Traveling by bus wasn’t the style expected by the public for the #1 hero and that was the biggest reason that he still traveled that way. Despite his size and mass it was had to identify mild Yagi Toshinori as the famous All Might when he sat quietly in his seat (and partially in the seat next to himself) with a basket of groceries in his lap.
It was comforting to travel like this, surrounded by the people that he would give his life to protect. Young children hand in hand with their parents, the elderly sitting in their seats and chatting softly to one another, teenagers gossiping about school. He basked in the secondhand glow given by their peaceful lives.
The bus stopped to allow those who wished to exit to do so and allow on new passengers. This stop had quite a few, and when it became obvious that taking up two seats would be beyond rude he started to stand and offer his seats to a tired looking young mother.
“Oh, it’s fine. I can fit.” She assured him as she slid beside him. Toshinori still scooted as close to the wall as he could, almost containing himself to his seat. “Thank you for the courtesy, though.”
“Of course.” Toshinori smiled before breaking eye contact, looking instead down into his shopping basket. It never failed to amuse him or anyone that knew him, but while All Might could smile and charm his way through any situation Toshinori found himself fumbling frequently.
It isn’t an awkward silence that they share after that, at least. Just the typical silence of two people sitting next to one another on a bus. Normal. Nice. Then the mood changes to something not normal at all when a stop or two down the woman jostles to the side, her head coming to rest on Toshinori’s shoulder. She seems to be sound asleep and he has no idea how to deal with this.
A second surprising event happens that takes his mind of the first, however. The child that she held in her arms was awake, tiny little hands flailing as they tried to escape the blanket they were wrapped tightly in. And when the little one did, oh my goodness, it was the cutest thing Toshinori had ever seen. A round face baby with bright green eyes and tight curls the same shade of green as his mother, wearing an All Might jumper complete with hood. Toshinori has to bite back a delighted gasp because he wasn’t aware that clothes line had launched yet, and he hadn’t seen that they were going to make such tiny little jumpers in the line.
The child stared up at him with wide eyes, mouth falling open into a silent ‘o’ of surprise. The silence lasts only a second before the child made a delighted cry and reached out with a desperately flexing hand for Toshinori’s hair. The hero that never faltered or ran from danger froze, unable to pull away or otherwise move. The child grabs a handful of hair and holds it tight, staring at in awe at his prize for a split second before trying to cram it in his mouth.
Kids were great.
“Ah, miss?” He said softly, trying to gently jostle the woman while tipping his head away so that her child didn’t eat his hair. It wasn’t working well. “Miss?”
The woman’s head lifted and she hummed softly before realizing what predicament she was in. “Oh, Izuku, no!” She whispered, seemingly horrified at not only falling asleep on the shoulder of a man on the bus, but also that her son was nearly eating his hair. She carefully untangled the boy’s fingers, ignoring his indignant cry as his prize was taken from him. “I’m so sorry, sir.”
Toshinori tucked his hair safely behind his ear and rubbed the back of his head. Little Izuku continued to burble unhappily while staring longingly at Toshi’s hair. “Please don’t worry about it, miss. I, ah, apologize for waking you but I did not want him to actually eat my hair.”
“He would’ve, too. He’s at that age where everything goes into his mouth.” True to her words, the boy finally stopped fixating on Toshi’s hair and instead tried to eat his mother’s fingers. She laughed fondly and gently bapped his nose with her index finger. “I apologize again for my rudeness. I’m Midorya Inko.” She offered him a hand and he gently shook it.
“Yagi Toshinori. There is no need to apologize, please.” He gave Inko his best smile, not one of All Might’s inspiring ones but one that he hoped was still friendly and warm. He shook her hand carefully; she was much smaller than he was.
She looks surprised, resting her hand on her son’s head after she pulls back from the handshake. “You’re not American? I’d assumed...”
It was an easy assumption to make. He was tall, tanned, blonde, and blue eyed. Toshinori knew he looked like the stereotypical American. All Might’s theme didn’t help matters, and even in his off duty clothes he maintained the colors. He was wearing an oversized All Might hoodie today. “Aaah, I was born and raised in Japan.” Let her draw from that what she may. He wasn’t about to pour out his life details to a stranger on the bus. Time to try and steer the conversation somewhere else. “How old is your son?”
Inko’s face lights up and he’s obviously found a favored subject. “He’s almost a year old.” She said and slipped her hand under her son’s hood and ruffled his hair. The boy laughed and reached for her hands with the look of love that all babies had. “Soon he’ll be walking and getting into everything.”
Toshinori laughed softly, wiggling his fingers in a wave to the boy. Distracted by the movement Izuku’s attention turned towards him and he reached towards his hand. Toshi let the boy grab his fingers and smiled to his mother. “They grow too quickly.” He said wistfully, momentarily thinking of the few children he’d grown up with. Infants were often adopted out quickly but a few had grown up in the system. “But soon he’ll look to you to teach him everything. It will be a time to cherish.”
The woman smiled down at her son and held him tight. Soon the bus stopped and Inko rose to her feet. “Ah, this is my stop. It was nice to speak with you, Mister Yagi.”
“You as well, miss. Take care.” Toshinori waved goodbye to her and the child, who pulled himself up so he could see over his mother’s shoulder and stared at him. Hesitantly a little hand came up and waved, a tiny little voice called ‘Bye-bye’.
Toshinori got off a few stops past that, slipping off into the small empty house that he lived in. All Might might be invited to stay at the most lavish hotels and gifted the most extravagant things, but Toshinori preferred to live frugal. Growing up without much had ingrained in him the value of saving money. He took his groceries into his kitchen and put them away before sitting down at his desk to go over his notes.
There was so much to do yet. Appearances to schedule, meet and greets, training sessions with the young heroes employed at his agency, interviewing prospective interns. There was so much work to do besides flashily bursting into the scene. Charities to donate to, hungry mouths to feed, broken hearts to soothe.
He looked up to the clock and did a bit of math in his head. If there were no calls for All Might, he should be able to get through his worklog before midnight. That would leave five hours for sleep, two hours for training, then just enough time for a quick shower and breakfast before heading into the agency.
The work of a hero was never done.
Toot-toot, all aboard the 'Old Man Yagi needs a family' train, toot-toot.
Chapter 2: A smile that shames the sun
How could social cues come so effortlessly as All Might, but any time he tried to live as himself everything had to be overthought?
So I'm very humbled by the response this has gotten. To everyone that's given kudos or comments, thank you. It's put a smile on my face every time I've thought about it and really made my day. So, thank you! I hope that you continue to enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Ah, Yagi-san, do you-” Before Sir Nighteye could finish his question Toshinori held up the forms he was after. “Thank you.”
“Mmhm. Anytime. Oh, please don’t forget that All Might wishes for you to grade out applicant group C by the end of this week.” Sir Nighteye sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose and Toshinori bit back a smile. All Might’s agency was by far the most applied to in Tokyo, perhaps in all of Japan. Dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applicants were weeded through every month.
It was a hard job made harder by All Might’s rigorous standards. The few heroes he had working with him would give their opinions and grade them out. To work with All Might one had to uphold his standards; had to be brave and kind and good and focused on the people and not the paycheck. Toshinori felt humbled that his agency had attracted the true talent that it had.
It wouldn’t be long though before Ectoplasm split off into his own agency however. While he seemed content to stay where he was for now, the man was far too competent to want to stay an assistant hero forever. Best Jeanist would follow that way in a few years as well, and Edgeshot. For now though, his agency had some of the best talent that the world could offer.
Sir Nighteye sighed and pushed his classes up his nose. “Don’t worry, Yagi-san, I’ll have it done by the end of the week and they’ll be ready for your final test.” The smile he gives Toshinori isn’t a nice one at all, Sir Nighteye could have a very vindictive streak when he wanted to.
Toshinori leaned back in his chair and nodded seriously. “We all must do our part.” The final test, after his assistant heroes (Because Toshinori hated few words like he hated the word ‘sidekick’, like something out of those old comics where literal children would fight alongside the heroes) gave their grades, was that the applicants would have to be graded out by Toshinori before going in to see All Might. It was absolutely a necessary step, those applying didn’t know who he was and that gave him an honest look at their true personalities and motivation. Akin to how you judge someone by how they treat a server at a restaurant, there’d been many talented applicants that passed his assistant heroes judgment but were dismissive and rude of a simple ‘secretary’.
Sir Nighteye perched on the edge of Toshinori’s desk and regarded him silently. Then: “Honestly we should just skip to your part, it’s funny to see them try to get past you.”
Mild mannered ‘quirkless’ Yagi taking down uppity young heroes was an endless source of entertainment for the employees in his agency. So many relied on their quirks to overpower their enemies, being faced with someone who had no quirk to use either made them come up short out of fear or let them find out that they didn’t have the control to hold themselves back.
Of course, there was the added benefit that even without using One for All Toshinori was a large and physically strong man. He’d bodily thrown more than one over-entitled hero out of the office.
“I have many more duties than to weed through young heroes simply for your amusement.” Toshinori said mildly. “You know that All Might respects your judgment.”
Aha, as expected. The casual mention of approval makes Sir Nighteye start to blush up his neck. Flustered, the man hops off of Toshinori’s desk and lets him get back to work without further teasing. There’s so much to do administration wise: Money to direct towards the (thankfully limited) damage caused by his assistant heroes and himself during fights, supplies to restock, tailors bills to pay.
He’s not the best at this kind of work but it gives him the same joy that actually being out in the field does. Naomasa had accused him of being a control freak more than once, but it was simple. His assistant heroes were good men who deserved to have time off and who but himself could he entrust the precious inner workings of his agency to?
(‘Control freak,’ Naomasa had muttered under his breath while eating cold soba early in the morning after a long night of patrolling. From anyone else the words would have seemed harsh and cruel, but Naomasa made them sound fond.)
After a break for lunch and stopping a small robbery he starts unpacking the boxes delivered to the agency. Many are press release boxes from the various businesses licensed to create merchandise for his organization. The t-shirts and hoodies large enough to wear and hide how bulky he is are quickly put back for himself, the rest are left out for his assistant heroes to take what they want. Anything else was donated to those in need.
Going through one of the boxes he pauses and stares at the toddler clothes for longer than he would like to admit. Unbidden that little boy from the bus pops to mind, Izuku. He’d been so adorable, his mother so gracious to speak with him. None of his assistant heroes had children (in their line of work few did, unless one was aiming to start an empire like Endeavor and as his American comrades would say, ‘fuck that guy’) and the clothes were very frequently donated. It wouldn’t be depriving anyone of them if he took them and offered them to Miss Midoriya.
Still, a barely known man offering her clothing for her child would come across as odd. Right? That sounded like something that would come across as odd. Impulsively he took the stack of jumpers and rompers as well. The worst thing to happen would be her refusal, he tried to justify to himself. Of course, she could actually become frightened of a large man taking an interest in her child and switch bus lines.
Toshinori sighed and rubbed his forehead. How could social cues come so effortlessly as All Might, but any time he tried to live as himself everything had to be overthought?
As usual he’s the last one out of the office for the night, packing up his things and locking up before hitting up a corner store for his usual supply of tea and convenience store snacks. Toshinori settled in on the bus, closed his eyes, and counted the stops in his head. Perhaps Miss Midoriya would be riding home today as well?
She was, entering from the same stop as last time. Toshinori smiled to see her, though the smile faded quickly at how tired and closed off she looked. She was followed by a man who was talking animatedly to her, standing all too close. Her smile was as guarded as her body language was but the man didn’t seem to notice, or perhaps he simply didn’t care. Inko’s eyes darted about the bus before settling on Toshinori and it was easy to see a cry for help when none was voiced.
“Inko-chan, I saved you a seat!” He called and waved to the empty spot beside himself, momentarily flushing at being so familiar with her. But Inko played right along, ducking under the man’s arm and hurrying to sit beside Toshinori before the bus took off. Deprived of his prey the man looked sour, but obviously wasn’t about to start a fight with a man who could break him in half.
“Thank you, Yagi-san.” She murmured, patting Izuku’s back. “He started to talk to me at the station and I couldn’t get away without causing a scene.” Izuku was wearing another hero themed romper today, this one of Crimson Riot. Clearly someone in the family was a fan of heroes. The child gave that bright, sunny smile at Toshinori that melted his heart. Izuku opened and closed his hand in a crude baby wave, whispering a tiny ‘Hi-Hi’ at him.
He crouched over a bit and waved to the child. “Hi-Hi!” He echoed, earning himself a delighted laugh in response. “Crimson Riot today?” He asked Inko, raising an eyebrow. Not as popular as some of the flashy heroes, but Crimson Riot was one of Toshinori’s favorite to team up with. The man was competent and absolutely dedicated to protecting people at all costs. There were never civilian casualties when he was involved.
Inko laughed and ruffled Izuku’s hair. “His father loves all things hero related and seems to think that Izuku is his doll to dress up.” It seemed that the boy had a doting father as well as an adoring mother, good. Children should be cherished. “I don’t mind, it makes him happy and Izuku always looks adorable.”
“That he does.” Not for the first time Toshinori feels wistful looking at the happy boy. If things were different, if the world were safer, if he wasn’t such a mess, perhaps he could’ve settled down and had children of his own. Children with strong hearts and morals who grew up knowing that they were loved and cherished.
He looks up from the boy to find Inko watching him with a sympathetic look on her face. “Would you like to hold him?” She asked, already shifting him around to offer him out. The boy stopped clinging to her and held his arms out towards Toshinori expectantly with that sweet trust that all children should have, never knowing being pushed away.
“I... Of course.” How could he not take that boy into his arms? How could he betray that sweet trust? He couldn’t. Toshinori bounced him on his lap and earned a happy laugh as Izuku grabbed for his hair, because of course he did. It didn’t matter how hard he yanked, Toshinori had received much worse. “You’ve been blessed with a strong son.”
She giggled like a girl and watched him with a fond smile. “You don’t have children, Yagi-san?” It had to be obvious by how awkward he was, but he shook his head. “A shame, you’re very natural with him.”
Incredulously Toshinori looked up at her, but Inko didn’t seem to be making fun of him. He can feel himself start to blush and turned his full attentions to the boy in his arms. Izuku had grown bored with simply tugging on his hair and was now grabbing at his face, trying to pull himself upward on shaking little legs. Toshinori supported him and put up with the playful smacks. “If you say so.” He said dubiously. Then, perhaps too wistfully: “I wanted a large family growing up, but it wasn’t to be.”
He’d been an achingly lonely child; no one wanted the quirkless boy when there were other options. There hadn’t even been a semblance of real family until Nana, and she’d been taken from him so forcefully. Gran Torino hadn’t been interested in cultivating the same bond that he and Nana had. It wasn’t until recently, with the current crop of assistant heroes and Naomasa, that he’d started to feel like perhaps a family could be found.
“Well, there’s still time. You’re still a young man.” Inko said sagely and Toshinori shot her another dubious look. He was almost forty now. That part of his life had past. She smacked his shoulder playfully but Toshinori caught something out of place in her expression. Inko looked a bit anxious still.
A quick glance informs him that, yes, the man who’d been hovering was still on the bus and watching her. What’s more, her stop was coming up soon. There was no doubt that if she got off alone it would mysteriously be his stop as well.
He tamped down on the sudden violent rage that boiled up in him, took a deep breath and bounced Izuku on his lap. It was if the boy could sense the change in his mood though, his lower lip wobbled a bit and he stared into Toshinori’s eyes looking for reassurance. Toshinori smiled big for the boy and that was enough for now, Izuku went back to laughing and bouncing. “Inko-chan, that man-” He murmured and she nodded, still smiling.
“He’s been watching the entire time. I think he’s going to follow me when I get off.” Despite how angry this situation made him Toshinori wanted to praise her observant manner. He’d heard so many victim statements where they hadn’t noticed they were being watched or followed, or they’d assumed they were safe. “Would you walk me home?”
