Inko Midoriya has a son.
Misaki and Daichi know this. They’ve been next door neighbors to the Midoriyas for the past couple of years now, and apparently, a few years ago, she adopted a little boy. A nine year old, Misaki remembers overhearing--the boy would be twelve now, if she remembers correctly.
Except, for all their visits to the Midoriya household, Misaki and her husband have never seen him.
“He’s here,” Inko says uncomfortably when they inquire his whereabouts, “he’s just...he’s very skittish. He doesn’t really like people all that much, you’ll have to understand.”
It was an interesting choice of wording. “Skittish” rather than “shy” and “you’ll have to understand” rather than “you’ll have to forgive him.” The neighbors are confused and skeptical; after all, they’ve never seen the boy, or even any sign that he actually exists at all.
Misaki is over at the Midoriya residence for coffee one day (Inko is always very welcoming, if just for a short time; she never has company for more than thirty minutes or so) when she sees the first sign of there actually being someone else in the house.
“So, this son of yours,” Misaki is saying during said visit, stirring her coffee absentmindedly if just to have something to do. “Are we ever going to get the chance to meet him?”
Inko smiles softly. It looks painful. “Maybe someday,” she says, “hopefully. He’s…” She stirs her own coffee nervously. “He’s, well, he’s very--”
A door slams abruptly in another room.
Misaki jumps, nearly spilling coffee all over herself, and Inko raises her head. She isn’t startled, merely...concerned. Like this has happened many times before.
“I’m sorry,” Inko says, setting down her coffee and rising to her feet, “but, for now...I’m going to have to ask that you go.”
This has also happened before, Inko asking her to leave abruptly. Inko, of course, is as sweet as she can be about it, never demanding and always very kind, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t odd, and that doesn’t mean Misaki isn’t offended.
The Midoriya household is strange. Misaki and her husband don’t visit often, but every time they’ve been over this far, the household has had a...strange air about it. Or, perhaps it’s not the household so much as it is the feeling Misaki and Daichi get when they’re in the household. Inko says that it’s an old house and maybe it’s just because it’s creaky and rickety, but Misaki has her doubts.
That, and she finds knives lying around the house sometimes.
She doesn’t find very many of them and the occasions are rare on which she does, but they’re there--embedded in the walls, scattered across the coffee table, even behind the couch cushions sometimes. Inko laughs is off, but the laughter is always nervous and pained.
“It’s nothing,” Inko says, yanking two knives from the wall and setting them on the kitchen counter. “You aren’t in danger here, I promise you that.”
Another odd choice of wording. Inko doesn’t explain the knives; she never has, and Misaki doesn’t think she ever will.
Misaki doesn’t try and investigate. She isn’t sure she won’t find something she’ll regret. The Midoriya household is full of secrets, and despite her curiosity, Misaki isn’t about to go snooping again.
The one time she tried, when Inko was making tea in the other room, two knives had shot out of nowhere and missed her by inches.
Misaki’s visits to the Midoriya household stopped after that. Inko had been furious, and she said that Misaki had no right to go snooping, which was true, but either way, Misaki wasn’t about to step into that household again.
Inko Midoriya has a son. And, apparently, Misaki is on both of their bad sides.
Inko does have a son.
She has a son, twelve now (she thinks--the police hadn’t been able to find out Izuku’s birthday for sure, but he’s about twelve), and she loves him with her whole heart. Izuku is quiet and skittish and he has a bad habit of throwing knives at people when he’s scared or feels threatened, but he tries his best and has a heart of pure gold.
Misaki and Daichi leave after a visit, their final visit, and Inko, once she’s sure they’re gone, creeps down the hallway towards the door of her son’s room. It’s never locked, Izuku never locks it, she knows this without trying. She knocks on the door twice, and when she receives no objection from within, she heads inside.
Her son’s room is... special.
That’s really the only nice way she can put it.
The walls are splashed with multi-colored paints, reds and blues and greens and purples and pinks and oranges and, basically, all things bright and colorful. Her son fell in love with colors the day Inko brought him home, and one of the first things Inko had done was bought several cans of paint and let him splash the walls with color.
Her son likes colorful things, and he also likes stuffed animals and blankets with “pretty patterns” and…
...He likes knives, too.
The walls, bright and colorful, are lined with knives. None of them are longer than Inko’s forearm, but the blades gleam in harmony beneath the overhead lights of the room, threatening despite their sizes.
The knife thing isn’t exactly new; Izuku had always had knives on him since the day he was found. He’d almost knifed the hero who found him in the face several times.
(No one blamed him.)
(No one could.)
Inko makes her way across the room and to the closet. This door is locked, she knows it is without trying the handle, and she knocks twice. She waits a moment for an answer, and when one doesn’t come, she opens her mouth.
“Izuku?” she calls gently. “You can come out now, it’s alright. They’re gone.”
There’s a beat.
