Welcome to the Chapter 3 Rewrite. I rushed out the last one for a multitude of reasons, but as many pointed out, it was a lot of pointless filler that did nothing for the story. Now that I've decided to take things more seriously, I decided to revamp like, 80% of it to suit my needs.
In addition, I've also made several changes to the previous chapters, but nothing as huge as a total rewrite. After I originally published chapter 3, I went ahead and caught up with the manga, and the new lore they included about All for One basically threw a giant wrench in my story outline. Since I hadn't written more of the story yet though, I decided to simply make some revisions to fit that lore into my story, and totally revamped chapter 3 as a result.
To that end, I've included a small list of changes right here at the top for people who don't want to parse through my inane ramblings to get a gist on how things are going. In order from MOST IMPORTANT to LEAST IMPORTANT, so beyond basic grammar and the clarifying of certain points I originally wrote inadequately, the changes I've made are as follows:
1.) After taking a serious, in-depth look at Overhaul (the Quirk) and Super-Regeneration, I've modified how Izuku heals himself while he escapes from Tartarus. Specifically, he screws it up. He's still healed, but it's not nearly the same perfect fix I originally wrote.
2.) Izuku failed to change his appearance, and still looks like All for One. He's a bit busy learning how to breathe to figure out the intricacies of plastic surgery at the moment.
3.) Izuku has yet to meet Ragdoll. (Don't worry about this too much, it was always my intention for them to run into each other early on in the story, but circumstances would prevent Izuku from giving her back her Quirk or interacting with her much.)
4.) I better expanded on what the duality of Izuku's mind is like in Chapter 1, and how the remains of All for One interact with him. (Specifically, if you don't feel like digging through the revised version of Chapter 1 to find it, Izuku is able to grab All for One's mental remnants and in doing so, alters his personality to be a meld of the Villain's and his own. Izuku recognizes the changes and dislikes parts of it, but decides to continue doing so because All for One's superior mental stability kept him sane in Tartarus and he's afraid to find out what would happen if he reverted back to his 'old self'.)
5.) The Tartarus Guard Izuku interacted with was so mortified by his impromptu chest surgery, that he passed out, and Kai never got his hands returned to him (since I learned Overhaul can't just make new molecules, he only rearranges what exists).
Alright, that should be it, I hope y'all aren't too upset with my revisions and all that, but I wanted to do the story justice while also conforming to the MHA official canon. Rather than just ignore the information that came about from the latest fight, I decided to modify things to fit in. Hope y'all can understand!
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing in the fic below me, and all rights to the characters presented within go to their respective owners.
I'm not All for One, I swear! It's me, Izuku!
C'mon guys, you know me! Okay, I know I'm not exactly the same as before, but…
Eraserhead was tired.
More tired than usual, anyways. Trying to balance being a teacher, watching over a small child with the capability of erasing literally anything she touched from existence by rewinding time itself, and then adding Hero-work into the mix… well let's just say Aizawa had given up carrying his yellow sleeping bag around in favor of buying several copies and planting them at strategic locations he frequented.
While the staff meeting room at UA did indeed hold a sleeping bag he'd stashed away for emergencies, the cabinet where he stored the yellow bundle inside was currently smashed to smithereens, courtesy of one enraged All Might.
Aizawa wished he was back to his skeletal form once more, at least then when he got angry he wouldn't accidentally break anything. The cabinet seemed to be on purpose though. The teacher had been… ragged, for lack of a better term, since the death of his successor.
Initially, Aizawa had simply suspected that the reason All Might seemed to pay special interest to Midoriya was due to the freckled teen being his secret love child, the byproduct of a one-night stand. After the child died in that unfortunate accident and All Might suddenly regained the ability to use his Quirk… things got complicated.
The teacher was all but forced to reveal the truth to UA's staff about One for All due to the development, and Aizawa was… less than pleased at Toshinori's teaching habits. Still, he never yelled at the man, or even brought it up with the rekindled Symbol of Peace, because he mourned for his green-eyed student more than anyone else in the entire school.
Even now he hadn't fully recovered, but he had snapped out of the depressed stupor the man had been trapped inside for a good three months. Apparently, he decided that the best way to honor his student's legacy was to continue being the Symbol of Peace for just a bit longer and locating another successor for the Quirk. He'd apparently considered Mirio for the job, but the perpetually smiling teen refused the offer.
He wanted to accept it, but he feared Eri wouldn't be able to use Rewind on him to restore his lost Quirk if he did. As of right now, All Might still eyed Mirio for the job but both parties were at an impasse. The Symbol of Peace wasn't getting any younger, he couldn't hold onto his Quirk forever. As of now his Hero time-limit was capped at about two hours a day, a noticeable decrease from when he last possessed his Quirk, truly possessed it. Not when he just held onto a slowly emptying pitcher of the power.
The sound of a chair being crushed under the man's currently massive fists snapped Aizawa back into reality, and he subconsciously scooted himself a bit further away from his colleague.
Okay, it was a very conscious decision. He wasn't keen on being near the angry man right now.
The rest of the staff in the room were managing their anger in far more… constructive ways, though Snipe probably shouldn't have been whirling his gun around in the air and pacing back and forth like he did. First rule of firearms was don't point them at anyone you didn't want to shoot.
Hizashi was being Hizashi, practically vibrating within his chair as he rapidly bounced back and forth between multiple tabs on his laptop to read as much news on the incident as he could. Midnight, Cementoss, and Powerloader were all crowded behind the Voice Hero, scanning over whatever it was he had on screen at the time.
Nezu and Vlad King seemed to be the only ones maintaining a semblance of calm, though the Quirked animal had a slight frown on his face and Vlad king was clearly twitchy, ready at any moment for a fight.
To be fair, they were expecting one. As soon as word that Tartarus had fallen reached UA's ears, everyone was set on beyond high-alert, patrolling every square inch of the school's grounds and religiously guarding the dorm rooms.
That was nine hours ago.
The school had finally managed to acquire a decent amount of back-up, and several hired Pro Heroes stood guard outside, relieving the UA staff from their duties so they could finally have a proper meeting to discuss the situation rather than frantically shouting at each other through cell phones and dashing around the campus whenever they suspected something of being slightly unusual. Everyone was tired, both physically and mentally, but this discussion needed to happen. Despite the early morning light shining brightly through the windows of their conference room, everyone there wanted nothing more than to acquire a few hours of sleep.
"I think it's time we began a realistic assessment of the situation at hand." A cutesy yet tired voice rang out, instantly silencing the entire room. Say what you will about Nezu, he knew how to make people shut up. "Personally, I find it highly unlikely tha—"
All eyes turned towards All Might's hulking form, his electric blue eyes staring straight into Nezu's beady black.
The Quirked animal gulped from the sheer intensity of his stare.
