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Fox Fire

Chapter Text

When Izuku was eight years old, he started seeing things. Perhaps in another life, this would simply be a product of his imagination, but magic was never so simple. He learned that very quickly- and shortly after, he realized that also applied to him. Or maybe that was the fault of the fox curled up on his bed, having just pushed him over the edge and looking smug.

With a huff, he sat up. “I have an alarm for a reason, Kazuha.” He muttered, before forcing himself to stand up. The fox just yawned and curled up with her back to him. He sighed, shaking his head as he began to get ready for the day. Throughout his getting dressed, checking his phone and ensuring his backpack was ready, Kazuha’s breathing had evened out to a slow pace- it didn’t look like she was going anywhere, anytime soon. Before he left to get breakfast, he closed the curtains by his bed. Even though it was legal to keep foxes- so long as they weren’t caught from the wild, which technically Kazuha was but she was complicated- the Midoriyas really just didn’t want that sort of attention.

As he set his backpack on his desk, once everything was packed and organized, Izuku leaned over the headboard to switch off the clock’s alarm before it could go off at the time he had intended on waking up. The last thing they needed was an angry fox spirit who’s nap was interrupted- that had been a nightmare, and he was not keen on repeating that ever .

Down the hall, Inko had just finished setting the table. “Good morning, Izuku- I heard a noise just a bit ago. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. Kazuha just decided my alarm wasn’t good enough.” He huffed indignantly, though his frown quickly dissolved into laughter. Really, he could never stay grumpy around his mom, even if it was completely fake.

“She pushed you out of bed again? I think she just likes your pillows.”

“Probably. Especially after I’ve been warming them up all night for her.”

The two just shook their head, and took their seats. To anyone else, their house might look off- from dried herbs hanging on the wall and the hanging potted plants to the crystals and jars of various ingredients- some for cooking, some for rituals and more- scattered on various shelves and tabletops to the sigils on door frames, it was almost like a storybook. And that was just what a normal person could see. The two of them, however, had an even more fantastical sight before their eyes.

In the kitchen, three small, yellow fairies were amusing themselves on the still-cooling stovetop. One pretended to cook, miming out holding a pot and whisk the way Inko would, while the other two fawned over their skill in acting out a recipe. The three never once touched the surface of the stove or anything lingering on it however. After all, one never knew where iron hid in these modern times. By one of the pots hanging by the window, a green fairy and a blue spirit that looked like it was holding an umbrella investigated the leaves. The green one patted the soil proudly, while his companion giggled.

In other rooms of the house, Izuku was sure that there were similar occurrences. Maybe a little mushroom spirit had set up a home by the stairs outside, there’d been a lot more of the little walking mushroom caps than usual.

Had Izuku checked out the window while he ate his breakfast, he would have seen children and adults alike on their way to school and work already, passing through various creatures as if they didn’t exist- and in turn, they would ignore the humans, conversing with voices like whispers and thundering clouds alike (and sometimes at the same time, from the same source) as if they themselves were just humans stopping to chat on the sidewalk.

Really, quirks were cool and all, but Izuku felt truly sorry for anyone who couldn’t see the magic of the world around them.

Breakfast passed quickly, with an easy-going discussion about Inko’s plans for the day- really, she didn’t have much to do so it’d be nice to catch up on her favorite novels- and once the two cleared the table and wiped it down, Izuku stopped in the kitchen. The three fairies paused in their playing human and giggled almost as if they were plotting something. Izuku had long since learned that these three just sounded suspicious no matter what they did, and they truly were not malicious or even mischievous, just young and curious and enamored with the Midoriya household.

( Give it time , Kazuha had told him. All fae have their tricks, and these ones will be no different. But you provide shelter, entertainment and food they don’t normally get- no matter what, these little ones will treat you well. )

“Hello,” Izuku said quietly. “There’s some chocolate in the fridge. When I get home, we can share it.”

The one that had been acting out cooking squealed, pressing their hands to their face with a bright smile while the other two looked at him wide-eyed and awe-struck, as if he’d come from the heavens and blessed them. … Then again, they all adored candy and it was considered a rare delicacy since it wasn’t made in the courts, so to them he probably did. The trio nodded before darting off, a trail of excited chittering following them.

Chuckling to himself, Izuku grabbed a bowl from the cupboard and began plating a serving of rice. It wasn’t that he was still hungry, but every familiar had a set of rules. Foxes were no different. Every day, at the exact time of 7:15 a.m., Izuku would set a bowl of rice on the headboard of his bed where Kazuha’s small shrine was as an offering, and in return, she would lend him her guidance, her power and more.

Occasionally, on special days- be it holidays or days he just decided to make special for the fun of it, when he really needed that extra nice feeling- he’d include inarizushi, or cherry cakes. He also enjoyed just giving those to her for snacks while he did homework or relaxed, too, but the offering was important- and sometimes it was also important to spice it up a bit.

He couldn’t help but laugh as he glanced down at the fox spirit, curled up tightly still. “Enjoy your nap, Kazuha. I’ll be home soon.” He muttered, and he was met with a twitching ear but otherwise, she remained as she was.

It was time to finish getting ready, anyways.

Preparing to leave was simple enough- he already had his backpack ready, and with breakfast and the offering completed all he truly needed to take care of was his hygiene needs. Soon enough, Izuku was kissing his mother on the cheek at the door.

