Izuku frowned at his hero notebook, now thoroughly water logged. The koi fish hadn't done more than investigate the thing that had dropped into their pond but the water was kinda gross especially at the bottom where all the sludge gathered. Hopefully he would be able to use mum's hair dryer to save most of the pages, but it would probably be a good idea to copy out the notes into another book just in case the smell lingered.
Not wanting to deal with anyone from school, especially not Kacchan after what he said. Izuku knew he wasn't going to jump off a bridge in search of a better quirk but he was one of the few who knew what was waiting for dead people and really didn't want to go through that again. Really Kacchan should watch what he said to people because if he said that to someone else they might actually go through with it and then where would Kacchan be? Not in a hero course that’s for sure.
Finding his notebook had meant Izuku missed the bus and because he was on a quiet line it would take longer to wait for the next bus than it would to just walk home. That was fine with him, more time to think out loud where no one would hear him and complain. The only issue was that it hadn’t rained in a while and it was getting warmer so the path under the bridge was going to smell more of urine than usual.
Thinking back on the day that night in bed Izuku would marvel at the smell of pee being the worst thing he would have to deal with.
At first he had thought it was in his head. Even four years out of the game Izuku still flinched at the sound of feedback, or static, or other noise that didn't belong. Sometimes he heard it when it was quiet just because there had been no quite for that week until the very end.
"No hard feelings kid, but I gotta hide and here you are. Don't worry, it'll all be over in forty five seconds, a minuet tops." and then Izuku couldn't breathe or see or hear or think or anything because there was sludge in his nose and ears and eyes and mouth and Izuku panicked and dropped his frequency.
He gasped in air as the villain, and hadn’t there been something about that on the news, fell though the space that Izuku had been in and cursed, calling out for its body. Izuku shuddered again as everything clicked together and exactly what the villain had planned to do slammed into his brain.
The villain was moving and spreading out. Desperate for a body to hide in, because he was being followed by a hero, because if Izuku could only turn invisible then he would be able to be felt. Izuku gritted his teeth through the visual of the villain’s sludge flowing through his feet until it started to clump up together into something that while definitely not man shaped was taller than it was wide.
What kind of control does it have over all the sludge, how much is original body and what is gathered attachments because mutation quirks don't usually make that much body part of the original but-
The villain started to flow itself upwards back into that vague human shape in a way that suggested it was going to make a run for it. The thought of the villain going after someone else, someone who couldn't escape. No, that couldn't happen.
Izuku held out his right hand in a palm out motion and pushed at the tower of muck that looked like the villain and thought cold thoughts.
Ice burst form the ground and spiralled up the villain until it was the world’s most disgusting ice block. Five minutes until the villain would be free to move again, but Izuku only had two more uses of Long Live the Flow before it had to recharge and unlike in the game there was no partner to cover his slack.
Izuku took a deep breath and touched the player pin he had been allowed to keep only because the conductor had given him one as he was leaving, along with a polite but firm instruction to never go back to Shibuya. The scan ability was the only one he could still use, which was sad because sometimes he found yen pins and it would be nice to trade them in somehow. Scan allowed Izuku a peek at the surface thoughts of people and the ability to see all the Noise that drifted though Musutafu.
"Twenty three minutes to catch the villain and drop him at the station-" there it was, close and getting closer. Izuku shifted his frequency up to almost Real Ground, close enough he could be seen without cancelling out the effects of most of the pins.
"THE VILLAIN'S OVER HERE!" He shouted and the manhole cover exploded upward and Izuku snapped into Real Ground frequency proper and All Might. Tall with the hair and looking at the situation and oh no Izuku had messed up.
"Do not fear for I am- ah, you seem to have things handled young man." All Might Grinned and Izuku felt his life flash before his eyes. "And while I think I can let you off with a warning, leave the quirk use to the pros in future hmm?"
"Two Minuets!" Izuku said and felt the heat erupt over his face. "Um until the ice vanishes I mean and um I think there needs to be a container to get it into so it can be arrested?" and that seems like a lot of stuff but it seems like most of the actual body is by its eyes so that should probably be enough to stop it controlling anything else what happens if a body gets separated will it just flow back together how much control does it have over itself.