The most anyone knew about the incident currently was simply whatever had been reported on the television. All for One had managed to bust out of Tartarus, thanks to the Villain Muscular killing power to the facility itself, shutting down all the defenses that kept the Quirk thief trapped in his chair.
Communications from the complex had been spotty at best, as the inmates had taken time to bust out their fellow prisoners in order to overwhelm the guards. Tartarus was too far away from Mustafu for any of the UA staff to get there in a reasonable amount of time, which meant they were forced to simply watch the aerial helicopter footage of escapee's laying waste to the facility and hoped that the Pro Heroes who arrived on the scene would be able to retake control of the prison.
It seemed like the entire complex had fallen at this point, if the video on Mic's laptop showing inmates trying to fight their way off the bridge that led onto Tartarus's artificial island was any indication. It made many of the Pro's cringe when they witnessed more than a few of the convicts literally fly away from the area with their Quirks and several others simply jumped off the island into the waters below.
Eventually the situation would be resolved, of that UA's staff had no doubt… but they wondered just how many Villains would manage to break free. What would be the cost here? Tartarus held Japan's most dangerous criminals, to be thrown in your Quirk had to have exceptionally destructive potential, or you yourself had to be one of the most unrepentant psychopaths in existence.
The room had quietly held onto the belief that All for One wouldn't survive escaping, as it was common knowledge that the man required a particularly advanced life-support apparatus simply to breathe. He was kept imprisoned by those guns just as much as he was by his horrendous physical health, which was the sole reason he was not kept in a drug induced, semi-comatose state.
No one knew All for One better than All Might though… so his declaration that the man was somehow still alive sent chills down the spines of all present. The hulking figure elaborated on his reasoning when it seemed everyone was waiting for that with baited breath.
"If I know one thing about All for One… he wants to live. He wants to finish what he started. If he wasn't absolutely certain that he could've gotten out of there alive, he wouldn't have taken the chance to escape. He'd have continued waiting for someone to rescue him. The fact that he got away means he found some way to overcome his injuries. I suspect he may have forced some of the medical staff to recreate his helmet." All Might explained solemnly, casting his saddened gaze around the room.
"He may not attack right away… but he's planning something. He's gathering strength. He's either going to head straight back to Shigaraki and regroup, or he's going shopping."
Almost everyone in the room leaned back at the man's declaration, no one more so than Aizawa himself. Shopping? Was All Might actually so exhausted that he couldn't think straight?
"Uh… did you say Japan's most dangerous criminal… is going shopping?" Present Mic incredulously asked, cocking an eyebrow at the man. He shrunk back into his seat when the Symbol of Peace stared right back into his eyes with an expression that conveyed nothing beyond complete and utter seriousness.
"He's going shopping… for Quirks."
The room paled as the implication set in, but none could deny the likelihood. If All for One couldn't get back to Shigaraki instantly, then there was no telling what he'd do along the way as he meandered back towards his protégé. That man didn't care about anyone besides himself and his cruelty knew no bounds.
All Might knew him though. At this very moment in time, he could say with utmost certainty he knew exactly what that man was doing. He'd haunted those who possessed his Quirk since its very inception, so he had an innate understanding of One for All's tormentor.
Right now, at this very second, if he wasn't in the act of murdering someone or taking their Quirk, he was about to do it.
"Yer killin' yerself, man!"
"S'fine…" Izuku managed to mumble around his latest mouthful of blood, choosing to swallow this particular instance. He couldn't help the small smile that came to his lips, thinking about how Ashido would've been all over this situation by now making inappropriate jokes, but he was able to crush down his inability to, once again, forget the damn past.
His smile must've shown teeth (blood red teeth, probably) because Haruki physically recoiled back.
The former greenette attempted to placate his new… whatever Arata was. Quirk receptacle, at least. "It's… it's really a lot better than… better than it looks…" he whispered, struggling to hold back his latest cough.
That statement, at least, wasn't untrue. Izuku was 99% sure the blood was coming from his throat, which, probably thanks to him spreading the already miniscule amount of flesh in that area around like jam on toast, was dangerously thin in certain places. Coughing had the unfortunate side-effect of tearing that thin flesh wide open, whereupon Super-Regeneration would kick in and grow that miniscule amount of tissue right back.
At the very least, the coughing this time was different from the wet, fluid filled hacking that used to be par for the course in Izuku's life. These coughs were barely more than poorly-executed attempts at clearing his throat. Whatever he did to his esophagus, while seemingly functional, made the act of breathing somewhat ticklish. Every damn inhalation made him want to scratch his throat internally which, four times out of five, made his body cough involuntarily.
Cough, tear flesh, spit blood, repeat.
In a stunning display of what Izuku recognized as kindness (stupidity), the homeless man seemed to weigh the value of Izuku's words… and apparently found them wanting because the next thing he knew, his arm found itself slung around the man's dirty shoulders for support, whereupon his now-considerably taller frame was hauled up off the floor of the tent he was still inside. While he protested what Arata was doing, his newfound inability to raise a hand up to brush the white hair out of his face was a solid 'hey, maybe don't fight this'.
That wasn't going to stop him from complaining verbally, though."W-what'er you… hah… d-doing?"
Izuku knew what he was doing.
Life Force, the Quirk he had that kept him alive, came with the sad, sad side effect of limits upon his physical mobility. Running for five minutes to bust out of prison, then standing still and upright for maybe thirty minutes afterwards?
What Izuku didn't even consider a light workout was giving him flashbacks to that day in the park all those years ago where he finally overworked his body so much it just gave out.
Despite all his previous desires and mental declarations of how he was never going to sit down in another chair for the rest of his life once he got out of Tartarus, Izuku honestly wanted nothing more than to just plant his ass on the ground and sit there to focus on his breathing.
"Gettin' youse to a doctor, Mr. All fer-, er, Izuk-, er… uh, Sir," He explained, unzipping his tent flap and almost literally dragging Izuku's dead weight out of the structure. The monumental effort the former greenette was putting into simply planting one foot in front of the other (which even then he occasionally failed to do properly) was so great that Izuku could barely find it in himself to speak.
Still, he'd gotten at least halfway through his story with Arata, so he knew the important bits. Which, apparently, he might need a refresher course on because even if he didn't remember any of Izuku's story, he should've remembered the part where he got a brand new Quirk, courtesy of the only man in the world who could give away Quirks like that.
"Y-you can't… you can't take me to a doc-doctor… I'm… I'm trying to lay… to lay low here…" he complained, attempting to put up a token resistance of halting his movement, only to find the surprisingly strong homeless man supported his body without much issue.
"Youse look like yer about ta' keel over from breathin'. I'm takin ya' to a free clinic, guys there help th' homeless like me out all th' time. I knows you can't exactly get treated at a hospital, so this'll hafta do. Whatever yer goal is, ya' can't accomplish it iffin yer dead."
