The Shigaraki Detective Agency - BNWA - 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia (2024)

Chapter 1: Musutafu's Grime

Chapter Text

Yosho Higarashi. Twenty-Nine years old. Computer technician. Described by those around him as a bit of a shut-in, but overall a nice enough guy. He worked like anyone else, went to bars with coworkers, though he often said little, played video games on his off-days and uploaded to social media on a semi-regular basis. Uploads weren’t necessarily frequent, but his videos were interesting enough to garner an audience, largely of younger, teenage girls.

He exploited that fact. Three times, according to rumours. This particular day was to be the fourth.

As Higarashi sat by the window of the McDonald’s, he kept his dark raincoat on, the hood pulled up over his features. It earned him some odd looks from passers-by for sure, but he was more than happy with that so long as nobody recognised him. All the while, he kept an eye out.

Amy, she said she was. Thirteen. An American girl, living in Japan for her father’s work. Exotic. Very exotic. She wouldn’t be hard to spot, even in a crowd. Higarashi already had pictures, after all; He knew every last bit of her physique. Behind the hood, his beady little eyes peeled, scanning the restaurant for any sign of her.

Eventually, he saw her, coming in through the door. The build, the facial features, it was absolutely her. For a few moments, she stumbled around, seemingly trying to find him; Thus, he called out to her.

“Yosho-chan?” She asked as she approached, in that delectable little voice of hers. Just as it had sounded on the voice calls.

“Yes.” He responded, voice husky. How he adored when she called him that. “Please, Amy, take a seat.”

“Alright.” With that, the girl hopped up onto the stool next to Higarashi, resting her hands on her pleated school skirt. His eyes followed them. As the late afternoon sunlight broke through the windows, the pair stared at one another.

“Can you…” Wrapping a finger around one of her pigtails, Amy glanced down. “Take the hood off? It’s kinda creepy.”

“Creepy?” Higarashi giggled. “Well, we wouldn’t want that.” Quickly, he scanned the restaurant once more. He didn’t see anyone he would recognise. So, he pulled the hood back, revealing his face to her. For just a moment, something sparked in the girl’s eyes, and then it was gone; He paid little heed to this.

“So, how do you like Japan?” He asked, moving to break the ice. “Not too scary a change, I hope.”

“It’s good.” Amy mumbled. “My class are jerks, though. Don’t like them much.”

“Ah, sure, most kids are like that.” Higarashi assured her. “Trust me, it’s hard to find a smart, kind kid.” He reached a hand out, as if to put on her shoulder, then restrained himself. Couldn’t be too hasty, couldn’t risk scaring her. “Making friends is tough.”

“Tell me about it.” Amy moaned.

“Mhm. I must say, though, your Japanese is very good. You must be a natural.”

“Hmm…” The girl shifted a little in her seat. “So, what do you wanna do?”

“What do I wanna-” Higarashi was quite suddenly cut off as a fellow patron tripped, sending their co*ke cascading directly into his lap, where it exploded, soaking his coat. “Gah-”

“Oh lord, sorry about that!” The patron professed as he regained his footing, putting a hand over his mouth. “I didn’t mean to-”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever…” Higarashi grunted. “It’s fine.” He needed that guy to clear off; The last thing he needed was to attract any undue attention. Meanwhile, Amy snickered away. How he loved that giggle of hers.

“No, really, I can’t apologise enough.” The man gave a curt bow and rushed over, trying to dry down the coat with some napkins. “Is there anything I can do to correct this? I can pay the cleaning bill if you’d like-”

“It doesn’t matter.” Higarashi snarled. “It’s a raincoat, it’s meant to get wet. Now please, just… Go.”

“Right, okay…” Sheepishly, the clumsy fellow ambled off, and slowly, the eyes of those in the restaurant stopped lingering. Higarashi only then realised that his heart was beating out of his chest. Clumsy idiot. Drawing all of this attention. Just one look at Amy’s little grin, however, managed to calm him down.

“Sorry about that.” He giggled. “Some people, right?”

“Yeah.” Amy agreed. “So, what comes next? After we’ve eaten, I mean.”

“Well…” Higarashi brought his hand to his chin to think. “We could go to the park, check out some stores-”

“Boring.” Amy huffed. “Have you got anything more exciting in mind?”

“Well…” Higarashi trailed as he leaned a little closer in and lowered his voice. “We could always go back to my place and… I could teach you a few things.” It was getting hard to keep the excitement out of his voice, as the blood flowed, only bolstered by the little smile Amy gave in response. This girl was something else… Certainly a lot easier than some of the others.

“You’re a good teacher, then?” She asked.

“The very best.” He replied. “How about we try it now, actually? Get away from all these people?” It was becoming nigh-impossible to hold back his desperation. He was lucky this was a kid, anyone else could have seen right through it.

“Sure!” Amy nodded. “Don’t like McDonald’s, anyway; I’m Vegan.”

“Vegan, eh?” He noted as the pair went to leave the restaurant. “Well, what a socially conscious young lady you are.”

Exiting out into the busy high street, Higarashi went to pull his hood up once more, heading down towards his apartment, which wasn’t far by any means. All the while, he was completely unaware of the warnings, the signs that something was brewing all around him. He was blinded, completely and utterly, by the thoughts of what lay ahead.

Only one road bump stood in his way. As he reached his apartment, he saw the landlady standing right outside, talking with some gentleman. Damn. He clenched one hand beneath the sleeve of the coat. He couldn’t afford to have her see him with the girl. Already, he was running through possible explanations. Amy was a niece, maybe, from his brother living in America, visiting the family. He glanced over at the girl; Could he trust her to play along? A lump formed in his throat.

“Hey, Amy…” He ventured. “Maybe we could go get some sweets first, before heading back. It wouldn’t take very long.” Just as long as the landlady was gone by the time they got back.

Just before the girl could answer, however, the man who had been talking to her glanced up and nodded in his direction. It was him, the useless clod from the restaurant. What the hello was he doing? Moreover, why was he approaching? And why did the landlady look so ashen?

“Higarashi-san.” The man bowed once more. “Glad I could run into you again. So sorry about earlier, still.”

“Yes, yes-” Higarashi’s blood ran cold. “Wait, how do you know my-”

“I suppose a formal introduction is in order.” The man sighed as he reached into the inner pockets of his suit jacket. “But beforehand…” He pulled out his phone. “Is this you?” He held it out flat as the audio from it played:

“Well… We could go to the park, check out some stores-”

“Boring. Have you got anything more exciting in mind?”

“Well… We could always go back to my place and… I could teach you a few things.”

Higarashi’s breathing began to grow very, very fragile. “Who- What is this?”

“It’s you, is it not?” The man asked once more. “I would really hate to be mistaken, given the… Severity of what is being said here.” He seemed calm, cool as a cucumber, yet there was a trace of barely-concealed disgust in his voice.

“You…” The sweat came pouring down Higarashi’s forehead. “How’d you get that? You a cop or something?”

“I daresay it would be easier to show you.” The man leaned in and grabbed Higurashi by the collar, reaching into his coat and pulling out a little puck. A bug. Higarashi’s eyes diluted. “How-”

“Anyway, I did say I would introduce myself…” The man took a step back, pocketing the bug once more. “My name is Atsuhiro Sako, of the Shigaraki Detective Agency. That girl hanging onto your arm there is my associate, the lovely Himiko Toga. And you, are Yosho Higarashi, or to go by your internet pseudonym, DarkBadger32. Am I wrong?”

In sheer horror, Higarashi’s eyes darted to the girl, who had backed away from him. Even as she moved back, she seemed to get older, her features sharper, her innocent little smile becoming a pointed, vampiric smirk. “What do you- What do you people want?” He croaked, feeling all of his energy evaporate.

“There are quite a lot of things I would want.” Atsuhiro Sako professed. “Wealth, fast cars, those delectable little pancakes with salmon and soft cheese that my aunt used to serve at dinner parties. But what is more relevant here is what our client wants. He wants justice, and moreover, he wants you to suffer.”

“I… I…” Higarashi whimpered as his face went even paler than it had been before. “You're gonna turn me to the cops…"

“But of course.” Atsuhiro nodded. “It’s only natural. Not that we’ll stop there, of course.”

“You might get a good lawyer.” The Toga girl spoke up. “You might get a pre-tty lenient sentence. It might even get tossed out, we might get done for that entrapment thingie. So, we’re going a little bit beyond the courts.”

“This audio…” Atsuhiro held up the phone. “Is going straight up on social media. As well as the chat logs of the conversation between you and Toga-chan, of course. A few news sites will be getting it, as well. And of course, I had to inform your dear landlady of all of this. Not something I revel in, but it has to be done. Public opinion is a powerful thing, Higarashi-san.”

Higarashi couldn’t even speak, only letting a few half-hearted gurgles spurt from his mouth as his knees felt ready to buckle. Before his very eyes, he saw his life crumble in a matter of seconds.

And as for Atsuhiro and Himiko? They went right on their way, leaving the man to stew on what were to be the final few minutes of normality in his life.

— — —

“Hmm…” As he sat with his feet up on the desk, hands behind his head and staring up into the slowly-rotating ceiling fan, Tomura Shigaraki let out a few disjointed mumbles. “Wonder if Sako and Toga are done yet?”

“Eh?” At this, Shuichi Iguchi glanced up from his Nintendo Switch, narrowed reptilian pupils darting towards his employer. “I mean… Maybe. Depends how long this bastard takes to get to the point.”

“True that.” Shigaraki noted. “Would’ve liked to go myself, honestly. Definitely would’ve killed him, though.” Turning his head, he gazed out of the window of the agency’s third-floor office over the rather packed streets of the city below. The office was tiny, absolutely packed when all five members of the agency were present at once (an admittedly rare occurrence), but it was the most he could afford for a centralised location. At the end of the day, being right in the heart of things was a little more important than space and comfort in their line of work. The latter two would have been nice, but beggars could not be choosers. And Shigaraki was absolutely a beggar.

“I do hope they’ve roughed him up a bit…” Iguchi trailed. “Not much, but just a few kicks to the head or something.”

“I wouldn’t hold my breath.” Shigaraki dismissed. “Maybe if it was Toga on her own, definitely if I’d gone with them, but Sako is… What’s the word?” He gestured in the air as he tried to find it before snapping his fingers. “Sensible.”

Iguchi shrugged. “I guess one of us has to be.”

“Speak of the devil and he shall appear.” Sako announced as he swung open the office door and stepped in, removing his gloves, Toga following close behind.

Iguchi fell back on the sofa as he squinted up at the pair. “Dude, how much of that did you hear?”

“Enough to satiate my ego.” Sako responded before turning his full attention to his employer. “Higarashi-san is taken care of, Sir. We’ve got audio, screenshots, and we scared the life half out of him as a bonus.”

“Nice.” Shigaraki nodded as Toga collapsed on the sofa just next to Iguchi. “Job well done, then?”

“As well done as it could be, given the circ*mstances.” Standing over Shigaraki’s desk, Sako leaned down on it with a wry grin. “I daresay our client shall be pleased with the end result.”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki nodded. “That should keep the lights on for another couple weeks.”

“For sure.” Glancing around the room, Sako rubbed the base of his neck. “Where has Bubaigawara gotten to?”

“Off to get a drink, apparently.” Shigaraki shrugged.

“Off to-” Sako’s eyes bulged. “It’s two in the afternoon!”

“Yep. Your point?”

Stepping back, Sako rubbed his face and went to sit on the arm of the sofa, as Toga peered intensely at Iguchi’s game. “Good grief…”

“Heh.” Reaching up, Shigaraki scratched away a blotch of grime from the sole of his tennis shoes with one tattered finger. “Can’t say I really blame ‘em. Wouldn’t you do the same if you had to sit around waiting for something interesting to happen all day?”

“I can’t really say I would…”

“Whatever…” As the agency’s owner raised his hands above his head and stretched them taut, a soft yet confident knocking came from the door, drawing the attention of all who were inside.

“Eh?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow as he quickly swung his feet down and brushed down the desk. “Yeah? Toga, let him in.”

“Of course you’ll get me to do it…” She muttered, slipping off the sofa and heading to the door. “Welcome!” She called as she stepped back and allowed the one who had knocked to come in.

“You’re the Shigaraki Detective Agency, no?” The voice was instantly striking. Young, yet mature beyond his years.

“That’s us!” Toga nodded. “No problem too big or small for Shigaraki!”

“Well, that’s good, then.” The man entered the room as he said this. His appearance was as poignant as his tone. He looked to be a high schooler, in some sort of uniform, grey and bottle green. His features were hardened and stoical, and his hair was split into two tones, one a freezing white, the other a burning crimson. Standing in the middle of the room, he performed a respectful bow. “You’re Shigaraki-san?”

“That’s me.” Shigaraki nodded as Iguchi quickly hid the console behind the couch cushion and straightened up his body. “What can we do for you, kid?”

“My name is Shoto Todoroki.” The boy announced as he rested his hand on his chest. “And I would like to enlist your services. I… I would like to have someone followed. Observed, you might say.”

“Todoroki…” Sako muttered. “Wait a second…”

“Would you, now?” Shigaraki pondered. “Well, Todoroki, I’ve gotta say, our services won’t be cheap, ‘specially for a high schooler.”

Todoroki stood his ground. “I am both willing and able to pay your price. This is… Extremely important to me.”

“Hm. Alright then. Shoot. Who’s this guy you want stalked?”

Todorki stood resolutely. “The man I wish you to investigate is my father. Enji Todoroki.”

Everyone in the room froze at that.

“You serious?” Iguchi croaked.

“Yes.” Todoroki’s gaze didn’t waver. “I understand if it may be above your level, but if not, I am capable of footing the bill for your service.”

“Enji Todoroki…” Sako lamented. “The Number Two Pro.”

“Endeavour…” Shigaraki trailed as a faint grin streaked across his chapped lips. “This could be interesting.”

Chapter 2: Risky Endeavour

Chapter Text

“Absolutely not.” Sako insisted as he folded both arms across his chest.

“Eh? Why not?” Shigaraki inquired. “Truth be told, I kinda like the idea. Gettin’ some dirt on a bona-fide Pro, that’s a bit of the break from the usual grind.”

“Well, I don’t like it, Shigaraki-san, and as your advisor, I heavily urge you to decline.” Sako pushed back. “This could only bring unwarranted attention. I doubt the Hero Commission would be too happy with us sneaking around one of their golden jewels.”

“So?” Toga shrugged. “We can totally take them.”

“It doesn’t really matter if we can or not - which we absolutely cannot - but more so the fact that it’s an unnecessary risk. We’ve got a good thing going right now, why rock the boat?”

“Because it’s fun?” Shigaraki suggested. “C’mon, Sako, this puppy-toe sh*t is boring. ‘Sides, the kid clearly has the ability to pay well, and we can always pull out if it gets too hot.”

“Yeah, pull out and shatter our whole reputation on the way.” Sako argued. “Are you even hearing the words coming out of your mouth, Sir? We both know that backing out midway is not an option, not in our line of work.”

“Okay then, we won’t pull out.” Shigaraki muttered. “We’ll see it through to the end.”

“That isn’t what I-” Sako hung his head, letting out a small groan as he did so. “I really think we need to look at this from a logistical perspective. Is all the money in the world worth getting us in trouble with our lovely overlords in the Deep State?”

“This Deep State sh*t again.” Rolling his eyes up into the back of his head, Shigaraki fluttered his gaze over to the photograph that sat on his desk. It was old and worn, and the frame was partially cracked, but it was dear to him. There he stood, aged fourteen or fifteen, next to the man who had raised him. Sensei. The man who had made everything possible. “You sound like a proper nutter, you do realise? The government is corrupt, but they ain’t Goddamn Big Brother.”

“So you say.” Sako seemed ready to press the matter, but he caught his tongue and fell quiet. “Regardless, I don’t like this. I think we should stay out of it.”

“And your concerns are very much noted.” Shigaraki turned to Iguchi and Toga. “What about you two? Any complaints here?”

“Nope.” Toga spat immediately. “I’m good to go with this.”

Iguchi, meanwhile, seemed to take a more nuanced stance on the matter, as he stood and bit down on his rubbery bottom lip, evidently unsure as to what path to take. Before he had to make a definitive declaration, however, he was cut short by the office door banging open in quite the alarming fashion. In streamed none other than Jin Bubaigawara. Well, Jin Bubaigawaras, given that there were three of them.

“Back!” All three announced in unison as the one leading the group - presumably the original - surged towards where the others were gathered. “You all good? How’d the Higarashi stuff go?”

“Great.” Toga replied. “He’s not gonna be having a fun life after this, that’s for sure.”

“Awesome.” Flashing a pair of finger pistols, Bubaigawara glanced around the group. “Hey, what’s with the long faces? Sako-sensei, you look like someone’s crushed a puppy.”

“Charming.” Sako sighed. “Bubaigawara, as you might be able to tell, we’ve been discussing a new job.”

“Oh?” Bubaigawara’s face lit up.

“Aye.” Shigaraki nodded. “Except Mister Sensible here don’t want anything to do with it.”

“Huh.” Bubaigawara murmured.

“Why’s that?” One of the clones asked from where he and his partner leaned on the windowsill. “Pay bad?”

“Nope.” The office’s head dismissed. “In fact, it’s very good, as I’m sure Compress won’t argue.”

“Again with the Compress name?” Sako sighed. “I don’t know why you latched onto it so much.”

“It is fairly catchy.” Iguchi shrugged. “Fits your whole Quirk, too.”

“Right… That aside; Bubaigawara, my problem with this little job is who we’re being asked to target.”

“Who’s that, then?” Bubaigawara enquired, running a hand through his sandy locks.

“You’re gonna love this.” Shigaraki smirked. “Endeavour.”

“Endeavour.” Bubaigawara echoed. “You’re joking, Boss.”

“In a much more boring timeline, I would be. But no. This Todoroki kid’s offering us a nice slice of bread for looking into his old man. Said he’d give us some more details after we reach a formal agreement.”

Bubaigawara simply gave a shrug. “Sounds like a good idea to me. What’s your problem, Sako?”

“My problem is that it’s insane.” Sako groaned. “We’re not nigh-immortal beings here, and I can guarantee you that this will only end poorly for us. Believe you me, it doesn’t pay to be on the wrong side of the Commission.”

That was when Iguchi piped up. “You’re really banking on the Commission being as f*cked as you think they are, huh?”

“Which they are. At risk of sounding a mite condescending, I’m willing to bet I have a better idea of what’s going on with them than you have.”

“Just a bit.” Toga sniffled. “C’mon, Compress, live a little.”

“I would love to.” Sako retorted. “And that means not committing suicide via three shots to the back of the head. Wouldn’t you say?”

“You are such a little drama queen.” Toga threw her hands up. “Look, why can’t we just give it a try?”


“Don’t you wanna branch out, Compress?” Shigaraki cut in. “Really make an impact on the world? Unless you wanna spend the rest of your life chasing after kiddie rapers and gambling addicts. That’s up to you, I guess. But this sorta thing, I think the fact that we were even asked is pretty damn cool. Means we’re trusted, that we mean a damn here. See what I’m talking about? We can’t be stuck doing the same sh*t for our whole lives.”

For a moment, silence settled over the office, a sort of awkward nothingness as nobody knew quite what to say to that. Or perhaps, they were simply waiting for anyone else to speak up first. In the lingering silence, Shigaraki’s gaze drifted to the photograph once more. With a small shake of his head, he raised his eyes once more.

“You’re mad…” Sako sighed. “This job has turned your mind to mush.”

Shigaraki snickered. “It was that way loooonnnggg before.”

“Figures. But fine. I throw my hands up.” Sako’s tone suggested that he still was not hugely enthused by the whole idea and was more so agreeing so as to avoid further conflict. “We can give it a go. But I will be very smug when this all inevitably goes to pot.”

“Awesome!” Toga yelped as she practically leapt off her feet, colliding with Bubaigawara in the process. “So, where we gonna start?”

“Well, before anything else, I guess we’ll be meeting Todoroki again.” Shigaraki posited. “See if he can give us any more info on what we’re meant to be doing here.”

— — —

“Thank you.” Shoto Todoroki bowed his head low as he sat across from the two detectives in the coffee shop. “I truly appreciate this.”

“It’s no prob.” Shigaraki grunted as he adjusted the ridge of his collar. How he hated having to wear a suit. Alas, Sako always insisted that he look presentable when meeting clients and that meant discarding the jeans, ratty t-shirts and boxy tennis shoes for a brief period of time. “We’re happy to help.”

“For sure.” Iguchi nodded, sitting next to his superior. “So, what’s the deal here? Care to spread the deets?”

“Right, of course.” Todoroki nodded as he unshouldered his rucksack and set it down in the vacant seat next to him. From there, he drew what looked to be a few printed photos from it. “So, you’ve doubtless heard of my father before. Enji Todoroki.”

“Endeavour.” Iguchi whistled. “One of the biggest heroes out there. And one mean S.O.B, from what I’ve heard.” He quickly realised who he was talking to and his eyes sparked with momentary panic. “I, uh- Mean no offence, of course.”

“None taken.” Todoroki assured. “To tell you the truth, I don’t care much for the man either. However, personal feelings aside, there’s something very… Wrong about him.”

“Wrong, ya say?” Shigaraki leaned back in the plush seating. “How so?”

“Well, I suppose it wouldn’t really be right to say the man has ever seemed all the way there, but one thing in particular has been… Irritating me for a long while.” Setting down one of the photographs, he showed it to the pair of detectives. A young boy, white-haired, clearly of some relation to the boy before them. He looked to be about twelve or thirteen.

“Who’s this?” Shigaraki asked. “Brother of yours?”

“Indeed. This is Toya Todoroki. My elder brother. Or he was. Eight years ago, he… Passed away.”

“Sheesh.” Iguchi rubbed the back of his neck. “Tough break, man. Sorry to hear.”

Todoroki continued. “Toya was an adventurous spirit. I myself was fairly young at the time, but I always remember the impression that his behaviour would get on my father’s nerves. As I’ve grown up, his name has become a filthy word in the household. It almost comes off as if my father resents him, or at the very least, wants no memory of him.”

“Familial loss can be tough…” Iguchi ventured. “Maybe-”

“I have reason to believe that my father was in some way complicit in my brother’s death.” Todoroki interrupted, his words moving just a little too fast. “Something about it strikes me as so very wrong.”

“Jeez, Kid.” Shigaraki raised both eyebrows. “You really think so? Seems a little… I dunno…”

“Unlikely?” Todoroki nodded. “Yes, I see it myself. That is why I wish to enlist your services. I have no proof, no evidence, nothing but a mere lingering suspicion. I wish for you to see if there is any truth to my instincts. Regardless of if it does or doesn’t exist, I will be willing to pay you all the same.”

“Right, right. Still, though… Is it all just instinct?”

“I…” For just a moment, Todoroki actually appeared to falter. It seemed the Iron Lady wasn’t so invulnerable. “Well, I must confess, yes. I understand if such a thing wouldn’t be… Agreeable for you and your organisation.”

Shigaraki reached up to scratch his withered nose. “To tell ya the truth, I don’t give much of a damn what led you to believe all of this. All the same to me. So long as I find a case interesting - and I’m getting paid for it - I have no real qualms with what inspired you. Could’ve come to you in a dream, for all I care.”

“Ah.” Todoroki glanced up. “So, you’re happy to take on this case?”

“Hold your horses, Kid, let’s talk price.” Snapping his fingers, Shigaraki sat more to attention, leaning forwards and straightening out his back. “Something like this is a little more sensitive than our usual stuff. Given the nature of the guy we’re dealing with here, that brings bigger risks, which means a higher cost. I’m sure you can understand.”

“Of course.” Todoroki nodded. “And what might that be?”

“Gimme a sec…” Taking a pen from his breast pocket, Shigaraki pinched it carefully between his thumb and forefinger and began doodling on one of the provided napkins, stewing over the figures as Iguchi peered down at them. After a moment or so, he reckoned he had it down right and showed it to his colleague. “This look right to you?”

Iguchi shrugged. “Dunno. Never been a numbers guy, man.”

“Fair enough.” With a small snort, Shigaraki turned back to their soon-to-be client. “Here’s the deal, Kid; When calculating risk factor, time spent and various other associated costs, equipment, et cetera, this comes out to about three hundred grand.”

“Three hundred thousand yen.” Todoroki repeated. “I see.”

“For insurance purposes, we’ll take half upon acceptance of the task and half upon completion. That sound agreeable enough for you?”

Todoroki seemed to take a moment to contemplate. “I would say so, yes. I’m willing to pay that for your services.”

“Excellent, then.” Shigaraki brought his hands together. “Then, you are now our client. We’ll give you weekly updates, for a period of up to three weeks. After that, we wind the operation down, assumin’ we don’t have significant cause to do so earlier. Hopefully, you’ll like what we find.”

“I appreciate this.” Todoroki bowed as he extended his own hand to shake.

Shigaraki merely stared at it for a second. “I really wouldn’t advise that, Kid.”

“His Quirk.” Iguchi mouthed.

“Oh, I see. Well, very well then. Thank you, Shigaraki-san.”

“It’s no prob, Kid.” Shigaraki assured as he leaned back once more. “No prob at all.”

As Todoroki gathered his things to leave, allowing the detectives to keep hold of the photograph of Toya, Shigaraki glanced down at his knees, then back up again. “Kid?”

“Yes?” Todoroki asked, as he was already halfway to the door.

“Just wonderin’, and you don’t have to say if you don’t want, but I’m curious; Why now? Why comes to us now if you’ve suspected this sh*t for years?” He held up his hands. “Again, only answer if ya wanna.”

For a brief moment, Todoroki bit down on his lip, pondering his answer before he could reach it. Clearly, he was weighing up quite a bit in his mind. It didn’t seem as if he was going to reject the question, more so that he was simply trying to find the correct way to respond.

Eventually, he came to it. “Recent events… Sparked something within me.” He confessed. “A desire, I suppose. To learn the truth. Somebody sparked that in me. I’ve felt a lot more motivated than I have in a long time. I don’t wish to let that motivation wither and fester.”

“Sounds reasonable to me.” Shigaraki nodded. “Thanks for your time.” With that, he turned back to the table, as Iguchi squirmed next to him.

“So, it’s official then.” He mumbled.

“Yup.” Shigaraki replied. “I get the feeling it’s gonna be a hell of a job.”

“What’s our first move, then?”

“First?” Shigaraki grinned a little. “First, I think we’re gonna go see our man Tanuma.”

“God…” Iguchi scoffed. “Hate that guy.”

“Trust me, I know.”

Chapter 3: Dirty Cop, Dirtier World


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

As Detective Eizo Tanuma leaned on the bar counter, he found himself unable to suppress his snickers. “You’re a f*cking lunatic.”

“And you’re a bent cop, what’s your point?” Shigaraki retorted.

“Bent?” Tanuma sniffled. “You really think that?”

“By the literal definition? Yeah. I don’t think straight-and-narrow cops sell info to civs.”

“Hey, you try living on a detective’s salary.” Tanuma pointed to Shigaraki. “A man’s gotta make money however he can. You should thank your lucky stars I ain’t Yakuza-affiliated like half the guys on the force.”

“So, I’ll send you a gift basket.” Picking up his whiskey glass, Shigaraki downed it in one shot, setting it back down again and sliding it away from him, lest he risk crumbling it to nothingness. “But that’s not really the point here.”

“No, it ain’t.” Tanuma sighed. “You’re going after Endeavour. As in, the Pro Endeavour.”

“The Number Two Ranked Pro.” Shigaraki added. “The very guy.”

Tanuma shook his head with a tight grin. “Like I said. f*cking lunatic.”

Rolling his eyes, Shigaraki took in the sight. Contrary to its name, Murakami's was no classic. The epitome of a seedy dive bar, with off-putting decor and less-than-upstanding clientele. When there even were any, at least. All in all, the perfect place for a crooked cop to sell information. “Yeah, well I’m paying you for your intel, not your charming attitude. Can we cut to the chase here?”

“I’d like nothing less.” Tanuma agreed as he sipped his drink. “Superintendent's been on our ass lately. This Hero Killer sh*t is really pissing off the Commission, and that trickles down to us guys.”

“Cry me a river. Or just give me what I’m payin’ for You’re very talented with both.”

“Yeah, right.” The police detective muttered as he produced a folder and slid it across to Shigaraki. “Well, I managed to get this for you. Got info on the security detail at Endeavour’s agency building. Surprisingly light, actually; I guess they think a building full of heroes is security enough.”

“You’d think.” Shigaraki noted as he picked up the folder and began to flick through it. Already, he was putting together what he was going to need to carry this out. This case was a civil one, not legal, and that meant that following the letter of the law was largely optional. The best course would be bugs in his car, office and preferably house, a bit of following here and there, maybe if they could get a chance to probe him personally… Though that seemed fairly unlikely. Dirty business, but they were dirty detectives. “What’s it looking like, then?”

“Pretty typical sh*t, really.” Tanuma pulled out a lighter and went to ignite a cigarette, much to the bartender’s chagrin. “Kind of stuff you expect from your average bank. Cameras on every floor, localised to an on-site security room on the sixth floor. Couple security officers, I’ve got their bios in there for you. No one worth worrying about. One’s an ex-cop, but he’s old, the other doesn’t really have any notable qualifications.”

“I see.” Shigaraki nodded as his raw red eyes gazed over the pages. “Not bad, Tanuma. Didn’t take you long.”

“I’m the best at what I do.” Tanuma insisted.

“The best at being a crooked little sh*t.”

“Lose the high and mighty crap, Shigaraki, it’s a bad look for you.”

“Right, sorry.” Shigaraki settled down. “Sorry. Bit tense.”

“Tell me about it.” Blowing a long trail of smoke, Tanuma glanced back to the far end of the bar, where Iguchi sat sullenly on his phone. “I get the feeling your man there doesn’t like me very much.”

“What gives you that impression?” Shigaraki chuckled bitterly. “Seriously, don’t take it personally. He’s a big teenager.”

“Now I see how you can relate to him. Now… My money?”

Shigaraki rolled his eyes so far into the back of his head that there was a danger they may pop loose. “Always the bottom line with you…” He grumbled, reaching into his jacket pocket and producing a thick envelope. “As luck would have it, I’ve got cash to burn right now, courtesy of our good ol’ client.”

“Man’s gotta feed his family.” Was all Tanuma said as he ravenously watched Shigaraki delicately count out the payment.

“Yeah… Family…” Slowing down a little, Shigaraki finished the count and passed the officer his fee. “Maybe this’ll cover a couple more drinks for you.”

“I’m offended, Detective.” Tanuma chastised playfully as he took the money and flipped down the edges. “I’ll have you know, I’ve got some plans for this. Gonna do a bit of investing. Cryptocurrency is all the rage.”

“Crypto?” Shigaraki sneered. “Good luck, dumbass.”

“A dumbass is a man who can’t see the future. How many banks have shuttered in the last two years, Shigaraki-san? You keep your nose to the ground, and don’t tell me you can’t smell it.” Tanuma pocketed the money. “We’re teetering on the very brink. You’ve gotta have a plan for the inevitable.”

Shigaraki remained silent. He didn’t quite buy into the whole doom and gloom nonsense. Tanuma was just a better-dressed descendant of the crazy homeless man with an End Is Near sign. Even so, things certainly did seem a little scarier as of late. Maybe it was just a Musutafu thing, but it felt like the trains were running less and less, garbage was piling up on the sidewalks, ATMs were completely dry while shop entrances were concealed behind heavy, vandalised grates. It seemed that wherever one went, a sort of thick, intangible smog hung in the air. Heroes might have been doing a fine job of keeping gangs off the streets, but that was about the only separation between Musutafu and the world of Robocop.

“Enjoy the cash…” He finally murmured as he stood and went over to Iguchi. “You good?”

“Yeah.” The young lizard looked up from his phone. “Yeah, I’m good. Got it all sorted, then?”

Shigaraki lifted up the dossier. “You bet your ass it is.”

“Great. Back to the office?”

Shigaraki pulled limply at his already loose tie, feeling his flaking nails on his dry neck. “You go ahead. I’ve got a stop to make just before joining you. I’ll be, like, half an hour.”

“Aight then.” Iguchi shrugged as he went to stand. “See you later.”

— — —

Of all the rotten, decrepit holes that wriggled in the corners of Musutafu, there was one above all else that Shigaraki took no pleasure in visiting. And yet, annoyingly enough, it was the one that he had the most reason to visit. The one that had housed a once-great man.

“Sensei…” He trailed as he pried open the door to Hakai Shigaraki’s room. “It’s me.”

“Tomura.” From the far end of his dim room, bathed in the ugly glare of sunlight peeking through the grime-encrusted windows in their peeling frames, the elder Shigaraki tilted his head up. Even six years on, seeing him in his current state was never easy. What had once been a tall, muscular, domineering man was a withered shell of what had once been, the hairs on his head writhing away into weak white one by one as he stared dead ahead, unable to recognise anything that he saw, his now-useless legs forced into the rests of the wheelchair. The only thing to remind of his past glory was his suit, as neatly-maintained as ever, contrasting with the sorry state that the rest of him resided within. “How nice of you to visit.”

“Hey Sensei.” Shigaraki nodded as he ventured deeper into the room. “How’s things?”

“Much as always.” Hakai ventured. Even his voice sounded weak, low and unsure, as he contemplated every word, masked behind an illusion of confidence. “I must say, what’s the point of being an old person in a home if I can’t ogle the nurses?”

Shigaraki forced a grim little chuckle. “Guess so, Sensei. Iguchi would agree with you, there.”

“Iguchi… How is he lately? For that matter, how’s the Agency?”

“It’s going well.” Shigaraki stood awkwardly, arms clasped together in nervous fashion. “Getting a steady stream of jobs, you know how it is.”

“That I do.” Hakai lamented. “The benefit of a broken world is that there’s a lot of demand for someone who offers to patch it up.”

“Absolutely.” Hit with a sudden wave of self-consciousness, Shigaraki dug his hands into his pockets. “We uh… Took on a new job just yesterday.”

“Oh? And whatever may that be?”

“It’s…” Shigaraki bit his lip. “It’s a pretty big one. Lookin’ into a hero.”

“A hero?” Hakai laughed. “Marvellous. That will be a good bit of fun. You know, back in the day, one of my absolute favourite cases was exposing a bent hero. God, Yoichi and I, we loved it. Danger, thrills, everything a good case needed. I always wondered when you were going to get something like that. So, tell me, who’s the lucky bastard? Wash? That oh-so-annoying rabbit lady? Crust? No, he’d be a little too high-tier for you right now…”

Shigaraki took a second to clear his throat. “Endeavour.”

Hakai fell quiet. “Come again?”

“Endeavour.” Shigaraki repeated. “The Number One Pro. That’s who we’re looking into.”

What followed was laughter so raucous that it shook the thin glass panes of the window, Hakai caught between booming mirth and a tortured coughing fit as he nearly slid out of his chair. Quickly, Shigaraki rushed to help him back up, taking great care not to touch him with all five fingers.

“Enji Todoroki!!” He echoed, tears streaming down his rotted eyes. “What a tale! Good grief, Tomura, you know how to get a fellow going!”

“I’m bein’ serious, y’know.” Shigaraki grumbled. “And for God’s sake, Sensei, you’re gonna do yourself in if you ain’t careful.”

“I know, I know, but-” And then, the laughter overtook him once more. “Endeavour!” He howled. “Perish the thought!”

“Right, maybe the people in the parking lot heard it this time…” Shigaraki rolled his eyes as he waited for Hakai to finally calm down.

It took longer than expected.

“You’re serious.” Hakai finally realised. “Good lord, you’re actually serious.”

“Yup.” Shigaraki sighed. “You believe me now?”

“Yes, yes, I reckon I do. After all, it’s such a very… You thing to do.”

To that, Shigaraki scrunched up his face. “The hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I’m sure you can figure it out.” The sly grin didn’t leave Hakai’s lips. “This should be fun. This should be very fun. I wish you the best.”

“Sako doesn’t like it much.”

“Sako’s a… Special breed.” Hakai retorted. “He’s got spirit, alright, but I wouldn’t take anything he says too seriously.”

“Eh? Why?” That sounded oddly foreboding.

“You’ll find out for yourself, I’m sure. He’s an interesting man, for sure. Trustworthy, but… Interesting.”

“Thanks for the help with that.” Shigaraki replied with a hint of bitter sarcasm dancing on his tongue. “Anything else I can do for you while I’m here?”

“Hmm…” Hakai settled down once more as his mind sifted through the possibilities. “If you could open the window for me, please. It’s awfully stuffy in here.”

“Right.” Shigaraki did as was asked, peeling back the gunk-ridden frame and allowing a few breaths of fresh air into the room. Fresh being a relative term of course. As he did so, he kept his eyes glued to his Sensei, who could only stare right through him. There was something about this city. Something that infected even the most powerful of men out there. Something truly rotten. It had grabbed Sensei, and no doubt it would grab many more before it collapsed.

If it ever did.

— — —

Police Detective Naomasa Tsukauchi liked to think he had a strong stomach. One couldn’t really serve in such an occupation as his for over a decade without it. Yet, as he peered down at the remnants of what had once been a human being, he felt his whole body twisting up in knots.

“Sick…” He muttered to himself. “Utterly demented…” Slowly, the pale glare of the moon beating down on him, he turned to the officer standing behind him. “Tamakawa, do we have an ID yet?”

Officer Sansa Tamakawa gave a swift salute, the bell on his neck twinkling gently, as he answered. “Just came through in the last couple of minutes, Sir. Tensei Ida. Pro Hero, went by the name Ingenium.”

“Ingenium…” Tsukauchi repeated, looking back at the body, if it could even be called that. “Another hero killing.”

“Seems to be that way, Sir. Do you want me to notify next of kin?”

“Sure, you do that…” Tsukauchi’s voice trailed off as he found himself unable to take his eyes off the contorted, bloodied mess that lay before him. “This is disgusting… It’s one thing to kill, but this? This is indignity.”

“What can you even expect from this city anymore, Sir?” Tamakawa mused. “Seems like everyone’s up to something, nowadays.” He froze up, the ginger hairs atop his feline head spiking. “Ah- Not that I’m trying to infer you have any kind of skeletons, Sir, I just mean-”

In spite of the situation, Tsukauchi chuckled. “It’s fine, Tamakawa. I get what you were saying. Just… Please, get in contact with the family.”

An embarrassed Tamakawa gave another short salute before scurrying off, leaving the detective on his own with the corpse. It was the worst he had ever seen. No evidence, nothing left by the killer. As sick as they were, they were also clearly a professional.

“This is going to get worse…” He murmured aloud as he cast his gaze away and tried not to allow the bile to rise any further up his throat. “Much worse…”


This take on All for One is something I've been interested in doing for a while. There's a reason why he will not be referred to as All for One explicitly in this story, and a good chunk of that is due to how radically different he is. My intent with this is to portray a version of the BNHA world where so, so much has gone horribly wrong, and this even spreads to one of the most powerful characters in the series, reduced to a wheelchair-bound old man. We'll get more of this take on Hakai Shigaraki later on, and I'm looking forward to expanding more upon his backstory and what brought him to this point.

Chapter 4: Plan...

Chapter Text

“So…” Shigaraki began as he stood bent over his desk, hands resting on the gnarled wooden surface, as he stared out at his gathered allies. “This is gonna be a big one, guys, so I’d like to do this right.”

“Absolutely.” Sako agreed. “I’d certainly hope we’re well insulated against what’s to come.”

“And that we are. I’ve got a plan here for how we’re gonna go about it. For starters…” Shigaraki pinched one of the miniscule discs sitting on the desk and held it up for the others to see. “Bugs. I got these babies from Giran. We’re gonna have to plant these near our fine hero.”

“Nice.” Toga and Bubaigawara whistled in unison. “Where?”

“Couple places.” Shigaraki elaborated. “I want them in his office, up in his agency building, and around his house.”

“Ah.” Iguchi noted. “Wait, how the hell are we gonna get in there? Both of those places have gotta be locked up like Fort Knox, right?”

“Theoretically yes.” Shigaraki answered. “But, according to our friend Tanuma, not quite. The agency building, at least, apparently isn’t as well-guarded as you would think. Toga…” He threw the documents from Tanuma to the girl. “Give this a thorough read.”

“Okie.” She snapped as she caught the file. “I’m guessing that means I’m in charge of the building?”

“You bet your ass it does. We’ll talk later about how you’ll go ahead with that. Bubaigawara… You’ve still got a mechanics’ licence, right?”

“I mean, technically.” Bubaigawara shrugged. “Don’t think it was ever revoked.”

“Good, good. That’s gonna come in handy in a bit.”

“And how’s that, Boss?”

“Simple.” Shigaraki grinned. “It’s your ticket to bugging his ride.”

“Ohhh.” Bubaigawara mumbled. “Interesting.”

“Very interesting.” The agency’s head confirmed. “As for his house… I’m still working on that.”

Sako’s eyes almost appeared to glaze over. “Well, that inspires a great deal of confidence.”

“Do you wanna try figure it out, smartass?” Shigaraki retorted. “I’m just not sure how to tackle this yet. Need more info. For the time being, we focus on car and office. That make enough sense for you?”

“Alright.” Sako relented. “I can’t say I’m pleased with this-”

“Good, but I really don’t care.” Arching his back, Shigaraki’s gaze shifted to the others in the room. “The rest of you, get it so far?”

“No complaints here, Boss.” Iguchi motioned. “Not at all.”

“So…” Toga theorised. “How the heck do you reckon I’m getting in, then? I guess I go for one of the employees, have a little suckle on them.”

“You couldn’t phrase that in a worse possible way, but yeah.” Shigaraki confirmed. “I was thinking of goin’ for someone like an intern. Secretary, that sort of thing.”

“You are so sexist.” Toga protruded her tongue, catching the overhead lighting. “Good idea, though. I like it.”

“No one could ever call you predictable, could they?” Iguchi groaned.

“Nope. It’s one of my key charms. So…” Heaving herself up, Toga sat down on the edge of her superior’s desk and folded one leg over the other. “We say I go for some intern at the agency? Hm…” As she pondered away, she grabbed a fistful of sweets from the jar on Shigaraki’s desk - intended to be provided for clients - and shovelled them into her mouth. “What about his secretary? She would probably be able to get close to his office, right?”

“Not a bad idea.” Shigaraki mused. “Not a bad idea at all. Any of you guys got an idea who the secretary is?”

For a moment, nobody offered up an answer, as was to be expected, really; Less expected was none other than Sako speaking up.

“I… May have an idea.” He suggested. “Assuming that she hasn’t changed since then.” With all eyes now on him, it was fairly clear that backing out was no longer an option at all. “I had some business with Todoroki-san, over a half decade ago by now. His secretary back then was a delightful young lady, a Kitsune lass by the name of Mimi.”

“KItsune, huh?” Shigaraki muttered. “Animal helpers are all the rage these days.”

“Hey, I resent that, man.” Iguchi pointed out. “Animal is a little harsh, don’t you think?”

“Sorry, sorry. People with animal features, then.”

“That’s marginally better.” Iguchi sniffed. “But anyway, Compress, what about this Mimi girl?”

“Her surname was… Sakamoto, I believe.” He pondered. “Mimi Sakamoto.”

“Cute name.” Toga noted. “And I’ve always wanted to have a tail. Anything else we should know about this Mimi girl?”

Sako’s response to this was utterly deadpan. “She has a mole just above her left buttock.”

“I see- Wait-” Shigaraki spat. “I dunno if I want to ask how you know that, how it’s relevant or neither…”

“Joking, joking.” Sako held his hands up. “Mostly. No, more pressing is that she smokes.”

“A smoker?” Toga moaned. “I’m not sharing that habit.”

“You don’t have to.” Sako shrugged. “The relevance here is that she takes a break for it. Typically, she goes into the underground parking garage for one, around lunch time.”

“Smoking in a garage?” Iguchi raised an eyebrow. “That doesn’t seem very safe.”

“She isn’t a very safe person. My point is that-”

“- It would be a good place to jump her.” Toga finished, a big grin plastered on her face that revealed her rows upon rows of honed, sharpened teeth. “Awesome.”

“And hey…” Shigaraki realised. “While you’re there, maybe you could try to f*ck up his car. Get him to alert the mechanics, then we can send Bubaigawara in to deal with that. Two baby birds, one big, f*ck-off stone.”

“Beautiful, baby.” Bubaigawara clapped. “This whole thing doesn’t seem half-bad at all.”

“Of course it doesn’t.” Shigaraki snorted. “It’s my idea. All going well, we should have both of ‘em bugged before the week is out. From there, all we’ve gotta do is keep a close eye on things. Pay attention to anything the bugs pick up, follow him ‘round a bit and report everything back to his doting son. Easy, right?”

“Seems like it.” Iguchi noted. “Though, like, what was it that Scottish poet said about mice and men?”

“Gang aft aglay…” Sako murmured.

“We’ll be fine.” Shigaraki dismissed. “Probably. Have a little faith in Toga and Bubaigawara. Just a little faith.”

“Sure, okay Dutch.” Iguchi chuckled. “A bitta faith won’t hurt.”

— — —

When all save one had left the office, when the curtains were drawn and the lights were dimmed, when it was just the agency’s head and the bright glare from the television, those late nights could actually be fairly peaceful.

As Shigaraki rested on the sofa, gazing up at the ceiling, he allowed his eyes to flutter open and shut. It wasn’t the worst place in the world to rest, and it sure made for a cheaper spot than having to pay rent on both an office and somewhere to live. He liked a little bit of efficiency like that. Still, he supposed that it would be nice to have an actual bed. He was used to the sofa by this stage, though. Given that Sensei was… Incapable of providing any funding - in fact, it was Tomura’s money that went to paying for Hakai’s care - beggars couldn’t really be choosers.

Beggars couldn’t be choosers… He was thinking of that phrase an awful lot recently, it seemed. There were plenty of them to be found, after all. Musutafu tended to do that to people.

Slowly, but surely, his eye flutters became less consistent, they stayed shut for longer than they were open. He was drifting away.

Of course, it would have been naive to expect a peaceful night’s sleep. Such things were an absolute fantasy for him.

He sat in a dark, empty room, the only furnishings being the hard, metal chair that he sat on, unable to pry himself from it, as if he was bolted down in place. No matter how much he squinted, it was impossible to see through the thick blackness that surrounded him. For a while, he just sat there.

Then, the voices started.

“Absolutely not.” It was a voice he knew well, even if he hadn’t heard it since he was five years old. And those exact words… Heard from the other side of a locked door. “I’ll be damned before I give you my consent. And if you touch either of them, Tenko or Hana, I’ll split your f*cking skull over the pavement.”

“You won’t want to do that, Shimura-san.” Answered the second voice, a cold, coiling tone that sent shivers down Shigaraki’s spine each and every time he recalled it. “It’s merely a suggestion. Think about it.”

“You’re a real piece of work…”

“I’m offering you an out, Shimura-san. You can take it if you want. We’ll take the kids and your debt disappears.”

“Get the f*ck out of my office.”

“- We’ll even deal with your boy’s… Genetic issues.”


“Four years old and no Quirk yet? That could do a number on him, especially if he’s exposed to bullying from his peers. We can… Do what we can to help that process. See if we can’t make him a little more normal, you feel?”

“I’ll reiterate, Watanabe; I am going to f*cking kill you if you don’t shut the hell up and get out of my house.”

“You’re a hard man to reason with, Shimura-san.” The voice radiated disappointment. “We could have made a very nice arrangement here. And, really, do you think it’s a good idea to raise a pair of children in poverty?”

It was a potent memory, one that burned in Shigaraki’s mind even after almost two decades. He remembered it so very vividly, and for very good reason.

This whole memory, being a little four year old child and standing outside his father’s study, hearing the conversation between his dad and the strange, strange man…

It all happened the day before he was flung into a world of chaos, searching through the wreckage for the mangled remains of those he loved. The day before he slaughtered his entire family.

He hated this dream. Hated those memories.

But what could he do? There was no running from the truth of the past.

Chapter 5: Toga's Time To Shine


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

These were the times when Himiko Toga felt most alive.

Talking was boring, scheming was a necessary evil. Getting out in the field, digging right into a job, now that was fun. Butterflies swirled in the pits of her stomach as she skipped down the ramp into the underground parking garage beneath the Endeavour Agency building. There was supposed to be a guard on duty, but something about short skirts and a small, pleading voice had a tendency to render them blind, allowing her to slip right through, chomping down on her gum as if it was the concrete she skipped over.

It wasn’t just the thrill of the hunt, either; Something about descending into the bowls of the dimly-lit garage just made her tingle all over. If there was one thing that the Shigaraki Detective Agency gave her more than anything else, it was the one thing she always wanted out of her life: A bit of excitement. Apparently, such a thing was too much to ask of the rest of the world. All of the boring planning bits were out of the way and she had everything she needed. Enji Todoroki’s licence plate, a physical description of the Mimi girl and the time. Lunch time. She would probably be coming down for a smoke in a couple of minutes.

In the meantime…

Himiko made her way through the garage, putting up the act of a ditzy schoolgirl searching for her lost bag, as she kept an eye out for the hero’s car. Endeavour had a chauffeur, apparently, but he seemed to spend his free time at the coffee shop across the road, so not much to worry about there.

It didn’t actually take too long to find it. A gorgeous thing, really, big and black and carrying with it an unmistakable air of elegance. She had initially wondered why a man who could more or less fly through the air would bother with the morning commute; She was starting to see the exact reason.

“This is cool…” She murmured as she drew her phone and snapped a few photographs. She was almost a little disappointed by what had to come next.

Scurrying to the vehicle’s hood, she latched her fingers under it and began to heave it up with all her might, as she recalled Jin’s instructions to her. The best way to mess up an engine in a way that didn’t appear too suspicious.

As she opened it up, the thick stench of gasoline hit her like a truck. Not that she was complaining; The smell reminded her of Jin in a way, though it was a fair deal fainter on him. Alas, trying not to let the aroma distract her, she turned on her phone’s flashlight and set it on the edge of the hood, allowing her to see the inner workings of the engine. Proper diesel engine. No big surprise. Nobody trusted electric cars, after the incident about a half century back. Navigating the insides of the engine, Himiko reached under her skirt and drew a long, slim knife from the pouch strapped to her thigh. That should do the job.

Leaning in, so that her head was completely obscured beneath the opened hood, she quickly located what Jin called the fuel line. It already looked pretty worn, no big surprise given the virtual antiquity of the car. That didn’t make it any less fiddly as she tried to get a good grip on the thing and saw through it with the knife. For a moment or so, she was getting worried that it wouldn’t go through, but her fears were set aside as the thing broke away, trickling fuel from it as she let out a little grin.

“Another satisfied customer.” She quipped away to herself as she leaned back out of the car, dusting her hands down and slamming the hood. She had always wanted to do that.

With all that said and done, she was ready for the next stage. And as luck would have it, she didn’t have to go all too far for it.

Mimi stood by the elevators leading up to the main building, wedged in between the ticket machines and taking short, curt puffs of her cigarette, drifting fumes up into the concrete ceiling. She seemed more than a little preoccupied, her mind alright with all the stresses and contortions of modern-day office life. How HImiko didn’t envy it at all. She certainly didn’t seem to be in the mood for dealing with the overly bubbly schoolgirl approaching. Her eyes practically rolled into the back of her head.

“Hi…” Himiko notioned as she drew nearer. “Hi, hi, you work here, right?”

Finishing a long drag, Mimi lowered the cigarette and glared across at the younger woman. “Sure. What of it?”

“Weelllllll… I’ve lost my bag here, been looking for it most the day. I kinda… Need it. Got personal stuff in there, you know?”

“Right.” Mimi sounded about as uninterested in the whole ordeal as a person could be, straightening herself up from the wall and flattening down her skirt. “Sorry, not seen it. Now, I’ve really got to-”

Even as she spoke, she was turning and that was when Himiko took her opportunity, leaping up and wrapping her arms around Mimi’s throat, choking the Kitsune out as she gasped for breath, sinking into a fluffy heap on the floor.

“Sweet dreams, sweet dreams…” Himiko whispered over and over, not even considering releasing the hold until her target had well and truly nodded off. “There we go… Good girl, Good girl…”

Finally, Mimi did go limp and Himiko let go, allowing her to drop completely.

“There we are.” She murmured as she kneeled down by the body, removed Mimi’s blazer and drew her knife. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now, just a little prick…” Bringing the blade up, she rolled up the secretary’s sleeve and punctured the skin on her shoulder, drawing a thin, steady supply of blood. Himiko watched it dribble down with expanding intrigue until she reckoned there was enough to last her a couple of hours.

“You’ve been a real pal, Mimi. I appreciate this.” She mumbled as she leaned in to the shoulder. “Honest.”

— — —

With Mimi safely tucked away someplace where she was unlikely to be found anytime soon with Himiko’s clothes, the floor was now the little bloodsucker’s. All it took was a sample of blood and “Mimi” was making her way up the elevator, adjusting to the new look. Especially the feel of the fur on her face. She wondered how heteromorphs ever got used to this sort of thing. It was a weird feeling, for sure. Regardless, she kept her mind focused on the job as she took out her phone and dialled her boss’ number.

“Toga.” Came Shigaraki’s voice as soon as he picked up. “All good?”

“All good, Tomura.” Himiko confirmed. “Got myself all dolled up, heading to Endeavour’s office now.”

“Nice. Told you that reading that layout would pay off.”

“Well, yeah… But it was still boring.”

“Whether it was boring or not isn’t really relevant.” Shigaraki sighed. “It did the job, and that’s what matters. Still, what’s it like?”

“Hm?” Himiko tilted her head to the side.

“Being a Kitsune. How’s it feel?”

“Weird.” Was her reply. “She has a stupid hole in the back of her skirt for her tail, it feels really strange and was a pain to get on.”

“Sounds fun.” Shigaraki snickered. “You got her mannerisms down?”

“Oh, that’s easy. Grumpy little she-troll. I could play a part like that in my sleep.”

She could practically hear him rolling his eyes on the other end of the line. “Clearly your talents are wasted on our agency.”

“Exactly.” She giggled, hanging up the call as the lift came to a stop, the doors slipping open with that soft hydraulic hiss. And so, out she stepped into the brand-new world of the Endeavour Hero Agency’s hallowed halls.

Himiko had not grown up particularly wealthy, even back when her family still meant something to her, she hadn’t been living the high life. Time spent living rough hadn’t meant much luxury either and while her job with Shigaraki put a roof over her head, she was still acquainted to the seedy ends of Musutafu; The red lights, the dingy back alleys, the trash piled up high enough to suffocate a girl. This was something so far removed from that, it was hard to believe it was localised within the same city. Clean, professional, peaceful.

“A whole different world…” She murmured internally as she scuttled forwards, checking for the office of the man who ran the whole operation. In doing so, she passed all sorts, from janitors to actual, real heroes. Himiko wasn’t sure if she had ever seen one up close in her life before, though these ones weren’t particularly impressive, given that they only seemed around her age, most likely just interning for the agency. They didn’t pay her a second glance, either; She supposed that there wasn’t much reason to do so. She was just the grumpy secretary, after all. Doing what secretaries did best.

In the end, Endeavour’s office was not hugely difficult to locate, in spite of the grand scale of the place. It was certainly signposted well enough for her, given the overindulgent plaque mounted above the door. As it turned out, however, that plaque was a rather fitting metaphor for the room within as a whole. Even Himiko, for all her love of excess and glamour, thought that it all seemed a bit much. Like the office of a corrupt CEO from a movie or something along those lines. Delicately carved wooden furnishings that probably cost more than the Shigaraki Agency would make off cases in a year, meticulously polished floors that provided Himiko with a blindingly strong reflection of the face she was currently wearing, floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a downright breathtaking view of the city spread out before her; From so high up, Musutafu didn’t actually look so bad, when all one could see were the skyscrapers and monuments, with the filth and the grime of the inner city obscured from view.
“So, this is what they see every day…”

She actually had to snap herself out of the trance she found herself in gazing out at it and get back to the task at hand. Producing the bugs - which she had thankfully remembered to take out of her cardigan - from her pockets, she held them up to the lights, while thinking about how to go about this.

Compress had given her some pointers on the whole thing. Lamps, the underside of desk drawers, the kind of places where someone was unlikely to look unless they had a good reason to suspect something, yet still useful enough to pick up anything important. Himiko certainly hoped it would work, the office was a lot bigger than she had expected, even from looking at the plans. Regardless, pulling off Mimi’s blazer and rolling up her sleeves, she got to work.

One went under the lamp shield in the north-west corner, another fixed to one of the wheels of Endeavour’s chair, one on the underside of the drawer and one more - this one she was particularly proud of - wedged beneath the keyboard of the hero’s desktop, achieved by pulling out a few keys, slotting the bug in and quickly replacing them. She set it under the NumPad, so she reckoned it was unlikely that he would ever be using those keys on a frequent basis.

That left her with just one more… She was fairly certain she had pretty good coverage already, but it would be a bit of a shame, surely, to go back with one in hand. If she could just find one more really good place…

She scanned the room, and scanned and scanned. Nothing seemed to stand out to her. Then, she angled her head up…


Those roof tiles seemed easy enough to remove, she had experience with taking them out when trying to clear the rats out of Shigaraki’s office. Surely…

Before she had time to hesitate, she pulled off those stupid high heels that Mimi had been wearing and hauled herself up onto the desk, setting aside the newspaper that had been resting there. From there, she stretched herself up to her fullest height - which thankfully, was a bit taller than her usual form - and reached up, where she was just grazing the ceiling with the tips of her paws.

After a few attempts, she managed to knock the tile loose, allowing herself a hushed little “yippie” as she stretched her arms a little further, taking the last bug and slipping it oh so carefully into place. She held her tongue as she moved the device into positioning, then went to placing the tile back, in just such a manner that it left a small gap while being too noticeable.

“Couldn’t you have been a bit taller, Mimi?” She strained as she tried to lodge it back into place, aware of how strange she most likely looked, standing on her boss’ desk with no shoes and no jacket, and sweating up a storm. It didn’t help that, unknown to her, her tail had turned into a propeller at some point, the speed at which it was wagging.

And then, it all came to a head.

The doors to the office opened in, and a shadow fell across the desk. Himiko froze, her eyes going small in their sockets, as she stood there, still trying to put the tile back into place.

For a moment, nothing.

Then a booming voice.

“What the hell are you doing in my office, Sakamoto?”


You may have observed in this chapter that Toga's Quirk has been slightly altered.

In short, one factor in the main series I've always found odd is how clothing works. We know that it does give Toga the clothes of the person she turns into, but this raises quite a few questions. How does it determine what clothing to use? Is it whatever they were wearing at time of extraction? Or at time of her actually transforming? What is the clothing actually made out of? It melts along with her disguise, so is it just a part of her body? Can she take it off and change it? Is it just a permanent part of her until she switches back to normal? For me, it raises too many questions ranging from confusing to disturbing, so I've retconned the whole thing and said that Toga's Quirk only allows for her to take on the physical characteristics of her target, nothing involving clothing at all. This change also, consequently, makes it a slightly more tactical Quirk, requiring more forethought and planning, and making it less overpowered when used on the fly. Simply turning into someone else and escaping is now a less viable option for her, since she also has to account for finding clothes that both fit the new physique and make sense for the person she's disguised as.

Toga's Quirk won't be the only example of this, Double will be hit with it as well. Basically, I just want to take some of the Quirks that... Let's be polite and say their cool factor was prioritised over logic, and retool them just a little bit to make slightly more sense.

Chapter 6: Evade The Past


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Himiko was frozen in place, frozen in time, her mouth dry as a dock, as she heard Endeavour’s voice. Damn. Not good, not good at all.

“Sakamoto.” The hero repeated. “What are you doing in here?”

“Sir?” She answered, her voice a high-pitched squeak, as she slowly turned to face him, trying her best to try and formulate some sort of excuse. “I- I- I found…” Then, her mind clicked. “A rat, Sir! I found a rat scurrying around! I was checking the ceiling to see if he had come from up there.”

The hero eyed her with suspicion as she slowly crawled down from the desk. He was an even more imposing figure than she expected. He had to at least be six and a half feet, a towering, rippling figure who radiated sheer authority and power. Beneath his shadow, Himiko felt even tinier than she usually did. His face betrayed no emotion, no sign of if he was believing her story or not.

“Rats?” He stated, slowly and methodically. “Rats in here?”

“Y- Yes!” Himiko yipped. “Big ones. He was running around the place. I was just in here getting…” Her mind flashing into panic mode once more, she grabbed the newspaper off the desk and held it up. “Disposing of this for you! You’ve already read it by now, right?”

“That wasn’t even here when I left.” The hero countered as he walked towards her.

Even more sweat broke out across Himiko’s forehead. Crap. She should have just said she was delivering it. “I- Well, I thought it was yesterday’s edition!” She fretted, turning it over to examine it. The article didn’t give her much help, just another report on the rise of the RS. “That says October 8th, right? Right?!”

Reaching her with his impressive physique, Endeavour snatched the paper right out of her hands. “This says October 9th.” He confirmed after scanning it for just a few seconds. “Today.”

“I- Well… Silly me.” Himiko giggled. “You know me and my eyesight, Sir. You-”

She was cut off as, with sudden, terrifying force, he grabbed her by the wrist. “You know my rules, you damn idiot. No one in here without my permission.”

“Wha- I-” Himiko felt light tears bubble at the edges of her eyes as his fingers dug into her flesh. It was just like Dad. Just like what Dad had always done when she misbehaved. She instinctively brought up her free hand to shield her face. “I’m sorry, Sir, I’m sorry! I just wasn’t thinking-”

“Well, next time, think a little harder.” The hero sighed as he released his grip, pushing her in the direction of the door, where she stood, huffing and puffing. Had she gotten away with it? Was he done with her, now? It was impossible to tell, especially in her now-frazzled state. She gradually straightened herself out, wiping the tears from her eyes.

“I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” She bowed profusely.

“Just make sure of it. And go call the exterminators.” He ordered as he went to his seat, leaving HImiko to scuttle out of the room. As she reached the doors, she wasn’t sure what to think. She took one last glance at Endeavour before hurrying away.

Maybe Sako had a point. Maybe they really were messing with the wrong guy.

No. No. As she leaned on the wall outside of the office, taking long, deep breaths, she reassured herself. She had done everything she could. The bugs were planted. Mission accomplished. That was how she had to look at it. That was the only way she could look at it.

Then, the doors were forced open once more and she felt her soul freeze up all over again. Looming in the doorway, Endeavour glared at her as he tossed over her shoes and blazer.

“You’re awfully scatterbrained today…” He muttered, as Himiko gratefully took the clothes and quickly put them back on. “Not like you at all.”

“We all have bad days, Sir.” Himiko squirmed. “Wouldn’t you say?”

— — —

“It’s been a while, don’t you think?” Iguchi pondered as he lay spread out on the couch, hands behind his head as the TV played old reruns of some ancient drama in the background. “Shouldn’t we have heard from Toga-chan by now?”

“Maybe…” Shigaraki reflected as he sat at his desk. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. Toga wasn’t exactly the best at following orders, so it wasn’t at all out of the question that she had either forgotten or decided not to call back. Yet, in their line of work, it was downright dangerous to assume such a thing. Preparing for the worst was so much more vital when the worst involved jail time at best. “Bubaigawara’s waitin’ in the area… We could send him in now, see if he can figure out what the deal is.”

“I mean… It could work. Just not sure what it would do. If Toga’s in some sorta trouble, it’ll only get him stuck in it as well.” Iguchi took a few more seconds to think. “What about Compress?”

“Sako’s out of the area.” Shigaraki shook his head. “Down in Kiyashi, dealing with that whole wounded ex case he’s got going on.”

“God.” Iguchi snorted. “Hate to be him. We get this exciting hero sh*t and he’s stuck with some lovesick teenagers.”

“Trust me.” Shigaraki assured. “He’s probably having the time of his life right about now. Something nice and easy and not overly dangerous. That’s his whole style, ain’t it?”

“True that, man, true that. I’ll never get that guy. Never in a million years.”

“Y’know, Iguchi, I think I agree with you on that.” Shigaraki noted as he planted his feet up on the desk. “Still, as long as he’s happy.”

Before any more words could be exchanged, there was a sudden flurry and the door to the office was flung open.

“Hi guys!” Toga bubbled as she charged through. “Guess what this gal did?”

“Lobotomy?” Iguchi theorised.

“No such luck.” Shigaraki rolled his eyes. “Toga, you have a phone, right?”

“Eh?” And then it hit her. “Oh! Bugger, I knew I’d forgotten something. Stupid… Heh.” She chuckled anxiously. “Sorry, Tomura. But the good news is, mission accomplished! Stage one is a-go!” As she flourished, she leapt up onto the desk and sat on the corner, forcing Shigaraki’s feet out of the way as she did so.

“Not bad, not bad.” He smirked. “Bugs planted, then?”

“Yup.” Toga saluted. “All ready and raring.”

“And the car?”


“And all without any issues?”

This sapped a bit of the girl’s radiant confidence as her posture slumped for a couple of seconds before returning to normal. Well, as normal as she could be. “No. No probs, Tomura. All went smoothly. I hope Mimi will be waking up from her nap soon, though. She’s really quite cute, it would be a shame to waste her…”

“You really say the weirdest things sometimes.” Iguchi mused. “You know that?”

To this, the girl stuck her tongue out. “You speak almost exclusively in video game slang, Shuichi.”

“And on this thrilling episode of pot meet kettle…” Shigaraki rolled his eyes as he turned his attention to his laptop, scrolling through to check on the bugs. Sure enough, they all seemed to be picking up sound, with minimal disturbances. “Not bad, Toga, not bad at all. Sounds like good coverage to me, minimal echo, I like it.”

This got her beaming with pride. “Thanks, Tomura! So, when do you reckon it’ll be Jin’s turn/”

“Who knows?” Shigaraki shrugged. “Prolly a couple hours, once they realise the car’s f*cked. Iguchi, keep an eye on the calls, okay? If they put one out to the garage, I want it intercepted. Capiche?”

“No problemo, Boss.” Iguchi nodded, sliding off the couch and standing back up. “Consider it taken care of.”

“Good man.” Shigaraki flexed his fingers above his head. Things were going surprisingly smoothly all things considered. And, despite Sako’s misgivings, he didn’t have much faith in there being any real danger. It was unlikely that this whole Toya Todoroki thing was a concoction of the paranoid mind of a still-grieving brother. “This might just be the easiest three hundred grand we’ll ever make.”

“Hm…” He didn’t really pick up on it at the time, but something about Toga’s voice suggested in an oh so subtle manner that she was not fully convinced. “Yeah…”

— — —

There was no better feeling in the world than a drink with a friend, Jin Bubaigawara reckoned.

And when said friend was himself, well, all the merrier.

“It’s just weird, dontcha think?” The cloned Bubaigawara posited as he sat back and took a few quaint sips from his glass. “I guarantee you that they wouldn’t have gone this way without some sorta motivation.”

“Eh, you’re speaking outta your ass.” The real deal dismissed. “Or my ass. Whatever. They’re terrorists an’ stuff, terrorists gotta terror.”

“But like, they weren’t always.” The Double insisted. “I was at one of their protests once, they were pretty peaceful-”

“I was at their protests.” Bubaigawara reminded. “Not you, Buster. But yeah, they did seem a little more reserved back then… Still, though, who knows?” He drew his finger along the newspaper sitting in front of him. “It is what it is. Not like whatever the hell RS is up to affects us that much.”

