Awake and Dreaming Chapter 4: Sense of a Spark
(also on Ao3)
When Shoto sees Izuku again he finds him on a bench in a park next to a river. He immediately grabs his hands, inspecting them from top to bottom checking for any damage.
He sighs with relief before apologizing, “I'm sorry... I didn't have control over it. I promise I wasn't doing it on purpose.”
“Don't worry. None of it's real, remember?” Izuku responds with a bright smile.
When Shoto realizes that he's still holding the other boy's hands he quickly lets go, feeling a bit embarrassed that he held on for a bit too long. He swears he can see a tint of pink on Izuku's cheeks but decides to not read too much into it.
Izuku continues, looking down at the ground, “You looked so sad... every time I've met you, and even in your last dream. I needed to save you somehow. I'm sorry if I went too far...”
“Don't be. You really helped me a lot.”
“I'm glad,” Izuku smiles again, quietly staring at Shoto who tilts his head slightly to the side.
“Do I have something on my face?”
“Oh, no!” the green-haired boy frantically waves his arms, “Sorry... it's just, your eyes look so different today.”
“Yeah, they're softer somehow, there's a warmth in them.”
“Blue and grey are both rather cold colors... are they a different colour now?” Shoto asked with a hint of confusion.
Izuku chuckles, “ No nothing like that, I wasn't talking about the color... I meant that your eyes are actually expressive.”
An awkward silence falls over them, which Izuku finally breaks by asking, “So uh, what's new?”
“I saw my mom yesterday,” Shoto responds without hesitation, Izuku being the only person he's really comfortable sharing this with.
“Really? How'd that go?”
“Better than expected. My sister had reservations about it but I'm glad I went.”
“That's good to hear! It couldn't have been easy...”
“I was anxious at first but in the end, there was nothing to be anxious about. I told her about my life, she apologized for what she did to me and I forgave her. I still think of this scar as something my father indirectly did to me.”
“I can understand that...”
Shoto quietly appreciates how Izuku just lets him speak and get everything off his chest, it's never been easy for him to open up to people but this boy makes him feel at ease.
“We're starting internships soon, I chose to go to my dad's agency.”
“Are you sure that's a good idea?” the green-haired boy asks, concern clearly evident in his voice.
“I'm not sure... I haven't forgiven him, I doubt I ever will but he has the skill and judgment of the number two hero and I can learn from that. My reason for choosing his agency is completely selfish.”
"That's fair... just make sure you take care of yourself alright?"
"Yeah," Shoto agrees with a faint smile, a warm feeling spreading through him as the other boy shows concern for his well-being. He looks around - realizing they had been so busy talking that he didn't bother taking in his surroundings until now, "Where are we?”
“Hosu City. I wanted a change of scenery, I hope you don't mind?”
“Not at all,” he pauses, “Come to think of it, this is where The Hero Killer Stain was last spotted.”
“The Hero Killer?” Izuku enquires curiously.
“Yeah. He's been murdering heroes, though he occasionally leaves one alive but severely injured.”
“It's been all over the news, I'm surprised you haven't heard of him?” Shoto questions.
“Oh... uh... I-I've been super busy lately so I-I haven't been keeping up with the news lately, uh - yeah!”
He furrows his brow slightly in suspicion and makes a mental note to get to the bottom of it later, before continuing, “His latest victim was Ingenium, right here in Hosu. His brother Iida is a classmate of mine, so I heard that he survived but is paralyzed from the waist down.”
Izuku remains silent, shocked at the news of what's been happening.
“I'm concerned about him... He says he's fine but I recognize the resentment and hatred in his eyes. Come to think of it, he decided to intern with an agency in Hosu...” Shoto trails off as he realizes something and his eyes widen.
“You don't think he's planning on going after The Hero Killer do you?” Izuku vocalizes what Shoto had been thinking.
“If Stain is able to take out pros with ease a student doesn't stand a chance against him.”
“We need to do something! Let's see...” Izuku starts mumbling, holding his chin, “If he's dead set on going after Stain there's a chance he may even be dreaming about it. Perhaps we can find him here and try to convince him otherwise... What do you know about Stain?”
“He always attacks in secluded alleys and his weapons of choice are various kinds of blades. The heroes who survived his attacks said that he has a quirk that can paralyze a person but they're not sure how it works. He is apparently an incredibly skilled fighter too.”
“Dark alleys... I'm guessing he's not good at fighting more than one opponent at a time...” the green-haired boy concludes.
“That's a fair assumption,” Shoto agrees after which they quietly wander through the dark alleys of Hosu City for a while until they hear a commotion nearby.
“The streets must flow with the blood of false heroes,” a man snarls.
Shoto peaks around the corner, “It's The Hero Killer and Ingenium."
Izuku is ready to jump into action but the other boy stops him, “Hold on. Let's watch and gather intel.”
“But...” Izuku starts protesting but is cut off by Shoto who explains, “This is a chance for us to gather information. We can use that to help Iida if he does decide to go after Stain.”
“Right...” Izuku reluctantly agrees, feeling uncomfortable knowing he's letting someone suffer through a bad dream.
Sensing his discomfort, Shoto rationalizes his decision, “It's one nightmare in exchange for saving a real human life. Think about it. Let's watch for a bit then we can jump in when we have enough information.”
The fight between Stain and Ingenium continues and despite the latter's speed the former finally manages to cut him with a sword. As The Hero Killer licks his blade and Ingenium instantly becomes paralyzed, both boys put two and two together, “I see... it looks like he can paralyze someone by ingesting their blood,” Izuku whispers, “And he's very fast. Even with Ingenium's speed quirk he managed to get him.”
“Yeah. He's constantly changing up his fighting style too,” adds the other boy, " I think that's all we'll be able to gather here. Let's go.”
The two boys formulate a plan and quickly round the corner, Shoto sending out a large blast of ice while Izuku picks up Ingenium and makes his escape, “Let's go!” the green-haired boy yells and Shoto follows. As they round the next corner they're suddenly transported to the streets of Tokyo and The Hero Killer is no longer in pursuit of them.
“We should be safe here,” Izuku says setting Ingenium down on a bench. He removes the effect of Stain's quirk and the man is able to move again, after which he thanks the two boys and suddenly vanishes.
“He must've woken up... which means you'll also probably be leaving soon,” Izuku says, and Shoto is sure he sensed a tinge of sadness in his words. Shoto looks around him and sees that the streets are starting to look quite empty, indicating that people are waking up and subsequently exiting the dream world.
“How is it that I sleep for 8 hours but it doesn't feel like I'm here for that long?”
“Time works differently here, I haven't figured out exactly how but it doesn't correspond with the real world at all.”
Shoto starts hearing a very faint tune playing in his head and soon recognizes what it is, “I can hear my alarm going off, I'm going to wake up soon. Thank you for helping me tonight.”
“No problem, I hope you're able to help your classmate,” the green-haired boy smiled, “See you soon.”
“Yeah... about that. Izuku, I really want to-” he starts but before he can finish his sentence he wakes up in his bed.
After turning his alarm off he lies in his bed staring at the ceiling.
“None of it's real, remember?” Izuku's words play over in his head. He feels a stirring in his chest as he realizes that, for reasons he doesn't quite understand, he's not satisfied with only seeing Izuku in his dreams anymore. Suddenly something else Izuku said comes to mind: “ Which means you'll also probably be leaving soon ”. The wording seems odd, as if Izuku is suggesting he himself is being left behind, but wouldn't he be waking up soon too? And how is it that he hasn't heard of The Hero Killer until now?
Shoto feels conflicted as he begins to wonder - is Izuku even real to begin with?