It seemed he had forgotten their little talk, if he'd already forgotten his sole objective right now was to find Ragdoll and shove her damn Quirk back inside her. The man's logic about being dead not being conducive to his goals notwithstanding, screw him.
"I'm… I-I'll be… be fine…"
His pleas were rendered rather ineffectual by the coughing fit and spray of blood that erupted from his mouth after that declaration, which Arata took in stride, kicking some dirt over the trail of red liquid Izuku was dropping behind him like breadcrumbs.
"Tell that ta' th' doc."
At the very least, it was still night. Er, morning? Whatever, the sun still wasn't quite up, though he could see the beginnings of orange light beginning to filter in over the horizon. Thankfully, the park Izuku and his wheelchair substitute seemed to currently be in was all but abandoned beyond a few other individuals that appeared to be vagrants like Arata, who were still sleeping on various decrepit wooden benches scattered around the place.
"Youse jus' keep me coat wrapped round yer jumpsuit nice n' tight, and no one'll be th' wiser."
Izuku managed to jerk his head in an appropriation of a nod. "J-just… h-how fa-… how far?"
"'Bout fifteen minutes at this pace, Sir. Well, ten, iffin' we 'urry."
That was unacceptable (perfectly reasonable). Just as Izuku was about to launch into yet another verbal tirade against the man, he suddenly picked up the pace. Just to stop himself from falling to the ground (because if he was being honest he wasn't sure he had the strength in him to push himself back off of it for awhile), he was forced to keep up, stumbling along with the man.
This wasn't good. Life Force was always on, and he couldn't turn it off. Running for five minutes out of Tartarus made him feel like he'd been running for five hours, and now at this pace, something just above what would be termed a 'brisk walk', he felt like he was trying to sprint.
Whereas before Izuku was certain if he just had a spot to sit down and relax for a bit he could've gotten his breathing under control, now he easily recognized that the very thing he'd sought to avoid was going to happen.
He couldn't keep up. His lungs were simply not good enough to handle this right now, and he was already pushing past their limits. Belatedly, Izuku realized his rising panic was probably not helping matters as his breathing became ever-more erratic, each breath now coming out as little more than a strangled wheeze.
Hearing this, his companion responded by trying to move even faster.
"Ha… H-haruki, re… r… real… r-really. I'm… I'm fi—"
There it was again. The silence. The judgement. The 'I don't get paid enough for this and you're the one who's paying me' look.
"Really, I'm fine. It just… shocked me." She lifelessly replied, knowing full well how she truly felt on the inside. It wasn't fine. How could it be fine? Nothing about this was okay. But it didn't matter.
She was Quirkless now. Worthless. She was a burden to her former team, and now she was making a burden of herself at the psychiatry office she was 'gently escorted' to after she'd apparently entered a minor catatonic state in her hotel room.
"… Tomoko I find it hard to believe that you're doing fine, considering the state your family found yo—"
"They're not my family." Tomoko interrupted, perhaps sounding a bit harsher than she intended.
Why did everyone always assume they were a family? People always said that, but then when they wanted 'the team' to swing by or make an appearance, they'd be confused when Tomoko showed up with them. Like she was a not-particularly-well-liked step daughter unwillingly dragged to a family dinner to meet people she wasn't related to.
True to her professional nature, the therapist managed not to alter her impassive face at all upon Tomoko's interjection, but she stopped fiddling with the pen in her hand.
Tomoko knew all her tells by now. She had a great poker face, but the rest of her was quite expressive. Her foot bounced up and down upon the floor when she felt tired. She'd hiccup and literal bubbles would pop out of her mouth when she got scared. She was constantly spinning around a pen in her off-hand, so if it stopped twirling, that meant she was startled, or disappointed.
That's all anyone seemed to be with Tomoko nowadays. She didn't want to be here. Someone else who needed this type of help should be in her place, all she did was waste space now.
"Tomoko, Tartarus prison right off the coast of the Chiba prefecture, surely having… that man break out so close to your current location was alarming. Something like that is a perfectly reasonable cause for emotional distress." The therapist 'explained', using that same condescending tone of voice.
Tomoko hated those angular, old lady glasses she had on her face, they seemed to only serve the purpose of sliding down off her nose whenever she spoke, forcing the woman to constantly push them back up. It gave her that 'holier than thou' aura that made her very skin crawl whenever she tried to 'level' with the former Pro.
"I'm fine. There's no reason he'd come and attack me, I've got nothing he wants anymore. So why would I be worried?" she drawled, undaunted by the woman's 'reasoning'.
There it was. Tomoko admitted to gaining a small amount of satisfaction whenever she succeeded in doing it, making the therapist frown. It was quite rare, she was good with that poker-face, but sometimes Tomoko could upset the stoic woman.
It was the little victories that counted.
She knew the truth of what happened to Tomoko, but she didn't understand. Couldn't feel that soul-wrenching, mind-numbing pain of having a Quirk ripped out of your unwilling body. Quirks are like muscles, and having it forcibly removed was like someone reached inside her body and ripped out a few organs. Her fingers were numb for weeks after 'The Incident'.
What a funny thing to call the worst event that could possibly happen to someone. Trying to minimize what it actually was.
A low buzzing noise echoed round the room, the source emanating from the woman's pocket. Finally. Time was up for the emergency session. Why did she have to come for this garbage? She was paying extra to do something she didn't even want to do.
Oh right, Shino and Yawara all but forced her, while Ryuko had gone back to their shared apartment to feed her cats while she recovered.
Tomoko hated that too. A shared apartment.
It was hers, damnit. Ryuko basically lived there now to 'watch out for her sis'. All that meant was she interrupted Tomoko's quiet time, forced her to watch random garbage she never actually wanted to see in the first place, ate all her candy, and even sometimes brought guys back to her apartment after a date.
It was HER apartment!
Why couldn't she take her latest fling to her own damn apartment, it wasn't even that far away from hers, maybe a block or two.
'Your apartment's so nice though Tomo! C'mon~, you know it's far too big for one person. I'm just filling it up!'
Ryuko never could seem to understand that perhaps she was okay with her admittedly large apartment being empty, she wasn't trying to fill her life with someone else right now.
She tried that a few months back, it didn't work. Sure, it was kinda fun to just let loose and give into her impulses, but after the third girl and fifth guy passed through her bedroom… she just started feeling lonely. No one stuck around in the morning or asked for a second date. Not that the bar's she frequented really counted as a first date but still…
Admittedly, this was Tomoko's own fault. She never asked for anything further and considering they were all one-night stands, she didn't expect her partners to do so either. Perhaps that was why it hurt so much though, she couldn't even impress them enough that they'd want to ask for more.
She was sexy, damnit! Ryuko didn't get to have the monopoly on dating! How come she got chased after all the time while Tomoko didn't?
It was probably because Ryuko was a shameless flirt 24/7, while Tomoko only engaged in the act when she felt like it. Plus, she didn't blatantly ogle anyone who so much as glanced in her general direction. She introduced herself, gave off a sweet smile, made sure they were single, and then shamelessly ogled them.