“True that.” Double nodded. “Gotta keep our eyes on the prize an’ all of that.”

Only a few moments later, Bubaigawara’s phone burst to life, prompting him to draw it out of his pocket, accepting the call without even checking who it was. “Y’ello?”

“Bubaigawara?” It was Shigaraki’s unmistakable voice. “We’re ready. Call’s been made, mechanic’s expected.”

“Alrighty.” Bubaigawara’s heart leapt to life. Things were finally starting to get going. Glancing over, he nodded to his Double. “You know what to do, right?”

“Yup. Still don’t get why you can’t do it, though.”

“You’re the expendable one.” Bubaigawara shrugged. “Can’t risk messing up my pretty face when you’re around to take the blows for me. ‘Sides, you’re the real winner, here. You get all the excitement.”

“Fair enough.” Double raised his glass in acknowledgement before he reached down, grabbed his toolbox and headed out of the bar, leaving his true self to his drink as he made his way down towards the Endeavour Agency. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was for sure not a pleasant one. The throngs of people all around him and the stench of decay and pollution that hung in the air were too potent to truly ignore. He didn’t like to think of himself as the cynical sort, but it could certainly be hard when faced with the reality of the world around him. Still, all he could really do was put on a happy face and try not to think too hard about it as he got on with the job.

Sage advice for anyone, really.

One of the things that Bubaigawara had learned, initially during his time as a mechanic and especially while working with the Agency, was that being official was ninety percent looking official, ten percent sounding official. All it took was a show of his uniform and toolbox to get him into Endeavour’s building, past the receptionist and all the way down to the parking garage. It was almost a little disappointing how easy the whole thing was. It was only marginally harder to find the car itself, given that there was a rather tall gentleman standing by it and waving him over.

“Yo.” Bubaigawara introduced himself as he sauntered to the man. “Hear you’ve been havin’ some trouble here?”

“Yes.” The man confessed. “Some rather major trouble, as I’m sure your boss gathered.” He pointed to the car behind him. “This is my employer’s car.”

Bubaigawara whistled as he glanced at it. “E-man knows how to treat himself, I see.”

“E-man?” The gentleman repeated, baffled.

“Yeah, y’know, E-man, Endeavour. He’s your boss, right? This is his ride?” Moving over to it, Bubaigawara immersed himself in its legitimate beauty. “She is something, my man.” Running his hand over it, he was hit with a wave of nostalgia, memories of a long-gone age before life started getting hard. “Gorgeous… Anyway, what’s the problem?” Leaning against the vehicle, he folded his arms over his chest. “I’ll be happy to get this sorted ASAP, then I’ll be outta your hair. Bitta luck and it won’t take long at all.”

“Well, I’m not the most knowledgeable on these sorts of things.” The gentleman confessed. “I’m only a driver after all.”

“Sure.” Bubaigawara replied, holding back any barbed retorts. A professional driver who didn’t even know the basics. Whoever heard of it?

“Well, it really just… Won’t start. That’s the long and short of it.” He explained. “The thing just won’t begin.”

“I see.” Wishing he had some gum to be chewing on, Bubaigawara spun and went to flip open the car’s hood. As he did so, he got a good look at Toga’s handiwork. Not bad indeed. “Ahh… Yeah, there’s your problem.”

“What is it?” The man bristled, hovering over Bubaigawara’s shoulder. He seemed anxious, probably not too thrilled at the prospect of his boss’ reaction to the state of the car.

“You want the good or bad news first?” Bubaigawara asked, though he continued without awaiting a response. “Good news is, I can tell what this is straight away. You see this?” He pointed to the fuel line. “Thing’s snapped off completely. Engine’s probably flooded.”

“Oh, I see. Aren’t these things supposed to be durable?”

“Oh, for sure, but this…” Bubaigawara gestured to the car. “She’s a beaut, but she’s an old beaut, ain’t she? These things can happen with age. Y’know, like with people, their minds can start to wander a bit as they get older, cars start breaking down… All this is to give you the bad news, which is I’m not gonna be able to sort this out with my current tools.”

“Oh.” The disappointment in the gentleman’s face was almost heartbreaking. “So, what’s going on with it, then?”

“Well, I know some guys back at the office, we can get it fixed up with the proper equipment in… About an hour and a half.” Bubaigawara elaborated. “We’ll just have to get it towed there, of course, if it isn’t an issue.”

“Oh, no, no problem at all!” The gentleman professed. “And you’ll bring it back here once it’s done?”

“E-man won’t even notice it’s gone.” Bubaigawara assured. “You got a phone? Sorry, don’t carry on me.”

“Oh, right.” The gentleman tossed his phone over, to which Bubaigawara began dialling Shinji’s number. An associate of the Agency who owned his own mechanic shop, he was always willing to help out, regardless of how illegitimate the job may be. He owed the Agency a favour after they figured out an incident involving his daughter a few months back, so he would be more than willing to repair the car plus plant the bug for them, giving a decent discount for the whole thing.

The perks of being shady, one would suppose.

“We’ll get this nice and sorted for ya. Your car is safe with us.”


Another little Quirk retcon here, this one being that, although Double replicates the clothes worn by the clone at time of the measurements being taken, it does not replicate equipment in any way. Physical objects such as phones, weapons, et cetera, as demonstrated by how the Twice Double needed to ask to use the assistant's phone to call Shinji.

You can really tell I'm autistic, can't you? The way that such minor lapses of logic in a superhero manga annoy me so much.

Chapter 7: Hunter Turns Hunted

Chapter Text

“You are joking.” Sako muttered as he stared across at the young girl, who could best be described in no ill-intended terms as looking like a fish. It had something to do with her Quirk, gills and all. Not that he was one to judge. In fact, the very problem was that he now had to deal with people who would. “Surely he isn’t that stupid.”

“Ryuji…” Hana sighed, casting her gaze down. “He does a lot of stupid things.”

“But this really does top it, wouldn’t you say?” The detective expressed. “Are you really sure that this is the case?”

“I’m sure of it.” She insisted. “Ryuji… Ryuji’s grandfather is a part of the Brotherhood. I believe he really would try to set them on me…”

“Well, pardon my language, but that’s patently bloody stupid. Does he think they’ll give him a pass for being in a relationship with such a lovely lass as yourself? He’s a race traitor as far as they are concerned. He’s not the brightest, is he?”

A flicker of a grin illuminated Hana’s face. “He never was.”

“Good God…” Leaning back, Sako let the information sink in. “Well, I must confess that this isn’t exactly a promising revelation. As a rule, we at the Shigaraki Detective Agency like to stay away from any Creature Rejection Clan affiliates. Even coming into contact with them leaves a… Thick stain in our conscience.” He watched as her face fell. “However, we’re not heartless, and given the possible threat to your wellbeing here, we shall treat this with the utmost seriousness. So please, do tell me, Hana. Do you know where this pack of Brotherhood thugs may be located?”

“Yeah…” She nodded. “Ryuji used to brag about them. They hang out by the old shrine apparently. Converted it into their-”

No more words came out from her mouth, however, before the world was flung into chaos, glass shattering as a brick was hurled through the window of the second floor apartment. Moving quickly, Sako grabbed Hana and forced her down onto the ground, out of line of sight - or aim - from the windows. He felt her heaving and sobbing beneath him. This poor girl was absolutely terrified, and with good reason.

After a moment or two passed with no further incident, he got up, gesturing for her to remain on the floor. Quietly and deftly, he moved to where the brick had landed, picking it up and examining it.

“Do we have any doubts as to who might be behind this little stunt?” He pondered aloud.

“N- No…” Hana moaned. “None at all…”

“Well, this really isn’t cricket.” Grabbing the brick and reducing it to a sparkling blue marble in his palm, Sako made his way to the window and, no doubt to the shock of Hana, started climbing through it.

“Woah!” She spat. “What are you-”

“I shan’t be long.” Sako promised, turning to face her as he hung out over the street below. “Just please, turn the heating on. You’ll catch a chill on an evening such as this.” And with that, he let himself drop with startling grace, all the way down.

— — —

Tearing off down the streets, Ryuji ran, ran as fast as his legs could carry him. With a bit of luck, that would scare Hana into getting back with him. It had to, right? She always was a coward. This way, he might not even have to get Gramps involved after all. His trainers slapped against the wet pavement as he bolted, paying no heed to anyone or anything around him, just focused on getting as far away as possible before cops showed up. That would be the last thing he needed.

He was a fast runner, for sure. Fast enough to outrun a brick chucked at breakneck speeds? Not quite.

The object struck him in the back, knocking him off his balance and sending him reeling down to the ground with a short shout of pain. “Hey!” He yelped. “The hell, man?!”

Striding up calmly behind him, hands in his pockets, Sako remained unmoved. “I could ask you the exact same thing.” He replied, reaching the downed teen and planting his boot square on his hand, drawing another pained howl. “That was not very sporting of you, was it… Ryuji?”

“Gah- What gives, ya creepy old bastard?” Ryuji squirmed, trying to break free of the tight grip forced on his hand.

“What gives, Ryuji, is that you just pelted a brick through that lovely young lady’s window. You can see why I am a little perturbed by that, can you not? It’s a very odd thing to do.”

“That ain’t none of your business, man.” Ryuji grunted. “It’s between me and that bitch.”

“But you see, it actually is my business.” Kneeling down by Ryuji, Sako produced his card. “Atsuhiro Sako, I’m a private detective. Hana has hired me to… Encourage you to leave her alone.”

“Yeah? Damn, the snake…”

“She’s the snake and yet you punted a brick through a defenceless young girl’s window to intimidate her.” Sako mused. “You threatened to send your allies in the Brotherhood against her too, did you not?”

“Dunno nothin’... About no Brotherhood.”

“Really? Your grandfather has no involvement in it?”

“Don’t have a grandad… Now get the hell off my hand!”

“In a second, I promise.” Sako assured. “Before that, however… You’re going to take me to meet your grandfather and his little friends. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?”

“I told you, retard! I don’t have no-”

“You really must work on your vocabulary.” Sako lamented as he twisted his foot a little. “Now, are you really sure you don’t have one?”

“So what if I do… The hell you gonna do about it?”

“Well…” Sako glanced up to the darkening sky. “I’m going to hand you into the local police station- After turning you so black and blue you’ll look like a heteromorph yourself. Do we have an understanding here, Ryuji? I am quite sure you’re not as stupid as you may appear.”

Unsurprisingly, that was when Ryuji decided to have something of a change of heart. “Okay, fine man. Jesus, just get off me.”

“I’m glad we could come to this arrangement.” Sako nodded. “I think it shall work out just swimmingly for the both of us.”

— — —

Something about walking Ryuji all the way over to the shrine where his grandfather - and quite possibly the myriad goons of the Brotherhood - resided made Sako feel like he was a father again, dragging a rather reluctant child along on a leash. Granted, Ryuji was a decade older than Umi had ever been, but maturity-wise, he was about there. Actually, maybe a little less so.

“You’re makin’ a big mistake here, man.” Ryuji scoffed as he kept his hands dug into his pockets, kicking up loose fragments of the pavement as he led Sako to the locations. “Gramps is gonna f*ck you up bad.”

“I’m sure he is.” Sako responded with a thin, crisp sarcasm. “How old is he, exactly? Seventy? Eighty?”

“Eighty-six…” The boy grunted. “But that don’t mean a damn thing when you hear his name.”

“Oh? And that name is?”

“Heh.” Ryuji snickered. “None other than Hideki Okumura.”

“Hideki-” Sako paused to think. It sounded vaguely familiar, but… “I can’t say I’ve ever really heard the name.”

Seeing the colour drain from Ryuji’s face just like that was downright priceless, almost making the whole excursion worth it. Even so, he wasn’t entirely sure that he meant what he said. Something about it rang familiar and yet…


“Oh, wait a minute…” Sako halted. “Okumura… I think I do know… Do you mean the hero?”

“Hell yeah I do!” Ryuji nodded smugly. “The one and only! The Outlier himself! See what I mean, now? You don’t wanna f*ck with a guy like him.”

After a few moments of contemplation, Sako shrugged, an ambulance whipping past them, its blaring siren breaking his concentration. “I’m still not really that bothered.”

“Yeah, I- You what?”

With that, he urged Ryuji to keep moving. “Outlier was even before my time, Son. He’s not been relevant in three decades. I only know him from old reports. I know more about you than I do him. And as you yourself said, he’s rapidly approaching ninety. Call me prejudiced, which would be ironic for you, but I don’t really believe that he shall be much of a threat at his age.”

“Tch.” Ryuji scoffed. “You haven’t got a clue, man. He’s gonna shove a pole up your ass.”

“Well, we’ve all got that sight to look forward to.” Sako rolled his eyes. “Now, can we try to pick up the pace? I’ve still got some questions to wrap up with Hana back there.”

The rest of their trip proceeded in silence, with Ryuji’s ego seeming sufficiently bruised by the conversation about his has-been grandfather. As such, no further surprises resulted as they made their way to the shrine.

What was a bit more of a surprise came when they arrived at their destination and manifested itself in the form of quite the circus outside. The darkening sky was aflame with bleeding red lights, police and medical vehicles parked up by the entrance as throngs of people stood by the entrance, trying to figure out what was going on.

“Eh?” Ryuji raised an eyebrow as he approached. “The hell’s this?”

“I’m wondering the same thing.” Sako mused. “Though, this all seems a little sacrilegious to me.” And he didn’t just mean the crowds. Moving closer, the pair merged with the crowd, trying to push their way through it to get to the front and - much like everybody else - ignoring the pleas from the stationed officers to disperse. Getting to the head of it all was a more severe battle than Sako could recall in recent times, plenty of elbows and knees and nearly running directly into people, earning plenty of harsh glares and muttered insults.

Once they got to the front, however…

“Oh f*ck…” Sako felt Ryuji freeze up right next to him. “f*ck, man… No… No…”

The reaction was warranted. Once they got to the front of the crowd, they could see the scene in all of its glory. And it was far from attractive. A body, pinned to the front of the Honden in the crucifix position. The extent of the mutilation was horrific, the face barely recognisable as human and fresh scars drawn across every inch of the man’s naked body. Above his remains, a single word was painted in what looked disturbingly like blood:


“No… You’re f*cking joking…” There was a new tone to Ryuji’s words, the ego and smarminess all gone, replaced by sheer, disbelieving horror. “Gramps… Gramps!”

“So, this…” Sako found himself having to avert his gaze as he could gaze upon the corpse no more. “This is him… God… Ryuji, I…”

The boy had already fallen to his knees, tears streaming down his face as tortured, strangled sobs gurgled from his throat. Despite everything, Sako felt his paternal instincts kicking in, putting his hand on Ryuji’s back, doing all that he could to provide some sort of comfort.

“Look…” He ventured, slowly and carefully. “I… I understand the severity of the situation here. I’m… Not going to follow you up on this. Just leave Hana alone and we won’t have any more trouble.”

What could he do? What could he possibly do?

Nothing. He simply turned and walked away, leaving the kid to his sorrow.

Chapter 8: Asphalt Jungle

Chapter Text

“... Police have since identified the body as belonging to eighty-six year old Hideki Okumura, the former Pro Hero once known as Outlier.” Explained the woman upon the TV screen, who seemed just a little bit too peppy about the whole situation. “Okumura spent a long and illustrious career as a hero, though not one that wasn’t dogged with controversy, with his ties to the anti-heteromorph hate group known as the Brotherhood serving as a key point of contention in both his private and personal life…”

“And another one bites the dust.” Shigaraki commented as he turned a balled-up tissue to ash in his hands, feet up on the desk once more. “An’ another one gone, another one gone-”

“And you saw this happen, Atsuhiro?” Toga murmured, eyes bulging with astonishment as she glanced up at him.

“That… Would very much be the wrong assertion.” Sako assured as he sat next to her on the sofa, nursing a few loose cuts on the palm of his hands from where he had leapt out of a broken window. “I saw the immediate aftermath, the body in person.”

“That’s so cool…” The girl muttered. “Lucky.”

“Let me assure you, young Toga, that the blur on the television is for the best.” He shook his head. “Words can’t even describe what it was like.”

“God…” Bubaigawara uttered. “But still, on a lighter note, we got all the bugs dealt with. All the bugs I can think of, at least.” He cast his gaze over his shoulder. “Hey, Boss-man, what’s the deal with his house, then?”

“Eh.” Shigaraki was apathetic at best. Something about the murder had managed to more or less bore him of the current task. “We’ll wait and see if some easy way of doing it crops up at some point. Otherwise, we just keep our ears on the bugs and see if they pick anything up. Speaking of…” He snapped his eyes over to the corner of the room, where Iguchi sat on his laptop. “Anything interesting?”

Quickly, the young heteromorph closed his League of Legends tab, craning his neck to his superior. “Not really, Boss; Nothing really worthwhile. A buncha conversations about boring hero crap and that’s about it.”

“Thrilling. Still, just another couple weeks of that to endure. Until then…” Taking his feet back off the desk, Shigaraki moved to examined the litany of post-it notes. “... We’ve got some minor jobs to do, stimulate our economy a bit.” His eyes went down the list. “Ahhh. Iguchi, I’ve got the perfect job for you.”

“You have?” Iguchi whipped around in his chair. “What’s the deets? Tail some guys, take care of some rowdy kids?”

“Something like that…” Shigaraki grinned sheepishly. “Sort of.”

— — —

Iguchi made a mental note to never take up one of Shigaraki’s offers again, as he stood out in the bitter afternoon, staring up at the towering tree, perhaps one of the few bits of greenery left in Musutafu. If one squinted, at the very top, the faint signs of rustling activity could be seen.

“You’re joking…” He sighed as he peered up. “For real?”

“Thank you so much for your help.” The old lady next to him gushed. “I just… I don’t know how to get him down. I’ve tried calling, offering him treats, nothing works. The nice young man on the phone said he had someone just for the job.”

“You called up a detective agency…” Iguchi reiterated. “Because your cat is lodged up there?”

“Well, of course. I tried the police, but they said it was a waste of their time.” She glanced down. “It’s sickening, you know. Not the officers, they’re absolute darlings, but the state of their department. I’ll tell you, when my husband was on the force, they were something to be reckoned with. Now, they’ve barely got enough people to run traffic stops. It breaks the heart. That Governor Ikutsuki really needs to try and secure better funding for them-”

“Look, Miss, do you want me to do this for you?” Iguchi asked, hoping that he could at the very least get her to stop talking for a second.

“Oh, yes!” She begged. “You’re a real sweetheart, thank you!”

“Steady on, I haven’t even done it yet…” Iguchi grunted bitterly as he moved over to the tree’s thick, coiling trunk and feeling the little claws dug into the pores of his skin catch a hold. He wouldn’t be so sore about it if this sort of thing wasn’t the only practical use for his Quirk.

On paper, it sounded awesome. Crawling up walls like Spider-man? Who wouldn’t want that? As it turned out, the old Iguchi family curse was not to be deterred as young Shuichi had somehow managed to get himself the most useless possible permutation of a potentially cool Quirk. The little claws lost their effect over time, and not a long time, either. All it took was a couple of minutes of climbing for him to begin to lose his grip. Factor in that they had virtually no hold on certain materials, like brick and concrete, and what was he left with?

A really good way of hugging trees.

Even as he grumbled away to himself about his circ*mstances, he was ascending, heading up into the bushy overlayer of the tree, in amongst the crisp, reddening leaves. Even in his irritated state, he had to admit that there was something cool about the view from beneath the leaves. Like being a child again at the playpark. It was almost idyllic.

Almost, because as he popped his head up to the upper levels, his ears were filled with a gouging hiss as he felt a coarse scratch across the top of his head. It didn’t break the skin, as far as he could tell, but it was more than enough to throw him off-balance, losing him his grip and sending him plummeting straight down, until he caught hold of a stray branch.

“So of a bitch-” He growled, glancing up to see the cat sitting right there, a few branches above. It really seemed quite comfortable where it was and clearly was not most happy about being disturbed. “You couldn’t get him declawed, lady?” He moaned to himself, working on getting a firmer grip on the branch, which thankfully succeeded.

From there, he struggled to get closer to the feline, making odd noises that even he couldn’t quite explain in some attempt to attract its trust. “C’mon Kitty…” He whispered. “God, I sound like a… C’mon. C’mon.”

This didn’t appear to do much to impress the cat, as it merely stared back at him, as if he had just escaped from the nearest mental institution. Which, he couldn’t exactly blame it for. Still, he moved slowly and carefully, progressing back up, using the branch as a support for him to latch onto the trunk once more; This time, he moved a lot more methodically.

Thankfully, his slow, focused movements appeared to have convinced the cat that the strange, crazy man wasn’t a credible threat at all. So, it remained still as Iguchi slithered up to it.

“There we go, Boy.” He cooed as he came eye level with it. “No claws, okay? No claws. No claws…”

It kept on staring, blinking softly as its head tilted gently to the side. It was sort of cute in a sense. Softly, Iguchi extended an arm, in the hopes of picking it up, or something along those lines. He could only imagine how clear it was that he had never encountered a cat in any great detail, as he fumbled in his attempts to wrangle it. As could be predicted, it wasn’t too happy about his clumsy flailing, letting out an angry squeal as it tried to thrash away from him, leading to what may well have been the world’s most pathetic wrestling match as the pair tangled and coiled around one another in a desperate, if rather pathetic, battle for supremacy.

Eventually, however, Iguchi did manage to catch the feline by the scruff of its neck, pulling it kicking and screaming - quite literally - off the branch and all of the way down the tree. By the time he reached the bottom, he resembled an overly edgy anime villain, complete with claws marks all over his scales, more than anything else.

“Here…” He moaned, handing the cat back to its owner. “Got you… The damn thing…”

For her part, the lady’s gratitude was unmatched. “Thank you!” She professed, holding it close as it seemed to calm down entirely in her arms. “You’re a good young man. So rare nowadays…”

“Yeah, good…” Iguchi struggled as he stood with his hands on his knees, catching his breath. “Worse for wear, but good…” He was really going to have to start taking jobs from Shigaraki without any questions asked. “You know where to send the cheque, right?”

“Of course!” The lady nodded. “And I’ll be sure to include a little extra, just for you!” With that, she turned and headed off on her way, the cat looking over her shoulder and appearing to glare at Iguchi with the same kind of glare a prospect serial killer would give to their victims. That didn’t do much to make him feel any better about his work.

Sighing, Iguchi glanced across the road. Maybe he could at least make the most out of this trip by grabbing some lunch…

“Hey, Iguchi, right?”

Ears perking at his name, he looked behind him to see who had called it. As soon as he did, his stomach sank. “Great…”

“Fancy seeing you here.” Detective Tanuma noted as he came up to Iguchi, hands in his pockets. “You doing well?”

“Tanuma…” Iguchi muttered. “Don’t you have work to be doing?”

“Lunch break.” He explained. “Was just heading to the soba place across the road, saw you up there in that tree. Interesting hobby you’ve got there.”

“Brother…” Turning away, Iguchi went to head across the street. The last thing he wanted was to be talking to the officer right at that moment.

“Hey, come on man.” Tanuma annoyingly did not leave at that point. “I get the sense there’s a bit of bad blood between you and I. How’s your boss, how’s the agency?”

“It’s fine. Now, I’m pretty busy-”

“Good, good. But seriously, what’s the deal with me?” The detective probed as he kept up. “Between you and me, I’m curious about it all. Something I did? You think I’m against heteromorphs or something? Because, I’ll let you know, one of my best friends has the head of a Goddamn cat, that doesn’t bother me at all.”

“I don’t think you’re racist.” Iguchi shrugged. “Not got much evidence for that, anyway.”

“Ah, cool. Is it because I’m a cop, then? We try our best, you know.”

“Nope. No issue with cops.”

“Then…” Gingerly, Tanuma rubbed the back of his head. “Christ man, you know how to keep a fella thinking. What is it? What’s the big deal?”

“It’s really just you.” Iguchi confessed, hoping it would convince him to leave. “You’re just kinda slimy, dude, and it doesn’t matter what your job is. You’d still give me the creeps.”

“Geez…” Tanuma chuckled. “Well, I did ask for honesty. Can’t say a part of me wasn’t expecting that.”

“Yep. Anyway, can I get on-”

“Sure, sure.” Tanuma nodded away. “I’ll get out of your hair. Thanks for that.” He made as if he was about to leave, then stopped. “Oh, yeah. You heard about Okumura, right?”

“Yeah?” Iguchi ventured. “Brotherhood bastard got merced the other day?”

“That’s your man. Well, I’ll give you this much for free, a token of my appreciation for your honesty.” Tanuma explained. “The department, we’re looking at this as a Hero Killer case.”

“You- sh*t…” Iguchi trailed. “Really?” He had figured that the killing had been related to Okumura’s Brotherhood ties. Not a lot of sympathy was out there for the CRC affiliates in the modern age.

“Really. That’s how the higher ups are treating it, at least. The guy was a hero, after all, and the M.O matches what we’ve found at the other scenes. Just figured you’d be interested in hearing that.”

“Right… Sure, thanks.”

“There we go!” Tanuma snapped his fingers. “A bit of appreciation. Was that so hard?”

“When it comes to you? Yeah. But still, thanks.”

“Great.” The detective grinned slyly. “Good luck with your Endeavour job, by the by. If that’s still going on.”

Chapter 9: Yabai

Chapter Text

“You know what it is I miss most, Tomura?” Hakai Shigaraki commented dryly as he sat by the window in front of his protege, the breeze blowing over his face, tousling his wispy white hairs. “It’s the vistas. Seeing the skies, the city… I miss it quite a bit.”

“Not like there’s much to see, is there, Sensei?” The younger, adoptive Shigaraki mumbled gently. “Still the same sh*thole it was when you could see it.”

That got a chuckle out of Hakai. “Fair enough, fair enough. Still, though, sometimes you don’t appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone…” Slowly, he tilted his head in Shigaraki’s general direction. “I can still feel my powers, you know. It flows through me, as potent as the poison in my veins. But I can’t do a damn thing with it. I would once think nothing of clicking my fingers and pushing doors open with sheer force of will. Now, I need the presumably pretty nurse to guide my chair through the frame.” His words were bitter, only faintly subdued by the forced sunshine in his voice. “The things we come to acknowledge as we get older. Heh.”

“Right.” Shigaraki chuckled alongside him, though he had no heart in it. He was struggling to even look at Hakai in that state. It tore him up inside. He had never been a perfect man, but he was the closest thing to a father that Shigaraki had really known in almost two decades. It hurt to see him as a decrepit old man, still reeling from the consequences of a six year old assassination attempt. He had to avert his gaze. “The Endeavour stuff has been going well.”

“Yes, has it?” Hakai remarked. “How long has it been now? Two weeks?”

“Nearly three.” Shigaraki corrected. “Gotta be honest, it’s been pretty boring. Enji Todoroki is the biggest dullard to ever put on flashy tights.”

Another radiant chuckle from the old man. “The more things change…”

“Guess so. We’re prolly gonna take down the equipment in a couple days, collect our cash from the client. Had an interestin’ start for sure, but, I dunno…” His voice trailed, then coiled into something more mischievous. “I kinda had more fun with last year’s insurance scam. Who woulda thought that a buncha stuffy geeks in suits laundering money would be more interesting than a big hero fella in spandex.”

Hakai seemed greatly amused by all of this. “The time shall come, Tomura. Keep up the hero jobs and sooner or later, you’ll run into something fascinating. Let’s just hope you don’t end up regretting your wish.”

“Gotta point there…” Shigaraki rolled his eyes. “Y’know-” Before he was able to finalise his thoughts however, his phone erupted into the first few beats of an old Paramore song. Drawing it out, he checked the caller ID.

“Iguchi.” He explained to Hakai as he stood. “Sorry, gotta take this.”

“You be my guest, Tomura. Go into the en-suite if you want some privacy.”

Shigaraki did just that, closing the door behind him as he picked up. “All good, Iguchi?”

The voice on the other end was frantic, more than a little excited. “Dude!”

Shigaraki’s head snapped to the side with the force of the vibrations. “Alright, man, cool it by a few decibels. What’s the deal?”

“It’s a big one.” Iguchi rushed. “Was just monitoring the bugs and… Well, you might wanna hear this. I saved the recording.” There was a rustling as Iguchi presumably readjusted his phone to be close to his laptop’s speakers. “Check this out. ‘Bout two minutes ago, Endeavour got a phone call. We only got his end, but it’s real interesting.”

Another little second of scuffling followed, then the clicking of a long-overused mouse, then the audio of the call.

“Hello?” Enji Todoroki’s voice was no less imposing than it sounded on the television during his myriad interviews. “Who-” From there, it suddenly transitioned into something different altogether, a more hostile, less assured tone. “Idiot. What do you think you could achieve with this?” He sounded as if he was about to hang up, but then, evidently, he paused.

“How do you know this?” All of a sudden, his voice was uncertain, hesitant. “Right. And how much do they- Fine. Thirty minutes, Yabai Park. Be punctual.”

More rustling could be heard. “And that’s it.” Iguchi returned. “What do you make of it?”

Shigaraki was still processing it all himself. “It’s… It’s something, alright.”

“You don’t think that he was talkin’s about us, do you?” Iguchi wondered. “When he asked how much someone knows…”

“It’s a possibility.” Shigaraki stroked his chin. “Not too sure. We’ll have to… What do you make of the meeting?”

“Yabai Park?” Iguchi asked. “Toga and Bubaiwgara are already on their way there. They wanna see if they can head this off.”

“f*cking muppets.” Shigaraki rolled his eyes. “Okay, Yabai ain’t far from where I am. I’ll head over there, see if I can’t keep ‘em out of trouble.”

“Enjoy that.” Iguchi snickered. “I’ll hold down the fort with Compress.”

“Good man.” Shigaraki nodded. “Thanks.”

Hanging up, he returned back to the main room, already reaching for his coat. “Sorry, Sensei, something’s come up with work. Gotta take care of it.”

“Don’t worry, don’t worry at all.” Hakai expressed. “I hope that goes well. I’ll see you next time, Tomura.”

“Seeya next time.”

— — —

“This place is pretty, isn’t it?” Himiko lamented as she cast her gaze around the scenery. “KInda reminds me of a place I used to go when I was little, but… Y’know, better.”

“I feel you, Sister.” Bubaigawara agreed, keeping his hands dug deep into his pockets in just such a manner that resulted in his already lanky frame looking even taller. “Kinda weird that somewhere like this is in a place like Musutafu, don’t you think?”

“Totally. It’s one of those things Atsuhiro was telling us about…” She twirled a length of flowing blonde hair around her finger as she attempted to remember the word. “An anomaly. That’s the word, right? It seems like it shouldn’t exist.” None of this was to say that Yabai Park was devoid of the poison that clung to the rest of the city. There were still fair amounts of litter to be found, walls were vandalised and a bike was chained to a rack, sans its wheels, but there were much worse places in Musutafu and it wouldn’t take long to find them. As it stood, a little bit of greenery and wildlife was all they really needed.

“Good point.” Bubaigawara noted. “It’s like its own little corner of… Something. I guess you can’t deny this city has personality.”

“Yup. That personality being a greasy old homeless guy in a suspicious trench coat outside a playground.”

“Not half bad.” Bubaigawara whistled.

“Thanks.” Toga giggled. “I got it from Tomura. But still, it’s a pretty nice place for a Wednesday stroll, don’t you think?”

“Can’t argue with that. I’m kinda hoping we don’t run into E-man, I’d be cool with just taking in the surroundings a bit, acclimatising with nature and all of that.”

“Yup.” There was something peaceful about it all. Given the time of day, there weren’t all too many people around, with most of the general populace still cooped up in work or school. The only person for miles around was some grumpy-looking teenager in a hoodie who passed them without a second glance from either party. Through it all, though, there was no sign of the hero. This was not something that Toga was particularly upset about, given their previous encounter, but it was somewhat odd; The behemoth of a man was not an easy figure to miss by any means. “Maybe he’s already done here.” She theorised aloud. “If we haven’t seen him or the weirdo he was gonna meet with yet, what do you think the chances are?”

Before any response came from Bubaigawara, the pair were alerted by rapid footsteps behind them, turning to see Shigaraki striding towards them. He was keeping an even pace, yet seemed out of breath all the same.

“Oh. Hey Tomura!” Tioga went to wave. “Didn’t wanna miss out on the fun, huh?”

As he reached them, Shigaraki formed a swift cleave with his hand and bonked Toga on the upside of the head. “Goddamn idiots…” He huffed, catching his energy. “Running into this.”

“Hey!” The girl squeaked as she hopped back a step. “Hands off, Jerkwad! That hurt!”

“Jerkwad?” Bubaigawara asked. “That’s a little anachronistic.”

“Look, you two.” Shigaraki sighed. “I wouldn’t normally care, but we all know this guy ain’t exactly your average scumbag. We’ve gotta have a bit more finesse with this stuff.”

“Finesse is boring.” Toga moaned.

“Yeah, but it’s gonna be necessary at times. This being a prime example.” Straightening his body up, Shigaraki took in the fresh air. “Did you even wait to hear the bug in his car?”

“Didn’t take the car.” Bubaigawara shrugged. “We waited long enough, it didn’t even pick up anyone entering that beauty. My guess is he flew over.”

“Right, right.” Shigaraki’s tone slipped into one that was more faintly understanding. “You seen him here yet?”

“Nope.” Toga answered, shaking her head. “Not a peep. We were just gonna keep looking.”

“Right. You don’t mind if I tag along, then?”

“So much for responsibility…” Toga huffed. “You just didn’t wanna miss any of the fun…”

“I neither confirm nor deny.” Shigaraki retorted as he followed behind the other two, hands in his pockets and walking with the sort of exaggerated lean one expected from a melodramatic teenager; Toga found it oddly interesting to observe these things, for her boss was in his early twenties yet didn’t seem to act any more mature than the rest of them for the most part. She had long since concluded that maturity was more of a mindset, less to be associated with age, and she was perfectly fine with that, if it meant she didn’t have total boredom in her immediate future to worry about.

“So, you guys see the new Deathsend remake lately?” Bubaigawara piped up as he walked along.

“Seen some of the trailers.” Shigaraki shrugged. “Doesn’t really look that good. Prolly not gonna see it.”

“I tried…” Toga sulked. “They wouldn’t let me in without ID. Can you believe it?”

“Why not just borrow some old dude’s blood?” Bubaigawara suggested. “They’re not gonna ID you if you look like you’re pushing senility.”

“I am not sitting in the cinema with the face of an old geezer.” Toga spat. “The skin will be all leathery, I don’t like it.”

“Good to know you’re focused on the important issues in life.” Shigaraki muttered. “Look, I’ll buy you the DVD when it comes out, how’s that sound?”

“Aw. But you kinda lose something by not seeing it in the theatres, don’t ya think?” Bubaigawara asked. “A certain atmosphere. It can be improved so much just by sitting amongst a bunch of randos and gauging their reactions.”

Shigaraki raised an eyebrow. “Did you like the movie or not?”

To this, Bubaigawara made a deft motion with his hand. “Sorta. Doesn’t hold a candle to the OG, but it’s fine as its own thing.”

“Well, that’s better than you’d expect from most…” Shigaraki lamented. This went on for a fair while, and it was rather easy to find oneself forgetting the whole reason that they were at Yab
ai in the first place, substituted by the light-hearted narrative of a group of friends on a breezy stroll. However, they were all to be brought right back to the reality of the situation as they passed the still pond that ran along the centremost point of the park.

“Jesus, it could do with a good cleaning…” Shigaraki noted as he eyed the thick layer of scum covering the top layer of the pond, mixing with the trash that floated up to the surface.

“Amen.” Bubaigawara agreed. “It could probably look real pretty with a-” He froze up. “Holy sh*t.”

“Eh?” Shigaraki tilted his head to the side. “What’s your deal?” Following Bubaigawara’s petrified gaze, he quite quickly realised what was going on. “Oh f*ck…”

Toga was fast to join the other two - profanity notwithstanding - staring out at the ‘garbage’ floating on the lake’s surface. Except, even as the darkened waters rippled out from beneath it, the large object in the pond was most certainly not mere rubbish.

It was a body. And as it turned softly in the ripples and the trio got a good look at the top side of it, they quickly realised exactly who it belonged to.

Frozen in a permanent sneer, Enji Todoroki floated there, no hints of life to be found.


Chapter 10: Under Wraps

Chapter Text

How Shigaraki hated this room. The dull concrete, the bright lights, it was where hope went to die as far as he was concerned. Even more so than Musutafu as a whole. At least he wasn’t chained down; That was something, at least.

“I’ve already told you.” He explained, growing more and more exasperated with each word. “We were takin’ a walk through Yabai yesterday, found his body. I’ve told you this three times now.”

“Right, right.” Detective Tsukauchi nodded as he stood over Shigaraki, hands resting on the hard, metal table. “Sorry. We just need to make sure there aren’t any contradictions in the statement. I’m sure you know how it is.”

Shigaraki had to give a small chuckle, in spite of the situation. “What, you reckon there’s a chance we did it?”

For just a second, panic flashed in Tsukauchi’s eyes. No big surprise. Judging from the state of the station that Shigaraki had observed, not to mention Tanuma’s general complaints in the past, the Musutafu Metropolitan Police really could not afford a lawsuit. More impressive was how quickly he managed to get his emotions back under control. “No, no, not at all. This is just a big issue, as I’m sure you’ve gathered. We’ll probably have to call you for witness testimony.”

“Understood.” Shigaraki nodded.

“And under those circ*mstances, we wouldn’t want for any lapses in said testimony.” Tsukauchi elaborated. “Believe you me when I say that with a case like this, the Commission will be looking for heads to roll.”

“Don’t they always?” Shigaraki noted. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll do what I can to help with your case here.” The last thing he needed was to be on the police department’s bad side.

“Alright, thank you, Shigaraki-san. I appreciate that.”

Bringing his hands up behind his head, Shigaraki leaned back in his seat. “Anything for Japan’s finest, huh?”

— — —

“He’s an odd one, Tamakawa…” Tsukauchi trailed as he watched Shigaraki stroll out of the station and into the outside world once more.

“What, you think he’s a suspect, Sir?” The feline officer questioned, as he struggled beneath the weight of a stack of paperwork as tall as he was.

Tsukauchi shook his head. “Not really. Not necessarily at least. He’s just… Odd. Tomura Shigaraki. Private investigator. His licence is all valid, no issues there, but…” He shook his head. “It’s just strange. I haven’t been able to find a single record of his existence aside from that. No birth certificate, no Quirk registry, nothing.”

“He did say he was Quirkless, didn’t he?” Tamakawa pointed out. “Though, I guess the birth certificate thing is kinda weird… You think there’s a relation to Hakai Shigaraki?”

“There’s got to be.” Tsukauchi stated. “He’s with his agency, after all. I just can’t find any evidence of a connection there…” He sighed. “Not that it’s all that relevant… Right now, our focus is on Todoroki’s killer…”

“It’s gonna be a storm, isn’t it, Sir?” Tamakawa theorised.

“Gonna be?” Tsukauchi questioned. “It already is. We’re right in the midst of it as we speak. Speaking of… Has his phone been handed off to the tech boys yet? I want them checking that for any potential leads, ASAP.”

“Last I checked, Tanuma had it.” The officer noted. “He said he was gonna send it up to them soon.”

“Tanuma- That lazy bastard…” Tsukauchi groaned. “Tamakawa, see to it that he actually sends it over.”

“Yes, Sir.” Tamakawa tried to salute, even with all he was carrying. “I’ll see to it right away.”

“Good man.” With that, Tsukauchi turned his attention back to his own innermost musings. Just as he suspected, things were only getting worse. In the space of a few weeks, Ida, Okurmura and now Todoroki had all wound up dead. It was hard not to feel as if there was some sort of connection to it all. The Hero Killer was looking like less and less of a boogeyman, or a one-off psychopath. Even still, it certainly took one particularly unstable individual to do what had been done to Todoroki. A slit throat, fingers severed posthumously and stuffed into his mouth, all of the signs of someone who was fuelled by something more than simple criminality. Someone who revelled in the insanity…

— — —

“I take it that we’re not considered suspects as of yet, then?” Sako asked, perching his head up.

“Nah.” Shigaraki dismissed. “Seems unlikely to me. For now, at least. Could hear it in the cop’s voice. Seems they’re pretty certain we’ve got no attachment to that. Not the kind of attachment they’re lookin’ for, at least.”

“Lucky…” Toga hissed. “The one I got was so rude. She didn’t even offer me a water or anything.”

“You were there for fifteen minutes.” Iguchi blinked.

“So? It’s still common courtesy, and I won’t forgive her for forgetting it.” The girl huffed.

“Fifteen minutes…” Bubaigawara scoffed. “They kept me for two hours. Discrimination, I tell ya. Against attractive people.”

Iguchi rolled his eyes at that. “I… Hate to be the one to break it to ya, dude, but you look all kinds of dodgy.”

“And the fact that you kept calling your interviewer Inspector Goole probably did not help matters.” Sako corroborated.

“Whatever.” Bubaigawara sighed, bouncing back rather quickly. “So, what’s the deal with the Todoroki kid, then? We still gonna get the cash? We held up our end of the bargain, more or less.”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki replied, moments before disaster hit his mind. “No reason not to- Oh, f*ck me.”

“And so, the penny drops…” Sako rolled his eyes.

“Hm? What’s the problem, Tomura?” Toga asked, glancing up with an instant alertness.

“The bugs.” Shigaraki cursed. “We didn’t get them outta that office, did we? Or the car.”

“Oh, bugger.” Bubaigawara realised. “That’s bad.”

“That’s real bad.” Iguchi agreed. “If the cops… sh*t, what if they’ve found ‘em already?”

“Please don’t make me think of that…” Shigaraki groaned as he stood up. “Right, f*ck it. We’re gonna have to get this sorted before the end of the day. Toga, you good to haul your ass back there?”

A wide beam split the girl’s face open, to a concerning extent. “I thought you’d never ask.”

— — —

“I don’t see why you couldn’t just come back tomorrow…” Mimi Sakamoto moaned as she led Police Inspector Yukino Oda to her now-deceased employer’s office; Her tone made it all too very clear that it had been a long day for her, and she just wanted to get home.

“Needs must, babes.” Oda - or to be more accurate, Toga - assured as she came to the double doors. “I’ll be real quick, promise. Couple minutes, I’ll be in, out. Just need to take stock of a couple things, okay?”

“Sure, sure.” Mimi rolled her eyes. “Just make it snappy.”

“Will do.” No problem, It wasn’t as if Toga expected to take long, anyway. All she had to do was get in, grab the bugs, get back out. Easy as-

It took her a second after stepping into the office to realise that she was not alone. She actually felt her heart sink a little as it hit her. Two others, one man, one woman, were inside. The man - clean-cut and strangely wholesome looking despite the imposing black suit - was gathering officially-labelled boxes, while the woman - eyes obscured by a thick, unruly fringe, was examining the book shelf. Both turned to glance at Toga as she entered.

“Uh… Hi.” She squeezed. She wasn’t entirely sure what to make of things. Were these guys cops? They didn’t quite give off that vibe. But at the same time, they didn’t seem like civilians or Endeavour’s employees. Perhaps…

“Can I help you?” The man asked, his voice low yet commanding, as he folded his arms across his chest.

“Oh! Inspector Oda, Metro Police.” Toga introduced herself, fumbling beneath her coat for the badge. “Sorry, just came to ch-check on some stuff.”

“Huh.” Even behind the fringe, the woman seemed to be peering into her soul. “Agents Hashimoto and Ukita.”

“Agents?” Toga couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.

“We’re with the Hero Commission.” The man - presumably Ukita - explained. “Criminal Affairs Unit. We’re just taking some of Todoroki’s old stuff for investigation.”

“Right. That’s all cool.”

“We’ll be out of your hair in a second.” Hashimoto explained, moving to collect one of the boxes. “Not sure what you’re expecting to find at this stage, though.”

“You know how it is.” Toga feigned. “Bosses just want me doing one more sweep of things, make sure we haven’t missed anything.” Even as she spoke, she glanced past the pair. The lamp was still there, and didn’t appear to have been touched, same for the desk. As for the keyboard, however…

“Hey, have you got his computer in there?” She asked after a second of panic, directing to the boxes.

“Sure.” Ukita shrugged. “Do you need to take a look at it?”

“Just the exterior.” She explained. “Don’t have to turn it on or anything. Bosses want to see if there’s anything on the casing, I guess. Can I take a look?”

Ukita glanced down at his watch. “So long as you make it quick, I don’t see an issue. It’s this one, here.” He directed to one of the boxes on the floor with his foot.

“Thanks.” Toga gushed, going over to it and heaving it up onto the desk, quickly getting to unpacking the thing and glancing at the keyboard. She could feel the eyes of the agents bearing into her. The question was how to get under the numpad without them seeing the whole thing… She kept up the appearance of examining the computer’s shell, all while her brain desperately cried out for any way to get a hold of what she needed without coming off as suspicious.

Picking up the keyboard - with only the faintest hints of a mediocre plan in her head - she almost instantly dropped it again, sending it clattering to the ground behind the desk.

“Gah-” She scoffed as she got down onto her knees, out of the agents’ line of sight for a moment. “Clumsy, clumsy.” It only bought her a couple of moments, but that was all she needed to pry the already loose key free and rip out the little device, which was thankfully still there. “Sorry about that. Gosh, I’m an eejit.”

“You’re fine.” Ukita sniffed with just a faint hint of disapproval. “These things happen.”

“For sure.” She replied, standing back up, keyboard in hand as she slotted the key back into place. She quickly set it back in the box. “Hope I didn’t damage anything important.”

“Eh, you’ll be fine.” Hashimoto shrugged with a wry smirk. “We’ll just send the bill to your boss.”

Once more, Toga stiffened. She couldn’t tell how much of the woman’s words were a joke and how much were serious, but that was the last thing she needed. She really did not have to risk the police catching onto this.

“Or you could just send it direct to me?” She suggested with an anxious giggle. “I dunno how much more I can peeve the superintendent off. I’m probably on the verge of a demotion as it is.”

This managed to get a shared chuckle out of the two agents. “Fair enough.” Ukita noted. “What was it our Senpai used to say, Hashimoto? Something about baseball and annoying our superiors?”

“It just isn’t cricket to annoy the powers that be.” Hashimoto recollected. “Good times.” He quickly returned his attention to the ‘inspector’. “Alright then, we’ll let you get on with your stuff now.” He noted, taking the boxes, including the now-resealed computer, and making his way to the door, Hashimoto close behind. Toga’s eyes followed them all the way.

Odd people. Then again, probably not. It was probably her. There was just something about Feds that she didn’t trust. Any Feds. They gave her the creeps, with all of their clandestine operations. She probably got it from her father. Dad had never trusted them.

Though, really, Dad had never trusted anyone.

Now on her own, Toga turned her attention back to the room as a whole and cracked her knuckles together. Finally, she could get on with the task at hand. She did find herself wondering what was going to become of the overly luxurious office - and the building as a whole - now that its owner was dead. She supposed that someone else was going to take over. Still, there was something interesting about seeing it in such a state, knowing that the one who had occupied it for so long would never again step foot in it.

Regardless, she got to work removing the bugs, all of which were thankfully as they had been left as they were. Once disposing of the bug under the chair, she straightened up, taking a look at the mostly empty desk. Not a lot was left on it, just a single, lonesome portrait, withering away in its wooden frame. A family picture, from the looks of things, dated in pen as a summer’s evening, nearly twelve years ago. Enji was there, of course, though she also noticed a rather hassled-looking lady by his side, her smile weak and uncertain. Three other kids stood by, all in varying stages of smiling.

One of them stood out in particular. And after a moment, Toga realised why.

Little Toya. the one this whole thing had started over. Happy as could be.

Chapter 11: Just One Beer


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

With narrowed eyes, Shuich Iguchi took a firm stance as he stared dead ahead at his target, blocking out everything around him as he raised his arm,the other hanging confidently by his side. Nothing else meant a thing in that moment, it was just him and the task at hand.

As he closed one eye and licked his eternally dry lips, he took aim, ensuring he didn’t have enough to waver, and fired.


“Nice.” He clicked to himself as his stance resumed to a more relaxed one, taking a step back from the dart board and taking a swig of the bottle on the table next to him. His senses returned to him as the ambiance of the bar sank back in. A seedy little place, no doubt, but Iguchi could not deny that it had a certain homely feel to it, even through the peeling wallpaper and thick smell of tobacco hanging in the air. He wasn’t even a drinker, not really, but he was always happy to come down, play a few rounds and have a couple of beers. Was there any better way to kick off a weekend?

“Not bad.” The tender whistled as she worked on polishing one of the glasses. “You’ve been getting better at this.”

“Practice makes perfect, eh?” He shrugged, kicking back another gulp of the bottle as he stood aside to let another patron have his turn. “Maybe I should try my hand at some competitions?”

“You’d do damn well.” The tender lamented. “Plus, think of the attention it would bring this place. One of our regulars, a national champion.” She made a nose caught somewhere between a sigh and chuckle. “A gal can dream, right?”

“Yeah she can, Sister.” Iguchi nodded as he cast his gaze to the television mounted just above the bar. Unsurprisingly, it was all about Endeavour; That was probably due to be the hot story for the next few weeks at least. The Number Two Ranked Pro winding up dead was quite the turn of events. “Wild world, huh?” He commented, tilting the lip of his bottle to the screen.

“For sure, dude.” The tender agreed, glancing up. “You know, my da was a hero back in the day. Kind of wild to think that these guys ain’t so immortal after all. Then again, everyone’s human.”

“Aren’t they just?” Not long after saying this, Iguchi went for another sip before he felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking over, he saw quite possibly the last person he ever expected to see in such a place.

“Compress?” He squinted. “The hell you doing here?”

“And yet, you still insist upon that name…” Sako rolled his eyes into the back of his head. “I figured I would find you here.”

“So you did, eh? What’s goin’ down, then?”

Sako settled into business mode. “We’ve got a bit of a problem regarding the bugs.”

For a second, Iguchi felt his heartbeat ratchet. “Trouble with Toga?”

“No, not at all. She did her job perfectly, in fact. The office is clear. The problem is the-”

“- Car.” Iguchi finished. “sh*t, what’s going on there?”

“It’s been repossessed, so to speak.” Sako explained, matter of factly. “Endeavour was the only one to use it, he was the only family member who could actually drive for that matter, so the Todorokis have done away with it. According to Chisaki-san, the word is that the police are looking to search it.”

“Chisaki.” Iguchi scoffed. “Between him and Tanuma, what’s with all our informants being total co*ckheads?”

Sako was not hugely amused. “This could be a problem for us, as I’m sure you are aware.” He pointed out. “Evidence of illegal wiretapping would not reflect very well on us, to put it lightly.”

“sh*t.” Iguchi cursed, going to take a drink, then setting it back down again; He had lost his taste for booze at the moment. “I guess we’ve gotta go talk to the boss about this.”

“Precisely, my friend, precisely.” Sako glanced around. “Sorry to take you away from your break. I’ll buy you another drink later.”

“Sure thing, man. Sure thing…”

— — —

“It’s a bit of a problem.” Shigaraki confessed, as he paced around the office. “To put it incredibly f*cking lightly.”

“End of the world stuff?” Toga asked with a small tilt of her head. “Our world, at least?”

“Nah, not that dramatic yet, but…” Shigaraki took a sharp intake of breath. “It’s not gonna look pretty.”

Sitting on the sofa with his hands resting on his knees, Iguchi finally spoke up after remaining quiet throughout much of the discussion. “So, what would we be looking at?”

“It varies.” Sako explained. “Keeping in mind that any potential charge would only come about as a result of the bug in the car, and assuming that they don’t find out about Endeavour’s office at all, you, myself and Toga, we’re merely accessories, we could see a couple of months; Maybe a half year, year of probation.”

That managed to light Toga. “Oh, awesome.”

“Shigaraki, Bubaigawara and our friend at the garage, on the other hand? It’s a little murkier. Unlicensed wiretapping of a high-ranking government and/or law enforcement official.” He allowed a few moments for the words to sink in. “It doesn’t sound exceptionally jolly, does it? The pair of you - plus our associate - could be looking at several years, each.”

“Oh.” Toga sank. “Less awesome.”

At this, Bubaigawara managed an anxious chuckle. “Hey, prison ain’t so bad. I spent a few months in jail once, it’s easy-peasy.” He sounded rather like he was trying to convince himself more than anyone else.

Shigaraki, meanwhile, had something else on his mind. “I’d prolly lose my licence.” He realised aloud. “Hell, we all would.” In the modern day and age, no licence meant no Shigaraki Agency. That led to a rather grim outcome, one that he had no real interest in entertaining, not that he had any choice in the matter.

“It might not come to that, though.” Bubaigawara suggested hopefully. “This is all worst-case scenario, right? Aren’t we kinda being doomers here?”

“Probably.” Shigaraki rubbed his eyes. “But, like… I dunno. I just don’t know.”

“There’s nothing we can do?” Toga posited. “We’ve been in tricky situations like this before, Tomura. We could find some way around it, like we always have.”

Iguchi appeared to momentarily perk up. “Yeah, true that.”

“Yup.” Shigaraki agreed. “We’ve just gotta think of something. As nice as it may be to think, I don’t think a solution is gonna come through that door anytime soon. We’ve just gotta give it some thought. But who knows?” He shrugged. “Maybe the cops won’t even take an interest in it. Maybe that’s all bullsh*t. Who knows?”

“That seems overly hopeful to me.” Sako mused. “Even so, I’m sure we shall find a way around this. Somehow.”

“Yeah…” Iguchi mumbled. A few moments later, he went to stand, clearly not wanting to have to think about the situation for any longer. “Sako, about that beer you owe me…”

— — —

As it turned out, Sako’s bar of choice was slightly more upscale than what Iguchi was used to. By Inner Musutafu standards, at least, which meant that its furnishings had not come straight from the year 2000 and there wasn’t as much grime as was to be expected. It could almost be called clean.

“Classy joint.” He whistled as he sipped away. “Why am I not supposed a posho like you comes to a place like this?”

“Actually, I don’t.” Sako corrected as he gently rolled up his shirtsleeves, his scotch glass awaiting just in front of him. “I rarely come to these sorts of places at all, but this is the one I’ve heard the most about.”

“Of course.” Iguchi groaned. “Your idea of a fun evening is reading a book, ain’t it?”

“And yours is playing video games.” Sako flashed a wry smirk. “Ain’t it?”

“Guilty, I guess. Thanks though. I do appreciate the drink.”

“It’s no problem, my friend, none at all.” Sako picked up his own glass and swilled it softly. “I think we could all do with a drink after the month we’ve had. Aside from little Toga. I’m not letting her near a bottle.”

Iguchi snickered. “You’re a regular pa, Sako. Any old geezer would think you were a born father.” Looking up from his glass, he peered over. “You aren’t, are you?”

At first, Sako didn’t respond; Iguchi wondered if he had even heard him.


“Oh?” That snapped the man back down to earth. “Oh. Father? No. Not for a while.”

“Not for a while?” Iguchi rested his side on the edge of the bar counter. “The hell does that mean?”

Sako took a swig of his scotch, before setting the glass back down. “Do you consider me a friend, Iguchi-san?”

“What kinda question is that?” Iguchi puzzled. “You’re a bit of a dick, but you’re a solid guy. Ain’t no one in the Agency I wouldn’t call a friend.”

“Good.” Sako nodded, his tone taking on a harder edge. “Then please, in the interests of keeping it that way, I’d thank you not to bring up any matters of this sort.”

“Oh.” Was all Iguchi could really say, as he felt an odd sensation pollute his soul. Sako always had been cagey about his life before the Agency. He had been the third member of the current group, having joined before Iguchi himself did, and in all his time there, he had never once heard the older gentleman give anything but vague allusions to his past. “Well, that’s cool with me.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Sako’s original joviality returned as he raised his glass. “To a long and prosperous friendship, in that case. Salut.”

“Salut.” Iguchi replied, clinking the rim of his bottle against Sako’s glass. “Whatever that means.”

“Amen.” Sako smiled. “At least, I know when we walk into the lion’s mouth, we have a fairly reliable little group.”

“Yeah, we do, don’t we?” Iguchi grinned. “A buncha outcasts, weirdos and whatever the hell Shigaraki’s sensei is. Not too shabby by those standards.”

“Hakai Shigaraki…” Sako lamented. “Now, he is an interesting fellow.”

“For sure. You know much about him?”

Sako shrugged. “Only the very basics. The man had a Quirk allowing him to prolong his lifespan, he’s been around for at least a century and a half. Ran the Shigaraki Detective Agency with his brother until the latter’s demise. Arrested for various shady doings a few years after his brother’s death, he was the catalyst for the government imposing such strict regulations on private investigators. Somehow, he managed to get a licence after his release and carried on like nothing happened. Some suspect there was some form of bribery or blackmail involved.”

“Wild story, huh?” Iguchi sighed. “Would make for a kickass manga.”

“Indeed.” Sako agreed. “Six years ago, he is believed to have suffered some form of stroke while attending an Interpol meeting. Paralysed from the waist down and lost all sense of sight. Ever since then, his son got his own licence and has been running operations.”

“His son being our Shigaraki.” Iguchi nodded. “God, I hope he’s adopted. I don’t wanna think of a guy as old as Hakai Shigaraki having sex, like, twenty years ago.”

“Twenty-three years, I believe. And please, another thing I’d advise for the health of our continued friendship is not to put such an image in my mind.”

“True enough, man.” Iguchi chuckled. “True enough. So, what comes next?”


“With the whole bug thing. Where the hell do you think we’re gonna take this?”

Sako spent a few precious seconds mulling over a response, as the faint trail of old American music drifted through the bar. “Truthfully told, I can’t rightfully say, at this moment in time. I would like to be optimistic about things.”

“Fair, fair.” Iguchi nodded along. “Good way of looking at it.”

“And yet…” Sako glanced down. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to just sit around and hope for a miracle. We’re going to have to do something about this. I’m not sure just what yet, but we’ll need to be proactive in some way, shape or form.”

“Breaking into a Fed impound lot?” Iguchi whistled. “I’ve played Splinter Cell, I can do that.”

“At least your eagerness is noted.” Sako rolled his eyes with a dry chuckle. “Whatever it may be, I just get the impression that our problems are far from over…”

“Wake me up when they are.” Iguchi snickered. “I’ll be ready for it.”


Sometimes, I think a bit about characters in this story who are conspicuous by their absence. Magne, Moonfish, Muscular and the ever-popular (in my works) Mustard are key examples, as well as Kurogiri himself. For most of them, I can't rightly say if I ever plan on featuring them here (though it would only be in a small, cameo capacity if I did), but for Kurogiri, I can definitively say he will never appear.

Why? Because he doesn't exist in this universe. And why is that? The same reason none of the Nomu exist.

As you may have noticed, Hakai Shigaraki is not a murderous crime lord in this tale. As such, while he may well have had a run in with Doctor Garaki, he never engaged with his more devious schemes, including funding the Nomu programme. Without his funding and support, maybe only Johnny and Mocha - the most rudimentary and basic of the Nomu - would exist. No High-Ends, no Near High-Ends and certainly no Intelligent Nomu.

This all came to me because I considered inserting Kurogiri into one of this chapter's bar scenes as a little cameo. I decided against it for the sake of preserving the consistency of the worldbuilding I wish to develop for this story.

Chapter 12: Columbo

Chapter Text

“I mean, obviously we’re gonna do something.” Bubaigawara pondered as he stood by the Agency’s open window, trying to catch his cigarette above the lighter. “Want a light?”

“Bubaigawara, you’re the only one here who smokes.” Shigaraki grunted. “So no thanks.” He didn’t intend to come off as so irritable; It was a simple fact that he was in a bad mood. SHe was never very good at handling stressful situations, as anyone could ascertain from his raw red neck, the muscle practically exposed beneath the withering flakes of dead skin that still clung on despite the relentless assault of his fingernails. “But yeah, you’re right…”

“We could try figure out where the thing’s been impounded.” Toga suggested. “Sneak in late at night, get it out the old fashioned way.”

“I just… I dunno, I get the feeling that it’s too late by now.” Was Shigaraki’s reply. “You said those Spooks you ran into were taking his stuff away, right? If they’re on the ball enough to take care of that in less than twenty-four hours, I can’t really help feeling that they’ll have already searched the car by now…”

“So, what, we’re just waiting for a strike team to kick the door down?” Iguchi asked. “We’re as good as dead?”

“I ain’t really sayin’ that. I don’t think so, at least.” He was getting tongue-tied. Dammit. “It’s just that it’s been, like, three days since they got the car. You think they’re gonna be taking their time for something like this?” He let out a groan. He didn’t want to have to think about it all. Grabbing the remote, he turned on the television and hoped to lose himself in the screen for a brief moment.

It turned to the news, though thankfully, it didn’t have anything to do with the Endeavour story. Evidently, even a dead hero of such stature was starting to lose its wow factor on the general populace. The new story… Well, it wasn’t a new one, it was at least a year old, but it had at least seen a recent resolution in court. The trial of a former Commission agent.

“This again?” Sako raised an eyebrow. “There must have been some developments.”

“Looks like she’s finally goin’ down.” Shigaraki mused. “Nice to know that are always people more f*cked than we are.”

Toga squinted. “What was it this guy did again? She killed her boss, right? The old director?”

“Yes and no.” Sako responded. “If my memory doesn’t deceive me, she provided direct information to the Rising Sun, which led to the assassination of the former director.”

“Right.” Shigaraki nodded. “Wild world.” The Rising Sun. Peaceful anti-government protesters turned extremist paramilitary in the last year. Mostly made up of former law enforcement and heroes. Well stocked, armed and trained. Probably Public Enemy Number One or Two, depending on where the Hero Killer stood at the moment.

“She’s totally screwed.” Iguchi lamented. “Ex-Fed in the prison system? Yikes.”

“Kinda feel sorry for her.” Bubaigawara wheezed after a long inhale. “I mean, we’ve all fantasised about killing our boss every now and again.”

“Oh, for sure.” Toga nodded.

All Shigaraki could really do was blink. “I’m… Just gonna act like I didn’t hear that.”

“It’s probably for the best.” Sako agreed. “She’s certainly not going to be treated leniently, by the courts or her inevitable fellow inmates.”

“They’ll have to argue insanity, right?” Iguchi asked. “It’s like, their only card. Say she had a breakdown ‘cause of work-related stress or something equally flowery like that.”

“I have my doubts that would even work…” Sako reflected. “They’re going to want to come down hard on anybody who might even be vaguely affiliated with the RS. And…” He bit his lip. “... Well, the Commission has ways of ensuring they get the verdicts they want.”

That got Shigaraki to throw his hands up. “Again with this doom and gloom conspiracy sh*t! Compress, you are such a schizo.”

“So, you trust our fine government?” Sako retorted dryly.

“I- No. But that’s not the point. They’re assholes, they aren’t cartoon supervillains. I mean, she’s still totally f*cked regardless, but it ain’t that severe.”

“If so you say…” Sako mumbled. “If so you say…”

Before the discussion had the chance to launch into another, presumably enthralling, debate on the dealings of the powers that be, the group was alerted by the opening of the door.

“Hello?” Shoto Todoroki asked. “Is this a good time?”

“Eh?” Shigaraki sat back. “Oh, sure. Come in, kid. I got the rest of your payment, thanks for that. Sorry ‘bout your dad.”

“It’s… Quite alright.” Todoroki bowed and moved further into the room, closely followed by another boy in UA uniform. Not anybody Shigaraki recognised.

“Brought a tagalong?” He raised an eyebrow. “Good to meetcha.”

“Ryuji Okumura.” Sako whistled from where he stood behind the desk. “You know, I never would have believed you were at UA.”

“Sorry, Okumura?” Shigaraki spat. “Stalker kid?”

“The very one.” Sako confirmed. “I hope you’ve been keeping out of trouble, Son.”

“Yes, Sir…” Okumura mumbled as he followed Todoroki to the desk. “Again, sorry for all that…”

“Assumin’ that you’ve left the dame alone, it’s water under the bridge.” Shigaraki announced, noticing both Toga and Iguchi glaring holes into Okumura’s back. “Now what the hell can I do for the two of ya?”

“Well, first and foremost…” Todoroki confessed. “I have to return something to you.”

“You do, now?” Shigaraki’s lips tightened.

“Yes.” Reaching into his pocket, Todoroki produced a small segment of bubble wrap and set it on the desk, before unwrapping it to reveal none other than a little audio bug inside.

“You’re sh*tting me.” Shigaraki stumbled as he pinched the device between his thumb and forefinger, holding it up to the light.

Todoroki shook his head. “Shortly after Enji Todoroki’s demise, we were approached by agents from the Hero Commission, they asked to see his car. My sister provided them with the permission to do so, but I took it upon myself to check it before they did. I had the feeling that there might have been something in there you didn’t want them to see, after what you told me during our initial agreement.”

For a few moments, Shigaraki stared long and hard at the device. Then, he burst into laughter. “You really are something…” He shook his head, showing the bug to the others. “Guess we aren’t going to jail, after all.”

“Oh, that’s nice.” Bubaigawara stated. “Good thinking, kid.”

Iguchi didn’t say anything, but the look of sheer relief on his face was something that belonged in a photo album. Toga, meanwhile, was a lot more vocal.

“You are awesome!” She bubbled, leaping up and standing at what was probably an uncomfortably close distance from the Todoroki son. “Hey, Tomura, he should join us. Drop out of that thing you call a school, start living an actual interesting life. We could take you on, get some new blood in the place.”

“You have only been with us for half a year yourself…” Sako pointed out.

“Details, details.” Toga yipped. “So, what say you, Shoto?”

“I…” For the first time, the boy seemed completely taken aback. “I’ll get back to you… On that.”

That was when Ryuji nudged him. “Dude, about the main reason we’re here?”

“Oh, of course.” Todoroki straightened up as he turned to face Shigaraki once more. “I must confess that I did not just come here to return your property; I have another request for you.”

“Another?” Shigaraki’s ears perked up. “Kid, funerals are expensive, you should be saving your cash for-”

“It’s the Hero Killer.” Ryuji stepped in.

The silence that settled into the room seemed to last for an age. Clearly, nobody had any idea what to say to that, whether they should even take it seriously or not, until Todoroki spoke up once more.

“You’ve heard of the death of Okumura-senpai’s grandfather, no?” He pressed. “The word is that it was done by the Hero Killer.”

“And Todoroki-kun’s father.” Ryuji expressed. “It’s gotta be related, right? The M.Os ain’t far off; Mutilated, beaten-”

“- And all presumably strong heroes.” Sako finished. “It’s hard to deny the possible connections. There’s no saying how many other deaths may be caught up in this to boot.”

“Yeah.” Todoroki nodded. “That’s why I - and Okumura-senpai - would like to request your services to investigate the murders. We fully believe the two cases are connected, even if the police do not.”

“You’d be surprised.” Iguchi pointed out. “They may be a little more on the ball than you’d expect.”

“Well… Regardless, we would like to hire you once more. You’ve more than proven your worth to me as detectives, and…” A long pause followed. “Despite my opinions on the man, I would rather have some answers to his death.”

“Yeah. And Gramps.” Ryuji cut in. “Maybe the guy was an asshole, but he raised me, y’know? It don’t sit right with me that some psycho gets away with butchering him.”

Looking over the pair, Shigaraki kept an unimpressed glare. “Isn’t this the exact sort of thing the cops are for?”