“Have a good day, Izuku!” Inko smiled warmly. From behind her hair, one of the yellow fairies peaked out and chirped.

“I’m counting on you to keep Mom company today.” Izuku told them seriously before returning his mother’s smile. “Tell me about your new book later, okay?”

And with that, he was out the door, sighing the moment it closed behind him. Sure, he liked learning- loved it, even. But sometimes it was hard to even think of going to school when he knew what his peers could be like. When he had first revealed that he was quirkless, everything had changed, after all. Not everyone was equal and he had been shoved face first to the bottom of the food chain. Once his magic had awoken though…

There was a certain guilt that came from lies, a heaviness in the pit of your stomach and bile in your throat. But ultimately, it was in passing his magic as a quirk that he was finally treated as an equal- a late bloomer, he and his mother claimed. And with that, it had all… stopped. Sometimes there were teasing jabs about how his ‘quirk’ had come so late, but otherwise, his classmates treated him better. Instead of weak and useless and quirkless, he was just a passionate nerd. To them, that was at least ten steps up.

But the funny thing is, when you treat someone like garbage, they have a hard time forgetting. A more bitter witch would probably curse them. Instead, Izuku swallowed his guilt and let them believe he was like them, but he wasn’t sure he’d ever truly let his guard down around his peers. Not that they would ever know.

No, he smiled politely at the boys running up the sidewalk to greet him and accompany him on their way to their school, and they’d talk about tv dramas and anime and heroes- if they were lucky they might catch a battle on the way. And to his delight, they did; Kamui Woods and the newly debuted Mount Lady teamed up, except it wasn’t really a team up and more Mount Lady stealing Kamui Woods’s thunder, and one of the other boys laughed when he started writing his observations down in the latest installment of his Hero Analysis for the Future notebooks before gently reminding him they did have to get to school.

And if his classmates hadn’t seen the near-ethereal men and women in kimonos that were two feet taller than anyone else in the crowd observing and gossiping, that was just their problem. As they passed, Izuku was sure to nod respectfully (were he not in a hurry he would have bowed properly) and offered them a smile. He was met with a similar nod and understanding whispers with no words, just a feeling of acknowledgement.

All around them, Izuku could see spirits, fae and youkai passing by, flying above or lingering in shops that the human eye couldn’t spot, and he couldn’t help but grin more- the other two boys walking with him assumed it was from the hero fight, and he made no effort to correct them. He just… really, truly adored the magical world. The mere thought of getting to see a new face was enough to make going to school worth it.

Even if occasionally some of them did try to distract him from his classes.

Chapter Text

Generally, Izuku didn’t mind the standard classes. His teacher let Bakugou get away with too much, but he also let him defend himself so long as he was quiet about it- a good illusion did a lot of work. But with the talk of future schools and goals for the future… Izuku really wished sometimes he could mute things publically with his magic, because Bakugou’s declaration was giving him a headache. Still, he couldn’t help but chuckle when the class collectively got mad at him. But then the teacher looked over.

“You’re also going for U.A., aren’t you, Midoriya?”

Bakugou froze before glancing back at Izuku. The class looked on curiously and Izuku hoped his unamused stare at the teacher conveyed his frustration because honestly, he had no right to talk about his students’ goals like gossip.

“Deku.”

Izuku could only groan internally, before turning his attention back to his childhood friend. … For lack of a better word. He really just wanted to head home, so he could refine his notes a bit more. “Yes, Kacchan?”

(Really, if Bakugou was going to insist on calling him by his childhood insult, Izuku was going to insist on calling him by his childhood nickname. Had Bakugou been the sort to be insulted by things like that, it probably would have gotten him to back off with it a bit, but noooo, Bakugou had to be all confidence.)

“Do you really think you can get into U.A. with that kind of quirk?” Bakugou asked, his perpetual scowl growing worse by a margin.

Here we go again, Izuku thought to himself.

“I don’t see why not. It may not be combat oriented in it’s most simple uses, but this sort of thing can do plenty if you apply it right. And you’re always calling me a nerd, right?” He smiled easily, though he gripped his pencil tightly. “So I think that would make me smart enough to figure that out. Not everything has to be brute force to be strong, Kacchan.”

Part of Izuku wished Bakugou had waited till after classes, if only so Izuku could lure him away with an illusion and then make his escape. He’d never responded well to Izuku’s desperate attempts to maintain their friendship, and eventually he’d… stopped. It worked out for them that way, in the end. Bakugou didn’t lash out at him as much- especially once he believed Izuku to be a late bloomer- and Izuku didn’t have to worry about treading on eggshells. Unless things like this happened, anyways.

“The moment someone figures out it’s just an illusion, you’ll be screwed, you know that, right? That shit ain’t cut for a hero!” Bakugou’s tone was sharp as ever, and he almost got out of his desk to storm over- intimidation tactics that the boy never quite dropped.

If they find out.” Izuku hums, instead. “I feel like you’re trying to deter me from applying. It’s not going to work, you know.”

“Everyone knows the best heroes start out spectacular early, Deku- and that means being the only one from their shitty middle school to get into U.A.!” Ah, there as his usual, bombastic self. But after a moment, Bakugou huffed, glancing away with a glare (which was different than the scowl, Izuku had learned that long ago). “If you’re gonna try, go right ahead. You won’t get in with a weak quirk like that. And hey, if you’re lucky with that cheap quirk of yours, maybe someday I might even let you be my sidekick. But that’s as far as you’ll ever get with your parlor tricks, do you hear me!?”