Professionals have standards.
Ugh, maybe she should get a roommate. An actual one. That'd give her an excuse to kick out Ryuko, at least. She couldn't bring herself to just tell her former teammate off like she wanted to, so a roommate would give her a plausible excuse to kick the woman to the curb. She was getting fed up with her antics at this point. Even if they were fun at first.
Tomoko was snapped out of her introspection with a sigh from the therapist, who's brow was furrowed at some message she was reading on her phone.
Odd. She rarely showed any emotion, that poker face was great. What could the message say that shook the impressive foundations of emotional callousness the woman had erected?
Strangely, the therapist turned the device around and held the screen up to Tomoko's vision, a government alert plastered on the screen.
It contained a lot of legal jargon and other such nonsense designed to dance around the issue at hand in as many words as physically possible, but basically, it boiled down to a pre-evacuation warning. Tartarus wasn't holding up well, and while she wasn't currently apprised of the situation, just looking at the news footage from a few hours prior was proof enough that they weren't holding the ground.
Considering the complex was built outside this prefecture, well… assuming they couldn't defend the bridge connecting the artificial island to the mainland, this city would be one of the first stops all those Villains came across.
Basically, pack your bags and maybe consider the idea of leaving on the off chance they had to order it anyways.
The therapist tried to scroll up with her thumb to hide the little snippet of text at the bottom of the screen, but Tomoko had, by sheer chance, started reading from the bottom when she first saw the page.
There was a manhunt out for All for One.
Her jaw tightened at the mere mention of his name, but she was in far more control of her emotions than she was last night. Honestly, her little attack was mostly caused by the sheer... shock she felt that a man with such terrible injuries could escape that complex.
Now that she was slightly more level-headed however, objective thinking had returned to her. From what she recalled of the man, he was injured even further than he was previously after his last (previously final) fight with All Might, and his life-support needs had increased evermore.
Since he broke out, he either took his life support with him, which seemed unlikely since it was probably bolted into Tartarus' floors, or he managed to crawl away before his wounds got the best of him. If that Warper Kurogiri had escaped too, she would've had cause for concern, which, while it was still a very real possibility, she assumed that if the complex was able to report the escape of All for One, they would've mentioned that Kurogiri facilitated it if the warper was involved.
As such, it seemed likely he probably made a smash and dash out of the building, with the intent on figuring out things as he went.
The thought brought a small smile to her face. There was no way he'd be able to survive without advanced life support with those injuries of his for long, so even if he did escape, he very well could just be dead on the ground right now, somewhere no one would ever find the body.
"Jesus Christ Haruki, where'd you find him?"
"Oi! Less chatter, we need to get fluids into him right away. Oxygen! We need that too, guy can't seem to breathe. Hey! You with us?"
A pair of fingers snapped in front of Izuku's vision, and, with quite literally monumental effort, the former greenette swatted the offending hand away from his vision. He wanted to reply. He wanted to tell these people to go away and leave him in peace for a few hours, but the walk-turned run to this clinic or whatever had drained Izuku's remaining dreg's of stamina.
His breathing had reverted back to it's levels at Tartarus, each inhalation equitable to inhaling molten magma, and despite the fact that the action caused incredible pain his body refused to cease performing the operation even when it provided very little tangible benefit.
Labored wheezing had at some point transformed into strangled gasps, but at this point Izuku couldn't muster enough brainpower to activate a Quirk. He was completely ready and willing to rip his lungs out and take the chance that Super-Regeneration might heal them, because the alternative was death and he was already knocking on that particular door yet again. But he couldn't concentrate enough to activate that stupid Quirk, and instead he just kept inefficiently smashing his palms against his chest.
"We need to call an ambulance, get this guy to an actual hospital. We're not equipped for this, he needs surgery! Okatani! Call th—"
"Uh-uh, no can do. He can't go there, jus' trust me on that."
"What do you— i-is that a Tartarus Jumpsuit?! Haruki, what the HELL did yo—"
"Guys?! Pulse is getting weaker here, we need to stabilize him before it's too late!"
"We can't treat him, he's from—"
"Y'all be greatly rewarded fer helpin' him out, take 'me word fer it. 'Specially youse, Okatani. He can getchya whatchu want."
"Christ, he's bribed the homeless guy… Someone get Haruki out of… h-here…"
Izuku wasn't entirely sure what was going on as the black spots swimming around his vision continuously obscured his sightline, but the room he was in seemed to suddenly get several degrees warmer.
"T-that's not possible! You're Quirkless!"
"Formerly. An' youse can be too, Tanaka, iffin' ya 'elp 'im out."
"What about yer kid, Okatani? Six years old an' no Quirk, right? That's not the life ya' want for 'er, is it?"
"Less bickering, more oxygen people! Get me that damn mask, NOW!"
As Izuku finally faded from consciousness, the last thing he felt was something plastic being slid over his mouth and, just for a moment, it almost felt like he could breathe again.
The last time Izuku ended up here, he was filled with trepidation, but managed to remain calm. After all, he was surrounded by people he genuinely came to consider to be the greatest Heroes of all time.
Now though, he was filled with no small amount of terror.
First, he didn't have One for All anymore. This blackened mindscape or whatever it was should not be a place Izuku was able to visit, and considering he'd fallen asleep/lost consciousness in Tartarus and never ended up here, the timing was rather suspect.
Second, whenever he ended up here, he always found himself surrounded by this… this veil of darkness that prevented him from talking or even moving, which was now suspiciously absent… for the most part.
Oh that veil of immovable darkness was still here, but it wasn't wrapped around him for once. No, it was coalescing around the one person he honestly wished he'd never have to see nor hear from ever again.
"MMNGGFH! MM! MRRNGGH!"
It seemed the feeling was mutual!
Izuku was slightly thankful that the shadow cloak ensnared the former mob boss, because it meant the man couldn't hurl insults or death threats at Izuku anymore. Plus, it meant he wouldn't have to respond to him. He didn't exactly trust his own voice right now.
Just by glancing down at his hands, he could tell exactly why Chisaki seemed so furious (being trapped inside a shroud of shadow notwithstanding). His hands were… old. Specifically, they were the hands from his old body. Slightly crooked fingers, a bent, uneven right hand, and a series of scars trailing up and down his arm.
Thankfully, the chronic pain sometimes brought by his mangled ligaments wasn't present.
Based on his arm though, it was safe to assume that the rest of Izuku's body was back to its original state, which really added more credence to the idea that this body was constructed from his own mental self-image. If so, he could, theoretically, manipulate this form to look however he wanted.
Sadly, he was a little more freaked out by the implications of everything around him to put that theory to the test.