“I have little faith in the tangled bureaucracy of law enforcement.” Todoroki retorted. “I would much rather have someone such as yourself looking at this.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because you aren’t burdened by the boundaries of legality. You have no higher power to answer to, no chain of command to slow the process. You’re efficient, and you’re passionate. I see no better group to entrust this with than yours.”

“Yeah.” Ryuji corroborated. “Exactly. You guys are legit, ‘cause of how unlegit you are.”

“Kid, I… The enthusiasm is touching and all…” Shigaraki sighed. "But I don't know if we'd be the best for this. We've… Tell ya the truth, we've never done something like this before. Spying, of course; TCAP stings, we've done a couple; We've looked into some burglaries and arsons. But a serial killer? That's new for us. It's…"

"A bit of a step up." Sako finished.

"It could be cool…" Toga mused. "Like Columbo.

"You're the dog, then." Iguchi snickered.


"But as for this job…" Shigaraki groaned. "I honestly dunno, man. We'll have to give it some thought, at least." Something about that got Ryuji to burst. “You kiddin’, man?!” He demanded, lurching forwards and thrusting both hands down onto the desk. “We’ll pay whatever your f*cking price is, what’s the issue?”

“Okumura-senpai…” Todoroki urged.

This was completely ignored. “What’s the big deal, then? Huh? What’s with the hesitation?”

“Dude, cool your jets.” Iguchi warned as he and Bubaigawara went to stand, ready to eject him from the office if things got much more heated.

“I… Just why?” Ryuji spat, as his voice wavered. “What’s the problem with this? We will pay. We can pay. I’m sure we can find something to use as insurance if you don’t trust-”

“It’s nothing to do with that.” Shigaraki spoke up. “And we aren’t necessarily rejecting you, either. We just need some time to think. As I said, this is new to us. So give us some time, we’ll see if we can work something out.”

“Okumura-senpai…” Todoroki once again reached out. “Let’s give them some time. There’s no point in rushing things.”

Finally, Ryuji seemed to be listening to reason, as he hung his head softly. “Fine.” He relented. “Fine. We’ll talk about this later?”

“You can bet your ass we will.” Shigaraki agreed. “Cross my heart.”

The pair left not long after that, leaving the detectives to their own thoughts. Almost immediately after the door closed, Toga was up on her feet.

“We’re gonna do it, right?” She bleated. “Right?”

“Hm…” Shigaraki mumbled, locked deep in thought, a rarity for him. Under slightly different circ*mstances, he probably would have laughed at his own expression. “This is… This is something, alright…” He glanced up. “What do you guys think?”

The response was not as clear cut as he would have hoped. With the exception of Toga, nobody had an immediate answer. Himself included.

“It would be a tremendous undertaking.” Sako lamented. “Both in regards to the workload and our safety.”

Iguchi furrowed his brow. “You seem way more chill about this than you were when it came to stalking Endeavour.”

Sako shrugged. “As long as it doesn’t involve crossing the wrong side of the Commission, I am far more willing to take on a bit of risk.”

“Really?” Bubaigawara blinked. “Those Spooks were the problem the whole time?”

“I don’t wish to annoy them any more than is necessary, is all. Better one serial killer - regardless of how powerful he may be - than the entire backbone of what we call a society.”

Clicking his tongue, Shigaraki stood and reached for his coat. “You guys can ping pong this for a while, then.”

“Eh?” Iguchi blinked. “What’s up, Boss?”

“Goin’ for a walk.” He explained curtly, moving to the door. “I’ll be back in a half hour. You guys cool with looking after things ‘til then?”

“Sure, no problem here.” Iguchi agreed. “Stay safe.”

“Thanks, I will. Probably.”

— — —

The Hero Killer.

The Hero Killer.

Was he even more than a myth?

The question whipped at Shigaraki’s mind with the same fury that the evening winds whipped at his coat, thick and fast raindrops rolling off his hood and shoulders. He always liked whenever the rainfall gripped Musutafu. It meant less people on the streets; Less people to deal with, less people to stare. His path carried him down the bank of the canal, one of the cleaner areas of the city. Or, it would have been, if it wasn’t directly adjacent to the Red Light District, the humdrum of drunken salarymen and eager whor*s ringing faintly in the distance, mixed with bad music and the faint whiff of hardcore tobacco in the air.

whor*s. Filthy word. It hit a soft spot for him, though. Something harsh, something impactful. His mother always said that filthy words were for filthy folk; He wasn’t sure how much he truly believed that. Then again, in a place such as Musutafu, filthiness was a spectrum, and cleanliness fell on it.

He was getting off track again. Shaking his head with a small smirk, he dug his hands deeper into his pockets and tried to focus. The Hero Killer. It would be a hell of a catch. Tanuma would probably want in on it. They were most likely going to need his help anyway. Assuming that they went ahead with it. The danger of such a move was undeniable. If there really was a Hero Killer, they had managed to get the better of at least two heroes, one of them being amongst the most prestigious and powerful in the world. The Shigaraki Detective Agency’s list of powers consisted largely of stealth-oriented Quirks and fun novelties. Well, that and Shigaraki’s own, but…

“You little monster… What the f*ck are you-”

Well, he was not going to be using that if he could at all help it. The point was that they had very little physical prowess in their ranks if things came to blows. Then again, it hopefully wouldn’t. Theoretically, they would just do their research and hand everything they got back to Todoroki and Okumura, to use at their own discretion. Still, making an enemy of a psychotic killer would be quite the change of pace.

In reality, he couldn’t see it being that different from other jobs, on an execution level. They would still be gathering intelligence, pressing contacts, probably going into places they weren’t supposed to. Most of it would just be another day at the office, but with an added spice.

“You’d be having a field day with this, Sensei…” He mumbled under his breath. No doubt, Hakai Shigaraki would leap at such a chance. The Hakai Shigaraki he remembered, at least. The strong, steadfast, terrifying mountain of a man who laughed at death threats and charmed any and all clients to step through the doors. The man who had inspired his adopted son from the very start to become a detective, who had bankrolled his year at the police academy before he was thrown out. For that man, going up against a deranged serial killer was the epitome of fun. Shigaraki could see why he had recommended Toga for the Agency. Birds of a feather, and all of that.

Coming to a stop, he looked out over the canal. Putrid, browned water ran down, carrying with it all manner of litter. Not a bad metaphor for Musutafu as a whole, really. He reckoned that there wasn’t a place like it on earth; That was probably for the better. Maybe it was because Shigaraki was an outsider, not even coming from the same region, but the rot of the city sparkled all the clearer for him. The perfect place to set up a detective agency, really. There was something addicting about it. The allure of evil and decay. Maybe a bit of it was some deeply-obscured, self-righteous desire to play hero.

There was something deeper, too. A distaste that boiled up so thoroughly inside him that it threatened to explode at any moment. A loathing for those who took Musutafu as their personal playpen. Heroes basking themselves in the acclaim of the public, crooks slipping through the tangled bureaucracy of the faltering police and legal departments and landing without a scratch, killers who derived such enjoyment from their acts…

It had to be enjoyment. A sick, perverted pleasure or burning, self-satisfied anger. There was no reason for the bodies to be so horrifically mutilated otherwise. Whoever it was, there was someone lurking in the depths of the city who was getting off to the corpses left in their wake. And something about that really got under Shigaraki’s skin, for reasons he couldn’t even describe. Maybe being a good guy was overrated, but there was something so deeply aggravating about someone who revelled in being a bad guy.

“Alright, Hero Killer…” He mumbled, with a wry grin. “Let’s play.”

As he went to lean on the railings overlooking the canal, he felt the white hairs at the bridge of his neck stand on end. That feeling. That oh-so-annoying feeling. Unsettling, uncomfortable. Like he was being watched.

He shrugged it off. There were more important things at hand, after all.

Chapter 13: Just Talk Yourself Up...

Chapter Text

When investigating a serial killer - any serial killer - the process usually involved a lot of gathering evidence. When the evidence required had long since been taken away by police, that meant going down into the lockers to dig it out. And when the investigator just so happened to not be affiliated with police, that was when some assistance was necessary. Someone to dig up that evidence for them. Thankfully, the Shigaraki Detective Agency had one such assistant.

“This is the best I can do for you.” Eizo Tanuma noted apologetically as he handed over a neat stack of files to Shigaraki. “And I had to bust my ass even for this much.”

“I’ll bring my violin next time.” Sitting down next to the police detective, Shigaraki began checking through what he had been given. “What’s the sauce, then?”

Tanuma tapped out his cigarette on the ashtray in front of him. Technically, no smoking was permitted, but in a joint as seedy as the bar they sat in, nobody had much of an urge to complain. “Reports on every death the top brass thinks is connected to the Hero Killer. Tenma Nakaoji, killed last year; Tatsuyuki Tokoname, we found his… Genitals about seven months back. Still no sign of the rest of him; Sameko Adachi, done in six months ago; Then, in the last month, Tensei Ida, Hideki Okumura and Enji Todoroki.”

“Really ramped up in the last while.” Shigaraki mused. “You’re certain all of these are connected?”

“I’m not really certain of anything.” Tanuma shrugged. “It’s my bosses who seem to think so. All these guys were mutilated post-mortem, but showed signs of a fairly clean and professional kill. All of ‘em heroes. It’s not unusual for serial killers to get more brazen as time goes on, for the time between kills to get shorter.”

“Right…” Shigaraki noted as he briefly glanced over the files. There didn’t seem to be much of a connecting element outside of them all being heroes. All from different agencies, most went to different schools or at least attended at different times from one another, there didn’t seem to be a common thread beyond the obvious. “Yakuza, maybe?”

“That’s what I thought.” Tanuma pointed out. “Ever since the Kurada-Kai fell apart, we’ve been getting all sorts of crap from the smaller families. It’s a working theory, at least. My bosses didn’t like it that much, though…”

“Can’t really say I’m surprised. Yakuza are more effort than they’re worth nowadays…” Even as he spoke, Shigaraki pondered; Perhaps his underworld contact could be of some help soon. After all, it would be useful to get some street level information. Pulling out his phone, he sent a quick text to Sako, asking him to talk to their guy, see if something could be arranged.

If Tanuma noticed, he didn’t much care. “Cause of death should be noted in there. We’ve never found any weapons in relation to the murder, but there have been some speculations made from wounds. Sorry, but I really couldn’t get you any physical stuff. The department is wild right now”

“It’s fine. Wasn’t expectin’ a huge amount, anyway. This is a good start.” Shigaraki assured. “What’s the big deal, then?”

“The guy in charge of this investigation is going mad.” Tanuma explained. “He is pissed right now. Pain in the ass to even be around him. Then again…” He leaned back, brushing his cowlick out of his eyes. “No big surprise after what happened with his star testimony…”

“Star testimony?” Shigaraki repeated, intrigued. “For this case?”

“God.” Tanuma chuckled bitterly. “Don’t even get me started…”

— — —

Johnny Woo. Chinese hooligan, turned Triad member. Allegedly, he had put down his flags several years ago. Currently in Japan as an employee of the Dan Cheng shipping firm. Assault, arson, he had a bit of everything. He seemed to have cleaned up his image with the company.

And now, he was claiming to have information on the Hero Killer.

“So, let me get this straight…” Tsukauchi laid out. “You think you can help us out here?”

“I know I can.” Was Woo’s rather arrogant answer as he sat back with his arms folded.

“You can understand why I’m cautious, can’t you?” Tsukauchi pointed out. “I’m thinking, what does a guy like you have to gain from confiding in the police? Do you like cops, Woo-san?”

“Don’t give a sh*t either way.” Woo remained unshaken.

“Do you think there’s something you can get out of this? I’m telling you now, we don’t do cash rewards.”

“Fine by me, Detective. I’m just a concerned citizen.”

Tsukauchi narrowed his eyes. Something about it all seemed very off. “A concerned citizen? A former Triad like yourself?”

Woo’s eyes narrowed, a faint hint of something like panic sparking in them. “You gonna hold that against me? The past is the past. I’m legit now.”

“I understand that, and I’m sorry.” Tsukauchi nodded. “But to be frank, you’re an opportunist. I find it hard to believe that a man can just come to us out of concern. So what is it?” He lingered for a second, mulling on his words. “Are you scared of something?”

All at once, Woo’s expression shifted, the panic becoming a far sight less subtle. It spoke a thousand words. That was when Tsukauchi started to get interested. Fear had the power to give men wings. When faced with a hundred shotguns, even the most cowardly of men would consider jumping out of the window to avoid them.

“I’m right with that, aren’t I?” Tsuakuchi realised aloud. “You’re terrified…” If his intuition was correct, then this was likely no joke. “Protection is what you want, isn’t it?”

Woo averted his gaze. “I’m not giving you anything until I get it.”

“Well, I’m sorry, Woo-san, but you’re going to have to do better than that. Before I can even start consulting my superiors, you have to give me something.”

“You bite first.” Woo insisted. “Do you want my help, Detective? I don’t have to be here, you know.”

“Maybe not, but I don’t think you can afford to leave.” Tsukauchi retorted. “If you really are this rattled, you and I both know the risk you’d be taking by even going home tonight. I know men in my department are…” He paused to sigh. “Leaking intelligence.” He wasn’t proud of it, but it was an inevitability. With their salaries, someone was bound to be leaking classified files. “Within three hours, it will become common knowledge that Johnny Woo waltzed into a police station looking to talk about the murders. Whatever comes after that, you cannot afford and frankly, I don’t want you to have to deal with it. So please, Woo-san, give me the beginnings of something that I can take to my superiors, and we’ll see what we can do to help you.”

It was hard to read Woo’s demeanour, to figure out what exactly was going through his mind at that moment. So many emotions and contemplations appeared to be crashing into each other, as his brain worked on what to say next.

Finally, however, he seemed to reach some sort of conclusion, taking on an oddly alert posture. “This won’t leave this room?”

“Only to those directly above me.” Tsukauchi assured. “No one else.”

“sh*t…” Woo bit down on his lip. Something about that had clearly not pleased him. Yet, he pressed forth regardless. “Okay. Have you ever heard of Wisteria?”

Tsukauchi had no time to respond - not even to formulate one in his head - as the door behind him was thrust open with considerable force at that very moment.

“What the hell?” He yelled, spinning to face said door. The ferocity with which the door had been burst open was absolutely unacceptable. “I’m conducting an interview here!”

“Eh, no.” One of the intruders, a tall, thin man in a dark suit, replied. Behind him stood two others in similar attire, a stocky, gloomy-looking woman and a short, bookish fellow at the back. “No, you’re not.”

“What is this?” Tsuakuchi practically snarled as he folded his arms across his chest. Behind him, Woo had gone very pale and very silent. “Who the hell are you?”

“We’re Commission, Detective.” The man replied, tossing his badge over for Tsukauchi to investigate. “Criminal Affairs. Ukita, Hashimoto and Tanimura.” Moving further into the room, exerting his influence, he strode over to a petrified Woo.

“I’m sorry about this…” The timid agent - presumably Tanimura - bowed as he stepped to the side, his eyes hidden behind thick spectacles. “We’ll only take a few moments of your time.”

“Depending.” Hashimoto asserted, no doubt peering daggers at Tsukauchi behind her heavy fringe. “Are you aware that you’re badgering one of ours, Detective?”

“What?” Tsukauchi snapped his gaze around. “What are you-”

“Don’t you know?” Ukita chuckled as he reached down and playfully slapped Woo across the cheek. “Believe it or not, this adorable little Shina co*cksucker is one of our assets.”

“Informant?” Tsukauchi pondered. “He didn’t say-”

“No, he wouldn’t.” Ukita muttered. “Look, Detective, we all appreciate your work here, probably, but you can step out. We’ll be taking care of things from here on out.”

“You’re joking. This is a police matter.”

“No jokes.” Hashimoto grunted. “The nature of the victims makes this a Commission case, not that you’ve been getting very far anyway.”

“Trust me, Detective.” Ukita promised. “We’ll take care of old Johnny-boy from here. Don’t you worry your precious little head over it.”

Woo stared at Tsukauchi, his eyes laced with a sort of panicked pleading. Desperation. This prompted another look around the room at the trio. Who were these people? The badge was legitimate, registered to one Taiga Ukita, no doubt he would find that they were all who they said they were. But something about the way they carried themselves made him deeply uncomfortable. Especially Ukita. He had heard the rumours of course, Criminal Affairs were apparently some of the more unpleasant people on the right side of the law, but he had never been given the misfortune of meeting one of their agents in person before now.

“I’m going to be filing a complaint with your superiors over your conduct here.” He shook his head. “I hope you are aware of that.”

“Have fun with that.” Ukita dismissed. “Now run along, Detective; Johnny-boy is in good hands.”

With nothing more that he could say, Tsukauchi strode out. As he passed Tanimura, the agent gave a mumbled apology, which he paid no heed to.

How hard was it? For just one thing to turn up in their favour? Was that truly asking so much?

It seemed so. Business as usual for the Metropolitan Police.

— — —

“Tough break, buddy.” Shigaraki lamented, semi-sarcastically. “Must be annoying if he slipped through your fingers like that.”

Tanuma shrugged. “Eh, I don’t care. Hell, fine by me. If those Commission clowns wanna take on more work, then it doesn’t bother me. But sheesh, it’s lit a fire under Tsukauchi-san’s ass. The guy just doesn’t know how to chill and he really didn’t need any more reasons to ram that stick up his hole.”

“The horror.” Shigaraki rolled his eyes. “You’re being forced to work more.”

“I’m not paid enough to work.” Tanuma answered without a beat. “The payment you’ve given me for this sh*t…” He poked down on the files. “... Is about half a month’s salary. Probably a little more. And they wonder why I’ve got a side business.”

“You’re an entrepreneur, Tanuma. Pretty soon, you’ll be having your own employees.” Shigaraki groaned. “How’s your crypto doing?”

“Not a chance; I don’t trust anybody but myself with this stuff. And, pretty good, actually.”

“For real?”

“No, it f*cking crashed last week.” Tanuma retorted. “But I’d already cashed it out before then, so look who’s laughing.”

Shigaraki’s eyes shifted across to the bottles on the wall in front of them. “The bartender?”

“Yes. No. Hilarious, smartass.” Tanuma went to light another cigarette. “Anything else I can do for you?”

“Not right now, nah.” Taking the files under his arm, Shigaraki stood. “Appreciate it. Watch your alcohol intake.”

“Go f*ck yourself.” Tanuma laughed back, as Shigaraki headed to the door. “Hey. You think you’re gonna have any luck with this Hero Killer stuff?”

“Who knows?” Shigaraki shrugged, moving backwards to the door. “I like to think so.”

“Glass half full. I can drink to that.”

“Hey, for a pessimist, I’m pretty optimistic.” Shigaraki grinned.

— — —

It was always a bit of fun to bring out the office’s corkboard, and the red string. It added a level of professionality to the whole affair, which was something that they could probably benefit from a little more of. Put up, threaded between each other, were all of the suspected victims up until the present. Six in total.

“You think it’s all of them?” Iguchi theorised as he sat hunched upon the sofa like a goblin man, staring at the board. “Six in all?”

“Who knows?” Sako pondered. “But I suppose I would be correct in my assumption that these are all of the deceased who are believed to be victims of the Hero Killer?”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki nodded. “Accordin’ to Tanuma, at least. These guys all seem to have a common thread…”

“They’re all heroes?” Toga suggested.

“Makes ya think…” Bubaigawara mumbled. “Ryuji’s gramps was retired, right? Were any of the other guys?”

“I’m not…” Shigaraki fell short. “I’ll have to look into that. But that ain’t the main connection I’m spottin’. It’s the mutilation. I reckon that’s the connecting factor so far.” As he spoke, he paced the room. “Every one of these guys was pretty badly humiliated in some way, post-mortem. Nakaoji had his feet severed, Tokoname had his dick cut off, Adachi’s…” He paused for a moment, ruffling the back of his head uncomfortably. “Well, ya’can see from the pictures.” He directed his crew’s gaze to the board once more. Ida was mutilated beyond recognition, Okumura was crucified and Endeavour had his fingers shoved down his throat.”

“All in all, a sick sonuva bitch.” Iguchi muttered.

“For sure, man.” Shigaraki agreed. “Tanuma thinks - or at least his bosses do - that this is the main pattern. Way I see it, the guy’s either one of the more f*cked-up varities of pervert, or he’s got a grudge. I mean…” He glanced at the images once more. “This looks more like anger to me.”

“I’m inclined to agree.” Sako chimed. “The fact that it was post-mortem harms the possibility that it was done for sexual pleasure, in my eyes. This feels to me that it was more about denying the victims their dignity than one’s own pleasure. Of course, our killer is still a blatantly sick individual regardless, but those are my thoughts on the matter.”

“Right.” Shigaraki nodded along. “There’s one other thing; I get the feeling that our killer at least knew Endeavour in some way.”

“Hm?” Bubaigawara twisted his head. “How so?”

“The call…” Toga realised.

“Yup. Endeavour was brought to Yabai Park by that call. Next thing we know, he winds up dead. He sounded pissed on the phone, but he clearly trusted whoever it was to some extent, if he was willing to meet up in the middle of work.”

“sh*t… Yeah…” Iguchi mumbled. “If we could get our hands on the phone logs, that’d be great. Seems unlikely, though…”

Shigaraki rubbed his chin. “Yeah, but it gives us something. It’s someone Endeavour not only knew but clearly had some relationship with. This is assumin’ that the call was made to lure him out of course, which… I mean, it’s looking pretty certain. That aside, this is all we have so far, really. It’s a start, but we’ve not exactly been given the keys to the case right off the bat.”

“Ooh.” Toga wooed, clearly having an idea of where things were going. “This should be fun…”

“We’re gonna have to get some boots on the ground here, which means - much to your horror, Iguchi - we’ll be putting some work in.”

“Hey, point us where to go and we’ll go.” Iguchi shrugged. “I ain’t that opposed to putting a bit of effort in.”

“Just mostly.” Toga snickered.

"Any which way…" Shigaraki cut in before World War Four could break out in his office. "Toga, Bubaigawara, I want you guys to keep an ear to the ground. Hit up the usual haunts, see if we can get anything out of it."

"On it." Bubaigawara saluted.

"Okie dokie, Tomura." Toga added. "We'll keep our eyes peeled."

"Good stuff." Shigaraki turned to Sako. "Any luck with our… Friend?"

"Shockingly, yes." Sako answered. "We arranged a meeting for Monday."

"Two days…" Shigaraki bit down on his lip. "Okay, good. You and Iguchi are gonna come with me for that, then?"

"What's this?" Iguchi perked up.

"We're off to get some info from our guy." He explained; Given the nature of this particular contact, he wanted a little bit of backup. Just in case.

"f*ck…" Iguchi groaned. "Tanuma again?"

Shigaraki shook his head with a faint mischievous grin. "Nope. We need to gather the sort of Intel even a cop wouldn't have easy access to."

Iguchi looked ready to leap out of the window. "Oh, you're kidding me…"

"No kidding here. We're off to see everyone's favourite. The one guy in this city who's guaranteed to know a little bit of everything."

Chapter 14: Sit-Down

Chapter Text

Shigaraki didn’t like doing business with Yakuza, if he could at all afford to avoid it. Even by the standards of Muustafu’s criminal underworld, they were a particularly uninviting sort. The myth was that heroes such as All Might had all but crushed the traditional Yakuza clans; The reality was that they just got smarter, quieter, more efficient and much more sinister. Of them all, the strongest in their part of Japan was the Shie Hassaikai, not that one would think that to look at them. They kept to the shadows and carried out their operations in as subtle a manner as possible. Protection rackets, prostitution and information brokerage. A far cry from the values they had once appeared to hold. That last one in particular was of significance to Shigaraki, as it was the only reason he even sat before the surprisingly young head of the organisation.

“So what is it I can do for you?” Kai Chisaki asked from where he sat, delicately on the couch as if he may well shatter at any moment, leaning forwards. “Information, again?”

“Wouldn’t be seeing you for any other reason.” Shigaraki grunted, eying the scene. Chisaki was an odd fellow to look at. The rumours were that he had been attacked by a hopeful member of a rival clan and his lower face had been scarred beyond recognition. Some said his nose and mouth now resembled a bird’s beak with how malformed they had become. It wasn’t hard to believe, seeing the slightly awkward way that the surgical mask sat on his face and the faintly raspy inflection to his otherwise polite tone. Perhaps that went a long way in explaining how he carried himself, as if afraid of an attack from any angle. Behind him, he had two of his men. One of them tall and lanky, with rather odd hair that drooped down over his face and ended in an arrow; The other was odder still, a tiny little puppet creature perching on the back of the couch and grasping in his little hands a hammer that was about half the size that he was. The Hassaikai were a strange group, to put it lightly.

“Very well.” Chisaki sighed. “What is it you’d like from me?” He tilted his head towards Sako. “Your friend here already gave me a basic gist of things. This is about the Hero Killings, right?”

Shigaraki nodded. “Yeah. We’re looking into them for a job.”

“You’re a fool.” Chisaki commented, usually as could be. “But, provided you’re paying me for whatever you may need, it’s not my position to cast judgement. How can I help?”

Stretching back, Shigaraki planted his foot on the coffee table, arching his hands on his knee. “Guy like you has eyes everywhere. I wanna know anything you might have. Anybody who looked weird around the time, rumours, anything at all. Specifically focusing on the murders of Hideki Okumura and Enji Todoroki.”

“Okumura?” The puppet spat. “The Brotherhood bastard?! Shhiitttt, he owed me money.”

“This happened weeks ago.” The other man puzzled, leaning over. “How the hell are you only hearing about it, now?”

Chisaki held a hand up. “Could you two please shut up?” Lowering it again, he took a deep breath, an action that sounded more painful than one would expect. “Shigaraki-san, Mimic here does have a point, regardless of if he realised it or not. Okumura-san owed us money. He owed a lot of people money, in fact. He was degenerate, a gambler, a p*rnographer. He had many debts and plenty of people in this city are not as understanding when it comes to late collections as I am.”

Shigaraki was not impressed. “You’re saying you don’t think the Hero Killer did this?”

“I don’t think the Hero Killer exists.” Chisaki corrected. “I think that Okumura was killed by somebody he owed money to, and your man Todoroki has no shortage of enemies. To me, it appears that you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

That was when Sako spoke up. “We have more victims than just those two.” He announced. “Six in total. All in the last year and a half. All showing similar signs of post-mortem mutilation. All of them heroes. I believe in coincidences as much as any other man, but sometimes, the suspension of disbelief falls through-”

“Watch it, you!” The puppet yelled. “I’ll f*cking cave your head in! Ya only speak if the boss speaks to you-”

“Mimic!” Chisaki chided harshly. “It’s fine.” His voice suggested a hint of intrigue as he turned back to the two private detectives. “Tell me, who are these other victims?”

Sako was quick to comply. “Tenma Nakaoji, Tatsuyuki Tokoname, Sameko Adachi, Tensei Ida and the two aforementioned. All heroes, as I said.”

“Tokoname…” Chisaki repeated, as if mulling over a fine wine. “That name sounds… Familiar.”

That was when his assistant with the bizarre quaff spoke up. “Tokoname was indicted for selling Commission intelligence to your Meta Liberation lads about three years back.”

“That’s the one.” Chisaki nodded.

“Wasn’t that a chick?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow; As far as he recalled, there had been no mention of the MLA, either. Hadn’t it been the Rising Sun?

“Different one.” Chisaki stated. “There are more than enough people out there who hate the Commission. This one wasn’t publicised as much, given he was a hero and not a more lowly employee.”

“Ah. Right.”

“Tell me, Shigaraki-san, do you believe Enji Todoroki had any less than admirable dealings in life?” Chisaki asked. “I’m growing curious.“

“Well…” Glancing over to Sako, Shigaraki thought long and hard. Was it a good idea to share their information with the Yakuza? Sako shrugged; Clearly, it would be down to him to make a decision.

“I’m going into detail or anything, client privilege…” Shigaraki ventured. “But we were lookin’ into him before he popped off.”

Chisaki’s body language had a notable shift. “What for?”

“Just… We had reasons to believe he had some hand in his son’s death.”

“Shoto Todoroki?” Chisaki spat, immediately. “From UA’s Sports shebang a couple months back? He’s dead?”

Shigaraki shook his head. “Nah. Another one. Named Toya. Our client thought there was a chance Enji had caused his death, years ago. Not that it really matters now…”

“I see.” Chisaki appeared to settle once more. “Well, do you know what I see here, Shigaraki-san? I see someone targeting false heroes. Someone who, let’s say, has an unrealistic standard of heroism. I’ll take a look into the others you mentioned, but corruption seems to be a running theme here.”

Shigaraki blinked. “Yeah, I… Guess you’re right.” It was not an angle he had even considered looking at before. If the Hero Killer was specifically aiming for corrupt heroes…

That made things a lot more interesting, for sure.

“It’s a theory.” Chisaki suggested. “Is there anything else you’d want from me right now?”

“Uh… Nah. Nah. I think we’re good.” Shigaraki admitted, taking his foot down off the table and starting to stand up, keeping his eyes glued to the little puppet man. He was just so damn creepy. “Thanks for the help.”

“My pleasure.” Chisaki nodded.

“Just… Let us know if you hear anything else.” Shigaraki noted as he and Sako went to the door. He turned to his colleague with a hushed tone. “Whadya think?”

“It’s not a bad start.” Sako answered. “Not a bad start at all. Though, if this theory holds water, it could be problematic.”

“How so?”

“Killing corrupt heroes?” Sako pointed out. “Weeding out the rot in the upper echelons of society? If the average populace latches onto that, then our killer could find himself with an abundance of support. Investigating him will probably become a lot harder.”

“Oh, right.” Shigaraki muttered. “Yeah, guess I can see that. Killing off bad guys…” He averted his gaze for a moment, sliding open the door and stepping into one of the many twisting corridors of the Hassaikai’s headquarters.

“You stupid asshole!”

Iguchi’s voice rang through the corridor even before they were halfway into it, drawing the gaze of both men to down the hall, where Iguchi appeared to be locked in some sort of frightful debate with a Yakuza.

“Okay, what the hell’s this?” Shigaraki groaned as he quickly approached the pair.

For their part, neither seemed to notice him or Sako. “Seriously, dude, why a magic build? The protagonist doesn’t even get any magic skills until Level Sixteen! You’re gonna be f*cked by the second dungeon.”

“Everyone does tank builds.” The Yakuza argued back. “I’m spicing it up a bit, standing out from the crowd.”

“Standing out by being useless for the first twenty hours of gameplay!” Iguchi argued back.

“What the hell are they talking about?” Sako muttered, completely in the dark; Shigaraki, meanwhile, had more of a grasp on what exactly was going on.

“Video game sh*t.” He answered. “Prolly the new Gorogoro Tensei. Came out a couple months back.”

“Are you sure?” Sako scrunched his face up. “They seem very-”

“Maybe if you were willing to take some risks, you wouldn’t be so damn boring, Lizard!”

“There’s a difference between trying something different and just hindering yourself for no reason!”

“- Heated for a video game.” Sako finished.

Shigaraki could only shake his head and chuckle. “You have no idea, Compress. C’mon, let’s try break these lovebirds up. We need to be getting back, consolidate what we’ve got.”

— — —

“So, Jin…” Toga raised, sitting outside the little cafe and nibbling away at her shortcake, the light, bitter yet oddly relaxed breeze of the oncoming autumn glazing over her. “What’s the big deal with the Kai guy?”

“Who?” Bubaigawara looked up. Both of them did, in fact, speaking in near-perfect unison. “Overhaul?”

“Overhaul?” Toga tilted her head. “That’s what he’s called?”

“Yeah, that’s the guy.” One of them replied. “It’s like his nickname. Apparently, he names himself after his Quirk.”

“Huh. What is it?”

Both Bubiagwaras shrugged. “No clue. It’s something powerful, according to the rumours.”

“Weird.” Toga whistled. “But like, what’s his deal? Tomura and Shuichi and Atsuhiro all seem to kinda… Hate him.”

“He’s not that great a guy.” One answered.

“He was an underboss in the Hassaikai for years.” The other added. “Never really had much power, ‘til the boss dropped dead one day. In swoops Overhaul to take the crown.”

“Oh.” Toga’s face twisted. “Sounds sus.”

“Totally sus. But he gets results. He’s just a total asshole.”

“I see. And Tomura thinks he can offer some help?”

“For some reason…” The first Bubaigawara started.

“... Yes.” The second finished. “Like I said, he gets results. Sometimes, Toga-chan, you’ve gotta work with people you don’t like.”

Toga scrunched her face up. “God. So sick of having to do that. I joined you guys ‘cause I like you all. I don’t wanna have to work with jerks.”

“Has to be done sometimes, Kiddo.”

“Call me kiddo again, Jin.” Toga challenged.

Both of them smirked. “Or what?”

“Or… I won’t speak to you for three days.”

“Harsh.” One of them whimpered, before he looked around the scene once more. It was late afternoon, people were spilling out of work, heading home, the streets packed with human sardines. Somehow, it only made the smell even worse. “He should be coming out soon…”

“Who? The owner?” Toga asked; She wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, only knowing that Bubaigawara had arranged to meet with the proprietor of the cafe they currently occupied. For some reason.

“Yup.” One nodded.

“You ever heard of him?” The other asked. “Oguro-san?”

Toga squinted. “Can’t say I have.”

“He’s a former pro.” One of the pair elaborated. “Used to be called O’Clock. Retired a few years back. No one really knows why, but this is what he does now.”

“Huh.” Toga looked around. “It’s not a bad thing. You know…” She went faintly red. “I always wanted to own a cafe as a kid…”

“What, you too?” Both asked. “Damn.”

“You did?” Toga felt like her eyes were about to pop out.

“Sure I did.”

“Then, my dad sort of sidelined me into mechanics.”

“Oh…” Toga mumbled. “Sorry. Parents…”

“Eh, wasn’t that bad.” One of them dismissed. “Turns out I really liked cars and bikes too, so no harm, no foul. Until I managed to lose that job too, but… Water under the bridge…” His tone went darker for a few seconds, far darker than it had ever previously been. Then, like a flipped switch, he was back to normal. “It is what it is.”

“What is?” The gruff voice from behind Toga had her jumping out of her seat as she spun to see what could only be described as an absolute mountain of a man standing behind her. He had to have at least been double her size and she found herself drowning in his shadow.

“Bubaigawara, right?” He asked, turning his gaze to both of the pair.

“Yeah.” They answered in unison. “That’s me. This is Toga-chan.”

“Right. Iwao Oguro.” He bowed.

You’re our guy?” Toga pursed her lips; He certainly did not look like a cafe owner.

“Like it or not.” Oguro grunted as he sat down at the table. “So, what is it you want? I’ve got some stuff on, so I’d appreciate you keeping this as quick as possible.”

“Right away.” One of the Bubaigawaras nodded. “You used to be a hero, right?”

“Yeah…” Oguro’s words were careful, on edge, as he constantly eyed all three of the others. “Long time ago. What of it?”

“Well, we;ve been looking into a case lately, and we thought a hero-”

“Ex-hero.” The other Bubiagwara pointed out.

“- Ex-hero could have some insight, ya’feel?”

Oguro leaned back, resting one massive hand on the table. “Maybe. What’s it about then?”

Toga ran a hand through her hair. “You ever heard of the Hero Killer, Iwao?”

Oguro’s reaction was immediate yet understated. In an instant, he was on his feet and walking away from the trio once more.

“H-Hey!” Toga yelped after him. “What gives?”

“Oguro-san!” Bubaigawara called. “What’s wrong, man?”

“Nothing to say.” The former hero replied gruffly. “Got nothin’ to say on the matter. Sorry, but I can’t help you here.”

Toga and both Bubaigawaras stared at one another. None of them had expected that reaction. So sudden, and so definite. “C’mon!” One of the Bubaigawaras stated as he stood and tried to follow. “Didn’t mean to offend or anything. Just thought you might’ve known something.”

“Well, I don’t.”

“Aren’t you at least interested?” He pleaded. “We’re looking into this. Don’t you wanna know what’s going on with that. These are your old guys dying off-”

Oguro stopped and turned to face them. “They aren’t my guys.” He asserted. “I’m too old for this sh*t, and I don’t really care what becomes of a bunch of self-centred assholes like them. I’ll tell you to stay away from it too, but… You aren’t gonna listen to me regardless, are you?” He shook his head. “Sorry to disappoint.” Without another word, he went back into his cafe, disappearing from view.

“Well…” The Bubaigawara who was still sitting down muttered.

Toga, meanwhile, was a little less understated. “What the heck was that?!” She yelped.

— — —

“It’s not a bad idea at all.” Sako lamented as he stood by the corkboard, sleeves rolled up, tie hanging loose and hands on his belt loops. “The thought that our killer is motivated through his own sense of self-righteousness…”

“It’s annoying, is what it is.” Shigaraki grunted. “Nothin’ worse than a bad guy who’s convinced himself that he’s a hero. Plus, like you said, could make it harder for us.” Bringing his hand up, he eased his furrowed brow. “I just don’t like it. Pain in the ass. Assumin’ that it’s right.”

“Well, let us look at the evidence…” Sako stated. “Tokoname was allegedly a spy for the LIberation Army; Okumura a racist and an addict; Todoroki may have had some involvement in his son’s death and at the very least, was not a particularly altruistic gentleman. That leaves three others whom we know little about as of now.”

“Tensei Ida…” Iguchi mumbled from where he sat with his laptop in the corner. “I’d heard of the guy before. He seemed pretty well-liked. Hard to think a clean-cut guy like that had any skeletons.”

“Adachi, too.” Shigaraki added. “Didn’t she bill herself on the UwU cute girl aesthetic?” He paused. “Now I think about it, someone like her just screamed suspicious.”

“She was always very open about her past…” Iguchi nodded. “Used to get bullied a sh*t tonne in school, became a hero to raise awareness for that sorta thing. Great story for publicity.”

“You are… Oddly knowledgeable about this sort of thing.” Sako raised an eyebrow as he arranged the photographs on the board.

Iguchi merely shrugged. “Tried to go into PR before joining up with you guys. Nothin’ really came of it, but I learned a bit during my research.”

“Shuihci Iguchi the PR agent.” Shigaraki gagged. “Looks like we got the good ending here.”

“Hilarious, asshole. Anyway, I’ll keep looking into this, see what I can dig up on these three. Any juicy rumours, stuff like that.”

“Good, good.” Shigaraki agreed. “We can prolly see if Bubaigawara and Toga could look into that as well when we get back.”

“Right.” Sako nodded. “Right now, if we can establish a motive, that could prove quite useful. Once we have that in place, we can begin to narrow things down a little further.”

“Yeah…” Shigaraki thought on it; Already, the killer had to be someone who was strong enough to take down several heroes in their prime or cunning enough to catch them off-guard. They also had to have some sort of connection, given their apparent closeness to Endeavour. Perhaps…

“Maybe the Hero Killer is a hero.” He muttered aloud. For just a moment, a silence hovered.

Sako looked away from the board. “Yes, I had been wondering something similar myself. It is absolutely a possibility. Something worth keeping in mind, for certain.”

That was when Bubaigawara and Toga returned, both of them looking oddly downbeat. Glancing up, Shigaraki nodded in their direction. “Yo. All good?”
“Not really.” Toga groaned as she flopped onto the sofa.

“Our guy wasn’t willing to talk.” Bubaigawara explained. “Not about the Hero Killer. Shut down completely, left us hanging.”

“Oh.” Shigaraki mumbled. “Well, sh*t. Sorry ‘bout that.”

“I can’t say it’s altogether surprising.” Sako confessed. “From what I recall, Oguro’s retirement was not under the most admirable of circ*mstances. I can understand his desire to stay well away from anything involving his former colleagues.”

“Well, yeah, but it’s still a pain in the ass.” Bubaigawara countered. “Plus, you weren’t there. This wasn’t just being coy. He totally locked up. Didn’t wanna say a damn word to us after we mentioned the killer. He was just done with us.”

“Huh.” Shigaraki muttered. “Annoying.”

“You bet your ass it is.” Bubaigawara scoffed. “Did you guys have any more luck than we did?”

“A little bit.” Sako explained.

“Yeah.” Shigaraki smirked. “Just a bit.”

It was shaping up to be a slow start for the investigation. If something big didn’t happen soon, then - as much as he tried to keep up a positive front - he feared they may have been chasing dead ends for quite a while to come.

And they couldn’t exactly just wait for something to fall into their lap.


Chapter 15: Black Dahlia

Chapter Text

The warehouse stank to high Heaven of mould, decay, all of the signs of a building left unloved and uncared for. Forgotten and left to rot, coated in a thick layer of grim. The boards on the windows mingled with the growing vegetation, the glass lying fractured beneath them.

It was nothing.

The perfect place for a false idol to meet her demise.

As he prepared to enter, Stain made sure his gloves and surgical mask were on tight. Dirty business was afoot and he didn’t want to leave anything distinctive. The place would be swarming with police soon enough.

Placing his hand on the door, Stain stepped inside, his feet clicking on the dust-ridden concrete floor.

Nemuri Kayama had seen better days. Strapped in place to the chair in the far corner of the warehouse’s dilapidated bathroom, her head was hung and her body limp, dried blood swirling the drain near her feet. Even as Stain walked up to her, she barely looked up.

“I’ve already said…” She groaned, her voice fragile, ready to break at any moment. “I don’t have any information…”

Before he spoke, Stain took great care to clear his voice. “Hm? Miss, what are you on about?”

With faint surprise, Kayama brought her head up; Her face was barely recognisable through the bruising. “You… You aren’t…”

“Aren’t who?” He asked, feigning concern as he got down to one knee in front of her. “What the hell is going on-”

“Men.” She spat. “Holding me here… Days…”

“Hey, hey, woah.” Stain showed her his identification. “See this? I’m one of the good guys here, okay? I’m here to help you.”

“Oh God…” The relief sparkling in her weary eyes was enough to make him sick. So they hadn’t broken her spirit completely. Oh well… “You’ve gotta… Get me out of…”

“Don’t worry, I will.” Stain urged, glancing around at her restraints. “These are pretty damn tight, you know. Hell, this isn’t civilian-grade stuff. Who did this to you?”

“Armed…” Nemuri moaned. “Armed men. Military gear… Well-trained, too… They got the drop on me… Pros…”

“Pros, huh?” Stain’s eyes narrowed. “Well, once we get you out of here, we can deal with them.” Fiddling with the restraints, he kept his gaze on her. How she disgusted him. From the despicable way she dressed to the way she had acted around students. And that was before even considering her great secret…

“Yes, yes, thank you.” She cried, half-delirious. “Thank you…”

“They’ve really done a number on you.” Stain whistled, before letting go of the restraints. “Damn, they’re on tight.” Throwing up his hands in frustration, he got to his feet. He pretended to pace the room. “Okay, okay, what have we got here…” He caught himself in the faded reflection of the broken mirror; He liked what he saw.

“I… Maybe there’s something somewhere…” She groaned. “Bolt cutters or…”

“Ah, right.” He nodded. “Yeah, I’ll take a look for those right now. By the way, just out of curiosity, whatever became of Kenzo?”

With all of her strength, Kayam lifted her head up to its fullest peak. Her eyes flickered from confusion to terror. “What?”

With that, Stain produced his revolver and shot Kayama between the eyes, blood blasting out of the back of her head as it snapped back and decorating the wall behind her.

Brandishing the still-smoking gun, he approached the body, staring down at her. The permanent horrified leer her face was caught in would be an image he would treasure for the remainder of his days.

“Bitch.” He muttered softly. “Disgusting bitch.”

— — —

What Shigaraki had expected for the day was another eight hours of trying to nail down their killer’s motive before it inevitably devolved into playing paddleball and a three hour dinner diversion; What he had most certainly not expected was to be getting a phone call from Tanuma. Especially not for the reason given.

“Yo.” He grunted as he picked up. “Shigaraki Detective Agency, how can I help-”

“Shigaraki, it’s Tanuma.” Rang the voice on the other hand.

“Oh, hey there.” Not picking up on the landslide that was about to hit, Shigaraki leaned further back in his seat. “Look dude, I’m not gonna be investing in any of your crypto schemes, so-”

“We’ve found another one.” Tanuma interrupted.


“Another body. We haven’t… Identified it yet, but it’s bearing all of the M.O of our Hero Killer.”

“sh*t…” Shigaraki bit his chapped lips. “Wait, you’re telling us because, why?”

“Because I’m trying to throw you a bone here, dickhe*d.” Tanuma scoffed. “Right now, it’s just me and a couple junior officers, down in the Industrial Sector. You have about an hour before the big boys show up.”

Shigaraki got what he was saying right away. “Alright, appreciate it.”

“Well, given you’ve been such a loyal-”

Hanging up, Shigaraki leapt to his feet in an instant, grabbing his coat, much to the confusion of his allies.

“What’s up?” Iguchi asked, cradling his laptop.

“Something big.” Was Shigaraki’s response. “Sako, Bubaigawara, you two come with me; Iguchi, keep looking out for any intel; Toga, try not to break anything.”

“No promises.” Toga hissed as he made for the door.

“And this is, exactly?” Sako questioned as the trio burst out into the stairwell.

“New body’s been found.” Shigaraki answered. “Tanuma reckons it’s the Hero Killer.”

— — —

The place looked straight out of a horror movie. And that was before getting to the blood.

“Knew I should’ve got my tetanus shots…” Shigaraki muttered as he trailed behind Tanuma into the bathroom. “What’ve we got here?”

“Anonymous call reported odd sounds from here.” Tanuma explained. “Old Detnerat warehouse, not been used in years. Responding officers show up and they find…” Stopping at the body, he gestured to it. “... This.”

“f*cking hell…” Shigaraki bit his lip. It was a woman, but that was about all he could tell. Naked, bloodied and completely lacking a head, a tangled mess of gnarled flesh and muscle lingering at the stump of her neck.

Bubaigawara brought a hand to his mouth like he was about to be sick; Shigaraki couldn’t blame him. He was at a loss for words himself.

That was when Sako took over. “So, what are we looking at here?” He asked, his voice clearly fighting to remain stoic.

Even Tanuma seemed a little shaken. “Japanese female, likely between thirty and forty years of age. Beaten badly, marks on her wrists indicate she was restrained. No sign of any clothing here. Again, marks and blood splatter indicate it was most likely removed post-mortem.”

Shigaraki’s eyes raised from the haunting sight of the corpse to the detective. “We got a necrophile?”

“We’ll…” Tanuma faltered for a moment. “We’ll have to wait for a proper evaluation from the lab boys, but at a glance, there’s no sign of forced penetration. Which, if we’re looking at this as a Hero Killer case, our guy doesn’t seem to be a pervert. Not a rapist, at all.”

Sako shook his head slowly. “No sexual elements, but it’s clearly meant to humiliate. The removal of the head…”

“Post-mortem, again.” Tanuma elaborated. “It could be possible that the killer removed it out of necessity. None of the wounds on her body appear to have been deadly, severe bruising at worst. Unless she starved to death, my money is on the idea that the killing blow was dealt to her head, and it was either removed to dispose of evidence, or it was just so busted up that it practically came off itself.”

“sh*t, man…” Shigaraki closed his eyes for a moment. “Any ID?”

“Given the lack of a face, it’s going to be difficult.” Tanuma confessed. “But we’ve got a few potential leads. Nemuri Kayama, for one.”

“The hero Midnight.” Sako realised.

“Teacher at UA, too. She’s been on vacation since last week; No one’s reported seeing her since. Actually, a missing persons report was being filed on her yesterday, concerned family members.”

“Midnight…” Shigaraki muttered. “She had a big blowout, right?”

“Hm? Oh yeah, about seven, eight years back. Nephew filed a restraining order. Tossed out, though.”

“Lack of evidence.” Sako corroborated, as if he remembered the matter vividly. “The boy wouldn’t give a proper reason.”

“Yeah. Big stink on social media about it. Sure, what’s that got to do with anything?”

“If it is Midnight…” Shigaraki explained. “We’re working on a running theory that our Hero Killer might be targeting who he sees as corrupt heroes. People who may have been abusing their position. Alleged or real.”

“But if nothing came of it…” Tanuma stumbled.

“If nothing came of it publicly.” Sako retorted. “That’s not saying she was one hundred percent innocent.”

“Or, at the very least, our guy may not have believed she was.” Shigaraki quickly added. “C’mon, we’ve all seen the movies. Guy doesn’t like what he sees in society, wants to ‘rectify’ it by getting rid of all the assholes. Tale as old as time. Don’t you love to see it?”

“And who the hell is this?”

Spinning on his heel, Shigaraki saw - alongside Bubaigawara dry heaving out in the corridor - two men entering. One plainclothes detective, the other a uniformed officer with the head of a ginger cat. Neither looked too happy to see him.

“Investigators, Tsuakuchi-sama.” Tanuma explained, digging his hands into his pockets. “I let them have a look.”

“Civilian investigators.” Tsuakcuhi muttered, glaring at Shigaraki. “Shigaraki-san.”

“We’re all officially licensed.” Shigaraki noted, taking out his card. “We haven’t touched a thing.”

“Not a thing, Sir.” Tanuma added. “I was just showing them.”

“Because you owed them a favour, tight?” Tsukauchi’s eyes narrowed. “Or is it so that they now owe you?”

“Dunno what you’re implying, Sir. Figured they could be a help to the case.”

“Without our tangled bureaucracy…” The cat man mumbled, as if realising Tanuma may have a point.

“Tamakawa.” Tsukauchi chided. “Get them out of here.”

“Yes, Sir.” The cat sighed. “Come on, guys, you need to leave.”

“Aight.” Shigaraki nodded, turning and whispering to Tanuma. “Try and get us a meeting with the nephew, ‘kay?”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Tanuma muttered back. “No promises.”

“None needed.” Shigaraki noted as he and Sako followed the officer out of the room, leaving the two police detectives to squabble in peace. Out in the hallway, Bubaigawara seemed to be regaining his stomach.

“Sorry…” He mumbled. “Just can’t handle this sorta thing… Not women… Or kids…”

“You’re good.” Shigaraki rested three fingers from his hand on the man’s shoulder. “I can’t either. Our killer’s one sick bastard. You drove us here, that’s the most we could ask.”

“Sick bastard, eh?” The officer wondered aloud. “Sheesh, this city makes your skin thick…”

“Amen, Officer.” Sako agreed. “Let us depart, and report back to the others.”

— — —

“And that gives us Victim Seven.” Shigaraki announced, pinning up a printed photo of Kayam. “Nemuri Kayama. Midnight. Mutilated and desecrated, like all the others.”

“Ooh, desecrated.” Toga cooed. “Tomura’s picking up some fancy words!”

“For better or for worse, huh?” He smirked. “Good news is, we’ve already got the beginnings of a lead on this. Seems she had a rocky relationship with her nephew and for whatever reason, this nephew wanted to be as far away from her as possible. Or his guardians did.”

“Potato-potatoe.” Iguchi scoffed, setting his laptop down on the desk. “I think I might just have stumbled on something here.”

“Hm?” At once, everyone gathered around the laptop, peering at the screen, which graced them with what looked like a fairly amateur-looking site.

“Dark net.” Iguchi explained. “Got a URL for this from a buddy of mine. Called False Heroes. Some crackjob has spent the last three years documenting every instance he can find of heroes abusing their power. We’ve got all sorts here, for basic incompetence to allegations of outright crimes.”

“Such things could win him one hell of a defamation suit.” Sako mused. “But, as long as it’s out there, for anybody tech-savvy enough to read, then that gives our killer a motivation. And that’s just the baseless rumours.”

“It gets better.” Iguchi pointed out. “I ran a search for Adachi here, and look at this…” He stepped back, allowing Shigaraki to properly read the paragraph.

Sameko Adachi, also known as the Great White, has presented herself to the public as an advocate for anti-bullying. We all know of her social media campaigns, of her tragic stories of bullying experienced in high school. You might be asking yourself, what’s such a stand-up gal doing on this site? Well, little Sameko may not be all she appears. I’ve heard whisperings from those who would rather remain anonymous that - far removed from the pretty little princess of a victim - Adachi herself was the bully, one of the most vicious I’ve ever heard of. It is said by some that her actions directly led to the suicide of fellow student Kameko Odagiri in their final year; The very same Kameko Odagiri whose death she has spoken so passionately about, as if she were an idle friend, having to watch and share the girl’s suffering.

“It goes on for a couple more paragraphs.” Iguchi stated. “A surprising amount more, actually.”

“Well, that’s just gross.” Toga’s face fell. “Bullying’s one thing, but playing the victim like that…”

“If it’s true.” Shigaraki pointed out to her. “Then again, doesn’t really matter to us if it is or not. The woman’s dead. What matters to us is that-”

“- Our Hero Killer believed it to be true.” Sako finished. “We could be looking at another notch to Chisaki-san’s theory. What about the others?”

“Endeavour has a page, obviously.” Iguchi answered. “Rumours about his family life, mostly, similar to what we were doing. Okumura, too. Nothing on any of the others, though. The Ida family as a whole has a page, ranting about how they’re the epitome of the Capitalist hero fantasy or some other such bollocks, but nothin’ about Tensei specifically.”

“Right.” Shigaraki nodded. “Well, good man. Keep looking.” Stepping away, he glanced at the others. “I wanna see if Tanuma can give me anything on this nephew. Don’t really wanna rest on that ‘til he does, though, we’d best keep active, keep pulling at threads.”

“What threads, then?” Toga asked. “Isn’t this theory all we got right now?”

“Not quite.” Sako ventured.

Shigaraki snapped his fingers. “Oguro. The way you told us the story of your meeting, something about it sounds wrong to me. Someone who knows absolutely nothing - who apparently doesn’t care about any of the victims - wouldn’t react like that. I just get the feeling that he knows something, deep down…”

“What, so you think he knows something?” Toga peeked over.

“Yep.” Shigaraki nodded. “That’s what I think, at least. I’m gonna want to put a tail on him.”

“Oooh, tailing.” Toga whistled. “Who’s down for the job?” She then started whispering under her breath. “Me, me, me, me, me…”

“You and Bubaigawara know him best…” Shigaraki ventured, before blinking. “Hey, speaking of, where the hell is he?”

“Jin?” Toga looked over her shoulder. “Think he went out for a smoke.”

“Ah, right. No worries then. Give him a while.” Going back to his desk, Shigaraki snuck a glance at his phone. Nothing from Tanuma just yet.

Still, regardless, it seemed that they were finally about to start making some progress.

— — —

“Jesus Christ…” As the cigarette smoke drifted past his face and up towards the sky from the bottom step outside the office, Jin Bubaigawara sighed to himself. “Talk about pathetic…”

“Hey, c’mon now.” His Double protested as he returned from the nearby vending machine, co*ke in hand. “Be a bit more positive. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Yeah, maybe not.” Bubaigawara tapped the ash away from the tip of his cigarette. “Mostly ‘cause I didn’t do anything. Froze up at the slightest glance of a bit of blood. I’m s’posed to be a f*cking detective, and I can’t handle a few drops.”

“It was more than a few drops, like.” Double pointed out, leaning on the handrail and popping open the can. “Girl’s head was missing. We’re used to planting bugs and saving kittens, examinin’ dead bodies ain’t exactly our point of expertise.”

“Didn’t bother Shigaraki or Sako.” Bubaigawara retorted. “I just feel like a dickhe*d. Is being their chauffeur the only thing I can offer?”

“Well, if you ask me, I think you’re being harsh on us.” Double shrugged.

“Oh? That so? Would you be saying the same thing if you had been the one there?” Bubaigawara’s eyes narrowed as he flicked the remains of his cigarette away. “Because I know exactly what I would be saying if I was in your position; The exact same sh*t you are.”

“Yeah yeah, easier said than done an’ all that.” Double took a long swig of his co*ke. “Still, you’re being way too anal on yourself here. Pretty sure no one is thinking about this as hard as you are. We are. Whatever. You’ve just gotta chill out a bit.”

“You said it yourself…” Bubaigawara groaned. “Easier said…” It certainly was not easily done. To just be a bit more positive. How could he? His entire life was one blunder after the other. He couldn’t help but feel like a glorified prop at times. He hadn’t even joined the agency of his volition. It had been suggested to him, and like an idiot, he took the bait. An idiot with no real conviction. Just a poser.

That was just how it was.

“Should be getting back up there soon…” He mused. “See what’s going down.”

Chapter 16: AMBER

Chapter Text

One of the lesser-expected activities for a private detective - as far as Shigaraki was concerned - was house-calling. Such things were for cops and doctors, not a paycheque-to-paycheque P.I. who slept in his office. Alas, there he was.

As he waited for someone to answer the door, he glanced around the exterior. Not bad. Nice house, nice neighbourhood. He supposed that when one’s relative was a nationally-beloved celebrity, that tended to lead to a bit of money being kicked down the food chain.

“I wish I could have lived in a place like this as a youngster.” Sako noted as he stood next to Shigaraki. “I can’t imagine these people are living on table scraps.”

“Hm.” Shigaraki tilted his head downward. “I used to-” He caught himself. “Nah. Doesn’t matter.”

Before the matter could go any further, the door opened to reveal a young man standing behind it. Gangly, pale, dressed like he had just gotten out of work, he was probably around twenty or twenty-one. Older than expected.

“Hey.” Shigaraki nodded. “Kenzo Kayama?”

The young man stiffened for a moment, as his gaze ping-ponged between the two detectives. “No. I’m Tora. His guardian.”

“Guardian?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow. How old was Kenzo then? Had Tanuma given them a bad lead with the name? “Wasn’t his guardian-”

“Pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Sako bowed, producing his card. “Sako and Shigaraki, we’re private detectives. We’d like a moment of your time, if you may.”

Tora examined the card, before looking up at the pair. “You’re not cops?” He asked.

“Not cops or government workers of any shape, we’re purely freelance.” Sako explained. “If you don’t want, we can leave right away, you’re under no obligation to talk to us. But, we would appreciate if you could lend us a moment of your time.”

“Uh…” Tora hovered in the doorway, then stepped back. “Sure. It’s no problem, I guess. I’ve got time.”

“Thanks.” Shigaraki bowed as he headed inside, Tora leading them to the house’s living room.

“Is there anything you want?” He asked. “Tea, snacks?”

“Nah, we’re good.” Shigaraki dismissed as he sat down, Sako alongside him. The living room was one of the neatest and most tightly furnished places he had ever stepped foot inside. No photos anywhere, strangely. No family portraits, nothing. Odd. “Not a bad place.”

“Thank you. My father’s a real estate developer, he helped me set this up.” Tora chuckled. “God knows I have no clue how to buy a house on my own.”

“Does anybody in this economy?” Sako also chuckled.

“Guess not, Chief.” Tora sat down on the sofa across from them. “So, what’s the deal?”

Shigaraki shuffled for a moment. “Alright, I’ll come out and say it. You related to Nemuri Kayama?”

If he had any reaction to the question, Tora did not show it. “I figured this is what it would be about. Yes, she was my aunt.”

“Aunt? So you are her nephew?” Shigaraki poked.

“That I am.”

“And Kenzo… He your brother?”

Tora rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. “Not really. I’m his legal guardian… And cousin, I guess.”

“Cousin?” Sako raised. “So, you have another aunt?”

“No, he…” Tora lowered his voice. “He was Aunt Nemuri’s kid. Her adopted son. Then, I… Took guardianship…”

“Oh yeah?” This was starting to go somewhere already. “And why was that?”

“Nemuri…” Tora bit his lip. “I didn’t like the way she was parenting him. So I offered to take care of him. She was swamped with work, constantly, so she agreed.”

“And then, you filed a lawsuit.” Sako mused. “Sorry, attempted to. On behalf of Kenzo.”

Tora’s head lowered. “Yes.”

“Why was that, if I may ask? Seems awfully extreme for a family member.”

“I…” It was clear that he was beginning to shutter up. Something was going on that he was not willing to talk about. “I just didn’t approve of how you had raised him…”

“So you file a restraining order?” Shigaraki asked. “You the kinda guy to buy a new car when the old one runs out of petrol?”

“No, no, nothing like that!” He stammered. “It’s just… It’s complicated. Family stuff. Not that it matters anymore. She’s dead.”

“We understand that.” Sako nodded. “I presume Kenzo is well looked after?”

“Absolutely.” Tora agreed. “My girlfriend and I, we love him like our own. He’s a great kid. I’d kill if something happened… To him… After everything…”

“After everything?” Shigaraki echoed. “What’s goin’ on there?”

Tora’s head snapped up in panic. “Nothing! Sorry, just some… Bumps in the past, we’re well past them, now!”

“RIght, I see.” Sako brushed some strands of hair out of his eyes. “To change the topic a bit, do you know of anyone who might have wanted your aunt dead?”

Tora shuffled, clearly uncomfortable. “A- Aunt Nemuri had a lot of enemies.” He finally said, following a long pause. “She was a hero, of course she did. It’s only natural, right?”

“Would you know of anyone who wasn’t currently locked up?” Sako posited. “Any villains she put away who are still active? Maybe… I don’t know, students she was unpopular with?”

Tora gave a bitter laugh. “You think a UA kid would have the balls to do her in?”

Shigaraki leaned back. “Someone’s bitter.”

“Sorry. Got rejected from there years ago. Never really had them on my good side.”

“Understandably so.” Sako stated. “But - and I must be brutally forthcoming here - there’s something wrong.”


“I think there’s something you aren’t telling us.” Sako elaborated. “And it goes beyond embarrassing secrets or personal information. When we’ve asked you about the restraining order, about Kenzo, about potential enemies, you’ve seemed very uncomfortable. Is there something you aren’t telling us?”

“No?” Tora squeaked. “You’re being paranoid, Detective. I don’t… There’s nothing…”

“If you can give us anything at all…” Sako reached out. “We can help find the man who killed your aunt.”

“Don’t you wanna see him done in?” Shigaraki asked. “Sonuva bitch who took her from you?”

Tora stiffened, his hands twitching on his lap. “I don’t give a sh*t what becomes of her killer.” He spat. “More power to him.” Immediately, he realised what he was saying and froze. A silence descended upon them all. “I… I mean…”

“Hm.” Sako noted. “You didn’t like her, did you, Tora? Moreover, you thought she was rotten, no?”

“That… You’re making assumptions…” By that stage, the poor man was sweating profusely. “I’d really rather you leave…”

“You do get this, don’t you?” Shigaraki pointed out. “And I’m just sayin’ this outta courtesy. What you just said there, puts you at the very top of our list of suspects.”

All Tora could do was sit there and stammer. “I… None of this…”

Suddenly, the door opened up. And a new face entered the room.

“Hey Tora.” Stated the young boy - no older than twelve or thirteen - as he wandered into the room, dressed in baseball gear. “When’s dinner?”

At once, Tora snapped his gaze to him. “Dinner will be… Soon, Kenzo. Just talking with these guys, okay? We’ve got some stuff to sort out here.”

“Oh, okay.” The boy nodded, looking at the detectives. Shigaraki stared right back. Not a chance was the boy even Japanese. Asian, yes, but his features, the slightly broken nature of his language, he wasn’t native. Tora did say that he had been adopted by Kayama…

Still, with that, he trundled out, leaving the three to their discussion.

“So, that was Kenzo.” Sako beamed. “He seems well-raised.”

“Look, I… I would really prefer if you just…” By this point, Tora was drowning in his own sweat, barely keeping his head held up.

“Please, Kayam-san. If there is anything at all you can give us, we would like to help. Why didn’t you like her?” Sako pressed. “We can leave right now if you would like. But in that case, as my partner said, we shall have to put you to the top of our list. We cannot ignore what you’ve said.”

“Gah… Goddammit…” Tora grunted. “You’re really not G-men?”

“Not even remotely.”

“Hmph…” Running his hands through his hair, Tora tried to keep his body straight. “Look… Between you and me… Kenzo was… He’s a trafficking victim.”

“Eh?” Shigaraki leaned forwards, at total attention. “Come again?”

“As you could probably tell, he’s Chinese. He was smuggled here. Aunt Nemuri adopted him from the gangsters who had trafficked him.”

“You’re f*cking with me.” Shigaraki notioned. “Smugglers?”

“Aunt Nemuri was… Obsessed with children. I don’t mean that she was a paedophile or anything, she loved them in a purely platonic sense. She loved everything about youth, and wanted kids of her own, to genuinely love. I’ll give her that much. Yet, she was both partnerless and sterile. So, she bought Kenzo from the traffickers. I… Kenzo told me one day when I was driving him home from school. I couldn’t let her continue to be a parent to him. She may have loved him purely, but someone who will cooperate with such scum as those gangsters - a hero no less - cannot be trusted. So, I convinced her to turn him over to me.”

“And thus, the restraining order.” Sako finished. “That makes sense, now.”

“Except for why you dropped it.” Shigaraki mused.

“I…” Tora looked like he was about to burst into tears. “I had solid evidence. I’d… Broken into her house one night, I found receipts, contact details for the people she had bought him from. I was all ready. Even If I ended up in jail for a few months on B&E, my girlfriend was more than ready to look after Kenzo until my release. Not long before the court date, I was approached by men in suits. I… Assume they were the traffickers. Because they told me to drop it. They broke into my place, stole the evidence and burned it, then told me that everyone I loved was dead unless I dropped the case. Kenzo, my girlfriend, Mom and Dad. So, I dropped it.” He began to rock softly, his voice breaking apart. “And I regret every day since that happened. I didn’t kill Aunt Nemuri, but I think whoever did-”

“- Probably knew about the trafficking.” Shigaraki said. “sh*t, man…”

“I am… So sorry.” Sako spoke with his head down. “But… You did the best thing at the time to protect your family. And at least now…” Turning, he looked at Shigaraki. “We have another notch on our theory.”

“Theory?” Tora questioned.

“Yeah.” Shigaraki answered. “You ever hear of the Hero Killer? We reckon he’s behind your aunt’s death, and we’ve been working on a theory that he’s been killin’ off what he considers as corrupt heroes. Her conspiring with kiddie smugglers would definitely put her on his radar, if the theory is correct.”

“True…” Tora rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, I can see that. Sorry for the trouble.”

“It’s been none at all.” Sako bowed as he went to stand. “Given the circ*mstances, your cageyness is more than understandable. Thank you for your time.”

“It’s all good.” Tora replied, leading the pair out of the living room and towards the front door. “If you need anything else, just come and ask.”

“Appreciated.” Shigaraki bowed for one of the first times in his life, as he stepped outside and into the bitter chill once more. Even in the nicer parts of town, one couldn’t escape the weather. Instinctively, he buttoned his coat back up. “So, whadya think?” He asked Sako as they headed away from the house.

“Me?” Sako asked. “I say he’s innocent. Of being the one to deal the blow, at least. He doesn’t have the build or the demeanour to be a killer. There’s a chance he has some involvement on a higher level, but even then, I don’t see it. He strikes me as the type who wouldn’t want to risk crossing those gangsters.”

“What about them, then?” Shigaraki raised. “Think there’s a chance they have something to do with it?”

Sako’s response was immediate. “Unlikely. Unless we assume that all of the victims have some involvement in this trafficking ring… I think it’s for the best we stay away from it.”

“For real? Could be useful to look into, y’know.”

“Trust me.” Sako asserted, his voice a hint more forceful. “There are stones in this world better left unturned. For now, we should focus on our Hero Killer.”

Shigaraki shrugged. “If you say so. Still, at least we’ve got a reason for Kayama to be a target now. Seems Chisaki’s theory is comin’ together more and more.”