"Well that is a very good point, young man," All Might laughed and fished some bottles out of the junk around the underpass. "Do you think these will do?"
Izuku just nodded, he couldn't trust himself to talk anymore. Perhaps he should take a vow of silence and never talk again.
"I hate to say it young man but I don't think you could do a vow of silence." All Might patted Izuku's shoulder and Izuku felt his soul leave his body.
"Mugh." Izuku slammed his hands over his mouth and considered if it would have been easier to let the villain kill him.
"Is this your bag?" All Might asked holding up Izuku's backpack.
"Mmhm." Izuku nodded, "Um, could you, sign?" Izuku pulled out the first book he touched and it was the hero notes, now thoroughly sludge covered, although comparatively not much worse off than it had been after Kacchan was done with it. He held it out and All Might raised an eyebrow and flipped though the notes, then the other eyebrow joined it.
"These are very good for someone your age," All Might said, "What's your name young man?"
"Midoriya Izuku. And I just pay attention I guess?" Izuku shrugged and thought very hard about not slipping frequency and not thinking out loud.
"If this is just paying attention I don't doubt you can go far." All Might said, handing back the book with a grin.
"You think so?" Izuku asked and started to tear up. "I just, I really want to be a hero and save people like you."
"Well then I look forward to seeing you in the future!" All Might said.
"Certainly!" All Might agreed and patted Izuku on the shoulder again. "But I think the time on our friend there is running out. Stand well clear."
Izuku nodded and jogged backwards from the situation and watched as All Might changed from friendly hero interacting with a fan to Pro hero dealing with a villain. After a moment Izuku shook himself out of fanboy brain and dropped down to the Under Ground frequency and readied Long Live the Flow again just in case and then watched as the number one hero defeated the villain in two hits and shoved slime into the bottles. Once the sludge was all sealed away All Might looked around and Izuku jumped up frequency to wave at the hero.
"Thank you!" Izuku called
The hero grinned and waved and vanished down into the sewer. Izuku looked at where the hero had gone and slipped back down and used the Sexy B pin to move the manhole cover back into place.
Izuku hadn't managed to save most of his hero notebook and that wasn't so much of a surprise really. Instead he carefully extracted the pages, as in multiple because he had written across the first two All Might pages, and dried and framed them to hang in his room. All Might thought he could be a hero. All Might, the All Might.
Mum had still been at work when Izuku got home so he hadn't had anyone to tell about the meeting. Well, Kacchan did live nearby, but Izuku was starting to think that his friendship with Kacchan wasn't quite as friendly as he kept acting. So maybe he wouldn't talk about it with Kacchan, maybe he would just scream into his pillow and work on homework. If he was going to try for UA then he was going to need the best grades.
He would probably need to work some more on his pins as well. After the game he hadn't really used the pins, dropping frequency was enough to get him out of most situations and he didn't actually want to hurt any of the kids in his class. Because his pins could do a lot of damage, during the game he had used Long Live the Ice and Sexy + so much to beat noise that they had become Flow and B. But it had been years since the game, he wasn't allowed to fight the noise in the city unless they attacked him fist (the composer had been very clear about that) and the local reapers avoided him like the plague (when they weren't laughing at him).
Izuku avoided the players. He wasn't allowed to interfere with the game, living people weren't allowed to and even if Izuku was something of a special case he wasn't that special. Sometimes if he found yen pins he would leave them in stores with the reaper marks on them, because he remembered gulping down food whenever he could and not knowing if he was going to get another day another meal. Yeah, he wasn't supposed to help but accidentally dropping something wasn't actually helping. Not really. Not in a way that mattered.
Training was going to be tricky. There wasn't enough space in the apartment to practice any of his pins. With a sigh Izuku pushed his homework away and pulled up his laptop, if he was going to think about this then making a proper plan with actual research would be a good idea.