“I don’t trust him to follow you regardless of if I walk you home or not.” And it wouldn’t be possible for him to steal away in to the night and teach the man a decisive lesson on how no meant no when he needed to escort her, either. “If you feel comfortable, my stop is one of the last ones on the route. I can get a taxi and take you home from there.”
Inko doesn’t take long to decide at all. “If you would, that would be very comforting. Thank you.” Relief crosses her face and she gives him a smile that’s just as blinding as her son’s. She settled in beside him more now, knowing she was in for a long bus ride. “Let me text my mother and let her know I’ll be late.”
Toshinori nodded and continued to entertain the boy in his arms. Despite thinking that he was terrible with children Izuku didn’t seem to agree, he seemed more than content to bounce or pull on his hoodie or play with the zipper. Inko shot off a quick text to her mother and tucked the phone back into her purse. “I can take him back if you’d like.”
“No, it’s fine.” Toshinori said, perhaps a bit too quickly, but it only made Inko laugh. “Are you meeting with your mother? We could get off at an earlier stop and take a cab...”
She shook her head and pressed her lips together in a half smile. “No, I recently moved back in with them. My divorce was finalized and we liquidated our shared assets. Until I find a place of my own I’m staying there. It doesn’t bother me if we take a bit longer getting there.”
Inko seemed a bit sullen at the thought of heading home, though that made sense. Was the divorce amicable? Were they on friendly terms for the sake of their son? If her husband, ex-husband, dressed their son in superhero gear that meant they were at least on good terms. Perhaps she wasn’t enjoying her stay with her parents? So many variables, so many things to think about. None of them his business.
Toshinori had assumed that the man following Inko would give up eventually but he stayed on the bus the entire time. Against all odds when he and Inko left the bus the man got off as well, following entirely too closely. He knows there’s going to be an altercation, years of being a hero had honed his intuition. Inko knows it too, from the way her shoulders are hunched and she curls protectively around her son.
“What’s your quirk?” She murmured softly, leaning against his side. His mouth went dry and his mind floundered.
“I don’t have one.” He said automatically, because Yagi Toshinori didn’t. Every bit of registration said that he was quirkless.
Inko looks alarmed, then just as quickly she looks determined. She squeezed his arm and gave him a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry.” She meant to protect him, Toshinori realized with a start.
From behind there’s a sudden sound of metal striking concrete, then a whoosh in the air as the man activates his quirk. He’s was either wearing or had created heavy chains and has control over them, sending chains surging towards them. “Run!” Toshinori called to Inko, moving to take the brunt of this attack. If he could buy time and get her to safety she would likely call the authorities. It would be a matter of him just stalling until then.
But Inko doesn’t run, she activates her own quirk and grabs at the air with one hand, yanking backwards firmly. The chain abruptly goes off course, judging by the look of alarm from their stalker. They’d been up his sleeves and apparently some of the length is still wrapped there, because when Inko pulls she pulls him off of his feet and sends him hurtling towards them. Toshinori stepped up and pulled his arm back, growling a silent ‘Smash’ to himself as his fist plowed into the man’s face.
One punch is all it takes, he flops to the ground unconscious. Toshinori shook his fist out and glowered down, reaching into his pocket for his phone to call Naomasa. “Holy-” Inko breathed in beside him and he looked to her in alarm. She looks amazed. “With a punch like that you don’t need a quirk.” He abruptly turned so she wouldn’t see how red his face turned, pressing a firm boot to the man’s back as he made the call.
Naomasa is prompt as always, he and his partner show to pick the man up and take statements. Normally using a quirk in public, even in self defense, would warrant a trip to the station as well. But Toshinori’s presence as well as the ardent arguments of the few witnesses to the attack had Naomasa write it off. Toshinori wasn’t off the hook, however: his friend gave him a look and Toshinori knew he’d be explaining all of this over drinks.
It’s quite late by the time he hails a cab and they both climb in. He’s not about to let her go home alone at this point. Once they’ve settled in Inko let out a sobbing sigh, curling around her son protectively. “How’s your hand?”
“Fine.” Toshinori flexed it experimentally and all seemed well. While he might not be quite as durable as when in his ‘muscle’ form, regular old Yagi was still resilient. “How are you?”
Inko gave him a wobbling smile that was clearly all show and Toshinori couldn’t help it, he slung an arm around her shoulders. She took the invitation for what it was, pressing her face against him and hiding Izuku between the pair of them. Her shoulders trembled and shook while Toshinori awkwardly patted her back. “I was so scared.” She admitted into his side, gripping at his hoodie. “But what could we do? We couldn’t run.”
“No.” Men like that you couldn’t run from. They were corrupt and used their gifts to take what they wanted. “You were amazing. Your quirk, you can manipulate gravity?”
Her laugh is a bit harsh and Inko shook her head. “It’s almost worthless. I can pull small objects to myself. I guess with how scared I was I managed to pull harder than usual.” While she might have said her quirk was worthless Toshinori heard the unsaid words: ‘I’m almost worthless’. Society wasn’t just cruel to quirkless children. Those who’s quirks weren’t seen as being valuable were treated just as bad.
“It’s not worthless. If you hadn’t pulled him like that I wouldn’t have been able to knock him out.” A lie, but one that needed to be said. If he was quirkless there would have been no way to bridge the distance with that chain in the formula. “You were quick and smart, you didn’t freeze up in the face of danger. What’s more, you identified that he was a threat in the first place. I’m impressed.”
Inko pulled back from his side and she was as red as he had been before. “It’s nothing, really.” She looked down at Izuku, sleeping peacefully in her arms, and changes the subject abruptly. “You have an officer on speed dial?”
Shit, he groaned internally. “Ah, yes, he’s a friend from work.” At her questioning look he continues with a chagrined look on his face. “I’m a secretary for a hero agency.”
That’s enough to knock any discomfort that Inko’s feeling away as she shoots him an incredulous look. “You’re a secretary.” She repeated slowly, slowly looking him from foot to head. “How do you type?”
“Very carefully.” And with an accessible keyboard for larger hands, but that was besides the point. “I always wanted to be a hero growing up. Doing what I do, it’s necessary so that the heroes can do their jobs.” He stared at his big hands in his lap, twining his fingers together.
“I’m sorry, that was rude of me. And when you’ve been nothing but kind.” Inko scowled at herself and sighed. “With how big you are I assumed, I don’t know. I assumed and it was wrong of me.”
“It’s fine.” Toshinori assured her. His stomach rumbled and he reached into his bag for snacks, offering her the bag of pretzels. “Would you like some?”
She takes a few and they sit in silence for a few minutes until he looks back into his bag and sees the plastic bag on top of the hoodies from today’s PR mailing. Right, the children’s clothes. He’d forgotten. “I, ah, I hope this doesn’t come off as odd, but.” He pulled the bag out and offered it to her. “We get a lot of first release things sent to the agency and A- the boss lets us have whatever we want. Anything else is donated to charity. Izuku’s jumper is adorable, and I figured you might...”
Yes, this was even more awkward than he’d thought it would be. Great.
But maybe Inko doesn’t think so, she took the bag from him and sat it to her side without looking upset. “Thank you for thinking of him, Yagi-san. He’s growing so fast he goes through everything.” She looked up and her face was so fond and sweet he had to look away. “You’re a good man.”
How kind of her to say. The kindness didn’t make him look to her, however. He was still a bit embarrassed. “Ah, would you permit me to walk you to your door? Just to make sure you’re safe.”
“Of course.” And when the taxi came to a stop outside her apartment complex he did indeed follow her up the stairs, watching out for any potential threats. Her parent’s apartment was on the third floor and before they went any farther than the steps Inko stopped and held up a hand. “May I have your phone?”
Mystified, Toshinori offered it out with a belated realization that it was an incredibly stupid idea to do so. He did a lot of his work through his phone, there were pictures of heroes unmasked to the public... But she doesn’t do anything but open his contacts and add a new entry: hers. His ears burn as she hands the phone back. “Send me a message so I can have your number as well.”
“If you insist.” Toshinori sent a message to the new contact and Inko’s phone buzzed. She looked at the message and giggled, bringing a smile to Toshinori’s face as well. The bunny emoticon set was never what anyone expected from him, but he thought they were cute.
Inko walked down the corridor and he followed after. “I figure that after what happened tonight and how you helped that we’re friends. Maybe we can meet up sometime.”
“That would be nice.” Toshinori smiled down at his phone, what a nice idea. “And, yes, from what I understand from the heroes at the agency, taking down a villain together makes you friends.”
(Except if it was with Endeavor. Again, as his American comrades would say, ‘Fuck that guy’. To which they would generally say that frequently and, depending on the particular hero, within earshot. Edgeshot was quietly taking bets on how long before Endeavor would call Búka out on her loud attacks on his character. Personally, Toshinori thought that was a fight even Endeavor wouldn’t take on.)
“Good. Good.” Inko paused outside of her door and smiled up at him. She took a deep breath and seemed to steel herself. “What are you doing after work on Friday?”
Well, technically, there wasn’t an after work for him. If need be he’d stay and go around fighting crime wherever he was needed, sometimes things would be slow and he could take the bus home, but-
“I, ah, I typically work over but it’s a voluntary thing. So, um-” No doubt Toshinori was red up to his hairline and Inko giggled and took pity on him.
“I’ll send you a message then. If you can tear yourself away from work maybe we can see a movie?” With that she let herself into the apartment, closing the door before Toshinori could really react.
He stared at the closed door for a moment before doing the only thing his mind could really come up with: he booked it down all three fights of stairs and out into the night. Ducking into a nearby alley he looked around to make sure he wasn’t being observed, activated his ‘Plus Ultra’ form, and quickly started to jump through town from building to building and make his run home quicker. It was easy to zone out like this, lulled by the act of jumping around. It wasn’t until he got home and walked into his dark apartment that his brain finally put two and two together.
Did... Did he have a date on Friday?
Next chapter: Local woman takes introvert to the movies. Old man confused by courtship rituals, more at twelve.
1) There's no cannon age for Toshinori as far as I'm aware, so I'm putting him at around 38 or so here, so a little over fifty by the time Izuku's story starts.
2) I can't believe that All Might would only have one 'sidekick' in his career. Man's a magnet for attention and I feel like he'd try to spread the positive stuff around and mentor those who can do good and get some names known. So in my world, he grabbed Ectoplasm, Best Jeanist, and Edgeshot when they applied and is more than happy for the help. Also: Two of those three are in the top ten hero list. Who's the better mentor, Endeavor?
3) The American hero mentioned briefly, Búka, is an OC who might appear later on so that I don't have to constantly look for old heroes. Or if I want to keep throwing shade at Endeavor, because seriously fuck that guy. But she lives in Japan because that's where her beautiful husband is from and she loves him more than the sun. She's known for being an utter terror.
GEDDIT INKO. PLUS ULTRA.
Chapter 3: much ado about nothing
Toshinori finds out he works in an office with four gossip starved demons.
“Okay, hands up, hands up for me, okay? There’s a big boy.” Inko cooed at little Izuku as she pulled one of the gifted hooded jumpers over his head. Another little All Might one made to look like the hero’s current outfit. Izuku seemed to like it, or at least the bright red and blue colors. “Are you ready to go see daddy?”
Izuku perked up at that word and threw his arms up for her. “Da-da!” He cheered, clinging to his mother’s shirt when she scooped him up. It was really amazing to see him grow week to week. Inko slung his supplies bag over her shoulder and called out a quick goodbye to her own mother before getting out the door as soon as possible.
She knew what she’d hear otherwise, Mother’s spiteful snaps about how it was cruel she was taking Izuku away from the father who adored him, how she should’ve worked harder to keep her marriage intact, who was going to want a divorced woman with a child. Y’know, the typical wonderful things that parents said to their children.
“You’re never going to have to worry about me being like that, Zu-Zu.” Inko promised the boy, who looked up at her with bright eyes and pursed lips. “I’ll always stand by your choices.”
Especially since it’d been entirely mutual that they ended their relationship. She and Hisashi had been good friends all through school, they’d dated in high school, and it’d just been expected for them to get married. But sometimes that wasn’t enough, and they’d both been quietly miserable in married life. Their separation had been amicable, and Hisashi had even suggested that they stay living together until Inko could find an apartment for herself and Izuku.
Secretly she wished they had, because while Mother had assured her there would be no problem and of course she could move in with them for a while, she’d been nothing but a nasty harpy ever since. Mother had jumped on her when she’d came home late, asking her all sorts of questions about who she’d been with and who’s voice had been out in the hallway. Inko was still very glad that she hadn’t invited Toshinori in for a cup of tea because Mother would’ve scared him away.
Inko thought that Toshinori would be easy to scare away, despite being one of the largest men she’d ever met the man was meek and gentle. His soft face as he’d bounced Izuku on his lap, how he’d seemed so reluctant to wake her up despite her falling asleep on him and her son trying to eat his hair, how he’d been so protective and sprang to her aid the second that he saw her enter the bus, how he’d insisted on walking her to her door just in case. He was sweet, and Inko wasn’t about to let her mother scare him off before she got a date out of him.
The current arraignment between herself and Hisashi worked well: she’d take an early bus to Minato and meet him there for a drop off, picking him up again before she went home for the night. Hisashi worked from his apartment doing consultation and was happy to take his shared parenting time while Inko worked. As always Hisashi was waiting at the bus station for the drop off and Izuku squealed happily at the sight of him.
“Hey there, hero!” Hisashi beamed and held the boy up in the air, Izuku squealing and kicking happily. He held the boy one one hip and took his bag from Inko before narrowing his eyes at the boy’s outfit. “This isn’t one I’ve bought him, have you finally realized the draw of heroes? Wait. This is All Might’s current outfit, this line isn’t out yet!”
Trust her super-fan ex to know when merch lines dropped. “I made a friend who works as a secretary at a hero agency, he grabbed some of the kid stuff from a PR box.” Inko tried to waive it off but Hisashi was already muttering to himself, a constant stream of information. Great. He was doing that hero info dump to himself again.
Her ex hauled his phone out of his pocket and started scrolling around before holding it out to her. There, on some kind of fanboy wikipedia, is a picture of Yagi Toshinori. “This guy?” He plows on without noticing the look on Inko’s face. “From this line it’s gotta be All Might’s agency, and there’s been speculation about this guy for years from the fans. His official title is secretary, but he’s giant and sometimes he’s been spotted throwing people out the front door, like a bouncer. Personally I’ve got a bet on that he’s All Might’s younger brother.”
“Aw, I forgot how creepy your hero worshiping internet friends get. There’s a wiki page for a secretary?” Hisashi was brilliant and had a mind for remembering tiny details but sometimes had issues with boundaries. “Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask. I have a thing on Friday. Would you be willing to keep Zu-Zu overnight?”
“Yeah, of course.” Hisashi regarded her for a moment before giving her a wicked smile. “A date?”
“Maybe. I’d like to to be, but he’s shy. It might take a few movie nights for him to realize, or I’ll have to be blunt.” Further conversation was cut short when her bus pulled into the station. “All right, I’ll see you after work!”
“Have a good day!” Hisashi and Izuku both waved at her as she climbed back onto the bus. She barely has a minute to relax before her phone’s buzzing.
Hisashi. ‘Date with mr. secretary? Ask him if he’s all might’s brother for me, I got money riding on it.’
‘I’m not going to harass him because you have a bet.’
‘I’ll bribe you.’ She barely read the message before there was a picture, and there’s mister Mild Mannered himself, sleeves of his white dress shirt rolled up and bodily throwing some masked hero out of a door. She knew he was muscular thanks to that one hit knockout punch he threw, but it was another thing to see him in a tight white shirt, bare muscular forearms flexing. Why in the world did he wear those oversized sweaters?
