courses to make up whatever I missed."
"The school wouldn't call your parent?" Grim wanted to know.
"Probably not, right?" Izuku questioned. "I mean, I want to at least try to salvage my high school career. Even if I do decide to go underground and join you, being educated will be more useful, right?"
Grim laughed and stubbed out his cigarette. "You make a good point, but that doesn't change the fact the Institute is determined to get their hands on you."
The waitress brought over their food, some sandwiches and a pastry along with coffee for Grim and tea for Izuku. Like in the apartment, Grim insisted they not talk while they ate, so Izuku stewed over the fact that Grim was right. How was he going to keep out of reach of the Institute?
"There are little tricks you can do that will protect you from detection outside of the moon," Grim finally said as their plates were clean. He was leaning back, one arm along the back of the booth as he sipped his second cup of coffee. "Wearing iron and talisman of salt, for example. It will blur their clairvoyance. Although I suspect there is something about you that makes you hard to pinpoint or they would have grabbed you before you got to UA."
Izuku's eyes widened. "You mean, being at UA blocks them?"
Grim nodded. "Like I said, the powerful know the tricks to protect against psychic quirk interference, and UA is powerful and old. They build with iron as a matter of course, and all of their pools and water features are salt water. More importantly, there's an underground river running under the school. That's why it was placed there and not closer to Tokyo."
At Izuku's smile, Grim held up a cautious hand.
"They know you're at UA. It's only a matter time before they narrow it down to you. I can't imagine there are a lot of quirkless kids on campus. Even if they don't. Don't forget the fact they'll continue to run experiments during your visions. That means they will continue to kill people to pull you in."
Izuku was breathing faster, hands fisted in his lap. He felt like the walls were closing in on him. What the hell was he supposed to do?! Shaking his head, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He had to think clearly, calmly. An idea formed, one that was dangerous and bold and inspired by what he was doing with Grim. Oh man, Kacchan was going to explode.
"Maybe… Maybe I could force them to back off… To experiment on me on my terms?" he suggested, lifting his chin.
"Explain," Grim invited, head cocked as he listened.
"In my vision last time, they said if they had me to study, they wouldn't need to kill anyone else. What if I went to them on my terms, only for a certain amount of time? UA would make sure to get me back so I could go to school and…" Izuku's voice dropped and he met Grim's stare dead on. "And we'd know more about them. Like where they are and who's running the place. You're having a hard time finding them, right? I could get you information. So we could take them down for good."
Grim sighed. He reached across the table and twirled a lock of Izuku's hair around his finger slowly. "You're brave, little seer, I'll give you that. But it's not that simple. Just having those thoughts in your head would reveal our plan the moment you were in the Institute's hands."
Izuku didn't dare shake his head, afraid to pull his hair out of Grim's grasp. "Maybe not. I mean, you said there might be something about me that blocks them a bit. And in the vision, when they tried to have their members use their quirks, they all collapsed and went into seizures. I mean, it's worth a shot, right?"
Still slowly twisting a lock of Izuku's hair, Grim asked, "Are you saying it's worth risking your life and freedom over the small chance you can prevent them from knowing your intentions?"
Izuku narrowed his eyes. "It's not like I have much choice! Like you said, they're going to keep coming after me regardless. And I don't want them to keep killing people! They have to know I don't trust them and that I'm unwilling, so it won't be a surprise that I'm reluctant or whatever."
"And even if they knew, they might be willing to risk it to get a chance to study you," Grim agreed, dropping his hand. "It's dangerous, but I already said you're brave, Tsuki. If that's what you want to do, I'm not going to stop you." His dark eyes bore into Izuku's. "But if you don't come back out again, I will eventually come for you. For you and my daughter. And many people will die."
Izuku swallowed hard. "I know," he whispered.
Grim nodded and leaned back. "First, we have a worm to put down." A smile turned his lips up.
Izuku couldn't help mirroring that small smile. "How are we going to do that?"
"I could kill him. All I need is a picture of him without that mask since I already know his name," Grim admitted.
Izuku kept his expression interested and curious, but his stomach dropped at this information. Grim could kill you just by knowing your face and name? That was… beyond anything Izuku had ever heard of before.