And with that, Bakugou roughly turned back around, jolting his desk and chair while the class whispered among themselves, until their teacher cleared his throat and resumed the classwork. Once the rest of the class took their attention off him, returning to filling out the handouts for different high schools and then whatever else the teacher had planned, Izuku let out a soft, shaky breath, staring at his white knuckles and where his nails had digged into his skin. 

Maybe someday he’d feel as confident as he acted when his childhood friend was involved. To his great relief, the rest of the day passed without event however.

“His sidekick? Really? More like his babysitter.” Someone said from behind him, as he was packing up his bag. Her voice wasn’t nearly as harsh as Bakugou’s- oh no, it was gentle in comparison- but there was a certain edge to it.

Turning around, Izuku smiled and shook his head. On the windowsill there sat a Kazuha, red fur groomed perfectly and a kerchief sealed with a pearl around her neck, giggling to herself.

“Someone’s going to see me talking to the window someday, and everyone’s going to think I’m crazy someday, Kazuha. Is that what you want?” Izuku asked, laughter sneaking into his words. He didn’t really mind, however. It felt better than the anxiety that Bakugou brought wherever he went. Standing up, he looked directly at the white blur hanging around the front chalkboard before bowing, earning an affectionate jingle of a laugh. Whatever that had once been, it was fond of the school.

“They won’t, just like they didn’t see that . I always make sure of it, after all. Just like they never see me. Now then, I hear the morning commute was exciting. Tell me all about it?” Kazuha asked, jumping down to the floor and padding beside him, unnoticed by anyone who remained in the class or the hallways as they left.

"Sure, sure- were you here all day? I thought you were napping when I left."

"I was, but then I got bored. And besides, I like listening in on schools. It's... informative."

While Kazuha hid herself from the rest of the world around her, Izuku merely cast a combined illusion and silencing spell around himself, so no one could see him looking down at his otherwise invisible companion and talking- if anyone looked, they might see him deep in thought, and if they got close they may hear something akin to his muttering storms, but otherwise it would just be a normal kid heading home by himself that they saw.

Child’s play, honestly.

“It wasn’t too much, honestly- some purse snatcher panicked, and he had a gigantification quirk. But it was enough to qualify as a villain attack. Kamui Woods- that newcomer I told you about, remember him?- was so cool though! I wish I could have heard what he was saying… Kamui cornered the guy on the railway overpass, and right when he was about to use his signature move, another newcomer who also had a gigantification quirk swooped in out of nowhere and stole the show! It looks like she can only use either her normal size or her giant size- she’d need a lot of clear streets to get around with her size though, I wonder if she goes about normally and then shifts when she’s needed?”

“She sounds like quite the character. But poor Kamui’s pride! The earth spirits are fond of him, you know. They’ll be doing him favors for a while, I’m sure.” Kazuha laughed.

“They won’t target Mount Lady, will they?”

“Hm…. no, not really. A few misplaced items, some harmless bad luck perhaps, but the spirits don’t have the same strength they used to. Not to those who can’t see them, anyways. It’s for the best that way though.”

Izuku nodded- he remembered when he first saw the supernatural. A crowd of them had been following him, waiting for it to happen so they could greet the newest magic user. But not all of them had been friendly- an oni, a snake-headed man who had become something of a demon, and a few malicious fae had all targeted him, hoping to steal his power before he could even use it.

That was when he’d met Kazuha and the pink haired witch and her cat. Kazuha had been fending off the malevolent beings off the entire day, but it was the witch who had dispersed the crowd and escorted him home safely. That day, she had hold him what he was capable of, and Kazuha agreed and offered to become his familiar and protector. From there, however, Izuku had to find his own way through the craft. They all agreed that it would be better for him to shape his magic himself than to have her do it for him.

“Izuku, wall.” Kazuha chirped.

“Wha- Oh!” Izuku looked up just in time to see the obstacle he was about to run into. A few students at the gate giggled, but gave him understanding smiles. After all, talking about the future was exhausting, they likely assumed he was thinking about that still. Sheepishly, he waved and ducked around the wall, darting away before he could further embarrass himself.

Beyond pausing to greet the people around the area- human and nonhuman alike- the walk home was surprisingly uneventful, up until a point. A part of the duo wished it had remained so. Under a bridge, Izuku watched the sky while Kazuha trailed along, occasionally stopping to sniff for something or another- as nice as being served a bowl of rice in the morning was, especially on days they gave her sides, she liked hunting too.

That’s when something loudly slithered out of a manhole cover, squishing and squirming together to reform into something coherent. At the sound, Izuku whirled around, wide eyed, while Kazuha growled.

“Medium sized… a nice body to hide in.” It said and oh Gods that thing was a person wasn’t it? Somehow that made it so much worse. It- he tried to envelop the boy, but was pushed back by a gust of wind. He seemed to smile- and oh JEEZE it had teeth and eyes what the actual FUCK

“A pretty good quirk, huh…? That’s even better.” he hissed, pulling back before trying again. This time, Izuku summoned forth a wall of flames, backing up. It wasn’t the first time he had to defend himself exactly, but it was the first time he's ever had to actually fight, and his first time facing another human… 

He was pretty sure the sludge guy was human, anyways.