Then, as if to answer her question, a text popped up from Toshinori. ‘Please have a safe trip to work, villain activity near Roppongi’ with one of those adorable bunny emotes that he used wiping a sweat drop off of it’s head. Of course he’d hide himself away, the man was shy.
She sent a text thanking him, getting a happy bunny in reply. Seriously, too cute for words. To Hisashi she replied: ‘You’re going to have to do better than that, fanboy.’
That earned her a pouting face response, but Inko wasn’t about to throw Toshinori under the bus for Hisashi’s crazy theories.
Trading numbers with Inko had proven to be quite a good thing All Might decided as he finished binding the minor villain’s arms. He was able to warn her of possible disturbances this way! Most employers in the city were lenient about tardiness due to villainy, but it was always good to avoid it if possible. He tucked his phone into his pocket, gave the gathered crowd a salute and a boisterous laugh, and jumped into the air. All he has to do to disappear from sight is slip down between buildings and melt into the crowd.
If he’s a bit later to the office than usual no one comments on it as he passes out coffee to Ectoplasm and Edgeshot, leaving Sir Nighteye’s and Best Jeanist’s coffees on their respective desks. The two come in later than Toshinori, but he’s already receiving reports of them stopping a hit and run driver from fleeing the scene and clearing the way for emergency services to get to the injured.
The popular thought was that heroes were there to save the world, but All Might stressed to his assistant heroes that in each person was a world and if they could save one life that was enough.
As if to confirm his thoughts an alert pops up on his phone, a message from Inko-chan. A picture of little Izuku in the latest All Might jumper, gripping onto the edge of a table with one hand while reaching towards the camera with his other, his brightest smile wide on his little face. “Why? Because I am here!” was the message it was sent with. Toshinori gripped his phone and beamed, this was simply too cute for words.
So caught up in the picture he didn’t hear heavy footsteps behind him, a tall person sipping coffee loudly. “I didn’t know you had a kid.” Ectoplasm said casually and with that, all work in the office came to a halt.
Toshinori pulled the phone close to his chest and stared up at his assistant hero with betrayal. Ectoplasm sipped his coffee and grinned, patting Toshinori on the shoulder. “Are you married?” He asked calmly as if he hadn’t just opened Pandora’s box.
“I doubt it.” Edgeshot didn’t even pretend to be reserved as Sir Nighteye and Best Jeanist were. He nearly scampered out of the back office where the assistant heroes did their work. Well, he was the youngest of them, being less mature was expected. “He’s never talked about a kid and wife, and our Yagi’s a sap. He’d have pictures everywhere.”
“So not his child, then.” Sir Nighteye frowned and gripped his chin and Toshinori quietly prayed for some sort of escape from this situation. “A friend’s child?”
“Not from the way he was beaming. You don’t grin like that over a friend’s kid. You grin like that over your own kid.” Ectoplasm argued and Toshinori felt his phone start to slip from his grasp. Before he can fight for it Best Jeanist has his threads wrapped around it and it flies through the air, landing in his outstretched hand.
He thumbed the lock screen and made a disappointed noise, like somehow he’d expected it to be unlocked. “So. Not a wife and son.” The denim garbed hero said as he tossed Toshinori back his phone. “Girlfriend?”
One. He should’ve stuck to one assistant hero. This situation would not be happening if he hadn’t filled a office with good men who apparently loved to tease him.
“Yagi has a girlfriend. Do we.. Do we need to run a background check?” Sir Nighteye frowned severely. “Just to be certain he’s safe.”
The worst part was that Sir Nighteye wasn’t even being facetious, he likely was worrying about his co-worker’s safety. His assistant heroes seemed to have this strange impression that he couldn’t fend for himself. “I don’t have a girlfriend.” He grit out between clenched teeth. “Can we please get back to work? I have quite a lot to accomplish today.”
Like there was a chance of that happening.
None of his young heroes looked even the slightest bit likely to let up on this. Toshinori sighed and gripped the edge of his desk, trying to keep his voice even dispute his growing discomfort. “Please stop.” They weren’t doing this out of spite or cruelty, they weren’t callous children snickering about a stupid quirkless trying to be happy. They were his co-workers, his friends, people that he trusted his life with. They might even be happy at the mere idea of him having a personal life instead of being shackled to the agency all the time. “You’re making me very uncomfortable.”
And they stopped.
It might have been the tone of his voice, or how his shoulders shook, or even that he was clearly voicing discomfort, but the mood in the room changes immediately. The teasing stops, the lighthearted warm mood went cold. “I apologize for making you uncomfortable.” Ectoplasm said between sips of coffee, still somehow the only calm one in the room. “That was not my intention. I commented because you rarely look that happy.”
“Sometimes it seems like you know so much about us and we don’t know anything about you.” Edgeshot added in, frowning as he dipped his masked face down to try and look Toshinori in the face. That wasn’t happening, he just hunched over his desk further. “I’m not trying to be mean. Like, if you’ve found someone that’s great and we’re all happy for you, Yagi.”
“Indeed.” Best Jeanist agreed, crossing his long limbs and leaning against Toshinori’s desk. “Its rare in our line of work to find happiness in the personal life. If you have, we’re very pleased.”
Sir Nighteye was still mumbling about saftey procedures and the like so he was effectivley out of the conversation. He’d also likely come up with new regulations for All Might to go over.
All Might. That’s what he needed. Keeping his breathing even Toshinori pushed his chair from his desk and stood. “Forgive me, I have a lot of work to complete today. I’ll be in the office.” He slinked into his office and locked the door, pointedly ignoring the ‘Well, shit.’ from Ectoplasm.
Instead of working on paperwork like he should, Toshinori climbed out of the window and down the fire escape, shifting into All Might effortlessly. Without a second thought he’s airborne and hopping from building to building. An alert pops up on his phone and he changes course abruptly, heading over to the disturbance. The simple robbery is easily taken care of and he does a quick meet and greet with the public. They’re starstruck as always but plesantly so.
His second phone, the one solely for All Might, has started to buzz in his pocket. He graciously excused himself before launching into the air, coming to a stop a few buildings down. Ah, Sir Nighteye was looking to speak.
Nighteye: So. Hypothetically.
AllM: I already don’t like where this conversation is heading!
Nighteye: If we somehow put the Sunflower in a bad mood and he barricaded himself in the your office and won’t come out what is the procedure we should follow to get him out.
AllM: Do not worry, young Nighteye! Dear Toshinori has a fragile soul but he always springs back up to face the sun! Give him time and he will emerge!
There was silence for a few minutes and All Might sat on the rooftop peacefully. Then:
Nighteye: He got out the fire escape, didn’t he?
AllM: I saw him climb out on my way past the agency!
Nighteye: Edgeshot’s been talking to an empty room for twenty minutes.
AllM: Hilarious! Remind him that he’s on the clock!
All Might slid the phone back into his pocket and laughed to himself. They didn’t mean any harm, he knew that. They were good young men, curious about their workmate. But some wounds-
‘What? You think anyone’s ever going to want to be with a worthless quirkless?’
-Never really healed properly, did they?
A second buzz from his pocket, this time the opposite one. Toshinori’s phone. All Might pulled it from his pocket and swiped the lock screen off. Ah, Ectoplasm. Probably wanted to-
All Might snorted and beamed brightly at Toshinori’s phone. It was a series of pictures, all with captions from the secretive hero. It seemed to be a diary of Edgeshot’s day. ‘He’s sitting there talking to the door trying to apologize for upsetting you. You’re not even in there are you?’
And poor, kind Edgeshot looks so earnest as he talks do a door that opened to an empty room. ‘He told you he thinks you’re great, how we’re all lucky to have you, how he appreciates it when you bring him coffee and remember how many sugars he likes.’
The final picture in the series is the door open and Edgeshot halfway into the room. ‘Looks like he realized you’re not in there.’ and All Might can’t help but laugh and feel so fond at the delightful young men he’s been permitted to mentor.
YagiT: He looks so disgruntled. I apologize, I easily get flustered sometimes. Please forgive me.
Ectoplasm: It’s fine. We know you get overwhelmed and still rushed you. It was our fault.
He feels at peace now, ready to head back and deal with whatever came his way. But there’s one last message that pops up from Ectoplasm, another picture. This one stops him from moving. He’s never seen his assistant hero unmasked before, the man guarded his privacy fiercely and All Might accepted that. But there he was from the nose down (his teeth made him rather easy to identify) and a small child sat in his lap. He had a similar physical quirk to his father with his prominent teeth, but he was so precious and small.
Ectoplasm: His name’s Juzo. He’s a little over a year now.
YagiT: He’s adorable.
Ectoplasm: Thought if he kid was yours we could shoot Dad talk. The kids don’t understand.
Dear Ectoplasm was closer to the other’s ages than he was to Toshinori’s, but perhaps having a child, something so precious to protect, made one age quicker. He sits and stares Toshinori’s phone for a long minute before carefully typing out a reply.
YagiT: He’s the son of a friend.
YagiT: She invited me to a movie on Friday.
YagiT: I am unsure if it is a date or not.
The response comes back near immediately.
Ectoplasm: It’s a date.
Ectoplasm: Ask Tsunagu what you should wear.
YagiT: I’m not wearing a denim suit.
Ectoplasm: He’s good at non denim related fashion too. It’s just his aesthetic.
Ectoplasm: His terrible, terrible aesthetic.
Ectoplasm: Him an his jurtleneck jirt.
Oh, that was awful. Hilarious, but awful. Edgeshot had started that nomenclature by bringing in items made out of denim that shouldn’t be. His crowning glory had been finding a table that someone had made out of denim, complete with pants for legs. He’d lovingly referred to it as the ‘Jable’ and it still sat in their offices.
YagiT: At least he doesn’t wear joots to go with his jurtlneck jirt.
That’s the final text he can take before All Might hops back towards his agency and drops into an alley, emerging as a slightly ruffled and sweaty Toshinori. Before entering the agency he stops at a local bakery and comes back with a meek offering of donuts. Edgeshot glowers but takes three of the doughnuts and stuffs them into his mouth, resembling nothing more than an edgy squirrel.
Tsunagu was more than happy to give him tips on what to wear. Not one single recommendation involved denim.
Though she hadn’t seen Yagi on the bus all week Inko had kept in contact with him through text. She would send him pictures Hisashi sent her of Izuku being too adorable for words or occasional shots of lunch. He would always respond back quickly with bunny emotes and there was the very rare picture from the agency he worked at. Inko understood that it wasn’t something to be shared and it was almost surprising to see candid pictures of the heroes. They looked almost normal despite their costumes.
Outside of the spotlight following a crisis they all looked so young.
“You don’t have to walk me to the theater, Hisashi.” Inko rolled her eyes at her ex but he just grinned and adjusted his glasses. “You know I’m not going to let you harass him.”
“Oh, I don’t need to. I just want to make sure you don’t chicken out.” Hisashi had Izuku in a chest harness and the boy was snoring as he hung limply. “Okay, the theater’s just over here, and- Ooooh boy, look at that.” He followed that statement with a low whistle.
With an introduction like that how could she not look. There in front of the theater and even earlier than she was, stood Yagi Toshinori. He was pacing a bit, fiddling with his phone as he tried not to look nervous. Even from where they currently stood Inko understood why Hisashi had whistled. Unlike the usual loose fitting rumpled suits she’d seen him come home from work in, everything Toshinori wore today fit and it.. Well, it showed him off. Unbeknownst to the man he was getting some very appreciative looks.
Hisashi held up his fist and Inko gave him a fistbump. “Geddit, Inko.” He said with a shameless grin as he backed off to let her continue on. Inko squared her shoulders and walked towards him resolutely. He really did look good in clothes that fit him, the dark leather jacket empathized how broad his shoulders were and the dark slacks made his long legs even longer.
One last deep breath to level herself and Inko called out. “Toshinori-san!” The man jumped a bit and looked over his shoulder almost shyly. He slipped his phone back into his pocket and bridged the distance between them with a smile. There’s a split second where Inko has no idea how to greet him. A smile, a handshake? She makes up her mind and goes for the hug, wrapping her arms around his wide torso. Toshinori went still as she squeezed him, giving her a few awkward pats on the back. He smelled nice, like sandalwood and sage and... strawberries? Regardless of how odd that combination was Inko pulled back and smiled up at him, enjoying the blush on his cheeks. “You look nice!”
“Uh, thanks, I had some help.” Toshinori rubbed the back of his head and looked bashful. “So! Which movie did you want to see?”
“Well, there’s that new hero movie if you don’t get enough of that in your day job.” Inko didn’t let him get too far, wrapping her arms around one of his. He didn’t pull away, altering his steps to be shallower so her shorter legs could keep up. “I’ve been wanting to see that romantic comedy-”
Toshinori’s face brightened. “Oh, Gentle Wishes? I’ve been meaning to see it. I, ah, actually don’t like hero movies, or overly violent ones. There’s so much violence in the world still. I like being able to escape into a world where things are nice for a few hours.”
Why was he so adorable? “That sounds great. Ooh, we should get snacks!” Inko dragged him into the theater proper to get tickets.
Unbeknownst to them the pair was under surveillance. Sir Nighteye peered through binoculars from his perch at their agency’s mild mannered secretary being pulled around by a woman. “She’s not what I expected. Do we have any information?”
“Facial data isn’t in the system, so she’s not a known criminal.” Edgeshot said in return. “She’s way younger than I thought. Sunflower looks good.”
“He took my advice.” Best Jeanist sounds smug. “It’s rare to see him in anything that actually fits.”
A fourth voice sighed onto their conference call. “You three seriously are stalking him to the movies. Give him space.” Ectoplasm didn’t sound amused by ‘Operation: Sunflower’. “He’s a grown man. Let him have his date.”
“Yeah, but what if she’s a villain trying to get him.”
“Just because Toshinori doesn’t have a quirk doesn’t make him defenseless.” Ectoplasm said patiently, splashing water and a happily laughing child in the background of wherever he was calling from. “If you ruin this for him All Might’s going to fire you.”
That was a good point. “We’ll stay out of sight. I just worry about him.” Sir Nighteye said, a feeling quickly echoed by the two younger heroes.
“If you get caught it’s on you.” There was a loud squeal and it sounded like Ectoplasm got splashed in the face. “I’m signing off for the night.”
Inside the theater Toshinori lead the way to the box office, purchasing tickets for the pair of them before Inko could so much as reach for her card. She pouted up at him for a minute. “You don’t have to pay for me, I invited you out.”
“Well, uh.” Toshinori twisted one of his long bangs around his fingers and looked bashful. “If.. I am taking the intent correct, this is a date?” Oh thank God, the man wasn’t too dense. “And if it is, the gentleman pays. Please allow me this antiquated thought. I don’t mean to insult you by any means!”
“I’m not insulted.” Inko leaned her head against his arm. “I think it’s very sweet. I don’t want to be a burden, I’d planned to pay for myself.”
For the first time this evening Toshinori doesn’t sound bashful or stressed out. His smile is wide and his eyes are soft. “You’re not a burden at all, Inko-chan. So put that thought out of your mind and let’s get some snacks.”
The man doesn’t even blink at the outrageous charge they wind up making (most of it is his, he seems like the proverbial kid in a candy store) and arms full of snacks they head into the theater. He insists on sitting far back so to not inconvenience anyone with his height.
The movie isn’t the best but he seems to enjoy it, watching the slow burn play out on screen. He even blushes from time to time in secondhand embarrassment when the characters do something stupid. What an empathetic man. And when Inko leans against his side it only takes him a moment for him to carefully drape an arm around her shoulders.
Somehow that made the subpar movie into something fantastic.
When it’s time to leave the theater the weather outside has taken a nasty turn, rain pours down in sheets. Toshinori takes a moment before they head out to check his phone, sighing at whatever he finds there. It’s put out of his mind quickly though and he looks outside with pursed lips. “Aaah, here.” He slipped out of his jacket and draped it around Inko’s shoulders.