When Izuku had been killed by Grim before, it had happened so subtly and quickly it hadn't felt like anything at all. He'd just realized his heart was no longer beating and his lungs no longer filling with no awareness of when they had actually stopped. Compared to the agonizing deaths he experienced in his visions, it felt like salvation and a mercy. He'd never really thought about how it happened. He thought about it now.
Grim was touching him most of the times Izuku had died by his hand, so he'd assumed it was a touch-based death quirk. Those weren't common, but they weren't unheard of. But thinking back, when Grim had taken him to that hotel room place, in the body of the father who raped his daughters, Grim had been sitting across from him. He hadn't ever touched Izuku. Did that mean distance was irrelevant? Grim could literally kill anyone even from half a world away as long as he had a picture and a name? Holy. Shit.
"But the yakuza know what it looks like after I use my quirk," Grim was explaining even as Izuku's brain whirled in shock. "It would start a war between our clans. So we're going to let the yowamushi hang himself."
"How?" Izuku asked through numb lips.
A wide grin split Grim's face. He got to his feet, took out his wallet, and threw some bills on the table. "The heroes are already on his tail, aren't they? We're going to give them a little push."
Izuku stared up at him with wide eyes.
They ended up walking two blocks back toward where the car was parked. Grim led the way inside a high-rise hotel. He didn't bother going to the front desk, simply walked toward the elevators at the back. No one stopped them. They rode the elevator to the top floor. Guards in black suits were stationed just outside the elevator doors. They took a step toward them, but as soon as they recognized who Grim was, they backed off fast.
"Sir," they said almost in unison, bowing.
Grim didn't even acknowledge them. It was as if they were invisible. Izuku began to realize he should be nervous. What were they doing here? Who were they meeting? How would it help the heroes get closer to Overhaul?
They walked down the hall, doors spaced far apart on either side. This was clearly the floor with the larger rooms. They walked to the last door at the very end. Grim pressed a door bell. Izuku shifted nervously at his shoulder. After ten seconds, he pressed the button again. The doors flew open. A topless, middle-aged man with a rounded gut, thick black hair streaked with grey, and bushy eyebrows stood there glaring. Izuku couldn't help staring at his bare chest. Black tattoos covered his skin from neck to the waistband of his slacks. Strangely, his arms were ink free.
"Who the fuck…?!" the man snarled in fury, voice rasping and deep. Izuku saw the moment recognition dawned in his eyes. The man went pale as a sheet and he practically snapped to attention. "Grim-sama."
Grim strode past him without even a nod of acknowledgement. Izuku hesitated. The man stared back at him, eyes wide and bloodshot. "Tsuki," Grim called, a snap to his voice. Izuku hurried past the terrified man.
Izuku walked into a living room with a massive tv. Across from it sat a huge couch with glass side tables that had fancy crystal lamps. A matching coffee table sat in front of the couch. There were dirty glasses on the table and empty bottles of liquor. Ashtrays were filled with cigarette butts. A suspicious powder residue streaked the edges of the coffee table. A silky dress was dropped halfway toward an open doorway at the back of the room. Izuku could see the shadowy outlines of a bed. Along the same wall as the bedroom stood floor to ceiling windows that looked out over Tokyo city. Izuku could only imagine what the view was like at night.
"I wasn't aware you'd be visiting," the man said smoothly, obviously recovered from his shock. He'd finger-combed his hair, but he couldn't do anything about his half-dressed state. He gave a short bow. "Please. Make yourself comfortable. I'll be right with you."
"Make sure we're alone," Grim called over his shoulder as he made his way to the kitchen.
The kitchen was huge with big, black appliances. Unlike the rest of the messy apartment, the kitchen looked pristine and brand-new, obviously not frequently used. Grim rummaged through the cabinets and grabbed an unopened bottle of amber liquor and two clean glasses before moving through an open archway into a luxurious dining room. Grim took a seat at the head of the table facing the massive window. With his foot, he pushed out the chair to his right. Izuku quickly sat. He was eyeing the glasses anxiously, really hoping Grim didn't expect him to drink.
"What are we doing here?" he asked quietly.
Grim poured a glass half full and left the bottle open at his elbow. "Wait and see," he said, smiling.