Chisaki was here, in this weird One for All-like mindscape, and beyond Izuku, there was absolutely no one here. Just as in One for All, nothing but a densely fogged, blacked void surrounded the pair, and beyond Overhaul's muffled screaming and writhing, the place was deathly silent.
In the back of his mind, Izuku was pleased. That theory he had about all his current Quirks being carbon copies of the originals seemed all-the-more plausible given this situation, but at the same time, another part of him was mortified.
This was all but definitive proof that Quirks contained, at least, an imprint of the original user's personality and at most, their very soul.
For his own selfish goals, Izuku stole a fragment of Chisaki's soul, and now that part of the man was trapped forever, here with Izuku.
He wanted to hurt Chisaki, yes, but… not like this! Isolation was horrendous! He barely got out of Tartarus with (most of) his sanity in tact, and part of that was because he could occasionally interact with other humans, even if they did torture and despise him.
Here… there was literally nothing.
"Uh… l-long time n-no see?" Izuku stuttered out, wincing at how… emhimself/em he was acting. Hell, he was even hunching in on himself and nervously wringing his hands again!
Where the hell was his All for One-ness when he needed it?!
"R-right… y-you just uhh… s-stay there, and I'll… see you never?" He stammered, quickly turning on his heel and dashing off into the misty darkness, hoping beyond hope Chisaki wouldn't like… warp around and follow him. As he ran, the fact that Izuku couldn't shake the feeling of someone staring at him from far, far away in the mists didn't exactly help ease that fear.
He… needed time to process all this.
Assuming he didn't die on the spot of wherever Haruki managed to drag him to… there was a new roadblock he'd have to overcome.
Instinctively, Izuku knew one couldn't just store a Quirk in a freezer to use at a later date. If a Quirk was taken out of someone through artificial means…
"I-it'd have to be stored eminside/em a living person!" Midoriya surmised, snapping his fingers. Then… another thought entered his mind.
The sprinting greenette skidded to a stop, red shoes kicking up misty darkness as he slowed.
"I don't have Search… I… I have a copy of it… but I emdo/em have Overhaul's Quirk, and a piece of his soul…"
It suddenly hit him like a truck.
"A piece of Ragdoll's soul is trapped… n-not to mention h-hundreds of other people!"
Midoriya couldn't help his heart rate from accelerating a bit, partially from the realization that emsomewhere,/em Ragdoll, or at least a part of her, was dealing with the same thing Chisaki was right now. Stuck in a darked void for eternity, totally restrained and immobile.
The other thing that made his heart race was the still-present sensation of being watched. The absolute emworst/em thing about it was that he didn't even feel it all around him. He had the distinct impression that somewhere far off in the distance, specifically to the northeast… there was something standing totally still, unblinking, and entirely focused on him.
It wasn't a good feeling.
Midoriya again dashed off into the darkness, hoping he could escape the invisible gaze of whatever lurked in the distance.
Even as he did so… he planned.
He couldn't just leave things like that. He couldn't just… abandon all those trapped souls to remain stuck in whatever biological monstrosity of a storage container Doctor Garaki created to house All for One's Quirk, or worse, inside Tomura.
"I'll emhuff/em s-save you Ragdoll… emhuff/em I-I'll save you all…"
He wasn't a Hero. He couldn't be a Hero.
But Midoriya couldn't ignore someone in need, either.
Arata Haruki was the kind of man who rolled with the punches.
Specifically, when he got punched, he'd roll over and take it because what exactly was he supposed to do about it?
He wasn't too keen on getting sent to prison, like many of the younger Quirkless generation seemed to be doing. When he was growing up, being Quirkless was simply uncommon, not a rarity. Nowadays, being born Quirkless was all but considered a disease. He lost his job at the company he'd invested 30 years of his life into after some new, hot-shot CEO took over, and started systematically purging anyone who didn't have a Quirk from his offices.
Technically, that claim was never proven in a court of law and Haruki was forbidden from voicing his opinions on the man or the matter thanks to the agreement he was forced to sign when his lawsuit was settled out of court, but in the privacy of his own mind, he was certainly allowed to think it.
His fear of prison had lessened over the years though, and he was starting to see why many of the younger Quirkless population had largely turned into criminals or killed themselves. People didn't want to hire Quirkless people, and often this led to such individuals being unable to pay for basic necessities. As such, they turned to thievery to survive.
Surprise surprise, when cops have the ability to track you down by your scent alone (damn Quirks), and you couldn't fight back effectively, you'd end up getting caught. You'd get fines mostly, because hey, you don't have a Quirk, that means nobody particularly saw you as a threat to society so who cares, which they'd be unable to pay off.
Said people would commit more crimes to try and pay off the debts, get caught again, rack up more debt, and then, eventually, they'd be thrown in jail for failing to pay the city all the fine's they'd accrued. Such individuals would spend the next five years or so in federal prisons being used as low-tier laborers to perform meager tasks so they could work off their debts, they'd get released back into society, and the cycle would repeat.
Such was life.
Homeless for the past eight years, Haruki had to admit… thievery had become necessary for him to survive. Apples at the farmers markets, sometimes simple sandwiches at the convenience store when the dumpsters he dove through didn't have enough (or any) food for him to subsist on, etc.
Recently, he'd honestly considered mugging someone, and not for the reasons one might expect. No, he wanted to be caught for the mugging, as that was serious enough to potentially get him thrown in prison.
Prison had heating. Prison had free healthcare. Prison was a roof over your head and three square meals a day.
For a seventy-three year old Quirkless man with no family, no job, and no life prospects, and a mildly concerning pain in his stomach that had increasingly grown worse and worse over the past several months … prison almost sounded like a dream come true.
Staring down at his hands, Haruki tugged on that new sensation inside his body and watched in awe as his hands, plain as can be, covered in torn calluses and wrinkles, started to glow whitish-red, the air directly above them shimmering as the temperature distorted it.
Just as quickly as the color bloomed, so too did the heat flare to life. It was like opening an oven and feeling the heat rush out and blast you in the face, but coming from his own damn hands.
He had a Quirk. Hot Hands, he was told to call it.
It… it was his.
He owned nothing but the clothes on his back and that tent (which he may or may not have stolen, so owning that may or may not be a technicality).
Now, he had the one thing he'd wished for ever since he was a kid, and no one would take it from him. Really, there was only one person who could take it from him, and as such, he was going to do everything in his power to stay on said man's good side.
He wanted him to buy some bullshit story about being a nineteen year old kid from UA? Fine, whatever. He got it. Plausible deniability and all that.
(Actually, he didn't get it at all. Maybe this was a test of some kind?)
Really, he didn't care.
All for One (Izuku, now) wanted to find Ragdoll so he can give back the Quirk he stole a while ago? Sure, why not? He could've said he wanted Haruki to melt the doors off ATM's so he could snag the cash inside (wasn't that a million dollar idea?) and he would've gone along with it. Short of killing someone, he probably would've agreed to anything.