“That it is.” Sako acknowledged. “I only wonder how Toga and Bubaigawara’s end of the deal is holding up right now.”

“Hol’ up, I’m give ‘em a call.” Shigaraki came to a halt, drawing his phone out and dialling Toga. it rang for a long time. A very long time, in fact. Then, it went to voicemail.

“Weird.” Shigaraki raised both eyebrows as he hung up before Toga’s voice could get too far into her rendition of California Girls. “Must be busy with their stakeout.”

Sako crooked his neck. “She’s usually very quick to answer, is she not?”

“Yeah, usually. God knows what she’s up to right now, though.”

“Do you think we should head over to check up?” Sako suggested. “Given the nature of our investigation, we might as well see what we can do to help.”

Shigaraki’s voice was about as apathetic as one could get as he responded. “Sure, if you want. You got any clue where that cafe is?”

— — —

“Gosh, this is dull…” Toga moaned as she leaned on the lamp post across from Oguro’s cafe, her eyes behind dark glasses and a thick overcoat draped on her shoulders. It was not exactly the inconspicuous look she was going for, but when combined with her hair being down, it did enough to disguise her rather recognisable appearance from a distance. “Tomura really hyped this up when he called it a stakeout…”

“This is exactly what a stakeout is.” A far more enthusiastic Bubaigawara pointed out. “We keep our eyes glued on the prize, check for what he might be up to.”

“Yeah, but he hasn’t done anything.” Toga pointed out. “It’s been two hours since he closed shop and he still hasn’t left.”

“It is kinda weird…” Bubaigawara agreed. “I wouldn’t expect cleanup to take this long. Maybe there’s something in there.”

Toga shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt to look.”

“Given that he’s still in there and he weighs more than both of us put together, I’m pretty sure he could hurt us. Quite badly.”

“Then we wait for him to come out.” Toga insisted. “Better yet, you wait for him to come out. I’m going to McDonald’s.”

Surprisingly, Bubaigawara did not offer much retaliation. “Aight then. Get me a milkshake.” His eyes followed her as she trotted off, before refocusing on the cafe. He had to admit, it wasn’t the most stimulating of events. Then again, it was the best way to provide some use at the moment.

Was he providing any use, though? It seemed an awful lot as if he was more so standing and staring at nothing in particular. Surely, he could be a lot more helpful if he actually took some initiative…

Before he even realised what he was doing, his legs carried him across the street, towards the cafe, up to the door, placing his hand on the bar. Locked. He jiggled it a little bit.

Still locked.

“Oh well.” He mumbled to himself. “Guess there’s nothing can be done.”

Once more, his body moved faster than his mind, his foot colliding with the door. The glass shattered in as the lock snapped and the door swung open.

“Oops.” He hadn’t meant to do that. Not at all. For a second, the charges flashed before his eyes. Yet, nobody came to see what was going on. Weird. As far as he could tell, Oguro still hadn’t left the cafe, and he would almost certainly have been able to hear the noise if he was somewhere inside. Come to think of it, why would the door have been locked if he was still there?

Bubaigawara hesitated, lingering in the doorway, but his body moved once again on instinct. His boots crunched the shards of glass as he entered the darkened cafe. No sign of life. No footsteps save for his own, no machinery audible. Nothing. With all of the lights off, it really was as if the place was closed for the night. Maybe Oguro had taken a back entrance. Even still, the investigation continued, coming across not a person or thing that seemed out of sight. Everything was neatly arranged, well-presented, clean. Bubaigawara hadn’t pegged Oguro as such a clean freak, but at least he wouldn’t have to feel cautious about getting drinks from the place.

His investigation took him to a door, rather clearly labelled as being as some sort of office for Oguro. Everyone needed a place to do their taxes. Placing a hand on the knob, he slowly pushed the door open, peering through the widening crack as he did so.

If the majority of the cafe was neat as could be, then Oguro’s office had stepped out of another universe. Desks, shelves, just about every free surface was coated in paperwork, coffee mugs, everything. Just standing in it made Bubaigawara feel distinctly claustrophobic. Yet, above all of this, his gaze was drawn to a gap at the back of the far wall.

A stairwell, behind his office. Leading straight into some sort of business. The grooves on the carpet looked as if something had been moved out of the way in order to reveal said staircase.

It certainly wasn’t a normal part of any old cafe. He had the rather stark impression of some sort of haunted mansion, loaded with traps and secret passageways.

Weird. Really weird.

Setting a foot on the stairs, Bubaigawara noted the dim metallic clang that rose up. Made of metal. So, they had probably been put in at some point after the construction of the building. It just kept getting stranger. Before he had time to second-guess himself, he began descending down to the lower level. If the office made him feel claustrophobic, the stairwell had him sweating, with the tight walls, both of his shoulders rubbing on the concrete. He wondered how a mountain of a man like Ohuro could have any comfort at all going down them.

Reaching the floor, he stepped down. At first, he appeared to be in some sort of regular basem*nt. Dimly-lit, concrete flooring, what looked like plenty of boxes and old furniture lying around. Just a storage room? Then, his eyes began to adjust. At one end of the room was a computer desk, the monitor on, lighting up the immediate area in a pale glare. Like a moth, he was drawn towards it and as he did so, he noticed the markings of one of the heavy-duty boxes. A faded star with a Chinese character within it. Property of the PLA.

“Chinese tech…” He muttered. Military tech at that. Weapons? He placed his hand on the lid, but it was sealed tight, too tight for him to open at that moment. It was just getting weirder.

Shaking his head, he moved on to the computer. The closer that he got, the easier it became to tell that an image was on the monitor. A video editing programme was open. On one layer, a transparent National flag. Beneath it, the shaky handheld recording of what looked like a woman strapped to a chair.

“The hell…” He muttered, resting his hands on the desk as he stared closer. At the very bottom of the image, there was some text:

These are your idols. This is our reality.

It looked like they were meant to be subtitles.

Tentatively, he reached out and clicked play. All at once, the footage started moving, as the sounds of Kimigayo filled the room. Much louder than expected. In panic, he ended the playback immediately, stumbling back. He snapped his gaze over his neck, as if terrified that he might have stirred something behind him.

He very much had.

Oguro stood there in the shadows, staring directly at Bubaigawara.

“Son…” He muttered in that gruff, imposing tone as he moved into clearer view. He clutched a pistol in one hand. “You’ve just seen something you shouldn’t have.”

Chapter 17: For Your Eyes Only

Chapter Text

Even as he saw the gun, Bubaigawara began trying to shift away, back towards the stairs, towards some sort of relative safety. All at once, things had gone from boring to intriguing to outright terrifying and he was starting to wish he could go back to being bored on the stakeout again. “N- Now hang on. I didn’t see anything!”

“Not a thing, huh?” Oguro responded gruffly. “Sure, sure.” He lowered the gun for just a moment and sighed. “Guess it is my fault to an extent. Should’ve realised that guys like you wouldn’t be content after how I blew you off. But I’m sure you understand… There wasn’t much I had to say on the matter.” Bringing the gun back up, he kept it pointed. Bubaigawara’s throat started to burn, with the bile resting against its dry walls. Even he realised that he was likely moments away from death. Oguro clearly was not playing around at all.

“Seriously, man, I can’t make heads or tails of this stuff! I’m not smart enough to put it all together. As far as I know, you’re just making weird snuff videos!” He protested, trying anything at all that might spare him his life. The sweat drenched his hair, causing strands to wilt and fall down over his eyes.

“Maybe you’re tellin’ the truth…” Oguro admitted. “But the others will. And you can’t not tell them about this; I know how you lot operate.”

Bubaigawara made another attempt to back away, hearing Oguro’s finger tighten on the trigger. No time, none at all.

“Jin?” The voice came from above, accompanying the pitter patter of hurried footsteps down the stairs. All at once, he knew who it was, his horror turning to momentary relief. Then, straight back to horror as he realised that Toga was running head first into the lion’s den. Because of him.

“Wait!” He called out. “Don’t-”

But that was when Toga came into view of both men and in an instant - perhaps in an act born entirely of panic - Oguro brought the pistol up and fired. The crack echoed through the basem*nt as Toga’s shoulder exploded into a fine red mist and she crumpled on the spot, rolling down the rest of the stairs and coming to a stop at the bottom, in a tangled, moaning heap.

“Toga!” Bubaigawara yelled out. This couldn’t be real, it just couldn’t be. It was all a nightmare, all just some deranged, depraved nightmare… Something like this couldn’t possibly be happening-

He heard the next gunshot and instinctively ducked away, the bullet embedding itself in the wall behind him and raining plaster and dust down on his shoulders. No, it was real. All horrifyingly real. Even as he glanced down, the bile swelled further, seeing the girl lying there in a rapidly-growing pool of her own blood.

“Bastard!” He yelled as he straightened himself up; He wasn’t entirely sure if he was speaking to Oguro or himself. Regardless, he ran at the larger man without thought of self-preservation. As he ran, he formed a Double in his place, almost as a meat shield of sorts, a Double that immediately had its head blown off by another shot. Alas, it had bought him enough time to close the gap and lunge at Oguro.

As he collided with the man, another shot was fired, but Bubaigawara’s body threw off the aim, and it thudded into the thick ceiling above them. Not to be daunted, Oguro untangled himself from Bubaigawara and tossed him across the room where he hit the wall with a sharp pain.

“Look, Son, I like you, I really do.” He expressed as he went to pick up the gun, sounding genuinely remorseful. “But I can’t let you leave here. Not with what you know.”

“Bastard…” Bubaigawara cursed, clutching the sharp pain at the base of his neck. “What’s so important, huh? You know you’re gonna have to explain what happened to us… What’s worth the risk?”

“What’s worth the risk…” Oguro explained, bringing the gun up. “... Is the new world we’re paving.”

Bubaigawara could only squirm. There was nothing else. No more schemes, no way to get around it. Just overwhelming shame. Shame and guilt.

That was when more footsteps could be heard, racing down the steps. A pair from the sound of it. Oguro spun on his heel and brought the gun up, just as Shigaraki and Sako came into view.

“Toga…” Shigaraki hissed as he raced down and stood by the girl. “The f*ck is going on here?”

“Oguro-san…” Sako remained collected. “So we were correct in coming to investigate.”

“Idiots.” Oguro scoffed. “You shouldn’t have come here.”

“I daresay we should have.” Sako countered as he knelt down and checked Toga. He quickly turned his attention to Shigaraki. “She’s alive. We’ll have to get her medical care urgently, though.”

“Right.” Shigaraki nodded. “And as for this goon… We’ve already called the cops, y’know. After we saw the state of your door.”

Silence proliferated the room, as Oguro stared around at all of them. “I can’t kill you all now.” He huffed. “Not like this and probably not at any point. Definitely not with filth on their way. Three on one… Not great odds.”

“The hell are you blabbing about!?” Bubaigawara groaned as he tried to get back to his feet, ready to clash with the man once more. “What’s going on, here?!”

Oguro, however, almost seemed calm. “I always figured this would come. I ain’t scared…”

Getting back up to his feet, Sako remained resolute. “Oguro-san, I think we’re owed some sort of explanation.”

“You aren’t owed a damn thing.” He shook his head. “Not from me. I won’t give you a thing. Free from tyranny.”

With that, he thrust the gun against his chin and pulled the trigger. His brains exploded out of the back of his head as he keeled over, the sickly stench of cordite drifting through the room. For a moment, the only sounds that persisted were the heavy, laboured breathing of all in the room.

“Free from tyranny.” Sako finally noted aloud as he went over to the body. “Well, that answers one thing.”

“Eh?” Shigaraki craned his neck, while Bubaigawara could only limp over to Toga and get down by her. “That is?”

“Our friend Oguro is Rising Sun.” Sako explained. “That would go a way in elucidating us on these weapons.”

“Rising Sun.” Shigaraki built his lip. “A revolutionary nut. So, what’s the connection?”

“The connection…” Sako theorised as he turned his gaze to the computer monitor. “... Is very much clear, I think.”

— — —

“So…” Tapping his pen off his notepad, Officer Sansa Tamakawa the cat man raised one furry eyebrow. “... He just blew his own brains away? Just like that?”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki nodded once more, hands dug deep into his pockets as the evening sky was alight with red, police and paramedics milling about the area. “We saw the place had been broken into, went to investigate, he shot Toga, tried to take us too, then killed himself.”

“Huh.” Tamakawa ran the pen around his paw. “I see. Sheesh, things would’ve been a lot easier if you’d just stayed still after calling us. We’d probably not have to be taking anyone to the hospital. Or morgue.”

“Yeah, well, we’re detectives.” Shigaraki shrugged. “Ain’t in our nature to stay put and wait for the constabulary.”

“Would it kill you to wait every once in a while?” Tamakawa groaned. “You couldn’t even imagine the paperwork I’ve got ahead of me because of this.”

“Yeah, duly noted.” By that stage, Shigaraki was no longer paying attention, hazing around the scene. “Toga gonna be okay?”

“She’ll be stable.” Tamakawa nodded. “I’m no doctor, but we got her out of there pretty quick, nothing vital seems to have been hit. She should be fine.”

“Well, that’s what matters, then.” Shigaraki noted. “Good for me.”

“H- Hey, now!” Officer Tamakawa sweated. “You’ve still committed trespassing, you know! You could be held responsible for what happened-”

“Whatever.” Shigaraki dismissed. “Send us a court summons in the mail, I’ll see you later.” Looking over, his gaze settled on Bubaigawara who sat on the curb outside of the cafe, hands on his head, which was hung low. “We done here, Officer?”

“No! But… I mean, I guess…” He sighed. “This isn’t over, here-”

“Well, well, well.” Tamakawa was cut off as three figures came into view, cutting him off. Two men, a woman, all exceptionally well-dressed. “Looksee what we have here.” The lead man announced. “Another Rising Sun loon dead, one less threat out on the streets. Not bad, not bad at all.”

“Agent Ukita.” Tamakawa saluted. “This isn’t your-”

“The Rising Sun is considered a Tier A domestic terror organisation.” Ukita interrupted. “So yes, it is the business of the Criminal Affairs Division.”

Shigaraki merely stared them over. He didn’t like the look of these people, not one bit. Not the man, not the woman, not the anxious-looking guy who was hovering behind them. “These guys your fan club, Officer?”

Ukita turned to him. “Taiga Ukita, this is Hashimoto and the rookie here is Tanimura. We’re with the Hero Public Safety Commission, Criminal Affairs. You are?”

Shigaraki held the gaze. “Tomura Shigaraki, private detective.”

“Shigaraki, huh?” Ukita whistled. “Any relation to Hakai Shigaraki?”

“Yeah. He’s my dad.”

“What a family tree.” Ukita whistled. “What a lineage. I-” His eyes widened. “No sh*t.”

Shigaraki looked over to where Ukita was staring, to see Sako approaching.

“Oh God…” Sako muttered, rubbing his eyes. “Ukita and the goon squad.”

“Sako-senpai!” The agent beamed. “It’s been too long!”

“How you doing, Senpai?” Hashimoto bristled.

“Senpai?” Shigaraki felt a question mark form above his head. “The hell is going on here-”

“I knew these pair.” Sako asserted. “In a past life. A long time ago, now.”

“Aw, I can’t believe this.” Ukita shook his head. “Not even telling your partner about your old buddies.”

“You were never my buddies, Agent.” Sako retorted, keeping a level, polite tone. “You were an irritating kiss ass and Hashimoto-san here was the epitome of an airhead. Clearly, you’ve moved up since then.”

“I am so Goddamn confused…” Shigaraki muttered.

Ukita’s face flashed with a sort of barely concealed anger. “Well, Sako-senpai, unfortunately for you, we can’t talk sweet nothings all day. We’ve got a crime scene to cordon off. Some of us have actual jobs, you see. Aside from getting disgruntled veterans to kill themselves. Not that Oguro’s a major loss or anything.” With that, he strode off towards the cafe, Hashimoto in close pursuit. The anxious young guy, Tanimura, gave a short bow before hurrying off after them, nearly tripping over his own untied laces.

“God, I’m so sick of them, already…” Tamakawa hung his head. “They’ve just gotta butt into everything. They’re gonna cut the span of this life by a good decade, I swear…”

Shigaraki and Sako decided to leave the officer to his rambling and approached Bubaigawara. “Seriously, how the hell do they know you?” Shigaraki asked, legitimately curious.

“I used to…” Sako paused before continuing. “I would do contract work in the old days. I did some things for the Commission. That was how I met the pair of them, fresh-faced rookies at the time. Tanimura-san is a new one, though.”

“Huh.” Shigaraki muttered. He got the impression that the full story wasn’t quite there, but he wasn’t really bothered enough to pry further. “And so, the Atsuhiro Sako lore expands. That guy’s a c*nt.”

“Indeed.” Sako lamented. “Indeed.” With that, they reached the morose Bubaigawara.

“Hey, dude.” Shigaraki went to sit next to him. “All good?”

“I can’t…” Bubaigawara moaned. “Total f*ck-up.”

“Hey, c’mon man, people screw up all the time.” Shigaraki tried to assure him. “I’ve had my fair share of mistakes, Sako has, Iguchi has, we all have.”

“Have you gotten people killed?” Bubaigawara brought his head up. “Have you gotten people you love hurt because you’re such a Goddamn idiot? I bet you have! No, no…” He shook his head. “No, it’s just me. Or maybe you have. Maybe…” He threw his hands up and released a howl of frustration. “God! What have I done?”

“Hey, hey, it’s all okay.” Shigaraki gave him a pat on the back, with four fingers. “Toga’s gonna be fine, you see? She’s a fighter. She ain’t gonna die to a little bullet wound. She’ll be good.”

“It still shouldn’t have happened.” Bubaigawara professed. “It’s because of me. I think. Yeah, it’s me…”

Staring down at the pair, Sako was clearly somewhat uncomfortable. “I’m going to call Iguchi, tell him that he can head home now.” He stated. “I’d say we should all try and get some rest. Tomorrow is another day, after all.”

— — —

Tomorrow was indeed another day. Not that it felt so different from any other. Aside from the fact that they were missing a few members and had slightly more information than before, it very much seemed like business as usual, oddly.

“Right.” Shigaraki explained, pointing to the board. “So, with everything said and done, our big takeaway is this…” He focused on a printout from a recording he had taken of Oguro’s video. “The Hero Killer is involved with the Rising Sun.”

“We sure about that?” Iguchi asked.

“It’s about as safe an assumption we’re gonna get.” Shigaraki shrugged. “Trust me, looking at the way Kayama’s body was, this was definitely the Hero Killer’s doing. He dealt the final blow, at least. If you ask me, I reckon the RS kidnapped her, our killer finished the job.”

“Hm…” Iguchi rubbed his scaled chin. “Hey, I may be behind here, but what if there ain’t a Hero Killer? Not a specific guy, at least. What if it’s the RS who’s been behind everything?”

“I was wondering something similar myself.” Sako mused from where he stood by the windowsill. “The organisation’s motivations align almost perfectly with the theory for our killer.”

“Me too.” Shigaraki confessed. “To be honest, there’s a pretty good chance the Hero Killer is an RS man. But I do think he exists. I’m pretty sure there’s one specific guy carrying this out.”

Iguchi perked. “Why’s that?”

“It’s mostly Endeavour. We would’ve known if there was a group there when he died. He was definitely taken out by one person. Would make sense if they had one specialised guy who deals with this stuff.” He gave a small groan. “But this does kinda sh*t on the approach with the phone call.”

“Huh?” It took Iguchi a moment to realise. “Oh, right. I guess if the whole RS is in on it, that could’ve been anyone on the phone.”

“And given that the organisation is largely made up of former police and heroes…” Sako lamented. “That doesn’t much narrow down anybody who may be connected to Endeavour. However, I’d say this does narrow things down in a different way. We would do well to keep an eye on the Rising Sun specifically at this point.”

“True.” Shigaraki pointed. “Right now, we could prolly start to zero in on these guys real hard. It does make the net a lot smaller.” Pacing around the room, he scratched softly at the swollen spot on his neck. “We’re gonna have to see ‘bout gathering info on these guys. We’ve gotta know the kinda people we’re dealing with here. History, any leads on memberships, the whole nine yards.”

Iguchi let out a dull sigh. “That mean we’ve got to see Chisaki again?”

Shigaraki nodded. “That means we’ve got to see Chisaki again.”

“Kill me.”

“Maybe you’d be in luck if you’d shown up to Oguro’s.” Shigaraki blinked. “Too soon.”

“Way too soon, dude.” Iguchi clicked. “So, what is it we’ve got on RS right now? Just to consolidate.”

That was when Sako took over. “The Rising Sun, anti-authoriarian protest group with a Nationalist slant turned terror organisation with numerous high-profile assassinations under their belt. Their members - most of whom stem from law enforcement - are highly trained and well-funded. As we now know, it seems likely that they are sourcing firepower from nations such as China, and I would frankly be surprised if we didn’t find some Russian arms mysteriously thrown in the mix. They’re big, they’re dangerous and, for all intents and purposes, this new campaign of killing tarnished heroes would be right up their alley.”

“Still interests me, though…” Shigaraki mused. “The hell happened to turn them violent? They only really started kicking off a year back, right? Something had to have inspired it.”

“Who really knows?” Was all Sako could say. “A change in leadership, the frustration at their lack of impact releasing…” His voice began to trail. “There are a myriad of things… That could have happened… A year ago…” His voice was shining with a sort of recognition; And Shigaraki had seen it too.

“No way…” He grunted.

“Eh?” Iguchi craned his neck around. “What’re you guys on about?”

“A year ago…” Sako clicked his tongue. “Around the same time as the Hero Killer’s first supposed victim…”

“Not a chance.” Shigaraki murmured. “Coincidence, right?”

Sako shook his head. “Who really knows? Maybe the Hero Killer was born of this increased radicalisation in the ranks, maybe he caused it. Chicken or the egg…”

“Chicken or the egg…” Shigaraki repeated. “This couldn’t just be easy, could it?”

“Easy?” Sako remarked. “For us? Perish the thought.”

“True that.” Shigaraki went to sit down. “sh*t…”

After a few moments, Iguchi piped up. “So, how’s Toga holding up?”

“We’ve heard nothing bad.” Sako elaborated. “I’m willing to say she’s most likely stable. As it stands, though, they aren’t allowing any visitors right now. No big surprise, given that this all happened less than twenty-four hours ago.”

“We’ve just gotta give her time.” Shigaraki noted. “Let her heal.”

“For sure.” Iguchi nodded. “And Bubaigawara?”

“About what you’d expect, really.” Shigaraki rubbed the back of his neck. “Poor bastard… Gotta feel for him…” There wasn’t much that could be done. They just had to let both Bubaigawara and Toga some room to breathe, and carry on the investigation, with or without them, in the meantime.

Chapter 18: Steamed Up

Chapter Text

“A bathhouse.” Iguchi lamented with utterly uncontained disgust, as his snout twitched above the steam coursing through the room.

“A bathhouse.” Shigaraki nodded, glancing over. “You got a problem with it?”

“Don’t do well with steam.” Iguchi muttered. “And I’m sorry, mate, but I’m not taking my clothes off in front of you.”

“However will I cope?” Shigaraki retorted with a wry grin. “Look, this is where Chisaki said to meet, so this is where we’re meeting.”

“Dunno what’s wrong with his usual hideout.”

“Who knows? Maybe he was bored of it. Now c’mon, I’m gonna guess he doesn’t wanna be kept waiting.”

“Sure, you do that.” Iguchi answered. “I’m gonna check out the women’s side.”

That actually got a laugh out of Shigaraki; After a few seconds, Iguchi joined in, too. “Nice try, asshole. Sooner we’re in, the sooner we get out. So just take your Goddamn clothes off and put a f*cking towel on, we’re not gonna be allowed to strut in there dressed like Whitey and Flemmi.”

“Dude…” Iguchi groaned as he took a seat and reluctantly began to do as was asked of him. “You need to stop hanging around Sako, his cultural references are rubbing off on you. Hell, they’re rubbing off on me, too. That ain’t good.”

“Speaking like a guy four times my age while talking to a Yakuza in a bathhouse.” Shigaraki lamented as he pulled his shirt over his head, revealing his pale, emaciated frame beneath, an ugly bloat trailing from his pectoral down to his stomach. His skin appeared to be reacting very badly to the steam already, faint spots of pink ascending from the pale flesh. “Takeshi Kitano, eat your heart.”

“See, that’s exactly what I mean.” Iguchi laughed. “We are so f*cked on the dating scene.”

“Heartbreaking.” Shigaraki noted, the sarcasm out in full force. “I was such a shoe-in before I opened my mouth.”

All that said, it didn’t take long to get ready and head out into the bathhouse proper. A small, local joint, one of the few remnants of classic Japan wormed in between the ultra-modern skyscrapers and urban decay. There was something nostalgic about it, like something from an old anime Shigaraki would have watched as a child.

Did he watch anime as a child? He couldn’t even tell anymore. It was hard to remember much of everything from before the incident. Regardless, there was a faint warmth that he felt from the place and not just in respects to temperature.

Kai Chisaki sat at the far end of the room, his back to the pair from where they entered. It wasn’t too difficult to gauge that it was him given that he was the only other person in there. All at once, Shigaraki felt a sinking sensation; He hadn’t realised just how well-built Chisaki was, the meticulously detailed inking of a Koi fish curling around his back, elucidated in each crevice and muscle. There was no denying that he was Yakuza, and the back of his short, tufty, brown hair made it obvious exactly which Yakuza he was.

“Chisaki.” Shigaraki called out as he approached, trying not to gag on the steam. “Interestin’ place for a meeting.”

At hearing that, Chisaki slowly turned to face the pair, and all at once, it was clear that the rumours were completely true. His nose was crooked and bent at such an angle that it very much did resemble a damaged beak, his mouth small and taut and worn with chemical burns; Asymmetrical scars ran across his cheeks and he didn’t appear to have much of a chin at all. As much as it made him seem judgmental, Shigaraki actually found it difficult to look at him.

“It’s clean, isn’t it?” The Yakuza spoke as he rotated his body to face the direction of his head. “Pure. There’s so very much grime that can settle in, even in the home. Rats, litter, bugs. Thank you for that, by the way.”

“Hm?” Iguchi raised an eyebrow. “The hell you talking about?”

“There are eyes everywhere.” Chisaki confessed. “It’s not safe to talk in my own home base right at this moment, given that someone happened to uncover a batch of Chinese guns in Iwao Oguro’s basem*nt.”

Iguchi was still confused. “Eh? What’s that got to do with you?”

“The police suspect the Shie Hassaikai has something to do with moving those guns around.” Chisaki elaborated. “Given that whoever sold them to him are knowingly arming the Rising Sun, they’re laying the heat onto us. The base is compromised. Not that I would know anything about any guns, of course.”

“Course not.” Shigaraki nodded. “Not apologising, by the way.”

“I don’t suppose I could expect as much from the likes of you.” Chisaki sighed. “But obviously, you’ve poked the sleeping bear now. I may not be your careers counsellor from high school, but I’m going to take on some executive powers and advise you to leave them the hell alone. Nothing good is going to come from it.”

“Well, that’ll be for us to decide. You gonna give us anything we could use?”

“Predictable.” Chisaki shook his head. “I shall be brutally honest with you, I have little concrete intelligence on the Rising Sun. Plenty of hearsay, more rumours than I know what to do with, but not much of it has any true confirmation. The group is running in dangerous circles, they’ve got former intelligence officers and cops on their side, and probably more than a few current ones to boot, there are rumours of collaboration with the MLA, they’re smart for the most part.”

“Y’know, I’m starting to get sick of people telling me not to stick my nose into things.” Shigaraki sighed. “It’s kind of my whole thing, I’m a P.I. I get it, it’s dangerous, just give me what I wanna know.”

“Fair enough.” Chisaki hung his head for a moment. “I can respect the tenacity, though you really ought to plan things out more. I’ve been looking through what I’ve got, seeing if there’s anybody who could give you any sort of in to the Rising Sun. The options are limited, to say the least. These people keep to themselves, the known members have gone deep underground, and the unknown ones are… Well, unknown. We’re not exactly talking about the typical criminal murder gang here.”

Iguchi folded his arms across his chest. “Sure thing, Bonar-law, but- sh*t, now I’m doing it.” He took a deep sigh. “You’ve got something, right?”

“A very slight something.” Chisaki nodded. “According to my sources, there are a great many moles within the police department for the Rising Sun. Cops selling out their comrades for money, or for the promise of revolution. That much is common knowledge. What I have is a name.”

“A name?” Shigaraki questioned; A corrupt cop wouldn’t be the worst person in the world to pry for information. Someone like that would have a lot to lose if they were exposed, and that meant leverage.

“Monika Kaniyashiki.” Chisaki leaned forwards on the bench, his fingers steepled. “NPA officer, organised crime division. She oversees a lot of undercover operations. Established relationship with known Rising Sun member Makoto Araki, who killed himself in his jail cell several years back. Furthermore, she’s been photographed with Oguro in the past.”

“Interesting coincidence.” Shigaraki lamented. “Anything else to back that up?”

“I thought you’d never ask. In college, she was part of another anti-government, pro-reform group, basically a bunch of protesting kids. Disbanded when someone put a rock through the dean’s windows, but Kaniyashiki allegedly attempted to start up a successor the following year.”

“Someone like that gets to end up in the NPA?” Iguchi pondered. “The feds are keeping tabs on university campuses, right? Anyone who falls outta line would be destined for a janitorial position for life.”

“Oh, the wonders that can come from having an influential father.” Chisaki responded. “Regardless, there was also the fact that another officer from her very division went missing one day after starting the first major investigation into the Rising Sun. The coincidences begin to add up.”

“Has experience with this sort of thing, knows multiple RS members and would have had close proximity to a missing coworker…” Shigaraki whistled. “It does start to add up after a bit.”

Iguchi glanced over. “You think we should try and find her, then?”

“It could be the best we’re gonna get right now. We seriously need an in to the RS if we’re gonna get anywhere here.” Shigaraki’s gaze returned to the Yakuza. “Thanks. You’ve been such a pal.”

“I could do with the sarcasm, but you’re welcome.” Chisaki nodded. “Just try not to get yourselves killed; I’ve grown rather fond of you, to be frank.”

“Sure, whatever.” Already, Shigaraki was turning on his heel and heading back to the changing area, Iguchi close behind him. As they left, they narrowly avoided bumping into a girl who was entering. She didn’t seem that old, maybe high school-aged, with vivid ginger hair and a medical patch over one eye. For a moment, Shigaraki considered pointing out to her that she was in the wrong section, but held his tongue, and she showed no apparent reaction to him or Iguchi at all.

“Weird.” Iguchi whistled. “You think she stumbled in by accident?”

“Who knows?” Shigaraki shrugged. “Could be a mistake, could be a pervert, don’t really care. Chisaki can deal with it.”

“Fair enough. Just get me outta here, ASAP.” Iguchi wiped the sweat from his brow.

“ASAP.” Shigaraki agreed. “Or sooner, if possible.”

“Amen.” Returning to the changing room, Iguchi wasted no time in redressing himself. “So, we gonna look into Kaniyashiki?”

“She’s all we got right now, ain’t she?” Shigaraki pointed out. “I’ll call Tanuma when we get outta here, see if he can get us an address.”

“You think he’ll be willing to hand it over? Scumbag or not, the guy’s still a cop. He might not wanna sell out one of his own.”

Shigaraki paused and stared. “Iguchi, Tanuma would sell me his wife’s underwear for the right price, guy’s got loyalties to no one but the Yen. ‘Sides, if all this is true, Kaniyashiki’s a traitor anyway. I’m pretty sure he’ll help us out here.”

“Right.” Iguchi nodded. “Fair enough. If you’re dealin’ with that, you want me to go check Bubaigawara?”

“Ah. Yeah, that’d be good, thanks.” It had been a good few days since Toga’s hospitalisation and nothing at all had been heard from Bubaigawara; On one hand, it was prudent to give him some space, yet on the other, he didn’t like the idea of leaving the poor man completely alone. “Just make sure he’s doin’ okay, let him know that none of us blame him for what happened.”

“No problem, Boss. When it’s between him and listening to Tanuma, sh*t’s a no-brainer.”

Shigaraki rolled his eyes. “You’d kill someone to get out of seeing Tanuma.”

“I’d kill a lot of someones to get out of it.”

“Don’t count on it.” Shigaraki smirked. “For now, just go check on the guy.”

— — —

As he stood in the decrepit hallway of the crumbling residential block, Iguchi found himself realising that he had never actually seen Bubaigawara’s place. Or anybody’s for that matter, save for the office. All of that said, he couldn’t say that he was altogether surprised by the state of it; In fact, he was fairly sure that this was one of the more upmarket places in their area of the city. Only one of the windows he saw was broken and he couldn’t spy any rats. It was downright ritzy, really.

All of these thoughts were proliferating in his mind due to just how long it was taking for Bubaigawara to answer the door. He had knocked once, nothing. Knocked again, still nothing. Iguchi was trying not to worry about it, but given the context of recent events, it was hard not to. Silence couldn’t be a good thing.

“Yo.” He called out as he knocked for a third time, this time putting a bit more force into each strike on the door. “You alright there, dude? It’s me, Iguchi. Just wanna see if you’re okay.”

Still no verbal response, but just a few moments later, sounds of shuffling could be heard from within, sparking a bit of hope in Iguchi that Bubaigawara was, if nothing else, alive. A low bar, perhaps but it was something. Then, the rattling of a chain, swiftly followed by the concerning creak of the door as it was slowly pulled back.

“Iguchi?” All at once, Bubaigawara was clearly looking worse for wear. He hadn’t appeared to have shaved in a while and his clothes hung off him with no real style or care. The pervasive stench of alcohol and cheap aftershave that clung to his body caused Iguchi’s nostrils to close up immediately. “Hey.”

“Yeah, hey.” Iguchi choked. “You ain’t looking so hot, dude.”

“Sure, I’m fine.” Bubaigawara dismissed, before shaking his head. “Nah, you’ve got a point there…”

Iguchi peered past him into the apartment proper. “It okay if I come in for a bit?”

“Sure.” Bubaigawara stepped back. “No reason not to, I guess. Well, probably a few… Nah, you can come in.”

“Thanks.” As soon as he entered, Iguchi wished that he hadn’t. It would be an understatement to call the place a mess. It made his own look respectable by comparison. Like an H-Bomb had gone off in a hoarder’s house. He caught himself wondering how much was inspired by recent events and how much was just Bubaigawara’s usual state of being.

“Dude, we need some spring cleaning in here.” He shook his head as he ventured further in. “How’d you manage to live like this?”

“I don’t.” Bubaigawara responded, surprisingly chipper, all things considered. “Good question, though.” Cleaning some space, he sat down on a sofa that made Shigaraki’s at the agency look pristine, gesturing for Iguchi to join him.

“It’s fine to stand, thanks.” He asserted, as he peered around, bringing his hands together. “So, how’s life?”

“How’s life?” Bubaigawara repeated. “My stupidity got Toga shot and I can’t stop reliving it. Just peachy, thanks.”

“You know what Sako would say about sarcasm…” Iguchi noted. “Look, you know that it’s not your fault, right? Oguro was a crazy S.O.B, there wasn’t anything we could’ve done about it.”

“If only I could believe you.” Bubaigawara’s face strained. “I didn’t have to break into the cafe like a lunatic, I should’ve just stayed put. It’s funny, I’ve always been kind of worried about being useless, but to be real with you, I seriously wish I could go back to that.”

“Dude, useless?” Iguchi gurned. “You seriously ever thought that?”

“I mean, yeah.” Bubaigawara explained, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “What did I really do?”

“What did you- Dude, what have I really done?” Iguchi practically spat. “I sit on my ass racking up Shigaraki’s energy bill and tryna find leads on the internet. I barely go in the field, I barely contribute anything when I do, I’m way more useless than you’ve ever been! And there’s nothin’ wrong with that! What’s the deal?”

For a while Bubaigawara provided no response. “I guess you’ve got a point. Not really. No, I’m being an ass, you do. But that doesn’t change that I could’ve gotten little Toga killed by acting like a retard.”

“You didn’t act like a retard, man, you got co*cky.” Iguchi countered. “Happens to us all. Acting like a retard is what you’re doing right now. And to be real here, what’s it gonna solve if you keep mopin’ around like you’ve hit a midlife crisis at Goddamn thirty? Is that gonna get Toga out of hospital any sooner? Is it gonna bring us any closer to the Hero Killer?” he paused. “Well? Is it? ‘Cause, if we’re gonna solve this case by sitting on our asses and bein’ mopey, I would’ve brought the creep to justice single-handed a year ago.”

As he finished speaking, Bubaigawara merely sat in a bewildered silence. A decidedly uncomfortable mood began to settle in before Iguchi quickly shattered it with a shake of his head. “God, I am no good with this motivational sh*t.”

“I’ve heard way worse.” Bubaigawara assured.

That got a grin out of Iguchi. “Cool. So, any of it sink in?”

“I dunno. But…” Bubaigawara rose out of the seat. “I’ll feel even more like an asshole if I don’t come back after that.”

“Oh, thank God.” Iguchi rubbed his brow. “So, we’re gonna forget this happened?”

“Sure. I’ll buy you a burger if you want.” Bubaigawara drew his hand across the back of his neck awkwardly. “Might as well thank you for coming all the way out here.”

“Fine by me.” Iguchi whistled. “And fries?”

“Sure. Large, if you want.”

“I knew this would be worth it.” Iguchi joked.

“Amen, brother.” Bubaigawara started stumbling around the apartment, looking for a shirt to wear. “So, what’s the deal, then? Any progress?”

“Shockingly, yeah.” Iguchi nodded. “We’re pretty sure the Rising Sun has a connection with the Hero Killer, and we’ve found this cop, Kaniyashiki or something like that, who allegedly works with them. Shigaraki’s tryna wrangle her address from Tanuma so we can pay her a little visit.”

“Sounds good to me.” Bubaigawara noted as he found a shirt and started sniffing at it so as to ensure it was adequately wearable. “What could go wrong? Aside from everything.”

Chapter 19: A Friend of Ours

Chapter Text

“No.” Tanuma stated, blankly. “Not a chance.”

“What, you’re serious?” Shigaraki blinked. “This is where you draw the line?”

“Yup.” Tanuma got a long gulp of his beer. “Sorry to disappoint, buddy, but I’m not budging on it.”

“Any particular reason why?” This was not what he had been expecting. Tanuma was a man whose morals were only slightly tighter than his liver, for him to draw the line anywhere was something of a surprise to Shigaraki, not least of all for someone like Kaniyashiki. “She’s a traitor, y’know. If what I’ve told you is true, she’s literally committing treason.”

“If what you told me is true.” Tanuma pointed out. “And do you know what happens if it isn’t? It means someone leaked info that put a cop in danger. This isn’t like giving you some case files or letting you check out a murder scene. IA will come down hard on that. Let’s say she’s completely innocent. Word spreads that you and your gaggle intimidated her. You get brought in for questioning-”

“Is that what it’s about?” Shigaraki scoffed. “I’ve told you a million times, I’m not gonna rat you out, no matter what.”

“Let me finish. Thanks to Kayama’s murder scene, both Detective Tsukauchi and Officer Tamakawa can attest to a clear relationship between me and you. It wouldn’t take an epileptic chimp to figure things out from there. I get brought up, lose my job at best and at worst, I end up in jail. You know as well as I do that they aren’t too fond of cops in there, and as a cop who put another cop in danger, I’m not gonna be popular with anybody.”

Shigaraki couldn’t help but roll his eyes. “Jesus… So, it’s all self-preservation. Should’ve figured.”

“Yeah, you should’ve.” Tanuma remarked. “I can’t help you with this one, I’m sorry. Or, I won’t at least.”

“It’s only an address.”

“Don’t care, still not giving it.”

Clearly, he wasn’t willing to be swayed on the matter. Still, there was always the potential for more attempt at a scheme, that attempt being desperation and flattery. “You know that I haven’t got anyone else I can go to for this?” Shigaraki urged. “You’re my guy here. I need your help with this.” Pathetic, yes, but it was the most he could think of at that time. “Please?”

Rather annoyingly, Tanuma started chuckling away. “Well, let fly the fire and brimstone. Tomura Shigaraki has said please.” He seemed to find the whole thing very amusing. “We’re on the cusp of a new era.”

“Whatever, I said my piece.”

“The answer is still no, though.” Tanuma shrugged. “If there’s anything else you want, ask away, but for this particular matter, no-” He was cut short all of a sudden by something, quickly reaching down and into his jacket. After a moment or two, he produced what looked like a pager and stared at it, eyes widening. “Oh sh*t…”

“sh*t?” Shigaraki asked. “All good?”

Already, Tanuma was getting out of his seat. “Son of a bitch got another one.”

“Damn.” Shigaraki coughed. “You for real right now?”

“Yep. Here, I’ll take you if you want. My way of saying sorry for not helping you out with this.”

“Sure thing.” As quickly as Tanuma had leapt up, Shigaraki too was on his feet. “Lead the way, Officer.”

— — —

As they approached the industrial park, Shigaraki was all-too grateful for their journey to be reaching an end. Tanuma’s car was not exactly the new Ferrari, and every hump they went over produced the sort of noises typically associated with the hull of a ship piloted by a very negligent captain. Not helping matters was Tanuma’s control over the radio station.

“Christ, man…” He muttered as the car rolled to a halt by the entrance and he stepped out. “You don’t think some of your crypto money could go to a nicer ride?”

“Those are my savings, Shigaraki.” Tanuma pointed out, gazing at the gates ahead of him. “sh*t, I hate this place…”

Shigaraki raised an eyebrow as he followed to the gates, boots crunching on the gravel path. “Come here often?”

“Used to be a pretty big place for hood rats.” Tanuma elaborated. “When I was still a uniformed officer, I’d get called down here a couple times a month. A few gangs, drugs, that kind of stuff. Team Reservoir Dogs were hanging out here when they made their last stand; Took two of our Goddamn guys with them in a blaze of glory.”

“Rough.” Was all Shigaraki could really say. “Sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah, well, it’s mostly clearing up now.” Tanuma shrugged. “Governor Ikutsuki’s Gentrification Scheme might be completely f*cking useless ninety percent of the time, but it worked in kicking most of the rabble out of this place. Hell, he’s probably gonna be leaping for joy at this.”

“You think?”

“I know. I mean, c’mon, a murder here? The property value’s gonna plummet before you can shake a stick at it, letting him swoop in and demolish the whole thing. Probably get his guys to build condos or something.” Shaking his head, Tanuma sighed. “It ain’t gentrification I’m against, but this way of goin’ about it isn’t cleaning up anything; It’s just gonna divide people even more.”

“Yeah. sorry, never been one for politics. Don’t really have an opinion on it.”

“No worries.” Tanuma assured as they went through the gates, noticing that several police cars and an ambulance were already there. Standing by then was the man Shigaraki recognised from the previous scene as Detective Tsukauchi and as soon as he spotted the pair, he dropped his conversation with the EMT and hurriedly approached.

“He doesn’t look too pleased.” Shigaraki observed.

“f*ck…” Tanuma muttered. “Sorry, in advance.”


Before an answer could be given, Tsukauchi reached them. “Tanuma!” He blurted, while pointing to Shigaraki. “Get him out of here.”

“Hey, cool it, Tsukauchi-san.” Tanuma advised. “I’ve told you before, the guy’s a-”

“Civilian.” Tsukauchi interrupted. “I don’t care who he’s serving or why, he’s not authorised to be here. Get him out or I’ll arrest him for trespassing.”

“I’m right here, y’know.” Shigaraki spoke up. “No need to talk about me like I’m the boogeyman.”

That only succeeded in getting Tsukauchi to turn to him. “These are not threats, Sir, I’m speaking as an officer of the law. You can leave of your own volition, or you’ll be dragged out. I’m not letting you anywhere near that body.”

“So, who is it?” Shigaraki asked. “Might as well give me that, right?”

“Dream on.” Tsukauchi retorted. “I’m going to ask you once more, to leave now.”

“C’mon, Tsukauchi…” Tanuma rubbed his neck awkwardly. “What’s the harm in letting him have a gander…” Tsukauchi turned to glare at him, which led to him quickly trailing off. His eyes swivelled over to Shigaraki apologetically.

“It’s fine.” Shigaraki held his hands up. “I’ll hear about it on the news soon enough anyway. Worth a try.” Keeping his hands raised, he shuffled away from the scene, the red glare from all around bouncing off his face. After a few paces, he stopped. “Hey, Detective Tsukauchi, is it?”

That got the man’s attention alright. “Yes?”

“Just wondering, the guys and I are thinkin’ that it’s looking pretty likely the Hero Killer has something to do with the Rising Sun. What’s your thoughts on that?”

Tsukauchi seemed to stiffen up for just a moment. “How- No, nevermind… I’m not at liberty to discuss such things with a civilian.”

“Right, of course.” Shigaraki gave an apologetic sway of his hands. “No biggie, just wonderin’. Thanks for your time.” With that, he finally moved back to the gates, Tanuma close behind.

“The hell was that?” He asked as soon as they were well out of earshot of anybody else. “You seriously think he was gonna give you anything?”

“Nah.” Shigaraki confessed. “And to be honest, he certainly wouldn’t have given anything I didn’t already know. Just… Curious.”

“Curious about what, exactly?”

“Plenty of things.” Shigaraki murmured vaguely. “Not that it matters anymore. I think I was off mark anyway.”

“Right.” Tanuma’s voice suggested that he had absolutely no clue what Shigaraki was talking about and certainly did not care to probe further. “Still, I’m sorry about this.”

“It’s fine.” Shigaraki dismissed. “No harm, no foul. You tried.” He jerked his thumb towards the car. “Can I get a lift back, though?”

“Sure, sure.” Seeming rather hesitant in both his words and actions, Tanuma slithered back to the vehicle. “Hey, Shigaraki…” He trailed, before stopping. “No, nevermind. Let’s get you back home.” With that, they bundled themselves back into the almost-adequate vehicle.

The ride back into town was actually proving to be even more uncomfortable, if such a thing was indeed possible, a constant, sterile sense of awkwardness hanging in the little car as it navigated the cramped streets. Shigaraki was getting the strong impression that Tanuma had something he wanted to say, yet was struggling to say it. Shigaraki was halfway intending to push the matter, but found himself - much like the cop - holding his tongue. Nothing better than an awkward silence. Instead, he contented himself with gazing out of the window for the time being. It seemed that the more he saw of Musutafu, the worse it got. Traces of what had once being a pretty grand area, stained with trash piling up to the sky, broken souls shuffling amongst it. Suddenly, the tiny little office with its worn sofa didn’t seem so bad. Shigaraki was no bleeding-heart Socialist, but this wasn’t a way for anybody to live.

“You know I see this every day?” Tanuma finally spoke, keeping his eyes on the road. “It doesn’t get easier.”

“And I thought we were having a hard time of it…” Shigaraki muttered.

“There’s always someone out there suffering more than you are.” Tanuma lamented. “I’ll tell you this, if Ikutsuki has his way, it’s all gonna be knocked down. And everyone here… It’s only gonna get harder.” He sounded downright morose as he spoke. “I used to do community cleanups on the weekends, we’d come down, help out the people. Haven’t done it in years now… Don’t have the time anymore, I’m working every waking hour to keep my family fed.”

“That so?” Shigaraki mused.

“Yeah, it’s so. When you get to my age, Shigaraki, when you’ve got a wife and three of the most beautiful Goddamn children on the planet, you’ll get that everything is about them.”

“Really now?”

“You think I like this?” Tanuma asked. “Going dirty, selling department secrets to God knows who? I know you’re good company, but not everyone I sell to is. I’ve probably gotten people killed with the information, probably ruined lives. But for my family, I’ll do it. The only thing that’s gonna stop me from providing for them is death.”

“Sure…” Shigaraki muttered. “No, I get it.”

Coming up to the next curb, Tanuma pulled the car to a stop and turned to look at Shigaraki. “Look, I’m sorry I couldn’t get you onto the crime scene.” His eyes darted to the side, weighing with regret for just a few moments. “Apartment 7B, West Taito-Ku.”

“Eh?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow, taking a moment or two to understand.

“That’s where Kaniyashiki lives.” Tanuma answered simply. “She gets home early on Saturdays, from about four in the afternoon.”

“I- Thanks.” Shigaraki mumbled, not entirely sure how to react. “I appreciate it.”

“It’s fine. I don’t want this to have been a total waste of time for you.”

“You know, Tanuma… If she really is RS, your bosses aren’t gonna be looking for the leak; They’ll be too focused on her.”

“Yeah, probably.” Tanuma turned his attention back to the road and pressed the accelerator once more. “That’s what I’ve been telling myself the whole journey.”

— — —

The only sounds to echo through the lifeless, sterile halls of the morgue were the clicking of footsteps and the humming of overhead lights, as the three agents approached one of the main rooms.

“Morgues.” Hashimoto sighed. “Never liked them.”

“Can’t say I’m much of a fan.” Ukita agreed. “Takes all the fun out of the job, really.” He gave a small chuckle at himself. “You, Tanimura> Bet you love these places?”

“Hm?” The ever-timid Tanimura peeked up. “Oh, no. No, I can’t stand them. Makes me feel queasy.”

“Well, that’s to be expected.” Ukita rolled his eyes, holding open the doors at the end of the hall for the others to go through. “According to the coroner, our girl should be on the slab in the centre.” After the others passed through, he quickly followed, adjusting the cuffs of his blazer.

“This it?” Hashimoto asked as she stood over the slab in the middle of the room, harsh white light glaring down upon it.

“Should be the one.” Grabbing a pair of latex gloves, Ukita pulled them before sauntering over to the slab. There was absolutely a body beneath the thin sheet. With one, deft movement, he whipped it off.

“f*ck me…” Tanimura spluttered almost immediately, turning his head away at the sight.

“Not today, Tanimura, maybe later.” Ukita quipped, feeling no strong reaction himself as he peered down at the corpse before him. What was left of it, at least. “Ryuko Tsuchikawa.” He whistled. “Pixie-Bob herself.”

“My brother’s got a pinup of her in his room.” Hashimoto commented dryly.

“Maybe you could give him one of her tit*.” Ukita replied. “Not like she’ll be needing it. Look, it’s already pre-removed and everything.”

“You are such a f*cking freak, Taiga.”

“That’s what you love about me.” Was all Ukita said before he returned his focus to the body. “Mutilated, ritualistically humiliated… It’s our guy, alright. Couldn’t not be. Our Hero Killer’s struck once more.”

Hashimoto walked around the body, examining what remained of it. “Coroner's report indicates that all this scarring is once again post-mortem. It all lines up, for sure.”

From where he stood at a decent pace behind the others, hunched over the waste disposal bin, Tanimura glanced up. “How does Pixie-Bob fit in, though? She was small-time, she-” He paused to gag. “- She wasn’t really that well-known in most circles, she was a team player unlike all the others. It seems really random.”

“Motive, eh?” Came a voice from the door. “That’s something I might be able to help with.”

As she spoke, the newcomer moved further into the room. A woman. A girl, even, far too young to be anything other than a school girl.

“H-Hey.” Tanimura straightened his back out and approached her. “This is a restricted-”

“Can it, Tanimura.” Ukita called out as he leaned back on the slab with his arms folded. “I know her. She’s one of us.”

“Huh?” Tanimura looked over.

“She is.” Hashimoto asserted. “At ease, Agent.”

With a shake of his head, Tanimura stepped back and allowed the girl to move further to the slab.

“So, what are you doing here, Princess?” Ukita asked.

She shrugged. “Just checking things out. Having a gander.” There was something alien about her voice. Like she was trying to imitate a human purely through knowledge of movies, her tone wavering from bubbly to smug to raspy to cynical with each word. She pointed to the slab. “Pixie-Bob, right?”

“That’s the one.” Ukita confirmed.

“Hm.” The girl mused as she stood over the slab and glanced down. Her head snapped back up and she smiled at Hashimoto. “Cute hairdo, Yukako. You’re rocking it.”

“Whatever.” Hashimoto scoffed. “What are you really here for?”

The girl let out a long, drawn-out sigh. “Well, I wish I could bring good news, but we’re starting to get suspicious.” She clicked her tongue. “This is the third in a row.”

“Third in a row?” Tanimura tilted his head. “Third what?”

He was completely ignored by the girl. “Todoroki, Kayama, and now Tsuchikawa. Coincidence? Maybe. But we don’t like chances.”

“sh*t.” Ukita muttered. “You’d have to be a real rocks-in-the-brain to f*ck with this, though.”

“We know the Hero Killer’s crazy.” The girl pointed out.

“That’s three in a row, sure.” Hashimoto noted. “But none of the others were connected. It’s just these three.”

“Now, that I don’t get.” The girl admitted. “Hell, maybe none of this is connected after all. But I’ve been tasked with looking further into it. I’ll be sticking around town for a while longer. I won’t interfere with you guys, but I’ll be running my own investigation. And, of course, I’ll give you anything I learn.”

“Right.” Ukita muttered. “I don’t suppose we’ve got much of a choice in this.”

The girl flashed a wide beam. “Nope!” Turning on her heel, she went to walk out of the room. “We’re gonna have some fun here.” She raised her hand in farewell, then brought it down on Tanimura’s shoulder; He instinctively recoiled.

“Now you…” She giggled as she took her hand away. “You are really gonna be fun.”

“Hey.” Ukita called after her. “If we’re going to start this collaboration off on the right foot, I might as well give you something. There’s a P.I. Name’s Tomura Shigaraki.”

The girl paused where she stood, though she kept her back to the agents. “Shigaraki? That Shigaraki?”

“A descendant of that Shigaraki, yes.” Hashimoto stated. “He’s running their agency now. He’s been working on this case, he could be good to pump for intel.”

The girl thought to herself for a moment, then giggled once more. “Interesting. Really interesting… I might have to give him a little visit, then. Tomura… Fun name.” With that, she sloped off, through the door and out of view, leaving the agents to themselves once more.

After a moment of silence, Ukita burst into laughter. “You are such a bitch, Tanimura. She’s not carrying Anthrax, you know. Probably.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Tanimura muttered, fixing his tie with a light blush. “Who the hell is she, though?”

“Just a friend of ours.” Ukita explained. “A… Shall we say, a pretty damn close friend.”

Chapter 20: Stain

Chapter Text

Toga hated hospitals. Hated, hated, hated them. Words alone could not express her resentment for them. So clean, so clinical, so sterile, so bereft of any form of life or joy, where poe-faced doctors skirted about, looking miserable and talking in hushed, serious tones. It shouldn’t be so hard to lighten up a bit, she reckoned, but then again, something about the job itself just seemed soul-sucking. And there she was, propped up on her pillows, shoulder bandaged up and silently fuming as she waited to be discharged. She just wanted to get back to things. She was practically going green at the thought of all the progress Tomura and the others must have made while she was locked away. Insult to injury, she was in her own room. She didn’t even get to share a ward with others. Just her luck, to be bored on top of everything else.

She was shaken from her sulking by the sound of the door opening at the far end of the room, catching her attention immediately. “Yeah, Doc?” She asked with a small cough. “What now?”

It wasn’t the doctor who entered, however; She felt the grin spread across her face as she realised who it was.

“Jin!” She expressed. “How are you?”

“Hey, Toga.” Bubaigawara gave an awkward little wave as he stood in the doorway. “I’m… Yeah, I’m fine, thanks. Well, not really… Nah, I’m fine. Not that it matters, anyway. How are you?”

“Bored.” She didn’t hesitate to say as he dandered further in. “If I have to watch one more episode of Sentai Masters, I’m gonna kill myself. It’s the only thing on that TV.”

“Huh, tough break.” Bubaigawara mumbled, rubbing his arm. “No one’s come to see you, then?”

“Well…” Toga’s words caught in her throat and she angled her gaze down. “Not really. Not properly, at least. No one I’d wanna see…”

“Seems kinda vague.” Bubaigawara noted. “Not that I want you to elaborate or anything, it’s all cool. I swear.” There was something wrong with him, Toga could tell that much. Maybe not even wrong, just odd. She couldn’t quite tell what, though.

“Just…” She sighed. “Well, my parents came to visit once.”

“Wait, you have parents?” This seemed to absolutely baffle Bubaigawara. “Who are, like, alive and all?”

“Yes, I have parents who are alive.” Toga replied. “Unfortunately.”

“I never… Always figured you were an orphan. The way you hang around us, I didn’t figure you had a guardian or anything.”

“I mean, they’re not really guardians.” Toga shrugged. “I live on my own and all. They don’t check up on me that much. They’re out in Hokkaido.”

“Oh, I see.” Bubaigawara nodded. “I don’t really, but yeah.”

“I came down here for school.” She pointed out. “Far as they know, I’m still attending.”

Bubaigawara pointed to her. “But you’re clearly not.”



“Tomura’s dad takes care of it.” Toga explained. “He’s got blackmail on some of the school staff or something, so according to all the reports, I’ve got perfect attendance and perfect grades.”

“Until you got shot.”

“Until I got shot.”

“Any idea how you’re gonna explain that way?”

Toga shrugged. “Wrong place, wrong time. Musutafu’s a pre-tty sketch place, no big surprise I managed to get shot at by some bad guy.”

Bubaigawara raised both eyebrows; He seemed to have trouble believing it all. “Shouldn’t they be a little more concerned? I mean, aren’t they gonna bring you back to Hokkaido after this?”

“Nope.” Toga beamed. “Don’t want my grades suffering even more. I’m right back to ‘school’ once I’m outta this hospital.”

“Seems a bit negligent of them.”

“Welcome to the Toga family.” She mumbled. “Like I said, so long as my grades are good and I’m not ending up in the papers, that’s all they care about.” She trailed off. “Daddy’s a politician.”

“Oh sh- That Toga?” Bubaigawara exploded. “Hokkaido Deputy Governor Toga?”

“That’s the one.” Toga clicked her tongue. “As long as I’m not getting in any official trouble, he doesn’t care what I do.”

“I never knew.”

“I never said.” She shrugged. “Not like any of our pasts really matter that much. It’s all about the present.”

“I… I guess not… Look, how’s the wound?”

“This?” Toga lifted her arm. “Eh. They should’ve let me out already. It’s fine.” She began moving it with heavy fervour. “Flexible as ever, it’s all cool. See?”

“Right.” Bubaigawara was clearly not even remotely convinced. “I’m just-”

“Sorry?” Toga interrupted; She had a good idea where things were going. “C’mon, Jin, don’t even bother. You don’t have to say sorry all the time. Like I said, I’m totally fine.”

Bubaigawara opened his mouth, ready to argue no doubt, then closed it again, fell silent.

“I knew you’d get it.” Toga grinned smugly. “So, what’s the deal, then? Get to the important stuff, how’s the case looking?”

“The case? Oh, not too bad.” Bubaigawara finally set down, resting one leg over the other in a vague attempt to look a little more relaxed. It wasn’t much more convincing than Toga’s own attempts to downplay her discomfort. “You ever heard of Monika Kaniyashiki?”

Toga blinked. “No?”

“Well, why the hell not?” Bubaigawara stopped. “Actually, I get it. Not like she’s a public figure or anything. She’s a cop. A cop with ties to the RS.”

“RS?” Toga whistled. “Yippie.”

“Oguro was RS. Shigaraki’s pretty sure that the Hero Killer is one of them.”

“Huh.” Toga pondered. “I guess that fits his little theory.”

“For sure. I don’t really see it, personally, but it does make sense. Since Kaniyashiki is working with the RS, there’s a chance she can be an in. That’s why Shigarki’s gone with Iguchi and Compress to go talk to her. We’re hoping she’ll have something real concrete to use.”

“What? Right now?”

Bubaigawara nodded. “Right now.”

She tilted her head to the left. “Why didn’t you go with them?”

“Figured it was obvious.” Bubaigawara shrugged. “I wanted to check up on you.”

— — —

“Woah-oh here she comes…” Monika Kaniyashiki murmured to herself as she ascended the steps of her apartment complex, bringing out her keys and taking a firm grip of them. “Watch out boys, she’ll chew you up. Woah-oh, here she comes… She’s a maneater…” The final word was punctuated by her feet coming to a rest on the topmost step, as she took a moment to look over the railing at the world in front of her. What a life. Ten years of service to a system that grew more and more corrupt with each passing day and what did she have to show for it? A lovely scenic view of a trash-filled parking lot containing the burned-out husk of a car, neighbours who had loud, questionable-sounding sexual intercourse every night through the thin walls and a pet rat.

She should have just become a waitress.

Still, she was home now. After her day, all she needed was to stretch out and watch some TV. Reaching her door, she placed her key in the lock and worked it around, a process that usually took a good few seconds given the amount of gunk clogging the hole. On this occasion, however, the door popped right open with barely any force.

Kaniyashiki may have been sleep-deprived, but she was alert enough to know that something was very wrong. Reaching into the depths of her trench coat once more, she drew out her revolver and slowly angled the door so as to look inside. No signs of obvious forced entry or burglary. Her shoes were still sitting on the rack, her underwear hanging off the edge of the radiator. Just as she had left it all in the morning.

But she had definitely locked the door when she headed out. She knew that much.

“Police.” She called out as she slowly moved in, keeping her gun raised. “You reallllyyy don’t know who you’re messing with here.” She made sure to keep her voice ice cold as she went down the hall. The bathroom door was shut, and pushing it open revealed nobody inside. Then, further down, the entrance to her kitchen. Or something that closely resembled it at least. Once more, not a sign of a soul. Checking her corners, she carefully moved in.

“Real bad decision.” She stated once more. “If you don’t know who I am, then you are one unlucky bastard.”

“I somewhat doubt it.”

Upon hearing the voice, she immediately pivoted, towards the open frame that led from the kitchen to the living room. There, a man in a fine suit and tailored overcoat sat, trilby in his lap, as if he lived there.

“Guns are really very ugly, Detective.” Sako urged as he stared back at her. “Please, do be a dear and point that somewhere else.”

Kaniyashiki only approached, gun still very much raised. “Like I said, asshole, big mistake.”

“Ya think?” Shigaraki spoke up from where he sat, resting on the side of the coffee table, just out of view from where she stood in the frame. “Kaniyashiki, right? Monika? Pleased to meetcha.”

Spinning, Kaniyashiki peeked the frame, pointing her gun to Shigaraki; He in turn raised his hands.

“I surrender.” He muttered with a dry grin.

“Who the hell are you lot?” Kaniyashiki commanded, switching her gun between both men. “What are you doing here?”

“Once more…” Sako sighed. “We can talk all we want once you get that ugly lump of metal out of the equation.”

As she took in the sight, Kaniyashiki lowered for just a moment. “Wait a sec. I know you-”

Where she knew him from, however, would remain a mystery as without any warning to her, she was suddenly tackled around the waist from behind, sending her crumbling to the ground and the gun flying out of her grasp. All at once, Sako was on his feet, grabbing the revolver and pulling it far away from her grasp as she struggled on the count.

“A cop, eh? Iguchi grinned as he lay on top of her, feeling his way through her pockets until he found what he was looking for. “Always wanted to do this.”

As he watched on, Shigaraki found himself thinking that there was probably a better way to have done this. As it stood, all it would take was completely removing the context and he, Sako and Iguchi probably looked like the bad guys.

“You idiot!” Kaniyashiki yelled as she kicked at Iguchi. “You’re assaulting a cop, you know! You’ll be put under the jail for this!”

“Are we now?” Sako asked with a raised eyebrow as he pulled open the revolver’s cylinder and let the cartridges fall out, hitting the stained floor with a little metal patter. “I think you may want to hear us out before you start saying such things.”

“For sure.” Iguchi chuckled as he finally found her handcuffs and managed to lock her hands behind her back. “RIght to remain silent and all.” With that, he got off her, though he kept a firm grip on her as he pulled her up onto her knees.

By that point, she was understandably frantic, eyes darting from one person to the other as they bulged and pulsated, probably wondering when she was going to get her head caved in. Shigaraki decided to let her calm down somewhat before he spoke again.

“I’m a cop.” She argued once more. “With the Goddamn NPA.”

“We’re well aware.” Iguchi pointed out. “But I kinda wonder if they know what you know…”

“Eh? The hell you talking about?” She protested. “If you people are here to kill me because I’m a cop, then my guys won’t rest until you all get the f*cking chair.”

“Right, that’s enough.” With a pronounced sigh, Shigaraki placed his hands on his knees and rose to his feet. “Let’s get this over with, ‘cause I wanna go home and have my supper. Monika Kaniyashiki, we know you’re a double agent.”

“What?” She answered, her face stony. “You crazy? I’ve put a decade of my life into policing, I’m no mole.”

“That’s a fallacy right there.” Sako commented as he crouched down in front of her. “But still, ten years is very, very impressive. For how many of them were you aiding the Rising Sun?”

The change in demeanour was immediate, as Kaniyashiki went from panicked to completely still, her face going a strange combination of deathly pale and sickly green. “The-”

“Just a few years, right?” Sako continued. “Or not even. I would wager just since they began to get violent. But you’ve been in bed with anti-government organisations for a very long time. Even as far back as university, no?”

Kaniyashiki looked like she was about to pass out, vomit and have a heart attack at once. “Are you guys with IA?”

Iguchi snorted. “You think that’s their style? Never heard of honest-to-Gods cops using these tactics.”

“Not a million miles off, though.” Going over to her, SHigaraki showed her his card. “Private investigators. We’re looking into the recent Hero Killings, which brought us to the Rising Sun, which brought us to you.”

“I’m not…” Kaniyashiki only shook her head. “I’m not part of them.”

“Interesting wording.” Sako lamented. “Not a part. Not a card-carrying member. Of course, that would not exclude you from being an associate, would it? Though, I get the feeling you resent that. The Rising Sun, they’re all about National pride, loyalty.”

“A traitor like you, who picks and chooses her side, is scum to them.” Shigaraki continued. “But useful scum. Really useful scum.” Taking a seat on the ratty couch, he drummed his fingers along the arm rest. “So, I’m gonna ask you straight up. Is the Hero Killer with the RS?”

“How would I know?” She insisted. “I’ve nothing to do with them.”

“Bullsh*t.” Iguchi spat. “They’ve never asked you for information on that case?”

“They’ve never asked me a damn thing!” She retorted, starting to get frustrated. “Why can’t you get that through your skulls?”

“Because… Well, frankly, it is blatantly untrue.” Sako responded. “Let’s cut some of the nonsense out here. You have been involved in anti-government protest groups since at least university, you have maintained contact with members of the Rising Sun since your early days, you had one of your colleagues killed for probing too deep into the organisation. All of this, we know, and I would find it very agreeable if you were to start telling us some things that we may not know, but very much suspect.”

With a grunt, Kaniyashiki hung her head. Something about that line of enquiry - particularly the mention of her deceased fellow officer - appeared to have gotten to her. “Nothing I tell you would be admissible in any way…”

“Well, that’s good, ‘cause I’m not a lawyer.” Shigaraki stated. “I just wanna know for my own personal peace of mind. We’ll let your buddies in the NPA handle the rest of it.”

When Kaniyashiki brought her head up once more, her face was one of somebody who was sensing the end creeping in, her future shrivelling away, the sweat prying itself from every pore. “You don’t know what you’re messing with…”

“Probably not.” Shigaraki confessed. “But you do, and that didn’t seem to stop you at all.”

“What is it you want?” She heaved softly. “You hear to blackmail me?”

“Blackmail’s an ugly word, wouldn’t you say?” Sako pointed out. “We’re just explaining your position to you.”