Izuku suddenly realized Grim was enjoying this. Falling obediently silent, he watched as the man came out of the bedroom not a minute later, dressed and in shoes, practically dragging two girls to the door. They looked young. Late teens maybe. They were clearly hungover and confused. One didn't even have shoes on. She pulled against the man, protesting. Without hesitation, the man yanked her around and slapped her full force across the face. She went careening into the wall and bounced off, too dazed to do more than gasp and moan. Grabbing a fistful of her hair, the man yanked her back to her feet and shoved first her and then the other one out the front door. Before it swung shut, Izuku saw the girl he'd hit collapse to her knees.
Grim ignored all of this. His seat put him at an angle to the rest of the apartment, so he would have had to turn to watch the proceedings, which he didn't bother to do. He kept his attention on the window, swirling his drink slowly and taking small sips. Izuku, however, was facing the room as had seen everything. His heart slammed against his ribs, his fists shaking on his thighs. It took everything in him not to fly across the room and punch the thug in the face.
The man approached the table and moved so that he was at the other end of it facing Grim. They were separated by the space of three seats, one of which Izuku occupied. "To what do I owe this honor, sir?"
"I have a task for you," Grim said slowly, watching the man the way a predator would watch their prey.
The man relaxed at hearing this. He leaned back in his chair, a smug smile slowly spreading across his face. "Oh? I'm intrigued."
Grim poured liquor into the second glass. He slid it toward Izuku and tipped his head toward the end of the table. Izuku took the glass and got up. Jaw tensed from clenched teeth, Izuku set the glass with more force than necessary in front of the lowlife. He kept his face perfectly neutral as the man stared at him intently. The thug was clearly trying to figure out what role Izuku played in all of this.
"I've got a product that I want to introduce to the market," Grim said casually as Izuku returned to his seat. He took a long pull from his drink. "A new quirk enhancer. Short lived but packs a punch."
"That won't be a problem. Lots of people with weak or mediocre quirks wanting to feel powerful out there," the man assured and picked up the drink. He toasted Grim before taking a big gulp.
Grim's smile widened a fraction. "I want to move the product through Shibuya."
The man froze. His face turned red as he choked on the liquor. He somehow got it down without spitting it everywhere or coughing up a lung, but the effort was clear on his face. Very carefully, he said, "That's…"
"I know what it is," Grim cut him off. He rocked his glass back and forth under his fingertips. His eyes never left the man across from him. "Will it be a problem, Tachibana?"
"No." The man began to smile. "So we're finally making a move?"
Grim leaned back in his chair, eyes lidded, expression smug. "I want to start tonight. You can make that happen, yes?"
"Of course," Tachibana assured.
"I want our most ambitious to be given the job. I want it to be boys who have something to prove."
"I know just the crew," the man smiled wickedly. "A little wet behind the ears, but they're eager."
"To ensure there is no problem, I have something I want you to give them. I'll swing it by the front."
Grim stood. Tachibana quickly mirrored him, bowing. Izuku got up stiffly, and Grim swung his arm around Izuku's shoulders, pulling him in close before gently pushing him toward the front door.
"Don't disappoint me, Tachibana."
"I'll handle everything," the man promised, following them to the door. "Don't worry about a thing, Grim-sama."
"Not to your liking?" Grim asked once the door shut behind them, his arm once more dropped over Izuku's shoulders.
"They didn't deserve that," Izuku said quietly but forcefully. "It was unnecessary."
"It's the life," Grim answered simply.
The guards had seen them coming and pushed the call button for the elevator. They bowed their heads when Grim reached them. There was a soft chime and they whisked open. Grim guided Izuku inside by the arm over his shoulders. He expected Grim to let him go once they got on, but the man only pulled him closer, up against his side. Izuku blushed.
The elevator doors opened and they stepped out into the lobby. The girls hadn't made it very far. The one the thug had hit in the face was sitting in a nearby corner crying. The girl with her looked pissed. Izuku pulled away from Grim. He expected the man to resist, but he let Izuku go easily.
"Are you okay?" Izuku asked softly once he was close to the two girls.
The angry one glared at him suspiciously, but the crying one looked up, her tears black with makeup. "Y-yeah," she answered, voice wobbly. "I'm o-okay."
"It's okay to say you need help," Izuku told her. He crouched and gently took her hand in his.
"No one asked you, kid. Get lost," the angry one spat at him.
Izuku ignored her. "I won't pretend to understand, but… You shouldn't be hurt like that."