Izuku blinked and tried not to heave. The news articles really hadn't prepared him for this. The entirety of the beach was covered in mountains of junk and there was the smell of rot and stale water. Maybe this had been a bad idea.
No, Izuku needed to practice, he'd only had four years with his abilities but aside from the game week he hadn't used anything aside from frequency changes with anything that could even approach regularity. Yeah, practicing here was the best idea. And if he was going to spend time at the beach then maybe he could try clean up the worst of it. In the game he had been able to toss around cars but not with any real direction; even attacking with stop signs had mainly involved slapping the object at the noise and hoping for the best.
Sometimes Izuku thought that ten year old him had been a real idiot.
An hour into training Izuku screamed. Some of his pins were different; He had finished the game with a Masamune pin that he hadn't used because it required getting closer to the noise to use than his partner was willing to let a ten year old get. It wasn't a Masamune anymore, now it was Onikiri. It had the same purple and orange background with the white frame, but instead of the slanted M in the centre it was an O.
The pin had evolved. Not from use, because Izuku hadn't used it, but somehow in the four years Izuku had kept it around something had triggered the evolution for it. Izuku used Sexy B to knock over one off the fridges so he could use the door as a table. It wasn't great but he was less likely to lose a pin on that than among the rest of the piles of junk.
Izuku very carefully didn't think about anything that might be inside the fridge. Nope, nothing in there, just a solid lump of metal.
Most of the pins hadn't changed. Web Spider had another evolution but that hadn't triggered yet, Aqua Demon, Long Live the Flow, and Sexy B were already at their final form by the end of the game, and Healing Bunny had become Healing Whale and now showed a cartoon whale blowing a heart out its spout. Okay, that he could handle. Izuku pinned everything back into place on his t-shirt and dropped his frequency, it was time to start training.
Over the next month Izuku learnt a lot about the pins he had. Onikiri was terrifying. To activate it Izuku moved to punch his target and then the pin took over and reduced whatever he was aiming at to a compact chunk. No matter what it reduced size by three quarters and left Izuku kind of shaky. There were combinations that he was able to do that they had never tried in the game, Izuku could only move one thing at a time with Sexy B, but if he froze a bunch of things together with Long Live the Flow then as long as they didn't weigh more than a vending machine he could move it.
Now that he was feeling more comfortable with his ability to use pins Izuku had found himself with a different problem - he had nowhere to take the junk. The dump was on the other side of town, part of the reason that dumping things on the beach had become so common. Somehow Izuku didn't see the bus drivers being okay with him ferrying trash on their bus.
"Back again m'boy?"
Izuku jumped, startled out of his thoughts, and turned to wave. "Good morning Yagi-san." Izuku grinned. The man was tall and thin and had scared Izuku half to death the first time he coughed blood, but he had apparently moved back after years overseas. Izuku thought that the moving back had something to do with the injury that caused the man to cough blood, but that was the kind of thing that was rude to bring up. "How are you feeling today?"
"Just fine," Yagi-san grinned. "And you, Midoriya-san? Aren’t you usually busy by now?"
"Yeah. I wanted to get started clearing the beach but I don't have anywhere to clear it too." Izuku bit his lip and avoided Yagi-san's eye.
"Hmmm, I might be able to help you with that." Yagi-san said.
"Yeah. Tell you what, I'll see you back here Saturday morning and we'll see how much will fit in my truck."
"Ah! Yagi-san you're my hero!" Izuku cheered. "Thank you! Ah, Yagi-san are you okay? I'm sorry."
Yagi-san fished out a pack of tissues from his pocket and wiped away the blood before waving off Izuku's apology.
Izuku dropped his frequency and used the Happy Whale pin to summon the healing drink into his hand. When he returned to the RG frequency beside Yagi-san the drink didn't vanish. Izuku wasn't sure that this was going to work, but it couldn't do anything worse than what Yagi-san was already dealing with.
"Here, Yagi-san. I promise it tastes better than blood." Izuku said and held out the light blue can.
"Thank you my boy. Ah, Happy Whale?" Yagi-san asked as he cracked the top and took a sip.