“You don’t have to, I should’ve watched the weather.” Inko tried to hand it back to him but he held his arms up and shook his head. “Oh, fine.” She slipped it on and was wrapped in the warm smell of sandalwood and sage. It takes a great deal of restraint not to bury her face in the collar.
Toshinori eyes the water outside before there’s a spark of something in his eyes. Mischief, maybe? Then, without asking or hesitating, he reached down and scooped Inko up into his arms, darting out into the rain. Inko shrieked and smacked at him once, then held on as he ran for the relative dryness of the bus stop.
The strawberry she’d smelled on him earlier was from his hair product, this close she could tell. Inko held up the leather jacket to protect both his head and her own as he runs. Then she can’t help but laugh because this is ridiculous and could easily be something out of one of those romcoms Toshinori claimed to love. He laughs as well, skidding into the bus stop.
“You are ridiculous.” Inko accused and he just grinned. It’s amazing how different he looks when he’s really happy like this. No brooding, no anxiety, just a broad grin and shining eyes. His happiness is contagious, Inko couldn’t help but grin back. “You can put me down.”
“And risk you getting wet? I’m fine, you’re not that heavy.”
He insists on holding her off the ground until the bus gets there. Only once they’re inside the dry warmth of the bus does he put her down and sit. The poor man’s wet halway up to his knees, his nice boots and slacks soaked. Inko’s escaped much better thanks to his jacket and him literally carrying her to the bus.
Toshinori leaned back against his seat and draped his long arms over the seatbacks. “This was nice, rain included. Thank you for inviting me.” He looks relaxed and quietly happy and it is a very good look on him.
“It was nice.” She agreed leaning against his side again. “Very nice. In fact, maybe we should meet up again next week?”
“Dinner? I know a few nice places.” Toshinori looks bashful again.
“Sounds good. We’ll work out the details later.”
When she gets off at Hisashi’s stop so she can pick up Izuku Toshinori stands as well, bending over nearly halfway to kiss her hand. It’s so old fashioned but sweet. “Thank you again for a nice night.”
Inko gets off the bus and halfway to Hisashi’s before she realizes she’s still draped in Toshinori’s coat.
Meanwhile the man himself leaned against the seat, face still flushed. He couldn’t stop the grin on his face. He pulled out his phone and swiped to the message he’d gotten after the movie.
Ectoplasm: So just an FYI.
Ectoplasm: The idiot children are watching you to make sure your date isn’t a supervillian.
YagiT: Thank you for the information.
Ectoplasm: Have a good night?
YagiT:It was a date.
Ectoplasm: Told ya.
Toshinori laughed and found that no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t wipe the grin off of his face. This was what he’d been stressed about all week? This was what he’d worried himself sick over? He’d really been overreacting. Everything had been wonderful. It’d been pleasant.
It hadn’t been a cruel joke that lead to him being stood up because he was a worthless quirkless
That wasn’t a thought for tonight when he felt nice, so he tried to shove that particularly nasty memory deep down inside. When he finally got off the bus at his exit he couldn’t stop himself from nearly skipping to his home any more than he could stop the laugh that bubbled up from deep inside him.
Atop a nearby building Sir Nighteye grinned. So what if Edgeshot got to see ‘the world’s cutest baby’ while further confirming that the date wasn’t a criminal. He got to see their agency’s sunflower bright and blooming and beaming.
Good. He deserved it.
Why have an angsty relationship with your ex husband when you can both look at dudes together and go 'nice' and give your adorable baby all the love he can hold?
you also better believe that, despite Best Jeanist's recommendations, Toshinori was looking up 'what to wear on a first date' sites just to make sure he wasn't looking like an idiot.
I would also like to say that, no matter what I have written in the past or what I will write in the future, I doubt I can ever type a word that fills me with as much chaotic joy as the word 'junderpants'
Chapter 4: Trials and tribulations
All Might's boys earn their keep and Toshinori wrangles an idiot before she can start a fight.
It was unusual for Hisashi to hold her up when she picked up Izuku. Generally he’d be happy to let her pick Izuku up and have her time with him. “So, we have a problem that needs solved.”
“Oh?” Inko winced as Izuku grabbed onto her ponytail and tugged. He was getting stronger every day. “What’s that?”
“And I’m more than willing to pay for the costs.” That was never good. “But I’ve gotten called out of town next week to deal with one of our high profile accounts. Apparently someone’s been embezzling and it’s up to me to fix the books.” Hisashi looks beyond annoyed at this. “Of course, that means-”
“We have to find a sitter.” Well, shit. Call her overprotective but Inko was very against having a sitter. There was so much background information to go through, so many checks, and so few people were worthy of trust. Inko sighed and bounced Izuku on her hip. “We’ll make it work.”
“No chance of your parents-”
“Hah. Ahaha. Hah. No.” Mother had told her implicitly that she was not going to be a babysitter, and Father had given an agreeing grunt. She could not wait to move out, Inko had been a fool to think it would be any different now than growing up. “Yours?”
“Mother’s in Spain at some retreat. I didn’t pay attention.” Hisashi sighed and shoved his glasses up his nose. One of these days he’d cave and either get contacts or lasik, or at least a pair of glasses that fit. “I’ll start reviewing local agencies and get references. You still need me to watch him extra tomorrow, right?”
Toshinori had suggested they meet at a restaurant for after work dinner on Wednesday and Hisashi had again been accommodating. Inko promised to make it up to him when he re-entered the dating pool. “Yes, please. Thank you again.”
“Hey, I’m glad you’re having fun. Besides, what did I tell you when we split?” Hisashi grinned and play punched her bicep. “You’ve been my best friend since we were kids and you stopped kids from picking on the nerdy kid. You deserve better than me.”
“Shouldn’t have set the bar so high, then.” Inko smiled before looking down to the ground. “Toshinori’s a good man.”
“If you’re happy, I’m happy. And if he’s got siblings, hook me up. I wasn’t aware ‘giant blondes that can kick my ass’ was a thing I liked but, uh, I’ve learned that.”
Inko patted his chest and laughed. “If he’s really All Might’s little brother I’ll snag you a date with the hero, okay?”
“Don’t even joke about that if you’re not planning on delivering.”
She tries to put the thought about finding a sitter for a week out of her mind because it stresses her out, but somehow it comes up the next day at dinner with Toshinori. They’re at a small local restaurant that she’s never heard of, but the food is fantastic and the mood intimate. “Hisashi can’t help it, but just the idea of trusting Izuku with someone random scares me. You’re always hearing on the news about children in daycare being ignored or abused.”
Toshinori’s eyes are bleak for a moment and he nods, seemingly overcome with emotion. It might not be typical for heroes to deal with, but at that moment she thinks that perhaps he’s heard secondhand stories of his heroes finding situations like that. Children betrayed by the people their parents had put their faith in. “I understand your fear.” He went silent as he picked at his katsudon. “If... If I cleared it with my agency, I could perhaps watch him?”
“Oh, Toshi, I don’t want to get you in trouble.” The affectionate shortening of his first name just slipped out and the effect is immediate, his ears go red. “We’ll figure something out.”
Toshinori anxiously twisted at his long bangs for a moment, hands needing something to fidget with. “You wouldn’t get me in trouble. I am friends with my boss.” There’s something behind his smile there, he looks like he has a secret. “The agency is secure and if you cannot find a suitable candidate to watch him I volunteer. He’s too precious to risk.”
“You’re sweet.” How could anyone be that sweet? Really. “I’ll let you know, but Hisashi is looking for candidates.”
Monday mornings could eat a bag of dicks, Shinya decided as he headed into work. If he was lucky though, Yagi would have coffee on his desk already and he could wake up. If not, well, they had a pot and could brew whatever they wanted. Coffee from Yagi was always the best, though. He always remembered just how you liked it and Shinya swore that the baristas made it better if Yagi ordered it.
Shinya’d followed Yagi once to see how he did it. Apparently if you’re a giant gorgeous man who remembered every barista’s name, chatted with them while they made your order, stared anyone rude into submission, and tipped well then you got preferential service. Yagi was too good to be real. All Might better not fuck up and lose him to another agency because Shinya would literally riot.
He pushed open the door to the agency and smiled over at Yagi’s desk but the man isn’t sitting down. He’s crouched to the side of the desk and muttering something. “Hey, Yagi, mornin’.” He called, trying to look around him to see what he was dealing with.
Yagi straightened up and there on the floor in one of those little circular things babies could play walk in was the world’s cutest baby™ from Operation: Sunflower. “Oh shit, cute baby’s back!” Shinya said, uncaring of why there was a baby in the room and also forgetting that Yagi wouldn’t know exactly how he knew about cute baby. He crouched down and wiggled his fingers at the kid and the boy’s eyes went huge. He started giggling and pushing himself along, hands reaching out for Shinya’s face mask. “Ooh, hey, no. That’s not for you.” He scolded but he couldn’t make any actual anger be in the words. Kid was way too cute for that. “Yagi why’s cute baby here?”
“Ah, young Izuku needs a sitter for the week and a suitable one couldn’t be found. All Might gave permission for me to watch over him.” Yagi looked like he was fretting already. “I assure you he won’t be in the way, dear Edgeshot.”
“It’s been quiet for a while anyway.” Why did the kid only wear All Might jumpers? He knew there were some little baby jackets that looked like his costume out there. Clearly, he was gonna have to style the kid up when Yagi wasn’t looking. “You’re winning major points with the missus for this.”
Yagi stammered and blushed, rubbing the back of his head. “She’s not my missus.” He said bashfully. “But I am happy to help when she needs it.”
Yeah, yeah. Keep telling yourself that, Yagi. You were head over heels for this woman and the world’s cutest baby™. “Uh huh. What’s his name again? Azukku?”
“Izuku. Perhaps I should make him a name tag...” Little Izuku threw up his arms and stared at Shinya expectantly. “Oh, you have to pick him up if he wants up. That’s a rule.” Yagi’s voice was suddenly firm and unrelenting and before that could continue on Shinya scooped the kid up. “Thank you. Perhaps I should make a list of baby rules as well...” His voice had returned to the normal soft Yagi, but man. Heaven help anyone that pissed Yagi off when he was in Dad mode, apparently. Jeesh.
By the time that Sir Nighteye came in Izuku was back in his walker, toddling around the entry. At the sight of a new person he scooted over to him and expectantly threw his arms up to be held. Sir Nighteye stared at the baby and read the note pinned to his walker:
“Hello, I am Izuku!
1) Smile at me a lot! I like smiles!
2) I like to follow people around!
3) If I want picked up pick me up! I like hugs!”
Apparently Sir Nighteye isn’t moving quickly enough for the kid because his face starts to crumble, his lower lip starts to tremble, and his arms come down just a fraction. There’s a noise then, a low rumbling growl that came from the entrance to All Might’s office. Yagi’s in the doorway and not once in his four years of working for All Might has Sir Nighteye seen that look on Yagi’s face. Hell, he doesn’t think he’s ever seen All Might look that murderous. It has him scrambling to pick the child up and hold him, earning a delighted squeal from the boy.
As soon as Yagi sees that the child is happy he’s all sunshine and rainbows himself. “Ah, good morning Sir Nighteye! Young Izuku will be joining us for a week as I assist his mother.”
At what point could he put this child down without risking that sudden protective wrath from the agency’s sunflower? As it were the boy was happily cuddling against his chest. “I... See. And All Might is fine with this?”
“Of course. Our offices are secure and he understands that it’s difficult to trust childcare that you have to find last minute.” Yagi dipped back into All Might’s office and emerged with a few files, placing them on his desk before taking little Izuku away from Sir Nighteye. He didn’t put him back in his walker, instead he sat down behind his desk and let the boy bounce on his lap as he went over whatever paperwork he had to.
Sir Nighteye entered into the back office for all of All Might’s assistants and stared at his other heroes. “...So, did you all get-”
“The protective father glare from Yagi? I did.” Best Jeanist looks a bit green behind that blue denim. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so fierce.”
Edgeshot looks smug behind his mask. “Uh, no, because I know to pick up a baby when it wants to be held. Duh. But look at him! It’s the world’s cutest baby™!”
Sir Nighteye rubbed his forehead and sighed. “Of course All Might cleared Yagi bringing his girlfriend’s kid to work. That sounds like a very All Might thing to do.” Sir Nighteye loved All Might fiercely, he was the worlds best hero and a very good man. But sometimes he didn’t think things all the way through. The sheer number of times that dear Yagi had found his phone left behind or All Might had mistakenly picked up Yagi’s....
“Kid needed a sitter and it takes forever to do background checks.” Ectoplasm shrugged as he started a fresh pot of coffee. The strong stuff is a staple at their office, it’d seemed strange at first but had caught on the longer he worked there. “Y’know how many daycares get shut down every year because they don’t check their applicants and they hire someone who gets frustrated and hurts the kids?” He takes a moment to get his coffee mug out of the cabinet and it only serves to punctuate his sentence. “Y’know how many don’t get caught?”
Best Jeanist eyes grow hard and Edgeshot looks positively murderous at the thought. But it’s true, while it’s not the sort of thing they personally deal with (unless there’s a runner or a serious quark being abused) it was frequently reported. Little ones who put their precious sweet trust in the hands of people who broke them. “Point taken.” Sir Nighteye sighed. “But what happens when he gets called out on a task?”
It wasn’t typical for an agency secretary to get called out as often as he did, but All Might’s agency wasn’t a typical one. Yagi got trusted with doing a lot of things for All Might. “Then we support him.” Ectoplasm said, pouring himself a cup of coffee now that the fresh pot was done brewing. He took a sip and sighed happily. “With all that Yagi does for us we can give him support when he needs it.”
Sir Nighteye backs up a few steps to look out the door. Yagi still sits at his desk, holding the child in his lap. Izuku is trying to eat some of his papers and Sir Nighteye hopes it’s nothing important. But the look on his face, Yagi looks so peaceful. No nervous muttering about what he needed to do, no fretting. He looked content.
“I don’t change diapers.” Sir Nighteye sighed and glowered at the other three heroes.
“I would be ashamed to admit I was that useless.” Ectoplasm said in a conversational tone as he sat himself behind his desk.
Edgeshot snorted and gave Ectoplasm an air five while Sir Nighteye glared. “I’ve got some experience, used to watch my siblings after school.” Their youngest hero said. "So I'm pretty good with kids."
“Then it’s settled.” Best Jeanist nodded. “We assist Yagi if need be.”
Surprisingly, things went well. Izuku was calm and happy and needed very little tending to other than playing with him and giving him a good cuddle. Whenever he got tired Toshinori set him up for a nap in a little folding play area and he’d peacefully sleep.
“You have no idea how lucky you are right now.” Ectoplasm grumbled on Tuesday when only Edgeshot was in the back. The other two heroes were out on patrols. “Juzo won’t go down for a nap without a tantrum. And Izuku even wakes up happy.”
“Not so with your son?”
“He’s mad when I make him go to sleep and mad when he wakes up.” Ectoplasm looked over the side of the playpen at sleeping Izuku, peaceful as could be. “So did you get him all the All Might stuff, or...?”
“Ah, his Father is a fan.” He was also positive that Nighteye was sneaking in more things when he wasn’t looking. Toshinori couldn’t prove anything- yet. But there was a new plush toy that hadn’t been in there before he stepped out to go to the bathroom.
The Edgeshot things were easier to place, at least. The young hero didn’t even hide that he was loading the kid up on his merch. If he was trying to sway the boy away from All Might it seemed futile, Izuku preferred the bright colors of All Might’s costume to the more muted ones of Edgeshot.
Izuku rose from his nap blinking his eyes slowly, dragging himself up into a sitting position. He stared about sleepily, but when Ectoplasm peered over the edge of his little playpen his face broke into a sunny smile and he expectantly held his arms up. “So lucky.” The hero muttered but still picked the child up. Izuku leaned his head against Ectoplasm’s chest and sucked at his fist.