The sludge almost frowned- and Izuku was never going to not be freaked out about a human sludge with eyes and teeth and the capability to emote. “I’m not playin around, kid. It won’t hurt long if that’s what you’re worried about, but I don’t have time for this .”

For a second, he glanced back towards the manhole, before directing a stare towards Izuku and reaching out again, not caring if the flames Izuku had summoned touched him in his attempt to restrain the boy.

Kazuha growled, dropping her illusion- it didn’t matter if the villain saw her, he still couldn’t understand her. While Izuku tried to force the man to keep away with his fire, the fox spirit leapt onto him, scratching and biting at his eyes with vicious shrieks. With an enraged howl, it threw her off of him, but it let Izuku buy himself enough time to scramble away. She immediately rolled back onto her feet, crouched down and growling even more.

Just then, the cover went flying. “Fear not, kid! I am here!” A voice boomed.

It was one that Izuku would know anywhere. Out of the sewer popped All Might himself, grinning brightly as he pulled back his fist and launched a Texas Smash- and oh man, he was watching this, in person, in real life and no one would ever believe him except maybe his mom but oh WOW would this be a story someday! The sludge villain was blasted away, and Izuku ducked, narrowly avoiding being hit in the face by splatters of… uh... He didn’t want to think about it.

Kazuha stood properly, glancing around at the mess while Izuku couldn’t help but stare in awe and glee alike.

“Sorry I was late! The sewers are easy to get lost in. But it looks like you were handling it! A flame quirk, eh…?” All Might mused.

“Oh- uh- no, sir! It was actually an illusion, to- to scare him away!” Izuku said, quickly snuffing out the fire with a wave of his hand, though there was a definite effort to not squeal in his voice. A few years earlier, and he may have felt bad about lying to his idol. “D-Do you- how are you going to apprehend him?”

The three looked past where they stood, at the scattered and unconscious sludge.

“Well… I do have these soda bottles. I was going to just put him in one, bring him down to the station. But it looks like he’s got more mass now…”

Damn. All Might had been looking forward to that soda.

“P-Please! Let me help! You- You saved me after all!”

All Might laughed, loud, but shook his head. “No can do, kid! I appreciate it, but this is a dangerous villain! You should get going!”

Kazuha yipped in agreement, startling the hero. He looked down and his smile almost faltered.

“A- A fox? This far into the city?”

“Oh- uh- this is Kazuha, she- she’s um… she’s domestic. And friendly, I promise!” Izuku stammered. He would never be comfortable implying she was his pet, but… well. How else was he going to explain?

“I see! The two of you should get home, safe and sound then! After all, I am sure Kazuha would hate to see anything else happen to you if you linger!!”

Again, she yipped in agreement, before pausing and pawing at the ground. She wouldn’t be so cruel as to send him away without letting him ask a favor.

“No- yes- you’re right, absolutely, but… um- I- before I go… could. I get an autograph?” Izuku asked quietly, bowing deeply.

Kazuha only watched fondly. That was her boy. Polite and shy, when he didn’t have to be brave or guarded. Though, the fact that this man was in fact his idol and hero probably had a hand in that.

All Might agreed with a hearty laugh, and gladly took the pen and notebook Izuku offered him for a brief moment.

“Thank you! So much! For- for everything I mean. It… It was a great honor to meet you!” he all but shouts when the hero returns his belongings, before scooping up Kazuha and turning around.

All Might watched for a little bit, but quickly took a look around. The sludge man would be a mess to pick up, but he had to be fast before the main part of him woke up and escaped once more- he simply didn’t have the energy to chase after him more, and there was a young boy in the area- probably even more civilians, given the time. Crouching down, All Might began his work. That’s when he noticed something.

“Scorch marks…?”

The hero glanced up- the boy was still close, probably taking a slower pace for his ankle, stiff as a board mid-step with the fox equally stiff in his arms. He was pretty certain that he had said it was an illusion quirk, but last he checked Illusions didn’t cause actual damage. Now that he thought about it, the air smelt of burning sewage (goodness, he was going to need a shower later) and some parts of the villain even suffered some burns.

Now why would he lie about something like this?

“This was no illusion, was it?”

Chapter Text

It would figure that of all the people to see through a flimsy lie, it would be his hero and idol, the number one hero in Japan and one of the most popular heroes in the world, All Might . God. Damn it. Kazuha whined, wincing in sympathy. They should have made sure they left no evidence that could be seen, she knew this as well as he did if not better. A fool’s mistake that came from having not taught in decades. She should have prepared him better-

Behind them, All Might stood up. Even now that smile hadn’t left his face, but Izuku could feel him staring holes into his back. Somehow… the smile made it worse.

“Illusions leave no traces- but I can see and smell the effects of a fire all too well. Or is that an illusion too?”

The accusation feels like a knife in the chest and a punch to the gut. Izuku knew he wass trembling- and that probably wasn’t helping, guilty body language never did anything when someone was already suspicious. Oh God, All Might probably hated him now, didn’t he? He lied to him and now All Might was going to blacklist him from hero schools or-

A heavy hand rested on his shoulder. Kazuha instantly stiffens, glaring.