Just fulfilling expectations would never be enough, however. Arata had climbed the corporate ladder before, and was doing it rather successfully before said ladder was kicked over. If you wanted to get ahead, you didn't just do as you were asked. You went beyond, Plus Ultra, and stayed ahead of the game.
Thus, he'd spent nearly two full days doing his level best to calm the staff of the free clinic he occasionally went to for assistance, using every ounce of his skills as a former salesman to make All for One as palatable as possible.
For some, it wasn't too difficult. One of the nurses here happened to be Quirkless, and readily assisted Haruki in advocating for the escaped Villain not five minutes after he promised him a Quirk.
Hopefully, All for One would be willing to provide on said promise (and not be bothered by the fact that Haruki offered the man's Quirks to others without consulting him first).
Another staffer had a Quirkless daughter, they too fell in line rather fast, and several other staffers owned rather useless Quirks that weren't particularly great in the grand scheme of things, like the lead doctor who had a slightly enhanced sense of smell, the receptionist with graphite fingernails, and another nurse with the unfortunate ability to shatter the bones in her hands on command and reform them into claw-like structures which pierced through her skin.
Sadly, said Quirk didn't come with any ability to numb pain, nor could she revert the claws back to their previous functional structure. She'd apparently used the ability a grand total of four times in her life, three when she was still a child and hoped to get a handle on it, and once to defend herself from a mugger.
It took a bit of prodding, but after being promised a Quirk that'd make her own power actually viable, she'd reluctantly acquiesced to Arata's demands.
One, don't send All for One to a hospital. They were to treat him here, with whatever they had on hand. Two, don't call the damn cops, and shut up about his presence. Three, Arata stayed by his side at all times.
Haruki didn't particularly want to be by the man's side 24/7, but they weren't sure when he'd wake up. Thanks to a nurse incorrectly inserting an IV needle and having to reposition it, they'd learned firsthand about his Rapid Regeneration Quirk. Surgery wasn't going to be an option for them, since they couldn't combat that power.
Thus, they'd been forced to simply provide the man with various nutrients and fluids, as well as supplementary oxygen. It'd taken a bit of trial and error to figure it out, but the man's lungs simply weren't up to snuff. They… tentatively functioned without assistance, but their ability to take in air seemed severely compromised. The extra oxygen definitely eased his burden, which would have to be enough.
His throat was messed up somethin' fierce, but was healing on its own. He'd simply need to allow it to rest, and, considering his unconscious state, was performing that task quite admirably. Without his near-constant coughing fits, the tissue in his esophagus would apparently sort itself out.
Whatever his mobility issue was, the doctor couldn't discover. His muscles were apparently 'stiffer than a corpse's', and there was no apparent reason why. It was obviously a Quirk, but Quirks were generally helpful. This seemed more like a massive hindrance than anything else, so everyone was quite stumped. Perhaps when Izuku woke up, he could provide the answers they needed to properly assist him.
Still though, that was why Haruki insisted on staying by the man's side.
While he didn't hold it against All for One considering the state he was in and how awful his injuries seemed to be, he really needed a better cover story than… that thing the Villain attempted to feed him.
As such, the former salesman took it upon himself to craft a far superior story, and told the hospital staff his own version of events to make the man seem less threatening. Now though, he had to stick around to appraise Izuku of the new story he'd crafted, less the man's ignorance come back to bite him.
His knowledge on the Villain was limited to his firsthand experience with the man in his clearly delusional state right after escaping Tartarus, and the very restricted snippets of information the media and police released on him following his defeat at the Kamino Ward. It was entirely possible All for One would wake up, discover he was no longer in critical condition, and murder all the witnesses around to cover his tracks.
Haruki appreciated the people at the free clinic, as they'd assisted him numerous times and were generally polite and courteous to him. The man figured if he was able to convince All for One that the staff wouldn't be a threat or a liability to him, he'd deem it unnecessary to kill them. Despite not knowing his character well, Arata held no illusions about the man he'd thrown his lot in with.
Anyone brutal enough to be considered All Might's archenemy was not someone to be trifled with.
He was still trying to get used to that as well, the eggshells everyone in the clinic seemed to be walking on around him.
As far as they were concerned, Arata had been appointed All for One's official unofficial right hand man, which meant people seemed to dance around him with a healthy air of cautious worry. It didn't help that Haruki never corrected these assumptions, but the free food they'd been providing him with, as well as a cot for him to rest upon were benefits he wasn't willing to pass up.
The homeless man nodded and cast his weary gaze towards the newcomer, Tanaka. The Quirkless nurse.
"Y-you uh… m-might wanna come see this. One of his old allies is… er… well, they're in the news."
Arata managed to keep his face calm and nodded appreciatively, slowly removing his heavy-set frame from the plastic chair he'd parked himself in next to the stretcher Izuku had been lying unconscious upon since his arrival.
Even while he followed Tanaka to the staff break room, which had recently become more like a debate hall/war room considering how often the clinic's members seemed to congregate inside it for shouting matches on the morality of what they were doing, his mind was racing for excuses.
If Tanaka was able to say with certainty that 'All for One's allies' were in the news, they likely presented themselves as such. If they were doing that, it meant they were trying to contact him. Whatever they were offering the man was likely far superior to the rag-tag group Haruki cobbled together through blatant lies.
His current web of support was about as structurally sound as a house of cards.
As soon as the man learned his old group mates were trying to find him, everyone's lives here, including his own, would be tossed in limbo.
As the flimsy plastic break room door was pushed aside, the ancient tube television that sat upon the snack counter was in the middle of showing a video broadcast from Japan's Hero News Network. While he couldn't remember the man's name since it'd been so long since he last heard it, he definitely recognized the Villain in the video.
Grey, greasy hair, lanky body, tall yet perpetually hunched over, and covered in disembodied, mummified hands.
"—et Kurogiri! He'll know where to go! I can't say more, the damn doctor turned on us Sensei, he turned! But we can still fix this! Kurogiri knows my private hideouts, get him, and you can get to me! We can win! I know you're still out there, t-that you're still alive! Nothing can keep you down!"
The video feed cut as one of the nurses, Akiko, a fiery redhead, clicked it off with the remote, haphazardly tossing the device onto the counter afterwards and crossing her arms. With a peeved expression upon her face, she turned around and faced Haruki with no small amount of contempt.
"Can't you all emsee?/em This is what happens when we ally ourselves with a emVillain!/em" she practically screeched. "How many people have to die before we do the right thing?! If he was back in prison, that madman wouldn't be searching for him like this!"
Haruki had to admit, one of the perks of his ungroomed facial hair was its ability to conceal his features. The frown upon his face would undoubtedly be very pronounced, otherwise. This wasn't part of the plan!
"C'mon now. This… this isn't 'is fault. We can't 'old 'im responsible for 'is old faults, he's a new man." he raised his hands in a placating manner.