For the first time since the Agency had started Yagi wasn’t staying over or coming in early. He never left early or showed up late, but when agency hours were up he packed all the baby’s things and headed for the bus. He’d meet Inko outside of her workplace and pass over the happy baby.
It’d started out innocently on Monday with Inko inviting him for dinner since he was watching Izuku. “And don’t stress, Hisashi gave me what he was going to pay for a week long sitter to treat you.” Izuku had been very pleased to see his mother and had went right to pulling her hair down from the updo she wore at work.
“Aaah, well...” That was hard to refuse.
Monday had just been someplace quick, but on Tuesday she’d asked for his input since she’d very much enjoyed the small hole in the wall he’d taken her to the previous week. On Tuesday and the following days he showed her his favorite spots in the area, local businesses ran by families putting out good food.
It was nice. Wonderful, even. Sitting across the table from Inko and Izuku, laughing as the boy ate and got a mess everywhere, seeing Inko enjoy the same places that he loved. It was warm and precious.
It made going home alone to his empty house feel all the more oppressing.
What would rankle Toshinori later is that he almost made it. He was so close to finishing out the week with no major incidents or having to ask his assistants to handle Izuku. He knew Ectoplasm would be happy to assist, and Edgeshot wasn’t even coming up with reasons to spend time in the reception area anymore. He’d decided he was on baby duty too if he wasn’t out of the office or working on his own thing.
But shortly before lunch on Friday an alert came up signaling significant hero activity. Toshinori checked the footage and found that Endeavor was out and about fighting a massive lizard type person. Perhaps some kind of hardening quirk because the villian was weathering Endeavor’s heat quite well. Hmm, if it continued too much farther he’d find a way to step in for just a minute, it wouldn’t do to have the massive property damage that a large scale fight could claim.
But then the worst case scenario happens. There’s a dark mist that whips around Endeavor, a girlish giggle, and a dry voice whispering in English [“Hey there, shit-for-brains, you miss me?”]
Toshinori pushed his chair out roughly, starling Edgeshot. “I have to go do damage control.” He said, giving him a very serious glare. Edgeshot sat up straight and even Izuku looked startled. “Watch Izuku until I get back.”
“Yeah, man, no problem!” Edgeshot gave him a lazy salute as Toshinori pulled his blazer on and rushed out the door. When Yagi was gone Edgeshot grinned down at the baby. “Okay, kid. Let’s get you in something better looking than that All Might outfit.”
As Toshinori slipped into an alley and powered up he tried to keep a handle down on his annoyance. The last time she’d been in town Búka had promised to let him know before she riled Endeavor up. But here it was, she hadn’t even let him know she was in town before apparently racing into the first fight Endeavor got pulled into. He didn’t understand her deep animosity for the number 2 hero. Yes, Endeavor could be quite hard to get along with, but he was strong and he had good results.
He launched himself into the air, doing some quick calculation on how quickly he could come down and where would be the best place to turn back to Toshinori would be. When he races to the scene of the fight flashing his license gets him past the police lines.
[“Hey, look, wow, you managed to take out a small time villain and only two buildings will have to be torn down due to structural concerns! What an improvement! Y’know All Might can actually contain a villain without causing property damage because he gives a shit about people’s lives? Better get used to the sight of his back, you’ll be staring at it until he retires.”] He hears Búka before he sees her which is generally how it goes. Toshinori looks for Endeavor because the man will be easier to spot. The flame clad hero sees Toshinori first and heads towards him.
“I assume you’re here for her, Yagi-san?” There barely held rage in his voice but he manages to be courteous. There at his side, over a foot shorter than the hero, was tiny little Búka. She’s back in her body, no longer a howling swirling vortex of bad energy. Just a tiny muscled blonde woman riddled with scars. “You have my thanks.”
[“Toshi, my darling!”] With him Búka is all smiles, reaching her arms as far up on his torso as she can and patting at him. She fists her hands in his jacket and drags him down to kiss each cheek. [“Have you seen that ridiculous pre-pubescent fire bullshit he’s got going on on his face? He looks like an idiot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so trashy in my life. Translate, Toshinori. Tell him exactly how fucking stupid I think he looks. He looks like a dumpster fire. Use my exact words, Toshinori.”]
Toshinori sighed and gave Endeavor a side eye. “She dislikes your flame facial hair.” Endeavor rolled his eyes, but it was by far the tamest thing that Búka had ever complained about.
[“Those were not the words I said at all! Stop being polite and tell him he looks like a fucking moron. Christ, it’s like if you give a crayon to a toddler and let him design what’s cool. ‘Yeah, let’s just put fire ON MY FACE’ what a fucking tool.”] Búka grumbled, gesturing wildly up at them. [“I’ve got a four year old, Toshi, and this is exactly the kind of shit he’d pull if he could control fire. Thankfully dirt beards apparently aren’t cool so I don’t have to deal with that.”]
“Oh...” Despite the glowering that Endeavor was doing Toshinori couldn’t help but laugh. He switches to English for Búka’s benefit though he knows she understands Japanese far better than she speaks it. [“Has Ichirō started emulating heroes?”] And from Búka’s glower he can only imagine that he has. His quirk had manifested as some sort of geomancy. Toshinori could imagine the kind of trouble he got into with that.
[“Oh, on the subject of children.”] And this is where the day would go from bad to awful. Búka beamed up at Endeavor and he immediately knew something was up. She makes sure to speak in Japanese, slowly and carefully enunciating every word. “Ah, are you still neglecting your children Todoroki-tan?”
And that’s when the fight started.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the assistant heroes found that while Izuku might be the sweet happy baby when Yagi was around, taking him out of the equation changed things. After Yagi rushed out the doors Izuku had been placated by staring at them for a few minutes, lips pursed and clearly waiting for Yagi to poke his head back through like he was playing peek-a-boo.
“Hey, he’ll be back in a bit! I’ll play with you till then.” Edgeshot tapped on Izuku’s little walker to get his attention.
Wrong move. When Izuku turns on him and he hasn’t magically changed into Yagi the boy’s face crumpled and he started to wail. Shit. Shit! Somehow, Yagi would hear about this and Edgeshot was going to get fired because he made cute baby sad. The young hero scooped the baby out of his walker and ran back to the assistant’s room.
“Yagi had to leave to do something and little man did not like that. I need help.” Izuku’s wails were only getting louder when Yagi didn’t appear in the back room. Nighteye held his hands up in a universal gesture for ‘not me’. Best Jeanist didn’t seem too thrilled either but he held his long arms out.
“Aah... Come here. There, there. It’s okay.” Izuku continued to howl, but at least he did it against Jeanist’ chest and away from Edgeshot’s ears. Jeanist languidly reached into his desk and pulled out a baby sized pair of sun glasses. From where he got those nobody knew and frankly Edgeshot wasn’t going to ask. Jeanist carefully slipped the sunglasses on the baby’s face.
Miraculously Izuku stopped mid wail, hands coming up to pull the glasses off of his face. He made a little inquisitive noise as he looked at them, then happily started to gum on them. “Not the intended purpose, but I’ll take the result.” Jeanist said, shrugging elegantly.
The glasses weren’t a lasting solution, though. Once Izuku got bored with them he realized that Yagi still wasn’t there and started tearing up again. “Maybe he’s hungry?” Nighteye asked from his position far, far away from the wailing child.
“Got it!” Edgeshot was off in a flash, folding his body to reach the diaper bag faster. Luckily for him Yagi’s girlfriend had written instructions on what the kid should eat. Milk was in the mini fridge, and there were little tiny little containers of vegetables and sandwiches. Izuku gladly took the little bite sized sandwich and fed himself and for one brief moment it looks like the three youngest heroes in the agency have managed to calm him down.
Not at all.
The food temporarily distracted Izuku, but the next time he started sobbing it meant that when he got upset he had ammunition and promptly threw up over Best Jeanist’s jurtleneck. Edgeshot had seen the man stare down villains, he’s seen him in horrible situations, but he’s never seen Jeanist simply freeze like he did. The denim garbed hero gracefully rose to his feet and stalked over to Nighteye and before he could escape handed the baby over. “It your turn. I have to clean up.”
Nighteye held the baby at arm’s length, not the best idea. “What do I do with this?” He hissed at Edgeshot who shrugged miserably. Man, having a kid was looking way less fun now that he knew even the sweet ones could turn into little hell-monsters.
Salvation came in the form of Ectoplasm coming back into the office. He paused at the entrance to their office and took in the scene before him: Yagi missing, Jeanist missing, Nighteye holding the boy at arms length, Izuku sobbing, and Edgeshot useless while digging in a diaper bag like it would have the solution to his problem.
“Do me a favor.” Ectoplasm strode across the room and plucked Izuku out of Nighteye’s hands. “Get better at this before you have kids. Yeah, they’re real bad, huh kid?” Izuku clung to his shirt and babbled at him. “Real bad. So bad. What happened?”
“Yagi had to step out for some emergency and he had a meltdown and when we fed him he threw up on Jeanist.” Edgeshot filled him in while Nighteye tried to surreptitiously grab his container of hand sanitizer. Meanwhile Izuku finally started to calm down, leaning his head miserably against Ectoplasm’s chest.
Jeanist emerged from the bathroom with a new jurtleneck, this one with a few rhinestones because of course he had a slightly bedazzled jurtleneck. He was simply that committed to his horrible aesthetic. “You seem to be calming him effortlessly. What did we do wrong?”
“I haven’t slept in two days and I’m really calm as a result? I dunno, I’m holding him carefully and talking? Babies like talking, they like to babble and they like it when you respond. Builds up their little baby brains. Right, kid?” Izuku was still slightly hiccuping but seemed placated by sucking his thumb and patting Ectoplasm on the chest with his other hand. “But think of it this way: He’s a baby. Like, a little proto person. The guy he really likes is gone and suddenly when he cries everyone’s freaking out and that just makes him more upset because he doesn’t understand why you’re all stressed and why the guy he likes is gone. Kids this age have a hard time expressing how they feel, so if they see you freaking out they’re like: ‘Woah. I have no reference point. This must be the worst thing to happen in my life’ and they react in turn.”
Nighteye leaned his chin against his fist and nodded. “That makes sense... He picked up on our discomfort and it amplified his unhappiness.”
“That, and he needs a diaper change. C’mon, all of you over here. You kids are gonna learn today.”
“You are, by far, the worst person I’ve ever met.” Toshinori said crossly to the utterly unrepentant Búka who didn’t care even the slightest that Toshinori’s suit was singed and half her hair was gone. Búka flashed her license to get past the police. On the other side of the tape she just grinned and generally looked like any day where she got into a yelling match with Japan’s #2 hero was a great day.
[“Listen you work in the same city as that overcompensating douche-fuck, don’t even try that with me.”] Búka waved her hand dismissively. [“Toss me your bill for whatever that suit cost, I’ll cover it.”]
“This isn’t about my suit. You promised after last time that you’d let me know when you were going to do something like this so that I could mitigate it.” Last time had been particularly bad, with her commenting about how it was fitting he was #2 since he was a massive piece of shit. Apparently the insult worked better in English. But someone had translated it for Endeavor and things had ended about as well as one would expect.
Búka spread her arms out wide and shrugged. [“I didn’t want you to mitigate it. He needs someone to knock him down about fifty pegs. All Might’s too good to do it.”] She rolled her eyes widely and smirked. Búka loved All Might, she owed a lot to him, but she also knew that he was a better man than she or Endeavor would ever be. [“Endeavor will never be half the man that All Might is because he is a legitimately horrible human being. He’s never going to see that or see why he’s eternally the #2 and he’s going to keep taking it out on everyone around him.”]
“That’s being harsh.” He scolded but the small woman looked unrepentant.
[“I know evil, Tosh. That man’s heart is black.”] Búka sniffed derisively before switching to a new subject with a grin. [“So. Karaoke?”]
“No, I have to- Izuku!” Toshinori gasped and fumbled for his phone, dialing the agency. Búka looked amused at his frantic state. “Ah, hello, it’s Yagi, I apologize for running out-!”
“Hey, Yagi. Boss grab your phone again by accident?”
Shit. Toshinori looked down and winced: he’d grabbed the wrong phone from his pocket in his haste. “I, ah, assume. How is Izuku, Ectoplasm?”
[“Wait, ghost guy! I love ghost guy!”]
“He’s good, calmed down. I’m teaching the idiots- You stop being idiots when you stop acting like idiots- how to calm a baby down and change a diaper. It’s been a full day for them.” Ectoplasm sounded exhausted but also amused. “Kid barfed on Jeanist. I hear it was hilarious.”
There’s a sudden pressure on Yagi’s arm and Búka is hauling herself up him to get nearer to his phone. “Karaoke!”
“Oh, hey, the bogey girl is in town. No wonder you went running. How singed are you?”
“More than I’d like, but I doubt there’s going to be bad publicity. Thank you for your assistance, I’ll be back to the agency soon. [Would you stop?!]” He hissed at Búka who, as always, looked utterly unrepentant.
“Sure, I’ll go out to karaoke. It’ll be a bit because some of us actually have jobs, Búka.” Toshinori could hear Izuku babbling a bit, and someone on the other side gasping about what were they doing to his hair.
Oh, God, what were they doing to his hair?
“I, ah, I’ll be back soon. Thank you again.” Toshinori sighed and slipped his phone back in his pocket, glaring at Búka. She hopped off his arm and continued along beside him. “Before you ask, Izuku is my... My friend’s son.”
[“Uh-huh. I want to meet her.”]
Búka lets the matter drop and Toshinori walked with her until she got to the hospital where her husband worked. The man had a healing quirk and would take care of any damage she’d sustained. It was how she’d lasted as long as she had, Búka had all the self preservation of the more durable heroes but none of the ability to mitigate damage. “Say hello to Gerizon for me.”
Búka blew him a kiss and waved. [“I still wanna meet your girlfriend. And tell ghost guy I still wanna do karaoke. You too, when you get time.”] She strode into the hospital with her head held high, and Toshinori tried to ignore how she slumped and slowed when she thought she was out of his gaze.
They were all getting older, and this wasn’t a life that treated you kindly.
He called in a dinner order for his boys and brought it to the agency as a ‘thank you I’m sorry’ gift. They hadn’t burned it down in his absence at least. Inside looks normal too, with Best Jeanist taking his seat behind the front desk. “Ah, Yagi. Good to see you back.” Were those sequins on his jurtleneck? Outstanding.
“Thank you so much for your help.” Toshinori mumbled, putting the offering of takeout in front of him. “I got dinner for everyone as thanks.”
“Wonderful.” Jeanist gracefully rose and picked the bag up, heading towards the office. Toshinori gladly sat down in his chair and sighed, looking over into Izuku’s playpen.
Ah, so that’s what they’d done to his hair. [“Jesus.”] He muttered under his breath, and he really was spending too much time around Búka. But Izuku sat in his playpen calmly, wearing an oversized pair of sunglasses, an Edgeshot hoodie, a scarf draped artfully around his little torso, deep indigo baby jeans, and his All Might sneakers. His hair had somehow been tamed into a slicked down side part. “Did you have fun?” He ventured to ask the baby, who grinned up at Toshinori.
“Ah.” He intoned, nodding and bouncing a bit.
“I’m glad.” Toshinori said, burying his face in his hands. He’d been so close to having a normal week.
Ectoplasm is the one bastion of sanity in that place.
Búka's quirk is Poltergeist: she can pitch her spirit out of her body and do all manner of fuckery with it. Using it for too often or for prolonged periods hurts her physical body, and using it in a hurry will cause her to split apart in places to let her spirit escape. She needs that healer husband. She understands Japanese well but rarely speaks it because she's got a shit accent and she's too proud to admit she's bad at things. If she's speaking Japanese it's because she wants to make sure her shit talking is understood.