“No blackmail.” Shigaraki held his hands up. “Even if you don’t give us what we’re looking for, we ain’t gonna tout on you or anything. We’re not meaning to harm you, either. But, if you wanna be helpful…” Resting his hands in his lap, he leaned towards her. “Are the RS connected to the Hero Killer?”

“Hero Killer?” Kaniyashiki repeated. “I don’t know about that.” Her expression told a different story.

“You absolutely sure about that?” Iguchi wondered. “Hundred percent?”

“Hundred percent.”

“Fifty percent.” Sako interrupted. “You may be lacking in information, but you know something about it, there’s no doubting that. You know enough to answer the base question at the very least, and something about the way you responded gives me a fairly good idea as to just what that is.”

Kaniyashiki rather looked as if she was struggling quite a bit to even keep her head held up by that stage, as it kept bobbing down for a few seconds before levelling out once more. “I can’t give you much… I don’t have much… But yes… It’s been mentioned to me that they were working with the Hero Killer?”

“Is he a member?” Shigaraki probed. “An insider for them? Or is he a contractor? Who approached who first?”

“That I… I just don’t know…”

“Have you ever seen him in person?”


“Did they give you anything at all?”

“Just that he calls himself Stain…” She groaned. “That’s it…”

“Damn…” Shigaraki muttered under his breath. He very much had the impression that she was telling the truth, which wasn’t a great outcome. A name, Stain. Most likely an alias. Was that really all that they could hope to get out of it? Not exactly groundbreaking information… “Did they really not give you anything else?”

“I didn’t ask for it.” Kaniyashiki shrugged, which probably was intended to look more cavalier than it actually was in any sense. “Between you and me, there’s a running theory in the NPA that the Hero Killer is tied to the Rising Sun. Or that they’ve at least crossed paths. It’s not exactly earth-shattering, I know that, and I’m sorry, but I’ve really never cared enough to ask any more.”

“Hm. And the video probably more or less confirms it.” Iguchi mentioned. “It’s not even really a question at this point.”

With a small groan, Shigaraki placed his hands in the pockets of his coat. As he did so, he felt something graze in the left pocket. It just took a few seconds to remember what it was and from there, a couple of moments to hit paydirt.

“Wait a sec…” He muttered, pulling the object out. “This doesn’t have to be such a waste after all…”

“Hm?” Iguchi gazed up. “The hell’s that.”

“The bug.” Shigaraki explained, showing it off. “The one Todoroki gave back to me. It’s been in my pocket ever since.”

“Ah.” Sako realised. “I can see where this is heading.”

Kaniyashiki was far more confused. “Eh? What’re you on about? What’s the deal with that?”

With a shopping grin on his face, Shigaraki approached the woman, kneeled down in front of her and showed her the bug. “How’d you feel about goin’ from dodgy cop to spy?”

— — —

“How the actual agree did she agree to that?” Iguchi sighed as he sat at his laptop on the sofa, the office’s overhead head spinning above him.

“Sheer black magic.” Sako hypothesised. “Is the best explanation, I feel.”

“That and a bit of luck.” Shigaraki noted from where he sat with his feet up on his desk.

“I’ll f*cking say.” Iguchi snorted. “She’s heading into a den of former cops and heroes turned current terrorists with a wire. I’ve gotta congratulate her on the gender transition surgery, ‘cause that takes balls.”

Shigaraki chuckled grimly. “Ah, I guess she feels like she’s got no other option. Sure, we promised her we weren’t gonna snitch, but we broke into her house, tied her up and told her how we know all her dirty little secrets, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t entirely believe us with that promise.”

“Fear is an exceptionally powerful motivator.” Sako lamented.

“Well, now I’m wishin’ I was there.” Bubaigawara groaned. “Sounds like a Hell of a time. I was happy with where I was, too.”

“Eh.” Iguchi shimmered his hand. “We didn’t really need any more than three. Prolly could’ve got away with two. For the best that you were checking up on Toga instead. How is she, by the by?”

“Pretty good, aside from being terrible.” Bubaigawara giggled. “Nah, she’s well. Pretty much just her usual self.”

Shigaraki made a noise caught somewhere between a chuckle and a sigh in his throat. “May God have mercy on us all. I’m startin’ to think it’ll take a torpedo to the face to get her to calm it for two secs.”

“Still, though, it’s good she’s doing well.” Sako pointed out, leaning forwards with his hands resting atop his cane. “Any word on the ETA?”

“Sometime this week, probably.” Bubaigawara said. “Unless she manages to escape before then.”

“Fair lay to her.” Iguchi snorted as he tapped away at his keyboard. “She can’t be taking much longer, right? She did say she’d be meeting ‘em today?”

“Hm.” A few more minutes passed and Shigaraki’s phone pinged. Unknown number, a simple, brief message:

Past the search.

“Aight.” Shigaraki clicked his fingers. “She’s in, Compress. Let it out.”

With that, Sako snapped his own fingers and, somewhere out in the city, the little blue marble in Kaniyashiki’s breast pocket transformed back into the device. All at once, the sound of muffled static came through the speakers of Iguchi’s laptop. It took a moment to adjust, but they did eventually hear a voice.

“... You got for us?” Male voice, somewhat gruff. No doubt one of the Rising Sun.

“They’re looking into you.” Kaniyashiki replied. “Ever since your man Oguro-san killed himself, my associates are catching on to the fact that you’re working with Stain.”

“Huh… Now that is not good.” The man sounded pensive. “Do they have anything else?”

There was a sudden rustling of fabric, presumably as Kaniyashiki shrugged. “Beats me.“

“Have they said anything about Wisteria?”

“The hell is a Wisteria?”

“Hmm… Nevermind.” The voice moved further away. “We figured as much.”

“Um, so…” Kaniyashiki’s voice trembled on the edge of uncertainty. “What happens next? You guys gonna make another strike soon?”

“Yeah.” The man agreed. “Big one. Actually, we’re gonna need your help with that. Next week, Thursday the Sixteenth. Do you reckon you can keep the cops away from the Iinarawashi Docks?”

“Iinarawashi…” Shigaraki muttered. “The hell are they planning there?”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Kaniyashiki nodded. “Then-”

Before she said another word, the sound of a door opening could be heard, and the crunching of heavy boots. A new entrant. More rustling, as Kaniyashiki turned to face whoever it was.

“Hey.” She noted. “I know you. T-”

A loud bang filled the soundscape, followed by a scream and the thud of a body hitting the ground.

“f*ck!” Shigaraki yelped as he recoiled for a moment. “The hell is going on?”

“You think I know?” Iguchi panicked. “No Goddamn clue-”

“What the hell did you do that for?” The man could be heard saying on the other end. “She was a valuable asset.”

For a moment, no response was given, as those crunching boots approached the source of the bug. “Compromised.” He finally said, his voice low, a bizarre co*cktail of deathly calm and utterly unhinged. “She sent out a text when she came in. Thought she was being slick. Thought nobody saw her.” A rustling of material. “Damn. Her phone’s smashed up. Cheap burner. See if you can get anything from it.”

“Right, Sir.”

Shigaraki could only listen with ever growing horror as the rustling grew louder and louder until, with a harsh ripping of fabric, the sound suddenly became crystal clear. No doubt as the shooter pulled it out of her pocket.

“She’s wired?” The first man grunted. “sh*t… The NPA…”

“No.” The shooter clarified. “No, this isn’t police-issue. It’s not got a recording bank, so it must be transmitting a live feed. This is some other third party.” Taking on a more jovial tone, he spoke directly into the bug. “Whoever you might be, I’ve got a fairly good idea that you’re still listening in. Thursday the Sixteenth. Ten PM. Maybe I’ll see you there; Maybe I’ll kill you there. You’ll do well to stay out of my way, though.”

With that, there was a rush of feedback as the shooter crushed the bug in his hand, leaving the office in stunned silence.

“I-” Sako stammered. “That may well have been him.”

“The Hero Killer…” Bubaigawara muttered. “sh*t, dude… Kaniyashiki’s bit it, then? I’m sure she’s fine, right?” He chuckled anxiously.

“Jesus…” Iguchi shook his head. “Maybe we can… What about the place? Iinarawashi? That’s not far out of town.”

“It’s a lead…” Sako noted. “But if he was openly inviting us to it, it’s most certainly a trap. At the very least, he’s confident he can kill us.”

“They were talkin’ about it even before they realised about Kaniyashiki…” Iguchi mused. “My money says they’ve been plannin’ it for a long time.”

“Indeed so…” Sako lamented before looking up. “What of you, Shigaraki-san?”

But Shigaraki provided no answer. He was frozen, unable to move, barely able to think. “We got her…” He muttered. Clutching his forehead, he went to the door. “Fresh air.” He explained. “Need some Goddamn fresh air.”

Chapter 21: Queenie

Chapter Text

“And you’re absolutely sure that she’s dead?” Hakai Shigaraki asked as he sat, staring dead ahead with his glassy eyes. He was so very calm, given the situation, as if it didn’t perturb him at all.

Shigaraki only wished he could say the same. Even days later, his throat was burning with bile at the thought of it, his stomach churning and roaring and refusing to stay still. “It was on the news. They found her body in the river. Gangland killing, they say…”

“Well, what a shame that is.” Hakai commented casually. “She was such a good lead, no?”

“She’s dead, Sensei… She’s dead ‘cause of us. We as good as killed her.”

Hakai took on a somewhat disconcerted expression, resting his chin in one hand limply. “This is your first time experience something like this, isn’t it, Tomura?”

Shigaraki nodded, before remembering that it meant absolutely nothing to his blinded Sensei. “Y-Yes.”

“I suppose that explains the queasiness. Death is an ugly thing, I agree, but…” Hakai paused for a moment, as if trying to recall his words. “But it is what it is. Kaniyashiki was a crooked cop, no? I remember hearing of her years ago. Not much is lost with her life.”


“It’s all in the pursuit of justice, Tomura.” Hakai noted sharply. “Every police officer knows a time may come when they have to draw their gun on a rampaging crook, and take their life in order to restore order. It’s the state of the world. Sacrifices crop up in the pursuit of justice.”

Shigaraki kept his gaze locked on the floor. “We got her killed, though…”

“She got herself killed, Tomura. With her own choices in life. Nobody told her to work with the Rising Sun, she did that all on her own.” He paused. “Do you see what I’m saying here?”

“I… I guess…”

“Well, that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.” Hakai sighed. “But I suppose you’ll have to come around yourself, I can’t exactly force the matter. Sooner or later, it’ll click. He brought his weak, frail hands together. “It will all make sense.”

“All make sense… Right, right…”

“On a more positive note…” Hakai tilted his head gently. “You didn’t get absolutely nothing out of it, no? Iinarawashi, you said? Interesting place. One does wonder what business the Rising Sun has with it.”

“I guess we’ll find out soon enough…” Shigaraki muttered.

“Ah, now that is the spirit. You’re still intending on looking into it, I see. Good. A lesser investigator would give up on the spot, but your resilience always has been something so very special, Yoichi.” Hakai’s smile didn’t falter at all. “It’s most definitely a trap.”

“No way it isn’t. They know we know about it, and if they’re still going about it, then…”

“They either want you there or are confident enough that you won’t pose a significant threat to their operation.” Hakai finished. “A conundrum indeed. Do you have any schemes of your own for this?”

“Maybe…” Shigaraki mumbled back. “I dunno, I really don’t… Still working things out right now…” He wasn’t just referring to Iinarawashi by any means; There was just too much going on in his head. He needed to lie down.

“Well, you should work on it. It wouldn’t do if you were to falter at the first hurdle.”

“I don’t wanna engage them at all.” Shigaraki pointed out. “We’ll keep to observing, trying to figure out what the hell they’re up to.”

“Smart move. Very smart move.”

In spite of the situation, Shigaraki felt compelled to inject some light humour. “Rare for me, I know. Look… I’m just gonna need some time here. Get things sorted.” Already, he was beginning to rise to his feet. “If you need me for anything, you know how to get in contact.”

“Yes, of course.” Hakai nodded. “I do look forward to seeing you again, Yoichi.”

Going to the door, Shigaraki paused. “Tomura.”

“Come again?”

“My name’s Tomura. You called me Yoichi earlier, too. You all good?”

For a few seconds, Hakai’s face was wrapped in a sort of perplexed concern before evening out. “Oh, right. Of course. Tomura. Yes. Sorry about that. I really must amend my sleeping schedule at some point.”

“Hm…” Shigaraki trailed. “Alright then. Take care, Sensei.”

“You too, Tomura. You too.”

— — —

“Onii-san, Onii-san!” The young woman called out as Shigaraki stalked past her, balancing herself up on her tip toes as she waved to him. “Ten thousand yen for an hour! Just ten thousand!”

“No thanks.” Shigaraki muttered gruffly, probably in too low a tone for the girl to even hear, as he carried on, basking his face in the glare of the red lighting.

“Nine thousand! Special discount for a handsome guy like you!”

Now he knew she was definitely lying. Not that he had any interest regardless. He was barely paying attention to where he even was, just allowing his feet to take him wherever they saw fit. He felt like he was in some sort of stupor, trapped within his own thoughts, none of which were pleasant.

No matter how much Sensei said it, he was struggling to believe. It wasn’t as if anything he had said was explicitly wrong, per se. Kaniyashiki was a criminal, an amoral agent playing both sides, her death had given them some information in regards to the next move of the Rising Sun - not to mention a definitive answer that the Hero Killer, this Stain person, was a part of them - and yet, it was difficult to put it all together, to ease his mind of the ever-growing burden that he had gotten her killed. He couldn’t evade that deeply disconcerting feeling. Even if it hadn’t directly been his fault, even if it could be argued that she deserved it to some extent. It all just felt far, far too much like he had blood on his hands, in such a way that he had not in a long time. Not in almost two decades…

He stopped as he suddenly realised that he was scratching his neck again, peeling away lumps of dead skin in his nails, giving a faint burning sensation across the sides of his throat. Damn. He really thought he had gotten a handle on that habit. His eyes drifting up, they scanned the litany of neon signs suspended above the doorways ahead of him. Advertising everything from cheap, imported booze to jazz sessions to the rather revoltingly-phrased Schoolgirls 4 U. There wasn’t anything quite like a walk through the district for some good, old-fashioned loss of one’s faith in humanity. He felt the eyes of the various men hanging in the doorways and alleyway entrances - most likely Yakuza or at least independent gangsters judging from their ill-fitting suits - following him. It didn’t do much to bother him for, in spite of his overly slender frame, he was confident that he didn’t look like an easy target.

His mind was racing to a thousand different places, anything to try and escape from the current situation. He just couldn’t get away from it. Blood on his hands.

Blood on his hands.

“Hey, Mister!”

Shigaraki tensed as he heard the voice. No doubt another street girl looking for him to utilise her services. He had no interest whatsoever in such a thing. It was just asking for trouble. He fully intended to ignore it, but when he gave no verbal response, he was caught off guard by a sharp tug on his arm.

“The hell-” He grunted, spinning his head to see a young, auburn-haired girl in school uniform clinging to his shoulder like there was no tomorrow.

“Mister, you can’t miss this deal, trust me.” The girl begged. “Guaranteed satisfaction, and our prices can’t be matched!” She gave an irritating forced giggle. “C’mon! Just ask for Queenie at the desk, I’ll throw in something a little special-”

“I’m not… I’m really not f*ckin’ interested.” Shigaraki retorted. “And I seriously hope you’re just doing this for cosplay, ‘cause-” He stopped and winced at a sharp pain in the base of his neck. Instinctively, he moved his hand to it, and just missed the bee fluttering away between his fingers and away from him. At the exact same time, he noticed a particularly distinct feature about the girl, one that he immediately recognised.

The patch over her left eye.

“sh*t…” He grunted. “I’ve seen you… Seen you before…”

The girl feigned innocence. “You have? Gosh, Mister, you must be more feisty than I thought! You must be subscribed to our magazine, then!”

“No. No, I…” His head was getting groggy, his vision swimming in and out. Damn. “You… At Chisaki…”

“You know Chisaki-chan!” The girl beamed, still playing ignorant. “He’s such a cutie, isn’t he? But don’t worry, Mister, I bet you can compare and then some.” With that, she started to tug him away. “C’mon! Why don’t we go to your place?”

“My… My place…” He slurred as he allowed himself to be led away, his senses failing him too much to enable him to resist. “No, I…” His brain was compounding, swelling. He felt as if he was coming down with something serious, like his own thoughts were being forced out and new responses were being squeezed in to take their place. Who was this girl, again? Where had he seen her? Where was he?

“Sounds like a good idea…”

“I knew you’d come around!” The girl beamed. “Oh, you are just gonna love the Queenie special!”

— — —

There he was. Back where it all began, once more. His vision was hazy, the world trapped in an isolated black void like a meticulously sculpted diorama of disaster. He was himself, his much younger self from when he went by a different name, and in front of him stood the remains of the once-grand family home.

He was hyperventilating. He couldn’t feel a thing yet somehow knew of the tight constrictions in his chest, the pains in his joints as he sat on his knees, the backs of his hands grazing the torn-up grass as tears stained his face.

He had done this.

He had killed his own family.

An accident, a stupid, stupid accident. He had never wanted this, any of it. To go back to being Tenko Shimura, to have no Quirk at all, would have been something he would take in a heartbeat.

Slowly, he rose up to his feet, swaying as he did so. The stench of rotted wood and bloodied flesh was palpable, swelling in his head as he staggered forwards; To one side, half of Mon-chan’s corpse lay, his furry face locked in a permanent howl. It was what had been flung from the blast. The other half simply no longer existed. Just looking at it made him feel every bit as sick as he had when he first experienced it. To avert his gaze from the body, he glanced down at his hands, scarred and mottled in ways that no typical method of attack could possibly produce. Thin, straight bumps ran across his knuckles, the flesh already healing.

The sound of clattering wood and heaving footsteps caught his attention and his eyes shot up. A man was emerging from the wreckage of the house, a man in no feasible state to live. His suit was tattered, one of his arms missing. His face was obscured in a thick haze and try as he mind, Shigaraki could not remember exactly what face it was that lay behind.

“Dad?” He whispered, as the figure pried himself away from the collapsed canopy.

It seemed to take an eternity to receive an answer, as the man dragged his weak body from the main wreckage, before turning to look down at Shigaraki.

“You did this?” He croaked. “This was on you?” He slipped out a bitter chuckle. “You little monster… Heh… What the f*ck are you…” No more words came from him as he fell to one knee with a vicious grunt, while what remained of his body fragmented and split before Shigaraki’s very eyes. Even though he could not see the face, he knew of the crevices that were racing across it as his eyes fried and teeth shattered. Then, he collapsed entirely, right by Shigaraki’s feet.

Nothing left.

Not a thing.

Just like that, he was back in reality, his eyes snapped open to reveal the dark ceiling of the office. For a few moments, he simply lay there on the sofa, breathing heavily as the sweat rolled down from his forehead. Just another nightmare, just another nightmare.

No, something worse. A memory. Bringing a hand up, he felt his face, which was moist to the touch. Only a few seconds later did his brain begin to kick back into gear. Back in the office. Why? Last he remembered, he had been led away by that girl. That girl with the…

His mind was still foggy, it was almost painful to just try and recollect the events, as if he had spent the whole evening drinking. Even still, it seemed odd that he would be right back home and not tied up in a torture dungeon or in a jail cell somewhere.Slowly, he gathered his bearings and went to sit up.

While the main lights were dimmed, the lamp on his desk filled the room with a soft, yellow glow, as someone sat at the desk, back to Shigaraki as they appeared to be reading through one of his notebooks.

“Hey.” Shigaraki muttered, realising how dry and raw his throat was. “The hell are you doing?”

Like clockwork, the person spun in the chair to face him. It was the girl.

“Oh, you’re awake.” She commented, not sounding all too surprised. “Well, that figures. You are not a sound sleeper, Shigaraki-san.”

“I… What the hell are you-”

“Oh, this?” She gestured. “Sorry ‘bout that. I wanted to sneak a look at your notes, figured it would be best if I got you to lead me in and show them to me.”

“You drugged me.”

“We aren’t perfect.” She shrugged, before her eyebrows shot up and, with startling agility, she launched her entire body off the chair and onto the desk, where she sat, slav-squatting. “Silly, where are my manners?” She dug into the depths of her varsity jacket, looking for something. “Kuin Hachisuka.” She introduced, pulling out an ID card. “Private Detective.”

Shigaraki stared at the card. “Only issued a couple weeks ago…” He noted.

“It’s a real pain.” Hachisuka rolled her eyes. “My Quirk, you see, I end up changing appearances more than I care to admit, so I keep having to get my photo retaken and licence reissued. Don’t take this - or my body right now - as any indicator of my experience or lack thereof.”

“Right…” Shigaraki glared, not hugely interested in any of this. “What are you doing here?”

“This.” Hachisuka tapped her fingers off the notebook. “I wanted to see what a fellow P.I thinks of all this.”

“All this?”

“The Hero Killer.” She explained. “I’m from outta town, but I’ve been told by my boss to come down and take a look at things. Heard through the grapevine that the Shigaraki Agency was conducting an investigation, so I figured we could trade notes, see what the deal is.”

Shigaraki rubbed the back of his head, still more than a little drowsy. “You could’ve asked.”

“You would’ve said no.” She responded casually. “No self-respecting gumshoe shares with rivals. It’s unheard of, for real professionals.”

“So is drugging and breaking into your rivals’ places.”

Another shrug. “I didn’t say I was a professional. Thanks for this, by the way. It’s a pretty interesting read. Interesting indeed.”

SHigaraki just kept glaring. “Anything strike your fancy?”

“Bits and pieces. You’ve done an awful lot in just a month.” A slight grin tugged the edges of Hachisuka’s mouth, revealing row upon row of dangerously pointed teeth. “Kaniyashiki was an interesting lead. Shame she’s dead now.”

Shigaraki had to avert his gaze for just a moment. “Yeah, real shame.”

“Still, she probably deserved it.” Hachisuka noted. “I feel bad for you, losing a lead like that, though, so for that - and to say thanks for letting me see this - I’ve got a little something for you.”

“I didn’t really let you do anything…” Shigaraki muttered, at least relieved that the conversation appeared to be steering away from Kaniyashiki. Moments later, Hachisuka tossed something to him and he caught it mid-air. Not a big thing by any means. A pin. Standing up, he approached the lamp to get a better look at it.

Not a bad quality thing at all, professionally-produced. And, engraved into it…

“This is the UA logo.” He muttered.

“Yup.” Hachisuka confirmed as she watched. “These pins are worn by members of the non-teaching staff at the school. Janitors, security, that sort of thing. Makes them easily recognisable at a glance.”

“So? What’s the relevance?”

“The relevance is that this was found at the last crime scene.” Hachisuka elaborated. “Tsuchikawa’s murder. A buddy in the Commission let me borrow it.” She angled her head to be staring in between Shigaraki and the pin. “I don’t have to tell you what this could mean, do I?”

“If this came from the killer…” Shigaraki lamented slowly. “Then there’s gotta be some sort of UA involvement there, somehow. If this is for non-teaching staff, then there’s a fat chance he got it from Kayama’s corpse, it’s probably not a keepsake that he dropped. There’s a pretty good chance it may be his.” Even as he said it, he wasn’t sure how to feel; It was an oddly careless move for the Hero Killer.

“Exactly.” Swinging her legs down over the edge of the desk, Hachisuka brought one knee up to her chin. “You know, I’ve got a bit of respect for the guy. Don’t get me wrong, his antics are pissing off a lot of people, that’s why I’m here, but it’s not like most people are gonna weep for these clowns. They’ve all seemed pretty sketch.”

“You think?” Shigaraki asked. “Can’t say I agree.”

“Right, right.” She hopped off the desk and made her way to the door. “You’re all about justice, I guess. Killing is never justified, eye for an eye, blah blah blah.” Reaching the door, she turned to face him once more, lifting her patch a little. “I know an awful lot about that, hehe.”

“Is what it is.” Shigaraki slipped his hands into his pockets. “The guy’s an evil bastard.”

“Sure, sure. Incidentally, Yosho Higarashi? That name ring a bell?”

“It might.”

Hachisuka smirked. “I reckon it does. You took him down last month. Let him walk without as much as a broken leg, too. I would’ve smashed the nonce’s kneecaps in.”

“We gave our data on him to the cops. He’s done for.”

“Course. Why don’t you check out his more recent exploits when you get the chance?” She suggested, opening the door and almost coiling herself around it, keeping her head in the office. “Not really my choice of reading material, but there’s something juicy there.”

Shigaraki didn’t respond, merely watching as she disappeared from view, the door closing behind her. Just like that, he was alone again.


In an instant, he sank into his chair, rubbing his hand across his forehead. This was too much to take in. All too much. He had no clue what to make of this Hachisuka person, not to mention everything else that was going on. Absent-mindedly, he pulled his phone out and began scrolling.

It couldn’t hurt to look up old Higarashi.

And so he did.

Recent news.

“Jesus Christ…” He muttered as his eyes drifted over the title of the first article he saw. “f*cking subhuman…”

Chapter 22: Real Answers

Chapter Text

“Iinarawashi…” Shigaraki muttered as he sat, staring up at the ceiling fan. “What have we got on it?”

“Not much.” Iguchi grunted. “Dockyard about an hour from here, mostly brings in foreign exports.”

“Right…” Biting down softly on his bottom lip, Shigaraki nodded. He still didn’t know what to make of the events of the previous evening, but at that stage, he wasn’t sure if there was much else to do other than move forwards. If Kaniyashiki had to have died, then just cutting off the investigation, even taking a break, would have rendered the whole thing for nought. “Any notable companies based there?”

“A few, actually.” Sako noted from where he stood by the corkboard. “Patriot Shipping, American company, they provide a lot of supplies for Detnerat.”

“Interestin’. You think it’s that relevant, though?”

“Unlikely. As of now, we’ve got nothing tying Detnerat or any US parties, to this case.”

“I see.” Shigaraki grunted. “Anything else?”

“The JSDF has a presence there. They’ve got a sectioned-off area filled with lord knows what.”

“Military…” Shigaraki mumbled. “You think there’s a chance they’re gonna steal weapons?”

“Yeah, I thought that, too.” Iguchi perked up.

Sako meanwhile, rubbed his chin. “Again, I find it hard to believe. It’s an unbelievable risk, and the JSDF’s arsenal, frankly, isn’t good enough to warrant such a manoeuvre. The Rising Sun are far from stupid.”

“Hm…” Getting up to his feet, Shigaraki started to pace. “Anyone else?”

“Well, we do have the other big presence in the place. Dan Cheng.”

“Huh. Heard of ‘em. In the papers.”

“Understandably so.” Sako nodded. “Chinese company, they do a lot of exports to Japan. They’ve been in and out of controversy for a long while now, under the belief that they’ve been shipping drugs and weapons into the country, to sell to the highest bidder.”

“sh*t…” After another moment of pacing, Shigaraki paused. “Wait. Chinese guns?”

“I can’t imagine what other guns they’d be bringing in.”

“Like the ones we found in Oguro’s hideout?”

Iguchi’s eyes widened as it sank in. “Oh sh*t, man… You think there’s a chance?”

“When Oguro got taken out, that was a decent cache of guns cut off from them.” Shigaraki theorised. “They’ll probably be looking for more, now.”

“Hence Dan Cheng, at Iinarawashi.” Sako concluded. “The question is if they’re planning to reach an agreement, or take them by force.”

“Big question.” Iguchi agreed. “Though I don’t really see what difference it makes for us.”

Shigaraki nodded. “Yeah. What we need to figure out what now is how we’re gonna approach this. Way I see it, we’ve gotta get evidence. Pictures. Not intervene, we’ll end up dead that way.”

“Exactly.” Sako seconded. “The more evidence we can have on them, the better. Especially if the Hero Killer does put in an appearance.”

“We’ve got three days.” Shigaraki pointed out. “In that time, we’re gonna have to get a feel for the area, try to figure out where in the place the meeting might be held and where we could watch it from.”

“I can get to that.” Iguchi spoke up. “Scope the place out a little, see what we can get.”

“That would be great. We’ll see if Bubaigawara could go with you. Where the hell is he, by the way?”

“Back with Toga, I believe.” Sako said. “He’s been spending quite some time with her lately.”

“Ohhh.” Iguchi nodded. “There something in the air?”

“You f*cking dickhe*d.” Shigaraki groaned. “They have a decade apart, bare minimum.”

“Oh, yeah.” Iguchi paused. “sh*t. Forget I said anything.”

“Sure. In the meantime, you wanna take a seat right over there?”

“Screw you.” Iguchi cackled. “But yeah, I’ll grab him tomorrow and we can take a look around the place.”

“Thanks.” Shigaraki nodded. “Appreciate it.” As he spoke, his eyes crossed over to where his notebook sat on his desk. He supposed he was lucky in that he hadn’t had time to write down anything about Kaniyashiki’s death or Iinarawashi before she had taken a peek, so she wasn’t entirely on their wavelength just yet. That was just fine by him, for there was something he just did not trust about the girl. An odd, unsettling vibe. Even just with the way she spoke, like someone emulating a teenage girl, or indeed a human being. And as for the pin… It was something else he hadn’t mentioned to the others yet. They just had to wait and see. At the very least, Tanuma had managed to verify it as something that had been found at the crime scene, as well as confirming that it had seemingly gone missing from the police lockup, but that still left a lot of open questions. If someone from one of the more prestigious institutions in Japan was potentially involved…

… Then what did that mean for the case?

— — —

“Hm…” As he sat, gaze drifting through the stained windows of the van out at the dockyard ahead, Iguchi found himself wondering more than once if any of this was actually of any use whatsoever. “You know, I’m really not seeing a damn thing, here.”

“Seconded.” Bubaigawara agreed. “We’re not gonna get much out of just sitting here.”

“Amen. If we could get in there, somehow…” Iguchi already knew that the best way to go about it would be to actually get a look inside, as opposed to just sitting there like drifters, but such a thing was easier said than done. Even if it wasn’t for the fellow standing guard by the front gate, there were no doubt cameras everywhere, and without the ability to walk in through the front door, their options were more than a little limited. “Times like this, it would be great to have Toga.”

“Oh, for sure.” Bubaigawara nodded. “But she still needs to rest up. She’s doing well, by the way.”

“That’s good.” Iguchi tilted his head. “You think she’ll be ready soon, then?”

“Who knows? Hopefully.”

“Aye, hopefully. It’d be nice to have a bit of colour in the place again. Compress is… Compress, and Shigaraki’s startin’ to get moody.”

“Really?” Bubaigawara asked. “You think so?”

“For sure. You’ve not seen him lately? There’s something in his eyes. Ever since Kaniyashiki died… Though I guess I can’t blame him for moping over that…” Hanging his head, Iguchi sighed. “That was a f*ck-up.”

What followed was a tense, awkward silence, before Bubiagawara managed to break it. “Hey, you see the wall there?” He asked, changing the subject as he pointed to one of the perimeter walls surrounding the dockyard. Heavy-set concrete, very sheer.

“Yeah?” Iguchi squinted.

“You think you could climb that?” Bubaigawara suggested. “You can do that, right?”

“Huh? Oh.” Iguchi cast his gaze to his hands. “I dunno if that’s gonna work. My Quirk, it only really works on natural, softer sh*t. Tree bark, wood… Concrete is no good for it.” He stifled a bitter chuckle. “Pretty Goddamn useless, huh?”

“Oh.” Bubaigawara mumbled. “I mean, I’ve heard of worse…” He kept his own vision locked to that wall. “But then… This is gonna be stupid…”

“Hm? What’s up?”

“What if I…” Bubaigawara trailed off, then went to unfasten his seatbelt. “Screw it, I’ll just show you. It’ll be easier to demonstrate. Probably.” With that, he was halfway out of the van before Iguchi could get another word in and rushing over to the wall, leaving the reptilian P.I with little recourse but to shake his head and follow.

Even as he reached the wall, out of the line of sight of the rather oblivious man on guard, Bubaigawara was duplicating himself. Three, four, five times, all as Iguchi watched on in puzzlement.

Then, he got it.

“You’re joking.” He muttered. “This isn’t what I think it is…”

“It is exactly what you think it is. Or not. Probably.” Bubaigawara shrugged.

“You got any better ideas for how to get over?” One of the Double asked.

“Well… No, not really.”

“Then we’re going the Loony Tunes method.” Bubaigawara answered definitively, as he started to clamber up onto the shoulders of the Double, another one getting on top of him and so on and so forth. Once they were all straightened out, they were more or less equal to the height of the wall.

“So, uh…” Taking a step back and glancing over to ensure the guardsman still hadn’t noticed anything, Iguchi cupped his eyes as he stared up at the tower of people. “Which one of you’s going over, then?”

“Oh.” The whole group replied in unison.

“That’s your job.” The real Bubaigawara said without a moment’s hesitation as he began reaching out to provide a boost up. “C’mon, it’ll be a breeze.”

“You have gotta be pulling my leg…” Iguchi sighed, apologetic that he had even asked, as he approached the tower. It wasn’t as if they were going to achieve anything by just standing there. So, with the help of the Doubles, he began his ascent to the top. His nerves were not at all helped by the way that they wobbled and buckled each time he reached a new person.

“So, how am I gonna get back?” He grunted, as he planted one claw on a Double’s head, accidentally scraping away tufts of sandy hair. “Ah, sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it.” The Double in question answered with a small wince of pain. “We’ll send some more guys over to help you up once you’re done.”

“Just keep an eye out for anything useful.” The one above piped up. “Like, a shipping manifest or something, maybe it could tell us where the Chinese fellas’ containers are kept.”

“Right, will do.” With another grunt, Iguchi hauled himself up to the top of the precarious tower, trembling a little as he tried his very best not to look down. Taking a small intake of breath, he unwrapped one hand from the Double at the pinnacle and coiled it around the lip of the wall, before following suit with his other hands. It took significantly more effort to untangle his legs from the tower, as he couldn’t for the life of him shake the impression that he was about to plummet straight down, but he eventually managed it and lifted his body up and over.

Now in the compound, he took a moment to observe what was below him. A sheer drop, all the way down. Nothing to break his fall. No chance that he wouldn’t at least break his legs. He was quickly starting to regret his decision to go ahead with the scheme, as his eyes focused on the guardhouse just next to him. Close enough that he could leap across to the building’s roof and get down from there, but it wasn’t exactly a risk-free plan for numerous reasons.

Still, what else was there to be done? Continue hanging from the wall like an idiot or shatter his calves. Suddenly, the short leap didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

Taking another sharp gasp, he shut his eyes and leapt.

In the air, in the air…

He certainly knew when he left the air, as his chest slammed directly into the roof, knocking all of the wind out of his sails as he desperately clawed to get a grip and stop himself from slipping entirely. Thankfully, he managed to catch the grooves in the roof and from there, lifted his body up. He didn’t take another breath until he was lying flat on the roof, his chest pumping.

“Jesus Christ…” He gasped over and over to himself. “Jesus Christ. I’m such a f*cking idiot…”

It took longer than he would ever admit to the others to finally pick himself up into a semi-crouching position as he looked over the dockyard laid out before him. The only word to describe it was vast, an endless labyrinth of shipping containers and heavy machinery and stout buildings and warehouses, all framed under the grey skies. It was quite the sight to behold. An industrial hellscape, with monstrous ships lurking in the background. It was hard not to get lost in it.

Regardless, he knew that he was there for a reason. From where he sat, he scanned to find any sort of hint as to what he needed. He didn’t want to have to drop down to ground level unless he absolutely had to.

Unfortunately, from where he was, it was hard to make out anything specific. All of the containers looked the same, and he couldn’t make out any specific markings. No sign of anything related to Dan Cheng. The only thing he could really ascertain was the location of the military compound, indicated by the second set of walls separating it from the rest of the dockyard and the vehicle behind said wall suddenly becoming a lot more intimidating. Not that it did them much good, really. With a dull groan, he peered over the edge. At least it was a more than manageable drop, but this fact did little to assuage his concerns.

“In for a penny…” He muttered as he prepared to hop down.

If the yard looked like a labyrinth from above, then Pan himself was resting on ground level. After a dart across an open road from the guardhouse, he found himself in a twisting, open-air corridor of containers, some stacked as high as he could see and others sitting by themselves. All of them, however, were severely limiting his vision.

As he walked down them, he quickly grabbed a spare luminous vest sitting by one of the containers and pulled it on, hoping to make himself look a little more inconspicuous. He wasn’t exactly sure how well it was working, but it was better than nothing, as he stalked through the narrow corridors beneath the disturbed skies. There wasn’t much to see, just featureless rows upon featureless rows of containers, but he kept an eye out regardless. More than anything else, he really did not want to go back empty-handed.

On his travels, he passed two men, dressed like typical dockhands, who wouldn’t have caught his attention if they weren’t whispering to each other as they passed.

Not in Japanese.

Iguchi was not what anyone would call a world-wise fellow, but he knew bits and pieces of Cantonese, enough to realise that was what the men were speaking. His eyes followed them and that was when he saw the back of their vests.

A logo, printed on them.

The logo of Dan Cheng International.

“sh*t…” He muttered to himself as he came to a halt, stooping down as if intending to tie his shoelace as he watched the pair walk off, still chattering amongst themselves. Evidently, the men were from Hong Kong and even more evidently, they were with the Chinese shipping company. Without even a moment’s more hesitation, Iguchi straightened up and followed after them, keeping a safe distance as he traced their steps through the winding labyrinth. All the while, he tried his best to pick up on what they were saying. Not a massively successful attempt, as he could only just make out a few basic words and their hushed tones were not helping, so he relegated himself to merely tailing the pair. From the way that they were walking, he got the impression that they weren’t just going to get lunch.

There was something about the way they were speaking… He still couldn’t make it out, but the hushed voices and jumpy tone suggested to him that they didn’t want to be overheard and were trying their best to be as low-key as possible. It gave him a distinctly odd feeling, like there was something going on.

Eventually, their trail brought them to one of the stout warehouse buildings near the centre of the yard, elucidated by a much sterner-looking security officer standing outside it. Iguchi leaned against a container in an attempt to look casual and discretely watched as the two men showed their identification to the guard and he waved them in. Well, that sank any chance of him going in after them. But this didn’t necessarily upset him. For, he had all that he needed.

Attached just above the warehouse door, a white sign. And on that sign, the very same logo from the men’s vests.

So, this was where Dan Cheng’s office was located in the dockyard. Logic would dictate that this meant the majority of the crates surrounding, perhaps even the one Iguchi was leaning on, belonged to them. Progress. He had a rough location now. Surely, if the RS were involving themselves with Dan Cheng, then this general area would be the most obvious place to do it. In spite of everything, a small grin eclipsed Iguchi’s lips. He had something, finally. It was better than nothing, at least.

Just one problem.

He had no clue where exactly he was. He had been so focused on following the men, he had forgotten the slightly important matter of keeping an eye on his surroundings and as such, didn’t actually know where the warehouse was in relation to the rest of the dockyard. Groaning, he planted his hand over his eyes.

“Go me…” He muttered. “dickhe*d…” The melancholy didn’t last for too long, however, as an idea quickly struck him and he drew his phone, punching up the maps app. Ordinarily, it wouldn’t do him much good, the maps themselves wouldn’t get much more specific than just the dockyard itself, especially with classified military operations occurring nearby. What he needed, however, was his coordinates, as precise as they could possibly get.

“Bingo.” He grinned as he found them, snapping a screenshot and putting his phone away once more. With that said, all he needed to do now was get out of there.

— — —

“Good job, Iguchi.” Shigaraki commended as he stood by the corkboard. “Damn good job.”

Beneath all the scales, Iguchi seemed to be turning an intriguing shade of pink. “No worries, Shigaraki. Happy to help.”

“And help you have.” Sako added. “The both of you. Unnecessarily risky, perhaps, but fruitful nonetheless.”

“We did what we could.” Bubaigawara shrugged.

“Point is, we’ve got some good sh*t out of it.” Shigaraki pointed out. “We’ve got a date, we’ve got a rough location and we’ve more or less got an idea of what’s probably going on. Not a bad effort, all in all.” As he glanced at the board, he found his mind flashing back to what he had read about Higarahi. Maybe, at the end of the day, the Hero Killer wasn’t the worst asshole in the world. Still…

He shook his head. No need to be thinking like that, they weren’t getting paid to question their morality. “If we can nab the Hero Killer here, even get an idea of his identity, then this could be gold; If not, we can at least take out a significant portion of the RS.”

“In a purely passive way, might I add.” Sako reminded. “We are to gather photographic and video evidence of the organisation’s - and the Hero Killer’s - misdeeds to hand over to the relevant authorities, we’re not here to engage any of their members. The Rising Sun trains its men well, we would be lambs to the slaughter.”

Lambs to the slaughter… Why did that phrase sting so deeply? “Someone’s trustin’ of the cops suddenly.” Shigaraki chuckled, trying to throw off the weight on his heart.

Sako shrugged. “In this case, the police have every reason to want the Hero Killer gone, I do not doubt their desire to actually act efficiently in this situation.”

“Fine by me.” Iguchi nodded. “No engagements, keep outta sight, gather what we can. Our kinda mission.”

“Definitely our kinda mission.” Shigaraki agreed. “Just three days from now…” The UA pin flashed through his head. “Maybe we’ll finally start getting some real answers here.”

Chapter 23: Viper


Okay, now this is the actual chapter. No more April Fool's.

Chapter Text

As Shigaraki sat in the van, looking out at the entrance to Iinarawashi, he found himself asking silently if the Rising Sun couldn’t have picked a better day. Dreary couldn’t even begin to describe it; The Heavens seemed to be on the verge of splitting open as the day trudged on into the early evening.

“How joyful.” Sako commented, gazing out towards the front gate.

“With this kinda weather, you’d almost think they’d cancel.” Iguchi groaned.

“Unlikely. This might actually be even better for them. Less people out and about to potentially see anything.”

“Well, alright then.” Iguchi rolled his eyes. “Where the hell are they? We’ve been here half the Goddamn day, and not a peep.”

Sako craned his neck. “You ask that as if I am supposed to know any more than you do.”

“You are the most adult of us.” Bubaigawara pointed out.

“Hey, guys, shut up.” Shigaraki urged, keeping his eyes glued to the entrance. “Something’s going down.”

For, as the beginning hints of the rain began to sprinkle down, a small fleet of vehicles appeared into view. Mostly featureless vans, they certainly didn’t seem like anything related to official business. “This could be something…” He muttered as he watched.

Yet not he - nor the others - anticipated what they saw next. As the van at the front rolled up to the gate, it came to a halt and the guardsman, wearing a cheap windbreaker over his uniform, approached. The window rolled down and, in a matter of seconds, the guard’s head was spewing red. As he crumpled, the vehicles drove right on through.

“Oh f*ck.” Shigaraki tensed, as did everyone in the van. “What the-”

Already, Iguchi was scrambling for the door, Sako close behind.

“Bubaigawara.” Shigaraki ordered as he followed after them. “Stay here.”

“What?” Bubaigawara erupted, clearly disappointed. “But-”

“We’re gonna need the van ready for when we’ve gotta get out of here. Keep it warm.” He commanded.

“Right… Alright, Boss-man.”

With that, Shigaraki emerged out into the rain, sprinting over to the guardsman, where Sako already stood. The poor man’s blood was mixing with the rain. A single shot through the head. He didn’t have a chance.

“Dammit.” Shigaraki grunted. “The hell’s going on here-”

His words were cut off by the sounds of more gunshots from within the dockyards, as he snapped his head over in their direction. This didn’t make any sense. Just what the hell was going on? Not that any answers were going to be attained from standing around and staring at the grisly scene. Before his mind was moving, his body was, carrying him past the gate and into the compound.

“Wait!” Sako called as he took off after him. “For God’s sake, man, think for a second!”

Shigaraki was far beyond the point of thinking. There was too much swirling in his mind already. Kaniyashiki, Oguro, Hachisuka, Higarashi, Stain the Hero Killer. He was getting sick of the feelings knotting his chest; He needed a resolution and if Sako and Iguchi were to follow him into the fray, then so be it.

Even so, he wasn’t completely without a plan. Head towards the warehouse, try and figure out what was going on. Pulling out his phone, he started to quickly cross-reference the coordinates with Iguchi’s screenshot. To his frustration, his screen was almost instantly speckled with droplets, making it harder and harder to use. Of all the damned things…

Running out past one of the containers into an intersection of sorts, where containers parted to give way to thin passageways, Shigaraki nearly ran directly into a pair of men. Armed, kevlar vests, they clearly weren’t security. He saw them before they saw him, but it didn’t take long for them to follow suit.

“Who the hell-” One of the men yelled, bringing his rifle up.

“Wrong place, wrong time, Buddy.” The second man lamented, more than ready to shoot Shigaraki then and there.

That never came, though. A hissing of flying steel. Blood exploded out of the front of the first paramilitary’s head and he folded like a deck chair, the second’s eyes widened mere seconds before he scrambled behind a stack of wooden crates. Snapping his head over to where the gunshots had come from, Shigaraki wasn’t sure what he expected to see, but it certainly was not Sako holding a collection of throwing knives. As the rain rolled off his trilby and coat, there was a sort of cold confidence never before observed in him.

“Sako-” He spat.

“You’re a damned fool, if I may say.” Sako sighed, keeping his eyes trained on where the paramilitary was hiding. He seemed to be taking careful, delicate aim. “I told you to wait.”

Once he was evidently satisfied with his shot, he threw again and a scream rang out as his knife travelled through a gap in the crates and hit its target. By then, Iguchi too had caught up, and seemed no less shocked than Shigaraki.

“Dude, what the f*ck?” He echoed, as Shigaraki stared down at the bodies of the men. Dead, the both of them. “What even-”

“I take no pleasure in this.” Sako interrupted, kneeling down by the first body. “But it was them or you, and I will not hesitate to keep you alive.”

Shigaraki could only stare.

“Go.” Sako commanded. “I’ll take care of this. Just be careful, for God’s sake.” He hung his head, the rain trickling off the brim of his hat. “I didn’t want it to come to this…” Stretching his arm out, he flung a marble away from him and clicked his fingers. Before their eyes, the marble flashed into one of the shipping containers that landed at the intersection, blocking off the way from which they had come, preventing any more of the Rising Sun’s agents from creeping up on them.

“C’mon…” Iguchi grabbed his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

“Right, right…” Keeping his gaze locked on Sako until he was out of view, Shigaraki resumed his dash to the warehouse.

“What’s even going on anymore?” Iguchi panted as he kept up. “This wasn’t meant to happen…” As he spoke frantically, they passed more bodies. Dockhands. “Why are they killing everyone?”

“I don’t know…” Was all Shigaraki could repeat as the rain lashed down. “I don’t know. Unless a weapons deal was never their goal…”

“Then what the hell could it be? And why- Oh.” Iguchi let out a little gasp of recognition. “Warehouse is just up here.” He took the lead by a few paces. “Just around this corner…”

Sure enough, there it was. A beacon to whatever chaos was taking place, the stout, unassuming structure. The door was wide open and another man in security uniform lay dead by it.

“These guys are f*cked…” Shigaraki muttered, passing the corpse and peering in through the doorway. The rain encouraged him to step inside, but what he saw kept him out. There was no way of getting in without being seen, the warehouse floor was filled with paramilitaries, most of them gathered around a container in the centre of the room.

“What have we got?” Iguchi asked, trying to get a look himself.

“Lots of RS.” Shigaraki answered. “Seems they’ve got some hostages, too.” Three men, forced onto their knees with their hands bound in front of the container. They were dressed like gangsters, but when they opened their mouths, it was clear that they weren’t Yakuza.

A stream of panicked Chinese. Or Cantonese, whatever it was, Shigaraki could never tell the difference. Whatever he was saying, he was talking fast, but evidently not well, as the paramilitary standing in front of him didn’t seem all too amused.

“Very admirable, Felix…” She sighed in a manner that shot Shigaraki’s nerves. A woman. It was hard to tell, given that she was wearing a heavy coat and hat, but she was obviously not a bloke. In fact…

“I know that Goddamn voice…” Iguchi hissed. “That’s Usagiyama.”

“What, Usagiyama? The rabbit girl?”

“Yeah, Mirko. Old hero. Retired last year.” Iguchi whispered back. “That’s gotta be her. But…”

He quietened down as Usagiyama pointed to the container. “Get this sh*t open.” She ordered, a few of her men scrambling forwards with crowbars to pry the doors loose. Meanwhile, she hunkered down by the hostages and grabbed one of them by the cheeks.

“Thought you were coy.” She clicked. The man started shouting back at her, pleading from the sounds of it. All of it lost on her as the doors were forced open. Shigaraki couldn’t see what was inside from where he stood, but it had an immediate, profound effect. Several of the men gathered recoiled in an instant, several others training their guns on the Chinese gangsters.

“Like we thought…” Usagiyama sighed. “Rot. The whole lot of it… Sick bastards…”

As she said this, she turned to face the door and Shigaraki finally got a good look at her. The tanned skin, crimson eyes, flowing white hair. Even with the clothing and surgical mask over her face, it was clear who it was.

“You got this?” He asked.

“Yep.” Iguchi nodded, snapping a picture. “It’s definitely her. Never pegged her an RS sort, though…”

“Alright.” Usagiyama called out, presumably to her men. “Clear out, head for rendezvous. We’ve done what we need to do here. Cops are gonna be on us in a couple minutes.” She spun on her heel and headed to one of the back doors. After a few steps, a volley of gunfire rang out and the gangsters crumpled.

“Jesus…” Shigaraki muttered. He was still trying to put things together. “They must’ve come here tonight to f*ck with Dan Cheng, not deal with them…”

“Why, though?” Iguchi asked.

“Who knows? It’s no big surprise they’ve got ties to the Triads, maybe the RS isn’t too fond of their drug operations or something.” Shigaraki’s gaze narrowed as the rain plastered his hair to his scalp. “I get the feeling it’s got something to do with that container, though…”

The pair watched as the paramilitaries slowly cleared out. All the while, however, Shigaraki was getting the worrying feeling that he was being watched and not just by some tearful God on high.

As he stepped back from the warehouse and turned, he realised where the feeling was coming from. Perched up on a nearby container and staring down at them through the rain, was a figure. A figure whose form, physique and face were all concealed behind the heavy duster coat, black hoodie and porcelain mask they were wearing.

“sh*t.” Iguchi stumbled. “How long’s he been here?”

Shigaraki merely stared back. “Hey.” He called. “Not gonna introduce yourself?”

The figure did not oblige, though they did hop down from the container to ground level, about ten or so feet away from the detectives. It was a tall gentleman, wrapped in black, with unseen facial expressions and non-existent body language, as the rain rolled off his broad shoulders.

“Are you him, then?” Shigaraki asked. “Stain. The Hero Killer. That’s you, ain’t it?”

The man gave no response, keeping his eyes tracked on Shigaraki behind the mask as he drew a long, thin blade from under his coat. That simple action did more than enough answering. Clearly, no words were needed.

“What the hell’s going on here?” Shigaraki snapped. “All this? You assholes going to war?”

Again, no response, as Stain brought the blade to eye level…

And surged forwards.

He was too fast to even perceive, tangling with Iguchi in the blink of an eye and drawing a slim red line across his scaled cheek. Iguchi hissed and staggered, giving Stain the time to get in close and plunge his fist into his ribs.

Shigaraki leapt into the fray. It was insane. He had virtually no combat proficiency, yet here he was, grabbing Stain and trying to throw him off Iguchi. No luck arose, as the Hero Killer merely wriggled free and grabbed Shigaraki’s arm, bending it all the way back in ways that were not at all natural. Shigaraki yelped out in pain, faint spatterings of tears mixing with the raindrops on his face, as he tried to break free of the grip before his arm snapped clean in two. Iguchi attempted to get his footing, but without even a second glance, Stain aimed a deft kick to the chest and sent him reeling into a stack of oil drums, which he collapsed alongside.

The way that he moved… It was almost inhuman, as he darted and struck with pinpoint agility, each swift, hard jab to the stomach feeling like a collision with a truck. Shigaraki knew full well that he couldn’t hope to stay standing for long, especially not as Stain took another deft swing of his blade right at his throat.

Shigaraki acted instinctively, reaching out and grabbing the knife with his hand. The pain shot up his arm as the blade sliced through his index finger, but before it got any further, it wilted, a sharp shock jolting through Shigaraki’s hand as, for the first time in a long, long while, his Quirk activated, reducing the machete to rubble.

Noticing the situation, Stain leapt back, keeping a firm distance from Shigaraki as he mulled over his next move. Shigaraki, for his part, could only glare up as he clutched his throbbing hand, now missing half a finger and oozing with thick, puss-like blood that mixed with the rain in an instant to coat the entirety of his hand in a sickening crimson hue.

Having pulled himself back to his feet, Iguchi tried to charge the Hero Killer, who didn’t even break a sweat as he casually stepped to a side and then used Iguchi’s momentum against him, thrusting his head into the side of the container next to him with a deafening clang as he grabbed his phone from his pocket, then crushed it under his boot. There was no doubting the threat that he posed. He was too fast, too deft. Shigaraki had no hope. Yet, something was odd about it all…

“You aren’t looking to kill.” He croaked as he grasped his hand. “We’re a loose end, it’d be a hell of a lot easier if you just killed us now. Why are you going so easy?” He forced a bitter laugh. “Don’t tell me it’s outta some bullsh*t respect or something, or because we’re not bad guys.”

Stain stared ahead. “Too easy.” He said, in a hollow, emotionless tone. “No sport in killing you. Just going to teach a lesson.”

Shigaraki’s pupils went small in their sockets. “f*cking hell…”

With a flick of his wrist, a new weapon appeared in Stain’s hand. An extendable nightstick, the kind mostly used by police officers. Guaranteed to leave a mark if used in just the right way. Raising it as if it were a foil, then bringing it back down, he ran at Shigaraki.

He was thrown off course, however, as something fell in his path. A small insect, buzzing gently as it hovered around his head, seemingly having come from nowhere. Within seconds of it appearing, it was gone, disappearing into a ball of flame and flinging him back, angling his head from where it had come just to see another person entering the scene, a young girl leaping down from a stack of containers, aiming a kick square at Stain’s head.

Leaping back, the Hero Killer avoided the attack and the girl landed on the rain-swept tarmac, hair falling over her eyes, straightening up to stare at him.

“So, here you are.” Kuin Hachisuka whistled, as she flashed a thumbs up behind her. “Thanks, Shigaraki-san. Figured you’d lead me somewhere interesting.”

“Eh?” Shigaraki stammered. “You’ve been following me?”

“Sort of.” She shrugged. “On and off, and lucky for you, I happened to be doing so today.” She turned her gaze back to Stain. “Hero Killer. You’ve been causing a lot of problems for a lot of people.” As a small swarm of bees buzzed around her head, she picked one between her thumb and forefinger. “Exploding bees. Nifty little things, huh? Don’t pack much of a punch, but they’re good enough for what they are.”

Once again, no response from Stain, as he took up the nightstick and swung it at her, Hachisuka avoiding the blow by the skin of her teeth. Not fast enough, as he planted his boot into the back of her knee and snapped it all the way back, sending her to the ground. Another bee exploded, throwing him off for just long enough for her to leap back up and launch three more at him, each little explosion sending him further and further back.

That was when something else caught Shigaraki’s attention. “Sirens.” He muttered. “Cops.”

Stain knew it too, of course he did. The nightstick disappeared up his sleeve and he reached into his coat once more. Out came the revolver and he brought it up. Shigaraki braced, but it wasn’t pointed at him, nor Hachisuka, nor the unconscious Iguchi.

It was squarely aimed at the oil drums.

“Oh f*ck…” Shigaraki realised.

The first shot pierced the drums, fluid beginning to spew out over the tarmac. Even as it hit, Stain was leaping back up onto the shipping containers with a few nimble flips and twirls, getting further and further out of reach.

“Oh, you son of a bitch.” Hachisuka fumed as she ran after him. “You don’t get that easy an escape-”

“Wait-” Shigaraki called.

The second shot ignited the oil and Hachisuka disappeared in a shower of angry orange flame, the blast blowing Shigaraki off his feet and into the wall of the warehouse, his head snapping against the material. He barely even felt the pain amidst everything else.

“sh*t…” He groaned as he lay there. Everything hurt. “sh*t…” He couldn’t even muster the energy to move, only sit there and watch as a swarm of bees rose up from the flames and flew away into the aether, far out of view. The smoke and the flames drifted up, as if chasing the bees, but halted when met with the obnoxious valour of the rainfall, hissing and spurting as they leapt across the tarmac.

He wasn’t sure how long was passing him by. Minutes? Hours? He didn’t fully register anything that was going on until he heard the clap of footsteps on the ground and panicked yet somewhat reserved shouting. Police.

“Damn…” He groaned, eyes rolling up into the back of his head as his vision swam. He could swear that, as he did so, he saw a silhouette, standing far off on a nearby roof, in a duster coat and hoodie, staring back at him.

Chapter 24: Pending Destruction

Chapter Text

“Hell of a fireworks show.” Officer Tamakawa sighed as he stood in the middle of the warehouse, scratching his furry head. “God knows how many died here last night.”

“No total number, yet?” Tsukauchi furrowed his brow, examining the container left in the middle of the room. The bodies found inside had been gathered around it and he couldn’t evade the suspicion that it had something to do with it all. Yet, until someone brought a blowtorch down, he didn’t have any way of cracking it open. “Christ, this is a massacre.”

“I ran some background checks on the dead Chinamen.” Tamakawa motioned. “Figured you’d want to know. Almost all of them had criminal connections, the majority to Blue Lotus.”

“Triads.” Tsukauchi scoffed. “Was this over blow? Prostitutes?”

“If it’s to be believed that the Rising Sun are involved, then that was probably it.” Tamakawa shrugged. “You know how they are. All riled up against threats to the nation.”

“And to themselves.” Tsukauchi reminded. “A criminal is a criminal, even if he’s going after other criminals…” As he spoke, he watched the crime scene photographer snapping some shots of the container. On the side, some sort of emblem was painted in stark white inking. A flower, of some description.

“Odd.” He muttered. “Tamakawa, any idea what that is?”

Tamakawa squinted as he peered at the emblem. “No clue. Could signify the contents, I guess. Opioids, maybe?”

“That could be it.” Tsukauchi rubbed his chin, as the sunlight broke in through the open doors, bleaching the blood-stained floors in a mellow, drying glow. He turned to the other gathered investigators. “Could someone please get a pair of bolt cutters down here or something-”

“Thanks for taking care of the place.” Rang out the new voice as its owner entered the warehouse. As soon as Tsukauchi heard it, he bristled.

Ukita, Hashimoto and Tanimura. Backed by well-armed and armoured men.

“We’re here now, though.” Ukita continued, his voice carrying throughout the building. “The rest of you guys can get back to whatever it is you’re up to.”

“Ukita.” Tsukauchi cursed as he went to meet them. “What the hell are you bringing the ESF here for?” The Extrajudicial Strike Force. An armed wing of the Commission’s Criminal Affairs branch, typically employed for disaster response. When a villain threat proved too great for the police, it was the ESF who went in to assist the heroes. Much like the rest of Criminal Affairs, they didn’t have a good reputation.

“In case you hadn’t noticed, Detective, this is the zone of a terror attack.” Ukita explained lazily, scratching the bridge of his nose. “You can understand why we wouldn’t be taking any chances in a Rising Sun investigation.” He glanced over to the armed men. “Boys, secure this sh*t in the next half hour, I want an early lunch.”

“Hey, just a second.” Tsukauchi stopped him. “This is a police matter.”

“This is a Commission matter now.” Ukita asserted. “You want to raise it with your superior? Be my guest.” Turning to the photographer, he grabbed the camera out of his hands. “Thanks for doing the legwork for us.”

“You’re out of order.” Tsukauchi stepped in. “You stand down, and-”

You stand down, asshole.” Hashimoto spoke up. “You know what’s good for you, you’ll stay out of this and let us do our jobs.” As she said this, the ESF members were already getting to work relieving the police of the collected evidence, several of them focusing on the container.

“Get a copter down here.” Ukita commanded. “We’ll airlift this bastard outta here.”

“Ukita-san…” Tsukauchi heaved. “We’ve already done most of the work here.”

“And for that, I already thanked you.” Ukita retorted. “Now, why don’t you metro cops hop on to home base and do what you do best? I’m sure there’s a couple hungover whor*s down in the cells you’ve got to file the bail for.”

What could Tsukauchi do? The other man technically held senior authority. Turning his head, he growled softly and began to walk off. Halfway to the door, he stopped. “Agent?”

“Yes, Detective?” Ukita tilted his head mockingly.

“That symbol on the side of the container. Does it mean anything to you?”

“What, this?” Ukita squinted at the flower. “Not a damn thing.” He spoke perfectly. Perhaps too perfectly. “You know these Shina retards, some kids probably thought it would be funny to spray paint the sides.”

“Right.” Far from satisfied, Tsukauchi went to leave.

“Those guys are real bastards.” Tamakawa complained, as he ran to follow after him. “You’d swear they’re just making things harder for us.”

“Spot on, Tamakawa. Spot on; But what can we do?”

— — —

“I can tell ya ‘til the cows come home…” Shigaraki sighed as he raised his shackled hands to try and scratch his nose. “I wasn’t with them.”

“And I’m telling you that’s bullsh*t.” The inspector growled as he slammed his hands down on the interrogation table. He wasn’t like Tanuma or that Tsukauchi fellow; This was a young guy, and he had plenty to prove, which meant a lot of shouting at suspects. “We have you at the location, with that burned-out girl, a finger missing, and you’re telling me you happened to be there by accident?”

“Not by accident…” Shigaraki shook his head. “I knew what I was doing there, but I wasn’t with them. Pretty much the opposite, actually.” He still didn’t know what to make of Hachisuka. They had found her body, charred to a crisp, but something didn’t seem right about it. The way that she had just run into the blast, he couldn’t escape the feeling that she wasn’t going to just die off so easily. Still, that was a question for another time. Right now, he had to try and avoid going to prison.

“Private detective.” The young man sighed. “So, I’ve heard. I still don’t buy it though. And I doubt a court would, either. You understand what you’re in here, Bucko? Rising Sun territory. You are f*cked with a capital F.”

“If I was RS.” Shigaraki snapped back. “Which I’m not.”

The inspector leaned in close. “You got proof to back that up, wise guy?”

Shigaraki didn’t let his gaze waver. “I got character witnesses.”

“Well, that’s wonderful, isn’t it?” The inspector spat. “Those work when you’re trying to prove you’re not gay, not when you’re trying to prove you’re not a terrorist.”

Shigaraki pointed to the recorder on the table. “And for the record, I am neither.”

“Bull. sh*t.”

At that moment, the door to the room opened up and, rather thankfully, a familiar face appeared.

“You all good, Kato?” Tanuma asked with the usual easy-going grin on his face, as he gripped his coffee cup.

“Yeah.” All at once, Kato wilted like the school bully when his father appears. “Just having a chat with the suspect, Sir.”

“Not a suspect.” Tanuma grinned.

“Beg your pardon?” Kato leaned forwards.

“Told ya.” Shigaraki grinned.

“We’ve been talking to the other RS guys we picked up that night.” Tanuma explained. “Not a single one of them knows who Tomura Shigaraki is, nor could they identify a picture of him. Even the couple of guys who flipped and are willing to rat on the others don’t know him.”

“Well, I…” Kato stammered. “That’s… Good. That’s good.”

“That’s real good.” Shigaraki spoke up, checking his bandaged hand. “It’s like I said, we saw the commotion and went to see if we could help. Shame for you, though.”

“Y-Yeah, well don’t get co*cky.” Kato growled back. “We’ve still got you on trespassing-”

Tanuma rolled his eyes as he took a long sip of his coffee. “Let the kid go, already. The top brass aren’t interested in him. No point in holding him.”

Even with everything that had happened, it was a little satisfying to see Kato grinding his teeth. “Yes sir.”

“Good man.” Shigaraki smirked as he held his hands out. “If you could let me go, then.”

— — —

They could have at least given him an umbrella.

In the past few days that Shigaraki had spent in jail, the weather did not seem to have let up at all, the heavy rainfall only getting more oppressive with time.

“Pain in the ass…” He muttered, pulling up his collar to try and shield his neck as he made his way down the police station’s steps to the pavement. With his phone back, he took a check at it, trying his best to guard the screen from the droplets with one hand.

Plenty of missed messages. Most of them spam, a few from Sako, one from what he quickly discerned to be Iguchi’s new number, from just an hour or two ago:

They just let me go. I’m at the office with the others. Meet up once your out?

Resisting the urge to point out the grammatical error, Shigaraki sent a rapid message of confirmation, his shoes splashing off the puddles coating the pavement. From there, he withdrew his phone into his pocket and jammed both of his hands in there for good measure.

There was a lot of ground to cover. He was going to have to get his P.I licence examined for one, gather some character witnesses and such so that it wasn’t revoked over the trespassing incident. More pressingly, however, was everything surrounding the Stain situation. He didn’t know much, there hadn’t been much word passed around the holding cells. A few Rising Sun members had been arrested, he had no clue how many or if any of them were of much importance. The shipping container they had looked within… And then, the Hero Killer himself. The throbbing pain in his right hand was a constant reminder of their encounter, and he very much got the message that he was only alive because Stain didn’t want to kill him, for whatever reason.

It was then he noticed the car driving alongside him. It had been doing so since he left the station, but it didn’t sink in until he realised how slow it was moving, keeping an even pace with his walking speed. All black, tinted windows, the kind of car people usually see before ending up in Funky Town videos on the internet. He looked away, quickened his step. The car accelerated to meet his new speed. He heard the engines flaring, heard as the window rolled down.

Heard the voice from inside the car.

“Tomura, for God’s sake, you’ll catch a chill.”

A voice he knew all too well.

Shigaraki froze where he stood and spun to look in the window. “Sensei?”

In the back seat of the car, there sat Hakai Shigaraki, as if he was used to the world. Shigaraki couldn’t remember the last time that he had left the care home without being wheeled around by a nurse.

“Sensei, I…” Bending down, Shigaraki peered through the window. “The hell are you doing here?”

“Picking my son up.” Hakai responded with a knowing grin. “Come on, you’ll catch a chill walking through this disaster.”

Shigaraki glanced over to the front seat, where an older, bald-headed gentleman sat. He recognised him as one of Hakai’s assistants when he was a child, but he hadn’t seen the old man in years. “Hey Doc.” He stated, pulling open the door and clambering in like a wet dog, messing up the expensive-feeling upholstery.

“Hello, Son.” Doc nodded in the rear-view mirror.

“You good?” He asked, closing the door, freed from the fury of the weather, and took a deep breath. Some warmth, at last.

“As much as I can be.” The car sped up.

“So, Tomura, you’ve had a busy week.” Hakai noted. “All of this carry-on at Iinarawashi has made headlines.”

“Aw, f*ck…” Shigaraki groaned.

“Your name isn’t in it, according to the lovely young lady who reads me the morning paper.” Hakai assured. “But I knew right away. First Kaniyashiki, now this. You’re moving up in the world, my boy.”

Shigaraki inspected the damp bandages around his missing finger. “Really wish it felt that way a little more.”

“You win some and you lose some. All of your little friends are alive, and that is what matters.”

“Barely.” Shigaraki shrugged. “Shouldn’t have gone. Should’ve just let it be…”

“Well, there’s an easy way to know if that’s the case or not. What did you take from it?”


“What’s the gain?” Hakai asked. “What information did you gather? Anything new?”