“Magic is a powerful thing, isn’t it? But harder to hide in times of stress.”

Wait.

What?

Izuku turned around with a jolt that felt like it came 10 seconds too late, eyes wide.

“Ah- I didn’t mean to startle you.” All Might nearly stammered, one hand at the back of his head.

“You- you know ? About magic?” Izuku asked softly, though a cold terror edged up his spine. They- they shouldn’t be talking about this publically.

“I do. A few pro heroes are- and sometimes we’re called in to assist in covering it up as well. And I cannot blame you for acting in self defense- no one can. But were someone to notice…"

Kazuha shifted in Izuku’s arms, crawling up to nearly perch on his shoulders, watching All Might like a hawk.

“He shouldn’t have brought it up,” She whispered, unnoticed by the man in front of them. “In ancient times this mere conversation could get you killed.”

Izuku glanced at her as best he can, but his stare quickly focused back on All Might. “No one has, yet. You- you’re the first.”

All Might glanced back to where this had all started, at the scorched ground. “You’re young- you’ve likely never had to truly fight like this, or even keep someone like this scum at bay. And that’s good! But at the same time, your inexperience shows.”

“My fault. I never thought you would be attacked before you were ready- Naive of me, isn’t it?” Kazuha whispered again, and she almost laughed but the twinge of regret stung too much. Izuku reached up and gently pet her muzzle.

“It’s… a good thing you mentioned that.”

“Hm?”

Izuku took a deep breath before looking All Might- his hero, his idol, and his inspiration- in the eyes.

“Are there professional heroes who use magic? Can- can I be a hero who uses magic instead of a quirk?”

He’d always planned on it. Kazuha and his mother both supported him, and he always thought it enough- but a greedy part of him craved this sort of validation from the one who was all he aspired to be.

“Ah- well… Pixie-bob from the Pussycats does. Her earth magic is some of the strongest in the world, from my understanding. You very well could, in that manner. But if you’re passing your magic as an illusion quirk, you’ve given yourself a bit of a challenge.”

Izuku frowned, glancing down, before smiling to himself with a certain determination.

“I can do it.” He said, looking up again. “I will do it.”

All Might paused, before his smile shifted from that bright, dazzling smile into something much more… natural, yet almost audacious.

“That’s the spirit, my boy.”

Kazuha nodded, almost smugly.

All Might coughed behind his hand, looking away. “You should hurry home. But a word of advice, if I may? If you’re going to use illusions, it would help to have another way to fight as well. To fully rely on one’s abilities without strengthening their body would be foolish.”

Izuku blinked, before Kazuha hopped down off his shoulder, biting his pants leg and tugging a bit. Glancing down, Izuku sighed.

“I- are you sure I can’t help?”

All Might ruffled his hair, laughing loudly- but not unkindly. “You’re a good kid- but you shouldn’t be worrying about this sort of thing just yet! Leave this to me.”

Reluctantly, Izuku nodded and turned around once again, and began to walk with the fox spirit at his heels.

 

___________________________

 

“He’s right, you know.” Kazuha said softly as the two approached their neighborhood. “You shouldn’t rely on magic entirely- even I do not, and I am a being made of magic. I’ve failed you in this aspect.”

Once again their illusions hid the talking fox and her witch responding to her from the rest of the world, though they waved at passing spirits of fortune and nature and electricity as they went.

“Huh? What do you mean, you ‘failed me’?” Izuku frowned.

“I am not just your familiar, my dear boy. As an elder being, I should have been teaching you other aspects of life- yes, your magic is your own to sculpt, but I’ve been alive for much longer than any other witch alive. There are things I should have said- and even then, the great hero was correct. Few can survive on quirks or magic alone.”

Kazuha leaped onto a railing, to get as close to eye-level with Izuku as she could.

“If you will let me, I will teach you how to fight.”

Izuku gripped the straps of his backpack and nodded. “I want to. I- I didn’t have any idea how to fend off the sludge villain, physically or magically- I need to be able to-” He sighed deeply, shaking his head. “I should have thought of this sooner.”

Kazuha nudged at his hand with her nose. “I should have as well. I am sorry. We must inform your mother as well, however.”

“You’re right, she’d want to know…”

Izuku stared at the ground for a moment. Curiously, the fox tilted her head.

“You seem unsure.”

“It- it’s about today. She’d worry so much if she knew…”

“Which is why she should know. It would be unfair to her to hide it,” Kazuha replied, before almost smirking. “And mothers have their own way of finding out anyways. But we’ve dawdled enough- come, Izuku.”

From there, it was an easy walk home. When Izuku opened the door and the two of them announced their return home, Inko was sitting on the couch with the three yellow fairies, watching television. Beside her was her novel, a bookmark sitting near the end- it looked like she made a lot of progress. Izuku smiled softly. At least his mother had a peaceful day.

“Welcome home, you two.” Ink smiled, standing up.

The three fairies watched her curiously before realizing why, and immediately flew over to him, trilling happily.

“We can have that chocolate now, yes.” Izuku grinned before removing his shoes. “Did you guys keep Mom company?”

“They did- they listened to me read for most of the morning, before we turned on some music for them. They just love to dance.” Inko chuckled, petting Kazuha on the head before kissing her son on the cheek.

While Izuku made his way to the kitchen, followed by the fairies, Kazuha pawed at Inko gently.