Chapter 5: Video killed the radio star
A date to the karaoke bar and someone has to come to deal with their fear of intimacy.
“You’re sure you can handle this?”
“Please. I handle one baby on the daily, how much more trouble could two be?”
Inko sighed and looked over to Hisashi. Please let him take this seriously, she silently begged. “Toshinori said that Juzo’s apparently a crybaby. I have no idea about the other baby, but...”
“Inko, I’ve got it.” Hisashi smiled and leaned back in his chair. Nearby Izuku crawled around with his toys and burbling happily. “Just get me autographs.”
“If I can. I don’t want to bother anyone when they’re trying to relax.” Apparently one of the heroes at the agency had been invited to karaoke along with Toshinori, and he’d asked Inko if she’d like to come as well. It wasn’t a place she could imagine herself, at a bar filled with off duty heroes. She wasn’t a hero.
But Toshinori had looked so sweet and bashful when he asked, there was no chance of telling him no. It’d been Toshinori’s idea to ask Hisashi to babysit and her dear friend had been happy to step up. It also gave him an excuse to meet Toshinori face to face.
There was a rhythmic knock at the door announcing the man’s arrival and Hisashi jogged over to open it. There Toshinori stood, baby in each arm and looking quite ruffled. “Ah, if you would take Juzo here...” He held out the arm holding a child with very prominent teeth and straw colored hair. That left him with two hands to deal with the other baby, a small baby with frizzy blonde hair and thick glasses. “Thank you.”
“No problem. Hey there, Juzo! You ready to make some friends?” Hisashi asked and the baby glowered. Apparently he was not ready to make friends.
“Ah, his father said that he was grumpy after a nap.” Toshinori knelt down and carefully put the small boy on the ground. “Here you are, Saburō. You’re being so good!” Saburō clapped his hands and beamed at Toshinori, who was busy putting diaper bags on the ground. “Now, Saburō has food allergies so everything that’s his is marked in his bag. One of his allergies is wheat flour, so don’t let him get the other children’s snacks.”
Izuku stared at the other baby for a split second before crawling over to him. Inko couldn’t help herself from cooing watching the two little ones carefully interact. Tiny hands patting each others faces, exploring the differences in hair. Izuku seemed especially interested in Saburō’s glasses, but luckily they were the wrap around kind and couldn’t be pulled from his face. Hisashi sat Juzo on the ground and he crawled over as well. They sat in little group and Saburō started to giggle first, setting the other two off. Toshinori snapped a few pictures and grinned happily, the babies enthusiasm seemed catching.
“All right, some ground rules before you kids leave.” Hisashi said as he started to tick off the rules on his fingers. “One: You drink too much you call a cab and get you somewhere safe.” Toshinori nodded furiously. “Two: If you need me to watch the kids overnight you just gimmie a call. Three: You make sure Inko has a good night, all right? If you don’t I’ll know, and you might have some important friends but I’ll call down the wrath of the tax services if I gotta.”
Toshinori put his hands palms up towards Hisashi and backed up a step. “There’s no need to threaten. I’ll take good care of her.”
“Good! Then you two have a good night!” Hisashi waved them out pleasantly. Toshinori chuckled after they were outside the building.
Inko sighed and shook her head. “Sorry. He’s protective. We’ve been friends since forever, he’s more my brother than anything. He worries.”
“No, I’m glad you have someone like that.” Toshinori smiled down at her, fishing around in his pocket for a key fob. “I hope you don’t mind but I figured going by bus would take too much time.”
The car that he walked up to was large and wide, definitely foreign. When he slid in he still had a few inches before his head touched the ceiling, at least. “So, you’ve had a car this entire time and you take the bus?” Inko asked after crawling in.
“Mm, I like the noise of the bus. In addition, this thing gets terrible gas mileage.” Toshinori chuckled and started the car up, weaving it into traffic easily. “I only drive in special occasions.”
“Oh, really? Trying to impress me?” She teased and watched as a blush crept up his neck.
“Am I so transparent?” He mumbled and, oh shit, he was trying to impress her.
Well, if he was going to be honest, she might as well. “Do you like my dress?” She asked and if Toshinori seemed surprised by the change of subject he didn’t comment. “I bought it just to wear out with you. So, I guess I’m trying to impress you too.”
Toshinori was silent for a few moments before carefully reaching over with one hand to give her arm a squeeze. “You don’t have to try. You impress me without thought.”
Just like that, he wasn’t the only one in the car blushing. Inko turned and looked out the window, but she moved her arm just enough to let his hand slide down her forearm and bring their hands together. Her fingers threaded with his and he gave her hand a gentle squeeze. Inko glanced over at him to find him biting his lower lip to try and hide his smile, blushing furiously.
They stay silent like that until arriving at the karaoke hall, which doesn’t look like any one Inko has ever been to. Bright lights, a large man at the door, people waiting but unable to get in, and... “Is that a valet...?”
“Ah, yes. This is a heroes establishment so things are well taken care of. Just stick with me until we get past the door.” Toshinori parked and got out of the car, handing his keys over to the valet. For one brief moment Inko feels out of her depth, walking to a club surrounded by people looking for off duty heroes. But then Toshinori is beside her, and one of his large hands presses gently on the small of her back to encourage her along.
They approach the door to the sound of hero fans trying to guess who they are, and Toshinori showed the bouncer a card in his wallet. The man nodded and said “Give my regards to your boss.” and let them into the establishment. Inside was less like a typical karaoke bar and more... club like? There were people dancing to loud music, areas tucked away for more private conversations, several hallways leading deeper into the building.
Toshinori steps over to young woman and checks his coat before asking her a few questions. He came back to Inko and gently touched her arm to guide her along. It took barely even a light press to get her to move. the touch almost electrifying. “They’ve rented a room already.”
“Oh, good.” Because what else is she supposed to say to that? “Do we need to get anything?”
“Ah, no, anything we want can be delivered to the room. Probably beer, this crowd goes through a lot. Do you drink?” Toshinori lead her down one hallway and silently read the room numbers. “I generally have a bit, not too much. I metabolize it quickly.”
“Occasionally.” Inko answered and ignored the call of her youth. She hadn’t always been a mom and a woman with a career. She’d had her days. “As long as you can drive us home.”
Toshinori just smiled and pushed a door open. Inside was one familiar hero (Ectoplasm, the one who worked with Toshinori) and two more who weren’t familiar. The woman’s small and blonde and well muscled, covered in scars and wearing a white tank top and camouflage shorts. Clearly dressing up hadn’t been in her plans. The man she sat hip to hip with was dressed quite finely in dress slacks, a button down with the sleeves rolled up, and a dark red vest overtop. His skin was a deep brown in tone, his eyes nearly black, and his black hair pulled back into multiple braids.
The blonde woman said something in English, and it’d been years since Inko had taken classes in that. As she squinted and tried to translate in her head Toshinori sighed. “Yes, this is her. Inko, this is my workmate Ectoplasm, and the heroes Búka and Gerizon.”
Búka shot her a pair of finger guns and a grin. [“Heya.”]
Gerizon rolled his eyes at her. “Forgive her, she’s horrible. You know I’m comfortable going by my actual name, Toshinori?” He rose to his feet and extended one long fingered hand to her. “Rin’s fine, miss.”
Inko shook his hand warmly while Toshinori showed Búka and Ectoplasm pictures on his phone. “There, see, they’re all settling in as friends.” Ah, pictures of the babies. The little blonde belonged to these two heroes then?
“Good. Juzo doesn’t get enough socialization.” Ectoplasm murmured. “Might be why he’s such a little shit.”
Búka said something and her husband swiftly translated for Inko. “All kids are little shits.” He said softly and rolled his eyes at his wife. She just grinned a wide, sharklike grin. “All right, we have snacks and beer, I believe those are the two cornerstones to karaoke.”
“Enthusiasm and lack of talent are the other two cornerstones.” Ectoplasm started to scroll through the selection of songs. Inko sat on one edge of a sofa and Toshinori sat in the middle, giving her some space. Ectoplasm looked towards them and while it was hard to read his face with the mask, he gestured with his hands for them to scooch closer to one another. Toshinori just flushed deeply and stammered a bit.
The evening melts into something familiar when it comes to karaoke bars: Drinking, badly singing various songs, laughing at the horror that resulted from Toshinori trying to hit some of Cindy Lauper’s sugar pop notes. Rin’s doubled over at that, beer leaking from his nose as he groaned. Búka cackled and smacked him roughly on the back.
“Oh, I think the hostess is busy.” Inko eyed their pitcher that had been empty for a bit. “I’ll go grab a refill for us.”
“Take your time, I need to recover from this shame.” Toshinori buried his face in his hands. Inko laughed and grabbed the pitcher while Ectoplasm started another song. Inko got the attention of the bartender and passed the pitcher over the bar for him to refil. A nearby patron looks her over and smiles.
“Hey there, I’m Firestarter. You are...?” He grinned over at her in what would be a flattering manner if she didn’t already have someone waiting on her.
“Ah, I’m not a pro hero, sorry!”
Something in the man’s eyes change a bit, like Inko’s suddenly not nearly as worthy of his attention. “Oh, just a cape chaser then?”
The way he said it, with the utter derision and acting like she was lesser than he was, immediately drew Inko’s ire. “Excuse me?”
Firestarter curled his lip up to reply further, then something directly over Inko’s shoulder got his attention in a bad way. “Hey.” A rasping, heavily accented voice hissed from right behind her. “Fuck off, small timer. Hey, bartender, whiskey sour.”
It’s Búka because who else could it be, looking downright murderous. It almost looks like her face is cracking, and her sclera darken while her corneas lighten. When the male hero backs of quickly she cackles and her eyes return to normal but the face cracks remain. “You! I need to talk to you. Without boys.” She grabbed her drink when the bartender passed it over and Inko picked up the pitcher.
Great. With few options Inko followed Búka over by the coat check. “So, what do you want to talk about?”
“Nothing long. Hah, shorter is better.” Búka sipped her drink casually. “Shovel talk! You know shovel talk, yes?”
Oh, God, this was what it was about? “If I hurt Toshinori you hit me with the shovel?” Inko tried and Búka cackled again.
“Sweet girl, no. You hurt Toshi, I bury you with the shovel. Small grave. Deep. No one will find you.” The small woman toasted Inko with her glass. “But, I worry too much, yes?”
“I’m not going to hurt him.” Just the thought of hurting him made Inko’s heart throb. “I care about him.”
“He’s easy to care about.” Her voice was momentarily softer before jumping back up to her boisterous pitch. “But! You and I? Will be friends. Good friends. Terrify the world.”
Inko laughed as Búka slipped their arms together, elbow chaining to elbow. “I think you’ll do better terrifying than I will.”
“Psh. Lies. Just imagine what I do. Can’t be a mom if you’re dead. Can’t have a beautiful husband if you’re dead. Makes you fight harder.” She said casually, as if revealing her motivation for fighting was just something she talked about to anyone. “Can’t have nice things when you’re dead, can’t sing karaoke when you’re dead. Can’t drink when you’re dead.”
Back in their karaoke room Búka let her arm go and went over to her husband, earning herself some worried murmurs before he kissed her cheek and the cracks in her skin healed. That was handy to have. While various combinations of their group would get up and sing the rest would chat, drink, and snack.
“I’m doing the single-parent thing.” Ectoplasm said to Inko as Rin, his wife, and Toshinori all three got up and did an impassioned Bohemian Rhapsody. Rin may have been crying. Toshinori and Búka weren’t crying, but they were more into that song than any other they’d sang. “Things didn’t work out, she wanted her freedom, so.” He shrugged.
“That’s gotta be hard. When Hisashi and I split it was mutual and he’s still involved with Izuku.” Really, she was lucky in that aspect. So much could’ve gone wrong. “If you need help you can come to me.”
Ectoplasm might’ve smiled, but it was hard to tell with his getup. “Thanks. We already ran your background checks so I know you’re not crazy.” They’d done background checks? “Don’t take it personal, we do it to everyone. The agency’s like a family, we worry about one another.”
She could take that a lot of ways, but it did warm her heart knowing that these talented young men worried about Toshinori. “I’m glad he you all watch out for him. He strikes me as being lonely.”
“He is. Never seen him even try to date anyone before you, so.” Ectoplasm sipped his beer calmly. “Take that as you will.”
Toshinori was a wonderfully sweet man. Kind, caring, compassionate and gentle. The thought of him being lonely, or spending many years alone, tugged at her heart. When he finished singing and pulled away from Búka and Rin’s embrace he sat down beside Inko again, but this time she leaned over onto him. He made a little surprised noise, but wrapped an arm around her and pulled her flush to his side.
Every once in a while Inko’s phone would light up with a text from Hisashi with pictures of how his night was going. Her phone would promptly get passed around from hero to hero as the parents cooed over their offspring. “Saburō is our third child.” Rin translates for his wife. She’s had more than a few drinks and didn’t seem up to speaking in a non native language. “Our two others are older.”
Rin shared his picture gallery with Inko as Toshinori and Ectoplasm sang a song together, some hilarious babymetal song. The older children resembled their father more than the youngest one did. “So, what do you do for a living?”
“Oh, I’m a nurse. With your quirk you work in healthcare too, right?” Inko swiped through pictures of the children, which there were a lot of. Clearly these were a pair of proud parents.
“Ah, yes. Generally I’m called for crisis situations, but if none arise I do general healing as well. Did you meet Toshinori at the hospital?” Rin took another sip of his tea, all night he hadn’t had so much as a drop of alcohol. Either he was the driver home or he just didn’t drink, Inko wasn’t sure.
“No, we met on the bus home. I fell asleep on him, my son tried to eat his hair, and the next time we met he helped me deal with a man following me.” Inko smiled at the memory, gentle Toshinori being so gallant in the moment. “I asked him on a date that night.”
Rin chuckled. “A woman after my wife’s heart. I was tending to her after an injury from a battle. She couldn’t speak Japanese so she had All Might pass along the message. ‘My phone’s broken, so just write your number on my arm’.” He laughed at the memory and Inko joined in.
Another text from Hisashi. ‘Need me to keep the kids overnight, or?’ It was getting fairly late. “Ah, Hisashi wants to know if you want him to babysit overnight.”
“Mm, it is getting late. Should I pick Juzo up from him directly?” Ectoplasm asked. Toshinori was starting to tidy up the room, stacking snack plates together and gathering glasses. Búka kept prodding him with her bare foot, where had her shoes gone?
“He’s a gigantic hero fan so it would probably make his whole life.” Inko giggled a bit at the idea of Hisashi opening the door to find a pro hero there.He’d lose his mind.
Rin nodded and tossed Búka back her shoes. “That settles it, then. The child seats are still in your car, Toshinori?”
“Ah, yes.” Toshinori straightened up. “I’ll give them to you once our cars are brought up.”
Inko smiled at Toshinori and made a decision. ‘The heroes are going to pick up their kids, but would you keep Izuku overnight?’ She texted to Hisashi.
The response comes back lightening quick. ‘Of course. Get it.’
They say their goodbyes while the valet grabs their cars and Toshinori picks his coat up. Rin gives her a gentle embrace, Búka pounds her back viciously and kisses both cheeks, and Ectoplasm pats her shoulder and murmurs softly: “Take care of him for all of us.”
Outside the crowd has thinned but Toshinori suggests driving off a few blocks before swapping out the car seats. He finds a nearby parking garage and the swap happens, leaving Búka half asleep in the back between two carseats. “Oh, she’ll be pissed later.” Rin murmured, biting his cheek to keep his smile in check. Ectoplasm climbed into the front passenger seat and Inko gave him Hisashi’s address.
“We should be going as well.” Toshinori said as he climbed into his car. Inko fastened her seatbelt and folded her hands in her lap. Okay. She could do this. Be confidant.