"Yona, let's go."
The angry one tried to grab the crying girl, but Izuku knocked her hand aside. "Yona can make her own decisions," he told her harshly, glaring up at her. Something in his expression made her back off.
Shifting his attention back to the battered girl, he told her, "If you can still walk away, you should, Yona. Before this becomes every minute of your life. It's exciting at first, but that's only because it's new. Eventually the fun parts just become ordinary, and all you're left with is the pain and emptiness." Gently taking her hand in his, he said even more softly, "And if you can't walk away, if you're in too deep, it's okay to ask for help." The girl stared at him with wide, teary eyes. Izuku gave her his best smile. "Yona, nothing will change unless you make it happen." He stood and offered her his hand. "I'm on my way out. Want to walk with me?"
She stared at his hand for a long second. Just before he was about turn away, she took it. Her hand was trembling and cold, but her grip was firm. "Yes. I'd like that."
"Yona!" the angry one gasped.
Izuku turned his smile to her. "Care to join us?"
Her expression wavered before her glare intensified. "You're fucking stupid to give up this opportunity! Do what you want, but I'm staying!" she hissed and stormed toward the lobby bar.
Izuku shrugged and hooked Yona's arm through his. "Shall we go?"
"Yes, please," she said softly and followed him barefoot across the lobby to the door.
Grim fell in beside them. She tensed, but when he said nothing and didn't acknowledge her in any way, she relaxed.
"Can we drop you off some place?" Izuku asked, still smiling brightly. "I don't want you to hurt your feet."
She hesitated, her eyes darting to Grim. "If you really don't mind…"
Izuku flashed Grim a pleading look.
Grim smiled, not dangerous or smug, but gently. "We've got nowhere to be for a few hours. What the hell," he said easily and tugged on Izuku's hair.
Izuku beamed at him. "Thank you!"
Grim wrapped his arm around Izuku's shoulders again.
Izuku spent most of the drive to Yona's parents' house talking to her. Turns out, Yona had dropped out of high school when she got pulled into the party scene, but she was starting to regret that choice. It had gotten too real when Tachibana had gotten involved. She didn't know if her parents would take her back in, but she wanted to try.
Izuku had found some paper in the glove box and a pen. He wrote down the names of a few organizations that would help her if her parents didn't take her back. "I know it can be scary, but I promise you, Yona. They really are there to help you, and they don't want anything in return."
"Thank you, Tsuki," she'd said sincerely and kissed him on the cheek before slipping out of the car.
Izuku studied Grim in the silence that fell as they made their way back to the hotel. "I'm surprised you let me help her," he said eventually. "Aren't you going to tell me that it's pointless?"
Grim smiled that gentle smile. "I don't care about that girl." His eyes flashed over to meet Izuku's. "I care about you." He reached over and gently hooked Izuku's hair behind his ear before returning his attention to the road. "You wanted to help her, and I was able to make that happen. It's that simple."
Izuku blushed and fell silent, not really sure what to do with that statement. He had no idea how he'd earned Grim's affection. From his side, he knew that it was the visions that led him to trusting Grim. A trust forged when Grim had recognized who he was regardless of the face he wore, strengthened when he'd used his quirk to release Izuku from his torment. But what could Izuku have done to make Grim feel so attached in return? Losing his daughter didn't really explain it, not fully.
Just over an hour after they'd left the hotel, they were back. Grim parked illegally on the street directly in front of the hotel doors. Izuku watched as the man got out of the car and went to the trunk. There were a few thumps, then Grim came back around with a thick metal briefcase in his hand. One of Tachibana's guards took it before disappearing inside. Grim got back in the car and pulled away into traffic.
"What was that? The enhancement drug?"
Grim smiled dangerously. "No. That's the clue we're going to give the heroes."
Izuku shot him a confused look, but Grim wouldn't say anything more than that. They drove to another hotel. This one in Shibuya. It wasn't as nice as the one Tachibana was staying in, but it was still high-end. Grim got a room. It was just a bedroom with a single bed, a tv, and a microwave. The bathroom was spacious though.
"Let's get some rest. The show won't start until nightfall," he explained, tossing the key on the dresser and stripping out of his jacket and shoes.