“I’ve something I’d like to discuss with you,” She said.

Izuku remained quiet while he unwrapped and cut up the chocolate bar into small pieces, one of the fairies perching on his hand to watch in excitement.

“Of course, Kazuha, what is it?”

“I wish to teach Izuku how to fight.”

Inko curled her fingers at her lips, frowning. But before she could respond, Kazuha continued.

“It would be foolish and negligent on all our counts for him to work towards his dream with no other means to defend himself, Inko.”

She remained silent for a moment before taking a breath.

One of the fairies looked up at Izuku curiously, pointing at a piece of the chocolate. He smiled and nodded, almost giggling as the three of them all eagerly reached for a small piece of the promised treat.

“You’re right. But… how will you do this? I didn’t think you knew how to fight as a human…”

“I like to know how to defend myself in any form. But I do appreciate your support.” One could almost hear the smile in her voice alone.

Izuku sighed in relief, and an unease faded- he hadn’t even realized his shoulders felt so heavy until they didn’t.

“What prompted this?” Inko asked.

He froze. Never mind.

Kazuha glanced over at the kitchen as she made her way to the couch. “On our way home today, Izuku was attacked by a villain. He was saved, and he is unharmed-” She said, noticing how Inko paled as she made her way back to her seat. “But it made the two of us realize how dangerous his relying on magic could be.”

Izuku separated the smaller pieces of chocolate between the three fairies before sliding the rest into a bowl and joining the two in the living room. Wordlessly, he slid the bowl closer to Inko, who hugged him tightly.

“Are you really okay? What happened?” she asked, her voice almost a whisper.

“I- I am, Mom, really.”

“Oh, you must have been so scared-”

Izuku thought for a moment and smiled, shaking his head.

“I wasn’t. You’ll never believe who saved me, Mom… it was All Might. The villain had been running from him, but All Might was right on his heels. I wish you could have met him, he was even cooler in person-”

Inko sighed, almost relieved, but she still held onto him for a minute before finally leaning back again and having a piece of chocolate herself. Despite the furrowed brows on her face, she tried to smile.

“I’m so glad. Did- were you able to talk?” She asked, because oh, how she knew what that man meant to him. And really, she needed something to push away the thought of how her son- her baby - almost- no. No, she couldn’t think of it-

Beaming, Izuku nodded. With a sudden spark of energy to him, he began telling his mother everything about his brief encounter with the hero, save for their talk. Something about it felt… personal.

Kazuha watched, a soft look in her eyes. To think she would be blessed with such an innocent family to look after- though it made part of her job harder, in some aspects, she wouldn’t change it at all. But it had been a long time since she’d taught anyone how to fight. That was something she’d have to consider and fast- they only had so much time.

 

___________________________

 

The next Sunday, Kazuha lead the Midoriyas to the Dagobah Municipal Beach Park. Inko balked at all the rotting metal and garbage covering the sand, while Izuku looked on, dumbfounded. Kazuha giggled at their expressions before a ‘poof’ and a cloud of smoke covered her, and faded to reveal a young woman with lightly curled turquoise hair, sharp green eyes and summer clothes. In her hands were two wooden naginatas- though they were slightly smaller and the blades were thinner than what Izuku normally saw in media.

“Kazuha, what the heck.” Izuku said blandly.

“Don’t give me that! It’s not like I can conjure a dojo! And I figure while we’re training, we can also help out around here. It’s a disaster here- I wouldn’t be surprised if ocean spirits in the area were hurting because of this place.” Kazuha huffed, puffing her cheeks childishly- it almost looked wrong, with how elegant the rest of her seemed.

Inko looked around, frowning. “You’re going to train him here?”

She nodded. “I’ve already cleared out a safe area and a path to it myself, but we can’t just leave this place like this- and it’s not like any officials have done anything. But this is also why I want you to know about where we’re working. I’d hate for you to find out because of some misfortune…” Kazuha faltered for a moment before straightening back up again. “Of course I’ll do all I can to ensure that doesn’t happen, but it would be foolish to think it wouldn’t happen at all.”

Inko’s frown didn’t lessen at all. “What if there’s something hidden in the sand?”

“I’ve done my best to root out anything like that, and I’ve a few smaller spirits helping to keep an eye on that as well, but we’ll be careful.”

Izuku watched the back and forth continue silently. He knew his mother needed the reassurance, and in truth he was a little concerned as well- but they’d known Kazuha for years. She adored them like family, and their safety was her top priority, even if she could be hands-off sometimes. What really caught his attention were the wooden polearms in her hands, however.

She looked so comfortable with them. He’d never seen any sign of practice weapons in the house, and Kazuha actively lived with them- if she had some secret den elsewhere, he didn’t know, but if she expected him to learn how to use it they couldn’t be an illusion, could they? How exactly did she know how to use a naginata, anyways?

Inko sighed, pulling Izuku away from his thoughts.

“Mom?”

“I want to come too, to keep an eye on things.” She said decisively. “But I want to go back to the house to get some things- I don’t like the idea of not being prepared for something going wrong.”

Kazuha smiled. “Of course.”

“Is it okay if we wait here? We won’t get started without you- I just… wanna look around.” Izuku asked.