“Actually, Hisashi agreed to watch Izuku overnight. So. There’s no hurry. We don’t need to head back.”
Toshinori stared at the windshield for a few silent moments, lost in thought. He made up his mind and started driving. “Unless you have plans in particular, I have a few ideas of what we could do.”
Oh, Inko had a few ideas. But, she was curious as to what his were. “I’ll let you lead.”
He drove through town, the car mostly silent and lit only by the passing streetlights. It didn’t take too long to reach the destination: a local beach. “I thought perhaps a night walk would be good...?”
Right, this was a man who admitted to loving rom-coms. Of course he would love sappy romantic things. Still, it was a pretty cute idea. “That sounds nice.” She agreed, climbing out of the car.
On the beach she linked her arm around his wrist and leaned her head against his arm. The sound of waves lapping against the sand and the far off sound of traffic are the only sounds to disturb the sound of their footsteps against the sand. “So, do you have family in town other than your parents and Hisashi?” Toshinori asked. Ah, so it was going to be a ‘get to know each other a little better’ walk. That was fine, she could bide her time.
“No, but my brother and his family lives out in Tomioka.” She threaded her fingers through his, really taking the time to see just how big Toshinori’s hands were. Long, thick, crooked fingers webbed with scars, How had he gotten so many scars on his hands? “What about you, any family nearby?”
“Ah.. No. No family. Anywhere.” Toshinori ran his free hand through his hair and mulled over his thoughts for a moment. “I was surrendered after birth and I grew up in the foster system. So. My family is the men at the agency, really.” He smiled wide despite the subject. Perhaps working under All Might had caused him to take up smiling in bad times.
When she doesn’t respond he keeps talking nervously. “It’s not so bad. You only miss what you had, right? And I’ve never had that. And, lately, it’s been so wonderful with you and Izuku, and I... Please say something?”
Inko reached up as far on his torso as she could, almost touching his jaw. “Get down here, you giant man.” She scolded and Toshinori obliged, she stood on her tiptoes to throw her arms around his neck. His arms encircled her and held her tight, like he was afraid she’d let go at any moment. “I’m glad you’ve enjoyed being with us.” She said, voice thick and, oh, wasn’t she leaving so much else unsaid?
I don’t want to move too fast, but being around you feels right. I’m glad that you love Izuku so much, anyone can see it. I’m glad that you’re good and kind despite the hand that life has dealt to you. You’ve been lonely too long and I want to make sure you’re never alone again.
Instead of voicing any of those thoughts she turned her head and pressed her lips against his neck. Toshinori almost stops breathing at that chaste touch and she has to press further. She tips her head up and kisses along his jaw. His breathing falters and he tips his chin down low, leaning over just a bit more. Asking without words.
So, she obliges. One arm unwraps from around Toshinori’s neck and that hand threads through his hair to give herself something to hold onto as she breeches those final few inches between them and brings their lips together. Toshinori starts slightly, like he’s surprised it actually happened.
Toshinori is hesitant at first, almost timid. But after a moment one of his big hands comes up to cradle the side of Inko’s face, tenderly stroking along her cheekbone with one thumb. He follows her lead, kissing in patient little touches.
He pulls back before she does, and Inko grins at the blush on his face. The hand in his hairs lips down to cup his face, Toshinori closes his eyes and nuzzles into her hand. It’s like he’s starved for touch. His hand moved to hold her wrist still and he pressed a kiss into the palm of her hand almost reverently. “How are you so cute, you giant man?” Inko murmured and Toshinori opened his eyes to look at her. He smiled behind her hand and let her go free as he straightened up.
“I’m glad you think I am.” He reached down to grab both of her hands and looked at them for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. So small and delicate compared to his large hands. “I... I’m sorry I’m having trouble getting the right words together. I’ve never really had to say them before. But I care about you greatly, Inko. I’ve passed so much of my life just working and sleeping, but when I’m around you it feels like I’m living.” He laughs at himself and stammers a bit. “That’s... Weird, right? I’m being weird?”
“No, you’re being very sweet.” She rushed to assure him. Sure, he was a sap, but he was a very sweet sap. Inko brought one of his hands up and kissed the back of it. As expected, even that sign of affection makes him flush. “I’m lucky to have you.”
“I’m the lucky one.” He assured her with a sweet smile. “Ah.. I’ve been thinking. If we continue on like we are, things will get more serious.” Hopefully, Inko thought privately. “If it gets to that point, would you wish to move in with me or would you rather we find a place together?”
Oh. Different type of serious. “Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Inko said brightly. “I haven’t seen your place yet, anyway.”
“Would you like to? You could stay the night.” He put his hands palms up towards her quickly. “I have a spare room! I’m not asking you to... Well. Share a bed.”
“Really wouldn’t say no to that, to be perfectly honest.” Inko managed to keep her face straight but Toshinori couldn’t, looking very flustered. “But, yeah, I’d like to see your place.”
“Ah, g-good. Then it’s settled. We’ll finish our walk and head there.”
They finished their walk eventually and Toshinori drove to his home. It was a rather nice building with underground parking. He was on one of the higher floors, it took a bit for the elevator to get there. As they waited he tapped one foot and twined his fingers together. “Are you nervous?” Inko asked, wrapping an arm around his middle as far as she can to give him a little side hug.
“A bit? I generally don’t have people over.” He looked down and smiled at her and even his smile looked nervous.
“Just relax. It’s fine.” She assured him. They got off on his floor and Toshinori gestured her in before him once he opened the door. It was a good sized apartment, very minimalist in design. “Now, see, you had me worried it was going to be terrible.”
Toshinori laughed and hung up his jacket. “Kitchen’s off that way. The guest room’s over here. My room’s on the other side of the hall, bathroom’s at the end of the hall.”
The more Inko looked around the less... Lived in the place looked. There were no pictures on the walls, few knickknacks, a few books on a bookshelf. The only thing that really separated Toshinori’s home from a show apartment was a memorial shrine on a low table. Inko drifted closer, really not able to stop herself from looking into it.
It wasn’t much, just a few pictures and candles. One showed a woman with sharp eyes and dark hair smiling confidently at a camera. The other picture was the same woman grinning as she dragged a teenage Toshinori down to her level via an arm around his neck. He looked so happy in that picture.
That was another conversation for a different time, however. Inko followed Toshinori down the hall and peered into his bedroom. Simple, as she’d expected. It was mostly filled with a massive western style bed, but Toshinori was a large man. It was to be expected. “It’s a nice place. A little sterile.”
“Ah, I don’t have a good hand at decorating.” Toshinori rubbed the back of his head. He still looks nervous as he looked around. “It needs a more careful touch.”
It needed some color. Some plants, decorative pillows, pictures on the walls, toys on the floor, children’s drawings on the fridge. Inko sighed and smiled up at him. “If I’m going to stay over, do you have a shirt I can sleep in?”
“Oh! Of course!” Toshinori darted into his bedroom and came back with a clean tee shirt. Inko thanked him and went to change, leaving her dress folded up in the bathroom for the morning. When Inko exited the bathroom Toshinori had changed as well, into an old tee shirt and loose pants that come several inches above the ankle. She might’ve teased him if she hadn’t seen the look on his face aimed at her.
Yagi Toshinori is a man who’s used to denying himself what he wants. It might not be something that Inko likes about him, but it’s a fact. It’s like he tries to apologize to the world for taking up the space that he does, doesn’t want to burden anyone. Like his happiness isn’t worthwhile. He’d never voice anything for fear of inconveniencing someone.
So. She has to.
“Toshinori? Yes or no. Do you want me to sleep in the guest room?” Inko kept her voice calm and tried to make eye contact. Toshinori was doing a good job of avoiding her gaze.
His mouth opens and closes, his throat works soundlessly. It takes him a moment to respond and when he finally does he sounds wretched, like the admission has to claw it’s way out of him. “No. I don’t.”
“Okay.” She bridged the distance between them and reached for his wrist and she doesn’t need to count the beats to notice how rapid his heart is. He’s afraid, perhaps of intimacy or admitting that he wants something or maybe he’s afraid he’s somehow going to mess things up and drive her away. “Okay. We’ll take this a step at a time. When you’re uncomfortable you tell me. Understand?”
“Yes.” He murmured, finally daring to meet her eyes. “I just-” His gaze dropped to the ground again and he shook his head.
Sharing a bed is as far as they get that night, Toshinori unwilling to go further. He wraps himself around her, holds her gently as if she’s something precious that he could break with one sharp touch. Like he’s not the one who’s fragile, like it’s not his heart that beats a mile a minute. Inko is content to lay there in his embrace and slowly his anxiety seems to calm.
“I’m sorry.” He murmured, nuzzling against the top of her head. “I don’t want to mess this up.”
“You’re not.” Inko sighed and scooted ever slightly closer to him. She listened to the sound of his heart and his lungs until both come slowly and restfully, and she fell asleep to the rhythmic beat of his heart.
This chapter has been a pain in the ass to write and I'm not the happiest with it but -jazz hands- the show must go on and it won't get any better by just sitting in my file as I stare at it grumpily.
Chapter 6: This is the chapter where Toshi makes things real complicated
Life's never easy when you are simultaneously a hero hiding his identity and also an idiot with a big heart.
Never fear, an alert is here!
All right. The All Might theme to his phone was a little over the top during daylight and it was even worse during the night. Toshinori blindly reached out behind himself to his night stand, pulling the phone free from the charger and bringing it up to his face.
Class B villain reported... Police requesting All Might’s assistance.
“What time is it?” Inko mumbled from where she lay curled up against him. Shit. He had to get up, he had to get going, and he had to somehow deal with Inko.
“It’s a little after five.” He murmured, tipping his head down to kiss her forehead. “I’m sorry, it’s an emergency. Boss is calling me in for a bit. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
Inko may have pouted a bit but she scooted back slightly, giving him room to uncurl from around her. He remembered falling asleep holding her, but during the short rest he’d gotten he’d apparently cuddled around her. It had been nice to lay that way.
“M’gonna have a talk with your boss. It’s a Saturday and it’s way too early to drag you out of bed for paperwork.” When Toshinori crawls out of bed she scoots into the empty warm space he’s left behind and nests down into his blankets.
For a brief moment he doesn’t want to leave. He wants to crawl back into bed and curl around her and let the world take care of it’s own problems for a day. But that pang of selfishness is pushed down. He doesn’t bother to change before he leaves, his bedclothes have enough room for him to bulk up and frankly at five AM he cares less about his image than he should.
As soon as he’s out of the building he listens and looks for any possible onlookers before activating One for All and springing into the air. At the speed that his quirk lets him achieve it takes him seconds to get to the standoff. Ah, that villain who leaked poisonous gas from their pores. Several people lay at their feet, hopefully still alive.
All right. He was coming in quick. Plan of action? Villain had to be contained safely without risking further gas exposure to bystanders. Ideally there would be a containment unit nearby, but taking the extra seconds to check could mean life or death for any of the people on the ground choked by the gasses. Temporary containment, then. Ah, there was something.
Before the villain can react, before they even realize he’s there, All Might has gathered the people at their feet and moved them out of the blast radius. Just as quickly he jumps back to the villain and grasps them by the shirt tail, delivering a powerful Detroit Smash into the air to disperse the gasses and simultaneously knock the villain unconscious from the wind force. His next move is to toss the villain into a nearby dumpster and pinch the lid closed.
All that’s left after that is showmanship. All Might laughs a deep and mighty laugh and delivered his signature catchphrase and faces that had moments ago been creased with fear and anxiety melted away to joy. He helps transport the unconscious victims to the nearest hospital (he’s faster than any ambulance after all) and returns to put the villain in a proper containment suit.
After signing a few autographs and ensuring that the scene was under control All Might launched himself back into the air, coming to rest on a building top a few streets away. He stilled himself and listened to the sounds of the city around him waking up.
If he’d had the foresight to grab his wallet before he ran out from his apartment he could stop and grab more groceries, make breakfast for Inko when she woke up. As is his pantry was a bit bare. All Might- Toshinori generally had tamago gohan for breakfast, but he wanted to treat Inko to something more sumptuous.
Just thinking of her made his heart beat faster and a stupid grin grow on his face. Ah, he’s fucked, really. He knows he’s fallen for her, but how far can this go? Can he let her move in with him, continue to romance her, spend long evenings with her, all without mentioning ‘oh, by the way, I’m also the number one hero All Might’.
Yeah, he’d consider that to be dubious consent. He should end this before things got out of control. There was no reason to hurt Inko because he was an idiot who was attempting to have a relationship when he couldn’t manage it.
Toshinori wished, and not for the first time, that he had someone he could talk to about this and get advice. There wasn’t really anyone, the idea of asking Gran Torino for advice on how to lead a double life was laughable. His old teacher terrified him to the current day. The list of people who knew about his dual life was slim, there was-
Hmm. It’d take a bit more before he’d go to dear Shuzenji-san for relationship advice. She’d had enough of him back in school, patching up his wounds and loudly wondering how a quirkless boy in general education got his bones broken so many times. She hadn’t been fooled for a minute.
Toshinori also had fond memories of the time she’d taken Gran Torino to task over his state. Even his teacher hadn’t been able to stand up to her fury. It’d been the only time he’d seen Gran Torino run away, ahem, ‘make a tactical retreat’ and it had been something to remember.
After waiting a reasonable time All Might slipped down to ground level and became Toshinori again, heading to the local precinct to fill out paperwork for All Might’s early morning rescue. The officers were all polite and thanked him for getting the paperwork turned in so promptly. A bit of a jab, if Sir Nighteye didn’t help him with the paperwork it would regularly be late.
It was around six thirty by the time he returned to his silent little apartment. Toshinori initially had thought of just going straight to the kitchen and starting breakfast and make an early start to his day, but he doesn’t get too far. Instead of being curled up in bed where he left her Inko’s curled up on the couch, wrapped in all the blankets from his bed. Him opening the door wakes her up and she peers at him sleepily. “What’re you doing?” He asked, mystified.
“You didn’t get enough sleep.” She said as she nestled down into her blankets. “Don’t lie, you’re just gonna go about your day unless I stop you.”
He never thought someone calling out his bullshit would make him feel so light and airy inside. Toshinori laughed and scooped Inko and all the blankets off the couch and walked down the hallway to his bedroom. “So you slept on the couch to make sure I couldn’t sneak in?”
“Someone’s gotta take care of you.” She mumbled into his chest. Toshinori sat on the bed and eventually got her to let go of the blankets so he could distribute them around them both. “Might as well be me.” Toshinori snorted, but it was easy to curl around her and go to sleep.
He doesn’t wake until after noon, which is a first. The only time he’s not up early is when he’s legitimately unconscious. Inko’s been awake for a while it seems, idly scrolling on her phone in his embrace. “You could’ve woke me up.” Toshinori mumbled against her head. She reached a hand up and patted his face.
“I can tell you needed the sleep. Besides, laying here is comfortable. You’re very warm.” Inko put her phone off to the side and wiggled about until she was facing Toshinori. “C’mere, you.”
He lets Inko pull him down for kisses and knows he needs to either end this or tell her, but he’s always had a weak heart.
“We should get lunch.” Inko suggested after she pulled away from him. “I don’t want to wear my dress from last night out though.”
“I’d offer you my wardrobe, but I’m almost two feet taller than you.” Toshinori stretched out his legs, toes edging over the foot of the bed. “I could run and buy you something.”
Inko went to his closet anyway and somehow managed to make one of his sleeveless shirts look like a dress using a belt. Toshinori tried to ignore how much he liked that, her taking his clothes like they were her own.
Before they go out for lunch they make a quick stop at Hisashi’s place to pick up Izuku. “Yeah, Ectoplasm is larger than I thought he’d be. I don’t know what I was expecting because when I opened the door and saw him I just... I just shut it back in his face.” Hisashi laughed nervously, looking a bit manic. “Asked him for his autograph, he said he would if I gave him back his kid.”