Izuku fell on the bed with a groan of relief. "Whatever you say, boss," he mumbled, already drifting off to sleep.
Izuku cracked open crusted eyes. Grim was leaning over him, shaking his shoulder.
"It's time. Get cleaned up. We have to go."
Izuku used the bathroom and washed his face. Grim handed him a to-go cup of tea and hurried him out of the room. It was full night. The street was lit up with neon lights, music and loud conversations drifting on the air. Izuku sipped his tea as he followed Grim into a crowd of people.
They walked around for over an hour. Grim would stop and talk to a few people occasionally, but they kept slowing circling the same block. By that point, the tea was long disposed of and Izuku was wide awake and hungry. Suddenly, Grim caught his arm, pulling him to a stop in the shadow of an alley between two buildings. The BMI Hero: Fat Gum was walking down he street. Izuku froze as he caught sight of Red Riot and Suneater behind him.
"What are we doing?" Izuku asked tensely.
There was some kind of commotion further behind the group. Fat Gum moved, supposedly handling the whatever it was. Then someone flew through the air. Izuku watched in awe as Suneater reacted in an instant, transforming and capturing the fleeing criminal. The fight brought Suneater and Red Riot closer to where Izuku and Grim stood, and he couldn't help smiling as heard Eijiro enthusiastically praised Suneater. God, he missed them. Missed all of them. Especially Kacchan. It was like Izuku was missing an arm or a leg, the ache nearly unbearable.
The crowd was cheering Suneater when Izuku noticed movement toward the front of the group, just twenty feet in front of him. He caught the glint of metal as the man lifted his arms. It was a gun! Time slowed. Izuku's eyes went wide as he realized the thug was aiming for Suneater and Eijiro!
"LOOK OUT!" he screamed, lunging toward the shooter, but Grim's arms snapped closed around him, one hand slapping painfully over his mouth.
Crack! The gun went off! Izuku watched in horror as Suneater was spun off his feet. The crowd scattered in a panic, screaming. CRACK! Eijiro was shot in the head. His skull whipping back. Izuku began to thrash, but before he could summon One For All and end this, Grim hissed in his ear, "Be still! The heroes needed those bullets!"
Izuku was dragged deeper into the alley. The street no longer in view. He was slammed against the alley wall, Grim pinning him with his body, his face close to Izuku's.
"Stop, Tsuki! They aren't dead. They aren't even terribly wounded," Grim hissed, voice low with intensity. "I thought it would be Fat who took the shot, as he's the bigger target, but it doesn't matter. Those were the quirk-erasing bullets. The police will be able to tie them back to the Shie Hassaikai and Overhaul. Once they do, they'll have everything they need to get a warrant."
Izuku was shaking, staring at Grim in horror. The briefcase - the guns had been in there! They were the protection Grim had provided Tachibana. Grim had planned from the beginning for those guns to be used, possibly killing a police officer or a hero. Just to give the police evidence. Izuku tore the hand off his mouth.
"There had to've been some other way! Someone could've been killed!" he hissed, glaring.
Grim gave him a dark smile. "I told you, Tsuki. Sometimes death is unavoidable, but in this case, I knew it wasn't likely an amateur shooter would kill someone with those guns. The bullets are hollow and filled with the drug. They don't have enough impact to go through a body. The police wear bulletproof vests, and heroes are trained to deal with this kind of thing." His expression softened. "I know the violence is shocking for you, Tsuki, but I need you to keep it together. The police will be doing a sweep. We have to go."
Izuku said nothing as Grim grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him down the alley. The sound of the gunshots wouldn't stop ringing in his ears. He couldn't stop seeing Suneater drop and Eijiro's head whip back. Izuku stared at Grim's back and knew he had to end this soon. Before it was too late.
~ The Sturdy Hero: Red Riot and Suneater ~
Eijiro walked along the busy street on his last patrol for the night with Fat Gum and Suneater. This was his second weekend working with the two, and they'd found an easy, comfortable rhythm. Even Amajiki-senpai was starting to relax around him. They'd been working since early that morning. He was tired, but it was a good tired. They'd broken up some street fights and stopped a mugging. Fat Gum marched along, eight feet tall and almost as wide. He looked like a walking bowling ball in a yellow and white hero costume and black eye mask. He spoke loudly and cheerfully as he snacked on some tamayaki.