His mother eyed the beach cautiously before nodding. “You be careful though, okay?” she requested, and when Izuku and Kazuha both nodded and promised they’d stay close to the road, she turned around and left.

After a moment of silence, Izuku looked over at Kazuha. “So… why naginatas?”

“It felt right. And these ones specifically suit your build- in the past, ko-naginatas were used by the wives of samurai so they’re designed to be used by people who are more often than not shorter with less upper body strength than likely opponents. More importantly, it’s the human weapon I’m most familiar with- and as you are a witch, you can also convert it to a staff or wand.”

Now that was interesting. “Really?”

Kazuha nodded. “Yes- though you’re learning how to properly use this first.”

“Naturally.” Izuku hummed, turning around to observe the hills of trash again. “What’s the plan for this?”

“I was thinking you could use it as a form of weight training, or target practice. Honestly, part of why I chose this place was because the garbage would also hide if you used magic at any point…"

“I thought this was so I didn’t use magic.”

“Partially. You need to know how to fight with magic too- and without leaving evidence behind, when you use something other than illusions. Remember?”

He hung his head when he remembered the burnt ground that All Might noticed. It was… embarrassing, and nauseating to think about. Even now he could recall the full terror he felt when All Might had called him out on his lie- but what else could he do?

They stayed quiet after that, looking around the beginning of the dump. Though they’d promised Inko they wouldn’t stray far from the road, Izuku wanted to see what he’d be dealing with. So many things looked far too large for him to lift- and many of those were metal, so it wasn’t like he could burn them. That was concerning.

As the two made their way back to the entrance, Izuku blinked in surprise, nudging Kazuha in the ribs slightly to catch her attention. At their entrance was a tall, almost skeletal blond man with gaunt cheeks and such sunken in eyes all they could see was the eerie blue. As they approached, he raised an eyebrow at them.

“What brings the two of you to such a mess?” He asked, and Izuku wanted to have him sit down on the plushest couch possible and give him hot tea to soothe that downright drained tone to his voice.

“Oh, we were… hoping to clean it up a little.” he muttered.

The man eyed the practice naginatas, raising an eyebrow. “And those?”

Kazuha stepped in at this point. “I was going to start teaching my cousin how to use them- so, you know, he has a way to fight. Two birds, one stone.” She said politely.

He looked the two over, and then gazed out at the polluted beach. After what felt like a long time, he spoke again. “My name is Yagi Toshinori. I’d like to help, if I can.”

Almost instantly, Izuku spoke up. “You’d have to make sure it’s okay with my mom. But she went to the house- she’ll probably be back soon though!”

Kazuha, on the other hand, frowned. “What do you mean?”

“I have a truck- if you can bring some of the trash you clear out to the entrance, I can tow it away. And you’re learning to fight, yes? I can help with muscle training as well. I doubt it’d be a good idea to jump right into just weapon training.”

She flushed at this. Yagi offered a sympathetic smile.

“You mean well, helping your cousin. If I may, though… what’s this about?”

“I want to be a hero. More than anything- but… my quirk isn’t entirely suited for combat. Kazuha thought she could help me out.” Izuku admitted.

The older man almost looked shocked, but nodded. Izuku couldn’t help but wonder why, but then his “cousin” spoke up.

“I also thought that clearing the beach up, even a little, could help others and the beach itself.”

“Community service is admirable. Many heroes in this day and age overlook it,” Yagi smiled and he still looked so tired, yet so, so proud of these kids he’d only just met. “The two of you are kind-hearted."

At his compliment Kazuha laughed at Izuku’s flustered, muttered response.

“My name is Akiyama Kazuha, and this is Midoriya Izuku. It’s good to meet you,” Kazuha finally said with a smile, at which Yagi nodded.

The three of them waited for Inko to return in silence, and once she arrived Yagi introduced himself and explained what they had discussed. With a friendly smile, Inko agreed- but Izuku was certain it was mostly because she would also be there and while she was no combat witch she had her quirk and plenty of ammo if their judgement turned out to be wrong.

As Kazuha demonstrated the proper way to hold the naginata, gently correcting Izuku’s own stance, he and Inko watched, a bag with a first aid kit and some snacks between them. What he didn’t know was that the three yellow fairies had followed as well, watching him curiously and occasionally pawing at his hair, or outright hiding in it and giggling to themselves. How could he, without the sight?

Perhaps one day Inko would explain why she looked so amused.

Chapter Text

Between learning how to hold and move with a naginata, hauling trash around, weight training and jogs, Izuku was exhausted. Of course he listened when Yagi, Kazuha and his mother insisted on rest days- he’d be a fool not to- and the changes had been gradual to let him adjust. They accounted for school and homework, always asked for his input… and of course when Yagi wasn’t around, he was able to practice with using and hiding magic in a fight. He was even managing to better his illusions. But the constant mental and physical training was draining, as accommodating as everyone was.

He wouldn’t have it any other way. But there was one thing...

Leaning back, he sighed deeply as Kazuha curled up beside him on the couch. Idly, he scratched behind one of her ears.

“A penny for your thoughts?” She asked.

He took a moment to answer- finding the right words could be hard sometimes. “I suppose I’m just thinking about the entrance exams…”

“It’s hard not to, with how much of your time is going into preparing for it.”