“Anything new…” Shigaraki scrunched his face. There were a few things. “The Hero Killer is definitely, 100 percent with the RS, that’s confirmed now, and they’ve got a serious grudge against the Chinese. There was something at that dockyard that really disgusted them. And Usagiyama is with them, too.”

“Usagiyama?” Hakai raised an eyebrow. “That delightful lady? Who would have seen such a thing coming?” He sounded rather sarcastic. “That’s certainly something. A lead, just like Kaniyashiki was, except this one’s still alive for the time being. That is not bad, not bad at all.”

Shigaraki hung his head. The last thing he needed was to be reminded of Kaniyashiki. The question toiled in his throat. “Sensei…”

“Yes, Tomura?”

“I… I just don’t know what to think anymore. Am I being a hypocrite here?”

“A hypocrite? What makes you ask?”

“The Hero Killer’s a murderer. It’s so easy to point at him and call him a psycho. But what about me?” He examined his wounded hand. “Am I that much better? I don’t just mean Kaniyashiki, but…”

“Them.” Hakai finished. There was something unreadable in his voice, the amusem*nt draining out. “So, even now, you still believe that you’re responsible…”

“What?” Shigaraki glanced up.

“Nothing.” Hakai seemed to bite his lip. “It is what it is.”

“Okay…” Shigaraki relented. It hadn’t exactly helped, he wasn’t sure what to make of anything. Glancing out of the window, he took in the tumultuous sights; Right at that moment, he just wanted to get back to base and consolidate what information he had. “Thanks for the lift, though.”

“It is my pleasure, Tomura. My absolute pleasure.”

— — —

What a place for a former icon to rot away, Stain reckoned.

As he walked calmly and confidently through the halls of the care home, briefcase in hand, he couldn’t help but feel the decay, the sheer nothingness, seeping into his bloodstream. This wasn’t a place where the wealthy or the loved spent their final days, it was where the forgotten and abandoned went to die.

Or, where they chose to stay.

Reaching the door, Stain knocked, a firm rap of his knuckles on the hard wood.

“Hello?” Came the voice from inside. Stain took that as his invitation.

“Hello there, Sir.” He preened as he stepped in.

From where he sat by the peeling window at the far end of the room, Hakai Shigaraki looked a sight. A broken, decrepit old man. “You’re not Yoichi.” He said after a few moments, his voice crackling. “You’re not Tomura.”

“No, Sir, I’m just here to ask you a few questions regarding recent events.” Stain bowed, pointlessly.

“Oh? And you are?”

Stain gave his name and department. Hakai seemed to settle into a more relaxed position as he heard it.

“Ah, yes.” He said. “I remember you. Sorry, I’m just back from a journey, so I may not be in the best mindset for an interrogation right now.”

“It will only be very brief, Sir.” Stain urged as he moved further in. “You were at the police station today, weren’t you? You picked up your son, I believe?”

Hakai seemed to completely ignore the question. “I know where I saw you. Six years ago, at that Interpol meeting. You shook my hand, told me what a fan you were-”

“Different times, no?” Stain asked as he sat across from the old man, balancing his briefcase on his lap and pulling open the latches.

“- You gave me the drink that intended to kill me.”

Stain froze, his beady eyes darting up to follow Hakai, who himself seemed to be staring into nothing.

“You offered me that glass, and I took it.” He continued. “And within minutes, I lost all feeling, I lost all sight; My survival was a wonder. And that name, the name you told me as you introduced yourself, has burned into my memory.”

Keeping a cool demeanour, Stain reached into the case and pulled out a syringe. “You were an inconvenience to my employers at the time.”

“And six years on, I remain so?”

“Oh no. No, this…” Stain checked the needle, glimmering under the foggy lamp. “Is something else entirely. They were quite content to let you fester and rot in this home, content you would never again pose a threat. I’ll never know how you survived, but for all intents and purposes, the job was done. This isn’t a job, though; This is survival.”

A ghost of a smirk appeared on Hakai’s face. “Because you’re scared. Whatever happened that night at the shipyard, you were involved, and you realised that Tomura is smarter than a lot give him credit for.”

“For as long as you’re in the picture.” Rising to his feet, Stain held the needle. “I’m taking the time out of my day now to finish this.”

“Because Tomura doesn’t even realise it yet, but he’s a threat. A threat to you. A threat to Wisteria.”

“I am not Wisteria.” Stain snarled. “Not anymore.” Boots clicking on the mottled floor, he approached the old man in the wheelchair. “I’m becoming their next big nightmare.”

“A nightmare.” Hakai chuckled. “You always have been a tool. I can hear it in the way you speak even now. A husk, a shell, a puppet. And you’re a smart lad, you recognise this. But you don’t care. Because for you, killing is just too damned fun, it doesn’t matter who is aiming you or who you’re being aimed at.” A short pause. “You are the Hero Killer.”

“Very f*cking clever.” Stain noted with an empty, hollow tone, now inches away from Hakai, holding the needle up. “The last case you’ll ever solve. And you’ll take it to your grave. I’m very sorry, Shigaraki-san, but I’m not ready to die just yet.” With a sudden motion, he thrust the syringe into Hakai’s neck and squeezed. The old man recoiled with a grunt, but gave no other reaction. “I’m going to destroy Wisteria beforehand. And without you, your son won’t achieve a thing.”

For a man who had just been injected with the same poison that had almost killed him once before, Hakai seemed remarkably calm. “So be it.” He lamented. “I’ve lived a long life, longer than is natural. And these last six years have been hard. But nothing has brought me more life than when Tomura came to visit. When he asked for advice, when he tried to piece things together. You may say all you want, but he is growing into a fine young man.” Stain watched as Hakai’s grip tightened on the arm rests of his wheelchair and his voice swelled up. “Maybe a creature such as you, who knows only of destruction, can’t see it, but he’s going to bring your world crumbling down. And when you inevitably head down to Hell…” He took a long, sharp intake of breath. “I’ll be there to hold the door open. And I’ll be there, for the rest of eternity, laughing at you, the puppet who tried to smite his own carvers.”

As if about to stand, Hakai leaned forwards in his chair, then his muscles loosened, his head drooped and he fell back.

No more.

Looking over his handiwork, Stain shook his head as he packed the syringe back up. “Absurd.” He scoffed. “If I am a tool, then what does that make Tomura Shigaraki? What does that make him?”

No response from Hakai Shigaraki, of course. Only the infuriating smirk that persisted on his lips, even in death.

Chapter 25: Bereaved

Chapter Text

Shigaraki hated wearing a suit.

He hated burials even more. As he clasped the umbrellas that protected him from the opening Heavens, he kept his eyes locked on the headstone in total silence.

Shigaraki: Yoichi, Hakai.

Apparently, it had been natural, another stroke not dissimilar to the one that had put him in his wheelchair to begin with. That was the official story. Hakai Shigaraki had been a sickly man, few were surprised by his passing, even amongst the relative few who even knew he still existed. There had been no fanfare, no proper goodbyes.

“Christ…” He muttered as he stood and stared down. “Not even a goodbye…” He would not have been so hung up on that matter were it not for the realisation that their final meeting in the car had likely been mere hours before Hakai’s death. A final meeting, completely wasted. Shigaraki had barely been in the right headspace to really process who he had been talking to.

Something about this didn’t make sense. As much as he tried to wrap his head around it, it all just seemed odd. Too odd.

Hearing the slapping of footsteps on wet grass behind him, he turned to see who it was approaching. He wasn’t sure what he expected - unrelated funeral goers perhaps - but it certainly was not the rest of the Agency, including Toga.

“Hey.” He nodded, putting one hand in his pocket and walking to meet them. “You all okay?”

“Pretty much.” Iguchi agreed.

“Hi Tomura.” Toga bubbled.

“Hey. You’re a free woman again?”

“Finally.” She scoffed. “There was no need for them to have me as long as they did, literally none.”

“She’s been chomping at the bit to get back to things.” Bubaigawara explained, rubbing the back of his head. “We gave her the basics on the journey over.”

“Yeah. And…” Toga’s voice shifted to a more delicate tone. “Sorry about your dad, Tomura.”

“It’s… It’s okay. Was bound to happen sooner or later. He was living on borrowed time.” Shigaraki wasn’t entirely sure who he was trying to convince with that. Maybe just himself. “I don’t want it to get in the way of things.”

“If you need to take a break at all…” Sako ventured. “That would be perfectly understandable.”

“You listening to me? I appreciate the gesture, but I just wanna get back to business.”

“I get that.” Iguchi relented. “Best to keep updated on everything.”

“Exactly.” Trudging through the rain, Shigaraki went to leave the burial site, the others close behind. “So, what’s the news on RS?”

“Pretty much the same as it was before.” Iguchi replied. “Cops have been rounding up guys for the last couple days. No word on Usagiyama yet.”

“I doubt she’s going to be on the receiving end of anything just yet.” Sako speculated. “She’s still out and about in the public spotlight, even just last night. Some sort of charity gala. She’d be keeping a low profile if there was any serious threat to her. She was never hugely bright, but she’s far from stupid.”

“Sounds like you know her well.” Toga whistled. “Burned ex?”

“My standards are not that high, and hers doubtless not that low, but you’re very welcome to write your little fanfictions.” Sako chuckled.

Iguchi clicked his tongue. “This would be way easier if that bastard hadn’t smashed up my phone. Could’ve just shared the pics with the cops, got her taken down easy.”

“That was probably why he smashed it.” Bubaigawara pointed out.

“True, true…”

“That just means it’s gonna have to fall onto us.” Shigaraki reasoned, stepping off the soaking grass and onto the equally soaking sidewalk, narrowly avoiding being drenched as a car sped through a puddle mere inches ahead of him. “It’s an opportunity, really. A chance to see what we can get out of her ourselves.”

“You really think?” Toga asked. “Compress said it himself, she’s not an idiot. What would she even give us? Chances are, she’d pull an Oguro before telling us anything.”

“Sorry…” Bubaigawara whimpered softly.

“Then we get her in a situation where she can’t afford to cause a scene.” Shigaraki suggested. “Public space, maybe… Nah, she could just walk off…”

“What about an elevator?” Iguchi piped up. “Somewhere neutral, not owned by her or any of her pals. If we get to talk to her in there, there’s security cameras watching her every move, she’ll be forced to play along.”

“Not a bad idea, actually.” Sako agreed. “I know she’s retired from the heroism business, what is it she does now?”

“Something to do with humanitarian work, I think.” Iguchi suggested. “I can check when we get back. Might have an office somewhere, could catch her there.”

Sako nodded. “It just comes down to what we would even want to ask.”

“Contents of the container would be a good start.” Shigaraki noted. “Toga, Bubaigawara, Iguchi, I want the three of you to start working on something, okay? Sako, keep scouring the streets for any informants.”

“And you?” Sako asked. “Mourning period?”

“Nah, nothing like that.” Shigaraki sighed. “Nothing that cool. I’ve just gotta get my licence validated. I’m still being charged with trespassing, you know, and I’d rather not lose my ability to practise because of it.”

— — —

It felt odd, sitting in that office, the very same office that he had spent the last half decade of his life living in. It was all well and good when the others were present and they were working, but once the lights dimmed and it went from office to home, Shigaraki found an utterly inescapable feeling of imposter syndrome washing over his shoulders. After all, the lease was technically in Hakai Shigaraki’s name, even if the will transferred ownership. It still just felt wrong. It had no true reason to, perhaps, but it simply did.

Had he taken his Sensei for granted? It was hard to answer. Lately, his mind had been focused on the matter of the Hero Killer, with limited thought spared to the old man, withering away in the care home. Now, he was gone. Biologically speaking, the Shigaraki bloodline was dead. Leaving just the bastard adopted son.

Often in the past he had found himself wondering why. Why had Hakai taken in him all those years ago, why put him through schooling, why help him get a licence? Was it as simple as securing an heir? It sounded oddly callous to think such things of the man who had raised him, but the more that Shigaraki thought, the more he realised that he had barely known his adoptive father. Not really. Hakai had been defined by his work, his humour, his wit, but what else was there?

He remembered his thirteenth birthday, the pair had gone out and bought a Playstation. That was one of the few times they had genuinely spent time together. Then, when he had gotten his licence and Hakai had ordered fancy takeout.. They ate together in the care home, watching TV as the hours passed by. Otherwise… Hakai had always been there, always provided a shoulder, but that degree of distance was always present, looming over the both of them.

Not that it mattered anymore. The man was dead. What else was there to say?

Just one thing, really.

A box sat on the desk in front of Shigaraki. A box left to him along with the deed to the office, apparently containing Sensei’s most treasured possessions. He hadn’t opened it up since receiving it from the solicitor, but as the gongs of midnight approached, he found himself intrigued.

With a delicate grace really observed in anything he did, he put his wounded hand on the latch, all five fingers. As far as he could tell, his Quirk was essentially dead in that hand. Without the tip of all fingers, it couldn’t activate. Maybe Stain had delivered a hidden blessing in that. Clicking down on the latch, he pulled the box open.

There wasn’t much inside, not at a first glance. Mostly papers, photographs, documents. Just looking at it, Shigaraki felt an odd sense of disappointment welling up. He wasn’t expecting some sort of ancient artefact or anything of the sort, but just papers alone seemed a little bland.

But then, a single word on one of the topmost papers caught his attention.


Investigating further, he lifted the page out of the box. It felt a good twenty years old. An incident report, dated the night that the Shimura family had died, the night that he had killed them. No remains found, house collapsed in on itself, everyone aside from the youngest son confirmed dead. Nothing had been seen of the boy since, like he had vanished into thin air. Shigaraki already knew, of course, exactly what had become of that boy.

The paper was etched in handwritten notes, presumably left by Sensei himself. Most of them questioning, pointing out inconsistencies in the report:

Remains found; Decay destroys all.

Abnormally slow police response for the area.

Neighbours attest to unusual vehicle parked outside the house that night; Why not mentioned in report?

And near the very bottom, one statement from the report circled in vivid red:

Crushing of Kotaro Shimura from the home’s roof was post-mortem; Cause of death believed to be stab wounds in the lower abdominal area.

“The f*ck is this?” Shigaraki muttered as he read. He had never once seen the report before, never seen much use in it. Yet, all of this seemed bizarre. Setting the paper aside, he looked further within. More papers to be found, of course. Transcript of police dispatches in the area at the time of the incident; Coroner examinations of every member of the family, once again noting Kotaro’s cause of death as likely being a stabbing; A notice on overdue bills, dated a month before the incident. There were many more papers of that nature. Bills, loan repayments, forms on repossession of vehicles, all of them naming Kotaro Shimura. Shigaraki didn’t remember much from his childhood, but he certainly never recalled his dad being in any kind of debt. Hakai had been digging deep.

At the very bottom, there rested a photograph. Not of Shigaraki, not of Hakai, not of any of the Shimuras. It was taken from a newspaper clipping, evidently, and it showed a group of police officers walking down a hallway. One was instantly recognisable to Shigaraki as Tamakawa the cat. Another, he quickly pinpointed as a younger Eizo Tanuma. He didn’t instantly acknowledge any of the others, but they looked varying degrees of important, especially the man in the middle of them.


That wasn’t a cop.

Shigaraki had seen the man on billboards.

Jun Ikutsuki. Real estate mogul turned politician turned Musutafu governor.

The picture had more of Sensei’s notes scrawled on it. A question mark next to Ikutsuki, several hurried sentences talking about the man’s rise to political power. And at the very bottom, an odd drawing of what looked to be a flower. The photo itself could not have been that old, maybe just seven or so years. It seemed to have been taken before Ikutsuki had become governor and he still had most of his hair.

He didn’t get this. He just did not get any of it.

— — —

Waiting rooms were always fun. For dangerous psychopaths, at least. The Hero Killer would probably have a great time, sitting for hours on end amidst a horde of equally sweaty, miserable people as one awaited the extremely bored-looking receptionist to read out one’s number and wave one in. Shigaraki, however, was not so entertained by the whole affair.

As he sat, one leg crossed over the other, he checked his watch. Forty-five minutes since he had arrived and still no sign of anyone coming to check his licence. The kicker was, he knew it wouldn’t take long; All he needed was a signed note from the board confirming that his licence was legit and they had no intent of revoking, that he could then hand off the cops and hopefully not have to think about any legal troubles for the next six months. It couldn’t take more than five minutes to sort out in total, against a waiting time of upwards of three quarters of an hour. The rain lashing on the window just behind him certainly did not help his mood, either; The whole thing sounded like the glass could shatter against the weight of the drops at any moment. Sitting there, in the worn, uncomfortable seating, most of his body ached and the parts that didn’t ache, itched.

Wasn’t bureaucracy just grand?

“Space here?” A girl asked as she approached him, clearly indicating the seat next to him.

Shigaraki didn’t even bother looking up. “Sure, whatever. It’s fine.”

“Thanks.” With a hop in her voice, the girl sat down alongside him. The next few minutes followed in silence save for the pop music playing through the waiting room’s speakers in a bitrate so shockingly low that the mood would be better without it at all. The girl had picked up a magazine and was starting to flip through it.

“Honestly…” She scoffed, seemingly to no one in particular. “Advertising swimsuits in this weather? It’s November, my dude, nobody’s gonna buy this.”

Shigaraki didn’t look up from his phone even as he felt her shift towards him. “Hey, Mister, you think I’d look good in this?”

Shigaraki raised his eyes, expecting to give some dismissive comment about whatever she was showing him, but he froze in place as he did so.

She was a young-looking girl, maybe Toga’s age or younger, with short black hair and deathly pale skin.

And an eyepatch over her left eye.

“Son of a bitch…” He muttered.

“Hey Shigaraki.” Kuin Hachisuka grinned. “Been a few days, huh?”

“So you aren’t dead.”

“What, you thought I was?” She giggled. “It’ll take more than a mangy little explosion to fell the Queen Bee, Shigaraki. I’m built of stronger stuff than that.”

“You’ve changed.” Shigaraki looked over here.

“Yup.” Hachisuka sighed. “Hence why I’m here… Need to get the damn thing renewed with my new photo, again. And I was getting so attached to the last body…”

“I bet you were.” Shigaraki muttered.

“Cross my heart.” Hachisuka replied. “Still, it wasn’t a bad day, all in all.”

“I got arrested, you got blown up and we both got our asses handed to us by the Hero Killer.” Shigaraki pointed out. “I use good in very loose terms.”

“And maybe it would have gone better if you hadn’t been keeping secrets from me.” Hachisuka turned her eyes to stare ahead. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

“I’d say you need to stop copying my homework.” Shigaraki retorted. “Do your own detective work.”

“I did. That’s why I showed up late, and missed the real juicy stuff.” She sighed. “Still, getting a good look at the guy isn’t the worst thing in the world. Even if he was dressed up like it’s the Purge.” We’ve got a height, rough build…”

“A voice.” Shigaraki noted.

“But he was probably altering it, no? A guy like that isn’t careless.”

Shigaraki cast his mind back to their battle at Iinarawashi. For the few words that Stain had spoken, his voice hadn’t sounded quite natural. “I guess so.”

Hachisuka looked back to him with a mischievous wink in her eyes. “Anything else you managed to grab before I showed up to save your ass?”

All it took was a few moments of reflection - on Usagiyama, the storage container, the Hero Killer’s odd statement about not killing the detectives - before Shigaraki reached an answer. “No.”

Hachisuka bat her eyelashes. “Really?”

“Aside from a bunch of ultranationalists slaughtering a bunch of Chinese gangsters? Nothing much. You weren’t much later to the party than we were.”

For a long second, Hachisuka stared, a stare that suggested so much without a single spoken word, without a single disapproving grunt or sigh. A radiating, haunting stare with just one eye, the faint visages of squirming legs protruding from the edges of her patch.

“Right.” She finally said. “Right then.” With that, she rose up to her feet and went to leave the room, the building as a whole. “Sorry to hear about your dad.” She muttered as she walked past. “Sucks to hear.”

Shigaraki didn’t respond, watching quietly as she left, the door tinkling the little mounted bell as she closed it behind her. With that, Shigaraki was left to himself, his own thoughts and his own concerns.

“Number 20.” The receptionist called out. “20, you can go through.”

Chapter 26: Run, Rabbit

Chapter Text

As Taiga Ukita bounced the tennis ball off of the wall and into his hands time and time again, he found his patience draining with each lazy throw from where he sat behind his desk.

“Still no sign of that stupid prick?” He asked as he threw the ball up, catching it midair.

“None yet.” Hashimoto confirmed as she checked her phone. “In all fairness to him, it’s his day off.”

“I don’t really give a damn if it’s the inauguration of the next pope.” Ukita scoffed. “When I call him in, he comes. That’s how it works and he ain’t quite green enough to use that as an excuse.”

Hashimoto nodded. “I’ll keep calling him.”

“Probably in bed.” Ukita grunted. “The lazy Fanook.”

A few minutes flittered by, while he grew more frustrated. Finally, though, Hashimoto let out a little yelp.

“Got through to him.” She announced as she brought the phone to her ear. “Tanimura, where the hell are you?” She waited as the man on the other end responded. “The vet? Seriously? Yes, I know it’s supposed to be your day off, but we need you here right now… Get your sister to pick her up or something, I don’t care.”

“Give it to me.” Ukita reached out; Hashimoto tossed the phone to him. “Tanimura, you daft prick, get in here, now.”

“Jesus, Taiga, I already said to Yukio, I’m busy right now-”

“I don’t really give a sh*t, Tanimura. Your dog’s operation can proceed without you, and we’ve got a job to do.”

A long silence followed. “What job?”

“You think I’d tell you on the phone?” Ukita scoffed. “You’re half a retard, you know that?”

“Ah, right, sorry. I’ll… I’ll be there shortly.”

“You better.” Ukita asserted as the door to his office opened. “Or it’s your ass out the building.” Setting the phone down, he looked up at whoever had entered.

“Hey.” Hachisuka noted as she stepped inside.

“So you survived after all.” Ukita whistled. “Shame. Hashimoto, I’ll give you the thousand next week.”

“You better.” Hashimoto growled. “I haven’t forgotten the last time you lost a bet.”

Hachisuka let out a little whistle. “I’m flattered. Who’s the geezer on the phone, then?”

“Tanimura.” Hashimoto noted. “We need him for something.”

“Oh?” Reaching the desk, Hachisuka leapt up and sat herself on the edge, bringing up her knee to chin-level. “And what may that be? Anything concerning my employers?”

“In a sense.” Ukita nodded. “We might just have something pertaining to our friends in the Rising Sun.”

“And what may that be?”

Ukita leaned back in his chair, finally taking a moment to relax. “You know Usagiyama? Rumi?”

“Retired hero.” Hachisuka clicked her tongue. “She’s with them, isn’t she?”

“She’s one of the head honchos, if her esteemed colleagues in jail are to be believed.” Ukita let out a small scoff. “Didn’t take much for them to sing like canary birds.”

“Loyalty is a foregone concept in our world.” Hachisuka commented. “For the most part. Still, the rabbit girl herself…” She hummed. “Obviously, you’re gonna do something about it.”

“Aye aye.” Ukita confirmed. “She can’t die off just yet, we’ve got to take her alive. The net is tightening on her.”

“And with her, our Hero Killer.” Hashimoto finished. “All going well.”

Hachisuka shuffled on the desk. “I’m certainly glad you lot have found something of worth out of this. Believe you me, I envy your luck.”

Ukita glanced up. “The Shigaraki lead’s not kosher?”

“He’s holding out on me.” Hachisuka muttered back. “He probably knows about Usagiyama too, but I wasn’t getting a word out of him.”

“What a pain in the ass…” Ukita sighed. “You think he’ll be a problem?”

“I’m not sure yet.” Hachisuka admitted. “With his father recently dead, I’d hope he’s thrown off his game. It wasn’t easy to tell what’s going on in his head, though. He’s a tough nut.”

“Prick.” Ukita scoffed. “We can deal with him later, if needs be. For the time being…” He rubbed his stubble. “About our pal Usagiyama…”

— — —

“Gah-” Rumi Usagiyama grunted as she stepped through out of the rain and into the building’s lobby, her hair plastered to her scalp, her ears stuck at a sad, downwards angle and her umbrella all but useless, thanks to the hole punched through it by the stones sent flying by the wind. Her clothes clung to her body like a second skin as she huffed across to the elevator, leaving increasingly smaller puddles in her wake.

“Tough break, Mirko?” The receptionist piped up as she walked past.

“In a sense.” Usagiyama gurgled back. “And I’ve told you, no need to call me that anymore.”

“Oh right, yeah.” The receptionist crooked her neck. “Your mail should be waiting for you in your office.”

“Thanks.” Usagiyama nodded, calling down the lift; Almost as soon as she pressed the button, the doors parted. There were already a couple of people inside who showed no signs of exiting. She abhorred having to share lift rides, but given her commute that morning, she just wanted to get up to her office and start drying odd, so she got in without hesitation, pushing in the button for the topmost floor. With a dry hiss, the doors of the lift shut on themselves and, after a moment, the ground shifted and the elevator began to move up.

“Gosh, this weather’s something, huh?” The girl standing behind Usagiyama lamented. As she heard it, the former hero looked over her shoulder and smirked.

“Don’t need to tell me twice.” She replied, noting the two. The one who had spoken was a young girl. It was somewhat odd to see someone like her in the building. “You’re a volunteer?”

“Yup.” The girl sighed as she tried to wring her hair. “I will be, if I ever get my curls bouncing again. Drenched.”

“To the bone.” The older man corroborated as he leaned on the lift’s wall. Usagiyama took her eyes off them and stared ahead.

“I just wanna see some sunshine again.” The girl moaned. “You know all about that, don’t you, Rumi? You’re overflowing with passion for Rising Suns.”

Usagiyama froze, her muscles tensing.

“I wouldn’t advise you do anything.” The man noted. “Or go ahead if you want, I guess. There’s a camera up there, watching us all.”

“It wouldn’t look too good if your fight or flight kicked in right now.” The girl continued.

Usagiyama felt her breath strain. “Criminal affairs?”

“Eh? No!” The girl sounded outright offended. “Toga and Bubaigawara. We’re not agents and not cops. We’re citizens just like you. Very interested citizens.”

“If you know enough to have tracked me down, then you should know how stupid this is.” Usagiyama answered, keeping the panic out of her voice. “If you’re here to kill me.”

“Woah.” Toga cut in. “Pump the brakes, Rumi, we don’t wanna kill you. We’re civs, like we said. We’ve just got a couple questions.”

“So, this is an interrogation.” Usagiyama’s eyes were glued to the number on the lift’s display, slowly drifting up to her floor. “Don’t expect a thing.”

“We’re not asking much.” Bubaigawara claimed. “Yeah, we get it, you aren’t gonna give up any of your allies, but we don’t really care about any of them. We’re more interested in your enemies.”

“Enemies?” Usagiyama perked up.

“Dan Cheng.” Toga stated. “Why them? What’s your deal?”

A few moments passed with only the rumbling of the elevator, before Usagiyama began chuckling. “Hoo, baby.” She muttered. “You sweet summer children. If you don’t already know, then you don’t want to know.”

“What’s it got to do with the Hero Killer?” Bubaigawara asked, undaunted.

“Hero Killer…” Usagiyama blinked. “So, you still think it’s about that…” She looked up to the ceiling. “Do you know what a hero is, Toga-san?”

“Hm?” Toga asked, crooking her neck to the side.

“Do you know what a hero is? Do you know what it means to truly be heroic?” She took a brief pause as the numbers kept rolling up. “To fight. To fight and to fight and to never stop fighting. For your beliefs, for your sense of justice. Even when the whole world is against you, when the bad guys insist they’re the good guys, to never stray from your duty. I tossed away everything I had, because one cannot truly be a hero while serving the masters of this nation.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Bubaigawara enquired. “Where’s this come from?”

“Don’t allow for your sense of justice to be determined by others.” Usagiyama stated, as the final few numbers drained away. “The world isn’t so black and white, unfortunately.”

With a ping, the lift reached the desired floor and the doors hissed open. Usagiyama stepped out.

“Hey!” Toga called after her, putting her hand in the door to stop it from sliding shut once more. “What was in that crate at Iinarawashi? What disgusted you so much?”

Usagiyama walked a few paces down the hall, stopped and turned to face the two. “If you think Stain is about eliminating heroes…” She said coolly. “Then you’re looking at things from the completely wrong perspective.” With that, she spun on her heel once more and walked away from the pair; They didn’t call after her again.

Coming to her office, she shut the door behind her and turned on the lights, before going over to the window. The intent was to open the blinds, yet she found herself peering through them at the rainswept city instead. She caught a glimpse of something moving in the building opposite, something metallic pointed directly at her window.

She sighed. So be it. If Toga and her friend knew about her, then the chances were that they were not alone. Without opening the blinds, she went to her desk, turned on the computer.

It didn’t take long to find a match online. Himiko Toga, licenced private investigator. The picture matched. She found a Jin Bubaigawara shortly after. Both of them currently listed as being employed at the Shigaraki Detective Agency. Freelance. It was even more unlikely that they were working for the government, then. Unless it was unknowing, but she doubted that. Wisteria had no reason to outsource something like this, and Toga seemed legitimately clueless.

In that case…

Usagiyama brushed her soaking bangs out of her eyes. She wasn’t scared, not one bit. She had always known this was coming. Maybe not so soon, but it was clear that Wisteria was closing in. She knew what she had to do now and death did not scare it, as much as it had not scared Oguro and would not scare Stain. It was natural. What scared her more was the thought of what would come afterwards. What would become of the Rising Sun, what would become of their cause. Could Stain alone guide their men to victory? She just wasn’t sure and the uncertainty terrified her.

It took her a long time to gather her thoughts, but once she had, she brought her phone up to her lips and clicked the voice recorder.

“To the investigators of the Shigaraki Detective Agency…” She spoke, keeping her voice clear and even. “My name is Rumi Usagiyama. I am a former hero and part of the key leadership of the Rising Sun Organisation. But you already knew that…”

— — —

“Well, sh*t.” Shigaraki muttered. “Not much use, then.”

“Sorry, Tomura…” Toga rubbed the back of her head. “Rumi has a real way with words. She got out of there before we really got what was going on.”

“Nothing ‘bout the container, nothing ‘bout Dan Cheng…” Bubaigawara sighed. “I really was useless there.”

“It’s quite alright.” Sako assured as he stood at the board. “These things happen. Usagiyama-san is a sly one, it’s no surprise she would manage to give you the slip. Still, the main problem I see is that it’s going to be much harder to get a feel for her now; She’ll be on alert, at this stage.”

“And that’s just what we need.” Shigaraki groaned. “Someone being even harder to crack.” Rubbing his face, he glanced down. “We could try Chisaki again, see if he’s got anything to offer…” He didn’t know at that point. It was getting harder and harder to see through it all, and he got the impression that things had not stopped getting complicated just yet.

“Huh?” From where he sat at his laptop, Iguchi let out a little grunt. “Hell is this?”

“You good?” Shigaraki straightened up.

“Yeah, just got this.” Iguchi explained as he leaned back. “Weird email. No subject, no body text. Just some audio file.”

Getting up, Shigaraki approached the laptop and peered down at it. The account was clearly some sort of burner, the name indistinguishable. As was the name of the file, just some incomprehensible babble.

“Nigerian Prince?” He asked as he looked at it.

“No clue.” Iguchi shrugged. “It’s a new one if so… Not gonna lie, I’m kinda curious. Here…” Leaning back, Iguchi grabbed his phone and opened it up. “Thing’s a burner anyway, might as well open it on this.” Navigating to his emails, he found the message again and downloaded the file, a process that only took a moment or two. Throughout all of this, Toga, Bubaigawara and Sako had displayed relatively little interest in the email, instead electing to talk amongst themselves; Yet, when the audio started playing, they all looked up.

“To the investigators of the Shigaraki Detective Agency…” Rang the concise voice of the former rabbit-based hero. “My name is Rumi Usagiyama. I am a former hero and part of the key leadership of the Rising Sun Organisation. But you already knew that. What you may not know is that by the time you’re hearing this, I am most likely dead, or at least approaching it. I’ve ensured that my associates shall pass this message along to you.”

“Usagiyama.” Shigaraki tensed. “sh*t, the hell is this?” He quietened down, however, as the audio kept playing.

“Let me make it clear what my intentions are - and what they are not - with this. I have no interest in giving you the identity of Stain - the Hero Killer as you know him - nor that of any of our operatives. I am not proposing any form of partnership between the Rising Sun and your agency; None of us have any interest in entrusting you with our cause. What I do hope to offer is an explanation. I don’t know why you were looking into me, but if you got this far, then you clearly have some stake in the matter. And, frankly, making sure the world hears what I have to say is the least I can do, as I near my end.”

Everyone in the room exchanged looks, not one of them having a clue what was going on.

“Stain is not one of us. Not officially. He doesn’t hold membership in the Rising Sun, you could consider him more of a freelance contractor. However, in spite of this, he was soon able to hold immense sway. He was largely responsible for organising us into the paramilitary we are today. And all, he told us, for the purpose of combating Wisteria.”

“No…” Sako rose to his feet, as if reality had suddenly struck him. “No, no…”

“You okay?” Toga asked.

Yet, the message continued. “I doubt you know what Wisteria is, few people do. It’s a collective, the peak of human depravity. Human trafficking, supported by some of the country’s most powerful figures.”

“Trafficking…” Shigaraki muttered. “sh*t, Kayama.”

“That was what Stain told the members of the Rising Sun. As it turned out, he was completely true. Only months after the organisation’s shift into militarism, I joined up; I myself have known of Wisteria ever since my retirement from heroism. It was the catalyst for my retirement, in fact. I wished to purge this evil, rip it to shreds. The Rising Sun has always been anti-government, but Stain’s revelation to the group only gave us all a true purpose, beyond the empty activism the organisation used to partake in. You called Stain the Hero Killer, so you evidently believe in what the media believes. You are very much mistaken. Stain hasn’t been killing heroes, he’s been killing those involved with Wisteria. Make of that what you will.” Just like that, the audio ended.

The silence smothered them all. Nobody knew what to say, nobody could even string a coherent thought. Shigaraki certainly couldn’t. Was it all some elaborate prank? Wisteria, the government…

His head hurt.

Only as he looked up again, however, did he notice that, rather conspicuously, Sako was gone, the door swinging shut behind him.

“I- The hell’s he going?” He asked, pointing to said door.

“Beats me.” Iguchi shrugged. “He was looking pretty pale, though.”

“Son of a… Alright, I’m gonna try catch up to him.” Shigaraki advised, moving to the door. “You guys just… I dunno, do what you do best.”

Going out into the stairwell, he caught sight of Sako descending the stairs. “Hey! What’s up?”

Hearing the voice, Sako paused, stared up. Iguchi was right, he was extremely pale.

“You okay?” Shigaraki asked, going to lean on the bannister. “Need some air or something?”

“I’ll have no part in this.” Sako asserted.


“Wisteria. All of that. If it ties back to this, I’m not having a thing to do with it. At all. And I would advise you do the same.”

“I… I don’t really follow.” Shigaraki blinked. “You know something we don’t?”

Sako merely shook his head. “I’m not doing this, Shigaraki-san. We’ve been fools, we’ve had no clue what we’ve been wading into. This will kill us. Enough is enough. My advice for you is to call up Todoroki and Okumura, tell them that you’re done with this and put it all behind us.”

“I’m not doing that.” Shigaraki retorted. “I ain’t stopping until I’m happy with what I find.”

Sako looked as if his eyes were about to bulge out of their sockets.In an instant, he was heading back up the stairs, until he was eye level with Shigaraki.

“You have no clue what’s going on here.” He asserted, getting in just close enough to trigger Shigaraki’s claustrophobia. “None. If, by some miracle of God, these people don’t already know we’re onto them, we need to shut this down before they do.”

Shigaraki stood his ground. “I’m not going to. I’m getting real sick of finding question after question everywhere I look. I want some answers. If that means getting dirty-”

“This is not getting dirty!” Sako exploded, fighting to keep his voice below a booming shout. “This is suicidal. Think about it. Oguro-san took his own life rather than face becoming known to Wisteria; Evidently, Usagiyama is expecting her end now that she’s known to them. These aren’t two-bit gangsters like what we saw at Iinarawashi. This is a network larger than you or I could possibly comprehend.”

“I don’t give a f*ck.” Shigaraki fired back. “What the hell do you know about this, Sako? I’m not being sarcastic, I genuinely mean it. You clearly know something we don’t.”

That got Sako to back down for just a second. “I- You’re a fine man, Shigaraki-san, a strong investigator. Don’t throw your life and your potential away on this.”

“I’m not changing my mind. And you completely dodged the question, by the way.”

“Fine.” Sako muttered. “You’re a fool, but so be it. If you must drag the others into this impossible game, I won’t have any involvement. I’m done.” Before Shigaraki could get another word in, he began heading down once more, down the stairs and towards the exit.

Shigaraki found himself resisting the urge to shout after him, so as to not gain the ire of the building’s other tenants. He simply stood and watched as Sako walked off.


— — —

The walk home would not have been pleasant, even if it wasn’t for the rain. Usagiyama had never believed in cars, she was a proponent for walking everywhere, which was easy enough to stick to when she only lived ten minutes from the office. Even so, the rain seemed to drag that ten minutes up to ten hours as she was once again drenched through. All the while, she was keeping her eyes out, her ears poised. The alleged young couple behind her who didn’t seem quite close enough to be an actual couple, the dark vehicle that seemed to be following her exact path. All eyes were on her.

She didn’t relax at all as she reached her apartment and went inside, dripping all over the place as she pulled her coat off and went directly to her study. It was a nice living space; The snarky part of her wondered how the events of the next twenty minutes were going to affect its property value. Probably none too well.

She kept her emotions under check as she dragged her chair out from the desk and positioned it in the centre of the room. As she started to balance up on it. As she removed her belt, as she tied the end around the deactivated ceiling fan.

As she tied the other end around her throat.

The knock on the door shattered the sombre silence, heavy and authoritative. She could hear a voice accompanying the knocks, but couldn’t quite decipher the correct words. Not that she needed to. She had a pretty good idea as to what was going on.

She didn’t want to get sentimental, but as she stood perched on the chair, she felt the memories flash by her. The early days as a hero, her retirement, finding the Rising Sun, finding Stain, finding a purpose…

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

She didn’t feel any fear, any uncertainty. The time for that was long since gone. She wasn’t going to give Wisteria, nor their plants in the Commission, a single thing.

“Free from tyranny.”

As the knocks grew louder, she put a coy smirk on her face and kicked the chair out from under herself.

Chapter 27: Reconvene

Chapter Text


Even by the standards of the typical Musutafu dive bar, this one was particularly desperate. Tobacco smoke hung in the air, creating its own, foul-smelling atmosphere as unhappy couples argued and women of questionable repute solicited old geezers of even more questionable repute. It was putrid, sickening. Like much of the rest of the world, it was falling to the wayside.

“You need a refill?” The bartender asked, drawing the man’s attention from his own thoughts as he stared up.

“Hm? Oh, sure.” He felt for his wallet; Empty. Not so much as a five yen piece. “sh*t. Nevermind.”

“Hey, I’ll cover this.” Rang the voice from beside him as the officially-dressed man brought his own wallet out. “One for me and one for…” He lingered, waiting for the first man’s name.

“Akaguro.” He finally answered, hesitantly.

“Akaguro.” The gentleman confirmed. “Excellent.”

“Who the hell are you?” Akaguro asked as the bartender went off to prepare the drinks.

“Can two guys not share drinks anymore?” The man enquired. “You look like you need it, Akaguro-san.”

Akaguro bit his lip. “I shouldn’t be drinking. Work tomorrow.”

“Work, huh? What is it you do?”

“Cleaning- Janitorial work.” Akaguro mumbled.

“Huh. Interesting. Who for?”


“The school?” The man whistled. “Prestigious. You got any hobbies, Akaguro?”

Akaguro stared at the man, waiting for the next move. “What are you getting at?”

The man held his hands up. “I’m just a curious fella. Love learning about new people. Finding out what they like. You’re an internet guy, aren’t you? I can just tell. Webmaster, maybe?”

“And what is it to you, exactly?”

The man ignored this question. “Let me guess: You run a dark net site.” He leaned in a bit closer. “False Heroes, right?”

Akaguro had heard enough. In a silent panic, he shot up to his feet to leave, and that was when the man showed his badge. “sh*t.”

“Don’t be so dour.” The man advised. “And sit back down. Relax. If I was going to arrest you, it wouldn’t be here and I’d have backup. This is purely off the books.”

Slowly, his gut sinking to its deepest depths, Akaguro took his seat once more. “What is it you want?”

“I’m actually a big fan of your site.” The man confessed. “I mean, heroism these days, it’s a sham. I can appreciate a guy like you, who can think for himself, get to the bottom of things. It’s real admirable in this climate.”

“Most heroes are scum.” Akaguro asserted, gritting his teeth subtly. “I’m not an intelligent man, even I can see that. It’s all a charade. Very few people have earned the title of hero.”

“I agree a hundred percent.” The man nodded. “And I saw your site and, to be frank, I’m intrigued. I want to help out.”

“How so?”

The man shrugged. “I’ve got a few ideas. An exclusive scoop, maybe.” He dimmed his voice as the drinks arrived and he handed over the money. “You’ve been following the Hero Killer shebang, right?” He continued once the tender had left once again.

“Sure.” Akaguro stated. “Who hasn’t?”

“What if I could get you exclusive photos for your site?” He proposed. “Crime scene photographs, the kind of stuff on serious lockdown.”

“And what good would that do me?” Akaguro retorted bitterly. “I don’t take pleasure in these people’s deaths. I’m not a sad*st. I want them in prison, not mutilated and discarded. I’m not running a gore p*rn site.”

“Oh, obviously, I wouldn’t think so low of you. But what if I could give you even more?”

Akaguro stared out of the corner of his eyes. “Such as?”

“A motive. Let me tell you, Akaguro-san, the press has been getting this all wrong. All frightfully wrong. These hero killings aren’t just random, there’s a method behind them. The victims are connected, and that connection has the power to bring down the whole Goddamn system as it stands, if it were to be exposed.” He took a sip from his glass. “I can’t expose it, too much red tape. But a guy like you? Someone so focused on justice, with not a thing to lose? You’d be a hero, of your own making.”

“Maybe I’d be intrigued.” Akaguro noted. “What’s the guarantee that this info is legit?”

“Well, that’s easy, Akaguro-san. See, you didn’t hear it from me, but…” The man leaned in further and lowered his voice to a pitch barely audible over the bar’s soundscape. “I am the Hero Killer. And I need a man of real moral standing to spread my message.”

— — —

There was something oddly therapeutic about watching the rain lash against the windows from the relative warmth and safety of the coffee shop, like being stuck in a little dimension of one’s own, away from the strife and uncertainty of the rest of the world. A pleasant little slice of escapism.

And at that point, Shigaraki needed nothing more.

Everything was moving quickly, too quickly for his liking. Hundreds of thousands of thoughts circulating, swirling the drain, raising more questions the longer that he thought. He needed, frankly, a break from it, just a half hour where he could sit and not have to think about anything. His sleep would not offer him such a relief, so the coffee shop it was. The world beyond the window was dark, painted in harsh, deep blues and blacks; Inside, yellows permeated, with a soundtrack of relaxing swing. It was just cosy, that was the best word for it.

“Not a bad little place.” The man’s voice interrupted Shigaraki’s peace as he glanced over to see, folding up his umbrella, just about the last person he wanted to see at that time. “Very homely.”

“You speaking to me, Agent?” Shigaraki asked.

Ukita smirked. “Who else?” Shaking the umbrella for a few seconds, he handed it to Tanimura and went to sit across from Shigaraki. Hashimoto slid in beside him. “Figured we’d find you here.”

“The hell do you want?” Shigaraki muttered.

“Rude.” Ukita pouted, before getting down to business. “Rumi Usagiyama.”

Shigaraki glanced up. “Dead, isn’t she?” The news had not yet reported the incident, but then again, it was only a day old; Celebrity deaths took time to be released to the public.

“Regrettably.” Hashimoto said.

“It’s a real pain in the ass, I’ll tell you that much.” Ukita assured as he removed his blazer. “You see, we wanted to have a little chat with her. Just about stuff, you know? A little conversation. Then the crazy bitch decides to…” He mimed pulling a rope at the end of his neck. “... Before we get a chance.”

“Shame.” Shigaraki remained cold. “And what the f*ck does this have to do with me?”

“Straight to the point.” Ukita steepled his fingers on the table. “Your little friends went into the building she did her charity work at, the very day that she kicked the bucket.”

“Were they?” Shigaraki kept his poker face. “Toga loves her charity work.”

Ukita laughed. “Funny. Funny f*cking guy.” Suddenly, the laughter stopped, as if a switch had been flipped. “What the hell did they say to her?”

“Nothing, far as I know.”

“Don’t f*ck with me, Kid.” There was something infinitely unnerving in Ukita’s glare. “For all we know, your allies could’ve caused her suicide.”

“But they didn’t, did they?” Shigaraki retorted. “It’s Wisteria.”

“Thin ice, Kid.” Hashimoto snarled.

“Thin f*cking ice.” Ukita agreed. “That word isn’t going to come out of your mouth again or I’ll put you on the f*cking curb myself.”

Shigaraki sat back; These people didn’t intimidate him, not anymore. “Figured you might have something to do with it. You’ve got a habit of showing up whenever something related to the case happens.”

“Getting thinner.” Ukita growled.

Shigaraki just glared back. “Stain isn’t a Hero Killer at all. His targets all tie back to this f*cked up trafficking ring.”

By that stage, Ukita’s nails were leaving scratch marks in the countertops. “You want to hear about Wisteria, Kid? Ask Senpai.”

“Sen- Sako?” Shigaraki realised.

“Still hasn’t told you?” Ukita barked a sharp, mirthless chuckle. “No surprise there. He was part of it, you know. To as much of an extent as we are.”

“Come again?”

“I don’t know what he told you about his past, but it sure as hell wasn’t the truth. Sako-senpai was Criminal Affairs. Same as us, our direct senior.”

“We admired him.” Hashimoto commented. “His tenacity, his… Ruthlessness.”

“He did what we do now.” Ukita continued. “Off the books, away from any official documents, his job was to plug leaks. Sometimes, those leaks would pertain to Wisteria.”

“It came to a head about… Six years ago.” Hashimoto added. “A private investigator was looking into all this, much as you’ve been doing yourself as of late. He was good, too good. He was becoming a threat.”

“And so, Sako signed the papers to have him bumped off.” Ukita loosened his tie as he spoke. “Got an assassin to track this investigator down and poison him. Unfortunately, the bastard survived; Fortunately, he was a cripple for the rest of his pathetic life.” He shrugged. “Either way, mission success. The leak was plugged.”

Shigaraki’s eyes widened as he stared down into his lap. “Sensei…”

“Ohh yeah.” Ukita whistled. “After this, Senpai suddenly grew a conscience. He quit the Commission, cut off all contacts…”

“He should have known Wisteria wouldn’t risk having someone who knew what he did just walking around.” Hashimoto said. “So they sent a message. His wife Yuri, his lovely little daughter, Umi I think she was called… Gone. Vanished. Into thin air.”

“He knew who was responsible.” Ukita elaborated. “Knew enough to keep his damn nose out of their affairs. You see, you cannot f*ck with Wisteria, Kid. ‘Cause they will come back with a ten inch broom handle and sodomise you until it comes out your mouth.”

“Dirty business.” Was all Shigaraki could say, a worthless quip summoned from the dry recesses of his throat.

“It’s gotta be done.” Ukita leaned back. “This could destroy our country if it gets out. It goes right to the top. That’s why people have to plug leaks. It’s all about maintaining order. Now, you’re threatening to violate that order. You get what I’m putting down?”

Shigaraki certainly did. He didn’t have to say a thing.

“I’ll tell you one more time to leave it be.” Ukita urged. “Shut down your Hero Killer case, move on. It’ll be so much better for everyone.”

“So much less messier.” Hashimoto corroborated.

After what felt like hours passed by with only the background music to be heard, Shigaraki brought his head up. “Just one more question. Then I’ll leave it.”

“Sure.” Ukita flashed a faux-comforting grin. “Shoot.”

“Hachisuka’s part of all this, isn’t she?”

One of Ukita’s eyebrows went up as Tanimura, still standing and dripping wet, fiddled with the umbrellas uncomfortably. “Now, what makes you think that?”

“She’s not a detective.” Shigaraki noted. “No matter what she says. I’ve known that for sure ever since she saw me at the licence office. She walked in, said she was getting hers renewed. Then walked back out without ever getting that done. She knows more than she’s letting on, but she’s always pushing me for info. Like she’s tryna suss out how much I know. And she’s…” He shook his head. “She’s just got the vibe. That you don’t seem all too surprised by her name says to me that you either know her, know that I know her or both, probably both; That’s the cherry on top.”

“Very astute.” Hashimoto muttered, her voice dripping with venom.

“Very.” Ukita nodded. “Hopefully, for your sake, you won’t meet her again. She is a feisty one, our Queen Bee.”

“Okay.” With that, Shigaraki went to leave, standing up.

“Not a Goddamn word, Kid, or you’ll find yourself dead via three self-inflicted gunshots.”

“To the back of the head, obviously.” Shigaraki muttered as he headed to the door, mentally preparing himself to battle against the rainfall outside. It couldn’t be any worse than the atmosphere inside the coffee shop now was.

— — —

“sh*t…” Leaning back on the sofa, Iguchi chewed absent-mindedly on his nails. “And that’s all serious?”

“From Agent Ukita’s mouth.” Shigaraki confirmed. “Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not, but that’s what he told me.”

“Goddamn…” Iguchi shook his head. “And you’ve not seen anything of Sako since then?”

“Not a trace. Got no clue where he even lived, and I’ve definitely not seen him out and about.”

“Atsuhiro…” Toga mumbled. “Is it weird if I feel kinda… Sorry for him?”

Bubaigawara put a hand on her shoulder. “Guy’s an asshole, clearly, but that’s still gotta be rough.” He paused for a moment. “I guess his family are dead by now?”

“Probably.” Shigaraki didn’t much want to think about it and that was all he was willing to say on the matter. If Sako had authorised the attempted killing of Sensei… He expected to feel more morose about it than he actually did. Perhaps that was just the sheer adrenaline speaking, churning up inside him and prohibiting him from feeling much about anything.

“Wisteria…” Toga then shuddered. “It’s scary. It’s really scary.”

“To think something like this has been brewin’ beneath everybody’s noses for God knows how long.” Iguchi groaned. “Is that us cooked, then?”

Shigaraki shook his head; He had been awaiting the question. “I might’ve told Ukita what he wanted to hear, but I’ve got no interest in backing away, not at this point. I don’t know what’s going on with Stain or the Rising Sun or Wisteria or any of it anymore, but I don’t feel like withering away and letting it just press on. I want answers. I really want answers. If you guys want to get the hell outta dodge, then I get that, but-”

“You joking?” Toga spat. “I’m sticking with this.”

“If she is, I am.” Bubaigawara nodded.

Iguchi ran a hand through his hair. “Too late to back down now. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t keep going. And I’m sorry for saying this, but Compress is a f*cking coward if he’s been trying to run from all this.”

Toga bristled. “Shuichi…”

“No, I really mean it. Guy knows what’s been going on, he could’ve done anything other than try to forget about it and spend the rest of his life running around with us.” Iguchi said. “I mean, it’s starting to make sense, now. He never wanted to rock the boat, never wanted to risk pissing off the Commission. It’s ‘cause he knew full well what they’re capable of and he wanted nothing to do with it. He’s a coward, and if he backs down, I’m not making that same mistake.” There was something in his voice, like his words were paining him and yet needed to be said.

Silence settled.

“Well, if we’re in agreement to keep going, then…” Shigaraki spoke up, moving to the cork board. “We’ve gotta start re-evaluating this whole thing.” He stared up at it. “According to Usagiyama, Stain’s victims all tie to Wisteria in some way. Kayama is obvious, but the others are gonna take a little more thought…”

“Endeavour was all about purity breeding, right?” Toga piped up. “Maybe he had something to do with trafficking because of that.”

“It’s not out of the blue…” Shigaraki agreed. “We’d just need something more concrete to connect it all…” Something that they simply did not have yet. It seemed that things were rapidly shifting from a murder investigation to a wide-scale conspiracy theory. “And then I wonder how the hell Stain knows…”

“Eh?” Bubaigawara looked up. “RS, obviously.”

“Nah.” Shigaraki shook his head. “Remember what Usagiyama said. He brought it to them. Somehow, he’s gotta have some sort of knowledge on this, the kinda knowledge that ordinary people wouldn’t get…”

“That helps the hero theory, don’t it?” Iguchi noted. “I know Usagiyama said he didn’t officially join RS, but that only means he wasn’t an ex-hero. He could still be active.”

“Could he be a cop?” Toga suggested.

“I dunno.” Iguchi squinted. “Could a cop overpower Endeavour as effortlessly as he did?” Putting his head down, he brought up his laptop and began to search. “Maybe…” His eyes went wide again. “Holy sh*t.”

“What’s got you now?” Shigaraki asked.

Without a word, Iguchi turned the laptop around to show the others what he saw. It was what dark net site again, the one where they had gotten the information on Adachi, now with a brand new section.

Wisteria: Hidden Evil.

“You’re sh*tting me.” Shigaraki leaned in. “That’s real f*cking convenient.”

“What’s it say?” Toga tried to get a look as Iguchi scrolled down.

“It’s what it says on the tin…” Iguchi muttered. “Talks about the Hero Killer, connects it to Wisteria…” He started to read out the next paragraph word-for-word. “The most recent victim of the Hero Killer’s wrath was Wild puss*cats’ member, Ryuko Tsuchikawa. An innocuous sort, perhaps. Until you consider her group’s connection to the aforementioned Wisteria Project, as enforcers and bodyguards. A little-known fact of their history is that they started, some decade ago by this point, as protection detail for one Jun Ikutsuki.”

“You’re f*cking joking.” Shigaraki spat. “Ikutsuki?”

“Yeah.” Iguchi blinked. “What’s got you about that?”

Shigaraki paused. A part of him - a very large part of him - still didn’t wish for the others to know about the situation with his past. Not yet, maybe not ever. “Just… He’s the politician.”

“Our governor.” Bubaigawara pointed out. “I think.”

“sh*ttt…” Glancing back to his screen, Iguchi kept reading. “In their early days, the puss*cats benefitted as personal bodyguards to Ikutsuki. Only one amongst their ranks, however, knew of the man’s secrets and in doing so, was as complicit in them as he. That is why Tsuchikawa died. Another pillar of this despicable conspiracy.”

Below that paragraph, a video was embedded and Iguchi gingerly moved to click on play. The footage was grainy, dark, showing a dimly-lit room, with a silhouette framed in one corner. From behind the camera, a door opened, flooding the room in an uneasy, musky light. The silhouette belonged to a blonde-haired woman, presumably Tsuchikawa herself. Footsteps echoed and another figure came into view. A figure in a dark hoodie and mask.

Stain approached the girl as she seemed to shrink away from him, and without a word, picked her up by the throat. A struggle could be heard, panicked grunts, then a brutal crunch as Tsuchikawa’s head was snapped to the side. Dropping her like a sack of potatoes, Stain turned to face the camera and raised his hand, a demented little wave of sorts.

“f*ck me…” Shigaraki muttered. “How the hell did the guy running this thing have access to this?”

“The only people who could have that…” Bubaigawara realised aloud. “Rising Sun…”

“Or Stain.” Toga finished.

“Why now, though?” Iguchi squinted. “Why bring up all this Wisteria crap now? It’s not mentioned at all on any other pages.”

“Usagiyama’s death.” Shigaraki theorised. “That plus the arrests at Iinarawashi. Maybe the guy behind this is starting to panic; Maybe Stain’s starting to panic. Maybe he’s trying to get the message out before he’s taken down.”

“It seems like a really weird way to do it, though.” Iguchi muttered. “A dark net site? Most people don’t know this even exists. Why not put the videos on YouTube? They’d get taken down, yeah, but word would spread. Put them on sites used by tonnes of people, spread the message ASAP. I dunno, it just seems really weird to me…”

“This whole thing is weird…” Shigaraki muttered, looking over to his desk, where Sensei’s box lay. Right at that moment, his thoughts were not even on the site, not on the video or Sako or much to do with the Hero Killer or even Wisteria at all. Right at that moment, his mind pulsed with but one major thought.

Chapter 28: The Night That The Shimuras Died

Chapter Text

Shigaraki never had been a library person. Not to say that he was opposed to reading, he was a detective after all, he had just never particularly cared for the public aspect of it. Having to put up with other people when studying was not at the top of his list of desires.

Sometimes, though, it could come in handy. Like when it came to the archives.

Sitting at the table in the far back corner of the library, surrounded by old newspapers, he kept his eyes out for any mention of Jun Ikutsuki, the photo from Sensei’s box sitting in front of them all.

The man was rapidly approaching sixty years old, having spent much of his life in the construction business. About twenty-five years ago, according to the papers, he had started going into politics, slowly building up to the position of governor, achieved just four years back. It seemed that very few people had much to say about the man. Secretive was the best way to possibly describe him. Home life was unknown, whether he had a wife or children was unknown, he was exceptionally closed off.

So, what was a picture of him doing amongst other documents pertaining to the Shimuras?

“Twenty-five years…” He muttered softly. That was when he had gone into politics. Five years before the death of the Shimuras. It was hard to see any connection there. Kotaro had been a businessman, but his job didn’t seem to have much to do with the construction industry. Shigaraki couldn’t recall any examples of the family meeting Ikutsuki at any point. Then again, that didn’t necessarily mean anything.

With a long sigh, he leaned back in his chair, pushing the front two legs off of the floor. This wasn’t getting anywhere. Ikutsuki was too well-insulated, the only time he came up in the media was when he wanted to. He was sure that there was some connection there - Sensei had never been a fool - but it was murky. The truth behind it was evading his…

Placing the chair back down again, he continued to examine the photograph. Ignoring Ikutsuki, ignoring the others in it, his gaze turned to the little doodle in the corner.

It looked like a flower.

“Hang on a f*cking minute…” He muttered, getting up to his feet and making a line for the front desk. The woman who sat at it - a young lady who fit all of the stereotypes of a librarian from the tightly-buttoned blouse to the glasses that magnified her eyes several times - glanced up.

“Can I help you?” She asked in an oddly squeaky tone.

“Yeah, um…” Shigaraki put his hand behind his head.”Books on Japanese flora?”

“Oh, that’s just down there.” She directed him to one of the daunting aisles lined by heavy-set wooden shelves.

“Thanks.” He muttered, already heading towards it without any look at the woman.

“You’re welcome, Sir!” She called after him.

Finding what looked like the book he needed, he quickly made his way back to his desk. As he turned the corner to it, however, he saw someone leaning on it. Not a hugely familiar face, but one that he unfortunately knew too well.

“Shigaraki-san.” Called Agent Tanimura as Shigaraki approached. “I figured I’d find you here.”

“Great.” He snorted. “Ukita’s errand boy.” His eyes momentarily drifted to the photos and newspapers laid out on the table; Tanimura couldn’t not have seen them. He tried to remain collected. “You’ve been following me.”

Tanimura’s eyes shifted away for just a second, some bizarre, hidden sign of a sort of guilt, perhaps. “You’re meddling deep in Commission affairs, I wouldn’t think you’re so naive that you wouldn’t expect someone to be watching.”

“Fair enough.” Shigaraki shrugged.

“Luckily for you, it’s me.” Drawing himself up to his full height, Tanimura straightened out his tie. “I’m not here on Ukita-sama’s orders, this has nothing to do with him, or any of these recent events.”

“Well, what is it, then? I’m kinda busy.”

Tanimura put his hands into his coat pockets. “Atsuhiro Sako.”

Shigaraki stared. “What about him?”

“I want to talk to him. It’s nothing to do with you, or any of your other allies, I just want to talk to him specifically. If you could point me in his direction, I would appreciate it.”

“Sorry.” Was all Shigaraki could say. “He’s not with us anymore. He’s gone.”


“Jesus, you’re morbid. No, he’s just not working for us anymore. I don’t know any sort of home address for him. Sorry.”

“I see.” Tanimura bit down on his lip. His disappointment was obvious, but he at least seemed to be accepting of the facts. “Well, that’s a shame, then. I’m sorry for bothering you.”

Shigaraki kept his eyes on the table, on the papers scattered on it. “It’s fine.”

“Alright.” Clicking his tongue, the agent made to leave. “You know, Shigaraki-san, I’m not gonna threaten you and I’m not gonna tell Ukita-sama about…” He gestured to the papers. “But seriously, I’m saying this for your own wellbeing. Consider dropping this.”

“Thanks for the advice.” Shigaraki noted, making no effort to bury the sarcasm. Once Tanimura was gone, he sat back down, bringing up the book he had taken and flipping through it. He went to the index, dragged his finger down the page to find what he needed.

The Wisteria flower. Page 107. He quickly turned to it, taking care not to destroy the book with the hand that still held his Quirk, and laid it out flat. He picked up Sensei’s photo and held it next to the page.

The doodle of the flower, it was absolutely crude, but there were clear similarities to the diagram in the book. He hadn’t spared much thought to the meaning of the name Wisteria until that point, but now that he looked at it, the parallels seemed undeniable.

Sako authorised Sensei’s death for looking into Wisteria. Ergo, Sensei had obviously known of the conspiracy.

According to that website, Ikutsuki was connected to Wisteria in some way.

A doodle that looked an awful lot like a Wisteria flower and a picture of Ikutsuki, in a box of papers pertaining to the Shimura case.

The logical explanation was that Hakai Shigaraki had connected the two…

It hit him. It hit him like a freight train at a thousand miles per hour. Everything came rushing back in, a sudden wave that drowned his brain as his eyes widened and his forehead pulsed.

He hadn’t killed them.

He had not killed his family.

He remembered it now. For the first time in years, since the event itself, he saw it clearly. He had come in after playing, found their bodies. Mum, Dad, Hana, Grandma and Grandpa, all dead. He had found them that way, before his Quirk activated, and the house came crumbling down. Then, he had found two men, two darkly-dressed men, still alive. They were covered in blood. He had tried to run, they had given chase, one of them had grabbed him.

And for the first time, his Quirk had activated.

He had not killed his family. Those men had killed his family.

Wisteria had killed his family. His father’s apparent debt, that strange man who had visited the house mere days before the incident. It was all connected.

“Dad…” Anyone who was watching must have thought he had gone mad, but as all of it rushed around his mind, tears broke the edges of Shigaraki’s eyes and his head sank into his arms as he began sobbing uncontrollably.

— — —

As the skies overhead grew darker and darker, and the rain lashed on the office’s windows, Shigaraki sat for hours.

Drumming his fingers on the desk.


Thinking about so very much. He wondered how long Sensei had known for, and how much of it he had known. Had it been clear to him from the very start, from the day he picked the young, stranded Tenko Shimura off the street? And why had he never been told? Why had so many years passed by where he believed himself a patricidal murderer? Looking at his hands now, he saw something so far removed from what he had seen when he looked at them every other day in his life. Perhaps they were still instruments of destruction - one of them still was at least - but now they were washed clean. Not a trace of blood was of them.


That wasn’t quite true.

The man who had died just in front of the house… Shigaraki still could not picture his face, but he had to have been one of the assassins, and he had died by the young boy’s hands, if inadvertently.

If gangsters supporting Wisteria died, if heroes involved with it died, if someone like Ikutsuki was to be killed by Stain… Was it really such a loss? Those people were all high up, too high to be touched by conventional justice. Perhaps Stain’s way was the only-

He was snapped from these thoughts as the office door creaked open. Iguchi poked his head inside.

“Yo.” He nodded. “Hey, sorry, I know it’s late, but I left my laptop here.” He pointed to where it sat on the sofa as he moved further in.

“Huh?” Shigaraki blinked. “Oh, right. Yeah, no worry.”

“Thanks.” Grabbing his laptop, Iguchi stared at Shigaraki for a moment. “Chris, man, you look like sh*t.”

“I do?”

“Sure you do. You seen the bags under your eyes?” Iguchi’s stance softened. “You okay?”

“Sure, I’m-” Shigaraki cut himself off mid-sentence. Was he okay? Was he really? Perhaps more than anything else at that moment, he needed to just open up. He was too tired to argue and hide it anymore. “You know what? You wanna go grab a Chinese? I think I’ve got some sh*t to tell you, and I haven’t eaten yet.”

— — —

“You’re really being serious?” Iguchi echoed, his voice low amidst the rest of the chatter within the restaurant; He sounded absolutely baffled, and Shigaraki certainly could not blame him for that.

“Absolutely.” Shigaraki nodded. “Hundred percent.”

“You think Ikutsuki - Wisteria - had your family killed. Then your Sensei adopted you?”

“More or less. The adopted part has always been the case, but I’ve just recently started to piece sh*t together.” He twirled a length of food around the bowl. “Truth be told, I thought I’d killed my family for the longest time.”

“sh*t, dude…” Iguchi mumbled. “So this is all tying back, then?”

“Seems to be the case. The way I’ve put it together, it seems my dad was in debt. Clearly wasn’t as good a businessman as I thought he was. You never realise that sh*t when you’re a kid. Wisteria, maybe even through Ikutsuki’s men, made him some sorta offer, probably to erase the debt. He refused. So he was killed. They all were. I was probably supposed to die that night as well, but…” He stared down at his hands. “Luck of the draw.”

After a moment or two, Iguchi leaned in closer with a further lowered tone. “Hey, given that this is Wisteria, do you think there’s a chance that whatever offer they made him was…”

Shigaraki swallowed a lump in his throat. “Probably. I was only three, four at the time. Sister Hana was only a couple years older…” He didn’t want to dwell on the possibility. “But Dad refused. Then he became a leak. A leak that had to be plugged. He knew too much. Just like Sako.”

“But they didn’t kill Sako.” Iguchi mused.

Shigaraki shrugged. “Who knows? Guy worked for the Commission, he would probably be wise to their tricks. So they struck his family instead, to keep him in line. They tried to kill Sensei, too… That failed.”

“But crippled him.” Iguchi’s eyes went wide. “Do you think there’s a chance that he was-”

“Already thought about it.” Shigaraki dismissed. “Doesn’t seem likely. Why go after him now, six years after he was already turned into a vegetable? Why wait that long? Doesn’t make sense…” He forced a small smile. “But yeah, that’s my life.”

“Sheesh, man. I’m… I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” Iguchi sighed. “I mean, I always got the feeling that you weren’t Shigaraki Senior’s biological kid, but I never woulda thought it was like this… You know, if you need anything, we’re all behind you. Me, Toga, Bubaigawara. We’ve got your back.”

“Thanks, Iguchi. Really, I just want to get to the bottom of all this.” He confessed. “I wanna find out the truth behind Stain and to be honest with you, I dunno if I wanna punch him or buy him a beer at this stage.”

“I get that.” Iguchi leaned back in his chair. “I mean, the guy’s evil, we’ve seen the state of his victims, but-”

“Trash taking out trash.”

“For sure. Maybe he’s not the worst asshole out there.”

— — —

Maybe he should have stayed.

Maybe he should have taken some sort of stand.

No. As Atsuhiro Sako trudged through the rain, he realigned his thoughts. No, there was no taking a stand. There was the living and there was the dead, and anyone who tried fell squarely into the latter category. Shigaraki was going to get himself and the others killed, and that was the short of it. Wisteria may have had the ability to give second chances - investigators turning up dead was bad for business, after all - but they would not give a third. He had done all he could and if the others would not step back, then he would.