It looked like the Quirkless nurse, Tanaka, was about to voice her support for Haruki's claim, but was cut off by Akiko's much louder exclamation of, "BULLSHIT!"
"I don't care if he got his personality swapped! That doesn't excuse the… the… the emwhatever/em he's done! He's emAll Might's/em archenemy! He belongs in prison!"
The head doctor, Odashi, wasn't what many people would think of when the word 'doctor' came to mind. While he was garbed in the traditional white coat many doctors wore, his large, rotund body and wavy, neck length hair that seemed particularly unkempt didn't exactly scream 'professional'. The impressive neckbeard he was starting to sport didn't help his image either, but that was more the fault of the situation everyone found themselves in rather than a conscious choice on his part. Since nobody had actually ,emleft/em the clinic since All for One's arrival, everyone had been forced to rely on the amenities already stocked within to support themselves.
Shaving razors was one of the many things they did not have here; and everyone was getting tired of vending machine sandwiches at this point.
"Haruki…" the doctor mumbled, idly scratching his spiky chin and attracting the attention of everyone in the breakroom, "even if he is a totally different man… he's emstill/em dangerous. Not just to everyone else, but to himself. Power… it corrupts."
Again, Haruki didn't exactly have an argument against their points. What he did have however, was petty bribery.
"Doc, be thinkin' 'bout this. You 'ave a chance 'ere ta be somethin' emgreat./em 'Ow many times 'ave youse tried ta' apply somewhere else? Ta' some big name hospital wif' a nice paycheck, only ta' be rejected since ya' don't got no healin' Quirk? 'Ah know it's more n' once."
Much to Akiko's anger, the doctor looked away from Arata's gaze, unable to refute the claim.
"All fer One can 'elp youse out. Can 'elp emall/em of us out."
"Yeah! C'mon Akiko, don't… don't throw this chance away. I don't wanna be Quirkless if I don't have to. I mean, you even had your daughter brought here! What's with the change of heart all of a sudden?" Tanaka chimed in with his unique brand of support, flinching back when Akiko turned her seething glare upon him.
"I had my daughter 'brought' here because I can't just say 'hey sis, mind watching my kid for a awhile so I can live in the clinic for a bit? Yeah, my coworkers are threatening me with their new, cult-like behavior and I'm not entirely sure I'd be allowed to leave the building with my life'." She spat, glaring at anyone who dared to meet her gaze.
Shima, the blonde receptionist with a round face and utterly plain features, meekly piped up from her spot in the corner of the breakroom.
"A-akiko… w-we wouldn't have—"
"Save it," the redhead cut her off with a wave of her hand, "I saw what you were doing with your fingers. You were getting ready to use your Quirk on me when I tried to walk out that door, weren't you?" she accused, causing the blonde to look away in shame.
"I-it… I wasn't… not emintentionally,/em Akiko… I just felt… s-scared, y'know?"
"No. I don't 'know'. I get that being Quirkless isn't emgreat,/em and all that, but that doesn't mean we can just… discard our morals at the drop of a hat! I'd do almost anything to give my daughter a quirk, but… not like this. For god's sake people, he doesn't emmake/em Quirks, he steals them! Whatever Quirk you get out of this deal with the devil belonged to someone else before he strongstole/strong it!" Akiko screeched, tugging her crimson locks in frustration.
Haruki found himself clenching his fists in frustration. Again, he didn't really have a counterargument. She was right on all accounts, and while years of thievery to survive had loosened his own morals enough that he couldn't care less about the fact that Hot Hands was once someone else's Quirk, that didn't mean everyone else was as morally flexible.
Nor should they be, to be honest. Arata was still healthy enough to recognize his mindset wasn't a good one.
Before the homeless man could throw out another cookie cutter whataboutism into the argument… he realized something.
"Uh… Akiko?" Arata questioned, drawing the woman's baleful glare to himself, "'Ah know we ain't exactly n' agreement… but even I can admit it'd prob'ly be a good idea ta' keep yer daughter nearby, yeah? Where'd yer tyke run off'ta?"
Hateful eyes instantly shrank to pinpricks, her neck snapping over to Shima so fast he heard something crack. Slowly, every pair of eyes followed her gaze and soon the poor receptionist was sweating buckets under the newfound scrutiny.
"S-she said she was going t-to the bathroom…"
"How long ago…?" Odashi hesitantly asked, already slowly rising from his chair.
"U-uhm…" she murmured, quickly glancing at the wall clock hanging in the corner of the room.
Haruki turned on his heel and started making his way out of the room, intent on getting to All for One's side before a curious little girl woke the man up early and got on his bad side. As soon as he opened the staff room's door though…
"O-oh. Hi, Mister Haruki!"
Akiko's daughter, a pinkette with noticeably non-japanese features, which, considering her american heritage that wasn't really a surprise, still managed to speak the language perfectly. Despite being confined to the clinic for the past two days with her mother, she was still garbed in her school's uniform.
Apparently she just liked it.
Haruki stepped to the side and allowed the girl to reach her mother, who noticeably calmed down upon seeing her daughter's face. The redhead scooped up the pinkette and hugged her tightly, though she did manage to continue glaring at Shima over her daughter's shoulder.
The little girl craned her neck around, staring at Haruki from her perch in her mother's arms.
"Your friend's weird, Mr. Haruki."
Instantly, everybody in the room tensed, no one more so than Akiko, making her tighten the already vice-like grip she had upon the girl.
"Aeh.. mom? You're hurting me…" she squirmed, trying and failing to escape Akiko's grasp.
"Honey…" Akiko began, voice dangerously low, "Which friend of Haruki's are you referring too…?"
The pinketee didn't bother trying to speak, only meekly pointing at the door behind Haruki while still furiously struggling to escape.
While he didn't exactly emthink/em he was in danger… the sight of every single person he was in the room with looking at the door, gasping, then scooting/stepping as far back as physically possible from something he himself couldn't see… well, it was particularly unnerving.
Slowly, the scraggly man turned around and came face to face with the sight he entirely expected to see, but hoped he wouldn't.
All for One.
Standing in the hallway, holding the door open with one hand, and tugging the ventilator they'd hooked the man up to behind him with the other. He was still wearing the outfit they'd slid him into, a pair of grey sweatpants and matching slippers, though he still wore no shirt.
His emerald green eyes scanned the room curiously, and though his expression was hard to determine thanks to the plastic mask covering the lower half of his mouth, his brow was furrowed in confusion.
"Uh… hi?" All for One announced, holding up a hand in greeting. "I've heard some people around here need a new Quirk?"
"Yes… yesyesyesyesyes! See?! I told you the news would broadcast it, I told you! Those vultures can't resist the chance to up their damn ratings!"
Silence greeted his declaration. Still, that was nothing new, so Shigaraki continued unabated.
"He'll be back, he'll get Kurogiri, and he'll fix me! I'll be whole again! I'll be normal! Things can go back to the way they used to be!"