"Those punks and hoodlums keep gettin' into so many fights these days!" he said, thrusting one of the steaming balls into the air before eating it. "Well, you sure proved your worth today, Red Riot! The hero agencies 'round here have been wantin' a fightin' type."
Eijiro smiled widely. "I'm glad you accepted me."
"I was afraid of what you'd do if he didn't," Amajiki confessed. He walked with his head down and his big white and gold hood almost completely obscuring his face.
Eijiro rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "I didn't mean to scare you, bro. I just really wanted to find a work-study. And since Bakugo found one through Togata, I thought you could help."
"Don't worry about Suneater," Fat Gum called back. "You should know by now, he's always like that. If he could only do something about that weak mindset, he'd be a top hero for sure!"
Eijiro frowned. Fat Gum said stuff like that frequently to Amajiki, but he was starting to not like it. It wasn't helpful and only seemed to reinforce the teen's anxiety.
"That pressure leads me to even lower lows," Amajiki said softly, literally clutching his hands over his chest and curling slightly forward. "This man scouted me in order to torment me. It's power harassment. I want to go home."
Eijiro gently gripped the teen's shoulder and pulled him to a stop. "Hey. You really feel like that? Don't you want to be a hero?"
Amajiki couldn't look him in the face. "I… I want to be a hero… but… I'm going to mess up. I'm worthless in the end. I don't want to give anyone false hope. That's worse than anything."
Eijiro's frown deepened. "I feel the same way sometimes, but we can work hard to make sure that hope isn't false." He leaned forward to look under Amajiki's hood. "Right?"
"I can't be believe in a good future like you and Mirio," Amajiki whispered even more softly. "I just… can't."
A scream came from down an alley. "It's a fight! Someone help!" Thugs in cheap suits came running onto the street. "They're sellin' on my turf without permission! Get em!" - "Damn it! Let's split up for now!"
Eijiro took a fighting stance, but Fat Gum ran forward, placing himself in the center of the road. The thugs were running too fast to stop and ran right into him. All four of them were pressed into Fat Gum's fat and held secure.
"I won't let criminals run free!" the hero cried as he bear-hugged them all.
"Screw you!" One of the thugs went thin like a ribbon and flew up into the air.
Eijiro cursed. He had no way of reaching an airborne target. Fast as a whip, octopus arms neatly snagged the moving target and slammed the thug into the ground. Suneater put a huge chicken foot on the man's back to pin him in place. His movements were confident, powerful, and efficient. It was amazing and so different from the way he held himself usually.
"I didn't need the wings," Amajiki said, deflating from his confident combat posture. He looked embarrassed as the large chicken wings that had grown from his back disappeared.
"It's better to be prepared than taken off guard," Eijiro praised him quickly. "It was good thinking, making them. You never know what you'll need."
Head bowing low, Amajiki said softly, "I wonder… if I did okay…"
Eijiro's heart twisted. How had no one helped Amajiki before now?! "It was amazing!" he enthused. "You were so fast and so good at using your Quirk!"
"Our Suneater's skills have long been as good as a pro's!" Fat Gum called with a huge smile, hearing Eijiro's encouraging shout. Then, turning to the spectating crowd that Eijiro only now noticed, he asked cutely, "Right?"
The crowd roared. It was overwhelming for Eijiro, so he could only imagine what was like for his senpai. He shot a look at Amajiki, wondering how he'd take the screams and cheers of 'Suneater!' - 'You're so cool!' - 'Way to go!'. Eijiro winced. Amajiki had a paralyzed look on his face that simultaneously looked hungry for the praise and terrified of it. Eijrio moved protectively closer.
His head snapped up and caught the flash from the muzzle of a gun. Fat Gum was diving toward them. He wasn't going to make it. Eijiro's skin hardened instinctively, but then Suneater was there, his arms outstretched protectively, throwing himself between Eijiro and the bullet. The teen's body spun around from the impact and dropped to the ground as the crack of a gunshot hit Eijiro's ears.
"SUNEATER!" Eijiro screamed, putting himself between the downed hero and the shooter.
Screams as the crowd scattered in a panic. A second crack. Something hit his forehead hard enough to whip his head back, but it didn't pierce his hardening, instead ricocheting off.