"It's my favourite; I always have some on me." Izuku said and it wasn't really a lie.
"Well thank you." Yagi-san said. "I suppose you're going to make me go home now aren't you."
"I will cry." Izuku confirmed. "And it will be loud and wet and gross and much easier for everyone if you just sit there and finish your drink and then take the rest of the day to relax."
"You drive a hard bargain." Yagi-san said relaxing into a park bench that had hopefully been placed before the beach became a dumping ground. "Alright, you do your thing and I'll come back with my truck eight o'clock Saturday morning and we'll see what we can make happen."
"Thanks Yagi-san. Take care of yourself." Izuku waved before hopping back down into the junk.
"You too Midoriya-san, you too."
Izuku arrived at the beach on Saturday later than he intended. There was a truck parked on the side of the road nearest the beach and Izuku could see the shock of blond that was Yagi-san at the back of the truck opening the doors.
"Yagi-san! Sorry I'm late."
"No problem Midoriya-san." Yagi waved off Izuku's apologies. "There's plenty of time for you to do the heavy lifting."
"Right, I prepared some stuff this week so it shouldn't take me too long." And Izuku dropped his frequency and started lifting the vaguely cubed hunks of scrap into the back on the van. His fine control still wasn't great so after there were enough for a row Izuku upped his frequency and pushed them into place. Yagi shouted a mix of encouragement and corrections to Izuku's form whenever he did and Izuku added that to the mental tally of things that suggested Yagi was an ex-hero.
The truck was loaded up by ten and Izuku climbed into the passenger seat next to Yagi. Climbed really was the word there, Izuku had never been faced with a vertical that tall and Izuku never wanted to be faced with one again. Ever helpful Yagi laughed at him and offered to find a step ladder and a booster seat.
"You can't be mean to me Yagi-san that's child abuse." Izuku pouted. He had, in the process of packing the truck, managed to miss time his recharge and panic punched a cube into the ocean. Yagi had literally laughed himself sick and Izuku was regretting a lot of life choices.
"You are far from the only one to do something like that when training their quirk my boy."
"Are you going to tell me any of yours?" Izuku asked.
"Ha-ha, no." Yagi said.
"Oh come on." Izuku pouted.
"Ah see now you've totally convinced me," Yagi said. "Wait, no, the other one."
"See if I share my energy drinks with you again." Izuku sniffed.
They managed three trips to the dump that day and at the end of it Izuku's everything was aching. That would have been fine, but the beach looked like they hadn't even touched it.
"Well, I suppose I'll see you again next week Midoriya." Yagi said with a look at the beach.
"Yeah." Izuku agreed weakly.
True enough the trash on the beach did slowly get removed. Izuku stated taking photos of it on Sunday mornings and was surprised at how much shorter the towers of junk were. They seemed much less likely to fall over and crush him beneath their weight. Not that that was a thing he was worried about or anything.
As the beach cleared Yagi also started looking healthier. It was probably wishful thinking, but Izuku kept plying the man with the Happy Whale drinks, and shrugged off questions about where the drinks came from. It had become abundantly clear over the months Izuku knew Yagi that the man didn't take care of himself, so Izuku was going to force self-care into him.
The game had brought a lot of lessons, the biggest being that you couldn't actually exist alone without anyone else in your life. The loss of Sa-Chan still hurt. A week of living in each other’s pockets and having each other’s lives in their hands built up bonds fast. She probably would have liked to clear the beach; she was that kind of person.
"Are you alright Midoriya?" Yagi asked and Izuku pasted a grin on his face.
"Fine, Yagi-san." Izuku said.
"Somehow I don't believe that." Yagi said, and something in the way he said it set Izuku off.
"I just thought that one of my friends would like to be here but," Izuku sniffed hard once, twice, and then started crying, "she's dead and she, she saved me, so many times, and I couldn't save her when she needed me to and now she's dead and it's pretty much my fault."