This time, it annoyed Shigaraki. What was the point of all this, if they didn't respond? Things were going well, for once! If anyone could solve their problems, it was Sensei! He'd get things back on track, the now-fractured group could overcome their differences, and they could go about dismantling Hero Society once more!
With a frustrated growl, the man turned to look at his 'comrades', he so graciously provided protection for, and glared at them from behind his father's hand. Things had been going well, once! Sure, they may have hit a rough patch a year and a half back, but now that the solution presented itself, why stay mad?
"I don't get you… you ungrateful bastards… why? Can't you see our losing streak is over now?"
He received five glares in return.
"Don't give me those looks," he complained, reaching up to scratch that ever-present itch upon his neck, only for his fingers to bounce off the plastic brace he wore nowadays. Annoyed yet again that he couldn't provide himself with any relief, he continued to rant, "We've been over this! It's too dangerous for us topside, we've gotta stay down here, where it's safe! But, but, BUT! Now that Sensei's out, he can fix me, and we can run free again!"
Yet more silence.
Growling, Shigaraki reached into his pocket and pulled out the remote, slapping his thumb across the big red button at the bottom.
Simultaneously, five cries of pain rang out across the video feeds he had set up, one for each of his League's members. All of their bodies convulsed as electricity arced through their bodies, and continued to do so for the five long seconds Tomura kept his thumb pressed down on the button.
By the time he finished, all his comrades looked worn out, ragged, and utterly defeated. A sixth screen suddenly flashed with life, and a particularly haggard looking Twice, sans mask, popped up on screen.
"What?" the man practically spat, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
Shigaraki matched his expression, holding up the remote to his camera and hovering his thumb threateningly over a small, yellow-colored button with the words 'Himiko Toga' messily scrawled beside it.
Just from that action alone, Twice's eyes widened and he immediately schooled his expression into something more appropriate.
Despite his irreplaceable importance, Twice was quite the pain in Tomura's side nowadays. It was almost like a reverse Kurogiri, in some instances. Invaluable in the long run, but unlike Kurogiri, horrendously disrespectful and borderline insubordinate.
He missed the misty bartender. Blackmail wasn't necessary to keep him in line, he was created for the express purpose of listening to Shigaraki, so really, he didn't need to do anything in that regard.
For Twice, well… he had Toga.
"Nothing, nothing. Just a misclick." the hand-covered Villain replied, waving off his underlings incredulous look.
"A… misclick?" he ground out, his voice on the edge of transforming into a shout.
Shigaraki nodded. "Still, since you're here, any word from Giran?"
The man's eyes shifted to the right, momentarily sparing the ragged-looking information broker on one of Shigaraki's screens a passing glance, but immediately redirected his attention back to Tomura.
"… no," he replied after a moment, "No word from Compress or Spinner either, but both are still prowling around," The man paused for a moment, obviously pained, but eventually straightened himself back up and managed to speak. "There's uh, n-no word from… Toga either, she uh, h-hasn't had luck getting past the Tartarus Villains' bridge blockade."
The second he finished speaking, Tomura slammed his thumb down on the yellow button. Himiko's haggard, feminine screams sounded through the video call, and Twice clearly struggled not to cry out alongside her.
While it was difficult, Tomura could faintly hear the man's phone vibrating in the background of his video feed, the one he'd hooked up to Toga's collar. It was quite amusing to buzz the man by literally buzzing Toga herself.
He originally had Twice's phone number, but after a while the man decided to be petty and kept letting Shigaraki go to voicemail. The second he hooked his phone up to Toga's collar though, his response time markedly increased.
"Make her again, and tell her to get it right. Sensei's alive, but he might be in trouble. Without Kurogiri, he won't be able to move around much. We need people inside the prison. Tell Compress and Spinner to search harder too, I don't give a shit what they have to do, just find Sensei!"
Before the man could reply, Shigaraki cut off his camera feed and turned his attention back to the other League members.
Toga's cat-like eyes stared at him through the video screen with unadulterated hatred, her hair frazzled, unkempt, and wild. It'd nearly grown down to her waist since it'd been so long since she last had it cut.
His other comrades were in similar states sans Spinner, who's purple hair was actually the result of a cosmetic surgery he underwent, and was more akin to an implanted wig than actual hair. All of them glared at Tomura like he was some kind of freak, even though he was saving their damn skins.
They'd understand eventually.
It was just… safer this way! Why bother going outside to do things, when they had Twice on their side? It was far safer to just send a clone out to perform the tasks, since those were disposable and easily recreatable.
Except, of course, himself.
While he had no doubt Jin would recreate him since he held the codes to his friend's cells, he didn't want to risk it. It wasn't fun being recreated, knowing that the original version of you was dead.
Soon though, Sensei would be back.
The Meta Liberation Army may have gotten in a lucky hit and killed him, but he survived that. Once Sensei returned, he'd be able to help. He'd have a Quirk of some kind to fix this, know a doctor who could help him, or had some method of getting Shigaraki back to normal.
Until then, he was safe down here. So were his allies.
Everything he did now was for his own safety, as well as their own. For him, he had this room built. No sharp edges, padded and soft surfaces all around, and absolutely everything was designed to be as safe as possible. Even if it was torture, he kept that plastic collar around his neck to stop his fingers from scratching at his flesh, since that could, and had, resulted in his demise before.
When you had the durability of a Twice clone, you had to be careful.
His allies were still their 'original' selves, but they'd somehow gotten it into their head two years back that Tomura wasn't a good enough leader anymore, since he started acting more cautious once he was revived by Twice.
Said they wanted to seek employment elsewhere.
He couldn't allow that! He needed them! If they went off on their own, they might get themselves fucking killed and he'd have even less allies to call upon in his time of need!
So, for his own benefit and their safety, he had them locked up in their own little rooms, kept close to him. He tried to explain it to them, at first. They could still go above ground and live their lives, just… though Twice clones! Like him!
They didn't get it though, they just DIDN'T GET IT!
Hell, Dabi's clone and Giran's clone actually teamed up to try and KILL HIM!
Tomura was forced to take matters into their own hands. If there was one thing he'd learned in life, it was that pain was the world's most powerful motivator.
He slapped shock collars around their necks, bolted them to the walls in their rooms, and made their clones a deal. The real them got to live and didn't suffer, so long as they obeyed.
So far, it'd been working out pretty damn well, and even Twice, the sole member he hadn't chained up, was beginning to submit to his will. He wanted to keep Twice down here, he really did, but the man needed to move around to use his Quirk.
He had to be able to get new measurements on his allies in their cells, and occasionally had to travel with the clones to go on missions. Since they had low durability, it sometimes required he accompany them in order to recreate them when they inevitably died in a fight.
Soon though… this would all be behind them.
Sensei would return, Tomura would be human again, his allies could be free, and All Might would finally die.
Things were looking up!