"I'm fine," Amajiki told him, pushing up into a sitting position and holding his arm. "It hurts less than I thought it would."
"You sure?" Eijiro never took his eyes off the shooter. The thug turned and ran. "I'm going after him!" he called and sprinted down the street. "STOP!" he screamed. The guy was fast, but Eijiro's blood was roaring. This bastard had shot Suneater! "I said STOP!"
"Stop chasing me!" the guy yelled back at him.
"Running away scared after shooting someone isn't manly! Stand your ground!" he roared. Putting on a burst of speed, Eijiro careened around the corner into an alley. He grinned a sharp-toothed smile. "A dead end! Prepare yourself!"
The man screamed, clearly terrified. He turned and lunged at Eijiro. Blades flashed out of his forearm. Sparks flew as it hit Eijiro's rock-like skin and slid off. Eijiro landed a solid punch in the thug's face, putting him on the ground hard.
"That wasn't my full power. Come quietly, gun maniac!" Eijiro barked, keeping a defensive posture.
The guy was crying, literally crying, on the alley floor. Eijiro flushed, feeling like a bully. "It's not fair," the guy sobbed. "All I've got is a quirk that lets me pop out blades less than ten centimeters long. That's about as long as a box cutter! It's not fair!"
Eijiro crouched and grabbed his shoulder hard. "Becoming a criminal wasn't the answer." He slipped his arm under the guy and got him on his feet. "Come on. Can you stand?"
"I wanted… to become strong… If I hung out with strong guys, then I could get stronger, too."
"I understand how you feel," Eijiro said, glaring. "But shooting someone isn't cool, man."
The guy's weepy tone shifted to something more dangerous as he shoved Eijiro away. "For a guy who can become a hero to say he understands without thinkin' pisses me off!"
Eijiro watched in horror as the guy stabbed himself in the neck with some kind of syringe and went rigid, screaming. "What did you do?!" Eijiro demanded, trying to restrain him.
Suddenly dozens of blades exploded out of the man's body. They flung Eijiro back, even cracked his hardening, cutting into his stone-like flesh. Holy shit! Eijiro blocked as best as he could, but this was nothing like before! These blades were twenty-thirty feet long! If this guy got near people like this, the street would run with blood.
"Everyone, get back! Go out to the main street! Help is on the way!" he yelled at the people standing in shock around them.
A wave of blades thrust through the air. Eijiro flung his arms in front of his face to block. The blades hit him like a flurry of punches. His arms cracked further and he was shoved several feet backward even with his legs braced.
"You got too full of yourself, huh, kid?" the maniac yelled, laughing. "It's 'cause you're playin' at justice so proudly! My bros said the age of heroes'll crumble soon, you know! They said it'll be the age of those like us that live in the shadows next!"
The blades suddenly retracted into his body in a flash. The thug stood there, clothes shredded, looking up at the sky, posture loose and lopsided. "Man, I feel like I'm on such a high!" He whipped violently forward, facing Eijiro, eyes wide and crazed. "Move, kid. I feel like I could save my bros now! Pierce through all the cops and heroes who touched them!"
The people behind him were screaming and running. If he moved an inch, someone would be killed, so he planted his feet.
— Sitting on a couch in the living room. His friends around him. Fumikage, Hanta, Denki, and Katsuki.
"You guys have mid- to long-range attacks and excellent mobility, right?" Eijiro had said, staring at his hands. "I don't have anything like that." He wasn't pitying himself. He was just being real. "When we become pros, how am I supposed to hold my own?"
Katsuki had given him such a fierce glare that Eijiro had actually leaned away from him. "You don't need fancy moves or long-range attacks, idiot. All Might's fight at Camino… He showed us, didn't he? The person who's still standing at the end is the strongest. And that's what your quirk is. So stop fucking bitching and make sure you're the one fucking standing at the end." —
Harder, Eijiro thought to himself. He pulled on his quirk savagely, forcing it to harden more, to harden deeper, just like he'd practiced. Harder! My body! My spirit! Get HARDER! I have to be the last one standing! I have to be strong! Become a wall that will never fall! Like All Might!