"Oh my boy," Yagi breathed deeply and gently wrapped an arm around Izuku's shoulder pulling him in until Izuku was sobbing into his shirt. "I want to say you stop feeling like you failed them, but you don't. Not really. But it does get easier to think of them in better ways. Doing the things that they'd like, remembering them happy." Yagi rubbed circles onto Izuku's back and slowly, slowly, the sobs fell off.
"Sorry." Izuku mumbled and wiped at his tears with the heal of his palms. "Oh no, I snotted all over your shirt."
"It's fine, really," Yagi added. Izuku pulled a face that made Yagi sigh. "Izuku, I promise you, me and my shirts have had far worse than that." Izuku wasn't sure what the look on his face was but it must have been unconvincing. "Alright, I think we should get you home."
Izuku felt a foot behind and to the right of himself as he let Yagi shuffle him into the cab of the truck. He gave directions when asked and stared blankly out the window the rest of the time.
Toshi kept glancing at the boy in the passenger seat. While he was familiar with that particular mood it was far worse to see it on the face of the teen he had been helping, someone who had reacted to Toshi coughing blood by offering the first canned drink that hadn't made him feel worse. A drink that was annoyingly impossible to find even for the number one hero.
It had been an unexpected emotional evening that was certain. Toshi parked the truck and walked round to the passenger side to help Izuku down. He wasn't sure how aware of his surroundings the boy was and while his struggle to get into and out of the truck was amusing, it would look very bad if he brought Izuku home to his mother injured. It was going to look bad regardless, because Toshinori was aware of how he didn't look like someone you wanted around you child.
Izuku stumbled when he hit the ground and momentarily flickered from existence. Toshi swallowed a sigh and locked the truck as Izuku lead the way up to the apartment. The door was opened and the woman caught sight of Izuku and started crying.
Apparently that was something that came to Izuku genetically.
Toshi attempted to calm her down and explain something about the situation while Izuku just drifted across the room and down the hall.
When Inko had stopped crying and was seated with some tea Toshinori had started to explain the situation. It took significantly more explanation that he'd expected because apparently Izuku hadn't told his mother anything about cleaning up the beach.
"Thank you for looking out for him." Inko said, looking down at her tea cup like it held the answers to everything. "I worry about him so much."
"He, he mentioned a friend that died?" Toshi said carefully. The words landed like lead and Inko slumped.
"Four years ago Izuku went missing in Shibuya. There was no sign of him, no one saw him no one could contact him, just vanished off the face of the earth," Inko took a shuddering breath and Toshi listened in increasing horror as she explained the search, the worry, and the days of nothing.
"For eight days there was no sign of him and then the Conductor of Shibuya walked him into a police station, told them to call me, and told Izuku to never go back to Shibuya. Apparently his quirk activated that week and a student doing research in the area had helped him escape a local villain group but she didn't make it." Inko drank her tea and made a slight face at the temperature.
"I had no idea." Toshi said.
"He doesn't talk about it much. He had counselling for a while but he didn't want to go any more and I wasn't going to force him. He said her name was Sa-Chan, but not much else." Inko sighed and slumped, exhaustion written in every inch of her face.
"Here," Toshi scrawled his number on a note pad next to a reminder to get bread and eggs. "I may not look like it anymore, but I have experience in that situation. If you or Izuku need something."
"Thank you, Yagi-san."
"Well done my boy, so, what's your next project?"
Izuku tore his eyes away from the horizon, the visible clear horizon, to look at Yagi-san. Eight months of work had cleared the beach completely.
"Study for high school exams I guess." Izuku said and handed over a can of Happy Whale.
"Oh, that’s right its exam time soon isn't it? Where are you thinking of applying?"
"UA." Izuku admitted, looking away. "I, I really want to be a hero like All Might, and save people with a smile, and let them know that they'll be safe."
"I think if anyone could take All Might's place it would be you, Midoriya-san." Yagi said and patted Izuku on the shoulder when he started spluttering. "Oh hush, I should know."
"What do you mean you should know?" Izuku asked and snapped to look at Yagi. Yagi looked like he had expected there to be one less step than there was.
"Didn't I mention?" Yagi said airy and with a hint of panic in his eyes, "I'm All Might's secretary."