As he walked, he produced his phone, shielded under the umbrella, and scrolled to his gallery. There it was. The only picture on his camera roll that didn’t pertain to an investigation. A single remnant of happier times. Yuri and Umi. And himself in the middle. A snapshot of the life he could never return to; A snapshot of the life he had ripped apart with his own hands.

If he could go back, he never would have gotten involved with the Commission. He would’ve just gone into acting, like he had always wanted to as a child. Anything to stay as far away from Wisteria as possible, to not even know of its existence and to live in blissful ignorance…

He was being followed. He became acutely aware of that fact as he came closer to his apartment. Men on the street corners, their gaze tracing his steps. Dressed like common street thugs, but with body language that suggested something much more professional. He didn’t hasten his step, didn’t show any sign that he knew of them; Somehow, though, he got the impression that they already knew that he knew.

Two more, just ahead of him, subtly forming a roadblock of sorts. Preventing him from moving much further ahead without explicitly blocking the way. Both were staring right at him.

“Atsuhiro Sako?” One of the men behind him called out as he approached. Sako drew still, looked over his shoulder.

“Yes?” He asked, his voice betraying no emotion.

They dressed like thugs but carried themselves like professionals. And fought like them, too. Even with the first blow, Sako realised what was going on. As they forced him to the ground, as they plunged their boots into his stomach over and over again, even as they brought out the bat and swung it down on his chest, he could tell that this wasn’t a mugging. And it wasn’t an assassination attempt, either. It was too clumsy, so much so that it was clear that they were going out of their way to make it look clumsy. To make it seem like a group of rowdy gangsters attacking a man with no real motive. They were not looking to kill, they were looking to wound, looking to send out a message.

He received it loud and clear, and he did not resist, as he lay in a crumpled heap, allowing them to strike him over and over.

“puss*…” One of the men muttered as they finally came to a stop. It must have only lasted maybe a minute and a half. “You get the message, dickhe*d? Stay in your lane.”

“Just keep in mind…” Another spoke up. “You got mugged. Some guys wanted your wallet. You’d never seen them before in your life. You didn’t get a good look at their faces. And you won’t see them again.”

He understood. But even if he wanted to answer, he couldn’t summon the strength to do so, groaning in a bloodied heap as his assailants stalked off into the night.

Chapter 29: Clubbing & Canvassing

Chapter Text

Sako couldn’t remember the last time he had been in a hospital. Indeed, over the years, even as his financial situation and mental wellbeing had deteriorated, he had taken great pride in maintaining his health. He had to keep himself strong and in good form, though even he wasn’t sure exactly why he was so focused on that at times.

According to the nurse, it wasn’t massively serious. Some broken ribs and split lips, a swollen eye and a twisted ankle. Given the beating he had received, he was lucky to have not suffered far worse. Perhaps some God out there was keeping an eye on him; Why they would be doing so, he did not know. He didn’t reckon he would have minded if he had died that night.

As he sat there in his hospital bed, he had plenty of time to think. And think he did. About everything. The choices he had made and the life he had led. Even his decision to leave the agency. It had to be done, only death and misery could stem from it. Yet, he couldn’t forget his origins. He couldn’t forget Hakai Shigaraki, the man who had nearly died under his orders, who had given him a second chance. Back when he first obtained his licence and joined the agency, he had seen it as his shot at redemption. A naive belief. Even he understood that he couldn’t achieve anything resembling true redemption unless he confronted his past head on. Just like Hakai had told him. And yet, to confront his past would result in a grisly, painful demise. That was the simple fact of the matter.

So, now what? Not just in regards to the hospital. Soon, he would be discharged, and what would come after that? He still had his licence to practise, obviously, the most evident choice would be to find a new detective agency to work for, or start up his own. He was starting to sour on the idea, though. If the developments in the Hero Killer case had taught him anything, it was that it reinforced just how much of a grip Wisteria had over the country. Criminal organisations, politicians, it seemed there were very few crimes to investigate that did not tie back to them in some way. Child p*rnography rings were supplied by them, hired guns and street thugs worked as enforcers. Now, even Nationalist paramilitaries and serial killers were in some way involved, albeit on the other side of the fence. There was no way to avoid it when tackling the criminal underbelly of Japan; Sooner or later, it would emerge.

Maybe that was the Hell he had built for himself. No redemption, and no escape.

These thoughts, however, quickly left him with the opening of the door. Sako propped his head up, fully expecting the nurse; That was not who it was at all.

“Sako-san.” The young man in the suit bowed as he shut the door behind him.

All at once, Sako’s face fell into a grimace. “Oh, for God’s sake…”

“You know who I am, right?” The man asked as he moved closer, drawing up a chair next to the bed. “My name’s Eikichi Tanimura. I work for Agents Ukita and Hashimoto.”

“I remember you.” Sako groaned. “Unfortunately.”

With a slight falter, Tanimura looked over Sako. “Christ.” He muttered, removing his glasses and wiping the lenses. “I’m sorry about this. Animals…”

“You can spare me the transparent sympathy.” Sako pointed out. “I’m supposing you’ve been sent to ensure the message sank in.”

Tanimura stood his ground. “That’s not the case, Sir. Maybe Ukita-sama authorised it, but I had no knowledge or involvement. I only found out you were in the hospital this morning.”

“Alright then, I’ll humour you.” Sako grunted. “Why are you here, then?”

Tanimura bit his lip softly. “What do you know about Ukita’s dealings?”

Sako remained silent.

“You have to have known something, Sir. You were his Senpai; Are you really saying that you don’t have the slightest idea what he’s like?”

“I shan’t tell you anything on the matter.” Sako replied; He was fairly sure he had this figured out. “So you can go and tell your masters that I had no intention of endangering their operation, even without the reminder last night.”

“Sir, do you really think that’s what I’m here for?” Tanimura was beginning to sound exasperated. “I understand that you don’t have a reason to trust me, but I’m not reporting back to Ukita-sama on this one.” He felt to his back pocket, then stopped, hesitated. “I shouldn’t be showing you this…” He muttered as he drew out a card from the pocket and handed it over. “This is what I’m really after.”

Sako only inspected the card for a few seconds before handing it back. “You are an idiot, Tanimura-san. And I mean no disrespect, but how old are you? Twenty-five, maybe? You weren’t around when I still worked for the Commission. You’ve got a vast future, don’t go ruining it by getting involved in Wisteria. You shall only get yourself killed.”

Tanimura sighed. “I’m not getting involved in Wisteria.” He sighed. “My focus is within Criminal Affairs.” With another sigh, he rose up to his feet, clearly sensing that things were going nowhere. “If you change your mind, Sako, I would love to have your input. It would be very useful.” Quickly scrawling down a phone number on a page from his notepad, he left it on the bedside table.

From there he went to leave the room, yet paused in the doorway. “You know, Sako-san.” He lamented. “I don’t really care about the risks I’ll bring upon myself, if there’s even a chance of making the world a better place.”

Just like that, he was gone, plunging Sako back into his own thoughts once more. They weren’t any more pleasant than those he had experienced before the agent’s arrival.

— — —

As Shigaraki stood in front of the newly-rearranged corkboard, sleeves rolled up, he took in the new layout. “So, this is what we’ve got…” He announced. “Stain is a male, about five eleven, six foot tall. Chances are, he’s some sort of hero, or at least has damn good combat training. He has intimate knowledge of these Wisteria bastards and probably has some sorta connection to that website…” He took a step back. “Am I missing anything?”

“If he is a hero, there’s a pretty good shot he’s still active, right?” Toga pointed out.

“Right!” Bubaigawara nodded. “And he wasn’t with the RS officially.”

“He’s been doing this for about a year…” Iguchi mused.

“Yeah…” Shigaraki clicked the lid of his pen. “Yeah, honestly, that’s what kinda bothers me. There’s something I can’t place…”

“What is it?”

Shigaraki turned to face the others. “Like you said, he’s been doing this for a year, right? Nakaoji was his first vic. Problem is… There doesn’t seem to be much of a connection between him and Wisteria. Or any of the vics until Todoroki.”

“Huh.” Iguchi blinked. “Good point. None of the others are mentioned. Hell, the Ida guy isn’t even on that site at all.”

Shigaraki brought his hand up to his jaw. “It’s annoying. Did he only start collecting evidence from Endeavour onwards? Aside from Ida, these other guys all make sense if he was just targeting general bastards, but if there’s a specific Wisteria connection, I don’t see it.”

“Maybe there is.” Toga suggested. “It could just be something we’re not seeing.”

“Or maybe there really isn’t a connection, for the early kills.” Bubaigawara speculated. “Like, maybe he only turned towards Wisteria after a while. Or not.”

Shigaraki sighed. “I really don’t see it. It came right from Usagiyama’s mouth, Stain’s target has been Wisteria this whole time. It didn’t mean a damn thing if they were heroes or not, his focus was on the conspiracy.”

“Could’ve been lying?” Noted Iguchi.

“I just… It seems unlikely, doesn’t it? Given the situation she was in, I don’t really get what she had to gain from lying to us.”

Toga pursed her lips. “She was an insane maniac terrorist woman. Who knows what she was thinking?”

“Damn…” SHigaraki rubbed his eyes. “I just don’t know… All this time and we haven’t got anywhere near enough. We haven’t even got the faintest clue who the guy is.”

“We’ve narrowed it down.” Toga pointed out.

Shigaraki pointed to the board. “We have narrowed it down to maybe being a hero. That’s a pretty large chunk of the population still, and that’s assuming he is.”

“He has to be.” Iguchi spoke up. “I’m pretty positive of that. Even if he’s a super badass karate champ, I can’t see RS putting so much faith in a civvie. He’s gotta be a hero, a cop or some sort of government spook.”

“Oh God…” Bubaigawara simpered. “What if it’s that Agent Ukita guy?”

“I might actually kill myself if it is.” Shigaraki muttered. “That’s genuinely one of the most underwhelming solutions this case could possibly have.”

“Good drama, though.” Toga piped up, as she put on a deep voice. “The rugged vigilante, playing both sides of the game to ultimately save the world.”

“Scorsese eat your heart out…” Shigaraki rolled his eyes, though he couldn’t hide the grin forming on his lips. “Anyway, if we’re gonna keep looking into this, then these Wisteria pricks are gonna be hard to avoid.” He brought his hands together. “What have we got on them?”

“From what I can figure, it’s a trafficking operation.” Iguchi led. “And a damn big one at that. Clearly, the Hero Commission is involved, plus our beloved representative, Ikutsuki.”

“Right.” Shigaraki pointed to the board. “I’ve been thinking about it myself, and the Dan Cheng connection probably makes this international.”

“If they’re trafficking Chinese people into Japan…” Toga muttered. “Hard to trace them, probably not much to connect them to their families…”

“Yeah. But…” Shigaraki glanced over at Iguchi. “I’ve got… Reasons to believe they don’t solely import foreigners. There are probably examples of people from within Japan falling under their umbrella as well.”

“Compress’ family.” Bubaigawara noted. “But isn’t that an outlier? Maybe, I dunno. That was specifically to screw with him, right? Might not be their typical M.O.”

“I… I’m pretty sure there are other examples.”

“Those being?”

The air was getting thin. Thankfully, it was at that moment when the office door peeled open and an inquisitive, furry face poked around the frame.

“Hello?” The newcomer asked. “Is… This the Shigaraki Agency?”

“Officer.” Shigaraki leaned back on the wall. “How can I help you?”

Shuffling further into the room, Officer Tamakawa’s whiskers bristled. “Hey.” He nodded. “Am I interrupting anything?”

Shigaraki shook his head. “Nothing of note. How are you?”

“Cute…” Toga mumbled, seemingly awestruck by the feline.

“I’m fine, thanks.” Tamakawa gave a little purr. “Look, I’m just here because Detective Tanuma told me to bring a message.”

“Tanuma?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow. “Usually, he’d see me in person.”

“Tanuma-sama is very busy right now.” Tamakawa explained. “He’s…” He sighed. “Between you and me, the higher ups are taking a look at him. They know someone in the department is selling secrets and they’re getting Tsukauchi-san to crack down hard.”

“Perish the thought.” Shigaraki whistled sarcastically. “Tanuma, doing something untoward? Who woulda thunk it?”

“You’re such an asshole.” Iguchi snickered.

“Well, anyway, he said he had some urgent information and he wanted me to relay it to you.” Tamakawa took a quick inhale. “His investigation into the Hero Killer turned up a website, from the dark net.”

“We know the one.” Shigaraki nodded. “It’s got pictures on it, right?”

“Yeah. Pictures and videos that even we don’t have. That only Stain himself would have access to. So, for the last few days, whoever runs the site has reached the top of the suspect list.” He bowed his head gently. “But that’s not what he wanted me to tell you. What he wanted you to know is… We’ve found a name.”

“What?” Shigaraki straightened up.

“The site’s webmaster. We’ve got a name for him. And some other things. Guy’s Chizome Akaguro. He’s a janitor at UA.”

“UA.” Shigaraki felt his eyes go wide. “sh*t, the pin…”

“Yeah, well, that’s just what he wanted you to know.” Tamakawa held his paws up. “I’m just the messenger, okay? I don’t want to be responsible for whatever you do with that information.”

“Ah, don’t worry your cute little head.” Toga assured. “We’ll be very discreet with this.”

“Aye.” Iguchi seconded. “But tell him thanks from us.”

“Yeah, we appreciate it.” Shigaraki nodded.

Tamakawa gave a curt, professional bow. “Of course. I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear your appreciation.”

“Who wouldn’t be?” Iguchi grinned. “Appreciation from us is like a commendation from the Emperor.”

Not long after that, the officer absconded to return to his duties, leaving the Agency to themselves once more.

“Akaguro.” Iguchi blinked. “Did he say a janitor?”

“I think he did.” Bubaigawara shrugged. “Or not. Maybe we misheard it.”

“Maybe we all misheard it?” Toga pointed out. “Though, I get you Shuichi. A janitor isn’t very sexy… What about the cop/hero theory?”

“Well, Tanuma’s theory just seems to be that Akaguro is the webmaster.” Shigaraki noted as Iguchi started tapping away at his laptop. “Doesn’t necessarily say anything about him being Stain or not.”

Bubaigawata then stepped back in. “I mean, the logical assumption is that the webmaster and Stain are the same guys.”

“But it isn’t necessarily the case.” Shigaraki added. “Sure, it’s logical to think that, but Akaguro - if he is the webmaster - could just be someone connected to Stain. Maybe some sorta confidant.” The UA pin blared in his mind. Non-teaching staff, was what it apparently represented. Granted, it may have come from Hachisuka, whose trustworthiness was slipping away with each passing day, but Tanuma himself had confirmed it as legitimate… Non-teaching staff, like a janitor. If nothing else, it seemed that Akaguro had possibly been present at the dumping of Tsuchikawa’s body.

“Found it!” Iguchi blurted out.

“Eh?” Toga blinked. “Found what?”

Iguchi turned the laptop around to show them. “Social media profile for Chizome Akaguro. And look at that-” He pointed to the biography section, which clearly listed him as a ‘UA sanitation expert’, as well as a ‘former entertainer’, whatever that meant.

“Oh damn, that was fast.” Bubaigawara noted.

“Easy when you know how.” Iguchi winked. “His page is private, but I can still see who he follows. Maybe that’ll give us something…” A period of awkward silence followed as he scrolled down the list. A lot of them just seemed to be randoms.

“Hey, check that out.” Shigaraki pointed to one of the accounts listed near the bottom. “It’s that host club not far from here.”

“Oh sh*t, it is.” Iguchi squinted. “You think he was the type to frequent that place?”

“Unless he’s gay.” Shigaraki pointed out. “Chances are, he could’ve worked for them. What was it his bio said? Former entertainer? Here, check them out.”

Iguchi did as was asked and started to scroll through the pictures.

“What’s the point of stalking the guy’s work?” Toga asked as she scuffed the armrest of the sofa.

“The point is that, before we make any rash decisions here, we should gather more intel on the guy.” Shigaraki posited. “And if he used to work here, we could try to press his old coworkers for that intel.”

“True that.” Iguchi agreed. “Oh, sh*t. Here we go.” He pointed to a promotional photograph from the club from two years prior; One of the men in it matched Akaguro’s profile image, just better kept and less dishevelled. “Looks like our guy.”

“Huh, he looks kinda happy.” Toga muttered, observing the grin on his face and the arm around one of his colleagues.

“Great.” Shigaraki flashed a thumbs up. “Guess we’re going clubbing tonight, then.”

— — —

“Good evening, Sirs and Miss!” The host beamed as he bowed before the group. “How can we be of service tonight?”

“Uh…” It was a bad time to realise that Shigaraki had never been inside a host club before. He wanted to leave already. The gaudy lighting, the thumping music, the shouting of drunk people in the background, it was not a good first impression. “Could we grab a table for three?”

“Of course!” The host beamed. “Have you any specific requests?”

“Requests?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow.

“He means for a host.” Bubaigawara pointed out. “To keep us company.”

“Oh!” That sparked an idea. Bringing out his phone, he quickly brought up a screenshot he had grabbed before heading out of the promo photo. He showed it to the host, pointing to the man whom Akaguro’s arm was wrapped around. “Would this guy be available?”

The host squinted as he stared. “Hmm… Oh! Oh, yeah, that’s Kenji! He’s here, Sir, and he’s more than available.” He lowered his voice. “Between you and me, Sir, he’s not the most popular…”

“Right, sure, we’ll have him, thanks.” Shigaraki nodded.

“Of course. If you’d come just this way…” Taking the hand of Toga - wearing the appearance of an older woman for obvious reasons - he led her to their table, the other two following close behind.

“Memories.” Bubaigawara whistled. “Used to go to hostess clubs with the guys after work sometimes.”

“You did?” Shigaraki was legitimately caught off-guard. “Doesn’t seem like your scene.”

“Dude, cute babes are always my scene.” He replied. “What about you? What’s the impression so far?”

“Uh…” Shigaraki glanced around. “It’s… Very nice if you’re into that sorta thing.”

Bubaigawara chuckled away. “Ain’t that the truth.” As they sat down, he kept snickering. “You know, speaking of babes… You’ve never had a girl, Shigaraki?”

“Never.” Shigaraki kept a straight face.

“Never even a crush? A whirlwind high school romance?”

“High school girls make me wanna kill myself. Especially when I was in school and had to put up with them every day.”

“Screw off.” Toga huffed, shoving him.

“Just not my thing.” He concluded, barely acknowledging the impact of the shove. “Got better things to do with my time than pick up chicks, right?”

“Hello, Missy!” With an irritatingly large smile, a young man approached the table. He had a different hairstyle from the photo, but it was evidently still the same man. “I’m Kenji! I hear you’ve requested me tonight?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Shigaraki nodded; Kenji barely paid him a lick of attention, his eyes locked on Toga.

“Yup.” She conceded. “Special request, you know.”

“Well, it’s good to be wanted.” Kenji giggled, sitting down next to her. “So, should we get some drinks down here, set the mood?” As he spoke, he put an arm around her. Shigaraki was starting to get why he wasn’t requested much; Even for a host, this guy was laying it on pretty thick.

“Well-” Toga’s back stiffened. “L- Let’s talk a little first, get the introductions done before we’re all drunk. I’m Kimi.” She planted her hand on her chest. “These are my friends, Tanaka and Jiro.”

Kenji didn’t even share a second glance with the two men. “Ah, cute name. What do you do for a living, Kimi? Something becoming of such an elegant lady, I bet.”

“Oh, well-” She dropped her voice. “I’m an inspector.”

“Woah, a cop.” Kenji laughed. “High up, too? That’s awesome. You don’t see a lot of class in the force nowadays, but you certainly bring it.”

“I’m gonna hurl…” Bubaigawara muttered. “This guy’s a f*cking dork.”

“We’ll see whose stomach holds out longer.” Shigaraki murmured back.

Toga giggled away. “Aw, you’re so sweet! This, uh, this is the first time I’ve been here in a long time. Two long years, I think.”

“Oh?” Kenji grinned. “Well, you picked a good night for it.”

“Yeah. Last time I came, my host was great! His name was… I think it was Chizome or something?”

Kenji’s eyes shifted for a second. “Never heard of him. He must’ve been good, though.”

“He was.” Toga bat her eyes. “I hope you can be half as good.”

Before he had a chance to start vomiting, Shigaraki leaned over the table. “You sure you don’t know this Chizome guy?”

Kenji regarded Shigaraki with the kind of glare that was usually reserved for a jogger staring at the dog faeces on the sole of their shoe. “Like I said, doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Doesn’t it?” Shigaraki brought up his phone, showing the picture. “This was him, here. And that’s you, next to him, right?”

Kenji’s eyes scanned the photo. “I… Must’ve been a while ago. We have hosts coming and going all the time.” He turned his attention back to Toga. “Now, drinks-”

“You two look pretty chummy.” Shigaraki pressed on. “You sure you don’t know a thing?”

“I’ve told you already, now would you get outta my face?” Kenji scowled. “I don’t know him. The hell are you two even doing here?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bubaigawara enquired.

“Y’know, it’s just… I’m not really into that sorta stuff. I’m not a Queer, you know. It’s a good gimmick for some of the guys, but I’m just not.”

“I don’t give a damn what you are.” Shigaraki’s eyes narrowed. “I care who you know. And you definitely know Chizome Akaguro.”

Kenji seemed to be locking down. “I- Maybe I should just be going.”

“Hey, now.” Toga reached out in a panic, grabbing his arm. “You can tell me. I’d really, really appreciate it.”

Kenji stopped dead, clearly in a fight between his two heads. He sat back down with a sigh. “Well… Look, I don’t know why you care. Akaguro hasn’t been around in years.”

“Why?” Shigaraki asked.

“He got thrown out on his ass. Management got sick of him. Guy was a weirdo.”

“What kinda weirdo?” Bubaigawara asked. “Like a you-style weirdo or something else?”

Kenji snarled. “Guy was radical. It was all he’d talk about. Corruption this, false heroes that, he was a total spaz. He was scaring customers with that kinda talk. He was attractive and could be charming, but nothing can disguise a foul personality for long.”

“Couldn’t agree more.” Bubaigawara piped up, staring directly at Kenji.

“Seems you two were pretty friendly when he was here.” Shigaraki added. “Did he tell you about this stuff?”

“All the Goddamn time.” Kenji groaned. “It was f*cking annoying. I’d be talking about the news or something and he’d just give some totally unnecessary observation about whatever sh*tty things some hero had done recently. It was obsessive. The guy loved to pick out the flaws in anything the heroes did. Aside from All Might. Never had a bad thing to say about him.”

“Interesting.” Shigaraki noted. “Real interesting.” Finally, he settled back into his seat. He got the feeling that they were reaching the end of the questioning. “You keep in contact after he left?”

“Nah, who would?” Kenji seemed to be quickly losing interest, turning his attention back to Toga. “Now, Kimi, should we finally get some drinks down here?” He lay his sultry tones back on like his previous outbursts had never even happened, his hands travelling across her midriff and down towards her pelvis. Toga simply stared at him for a second, then grabbed the ashtray from the table and smashed it over his head. Kenji went down like a lump of coal, hitting the table and falling still, bent over it. The music stopped, the chattering stopped, and Shigaraki felt hundreds of eyes settle upon the table.

“Let’s bounce.“ Toga urged as she calmly got up to her feet. “This place sucks.”

Chapter 30: A Bad Feeling

Chapter Text

Akaguro had a bad feeling.

Something just seemed wrong about the day. Even as he mopped the floors, surrounded on all sides by the tall glass of UA’s lingering corridors, he couldn’t evade the feeling that something was very off. A light feeling, not one that he could entirely quantify. Yet, a man did not get to be as paranoid as Akaguro without relying on his feelings.

It was the site, he reckoned. Ever since he had been approached by the Hero Killer, ever since he had spread the footage on the internet, he felt as if there was a dark cloud hanging over him. Reasonably so, perhaps. If that Wisteria thing was as prevalent as the Killer claimed - and Akaguro couldn’t say he would be all too surprised if it was - then anyone who talked about it was soon to get a target on their back.

Let them come, though, Akaguro figured. He may have been uneasy, but he wasn’t intending to allow himself to be intimidated.

Even so, something felt particularly wrong about this day…

“You hear about Shinji?” Gossiped a student to her friend as they walked past Akaguro, oblivious to his presence.

“Shinji Nakamura?” Her friend blinked. “Class B?”

“That’s the one.” She nodded. “Word is, he’s considering dropping out.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me.” The friend giggled. “Guy’s a loser. Dunno how he got this far.”

“Dunno how he ties his shoes in the morning.” The gossiper noted. “Retard with a capital R. Then again, no wonder he’s dropping out, after the thing on Insta.”

“Sure, that was crazy.” The friend kept snickering. “Funny, though. Kinda impressed he can even show his face after that.”

“I feel a little bad about it, to be honest.” The first girl shrugged. “Maybe the catfishing was a bit far…”

“Ah, come on. It’s Shinji, who gives a f*ck? It was funny, right? He deserved it anyway, the dork.”

As he listened to their chatting in silence, continuing to mop away, Akaguro’s brow subtly furrowed. These were what passed for future heroes nowadays. Gossiping, cruel kids. To think that all of those years ago, he had been passed up, when these were the kinds of people UA would accept now. How far society truly had fallen. He made a mental note to learn of the girls’ names; Once they got out into their careers, it would certainly be interesting to have their schoolday hijinks published for all to see. He had a rule, he wouldn’t go after children. But adults who had acted awfully as children and showed no sign of growth or development? That was fair game, as far as he was concerned.

As the girls’ voices trailed away around the corner and out of his hearing range, however, he returned to focusing on the cleaning. Hard, thankless work, but somebody had to do it.

— — —

After his evening out of the club, Shigaraki could certainly say one thing without a hint of hesitation; That being he hated it, and he did not doubt that Toga was probably going to share that opinion. On the other hand, however, it wasn’t exactly a useless endeavour by any means.

“It doesn’t look too good for Akaguro.” He announced as he made some arrangements on the board. “If Kenji is to be believed, he clearly has a history of conspiracy theories and general anti-establishment paranoia.”

“Jeez.” Iguchi murmured. “I can see how a guy like that would be pushed to the brink if he actually had concrete proof of a conspiracy being true.”

“Like Wisteria.” Bubaigawara added. “Problem is, how the hell did he figure it out?”

“God knows.” Shigaraki sighed. “To be honest, there’s a lot about this that I’m still not happy with. It’s been eating away at me since we found the picture, but… He looks too short.”

“Oh, true.” Toga realised. “You two have seen Stainy in person, right?”

“Yeah.” Iguchi nodded. “He dwarfed both of us, at least.”

“It’s hard to tell, but I can’t see the guy in the picture being that tall.” Shigaraki concluded. “At the very least, I’ve got no doubt anymore that he’s in charge of the site.”

“Hundred percent.” Bubaigawara said.

“And, from there, I think it’s pretty easy to say that he’s been in contact with Stain - presuming that he isn’t him.” Shigaraki tapped Akagurop’s picture, now pinned to the board. “But that brings up a new question. How?”

“How?” Toga blinked.

“Think about it. The guy used to be a host, now he’s a janitor. Plus, he seems to be pretty obviously unhinged. Doesn’t seem like the type of guy RS would trust in their inner circle. So, chances are that he didn’t find his contact with Stain from them.”

“Oh, decent point.” Iguchi noted. “You think they maybe know each other personally?”

“Maybe.” Shigaraki shrugged. “Course, it could be as simple as Stain reaching out to him through the internet, could be that they’ve never met each other in person. Regardless, the only way to get some sort of answer is by asking him.”

“Fine by me.” Iguchi reasoned. “By the way, how’d that all actually go, last night? Haven’t really heard much about it. You have a good time?”

A long silence persisted, during which Shigaraki, Bubaigawara and Toga exchanged their own concerned glances at one another.

“Maybe we’ll tell you another time.” Shigaraki muttered. “After I’ve effectively bleached the memories.”

Iguchi blinked. “Well, now you’ve got me curious. But sure, another time. For now, Akaguro.” He leaned back. “Always wanted to see UA up close.”

“For sure.” Toga nodded. “Dad visited a few times, he said it’s a real impressive building. Never thought any of our journeys would take us there, though.”

“The world is full of surprises.” Shigaraki lamented. “Maybe the weather will clear up a bit by the time we get there.”

— — —

The weather had not cleared up one bit. By this stage, Musutafu was starting to look like it was in rather serious danger of flooding. Which would be the cherry on top of everything else that was currently ripping the city apart.

“When do you think he’s gonna show up?” Toga moaned as she hunched under Shigaraki’s umbrella, leaning on the exterior wall of UA. As it turned out, getting anywhere near the grounds was an impossibility. For a school, the place was built like a fort and the security likely would not take kindly to a gaggle of bedraggled private eyes snooping around. As such, their plan had quickly devolved into waiting outside until someone saw Akaguro leaving for the day.

“Who knows?” Shigaraki checked his watch as the students streamed past them without a second glance. “School day should be over, now, but I’ve got no Goddamn clue how long the janitors stay after the bell.”

“Maybe I could grab a disguise.” Toga suggested. “Get one of these kids, take their blood, sneak in?”

“Nah.” Shigaraki rejected. “Unnecessary. For now. I like avoiding screwing over innocents, if possible.”

“Fair enough.” Iguchi grumbled, trying his best to hide from the rain. “Hey, do you think we could get Bubaigawara to bring the car around? I’m getting drenched here.”

Shigaraki took a moment to think. “Sure. If you want to call him over, I guess, that’s no problem.” He intended to remain outside, though; The rain didn’t bother him, not when he was so focused on the task at hand.

“Aight, thanks.” Bringing out his phone, Iguchi punched in the numbers and let it start to ring. Meanwhile, Toga and Shigaraki kept their gaze on the front gate. By this stage, the stream of students emerging was beginning to thin out, the ebb and flow of schoolyard chatter dying away.

“Yeah.” Iguchi could be heard saying on the phone. “Yeah, just bring it ‘round. Easy for you to say, you ain’t out here in this weather.”

“Hey.” Toga tensed, as someone else stepped through the gate, blatantly not a student. He held no umbrella, instead wearing a heavy raincoat, and he seemed somewhat on edge, glancing around as he exited the school grounds. “That seems off.”

Shigaraki kept his gaze on the man and, as he jerked his head over, caught sight of his face. It looked about right.

What was the worst that could happen? There was no harm in trying to see if it was him.

“Hey!” Shigaraki called out as he stepped forwards. “Akaguro-san?”

Akaguro looked up, stared directly into Shigaraki’s eyes. Then, he turned and ran.

“Son of a bitch-” Shigaraki cursed, breaking into a sprint after him. “We just wanna talk to you! We aren’t cops!”

Toga took off as well, leaving a bewildered Iguchi with his phone in his hand. The rain came barreling down, Soaking Shigaraki through as he discarded his umbrella in order to keep up a better pace. Which itself was not proving to be any easy feat, for Akaguro was a nimble one, darting in and out of crowds as he tried to put as much distance between himself and the detectives as possible.

“This guy…” Toga muttered. “The way he took off, like he was ready for trouble.”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki panted, his eyes locked on Akaguro. “Guy’s paranoid, if nothing else.” He certainly seemed to have the agility and stamina to match Stain’s. Trying to weave between a pair of students, Shigaraki managed to clumsily collide with them, prompting a lot of angry shouting from them as he kept on running, trying not to lose his momentum as he caught his balance once more.

“God’s sake, man, we’re trying to help you here!” He called out. “We just need to know some stuff!”

Akaguro didn’t provide a response, vaulting over a parked car and launching himself across the road with enough momentum to carry him most of the way. Shigaraki did not have such fortune, as he tried to follow across the street, prompting the enraged blaring of a car’s horn as it narrowly avoided knocking him down. He did manage to reach the other side in one piece and keep up the chase, but Akaguro was getting further and further away.

As he ran, however, a van heading down the street suddenly swerved into his path, colliding lightly with him and winding him, giving Shigaraki a chance to catch up. As it turned out, the incident was no accident by any means, as Bubaigawara emerged from the vehicle, Akaguro limping away into the adjacent alleyway.

“Crazy bastard.” Shigaraki couldn’t help but smirk as he reached the van. “Quick thinking.”

“Saw the guy running when I was coming down here, figured it was our guy.” Bubaigawara tilted his head towards the alley. “Or not. Either way, he can’t have gone far, right?”

“Right.” With a curt nod, Shigaraki headed into the alleyway, with Bubaigawara and Toga close behind him.

Akaguro stood at the far end of the alley, clutching a rotted plank of wood in his hands. Even the way that he stood, with peeks of uncertainty, balancing exclusively on one leg with the other hanging limp, betrayed the fact that the collision with the van had done more damage than he wanted them to know. Framed in the shadows cast by the buildings on either side of the alleyway, he looked like a cornered wild animal.

A dangerous animal.

“For God’s sake…” Shigaraki muttered, taking careful steps towards him. “Akaguro-san, we aren’t interested in screwing with you. We just want to ask some questions.”

Akaguro kept the plank raised. “Go to Hell, piglet.”

“I’m not a cop.” Shigaraki maintained. “I’m not Commission, I’ve got nothing to do with the government. That’s not why I’m here.”

“You look like a cop.” Was Akaguro’s retort. “You dress like a cop trying to blend in.”

“Damn.” Toga whistled, while Shigaraki tried his best to mentally process that sentence.

“Think what you want, but all I’m here for is a little bit of information-” He started as he moved forwards, prompting Akaguro to lunge at him, bringing the plank high above his head and swinging it down. Shigaraki sidestepped the strike, grabbed the plank with his good hand and held it, as the already worn wood splintered and decayed, crumbling away to a fine paste before their eyes. Letting go of what was left of it, Akaguro stumbled back, a sort of uncaged panic in his own. Something was wrong, Shigaraki realised. Something about this didn’t feel right.

“I’m gonna ask nicely again.” He sighed, watching Akaguro try and slink away, to no avail thanks to his wounded leg. “Are you the Hero Killer?”

Akaguro stopped, stared back. “Am I the Hero Killer?”

“Are you?”

“That’s what the Narc asked.” Toga piped up as she and Bubaigawara moved closer to him, sealing off any chance of escape.

Akaguro glanced around. He still seemed panicked, but there was a sort of haughty arrogance growing. “So what if I am?” He asked. “You say you’re not the law. Are you gonna kill me, then? Righteous vengeance for all the people the Hero Killer has struck down?”

Shigaraki shrugged. “Not really. Just doing a job more than anything else. My job is to track down the man who killed Enji Todoroki, at the end of the day. That, plus my own curiosity. I’ve wanted to meet the guy face to face.”

“The Hero Killer is a blessing.” Akaguro snapped. “He’s done what no one else had the guts to pull off.”

“Yeah, yeah, are you him or not?” Bubaigawara asked, a hint of impatience creeping in.

“Bravo, Detectives.”

The voice came from behind Shigaraki, accompanying heavy footsteps. He recognised the voice instantly, and groaned as he turned around to see Agents Ukita, Hashimoto and Tanimura approaching from the alleyway’s entrance.

“What are they doing here?” Toga snarled.

“Shigaraki, we meet again.” Ukita grinned. “Somehow, I got the feeling you weren’t going to back down from this little case.”

Shigaraki glared back. “Is this the part where you kill me, then? Or sell me off to your mates in the slave trade?”

Ukita laughed. “Nothing like that, I’m here to thank you.” He extended his hand to shake Shigaraki’s. “You’ve done us a lot of good today.”

Shigaraki stared at the hand like it was diseased. “I wouldn’t advise doing that.”

“Who the hell are these people?” Akaguro snarled.

With a leer of his own, Ukita peered past Shigaraki at the cornered janitor. “Agents, book him.”

“What?” Almost everybody erupted in nigh-unison.

Approaching Akaguro with Tanimura close behind her, Hashimoto produced her badge. “Criminal Affairs of the HPSC, Chizome Akaguro, you’re being detained.”

“You ain’t cops.” Akaguro realised as they reached him. “You’ve got no right to arrest.”

“You aren’t being arrested.” Ukita commented casually as he put his hands in his pockets. “You’re being detained. The chuckle heads in the police department will probably get the all clear to arrest you by tomorrow afternoon, but until then, you’re going to be held in the custody of the Japanese government for questioning.”

With that, Hashimoto and Tanimura forced Akaguro’s arms behind his back and led him away, out of the alleyway and out of view, until Shigaraki’s glare could follow them no longer; With that, it settled back on Ukita. “So you really have been following us.”

“Surprised?” Ukita snickered. “Kid, you’re tied up in matters of national security, of course we were keeping an eye on you. Good thing we were, too.”

“Not surprised at all. Just guess that this was the confirmation.”

He glared, and Ukita glared back. Then, he laughed again, putting a hand on Shigaraki’s shoulder. “You’re done a good thing here, Kid.” He noted. “*I know I told you to leave it, but I can’t exactly complain, given you led us right to the bastard.” He winked. “You’ve made a lot of powerful people very happy tonight.”

“Like the governor?” Shigaraki tested.

All at once, Ukita’s smirk slumped into a sneer. “Watch yourself. Don’t push your f*cking luck.” He warned as he took his hand off Shigaraki’s shoulder, pressed it into his chest and started to walk off. “You guys helped take down the Hero Killer. In a purely unofficial form, of course. Let the pride of that be your reward.” With that, he walked off, following his colleagues around the corner and away from view.

“What the hell just happened?” Toga blurted as the three private detectives reconvened, left alone once more, as Iguchi arrived on the scene, huffing and puffing and clearly rather lacking in breath.

“Dude…” He panted. “I just saw those Commission bastards bundling Akaguro into a car. What’s going on?”

“I… Have no f*cking clue.” Shigaraki replied, answering both of their questions in one fell, unsatisfying swoop. “But I get the feeling it’s nothing good.”

“It sure as sh*t isn’t good for him.” Bubaigawara pointed out. “Not sure I trust those guys to look after him. Maybe I should, but I don’t.”

“That aside, though…” Toga realised. “Is this… Are we done, now? Is this the end of the Hero Killer?”

“I guess it could be…” Shigaraki glanced down at his hand; A sharp pain rang in his wrist. “After everything we’ve been through, I kinda wish it had been a lot less underwhelming.” Akaguro had barely put up a fight; Moreover, it seemed like he was barely even capable of doing so. Was that Stain’s story ended? Alone in some government detainment facility after the world’s least climactic showdown?

The world, he supposed, wasn’t all grand battles and conclusive ends. Maybe some stories just ended with a whimper…

“Goddammit…” Iguchi hung his head. “Why do I always miss the good stuff?”

“You’ve gotta keep in shape, Shuichi.” Toga advised. “Then, you could keep up with us.”

Iguchi’s response was to flash her his centremost finger as he caught his breath, his other hand placed firmly on his knee. Toga retaliated by sticking her tongue out and Bubaigawara instinctively stepped between the pair.

“So.” He asked aloud, evidently trying to prevent a much more explosive battle from breaking out between Toga and Iguchi. “Should we do something to celebrate?”

“Eh?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, we did it, right? Mission accomplished. We’ve got his identity, so Todoroki and Okumura can pay us the rest of the money for a job well done.”

“Huh. I guess…” Shigaraki lightly bit his lip before allowing it to curl into a small grin; He couldn’t help himself. “Alright, sure. We’ve earned a night of fun.”

Chapter 31: Winner Takes All

Chapter Text

All things considered, the hospital let Sako go fairly quickly. It just took a few days before he was given some painkillers and sent on his way with a warning not to exert himself. As if he was planning to.

“Oh, hello Atsuhiro.” Old Ms. Watanabe noted as she saw Sako reach the floor of his apartment, whilst tending to the flowers on her guardrail. “I haven’t seen you in a little while.”

“Watanabe-chan.” Removing his hat, Sako bowed to her, hiding the slight grimace as he put a little too much strain on his ankle. “A pleasure to see you.”

“How have you been?”

“Just a little work assignment.” He chuckled, straightening back up.

“Oh? Where?” That was Old Ms. Watanabe. Always inquisitive.

“Just down in Okinawa.” He explained, hobbling to his front door. “I would have brought you back a souvenir, but we were on a tight schedule. There was barely a chance to sleep, let alone take in the sights.”

“Oh dear.” Watanabe pursed her lips. “You know, my son Tohru works in Okinawa. You know Tohru, don’t you?”

“I know of him.” Sako nodded, putting his keys in the door as he continued to face the woman.

“I’m sure he would have loved to know you were there.” She beamed. “After you helped us with his little problem…”

“That’s quite alright.” Sako smiled, partially forced and partially genuine; He still remembered one of his first jobs with the Agency, helping out his own neighbour with her son’s drug problem. At the time, he was still too consumed by his guilt to pay too much attention, but looking back, it was downright idyllic compared to the current situation. One of those rare cases to have a happy ending, more or less. “Has he been staying clean?”

“Absolutely.” Watanabae nodded. “And I tell him on the telephone, I tell him, ‘Tohru, if you fall into any bad habits again, Atsuhiro is just a call away’.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear he’s been keeping on top of things.” He agreed, pushing the door open. “Now, you must excuse me, but after all that, I need a shower and a rest.”

“Oh, of course.” Watanabe realised. “If you need anything, you’re more than welcome to drop by.”

“Yes, of course. Thank you.” As soon as he was on the other side of the door, on his own once more, the smile faded. He set his bag down in the hall and shuffled into the kitchen-living space. Home. In a sense. Not the home he had grown up in, nor the home he had raised his own child in, but it was something. A roof over his head and the ability to keep himself fed. The bare essentials.

Moving to the kitchen counter, he set his keys down, remarking on the unwashed mug sitting there. He hadn’t even had time to clean it before the hospitalisation. Unavoidable, but he couldn’t help feeling irritated that it had sat out without being cleaned. Picking it up, he read the slogan engraved on it. More of a word, really. A single word, encased in a chipped, fading heart decal:


With a heavy sigh, he set the mug back down again and continued to empty his pockets. Tanimura’s note was there. He wasn’t sure why he had brought it back with him exactly, but something had compelled him to do so. Not that he had any intent of using it. Perhaps he just felt more secure having it than not.


With his pockets emptied and another disapproving look at the rather full sink, he grabbed the television remote and turned it on for some background noise as he got to washing.

Despite the amount of dishes that needed to be cleaned, he found himself enjoying the process; It was a quick and easy way to clear his mind, a convenient excuse to not have to think about anything else, between his focus on the washing up and the television in the background. As he washed, however, the mention of the Hero Killer caught his attention and he glanced over.

He couldn’t say in good faith he was expecting what he saw. The director of the Commission, making a public address. Something to do with the Killer. Sako remembered when she had been deputy; She seemed to be a decent enough person. Unimaginative, but not necessarily corrupt. She stayed away from those in Criminal Affairs, neither enabling nor cracking down on them. It was unlikely she even knew about Wisteria, or at the very least the full extent of it. His attention ripped away from the dishes, he turned up the volume and moved closer to the screen.

“I can confirm…” She announced as the volume raised. “That, as of this afternoon, a suspect has been taken into our custody for questioning. As I’m sure you can imagine, we wouldn’t have taken such an action unless we were reasonably certain of his involvement. If we find reasonable cause, he shall be turned to the police department sooner rather than later.”

One of the crowd asked a question that wasn’t quite audible on the television, though the director seemed to hear it without much issue.

“We… Received some freelance assistance.” She confessed. “This matter was largely handled by Criminal Affairs, but I am aware of the employment of freelance investigators, yes.”

Another question was raised, over the ethics of such a thing.

“It’s not my place to run the Criminal Affairs Division.” The director asserted. “You shall have to ask the Head of Criminal Affairs for that.”

Even as he watched, Sako managed to piece together what had happened. “Those lunatics…” He muttered to himself. “They actually did it.” Given what he knew, he had no doubt that “freelance assistance” meant that these freelancers did the majority of the work. And he didn’t have too many guesses as to who these freelancers were, whether they did it willingly or otherwise. They really had kept going.

In a sense, he was impressed. They’d cleaved through it all and, assuming this suspect was the right man, had put down the Hero Killer. Maybe they would stop at that, maybe they would leave Wisteria alone. He did wonder what they may have been up to, at that moment…

— — —

“I don’t wanna talk…” Toga sang - well, shrieked - into the microphone as the overhead lights bathed her and the others in what Shigaraki could only describe as strip club-neon. “If it makes you feel bad… Seeing me so tense… No self-confidence…”

“Is it nearly over?” Iguchi asked, leaning over to Shigaraki on the plush sofa.

“Think so.” Shigaraki shrugged. “Dunno why you’re welcoming it though, you’re next.”

“Son of a bitch. Do I have to?”

“Yeah, you do. Bubaigawara had to do it, I had to do it, now you do.”

“sh*t…” Iguchi flopped back. “Whose idea was it to do karaoke, anyway?”

Shigaraki glanced over, balancing the bowl of fries in his lap. “I mean, what else were we gonna do? Toga doesn’t drink, Bubaigawara wasn’t hungry, at least this way we can have food and booze while they keep themselves entertained.”

“Fair enough.” Iguchi grumbled. “Didn’t take you as a Paramore person.”

“You really didn’t?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow. “Probably a good thing, if I can stay unpredictable. What’re you gonna sing, then?”

“Christ… I dunno, Starlight maybe?” He moaned. “Maybe something by Pop-Step if it’s available.”

“You like Pop-Step?” Shigaraki snickered.

“Screw you, dude, she’s got a good voice.”

“That’s definitely it.” Shigaraki reasoned. “Nothin’ at all to do with her having more exposed skin than clothing at any given time.”

“Ah, what kinda pervert do you take me for?”

“The kinda pervert who likes Pop-Step, as an adult male?” Shigaraki suggested, passing over the bowl and offering Iguchi some fries. “Just a thought.”

“You’re which a f*cking asshole.” Iguchi retorted, though he was unable to keep the grin off his muzzle. “So, you reckon this is the end, then?”

“God knows. Could be the end of Stain at the least, but…” Something about it didn’t quite strike him right. “There’s still Wisteria.”

“Ah, right.” Iguchi nodded. “The hell are we gonna do about them?”

“I don’t know. I really don’t know.” It was one thing to hunt down a single serial killer; It was another to investigate a nationwide conspiracy with a scary amount of resources at its disposal. “If we keep going at it, then I’d say Ikutsuki could be an in.”

“Our governor?” Iguchi whistled. “We’re moving up in the world.”

“Guy’s an old geezer. We wouldn’t get anything out of Ukita or Hashimoto, they’re trained agents, and I get the feeling Tanimura is too under their thumb to crack either. If that dumb bastard even knows the full extent of things. Hachisuka’s the type to only appear when she wants to be found.”

“Hachisuka?” Iguchi co*cked his head.

“Some girl working with Ukita.” Shigaraki explained, as it struck him that the others hadn’t been given all of the details on the matter. “She’s a real pain. Point is, Ikutsuki might be our best shot.”

“Is… Is this related to the sh*t with your family?” Iguchi asked with a note of uncertainty. “If Ikutsuki had a part to play…”

Shigaraki shook his head as Toga’s song finished, to Bubaigawara’s enthusiastic applause. “Nothing like that. This would only be business.”

Iguchi stared at him, his expression hard to read. “Right. Business.”

“Yeah. Anyway, your turn, lover-boy.” Shigaraki grinned.

“Son of a…” Iguchi muttered, getting up to his feet. As he did so, Shigaraki pulled out his phone and started to scroll through news feeds. Almost all at once, something caught his attention.

“Holy sh*t.” He whistled. “Looks like Ms. Director’s spreading the word.”

“The good word?” Bubaigawara asked.

“Yeah. The good word. Sure…” Shigaraki still wasn’t sure how much he believed that. Even if the Commission were confident enough to make their little statements, things just seemed wrong.

Still, tonight wasn’t the night to be worrying about that stuff. Perhaps he should just sit back and try to relax.

— — —

“That woman is a f*cking moron.” Ukita remarked with a sly smirk as he turned off the television. “Seriously, Jesus Christ.”

“She’s asking for trouble.” Hachisuka noted, leaning on the edge of the desk with no smaller a grin on her own face. “After tonight, there are going to be a lot of questions.”

“A lot.” Ukita nodded.

“She never has been too bright.” Hashimoto pointed out. “I’m a little amazed that anyone let her just announce that.”

“But she’s not going to be culpable for it.” Ukita said. “What goes down tonight, she’ll catch a bit of flack, but she’ll direct the finger to our head. He’ll probably be kicked out on his ass and the deputy will step in. And that, opens up the deputy position.”

“Happy little accident.” Hashimoto replied.

“Wait, what are you all going on about?” Tanimura asked, looking up from his book. “What’s this?”

“Just grown-up talk.” Ukita noted, tossing the tennis ball up into the air and catching it again. “Power dynamics. Thanks to our esteemed director and her runaway mouth, we’re about to have a controversy hit Criminal Affairs. She’ll pass the blame to the head of CA, he’ll step down, his deputy will come in and that leaves the position open, probably for the lovely Hashimoto-san.”

“Hashimoto-sama?” Tanimura eyed her. “Not you, Sir? Wouldn’t you be the more likely contender?”

Ukita threw his head back and laughed. “Ah, Tanimura, I’ve never told you, have I?” He pulled his body up in the seat. “I’ve got a criminal record, don’t you know? They won’t ever let me anywhere near the top seats of the division.”

“I- Criminal record?”

“Yeah. I’m persona non gratas. A walking PR nightmare.” Ukita seemed to take great delight in this fact. “Not that it really bothers me. I’m not ambitious, I’m pretty happy where I am. Besides…” He glanced over at Hashimoto. “Having a friend as a top dog is nearly as good as being one yourself. Maybe better.”

“You- What was it you did?” Tanimura questioned. “To get your record. If I may ask…”

Ukita shrugged. “It’s a fun story.” He looked up to the ceiling, as if recalling the memories. “Fifteen years old, I was. Some big son of a bitch touched my sister on the train. She didn’t want to get the police involved, and I was pissed. I wanted to kill him, really kill him.” His fists noticeably clenched, the knuckles going pale. “I got a knife to really cut that f*cker up. Slit his throat and then some.”

“You’ve… You’ve got a murder charge?” Tanimura gaped.

Ukita’s grin spread to the corners of his face. “I got caught stealing the knife from the store. Did a year for theft. Never managed to gut that bastard, like I wanted to.” He glanced down at his watch, then to Hachisuka. “We should get going.”

“Right.” Hachisuka started to move to the door, Ukita and Hashimoto soon behind.

“What became of the guy?” Tanimura asked after them. “Is he still a free man?”

If it was indeed possible, Ukita’s grin got even wider. “Hachisuka can tell you that story.”

“About two years ago, he wound up dead.” Hachisuka elaborated. “I killed him. Owed one of my employers money. Six months overdue. He’d had enough warning. These two got assigned to the investigation. Sharp pricks actually caught me. They tracked me down, and this crazy bastard…” She pointed to Ukita. “... Shakes my hand and thanks me.”

“First time we met.” Ukita noted. “Good times.” He opened the door and held it for the others. “Tanimura, you stay here, look after things.”

“Where… Where are you going, exactly?” Tanimura enquired. “Wait… Has it got something to do with-”

“Where did you come from, again?” Hashimoto asked. “Before you got transferred here. Hero Management, was it? Guys like you are best not seeing - or knowing - too much.”

“It’ll give you nightmares.” Hachisuka smirked. “She’s right, Kiddo, best you don’t ask too many questions.”

“We’ll be about half an hour.” Ukita ordered. “Get ready; We’re gonna have a lot of paperwork to fill out tomorrow.” With that, the three left, leaving Tanimura alone in the office.

“I don’t like you telling him about your past.” Hashimoto spoke as they made their way down the deserted corridors of the building towards the elevators. “We barely know the guy.”

Ukita was dismissive. “Kid’s barely got two brain cells to rub together. Like our director, he’s a moron. Who cares what he knows or doesn’t know? Rolls off him like water on a duck’s back.”

“Seems like a good one to have around, though.” Hachisuka noted. “Follows orders, doesn’t get too assertive, has a nice, friendly face. He might be a moron, but a guy like that can be golden to have around.”

“Exactly.” Ukita snapped his fingers as he pushed to call the elevator. “He does what he’s told and he’s got that puppy dog look to him. Not bad to have around when we need to crack someone. He’s the good cop we need.”

“Still…” Hashimoto sighed. “He doesn’t need to know too much. I’m glad you didn’t tell him around what we’re doing here. He’d piss himself. We don’t need him breaking under pressure and running to IA.”

“He’ll figure it out, probably, when Agakuro’s remains wash up on tomorrow’s news.” Ukita pointed out. “If he was going to go to IA, he’d have done it long before now. It’s not like this would the first time he’d have seen us get our hands dirty.”

Hashimoto could only mumble noncommittally as the lift arrived, to take them down, down, down to the lowest levels of the building, below ground, below even the parking lot.

Down to the interview rooms.

A trawling labyrinth of steel and concrete buried deep below where no screams could be heard and no natural light could come through. Agents in the Commission called it the Clink, and its rooms were often only seen by those in Criminal Affairs. Most major villains and terrorists ended up down there at some point in their lives. Case in point…

“You alright?” Ukita smiled to the officer standing guard by one of the heavyset doors, who tilted his cap in greeting.

“I’ll be better when my shift’s over.” The officer noted, tilting his head towards the door. “Crazy freak’s been rambling all night.”

“Well, you can get going early, then.” Ukita advised, drawing a roll of banknotes from his blazer and handing them over. “Get the wife something nice.”

The officer tilted his cap once more. “Will do.” With that, he headed off, leaving the three alone by the door.

“No cameras.” Ukita stated as he scanned his ID on the lock. “No recording equipment. Japan’s very own Guantanamo. Right here in Musutafu.”

“Never seen it in person.” Hachisuka lamented, taking in the dim yellowed glow of the buzzing overhead lights. “Fun place. Gives me memories.”

“I bet it does.” Ukita smirked, pushing open the door to the featureless grey room and its lone occupant.

Akaguro sat, carefully and deliberately, beneath the deactivated ceiling fan, the only piece of furnishing in the entire room. His clothes were simple and ratty, his hair falling over his eyes. He almost looked peaceful, but when he glanced up at the trio entering the room, his eyes radiated an undeniable madness.

“Chizome Akaguro.” Ukita whistled, approaching the man and planting his hands on his knees as he hunched over above him. “Hell of a catch. How the hell are you doing, buddy?”

Akaguro didn’t answer, so Ukita pressed on.

“Paranoid schizophrenic.” He continued, standing back up and beginning to pace the room. “Rejected from UA at the age of fifteen. Worked various odd jobs most of your life, never stayed in one place for too long. Ran a website exclusively for the purpose of spreading your lovely little anti-hero conspiracy theories.” He paused, coming to a stop. “Not an unexpected profile for the Hero Killer, I’ve gotta say.”

“Always the obvious ones.” Hashimoto commented.

Akaguro pulled some hair back out of his face. “I, am not, the Hero Killer.” He stated plainly.

“Well, you’d say that, wouldn’t you?” Ukita winked. “But so you say. You aren’t the Killer.” He brought his hands up. “That’s it, girls. Gotta let him go now. Guy says he’s innocent.”

“You aren’t funny.” Akaguro slurred. “f*ckin’ fascist.”

“Yeah, I’m a fascist who lives in a nice house.” Ukita retorted. “Your apartment, meanwhile, is an utter sh*thole, comrade. Yes, we took a little look after taking you in. We found hard drives.”

“Material for running your site.” Hashimoto noted. “And those videos you published recently. Videos that only one person would have access to.”

“You want to know why I had them?” Akaguro spat. “I was given them. I made a business transaction with the Hero Killer. He’s a Goddamn hero himself. But I’m not him. I’m flawed, rotten, like everyone else.”

“Which of course explains the bloodied clothing.” Ukita snickered. “And the murder weapons. All with victims’ DNA on them.”

Akaguro didn’t reply. He only became even paler if that was at all possible, the bone showing through his gaunt cheeks. “That-”

“That was a setup, right?” Ukita snorted. “Sure, I believe you. Asshole.” Marching over, he grabbed Akaguro’s hair and forced his head up as he stared into those unhinged eyes. “You’ve caused a lot of problems for a lot of people, Hero Killer. You’re a lunatic schizo. Unfortunately - for us and you - one of your theories just so happened to hit the mark.”

“Wisteria.” Akaguro slurred. “There’s no closing the can on that. You’re all sad*stic freaks. Preying on children, women, the vulnerable. How many has Ikutsuki victimised? How f*ckin’ old were they?”

With a disgusted grunt, Ukita let go and stepped away, brushing off his hands. “You talk like a man ready to die, Akaguro. Coincidentally, have you met the charming Ms. Hachisuka before?”

“Yo.” Hachisuka nodded as, behind her, Hashimoto closed and bolted the door. With the only sound in the room being the scraping of her shoes on the hard flooring, she approached Akaguro. Her one visible eye filled with untempered pleasure as a faint, sickening buzzing rose up from somewhere within her body. “I bet you know what comes next, right? Winner takes all.”

Akaguro glared back.

“If you’re found guilty, and sentenced, which you would be, it’ll be Tartarus for you. Hell’s Island. You’ll never see the sun again…” Ukita advised, leaning on the far wall and checking his nails as if he was waiting for his car to be fuelled. “... So maybe it’s better this way. For you and for all of us.”

Chapter 32: Hell Comes Crashing Down

Chapter Text

“Dead.” Shigaraki echoed as he stood at his desk, staring down at the newspaper. The early morning edition, on the very front page.

“Jesus…” Iguchi muttered. “Can’t really say I’m too surprised, though…”

“What’s the cause?” Toga asked.

“Paper says suicide.” Shigaraki explained.

“Shocker.” Bubaigawara noted. “Somewhat.”

“According to this, he hung himself from the door handle with his belt.” Shigaraki read. “Broke his neck clean.”

“Awful lotta info for a local paper.” Iguchi pointed out. “The media turn more into vultures every Goddamn day…”

“Amen.” Glancing at the words in the paper, Shigaraki wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Something, to him, still didn’t seem right. Yet, according to the director, the Commission had DNA evidence linking Akaguro to the murders, directly; Even if she was involved in Wisteria like Ukita and Hashimoto and Tanimura, she didn’t have any reason to knowingly imprison the wrong person. In fact, that would probably only make her much more willing to get the right guy. Stain had caused no end of headaches for Wisteria, that much wasn’t up for debate.

“Do you reckon it’s a cover?” Iguchi suggested. “Let’s face it, I wouldn’t put it past Ukita’s goon squad to bump him off as revenge.”

“Oh, it’s a possibility for sure.” Shigaraki realised. “If the guy was guilty - if they thought he was at least - he had no chances of living much longer. Even if not Ukita, someone with connections in the prison system would’ve got to him. Guess it doesn’t really change anything if it was a suicide or murder, though.” Getting to his feet and grabbing a marker pen, he moved to the corkboard. “Point is, Akaguro is dead.” He drew a thick red line across his picture on the board. “Most of the Hero Killer trail turns cold without him.”

“I wish he could’ve been a little more helpful…” Toga mused. “We barely learned anything from him…”

“Yeah, maybe I could’ve done a bit better on that front…” Shigaraki sighed. “Still, what that leaves us with is a whole bunch of questions about Wisteria.”

“We’re really gonna look at them?” Toga mused. ”That’s not what the job was, you know. No one’s paying us for this.”

With his back to the others, Shigaraki hung his head and grit his teeth softly. “This…” He muttered. “... Is something for my own sake. Guess you could say I’m the client here. I get it if you guys wanna focus on other, paying jobs right now, I really do. Go ahead. But I’m gonna keep looking into this.”

“Tomura…” Toga trailed. “Why? What’s the deal?”

“Sako might’ve had a point…” Bubaigawara added. “These guys are dangerous. Stain was the only guy who would stand up to them. You’re really just gonna keep going at it for no reason?”

“Guys…” Iguchi urged, slightly panicked. “He’s got his reasons, probably.”

Shigaraski brought his head up, the words boiling in his throat. “Wisteria killed my family.” He managed to get out. He had more to say, but no more words came.

No more words came to anybody. Pure silence.

He held his arms out. “You think that’s weird, I don’t really blame you. But I can’t let things go yet.”

“I’m with you, man.” Iguchi reasoned without hesitation. “I knew that since you first told me.”

“Hold up.” Toga whined. “He told you, first?”

“Oh God, here we go…” Shigaraki murmured, rubbing his brow.

“That is so unfair!” She yelped. “Why didn’t I get to know early?”

“Luck of the draw?” Iguchi shrugged.

“Hmph.” Toga huffed as she flopped back into the recesses of the sofa. “Well, how the heck am I supposed to say no now? Of course I’ll help out, Tomura. Makes me mad to think of them getting away with that.”

“If the rest of you are in, I’m hardly gonna puss* out.” Bubaigawara groaned. “Let’s do this.”

“Thanks.” Shigaraki professed. “You don’t have to do this, but… I appreciate it.” This really was a spectacular group of people to be working with. No matter their limitations, they had guts and they had passion. He was glad to have them around, truly. He wondered exactly what Sensei’s hiring process had been; Clearly, it had been effective.

That said, he returned his attention to the board. “As for what we’ve got on Wisteria… It ain’t exactly plentiful, but it’s not nothing at least. The big one, is Ikutsuki.”

“How deep in it do you reckon he is?” Iguchi enquired. “He’s the best chance at an in, but…”

“You think he leads it?” Bubaigawara asked.

“Don’t think so.” Shigaraki shook his head. “This stuff has international backing. It at least involves China. I can’t see someone as small fry as Ikutsuki being the top dog. To be honest, I’d be surprised if there was one single leader. It’s probably some sort of coalition thing.”

“So, what are you gonna do, then?” Toga perked her head.

“If we can’t strike anyone in particular, then I’d say the best course is just to expose it all.” Shigaraki pointed out. “Get proper, undeniable evidence, and spread it to all four countries of this Goddamn country.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Easy stuff, huh?”

“Oh, super simple.” Toga said, the sarcasm far from at all subtle. “Where do we go, then?”

“We could go to Overhaul for info?” Bubaigawara suggested. “I mean, chances are that he’s got something we could use, right?”

“Urgh.” Iguchi groaned. “We really have to?”

Bubaigawara shrugged. “Just an idea. Guy might be an asshole, or maybe not, but he knows a lot. You could be right, though.”

“Right?” Iguchi blinked. “I didn’t even make any definitive statement-”

Toga then spoke up once more. “Let’s give it a go.” She urged. “It could get us somewhere, right? Better than nothing.”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki nodded. “Yeah, it could be worth a-” Then, he stopped. “Ah sh*t…”

“What’s up?” Toga tilted her head to the side.

“Sako’s the one who would get in contact.” Shigaraki explained. “He had the number. Never shared it with me. I’ve not got any way of getting in contact.”

“Wait, you never got the number off him?” Iguchi squinted.

“Never asked; Never really thought much about it. Not as if I liked the guy much more than you do. But… Well, that’s coming back to bite me…”

“Darn it.” Toga huffed.

Iguchi then glanced up once more. “We could always try find him at his bathhouse. Hell, we’ve been to his headquarters before, we know where that is.”

“And get gunned down at the door by his goons?” Shigaraki asked. “One thing Sako always made clear, these guys don’t like unexpected visitors.”

“Ah. Right…” Iguchi sighed.

Bubaigawara, looking more than a little anxious, started talking. “We could always try and find him.”


“No. Sako…” He stumbled. “Just a thought. If he could help us at all here…”

Shigaraki clicked his tongue. “Don’t like our chances. The guy’s pretty entrenched. Wisteria have scared him off. Besides, where would we find him?” That more or less seemed to bring an end to the topic.

“Well!” Toga leapt up to her feet. “I’m going to get a coffee. Jin, you wanna come?”

“Eh, sure.” Bubaigawara made for the door. “You two wanna come?”

“Nah.” Shigaraki declined. “No thanks.”

“I’m good.” Iguchi added.

“Aight.” With that, those two headed off, leaving Shigaraki to ponder the board in silence.

After a brief period, Iguchi spoke up. “Do you really think it was him?”


“Akaguro. Was he Stain?”

“I don’t… I just don’t know.” Shigaraki sighed. “It doesn’t make any sense. The way he tried to fight us, it was like he’d never received any sort of proper training. The voice sounded wrong, it all seems super convenient…”

“He owned the website, if nothing else.” Iguchi noted.

“Yeah, that ain’t up for debate. Clearly, he’s sympathetic to the Hero Killer, but…” He hung his head.”Not that it really matters. If he isn’t Stain and the actual Stain is smart, he’ll be laying low for a while, anyway. The RS is falling apart, he’s basically gotten himself a get out of jail free card with Akaguro.”

“He’s got no reason to come back anytime soon.” Iguchi concluded. “If he is still out there.”

“Yeah…” He wished he could truthfully say that this was the only reason why he was rolling down the Hero Killer investigation. “For now, at least, Wisteria.”

— — —

As Kai Chisaki sat in the back of the car, he glanced out of the window at the city beyond. A repulsive place in every sense of the word, no matter where one went. Either it was honest with its degeneracy or, like the areas surrounding UA, tried to dress it with pretty lights. Scum was scum all the same, and Chisaki knew that all too well. Not that it bothered him too much; In his line of work, degeneracy meant business. He may have looked down on such people, but they did keep the Hassaikai’s bankroll positive.

“What’s the status on the Trigger?” He asked his driver, a younger fellow, new to the organisation with just a year of experience. “Have we got any further on that?”

The driver adjusted his rear-view mirror to see his boss. “Nothing yet. Dan Cheng are still tied up in that sh*t with the Rising Sun, the whole dock is on lockdown.”

“Damn…” Chisaki snarled, biting on his deformed lips beneath the surgical mask. “Can’t be helped, I suppose… Arrange a meeting with Wong for me. I want to try get this sorted out as soon as possible.” Dan Cheng’s current hiatus was bad, on numerous fronts. They supplied much of the drug business, and the weapons smuggling to boot. Of course, Chisaki was no fool, he didn’t rely solely on one supplier, but the Triads were easily his biggest suppliers, and their continued gridlock was only going to cause problems. Then, there was the matter of the trafficking. Ugly business, but very profitable, both in capital and blackmail. He had files to leverage over just about anyone important in Japan, and a decent chunk of those came from Wisteria. He could effectively run much of the city, all while barely anybody knew his name.

Just how he liked it.

Still, he would have liked to get back on track with the Trigger. There were rumours in the underworld, talks of coroner's reports from those who overdosed on Trigger. Apparently, in high enough quantities, the stuff could fry someone's Quirk receptors entirely, essentially removing their Quirks from any equation. A drug that could render someone ostensively Quirkless... That would be a money-maker. Though, it would take time to figure out, if it was at all possible...

“This isn’t the route.” He suddenly noticed as he realised the car had taken the wrong left turn.

“Roadworks, Sir.” The driver explained. Area’s cordoned off straight ahead. “We’re gonna have to take the long way.”

“Right…” Chisaki settled back in his seat, a faint sense of unease bubbling in his stomach. “What do you make of the Hero Killer business, Niijima?”

“Me, Sir?” The driver asked. “I mean, he’s dead, right? Heard from the news that he was a sick puppy. Real gory kills apparently. But he’s dead. He’s dead.”