The blades hit him. Sparks flew! For a split second, Eijiro thought it wouldn't be enough. He was going to die. The people behind him would die… Then the blades bent and snapped in half, flying everywhere. The thug screamed in pain but also fear. Eijiro knew what he looked like. Craggy, sharp. His hair and and skin in spikes like jagged rock. Even his eyes were rough rock. His hands were larger and looked like claws. And his mouth… His teeth were sharper, longer, more spaced out. It was the mouth of a monster.
"Red Riot Unbreakable!" Eijiro called in pride and defiance.
"What's that sound?" the thug cried out in fear. "IS THAT YOUR BODY CREAKING?"
It was the sound of rocks grinding and shifting. The sound of a mountain before it falls. He could only hold this for thirty to forty seconds. It was too hard on him, but it was enough to change the tide. It was enough to be the last one standing no matter what.
In a panic, the thug sent a concentrated thrust of blades out toward Eijiro like a drill or a fat spear. Eijiro stood his ground and took the hit. He staggered, but then he began to walk forward. "Don't worry about small tricks," All Might had advised him during training. "Your quirk was meant to bulldoze right through! Overwhelm your enemies!"
Eijiro sensed the weakening of the blades and swung his massive fist around, shattering them, before sending another punch directly into the gut of the thug. It was hard enough to send the man flying off his feet. The thug hit the ground hard, rolled, and didn't get back up again.
Eijiro grinned as his hardening wore off. He was scratched up and bruised, his costume shredded, but the people around him were smiling and praising him. Eijiro rubbed the back of his head and smiled.
He rode the high of victory as Fat Gum arrived and took the thug into custody. They returned to the main street. The cops were putting the other thugs into cars. Eijiro was horrified Amajiki was standing off to the side unattended, but when Eijiro rushed over, the teen refused treatment, insisting it wasn't so bad and he was fine.
"He used a drug to enhance his quirk like that," Fat was explaining. "It's an inferior version made here, probably. The ones from America last a few hours. I work with coppers and catch guys like that all day. Drugs and drug rings are my speciality."
A police officer ran up just then. "Fat! About the gun that guy fired, it's in pieces, but we can tell it's not a normal gun. We also have the bullet that bounced off Red Riot. It has a needle point, so it looks like it's a drug delivery system. We'll investigate it right away and report back."
"Are you sure you're all right?" Eijiro asked as Tamaki slumped a little where he stood. Fat was still talking to the police and hadn't noticed.
"It sucks," Tamaki answered. He lifted his good arm and pulled his hood completely over his face down to his chin. "I can't use my quirk. I'm completely worthless."
Eijiro's eyes widened. "What?! You can't use your quirk?!"
"I made you have to defended me. You got hurt fighting the shooter. I'm sorry."
"I'm fine," Eijiro assured him. "But what about you? And your quirk?"
"Just like Mirio, you're a person who shines brightly, like the sun." Then, softly, the teen said, "You're amazing."
Eijiro reached out to steady him as he swayed. His hand came away slick with blood. "Fat Gum!" he cried.
The hero scooped Amajiki up in his arms. "We're taking you to the hospital. We don't know what that drug's doing to you, and we need the information for the investigation."
Eijiro opened his mouth, enraged that Amajiki's injury wasn't a concern, but Fat caught his eye and shook his head once, sharply. Eijiro bit his tongue, but as soon as they got to the hospital and Amajiki was whisked away, he rounded on the hero.
"He has a thing about hospitals," Fat said quietly. "Absolutely refuses to go to one. I always patch him up at the office. The one time I tried to force him to go, he attacked me. Making it about the case was the only way to get him to come."
Eijiro frowned. "I don't understand. He's an amazing hero! In battle, he was confident and strong. Why isn't anyone helping him with his anxiety?"
Fat looked away awkwardly. "I try to encourage him and look out for him the best I can. What more can I do?"
"He needs counseling. I'm sure he can overcome whatever's holding him back."
Fat Gum shifted on his feet. "That's something Suneater must decide for himself."
Eijiro's eyebrows came down. The hero wasn't wrong, but at the same time, someone who wasn't in the best frame of mind couldn't be expected to make those kinds of clear-headed decisions. Amajiki needed help. He needed a friend. Nodding to himself, Eijiro made the decision to be that friend. As soon as they were back at school, he'd get Amajiki to see Hound Dog. And if that didn't work, he'd get Katsuki to help him. Katsuki always won, after all.
A/n: HI! What do you think?! XD