And then, two knocks come from the other side of the door.
Inko smiles gently, even though Izuku can’t see her. “Not yet?” Inko asks.
One knock this time.
“Alright,” she says, understanding. Her son loves her, she knows this, but he needs space sometimes. A lot of space sometimes. “Do you want anything to eat?”
Two knocks come as an answer.
“Alright, that’s okay. What about ice cream?”
There’s another long beat.
And then, one knock.
Inko smiles brightly again, despite that Izuku can’t see her. “I’ll be right back,” she says, a promise, and she turns on her heel and retreats the room.
Inko loves her son. She’s only been his mother for three years thus far, but she loves him dearly and would do just about anything for him.
“He was brought in last month by the hero, Ingenium. We ran his DNA through the system, but there aren’t any matches. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, this boy doesn’t exist.”
Inko is awoken that night by a hand shaking her shoulder.
She sits up, blinking rapidly and willing her eyes to adjust to the dark. “Izuku?” she murmurs, suddenly more awake now that she realizes what’s going on. “Izuku, are you…?”
Her eyes adjust enough for her to make out Izuku’s outline in the dark. He’s fiddling with something--knives, she realizes. Two of them, one in each hand, the blades gleaming in the light of the full moon shining through the window.
“I-I’m sorry,” Izuku stammers, his blades sliding against each other. His hands are shaking, she notices. “I-I...I-I just…”
“It’s okay,” she says immediately, and she reaches out, gently--very, very gently--settling her hand on his cheek. “It’s okay, Izuku, it’s okay. You’re safe, I promise. Come here.”
He does. He sets his knives on the nightstand first, but then he’s in Inko’s arms, and she hugs him tight.
This happens a lot, Izuku coming to her in the middle of the night, never offering an explanation (never needing to offer an explanation). He’s had nightmares regularly since the day he came home, and Inko’s heart aches for him every time.
She never asks what he dreams about. She doesn’t dare make him relive whatever horrors he sees in his dreams. And anyways, it’s not like she needs to know to be able to hold him and comfort him, so she lets it go. It’s been three years, yes, but she’s still finding Izuku’s boundaries. He has several of them.
“It’s okay, Izuku,” she promises, running her fingers through his hair. He’s trembling (not crying, he never cries) and holding onto her in what she’d consider a death grip. “It’s okay, you’re safe, I promise you’re safe.”
It’s a horrible, horrible thing, his nightmares. The boy has a hard time sleeping already; add “nightmares” to that and he hardly ever gets the chance to rest peacefully. It isn’t fair, Inko thinks, holding him and stroking his hair as he trembles in her arms. He’s done nothing to deserve this. For all his knives, he’s done absolutely nothing to deserve this.
“Ma’am, are you sure about this? He’s our hardest case, if you're looking to adopt a child, there are others--”
“No. I’d like to meet him. Please.”
Izuku doesn’t like people. He never has. He tells Inko to have company over so she can hang out with others, but then he runs off and locks himself in the closet until they leave. He doesn’t like company, and she’d stop having people over altogether if he’d let her.
But he doesn’t. He wants her to have friends. Which is odd, considering Izuku’s own distaste for people.
Or maybe “distaste” is the wrong word. Perhaps “fear” is more accurate.
He doesn’t like going out in public at all, he never has. He’ll go out with her occasionally, but stays glued to her side like he’s terrified to lose her, and she doesn’t let him out of her sight. He gets startled easily, and when he’s scared he brings out the knives and that is not something Inko wants happening in public. The public doesn’t understand that knives are Izuku’s comfort, that knives make him feel safe and that he’d never actually hurt anyone. He throws knives when he’s scared or startled, yes, but his aim is accurate and he’d never, ever hit anyone.
The public doesn’t understand this, and for this reason, Inko and Izuku don’t go out often. When Inko goes shopping for groceries, she lets Izuku stay home, where he does his schoolwork (she’s homeschooled him since adopting him--he can barely handle a walk down the street, much less being in a classroom full of other kids) and, when he’s able, he rests, too, which is good. He needs whatever sleep he can get.
He likes going out with her to the park on occasion, though. He’s told her before that he loves the sunshine.
“Hello, there. My name is Inko. What’s your name? ...No? You don’t want to tell me your name? That’s okay, you don’t have to, sweetheart. Take your time.”
Izuku dyes his hair green.
He says it’s because “black is scary” and “green is pretty,” but Inko has a suspicion it has something to do with the fact that her own hair has a natural green hue to it. Izuku is shy and skittish and not much of a talker at all, but Inko knows he loves her, and she doesn’t miss how his eyes light up when, due to their matching hair color, strangers at the parks they visit comment on their “family resemblance.”
It’s expensive, keeping up with hair dye, but Inko does it. She knows how much it means to him.
“I have a question, sweetheart. Would you...like me to be your mother? Would you like to be my son?”
Izuku does not smile.