“Yeah. I’m just worried it won’t be enough. You and Yagi-san both have been great, but I’m still in the beginner stages with a naginata- what if I still am when it rolls around? Or I can’t use my magic for some reason, like the quirk examination being against actual people? What if they find out I’m not using a quirk and I get disqualified? I mean, I know there’s at least one pro-hero who uses magic but I don’t think she went to U.A. so what if they don’t allow magic? Will I even be allowed to bring a weapon? It’d be horrible if it all was for nothing-”

Kazuha gently pawed at his arm.

“Magic is welcomed in the hero community, or at least allowed. For a school to disqualify you for that would be foolish. And if you’re not ready with the naginata, there is always time. That training is for your entire future, not just the entrance exams. Your doubts do not reflect your true capabilities, Izuku.”

Izuku smiled a bit before blinking. “That… doesn’t help with knowing if I’ll be allowed to bring tools.”

The fox gave him a very pointed look before gently nodding towards the phone. He stared for a moment and almost reached for it, hand out for agonizing seconds before he sighed and flopped back against the couch, head in his hands.

“We can ask your mother to help when she gets home.” Kazuha told him gently, pawing at his shirt.

Izuku nodded, but he couldn’t help but feel awful about it. Idly he watched out the window while Kazuha settled comfortably beside him. “I bet All Might doesn’t get scared of making phone calls.”

“You don’t know that. Just because he puts on a brave face doesn’t mean little things don’t worry him, or that he’s immune to anxiety. It just means he knows how to work past it. I imagine that with all that he does, it’s something he has to do a lot, really- and there’s nothing wrong with that or with asking for help.”

He can’t help but smile a bit at that before shaking his head. Before he could retort, however, Kazuha chuckled.

“He’s just as human as you are, Izuku.”

He paused, taking a deep breath. “He is. That’s a dangerous thing to forget- especially when he’s… he’s always been this beacon, you know? Always been there to help others and save the day. He’s unbeatable, charismatic and unwavering. Like he’s trying to be more than human.”

“Have you ever read The Knight in Rusty Armor, Izuku?” Kazuha asked, and for a moment Izuku wanted to ask her how she knew about novellas by American playwrights but she was a fox spirit, one who’s been around for far too long. There’s probably a lot that she knows.

“I think so, yeah.” Is what he says instead.

“Perhaps All Might should as well.”

 


 

Training is harsh sometimes, but Inko and Toshinori are encouraging, and Kazuha’s a good teacher, even in things that aren’t magic. And on the days Toshinori isn’t there- because as sweet as it is for him to watch over and offer his own advice at times, he must certainly have a life of his own- they’re able to add magic to the mix.

“Once you’re more used to weilding a naginata, you’ll have your own blade, made and meant just for you. Then it’ll really feel right-” Kazuha had told him once, and he believed her. The training naginata did an alright job, channeling the flow of magic and directing it, but it felt stilted half the time. The plain stick had it’s connection to the earth of course, but that was it- nothing for any of the other elements. Were he plant or earth-based witch it’d do fine. But he was so much more versatile than what the tool allowed. When that sort of stunted feeling was at it’s worst, Kazuha usually had him stop with the weapons training and instead unleash some energy with focused spells, followed with meditation.

As the two trained, sparred or meditated through the passing weeks, it was easier to notice the spirits that remained on the beach. Some of those that dwelled in trash and darkness sulked about as their home was being taken away- burnt up with magic or shifted around to be hauled off by one of Inko’s friends or Toshinori to the dump- while those who hated the garbage and man-made filth seemed a little brighter and a little more colorful for it. Occasionally a particularly bold one would curl around Izuku’s feet for a bit before letting him continue his day… or would perhaps try to attack, only to be struck back by a glare or a thwap from their naginatas. Really, why anyone would try to attack Izuku around Inko or Kazuha was beyond him. But some spirits could be very short sighted.

“The dumb ones are just part of something bigger, most likely.” Kazuha said one day, after Izuku fended off a particularly grumpy tsukumogami. “We’ve made enough of a dent- if there’s something bigger than a broken microwave that’s upset it was discarded, it’s bound to notice soon.”

Inko couldn’t help but frown at that- she was no fighter, not the way Kazuha and Izuku were. “Will it be alright to continue here, then? Izuku’s still training…”

“I- I’m not gonna be able to get stronger if I run away, right?” Izuku offered, almost reluctantly.

He loved his mother. He loved her so much, more than anyone in this world- and she loved him. But it was hard to forget how she reacted, when they thought he was powerless, and even with flames and wind and more at his fingertips, it sometimes felt like- like she never really moved on past that day, even as they learned magic together.

Still, it was a reasonable concern, even if he hated to admit it.

Inko looked away, a mix of shame and fear alike flashing across her face for a brief moment. Kazuha looked between them and in an instant she was back to looking like a regular human girl. “This is all just speculation still- buuuut it’s possible that you’ll be able to face it. But if I say it’s too much, we’re pulling out and relocating, alright? If this is actually something to worry about, I mean.”

That seemed to please Inko, who looked more relieved, so Izuku smiled in agreement- but he couldn’t help but hope that whatever potential threat was there, Kazuha would let him try. He was going to be a hero, after all- being able to face dangers bigger than him was part of the job.

It was easy to get caught up in the excitement of the possibility of testing his training- he didn’t really see the analytical look on Kazuha’s face, or the worry return to Inko’s.