“Dead.” Chisaki repeated, turning his gaze to the window once more. “The man was ruffling too many feathers. I can’t say I’ll mourn his passing.”

“Heh. Of course, Sir.” With that, the driver took a right turn, rolling the car into a narrow alleyway. Slowly, he drew the vehicle to a stop.

“Niijima…” Chisaki warned. “What the hell are you doing?” That was when he noticed a figure standing at the far end of the alley, a figure framed in shadow, and standing with purpose.

“I’m sorry, Sir.” The driver professed as he undid his seatbelt and left the car. Chisaki followed after, but by the time he was out, the driver was already disappearing from view, leaving Chisaki with the shadowy figure.

“I suppose you’ve got something to do with this.” He sighed as he remained by the car. “I have a lot of enemies, you know; Most of them dead. Who are you representing?”

The figure didn’t reply, only beginning to move towards the car.

Chisaki retained his composure. “I didn’t think my men could be bought out. Out of curiosity, how much did you pay Niijima to bring me here?” As he spoke, his hand went to the thin latex glove, starting to peel it away. He wasn’t afraid of a scuffle, if that was what it was going to come to. He had survived more than his fair share of battles.

“There are a lot of motivators on earth.” The figure confessed, in a low tone as he started to emerge from the shadows. “Greed, a sense of misplaced justice, fear. Your driver there feared me, as many do. As they should.” He came into view. A tall figure, in all black, his head fully obscured by both his dark hoodie and the mask he wore.

“Son of a bitch…” Chisaki murmured. “I saw the videos. So you’re the Hero Killer. Or some dumb schmuck pretending to be him.”

“No pretences.” The Hero Killer assured. “Everybody calls me the Hero Killer. Everyone. It isn’t entirely accurate, though. My name is Stain. My targets aren’t purely heroes, though they are an effective cover.”

“Is this all some sort of empire, then?” Chisaki speculated. “Eliminating potential threats? That would make me competition.”

“It would make you complicit in human trafficking.” Stain remarked.

Chisaki froze. “You stupid bastard…” He finally muttered. “So this is about Wisteria.”


Chisaki’s eyes grew narrow. He now knew that there was going to be no peaceful way out of this. “Son, I’ve seen a lot. You have got to be one of the stupidest people I’ve ever encountered. You must know, there’s no way out of this.”

“Of course.” Drawing still about fifteen feet away from Chisaki, Stain produced an extendable nightstick from under his sleeve. “It’s to be expected.”

Pulling away his surgical mask, Chisaki exposed the deformities of his lower face. “This was done to me by the last crazy bastard who tried to start a fight; He ended up in a much worse state than I did.”

Stain seemed unphased. “Let’s see if I can give it a better shot, then.”

With his body tensed, and his gloves removed, Chisaki lunged forwards, dragging his hand across the body of the car. Under his touch, under the power of his Quirk Overhaul, the body work mottled and malformed and then splintered into nothing, carving a hole right through the vehicle, a simple show of his power before he dashed ahead to make a slash at Stain.

The Hero Killer darted out of the way of Chisaki’s hands, the trailing ends of his coat catching and vanishing into nothingness. In response, he tore the rest of his coat off and hurled it at Chisaki, providing a brief distraction as he launched himself from a toppled trash can, giving him an extra bit of air from which he could aim a sharp blow of his nightstick directly onto Chisaki’s head.

Chisaki saw it coming, blew the rest of the coat out of existence in the blink of an eye, and rolled out of the way of the blow. Stain landed without striking his target and, completely undaunted, rolled directly into another strike. Slashing his hand across the concrete ground, Chisaki carved a straight hole, forming the displaced concrete into a barrier that rose up from the ground, blocking Stain’s attack and catching him off guard for enough time for Chisaki to put some distance between the two of them.

Stain was fast, and clearly skilled. Any close-ranged encounters would prove disastrous. Chisaki realised that his best bet would be to keep a firm distance and try to hit him from range. Planting his hand on the ground once again, he carved thick chunks away, reforming them into a twisting, spike of gravel and concrete and earth that snaked towards Stain, the pointed tip aimed directly for his chest. Stain darted to the side, sprinting at Chisaki with startling speed. As he did so, another spike rose from the crumbling ground, this one behind Stain, and launched itself at him.

If Stain realised it was homing in on him, he didn’t do so with enough time to react as it pierced his chest, erupting in a shower of shower and pinning him in place, the spike’s tip protruding several feet from his stomach. Not quite the heart, but at least now his speed was somewhat nullified. He struggled against the spike like a wounded animal, as he dropped his nightstick.

“I wouldn’t advise you make any sudden movements.” Chisaki noted as he cautiously approached. “God knows what you could rupture if you aren’t careful.” He tightened his tie, bringing it close to his neck. “That janitor was a patsy, then? Clever. Someone insane enough to make a convincing killer. All the right motives, plus evidence pointing to him.”

Stain did not reply, as he stood, impaled through the stomach.

“You’ve caused a lot of problems.” Chisaki announced, now standing mere inches from him. “I’m curious…” Reaching up, he took a hold of Stain’s mask and tore it away in one deft movement.

“It isn’t my best look, is it?” Stain muttered, a thin, weak smirk on his lips as blood rolled down his chin. “Haven’t even groomed myself today… Total mess…”

“You’re a cop.” Chisaki realised. “I’ve seen you before. No big surprise.” He pulled up his sleeve. “For all intents and purposes, though, you’ll never be exposed. The public will have the janitor to blame and you will have simply disappeared off the face of the earth. There won’t even be a body to identify.” He readied his hand to eradicate all traces of Stain from existence.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught something slipping out of Stain’s other sleeve. An ampule of some sort. In an instant, the Hero Killer rammed it into his side and injected the contents into himself. Chisaki went in for the kill, yet was forced back as Stain raised his leg and kicked him away with a sharp strike of his heavy boot.

“Adrenaline.” Chisaki realised as he watched Stain quite literally pry himself off the spike, grunting and spluttering as he did so, yet showing no signs of hesitation or pause. “Mixed with Trigger, maybe?” He had seen such effects only once before, from a junkie who had been mixing his drugs. “I wouldn’t be so trusting, to put whatever that is into myself.”

“That is where we differ.” Stain announced as, with a heaving yell, he pulled himself free, dripping blood all over the place. “That and the fact that I don’t sell children into the sex trade.”

“I’m a businessman.” Chisaki asserted. “Believe me, I take no pleasure in any of this.”

“I didn’t either.” Stain retorted.

“You’ll die from those wounds.” Chisaki lamented. “If I don’t kill you here, you have a few hours anyway.”

Stain grinned. “You don’t know my Quirk, do you?”

With that, he ran, his speed nigh-inhuman, giving Chisaki no time to react as he grabbed him by the throat and squeezed hard, thrusting him against the wall.

“You stupid prick…” Chisaki gurgled, trying to bring his hand up to activate his Quirk. “You’re fighting a losing battle… You can’t kill Wisteria…”

“I can give it the old college try.” Stain squeezed harder, crushing the tendons in Chisaki’s neck. Grabbing Chisaki’s head, he pulled it forwards then slammed it back into the wall. Again and again and again. Until much of the back of Chisaki’s head had been reduced to a grisly red mush, painting the wall in vicious red.

“You motherf*cker…” Was all Chisaki could spit out in between spits of blood. “You stupid, stupid… Mother…” He fell limp, Stain stepping aside and letting his body hit the ground with a dull squelch.

Walking away from the body, Stain stooped down and picked up his mask, placing it back over his face. “I’ve waited long enough.” He admitted, drawing a thick line of blood across the front of the mask with his gloved fingers. “Now, the heroes aren’t the only ones with something to fear.”

Chapter 33: Back on Track

Chapter Text

“Oh, that’s bad.” Officer Tamakawa commented, a faint green tinge appearing beneath the white fur on his face as he peeked under the sheet covering the body. “That’s really nasty. Are we even going to be able to ID him?”

“We found his wallet, not far from the body.” Tsukauchi explained. “Kai Chisaki.”

Tamakawa looked up, then down to the body, then up once more. “You’re serious?”

“Very.” Tsukauchi sighed. “Captain for the Shie Hassaikai, just a few blocks from his headquarters.”

“Jesus.” Tamakawa got back up to his feet as investigators milled about the scene. “Gangland hit?”

“It could be, but…” Turning to the wall, Tsukauchi examined the relatively fresh mark left on it, a flower painted in crimson. “Early analysis links this to Chisaki’s blood. Chances are, either himself or the killer painted this.”

“That’s… That’s like the flower on the shipping container.” Tamakawa realised. “Remember Iinarawashi?”

“Yes…” Tsukauchi muttered darkly. “I remember all too well…”

“You think there’s a connection?”

“Chisaki dealt in stolen arms.” Tsukauchi noted. “It could be that those guns were in the container… But it all seems like an awful lot of effort to go to in order to recover some stolen weapons. Why would Criminal Affairs be so cagey?”

“God knows, with those assholes.” Tamakawa snickered.

Tsukauchi moved back to the body and kneeled by that. “Then, there’s this… I’ve seen all the signs of this before. The same M.O.”

“Come off it, Sir.” Tamakawa protested. “You don’t mean-”

“Mutilated post-mortem, humiliated, barely identifiable.” Tsukauchi stated. “It’s all the same.”

“Sir, the Hero Killer’s dead.”

“Chizome Akaguro is dead.” Tsukauchi pointed out.

“So? I mean, even if he was a fall guy, what’s the point in coming back just after his death? Totally defeats the purpose of even setting someone else up. If the Hero Killer wanted to get away clean, he’d have taken the chance and let Akaguro take the fall.”

“Maybe…” Tsukauchi sighed, examining the body. “Unless he’s not done yet… Unless he’s taunting us… Or them…”

As if on cue, he was alerted by the sound of footsteps from behind him. Ukita and his crew. All at once, he rose to his feet.

“What the hell are you doing here, this isn’t Criminal Affairs-” He argued.

“Get the f*ck out of here.” There was none of the usual mocking humour in his voice; He sounded tense, on edge.

“I’m sorry, do you care to repeat that?” Tsukauchi asserted. “This is being handled by the Metropolitan Police, you can look over the evidence later.”

Ukita snarled at Tsukauchi as his gaze was drawn to the wall. “f*ck… f*ck, f*ck…”

Tsukauchi raised an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”

Ukita ignored this. “Tanimura, get a hold of Hachisuka. Tell her we need to meet.”

“Right away, Sir.” Tanimura nodded, before hurrying off.

“This can’t be right…” Hashimoto muttered. “Copycat?”

“What are you talking about?” Tsukauchi asked.

That seemed to ignite Ukita. “I told you to clear off, already, asshole! You and the rest of these retards, this is my investigation!”

“You want to say that again, Agent?” Tsukauchi felt as his blood pressure shot up. “I’m getting sick of your interference in police business.”

“I don’t give a f*ck what you’re getting sick of, Inspector, this case is under my jurisdiction!”

“This case.” Tsukauchi noticed. “So you think so, too?”

“Think what?” Ukita sneered.

“That we’ve been played for fools. You in particular.”

Ukita glared for a moment. Then, he drew his hand into his blazer and produced a handgun, pointing it at Tsukauchi’s head.

“Woah!” Tamakawa pulled his own weapon. “Can we cool it here?”

Tsukauchi remained calm. “A Commission agent with a gun? That isn’t standard procedure.”

“f*ck procedure.” Ukita spat. “Get your little team out of here before I turn you into paperwork. I’m asking you once more.” There was something in his tone. Fear, perhaps. Something was genuinely bothering the agent.

And whatever it was, Tsukauchi was quickly realising that it was going to be trouble.

“That’s it.” He grunted, barging past Ukita and heading out of the alleyway. “I’ve had enough.”

“Hey, where you going, Sir?” Tamakawa called after him.

“Away.” Was all he said. Ukita said to f*ck procedure? Very well then.

He was swiftly coming to realise that if he wanted to get to the bottom of this, he was going to have to do that as well.

— — —

The Musutafu train system was really, truly something terrible.

When it actually worked - when the drivers weren’t striking for one reason or another - the trains were often late, always crowded and almost always left filthy by the hordes surging through it day after day. Shigaraki had once read that Japan’s rail system had a history of cleanliness and efficiency; That was clearly one aspect that remained in the past. When it came to getting ferried around, however, it was still marginally preferable to the bus service, which shared all of the same problems plus some more. At least with the rail lines mounted high above the roads, there was significantly less chance of having a brick put through the window by some half-awake co*kehead. When compared to the other forms of public transport on offer, the train system was downright utopian.

If the detective business was ever to go bust, Shigaraki reckoned he should write travel brochures, as he stood in the crowded carriage, hand on the rail and trying his best not to knock into one of the many people surrounding him.

“Don’t look behind you.” The man standing just behind him suddenly said.

“Huh?” Shigaraki’s head shot up; For a moment, he wasn’t exactly sure if he was the one being referred to or not.

“Just don’t.” The man urged. “I want to talk to you, Tomura Shigaraki. The problem is, I’m fairly certain that both of us are being watched.”

Shigaraki decided to follow this advice, for the time being. “And you are?”

The man passed something into Shigaraki’s hand, and he glanced down at it. A badge. Naomasa Tsukauchi, Inspector, Metropolitan Police.

“Ah, you.” Shigaraki realised. “We’ve met before.”

“Once or twice.” Tsukauchi confirmed, taking the badge back. “I’ll give you the short of it. Shie Hassaikai captain Kai Chisaki was found murdered this morning.”

“Chisaki?” Shigaraki’s eyes went wide. “sh*t. The Yakuza, right?” At least now he knew that he wouldn’t have gotten much out of him even if he could be contacted.

“Here’s the problem: Everything about it screams Hero Killer to me.”

“Hero Killer… Chisaki’s not a-” And then, he remembered. “sh*t… Then you’re telling me that he was-” He held his tongue at the last moment.

“He was what?” Tsukauchi asked.

“Nothing. Just a theory I was working on. The Hero Killer’s dead, officially.”

“Officially.” The inspector agreed. “I have my doubts that Akaguro was the killer. Maybe he was just a fall guy. Had you considered such a theory, yourself?” As he spoke, the carriage rattled from side to side.

“I had thought about it.” Shigaraki confessed. “Akaguro seemed kind of off. He’s got the insanity, but he didn’t have much in the way of intellect, or combat ability. The Hero Killer’s a hell of a fighter. Akaguro was just underwhelming.”

“Exactly. I’m fairly certain that the killer is still out there, and he’s still going to strike. Of course, there’s the matter of Chisaki not being a hero, but this all just seems too convenient. Like something big is brewing.”

“Okay.” Shigaraki laned back on the railing, folding his arms across his chest. “Why are you telling me all this? Ain’t I just a civilian?”

Tsukauchi sighed. “This entire investigation is compromised. The Commission’s Criminal Affairs Division is throwing their weight around, and frankly I think they’ve got more of a stake in this than they’re letting on. There’s no way any work can get done with them around.”

“Ain’t that the half of it?” Shigaraki snickered. “So, it comes to my Agency…”

“I know you were looking into the case.” Tsukauchi noted. “I wouldn’t usually feel so comfortable, but given the situation, I can’t hope to make progress on this investigation through traditional channels. In short, I’m looking to hire your services. I’ll pay from my own pocket, for you to reopen the Hero Killer case.”

“Reopen the case?” Shigaraki muttered. It wasn’t as if it was technically closed yet. The new Wisteria investigation was still heavily tied to it, after all. The whole not having a client thing could prove to be a problem later on down the line. Even just having someone bankroll the case wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world, looking into Wisteria further and picking up some more information on Stain along the way to keep Tsukauchi happy. “I’ll think about it.”

“As a show of good will…” Tsukauchi professed. “Your trespassing case at the dockyard has disappeared. As has the one for your partner Iguchi. You won’t have to worry about that. Furthermore, if you accept, I’d like to bring you along tomorrow.”

“What for?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow.

“Given Chisaki’s high-profile nature, the Homicide and Organised Crime Divisions of the Metropolitan Police are arranging a raid on the Shie Hassaikai’s headquarters. We’ve managed to keep it away from the Commission, for now. I’d like you to come with me on that raid, see if you can spot anything to tie Chisaki to the Hero Killer.”

“Alright then.” Shigaraki pondered. “Intriguing…”

“It’ll be at twelve tomorrow.” Tsukauchi advised as the train began to pull up to a station, jerking with the sort of unstable vigour expected of Musutafu’s transit infrastructure. ”I hope to see you there.”

Shigaraki bit down on his lip. “Just a second, Inspector… What do you know about Wisteria?” It couldn’t hurt to ask, surely.

“Wisteria?” Tsukauchi repeated. “I’ve heard the name once before… From an informant in this case. What the hell is it? What’s its relevance here?” He paused. “The flower mural?”

Drawing himself up to full height, Shigaraki began to walk to the exit. “I’ll explain later. This is my stop.”

Stepping down onto the platform into the blazing rain with his hands in his pockets, Shigaraki reflected on the conversation. It was something. He was a little wary about teaming up with the police, but the money would be appreciated, and Tsukauchi seemed like a decent enough fellow. A nice break from his usual experience with law enforcement ranging from sleazy to clearly evil.

He’d just have to ask the others about it.

— — —

Gratefully pulling open the door to the office, Shigaraki staggered in, soaking from head to toe, as everybody was nowadays. The lights were on, but only one person was inside, Toga sitting on the sofa and immersing herself in Iguchi’s handheld console.

“Oh, heya Tomura.” She craned her head over her back as he went to the board. ”Good trip?”

“As good as it could be.” Shigaraki noted. “Where’s the others?”

“Shuichi and Jin went drinking.” Toga explained.

“Drinking- It’s one in the afternoon.”

“That’s what I said.” She shrugged. ”Didn’t stop them, though.”

“Jesus…” With a roll of his eyes, Shigaraki resumed his focus on the task at hand. “Look, I’m gonna need you free tomorrow.”

“What for?” Toga asked curiously.

“Chisaki’s dead. Apparently, there’s a damn good chance it’s Stain.“

That got Toga leaping up into a sitting position. “What?”

“That’s the police’s theory at least.” Shigaraki explained. “Inspector Tsukauchi came to talk to me. He wants to hire us to look into Chisaki’s murder and part of that includes a raid on his headquarters tomorrow. I want you to come with me.”

“Wait, we’re taking this on?” Toga questioned. “What about Wisteria? What about what they did to your Papa?”

“We’re still focused on them.” Shigaraki muttered darkly. “Iguchi and Bubaigawara are gonna stay focused on the Ikutsuki lead while we’re doing this. And moreover…” He sighed. “I can’t escape the feeling that Chisaki had something to do with Wisteria.”


“Think about it. If Stain killed him, there’s gotta be something there. Even beyond that, Dan Cheng clearly has something to do with Wisteria. We know Chisaki worked with Chinese guns and drugs. Pretty likely he got them from Dan Cheng. That establishes a connection.” As he spoke, Shigaraki fiddled with the corkboard. “Besides, he was a Yakuza. Makes sense there’d be some sort of connection there.”

“Huh.” Toga pondered. “I guess. But then…”

Shigaraki had already realised it on the walk to the office. “Chisaki had been playing us for bastards…” Maybe his early theory of corrupt heroes being targeted had been legitimate; However, it was a very convenient excuse to turn eyes away from Wisteria, by declaring that all of Stain’s victims had their own demons. Even the ones who didn’t seem to have any clear connection to Wisteria, a factor that he was still trying to wrap his head around. “Prick…”

“So, Stainy is still out there…” Toga contemplated. “And he’s not even going after heroes anymore?”

“It’s like he’s actively taunting Wisteria.” Shigaraki noted. “Maybe us as well. For all our efforts, nobody could hold him back.”

“How are we even gonna start figuring this out?” Toga moaned.

“Easy, really.” Shigaraki shrugged. “First thing’s first, we go with Tsukauchi tomorrow, get a hold of what we can. Chisaki’s gotta have some sort of paper trail. We’ll just have to find it.” It was, at the very least, worth a try. He had known from the moment he heard about the raid that he couldn’t turn Tsukauchi’s offer down. The opportunity to scour the Hassaikai’s headquarters without being under Chisaki’s watchful eye was the kind of chance that would not arise frequently, and he was ready to snatch it as soon as possible.

“Soooo…” Toga asked. “What’s he paying us for this, exactly?”

— — —

“Been a wild few months, hasn’t it?” Bubaigawara asked as he spun his fingers around the rim of his beer bottle, absent-mindedly.

“Ain’t that the truth?” Iguchi nodded, his eyes locked on the waitress passing their booth. “From a corrupt hero, to a serial killer, to some weird trafficking cult that they’re both related to somehow.” He took a sip from his glass and smacked his lips. “Kinda feels like an action movie.”

“A real morbid one.” Bubaigawara noted. “Like an action-thriller. I feel sorry for Boss-man, you know?”

“Who, Shigaraki?” Iguchi asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah. I mean, he’s gotta deal with all this, coordinate our useless asses, cope with his sensei’s death and now his childhood’s coming back up.” Bubaigawara sighed. “You’ve gotta feel for the guy.”

“I mean, yeah.” Iguchi tilted his head downwards. “I just get the feeling that he wouldn’t want us to be shovelling him in pity.” Contemplating for a moment, he drummed his claws off the tabletop. “When I first met him, I thought he was a f*cking idiot. I signed on to work for Hakai Shigaraki, and he just delegates me to his weirdo son. That was the first thought I had about him. I mean, I can’t judge really, but he wasn’t even wearing matching socks the first time we met. I thought Sako was my new boss at first, then he turns to Shigaraki to ask for orders and the rest is history…” He chuckled gently at the memory. “He’s a lot more than he presents himself as.”

“Definitely.” Bubaigawara agreed. “There’s something about him. Maybe it’s ‘cause he’s kind of inelegant, he appeals to a dumbass like me, but I really would follow him to the ends of the earth. We are walking right into the lion’s den with Wisteria, and I didn’t even think twice before saying yes. It’s amazing.”

“You’d swear it was his Quirk.” Iguchi smirked. “But nah. I really think he’s just a decent guy. I’m really glad to be working for him. Beats hauling packages for Amazon.”

“For sure.” Bubaigawara remarked. “Like an ex-con like me would even have that option, though. I owe a lot to Shigaraki and his Sensei. Finding work for a loser fresh out of jail. Good work. Work that makes a difference.”

“That’s what it’s all about.” Iguchi nodded. “We’re gonna make a difference here. f*ck Wisteria.” He raised his glass.

“f*ck Wisteria.” Bubaigawara confirmed, bringing up his bottle and clinking it against the glass. “So, Ikutsuki, huh?” He rolled his eyes. “Doesn’t surprise me.”

“It doesn’t?” Iguchi asked. “Truth be told, I don’t know much about the guy.”

“Nobody does. But he gives me weirdo vibes. Never trust a bald man, that’s my motto.”

Iguchi smirked. “Bet that’s gotten you far in life. Shame that Akaguro’s website got seized, would’ve wanted to take a look at it again, see if there’s anything at all we can get about Ikutsuki.” He sighed. Even if it was seized for investigation purposes, he had no doubt that the Commission were delighted at the opportunity to get rid of it for various other reasons. “I’ll keep an eye out, I guess. Someone on the internet’s gotta know something about him, right?”

“Oh, for sure. The internet knows everything. More or less.”

— — —

“Yes, Governor.” Ukita heaved as he looked out of his office window to the late evening skyline, phone held to his ear. “We’re taking care of it.”

“That’s what you said last time.” Jun Ikutsuki’s voice echoed on the other end of the line grumpily. “That’s what your superiors told me personally, Agent, that you had taken care of the Hero Killer.”

Ukita grit his teeth. “We worked with what we had at the time, all signs pointed to Akaguro being our guy. It’s a minor setback.“

“These things always start that way.” Ikutsuki grunted. “Chisaki was a key player, God knows what kind of information he was holding onto. You think a gangster like him wouldn’t have blackmail? The end of the world always begins with minor setbacks, Agent.”

“I’ve got someone on that.” Ukita glanced over to the corner of the room, where Hashimoto and Hachisuka were sitting.


Ukita paused for a moment. “Kuin Hachisuka.”

Ikutsuki processed the name for a second or so.”Fine. She can be trusted. Just see to it that this is dealt with. And your killer.”

“Yes, Governor.” Ukita stooped, catching his reflection in the mirror; he looked a mess. “It’ll be done.”

“See to it, Agent.” With that, Ikutsuki hung up. Ukita hovered for a second, the phone gripped tight in his hands. Then, with a frustrated shout, he hurled it across the room.

“Asshole!” he yelled as it smashed against his framed sociology degree. “That kiddie-raping piece of sh*t…”

“He’s a hell of a powerful man, Ukita.” Hachisuka noted calmly. “If he goes down-”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Ukita threw his hands up as Tanimura returned to the office, takeout in hand. “Thanks, put it on the desk.”

Tanimura did just that, noting the tension in the room. “What happened?”

“Our esteemed governor is not happy.” Hashimoto explained.

“You know what to do, right?” Ukita asked, directing his question to Hachisuka as he ran his hands through his dishevelled hair. “You go to Chisaki’s boys, tell them what’s what. Make sure any hard drives, folders, everything that could have any blackmail on the Governor on it is destroyed.”

“Of course.” Hachisuka nodded. “It’s as good as done.” She went to leave.

Leaning back on his desk, Ukita tried to straighten his thoughts out. “Tanimura?” He finally asked, after a long period of silence.

“Yes, Sir?”

“Are we doing the right thing here? Protecting pieces of sh*t like the Governor and Chisaki?” as much as he tried to stem it off, the situation was hitting him harder than even he realised. “Do you think it’s all worth it, to stop this country from falling apart?”

Hashimoto spoke up before Tanimura had the chance. “Absolutely.” She confirmed. “Protecting some unsavoury people for the sake of everybody? Without Ikutsuki-san, this city would-”

“- Collapse even faster.” Ukita finished. “I just…” Leaning back up, he straightened his tie. “Yeah. We’re doing the right thing here.”

“Ultimately.” Hashimoto added.

“We’ll nab this Hero Killer bastard.” Ukita asserted, forcing a grin to his face. “And we’ll get this nation back on track.”

Chapter 34: Expunged


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

It wasn’t a half-bad day for a police raid. The sky was breaking with the tingle of early afternoon, the rain having momentarily let up for the first time in weeks to reveal a greyed, yet still refreshingly dry, sky. Hints of faint blue could even be seen if one squinted hard enough.

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this.” Toga bubbled as she and Shigaraki stepped over the police barrier, approaching the muster point for the officers participating in the raid. “It’s like we’re in a movie!”

“That’s a way of looking at it.” Shigaraki commented as he kept his hands in his pockets. “In a sense.” There was something a little exciting about it all, as if they were breaking into the big leagues.

As they approached, a female officer turned her head and noticed them. “This place is off-limits.” She immediately started.

“They’re with me.” Tsukauchi stepped in as he heard the commotion, moving away from his discussion with his colleague to resolve the matter. “I asked for them to be present.”

The woman glared Shigaraki and Toga up and down before turning away with a snort and returning to her position.

“Good to see you.” Shigaraki nodded. He indicated the police vehicles piled up around the place. “Subtle.”

“It doesn’t really matter at this stage.” Tsukauchi pointed out. “They know we’re coming, it’s just a matter of when I walk up to the front door to announce our presence.”

Shigaraki glanced at the building. “You don’t think they’re gonna try to start destroying evidence if they know we’re here?” Given the Wisteria involvement, he wouldn’t put it past the Hassaikai to have started shredding files the second that Chisaki had died.

“This is the best we can do, while following procedure.” Tsukauchi sighed. “And this is after rushing for a warrant. We’ll have to hope it’s enough.”

“Sir.” Officer Tamakawa, his face distorted behind the riot helmet he was wearing, walked up with a salute. “We’re just about ready now.”

“Sansa!” Toga exploded, beaming from ear to ear. “Didn’t know he’d be here.”

“Is he your new obsession?” Shigaraki whispered back.

“No! Just… Look at him. He’s cute.”

Shigaraki observed the cat man in the police riot gear. “I’ll take your word for it.” He spent another few seconds taking in the sight of the armour. “Expecting trouble?”

“These guys are Yakuza.” Tamakawa stated. “Who knows what you can expect from them?”

“It was Tamakawa’s idea, to bring in some riot gear.” Tsukauchi confessed, as he ascended the steps to the front door, the gathered officers - maybe ten or fifteen of them in total - prepared for what was to come.

Shigaraki whistled. “Smart choice, all things considered.”

“They can fight tooth and nail when they’re cornered.” Tamakawa explained as he fell into line. “Better safe than sorry.”

“For sure.” Toga agreed, as she blew out her gum, sticking it under the nearby lamp post and watching alongside Shigaraki as Tsukauchi knocked on the door.

“Police!” He called out. “We’ve got a warrant to search the premises!”

“Here comes the exciting part.” Toga whispered.

The exciting part, as it turned out, consisted of a lot of standing around and waiting, as nothing happened. In all fairness, the tension was palpable as all who were gathered awaited a response.

Finally, it came as the door opened up. A man stood behind it, someone who Shigaraki immediately recognised as one of Chisaki’s right hands. The fellow with the absurd hairstyle, named Kurono if he remembered correctly. He was dressed in a black suit, as if he had just returned from a funeral.

Kurono eyed the gathered police force with little emotion of any kind. “I figured this was coming.” He sighed.

“We’ve got a search warrant.” Tsukauchi reiterated. “Your full cooperation would be appreciated.”

After a second, Kurono stepped aside. “Sure. Whatever.”

With that, the officer, as well as Shigaraki and Toga, headed inside, prepared to find whatever they may need to.

The place was unassuming, a basic, and rather small, office lobby. Shigaraki supposed that the Yakuza were just like any other business, just with a more illicit bent. A few men were gathered about, all of them clearly gangsters, but no resistance was offered up as the police and Kurono ascended the stairs to the next floor.

“So, this is the Hassaikai’s office…” Toga pondered, glancing around. “Looks so normal…”

“Sure does.” Shigaraki whistled.

Spreading out across the floor, the officers began to inspect the various rooms on the floor; Tsukauchi, Tamakawa and the two private investigators came to a locked door at the end of the landing.

“Could you open this up for us?” The inspector asked Kurono, who merely kept his arms folded and rolled his eyes.

“I don’t have to do a Goddamn thing.” He commented dryly.

“We can take you down right now.” Tamakawa suggested. “Right now, we’re just looking to clear up some loose ends on your captain’s death, but if you want to cop an obstruction charge here and now, by my guest.”

Kurona pondered for a moment, then moved to the door, producing a set of keys. He quickly opened it up and allowed the group in. The room itself didn’t appear all too special. A storage cupboard, packed to the brim with boxes and crates of all descriptions.

“We toss all sorts in here.” Kurono elaborated. “Cleaning supplies, what-have-you.”

“We’ll be the judges of that.” Tsukauchi asserted as Tamakawa and a pair of other officers inspected the crates. After a moment or two, they managed to get them open, Shigaraki peering inside. Chip bags. A lot of chip bags. Some Chinese brand.

“The boys eat a lot of junk.” Kurono muttered. “We keep the vending machines in the lobbies stocked.”

Reaching down, Shigaraki picked up one of the bags.

“Hungry?” Tamakawa asked.

“It’s heavy.” Shigaraki muttered. “Really heavy, for a chip bag.” Pulling it open, he glanced inside. It was certainly full of chips. Chips and something else. A little cardboard box, the kind that syringes tended to be stored in. He pulled it out.

“Trigger.” One of the officers realised. “Those are the boxes they distribute Trigger in. Remember the seminar we had on them, Inspector?”

Tsukauchi glared at Kurono. “Check the rest of them.”

The officers - with the assistance of Shigaraki and Toga - did just that. Each and every single bag had one in them, of both crates that they searched.

“Nasty stuff.” Tamakawa whistled as he examined the stack of syringe boxes they had collected. “Junkies and low-rank villains love this stuff. Gives you a quick boost for a few hours. Take too much, though… A Trigger overdose is a bad way to go. Real unpleasant.”

As the other two officers surrounded Kurono, his expression didn’t change at all, remaining passive and almost bored in a sense. “Call my attorney.” He sighed as he held up his hands to be cuffed. “Looks like he’ll be having a busy night.”

Reaching for the radio mounted on his shoulder, Tsukauchi spoke into it. “Inspector Tsukauchi to Command. We’ve located illicit narcotics on the premises. A lot of it. Permission to detain any contacts on the scene?”

It took a moment or so before Command responded. “Permission granted.”

“Alright.” Tsukauchi moved out of the room to alert the others of the new RoE, as Kurono was led away. Meanwhile, Shigaraki stood and stared at the Trigger. He doubted it had much to do with Wisteria. But still, Chinese chips… One more potential connection to Dan Cheng.

“Do me a favour…” He muttered to Tamakawa. “After this is over, see if you can figure out where those crates are from.”

Tamakawa saluted. “Yes Sir!”

“Thanks Sansa!” Toga beamed as she and Shigaraki left, leaving Tamakawa to secure the rest of the drugs, to see the majority of the officers gathered in the landing once more. It didn’t seem any of the others had found anything of much interest.

Up another floor they went. Right on the stairs, they encountered a pair of gangsters, neither of whom offered significant resistance, a fact that Shigaraki noted. They seemed oddly calm. He wondered, if the Shie Hassaikai was affiliated with Wisteria, how many of its members were aware of what was going on? A small, tight-knit operation even within the Hassaikai…

He held the thought as they came to another door, Tsukauchi pressing himself against it. “Noises.” He nodded to the others. “Running water. Bathroom.” Stepping back, he allowed two officers access to breach the door. Clearly, it wasn’t locked as it broke instantly beneath their boots.

A single man stood by the sinks in the bathroom, clearly panicked and only becoming more horrified as the police breached. The sink was overflowing and there was a stack of items by his feet.

“Hands raised!” Tsukauchi commanded. “Slowly!”

Clearly not intending to do as was told of him, the man spun, made a break for the bathroom window. Officers had him tackled to the ground before he was even halfway there, as Tsukauchi and the private detectives went to look at the sink.

“Hard drives.” Shigaraki realised, picking one out of the overflowing sink. “Water damaged.”

“A quick and messy way of destroying them.” Tsukauchi noted, examining the stack by his feet, which consisted of even more drives. “These ones seem undamaged.”

“I don’t know a thing, okay?” The gangster wailed as he was pinned to the ground. “Got no clue what’s on them. Boss Lady tells me to destroy them, I destroy them. I don’t ask questions.”

“Boss Lady…” Tsukauchi muttered. “Last time I checked, the Hassaikai’s Patriarch was… Well, a man…” He shook his head. “At the very least, you’re under arrest for obstruction and suspicion of perverting the course of justice.”

“Whatever, Man.” The gangster whined as he was hauled to his feet and led away. “But I don’t know a Goddamn thing about what’s on them drives, you hear?”

Tsukauchi glanced at Shigaraki. “You think?”

“Probably not.” Shigaraki shrugged as Toga picked up the intact drives and handed them off to one of the officers. “Curious what is on them, though…” It was unlikely to be tied to the Trigger or guns, nor the human trafficking. Business transactions, maybe? Chisaki seemed the type to be obsessive enough to keep a note of everything he did. There could be a link to Wisteria within them.

“This is getting interesting.” Toga whistled, as she followed Tsukauchi out of the room. By this stage, there were only five officers left to press on with, including the rather unpleasant woman from earlier, with the rest securing various rooms, evidence or people.

“Made some arrests.” The woman explained. “Not found much of any worth, though one of the guys pointed us towards Chisaki’s office.” She pointed to the far end of the hall, where a rather impressive set of double doors stood. It certainly looked like the entrance to a grand office.

“I’m guessing it’s locked?” Tsukauchi sighed, moving to the door with Shigaraki and Toga.

“Yeah.” The woman nodded. “Koro and Namatame are grabbing the breaching tools.”

“Right, of course.”

“Always wanted to see one of those in action.” Toga whistled.

She didn’t have to wait long, as the two officers returned with their breaching ram, a massive monster of a thing that required both men to be holding it. Those who weren’t operating it flattened themselves against the wall as those who did prepared to swing it into the locked door.

The first swing splintered wood. The second punched holes in the wood. The third knocked the doors right off their hinges.

With the doors down, Tsukauchi drew his revolver and led the entry to the room, followed by his fellow officers and then Shigaraki and Toga.

The place was an absolute mess, although it rather looked like this wasn’t the usual state for it. The walls, floors, everything was as meticulously maintained as one would expect for Kai Chisaki’s inner sanctum; The mess came from the filing cabinets and drawers lining the room, ripped apart, papers sprawled over the floor. An ornate fireplace sat at one end of the office, alight and filled with charred papers and documents.

“sh*t…” Shigaraki muttered as he picked up one of the papers. It looked like some sort of order form. His eyes widened as he realised what he saw; It was a form for a person, dated about twelve years ago. Height, weight, the age of three years old, and most notably, the name of recipient:

Enji Todoroki.

“f*ck…” He muttered as Toga took a look at the form. “It’s like some medical form. Except Old Man Todoroki’s listed as a recipient.”

“Twelve years ago…” Toga mumbled. “Shoto…”

The two stared at each other in horror, putting together the truth in tandem.

The police, meanwhile, were focused on the open doors leading out to the office’s balcony. There, two people stood, smoke and flame drifting up as they stood by a smouldering box of documents.

“Hold it!” Tsukauchi called. “Everything in here is being seized! Hands in view!”

Both people turned around, one of them a typical Yakuza; The other, a young girl with an eyepatch.

“You’re f*cking kidding me.” Shigaraki groaned. “Hachisuka.”

“Hey, Shigaraki.” Hachisuka smirked, not at all seeming bothered by the officers pointing guns at her. “Long time no see. Now what in the hell are you doing here?”

“Ride along.” Shigaraki retorted. “You?”

Hachisuka’s expression darkened. ”Just contending with some loose ends… Chisaki was thorough.”

Slowly, two officers moved towards her and the gangster, guns raised, going for an arrest. Hachisuka gently moved her arms to the proper position.

“Boss?” The gangster questioned. “You’re just surrendering? You know how f*cked we are if this gets out, right?”

“Shut up!” One of the officers yelled. “Silence!”

“I know…” Hachisuka muttered wistfully. “It’s more about how f*cked you are, though.”

What came next came in a storm of movement. A bee flew from Hachisuka’s sleeve and embedded itself in the throat of the gangster. Grabbing him, she threw him towards the two approaching officers as his whole body swelled up. He exploded mere steps in front of them, the blast sending both men flying back; One hit the ground and fell into a wheezing fit, while the other hit his head on Chisaki’s desk, his neck snapped all the way to the side.

Hachisuka burst into a run through the smoke of the blast, sprinting into the office at the remaining officers as she tore the patch away to reveal the gaping wound in her eye and the creatures writhing beneath.

The officers yelled for compliance, to which none was offered, and so they opened fire. The bullets ripped hachisuka’s body to shreds, as a swarm of bees burst from her eye socket. Before the body even hit the ground, they were racing across the room, towards the female officer, who had no time to react.

With a piercing cry and a tearing of flesh, the swarm ripped the woman’s eye clean out, splattering her face in her own blood. Still gripping her revolver, she spun and contorted, her body twisting as she continued to screech out in pain, her fellow officers only able to watch on in terror.

However, within seconds, that tortured screaming began to reform into something resembling a laugh and, as her body still twisted and jerked, she brought her gun up and fired upon her colleagues. She got off four shots in as many seconds, each one killing their target, and then levelled her gun at Tsukauchi, bringing her head up and grinning madly.

For the first time, Shigaraki understood; This was Kuin Hachisuka’s power. The ability to wear others as a skin suit, control their every action. That was how she had survived the explosion at the docks.

“Boom.” She chuckled as she squeezed the trigger.

A dull click emitted. Out of bullets.

Tsukauchi got the chance and fired off a shot of his own, punching a hole in her shoulder.

“Dammit!” She howled, spiralling back, as Shigaraki lunged at her, grabbing the gun from her and letting it turn to ash and rusted metal beneath his fingers. She aimed a punch at his ribs, winding him and getting him to back away from her. Gritting her teeth, she staggered towards the balcony. As she did so, Tsulauchi brought his gun up once more.

“Not one more step.” He commanded. “You’re under arrest.”

Hachisuka stopped walking. “Still trying to go for the arrest, huh? Seriously, man, you should’ve just killed me.”

“Cop killers tend to get the chair.” Tsukauchi muttered through grit teeth as he gazed upon the bodies of his comrades. “I’m just going to make sure it’s done through the courts, properly.”

Hachisuka grinned, her smile reaching her blood-soaked cheek. “No, I mean… You really should have killed me.”

Moments after she said this, the bee that had been hovering behind Tsukauchi all this time struck, lodging itself into his neck. Tsukauchi tried to shoot, but his trembling hands sent the bullet directly into the floorboards as he dropped the gun and fell back, colliding with a bookshelf and sliding all the way down it. He was clearly still alive, still conscious even, but it was as if he had been paralysed from the neck down.

“Bitch…” Shigaraki grunted as he finally recovered and glared at her.

Hachisuka looked oddly faint, and very, very pale. “It hurts to use my babies like this…” She gasped. “Literally, it hurts. I lose a little bit of me for every one of them I use… But I’ve gotta say…” As she drew herself back up to full height, she seemed to have recovered. “This body is awesome.”

Shigaraki ran at her, tried to tackle her to the ground; Hachisuka met this with a swift boot to the face, knocking him down and planting her foot on the back of his neck. Shigaraki grunted out in pain as she twisted the cap of her boot into the folds of his paper-thin flesh.

“I mean, my forte are schoolgirls.” She confessed. “Loads of benefits. Nobody suspects ‘em, everybody underestimates ‘em. But a body like this, well-trained and in peak physical condition… This is a rare treat.”

“You’re psycho…” Shigaraki grunted. “Wisteria sent you to destroy Chisaki’s records, right?”

“None of your business, sweetie.” Hachisuka chastised as she removed her foot from his neck to kick him in the chest. “I like you, Shigaraki, I really do. You’re a good detective. Maybe too good. You just had to stay the hell out of our way. Because these are affairs you can’t hope to meddle in and survive.”

With a cry, Toga ran at Hachisuka, wielding a heavy book to bludgeon her with. Hachisuka managed to catch this out of the corner of her eye, performing a sweeping kick that knocked Toga’s legs out from under her and down to the ground, as she backed away, approaching the fireplace and kicking several of the burning pieces of timber out onto the meticulous wooden flooring. Almost at once, the flames started to spread.

“Tata.” She taunted, moving to the balcony as Shigaraki struggled to get to his feet. “Maybe we’ll see each other again, be it in this life or Hell.” With that, she turned and launched herself off the balcony.

“No!” Shigaraki howled, helping Toga up to her feet as the fire started to spread and the alarm began to blare. “Get him out of here.” He advised her, pointing to Tsukauchi.

“I mean, sure… But what are you gonna do that’s so important that you can’t be helping?” She asked.

Shigaraki didn’t respond as he took a running leap and hurled himself off the balcony, after Hachisuka. He hadn’t even thought, only moved, his eyes locked on the woman sprinting across the adjacent rooftop in front of him.

For just a few seconds he was in the air.



Then coming down.


He hit the adjacent roof clumsily, carrying his momentum forwards as he started to sprint at full speed after Hachisuka. As she came to the end of that roof, she jumped to the next, and he followed her without a second’s thought. He wasn’t going to let her get away this time. He needed answers, and - perhaps more so - he needed to show Wisteria that they weren’t invincible.

His chest heaved and burned as he ran. He didn’t think he had ever sprinted so fast in his life before, not even when chasing Akaguro. It was strange to think that it had only been a few days ago, it already felt like an eternity. Regardless, he was not going to let her out of his sight, and gradually, he felt himself closing the distance on her.

As he caught up to her, they were nearing the end of another roof once more. The next one was a decent hop away. He got the feeling that Hachisuka would easily clear it, but as for himself…

It was best not to risk it.

Lunging forwards, he grabbed Hachisuka around the waist and hauled her down, sending the both of them flying right off the rooftop and down into the alleyway below. For several seconds, he wondered if he may have just killed himself.

He hit the ground with considerably less force than expected, colliding with a pile of haphazardly-spread trash bags that more or less broke the fall. It still hurt like Hell, but as he lay there with scraps of old food wrappers and God knows what else clinging to his body, he was at least still alive.

Hachisuka lay a few paces away, in a considerably worse state. She had smacked her head off a metal skip on the way down and was bleeding profusely from her forehead as she struggled to get back up to her feet.

Not a chance.

Leaping up, Shigaraki grabbed her by the collar and thrust her into the wall.

“You total moron…” Hachisuka gasped as the blood ran down her face, mixing that from her eye with her newly-acquired split forehead and busted lip. “What the hell was that for?”

“Effective, huh?” Shigaraki grunted, aware that he should probably try to get some answers out of her before she fell unconscious. “What were you trying to destroy back there?”

Hachisuka let out a pained little giggle. “Really, Shigaraki, you’re part-genius and part-cretin. Isn’t it obvious?”

Shigaraki gripped her tighter, taking great care to restrain himself from applying all five fingers on his right hand.

“Blackmail.” She spat. “Chisaki was one of our big distributors. The big one. He took the products from Dan Cheng, and a couple other places, and sold them on.”

“Products meaning people.” Shigaraki snarled. “The people you smuggled.”

Hachisuka smirked weakly. “Deep down, I think he was as disgusted with the whole thing as you are. But business was business. He didn’t trust or like any of us, though. So he compiled blackmail. Everyone associated with Wisteria who he had made contact with, every woman and child who had gone through his organisation, and every person who had bought them. That kind of sh*t, could blow the country right open…”

“You’re f*cking vile.” Shigaraki muttered. “You, and Chisaki, and everyone else.”

“Spare me the Goddamn hysterics.” Hachisuka moaned, almost sounding bored with the whole thing. “I get told to do a job and I f*cking do it. There’s a market, my superiors fill that market, and I make sure things run smoothly.”

“You killed my father, you know.” Shigaraki growled, his grip growing firmer still. “Wisteria killed him.”

“Hakai Shigaraki?” Hachisuka croaked. “Kid, all we did was put him in a wheelchair. And I’m sorry he croaked. Seriously, he wasn’t a threat to us anymore, I was fine with leaving him alive, we didn’t kill him.”

Shigaraki’s eyes darkened and his voice went low. “My father was Kotaro Shimura.”

“Kotaro Shimura…” All at once, Hachisuka seemed to shrink under Shigaraki’s shadow. “You’re the kid…”

“Tenko.” He hissed, tossing her down to the ground. “The one you couldn’t account for.”

Laying amongst the filth, Hachisuka began laughing, a harsh, booming explosion of mirth as she stared into her lap. “Kotaro Shimura…” She giggled, looking back up to Shigaraki. “... Was a degenerate f*cking gambler. We gave him the choice to wipe away his debt, he refused. So he had to be taken out. He knew too much. Looking back on it, I reckon he was too much of a weak-willed fanook to be a threat even if he had been left alive.”

Shigaraki saw nothing but sheer, burning red. Leaning down, he grabbed her by the chest with all five fingers and threw her away from the wall.

Scrambling on the ground, Hachisuka started to pick herself up, grunting as she did so; Bits of tattered clothing and crumbling flesh fell away from her body. “What the hell…” She muttered, turning to look at him. “What the hell is your Quirk?”

Shigaraki stood, his stance firm, as he answered. “Decay. Your Decay.”

Hachisuka’s eye went wide, perhaps in something almost resembling fear. A bee flew from her eye, swelling and pulsing as it raced towards him, and exploded, knocking him back a few paces as he raised his hands to shield his face.

Hachisuka ran, even as her body cracked and fragmented, blood seeping out from every pore. Shigaraki stood still and watched her stumble to the exit of the alleyway. She wasn’t going to get far, she only had minutes left to live.

As it turned out, she had much, much less than that.

Staggering out of the alley and onto the main street, the last thing Hachisuka would hear was the blaring of a deep horn and the howling of hurried brakes, as she ran right in front of the oncoming truck, colliding with it before anybody had time to react. Already weakened from Shigaraki’s Quirk ripping her body apart, Hachisuka simply liquified on contact, exploded in a show of blood and wet, sizzling muscle. As Shigaraki watched his eyes went wide, and for a moment, he averted his gaze.

Then, he looked back at the sight. Even from the distance he stood at, he could tell there were no signs that a human being had even been there. Just a bathtub of body fluids, all across the road and front of the truck.

Shigaraki dropped down to one knee, narrowly avoiding collapsing entirely, as he opened his mouth and retched, his throat clogging with thick, oppressive bile.

He felt sick.

So unimaginably sick.


Hey-ho, we've reached over 100,000 words! Fun stuff.

It's hard to tell exactly how long is left of this story, but we're definitely approaching the endgame now. I'd be surprised if we get to 150,000 before the finale, but who knows?

Chapter 35: Tenko


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Gazing into the mirror in the dingy little bathroom, no bigger than a coffin really, with his hands gripping the side of the sink, he barely recognised the face he saw in the mirror. It may have been his own face, his own true face, but it had been so long that it seemed like someone else’s entirely.

He glanced down into the basin, watching as the white disappeared down the plug with the water, the remnants of the man he had been mere days before. Mere hours, perhaps. He was tired, tired of boxing himself away for any longer, of hiding from his true self for his own good.

It wasn’t worth hiding anymore. He wasn’t going to squirrel away for any longer.

With a deep breath, he turned to the door and opened it, coming back out into the agency’s main office.

“Hey.” Shigaraki mumbled, closing the door behind him. “All good?”

Everyone in the office, from Toga to Bubaigawara to Iguchi to even Tsukauchi, stared with mouth agape.

“Dude…” Iguchi muttered.

“Tomura, what the hell have you done to your hair?” Toga screeched.

Shigaraki brought his hand up to his black curls. “This? Just felt like making a change.” He paused for a moment. “You know my hair’s been dyed all this time, right? It was Sensei’s idea. Looking back on it, that was probably to stay hidden from Wisteria in case they were still looking for me. Same as the name change. Don’t see any reason to hide from them anymore. Not now.”

“Hold up, name change?” Toga asked.

“Yeah. My name’s Tenko, you know. My birth name, at least.”

“Bro…” Iguchi shook his head.

“It’s a good look.” Bubaigawara finally spoke up.

“Oh yeah, it’s not bad or anything.” Toga confirmed. “Just really weird.”

“Well, it fits me perfectly, then.” Moving to his desk, Shigaraki sat down. “So, how’s the situation, Inspector?”

“Ah, right.” Tsukauchi nodded. “Yes, I wanted to thank you, the both of you, for your assistance. Toga, you in particular may have saved my life.”

“Awk, sure, it’s nothing.” She dismissed with a giddy blush.

“It’s just a shame that woman with the bees got away.” He sighed. “I get the feeling she had plenty of information to give and that aside… She has a lot to answer for. Those were some good men.” He glanced up. “Not that I blame you for letting her get away. It was inevitable, I suppose.”

“Right.” Shigaraki clicked his tongue. “Get away…”

“Guess that car accident was the perfect cover for her to escape under.” Toga lamented. “Hope we see her again soon; I really wanna pummel that jerk.”

“Maybe…” Shigaraki cast his gaze to the side for a second.

“Anyway…” Tsukauchi continued. “Aside from thanking you, I wanted to give you this.” Standing up, he pulled a folder from under his coat. “The hard drives we recovered are going to take some time to crack into, they’re encrypted, but we did find some physical documents that may be of interest. This one in particular.” He held it up.

Shigaraki squinted as he read the label on the front. “Ikutsuki- sh*t.”

That Ikutsuki?” Iguchi realised.

“I’d say so.” Tsukauchi nodded. “I get the feeling that if this was to be filed officially, then the Commission would ensure it would never be used.”

“Probably end up destroyed.” Iguchi noted.

“Exactly.” He set it down on Shigaraki’s desk. “So, I have a feeling that you could do more with this than I ever could.”

“Thanks.” Shigaraki picked up the file. “I appreciate that.”

Tsuakuchi folded his arms across his chest. “So, now I want some answers. What is Wisteria? And is related both to the seized documents and the flower graffiti that keeps showing up?”

Shigaraki lowered his head for a moment. “You’re looking for a Hero Killer. And, as you’ve probably already figured, you’re looking in the complete wrong place. Our guy isn’t a Hero Killer; He’s targeting people associated with Wisteria.”

“And that is?”

“From what we can put together… A trafficking ring. Human trafficking. Kids, women, the vulnerable. It has a lot of ties. International firms like Dan Cheng with its Triad affiliations would ship them into Japan, and Chisaki would distribute them to all levels of society.”

Tsukauchi stared at the file. “This goes high, doesn’t it?”

“Very high.” Shigaraki nodded. “I don’t even know how much. Our governor is probably involved, various heroes, Criminal Affairs…”

“So that’s why they’ve been getting so involved…” Tsukauchi muttered, before his eyes went wide. “Then that would mean… That shipping container…” He brought his head back up. “Thank you very much.”

“That’s no prob.” Shigaraki held up the file. “Thanks for this.”

“Just don’t do anything stupid.” Iguchi pointed out. “If the Commission are breathing down your neck… They probably wouldn’t hesitate to kill you if you were a problem.”

“I’ve been doing this for a long time.” Tsukauchi answered as he went to the door. “I’ll speak to you soon.”

“Cheers.” Shigaraki nodded. “Oh, by the by, how’s Tanuma?”

Tsukauchi paused. “Inspector Tanuma? What about him?”

“Heard he was under investigation from IA.” Shigaraki explained. “How’s that going for him?”

“He’s under investigation?” Tsukauchi asked, then rolled his eyes. “Just one more thing that’s gone over my head. The chain of command barely exists at this stage…”

“Typical.” Shigaraki snickered. “See you.”

“Yes, I’ll see you soon. Take care.” With that, he was gone, leaving the agency to their own devices once again.

“Seriously, Tomura - or Tenko or whatever - I can’t get over this.” Toga gaped as she kept staring at his hair.

Putting his feet up on the desk and taking the Ikutsuki folder, Shigaraki chuckled again. “You’ll get used to it eventually.”

The first page was a form, similar to the one they had found for Todoroki. The way he saw it, the chances were that it was a sale form of some kind. A receipt of purchase. Just looking at it made him feel ill. It was for a young girl, named Umi. Sure enough, it was signed by Jun Ikutsuki. Just looking at it made him feel a little queasy.

What came on the following pages, however, made him sick to his stomach. Pictures. Plenty of them. Pictures depicting the sort of thing that no child should be involved in. From the first look he took at them, he felt his stomach drop entirely, his blood running cold as a shiver shot up his spine.

“f*ck…” He muttered as the others gathered around to see. “This is…”

“You’re sh*tting me.” Iguchi croaked. “People are capable of this?”

“People… Barely f*cking human…” Shigaraki responded; He was very quickly feeling less and less guilty about what he had done to Hachisuka.

There was a constant presence in every photograph. Sometimes it was blurry, but there was always a man. A man who was instantly recognisable as Governor Ikutsuki.

“That bastard…” Bubaigawara fumed.

“Christ, I wish I could be surprised…” Iguchi sighed.

Shigaraki glanced up. “Why aren’t you?”

“I was gonna save it for later, but I found something interesting about Ikutsuki yesterday. It was on the eighth page of Google, well tucked away, but it was an old article from nearly twenty years back. Reputable source. Ikutsuki has been in court before.”

“What for?” Shigaraki asked, though he already had a good idea of what it was.

“Statutory.” Iguchi clenched his jaw. “Case got thrown out and barely anybody spoke about it, save for that one article reporting on it being thrown out.”

“Scum.” Shigaraki grunted as he set the folder down, unable to bear looking at the pictures for any longer. Toga tilted her head as she glanced down.

“Hey…” She whispered softly. “Doesn’t that girl look kinda familiar?”

“Familiar?” Shigaraki’s curiosity got the better of him and he looked once more. “I don’t see it.”

“Wait…” Bubaigawara muttered. “It’s not the girl herself I recognise, but…”

“The eyes.” Iguchi finished. “I’ve seen those eyes before.”

Shigaraki took a closer look. Sure enough, he had. Especially when combined with that hair colour. Quickly, he flicked back to the sale sheet, keeping in mind his conversation with Ukita the previous week.



“... His wife Yuri, his lovely little daughter, Umi I think she was called… Gone. Vanished. Into thin air.”

“No Goddamn way…” He muttered. Shaking his head, he rose up to his feet. “I don’t think anyone here’s gonna argue about what we’ve gotta do next.”

“Ikutsuki.” Iguchi nodded. “We’ll bring that twisted f*ck, kicking and screaming, into the spotlight.”

“Amen.” Bubaigawara agreed.

“What about Ukita and the Commission?” Bubaigawara asked. “They’re gonna come down hard on us if they know we’re going after him, right? And we know they’ve been following us before.”

“Who cares?” Shigaraki answered simply as he moved to the corkboard. “That asshole comes after us, we’ll pelt him down the stairs. That’s if he even does. He’s probably too busy with Stain right now.” Not to mention Hachisuka’s presumed death, not that he was going to tell the others about that. “Toga, you still got the Todoroki document?”

“Yup.” Flipping herself over, Toga grabbed the page and handed it over.

“Thanks.” Shigaraki nodded. “That gives us one more connection.” He turned to the board. “Todoroki bought a kid from Wisteria, as did Kayama. Tsuchikawa probably had some knowledge as Ikutsuki’s former bodyguard and Chisaki was one of the big members. That’s a pretty blatant connection for the last four victims.”

“Then, there’s the Dan Cheng attack.” Iguchi pointed out. “I get it’s not a specific murder, but he was involved in that, and it’s another strike against Wisteria.”

“Exactly.” Shigaraki agreed. “That’s all these fellas tied together.” He tapped the board with his knuckles. “But what really caught my attention is Tsuchikawa.”

“How so?” Toga asked.

“Well, it’s just something that caught my interest. Former bodyguard. It’s got me thinking: Why not get an in to Ikutsuki through his security staff?”

“You mean, try to get at his current bodyguard?” Iguchi realised. “I could try to do some research into that.”

“That’s my thought.” Shigaraki nodded. “Maybe a junior guy. Someone who isn’t entirely in the loop against Wisteria. Like Tsuchikawa’s partners, who apparently weren’t fully clued in. someone we can pry for a gap.”

“Like Kaniyashiki.” iguchi voiced.

“Yeah…” Shigaraki paused for a moment. “Just like her. Still, let’s take a look into it. Iguchi, you can grab us a location for Ikutsuki’s offices, right?”

“Sure thing, Shigaraki.” Iguchi rolled over the sofa to grab his laptop.

“Good, good. We’ll go scope the place out soon, once we’ve got a location. We can try put a face to some of his security detail.”

“So, what are we actually gonna do?” Toga enquired. “We’re hunting down the Governor now. What’s the end goal?”

“Evidence disappears.” Shigaraki stated. “Witnesses disappear. We’re gonna get the one Goddamn thing that can stick. We’re gonna get a confession out of his own mouth and we’re gonna make sure the whole country sees it.”

“The Inspector’s not gonna like that.” Bubaigawara fretted. “He’s hiring us to take down Stain.”

“Tsukauchi seems like a decent guy.” Shigaraki confessed as he moved to the door. “But his job for us is secondary right now. We take down Ikutsuki, and we unmask Stain if we happen to stumble upon him.” Or perhaps not. “Now, I’m going to get some fresh air. Need it after…” he gestured to the file still on his desk. “... That sh*t.”

As he left the building, he let the fresh air graze his lungs, standing under the awning just in front of the doors as the rain poured down. He simply leaned on the wall and contemplated. There was a lot to contemplate on.

It seemed that every time he thought he had seen it all, that he had witnessed society’s lowest, there was always something else, always something more vile and putrid hiding around the corner. A part of him wished he could go back to when he didn’t know the real circ*mstances behind his family’s deaths and when the Rising Sun were the most evil people he knew of; Now, they seemed downright angelic. Of course, it was only a small part of him that wished to go back, and the other part, the part that had dyed his hair back to normal, the part that was retaking the Tenko name to honour his family and definitively shout that he was hiding no longer, was ready to move forward.

He had blood on his hands, now. But perhaps Stain hadn’t been barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps it was for the best that these people were put down like rabid dogs. Still, he wanted to humiliate Ikutsuki, he wanted that man to have his entire career and reputation torn to shreds before he died. Because judging from those pictures in that folder, the man was an entirely different breed of evil.

“Hey.” Iguchi interrupted Shigaraki’s thoughts as he stepped outside. “You good, man?”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki breathed. “Yeah, I’m good.”

Iguchi went to lean on the wall next to him. “I’ve had an idea. About how we could go about this. A better idea than just brute forcing one of his bodyguards. Though, it does still tie into that.”

“I’m all ears.“ Shigaraki said.

“Ikutsuki has this bodyguard. Young guy, an American. Former Secret Service agent. Name’s Henry Winters. Popular, almost like a mini celebrity of his own. Good-looking, well-built, a guy like that has gotta have female admirers.”

“Your point is?” Shigaraki raised an eyebrow.

“We’re detectives, right? We’re licensed. We request a meeting with Ikutsuki, say that Winters’ wife hired us to look into his infidelity and we just want to ask some questions about what he may know.”

Shigaraki scrunched his face up. “That’s your plan?” He did like the idea of getting a chance to talk to Ikutsuki face to face, but… “He’s a busy guy, right? WOuldn’t that be a waste of time?”

“Not if we’re investigating disloyalty amongst his inner circle.” Iguchi pointed out. “Ikutsuki might be thinking, ‘if this Winters guy can’t be loyal to his wife, what’s saying he’ll stay loyal to me?’ He might wanna hear more.”

Shigaraki tilted his head to the side. “I mean… I guess it’s worth a go. You reckon we could fall back on Winters as an in if it doesn’t work?”

Iguchi bit his lip. “He ain’t junior, that’s for sure. But he also ain’t the chief bodyguard, so there’s a chance he won’t know about Wisteria.”

“Only Tsuchikawa did out of her team. Makes sense if only the head of security is given all of the info.”

“Yeah. It’s a possibility.”

“Alright, then.” Shigaraki nodded. “I’ll make a call when I go back inside.”

“Sweet.” Iguchi stared out at the falling rain for a while. “You know, Stain has gotta be a cop.”

“Yeah.” Shigaraki had already reached a similar conclusion. Somebody with intimate information on the case, who had a keen knowledge of how police procedure worked and who would have both the resources to figure out Akaguro’s identity and the sway to make sure that information reached the agency’s ears.

“Or someone in Ukita’s squad.” Iguchi continued. “Not the guy himself, pretty sure he’s way too deep, but maybe someone working for him…”

“It’s sure as hell possible. Akaguro was a setup. Someone wanted us to blame him. Maybe just to humiliate Criminal Affairs and the cops. To taunt them. It would have to be someone who knew about the inner workings of law enforcement.” He paused for a second. “Plus, Kaniyashiki seemed to recognise him, whoever he is.”

“Oh- You remember that?” Iguchi blinked. “Dude, your memory is crazy.”

Shigaraki tapped the side of his head. “I am a detective.”

“Right, of course.” Iguchi whistled. “Still impressive. I’d totally forgotten about that.”

“Don’t blame you.” Shigaraki glanced up. “But yeah. Whoever Stain actually is, he’s not our concern right now. Not the main concern.”

“Right.” Iguchi agreed. “Ikutsuki and Wisteria. And maybe that asshole Ukita if we’re lucky.”

“One can dream.”

— — —

“Still no sign of Hachisuka.” Hashimoto noted as she headed through the police station corridors, paying no heed to the dirty looks she and her comrades were receiving from the officers they passed.

“Son of a bitch…” Ukita growled.

“Is that really so odd?” Tanimura spoke up. “I mean, you’ve mentioned before that she had a habit of disappearing for days at a time whenever she feels like it.”

“Not like this.” Ukita responded, puncturing every word as if he found Tanimura a total moron for even asking such a question. “Not while she has an active job to do. You’re telling me that she just so happens to vanish right after a police raid on the building she was sent to scrub down?” As he spoke, he barged right past a policewoman, sending her stack of papers scattering. Tanimura whispered a hushed apology to her as she got down and started collecting them up. “No. It makes no sense.“

“She could just be in hiding for a bit.” Tanimura suggested. “Maybe she was spooked by the whole ordeal.”

“You really don’t know her.” Ukita scoffed, coming up to the evidence room and planting his hands out to part the doors. “She would’ve gotten in contact, with things this dire.”

Coming into the room, he realised there was seemingly only one officer in the place. Inspector Tanuma, sitting by one of the evidence tables and reading a pocketbook. He glanced up as the agents entered.

“Aw, damn.” He clicked. “You assholes.”

Ukita glared, then jerked his thumb towards the stacks of boxes on the table. “Secure ‘em.” On his command, the handful of junior agents he had brought with him scurried over to grab the boxes.

Tanuma seemed unphased. “You’ve got yourself involved in this murder too, huh?”

“These murders are linked, so don’t play coy, Inspector.” Ukita hissed as he approached. “You’ve checked through all these?”

“Yup.” Tanuma sighed, tilting his head towards the boxes. “Fourteen salvaged hard drives, ranging between five hundred gigs and two terabytes, plus a further thirty print files. All seized from the Shie Hassaikai’s headquarters.”

“You saw the contents?” Ukita asked.

“Sure, I did.” Tanuma kept his attention on his book. “Disgusting sh*t. Clearly, Chisaki was in the trafficking business.”

“Disgusting’s the word.” Ukita agreed. “Were there any names of interest?”

Tanuma shrugged, still reading. “Depends on your definition. Some heroes were mentioned, a couple foreign dignitaries…”

With that, Ukita grabbed Tanuma’s book and hurled it across the room, Tanimura managing to catch it midair before it did any damage. Grasping Tanuma by the lapels, he leaned in close. “The name Jun Ikutsuki ever appear, you daft prick?”

“Ikutsuki?” Tanuma blinked, a hint of hatred towards Ukita showing in his eyes and snarl. “The Governor? No.”

“Think about it, Pinhead, did you see that name mentioned anywhere?”

Tanuma lifted his arm up and forced Ukita’s hands off his lapel. “I would sure as hell remember if I saw that name anywhere.”

Backing away for a moment, Ukita began to ponder. “It wouldn’t just not exist, right?”

“Has to.” Hashimoto reasoned. “There’s no way Chisaki wouldn’t have a file on him.”

“Maybe Hachisuka managed to destroy it?” He suggested, hopefully.

Hashimoto folded her arms. “Maybe. But there’s no good betting on that assumption. There’s an equal chance that someone else got their hands on it.”

“Hey now.” Tanuma raised an eyebrow, co*cksure smirk on his lips. “You wouldn’t be accusing any of us fine cops of mishandling evidence, would you?”

“Shut up, Curly Joe.” Ukita snapped before he turned back to his colleagues. “We should organise a team to protect the Governor. Just in case.”

“I’ll be on it.” Hashimoto nodded.

“Good. Tanimura, you and me, we’re gonna focus on finding the bastards who got a hold of that document, in the event that they aren’t you-know-who. And we’ll send ‘em straight to Hell.”


In the last chapter, I said that we likely would not reach 150,000 words before the ending of this story; It is only with this one that I realise just how close to the end we are. I'm on track to finish up the story with forty chapters, which means that just five remain.

The Shigaraki Detective Agency - BNWA - 僕のヒーローアカデミア | Boku no Hero Academia (2024)


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