It’s not that he isn’t happy, because he is. Inko has seen him truly, honestly happy a fair amount of times. Like the day she brought him home and showed him his new home, or when she bought him his first stuffed animal (and all the stuffed animals that followed). He doesn’t smile--Inko isn’t sure he can-- but his eyes fill with life and light, and even though he isn’t smiling, Inko can always tell when he’s happy.
She isn’t sure anyone else would be able to tell, but she can, and that’s what matters.
“Would you like a new name? ...Yes, that’s right, you can if you want to. You can pick anything you’d like. ...Would you like me to help you choose?”
A nod, small, shy and quick.
“Alright, let’s think, shall we? Hmm…”
Inko turns; Izuku is standing in the doorway, fiddling with one of his knives. He’d spoken to her, but he isn’t looking at her.
She wishes he’d call her “mom,” but he’s only recently dropped “Midoriya-san,” and she’ll take small victories. They’re still trying, still moving forward, still making progress. They’ll get there. Eventually.
“Yes, what is it?” Inko asks, smiling gently. Izuku is much like a cat in that he gets startled easily and that it takes time to gain his trust. Inko is proud to say that Izuku trusts her, but even so; he’s easily spooked and extremely hard to calm down.
Plus, he has a tendency to lash out and throw his knives when he’s startled, and although he’d never hit anyone, Inko doesn’t want him to feel threatened enough to attack.
Izuku fiddles with the knives some more. The green is fading out of his black hair; they’ll have to get it re-done soon.
“H-Hypothetically,” Izuku stutters slowly, “c-can...c-can I be a hero?”
Inko pauses with a small frown. “Why do you ask?”
Izuku bites his lip. “I-I mean,” he says, “I-I was just...thinking, recently. I-I mean, h-heroes don’t really...look like this, do they?”
Inko absolutely hates the way he phrased that, but she understands where he’s coming from.
Izuku has never been the healthiest person. He’s skinny, pale, and he’s prone to illness more often than Inko wants to think about. But, aside from that...Izuku is covered in scars.
All over his forearms, all over his legs, all over his face; beneath his clothes are more scars, more times he’d been hurt. Some of them are small and faint and others are long and jagged, like his skin was cracked.
“...Izuku…” She studies his face, his eyes. “Is this...really hypothetical?”
Izuku doesn’t flinch, but he slides the blades of his knives together slightly more frantically. “Yes.”
It isn’t. He’s lying. And Inko gets the feeling that he knows she knows he’s lying.
She doesn’t call him out, though. Instead, she crosses the room towards him. He doesn’t flinch back like he used to; he stays where he is, and when Inko reaches him, she kneels in front of him and settles her hands on his. The knives finally still, and Izuku raises his head. He’s small for a twelve year old, and they’re eye-level.
“Is that the one you want? You decided?”
“Alright.” Inko smiles. She doesn’t hug him, even though she wants to. It’s taken months for them to build enough trust for him to answer her when she asks a question (he answers non-verbally, but even so), and she isn’t about to break that trust.
She’ll wait for him. She’ll wait for him, wait with him, and she’ll be patient all the way.
“You’re absolutely sure of this, sweetheart? This is your choice?”
The nine year old nods feverishly, and Inko beams at him.
“Well, in that case...Izuku it is.”
Izuku doesn’t smile, but his eyes shine with a newfound light. It’s the first time Inko has seen it.
It isn’t fair, Inko thinks, for what feels like the millionth time when it comes to this boy. It isn’t fair, none of it’s fair. His entire life hasn’t been fair. He’s suffered through so much and been hurt so many times, seen and endured more than any human being, let alone a child, should’ve.
It isn’t fair, Inko thinks. It isn’t fair at all.
But Izuku is watching her, waiting for an answer, and she puts those thoughts aside for now and smiles at him.
“Izuku, sweetheart…” She meets his eyes and squeezes his hands gently. “You’d make a great hero.”
There’s just a moment, a moment in which she sees light in his eyes, bright and shining even though the rest of his face stays stoic as always. The knives hit the floor and then he’s hugging her, and she hugs him back tightly.
“Do you like it, Izuku?”
“Good. Because it’s yours. This is your room now, sweetie.”
He whirls around to stare at her, eyes wide. He blinks once, confused, and she smiles. He doesn’t return the gesture, but she can tell by the light in his eyes that, if he could, he’d be smiling back at her.
It isn’t fair, Inko thinks. She’s sitting on the couch, and Izuku is sleeping, curled up against her side, two knives held loosely between his fingers. She runs her fingers over his cheek and through his hair absentmindedly, and when her fingers brush over some of the many scars on his skin, her heart aches.
It isn’t fair. This boy has seen and been through so much, so much he didn’t deserve, so much pain.
And it also isn’t fair that the boy who wants to be a hero more than anything else…
...Would be raised and hurt so devastatingly by villains.