Izuku is happy to be picked up by his mother, but almost immediately holds his arms out to Toshinori. What else can he do but take the boy into his arms? Izuku quickly cuddles up to him and pulled at his shirt collar happily. “I thank you again for watching all the children, Hisashi.”
“Yeah, hey, no problem. Anytime. Can you get me that guy’s number, by the way?” Hisashi smoothed his hair back as Inko got the rest of Izuku’s things together. “I mean, hey, baby playdates and also it’s so cool to talk to actual heroes.”
“You’re such a fanboy.” Inko said fondly.
Still, Toshinori promises to ask Ectoplasm if he can pass on his contact information and he, Inko, and little Izuku go out for lunch. They spend the time together pleasantly and Toshinori truly feels that he could spend the rest of his life just watching this woman and her son be happy. It fills him with warmth and at the same time dread.
He’s so fucked.
Sir Nighteye was generally the second person into the agency after Yagi-san, but found himself running later than usual. Yagi-san did his best, but sometimes the sheer paperwork that All Might created was too much for him to deal with. Nighteye had taken some of it off of his hands over the weekend and spent the morning filing everything.
As he heads into the agency his phone chimes an alarm. Ah, the messaging system between himself and the other assistants.
Edgeshot: uh hey nighteye you tell us when it’s all clear to go into HQ k
Nighteye: What are you talking about.
Edgeshot: sunflower bad mood.
Jeanist: It’s very overpowering.
Edgeshot: real bad. like. I dunno what to compare it to.
Jeanist: It reminds me of when Saffron retired two years back.
Nighteye winced; ‘retired’ had been the polite term for Saffron stepping down. In reality their agency had personally found proof that Saffron had been using her influence to skirt the law. For someone like Yagi who lived and breathed heroes that kind of betrayal of his trust was hard to heal. He’d been mopey for weeks and that presence had hung in the air of the agency.
Ectoplasm: Or you two could, oh, I don’t know, ask him what’s wrong.
Edgeshot: i don’t see you in there mr i know everything
Ectoplasm: I’m catching up on paperwork at home. Boss cleared it.
Nighteye: Thank you for the warning. I’ll see if I can find out what’s wrong.
Walking inside the agency felt like entering a hospital ward. There was such a feeling of foreboding and misery. While dear Yagi might be their sunflower, a bright and shining ray of sunshine, he held a presence in him somewhat similar to All Might. When All Might entered a room you felt relieved, you knew that he was there and things would be all right. Yagi’s presence was more gentle, he made you feel at home. And when he was feeling bad? Well, that sank into the air.
Yagi sat at his desk, forehead pressed to it’s surface. Nighteye carefully backed out the door, went down the block to he nearest coffee shop, and ordered the largest and fanciest hot chocolate that they sold before returning. He strode through the office despite the depressing aura and placed the hot chocolate down on Yagi’s desk. “Talk to me.” This wasn’t the time to ease around the problem.
“I’m an idiot.” Yagi muttered into the desk. After a moment one large hand came up and felt around for the hot chocolate. Nighteye helpfully pushed it towards him. At least that made the man sit up even if he slouched and stared at the ground. There were tears in his eyes.
Ah, this was bad. Yagi had the mopes. Nighteye moved forward and perched on his desk. “Talk to me.” He repeated, nudging Yagi with the toe of his shoe. “Why do you think you’re an idiot.”
Yagi shrunk back into himself, holding his hot chocolate desperately. Really, he folded himself up into his chair, somehow managing to even get his feet up onto it and he straight up huddled. He mumbled something into his knees.
“Could you repeat that in a tone that I can hear?” Nighteye said patiently, waiting for Yagi to open up to him. He would, with work, but initially the man always seemed like he didn’t feel like he had the right to tell other people his problems.
Slowly Yagi tips his legs to the side and peers over at Nighteye, tears still in his eyes. “I’m in love.” He said sadly, like he’d proclaimed he was a villain responsible for terrorizing the town. Nighteye resisted the urge to face-palm.
“And you are upset with this because...?”
More muttering and looking at the ground, fiddling with his fancy hot chocolate. Eventually he takes a sip and perks up ever so slightly. That’s a win in Nighteye’s book. “I... I have a lot of secrets. Things I keep safe from everyone.” Yagi murmured slowly. It was true that he had a lot of clearance with all of them and All Might himself. “And there are things that someone dating me should know. But I... I do not think I can bring myself to say them. And I can’t ask someone to love me without knowing all of me. It wouldn’t be right.”
“Whatever the secret is, it can’t be that bad.” Nighteye tried to reassure his coworker but the man just shrunk back behind his hot chocolate. “I’m finding it hard to imagine any secret could stop someone from caring for you.”
“Really?” Yagi’s voice is shaky but his feet come down off of his chair sharply. The hot chocolate is put on his desk with a thud and Yagi stares up at him. For a moment there’s a look on his face that makes something akin to fear slide up Nighteye’s spine. “Do you promise not to judge?”
“Of course.” There was nothing Yagi could say that would change his opinion of the man. He’d proven over the years to be a good man and a loyal friend. “You can tell me anything.”
Yagi worried at his lower lip with his teeth for a moment before saying four simple words that bring everything Nighteye thinks he knows about the man crashing down. “I have a quirk.”
He has a quirk. Why would he always say he was quirkless, then? There were always snide remarks passed his way (until the speaker learned that his assistants would be having none of that, thank you) and Yagi had mentioned being bulled as a child. If he had a quirk of any type why wouldn’t he say it to escape that? Why did he seem okay with letting others take care of him, lagging behind so that.. so that..
So that All Might could appear.
Suddenly every single odd thing about Yagi smacked him in the face. The rumpled, too big suits. How he’d somehow always be there right after the day was saved to take care of the paperwork. How he always had All Might’s ear, a suggestion to Yagi was as good as telling their boss about it. That presence that both men had, how just them entering a room filled it with emotion. The frequently swapped cell phones. When Yagi would step out and a few minutes later All Might would crash in.
There’d been debate among all the assistants over Yagi’s relation to All Might. Some thought he was a sibling or cousin, perhaps a good friend. The idea that their dear sunflower could be their boss had been too preposterous to even entertain. Somehow they’d seen just what the man had wanted them to see.
“All Might.” Nighteye said softly, looking to his boss. Yagi nodded and then suddenly he’s not Yagi anymore, he’s standing tall and proud with his bangs swept back and that signature smile on his face. Somehow he’s more muscled and he actually fills out the suit that moments before was rumpled and too large. Then, just as quickly as he was All Might, he shrank back down into Yagi.
When he sat back down he looked so very tired.
“All Might is the Symbol of Peace.” He explained softly, fussing with his hot chocolate. “A symbol has to be unreachable and held to a higher standard. A symbol can’t have a personal life. So I...” Yagi gestured helplessly with his hands, gaze locked to the floor.
Nighteye stared at the man who was so much more than he ever expected. “So every time you went and locked yourself in the ‘Boss’s office’, or you had an upset stomach, you’d really be excusing yourself to be a hero?” Yagi nodded, head still down. “And after every fight Yagi would appear and fret over us.”
Yagi looked up miserably. “I have to be All Might, and he can’t express that level of concern. All Might can hold up buildings and protect you from blows, but could you imagine him giving you pep talks, or helping with your personal problems, making sure you’re eating? I’m All Might, but I was Yagi first.”
Nighteye sighed and momentarily cursed that his mentor was such a complicated man. So much more complicated than he’d been this morning. Nighteye texted a quick ‘Agency’s closed, talking it out with Yagi’ to the group before turning his phone off. His next step was to lock the Agency’s doors and put up a quick closed sign on the window. Yagi watched him move with a closed expression on his face.
Swiping his chair from the shared office Nighteye dragged it out and sat in it backwards, resting his chin on the back of the chair. “All right. Tell me everything. Why are you pretending to be quirkless?”
Yagi winced a bit and sighed. “I was quirkless until my first year of high school. The year before I’d met a wonderful hero who...” He closed his eyes and sighed. “She saved my life when I was foolish and she listened to me. I told her my thoughts and my dream. She trained me, taught me what she could, and she gave me her quirk.”
“She gave you... How?”
It seems like once he starts it’s impossible for Yagi to stop his story. He tells Nighteye everything, from the origins of One for All and All for One to the too soon death of his unnamed master. Going through high school as he learned about the quirk he suddenly had, the secrecy he’d started even then. Any question that Nighteye can think of Yagi answers with an exhausted sort of honesty.
“How many people know all of this?” Nighteye asked eventually. Yagi fiddled with his empty cup, slowly worrying it to pieces.
“Few. A few government officials, a few medical professionals, Gran Torino, Recovery Girl, Nezu. And now you.” Yagi sighed and rubbed his brow. “And Inko, if I tell her. If I continue this.”
Surprising Ectoplasm wasn’t on that short list. “Why do you think she’s the one to tell?”
Yagi’s eyes went warm and his smile bashful. “I’ve always wanted to save the world, to make it a better place for people to live in. A world where they can smile and live in peace. But Inko and Izuku, they make me want to create a world where I can do those things too. It’s selfish.”
All of the assistants had been excited when Yagi started dating this woman, he’d always seemed so lonely. And if Yagi was, then All Might was lonely behind his smile. Nighteye stood and reached a hand out to clasp Yagi’s shoulder.
Inko sat on the guest bed in her parents house and stared at Toshinori’s contact info. She rubbed idly at her face, wiping off the tear trails at the corner of her eyes. It’d been a particularly bad day at the house with Mother letting her know just what she thought about Inko spending the weekend at her new boyfriend’s.
“While you just left your baby with his father? After you took him away? And now you’re rubbing it in dear Hisashi’s face that you’ve moved on and he never meant anything to you?”
“You’re always like this, talking about things you don’t understand! The split was mutual! He wants me to be happy, he volunteered to take his son!”
“It’s always about you, isn’t it? You know he would say anything to make you happy, he always did!”
All in all, a normal day at the house. Mother was too convinced of her own opinion to be persuaded any other way, and she’d decided that Inko broke Hisashi’s heart. She’d always been fond of Inko’s ex husband from the time they were children. Once their separation was announced Mother had decided it was entirely Inko’s fault.
She tried to calm herself down, tell herself that this was just the opinion of someone who grew up in a time where you stayed married to someone no matter what. You didn’t break up a marriage just because both people in it weren’t happy. Still, it both hurt and upset her to hear those things said about her.
Izuku scooted around the floor with his toys, occasionally looking up at his mother and babbling at her. It made her smile to hear him call her mama, brought the good kind of tears to her eyes. Izuku pulled himself up to stand and gripped her pant leg, giggling up at her. “Oh, you make everything better little buddy.” She mumbled, scooping him up onto her lap. “What do you think I should do? Should I call Toshi?”
Her baby blinked a few times with those big sweet eyes and broke into a fit of giggles. Inko ruffled his curls and smiled back at him. Nothing like a cute baby to get yourself feeling better. She dialed Toshinori and requested a video call.
“Hello~” She sang out at her most cheerful when he answered, Izuku happily squealing at the phone. Toshinori looked a bit peaky and looked like he’d been crying. “What’s the matter?”
“I could ask the same. Hello, Izuku!” Toshinori distracted himself waving at Izuku, who burbled and smacked at the phone. “But I had a bit of a bad day. Talked it out with Nighteye.”
“You’re talking, good- Izuku, we don’t eat phones.” Toshinori laughed as Izuku angrily grunted when Inko pulled the phone away from him. “Mother and I had a fight. Some things were said that were unkind.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” His eyes are so kind and his smile sweet. “Would you like to meet me for dinner?”
Inko sighed and smiled at him gratefully. “That would be wonderful. Where?”
Toshinori named the place and Inko promised to meet him. Of course, Inko leaving her room caused another fight between her and Mother. By the end Izuku is crying and Inko is both exhausted and late for dinner. She made it to the restaurant only a bit late and promptly handed Izuku over to Toshinori. “Please watch him.” Inko thought she did a good job of keeping her voice steady but from his expression she hadn’t. “I need to make a phone call.”
After that it’s right back out the door to call Hisashi. “Hey. Can you possibly call my mother and have her not throw my things in the street?” If Inko’s voice cracks, well, Hisashi won’t judge.
“Ah, shit, what happened now?” His voice is calming and steady and Inko grips her phone like it’s her lifeline.
“If I’m gonna slut around with some guy I barely know well I’m just not welcome in her home anymore.” She ignored Hisashi’s quick inhale and kept talking. “And we fought and yelled, and Dad agreed with her because of course he did, and Izuku started crying and I walked out. I don’t know what to do.”
“You can come stay with me until you find an apartment, I told you before. You’re never an inconvenience, you’re my best friend.” Inko teared up a bit at his kindness and his gentle words. “It might even make Her calm down a bit. But I’ll call her, try to talk her down, and we’ll get you out of there.”
“Thanks. Thanks, ‘Shi. I owe you. Bye.” Inko sniffed and rubbed her face, knowing there was no chance for her to remove the traces of her crying but she didn’t want to go back in to see Toshinori with snot dripping down her face.
But of course when she turns around there he is, holding onto her baby and somehow looking both heartbroken and furious. “Your mother is kicking you out because we’re dating?”
“My Mother is kicking me out because she blames me for the divorce and thinks if I have to go back with Hisashi I’ll get remarried. That I’m dating someone is just more fuel for the fire.” Inko gently squeezed his forearm and tried to smile. “Just.. Lets forget about this for a while, have dinner.”
Toshinori looked conflicted before blurting out: “Move in with me.” He looks as surprised to say the words as Inko is to hear them. His face quickly sets and he nods, locking himself into this chosen path. “You’ve been to my place, I care about you greatly, and I don’t want anyone who hurts you to be able to win even a small argument.”
“You want me to move in with you to spite my Mother?” Inko snorted and smiled, it was hard not to. “Y’know I’ve done worse things out of spite. Let’s go.”
She has the foresight to at least warn Hisashi, and the man meets them at the bottom of her parent’s building. “This is going to be a hilarious disaster. Like, I almost want to film this.” He said, reaching out for Izuku. “But we go in, get Inko’s stuff, get out.”
“Mm. I’ll take the rear. You two first.” Toshinori said with a bland smile. Oh, he was plotting something, Inko was sure of it.
Mother looks happy to see Hisashi walk in holding Izuku and has a smile on her face that means she thinks she’s won. “It’s so good to see you again!” She says to him, all smiles and joy now that her favorite son in law is there.
“Uh huh. Hey, we won’t be too long. Just need to get Inko’s stuff.” He turns back towards the hall and calls out. “Hey, Toshi-kun you wanna come in?”
“Of course.” There’s no cheer in her boyfriend’s voice as he ducks through the doorway. With how he slouches and tries to take up less space sometimes even Inko forgets just how imposing Toshinori can be. With him standing tall and glowering anyone would be cowed. It’s certainly enjoyable to watch Mother shrink back, and even Dad doesn’t step up from the couch. He’s got them stunned. “Thank you for helping, Hisashi-kun.”
It’s clear that Mother has no idea what’s going on as she watches the three of them quickly pack up what Inko has in that spare room. Most of it’s Izuku’s toys and whatnot, most of her belongings are in storage. While they pack Toshinori and Hisashi chat back and forth about little things though Toshinori still seems edgy.
Still, they escape with all of Inko’s belongings and without a fight and dinner consists of takeout at Toshinori’s apartment. Afterwords Hisashi helps her set up the guest room with her and Izuku’s things while Toshinori quietly and somewhat desperately texted Nighteye.
YagiT: I am the world’s biggest idiot.
Nighteye: What did you do.
YagiT: In regards to today’s conversation regarding moving my relationship along.
Nighteye doesn’t respond for a minute and Toshinori can almost picture his assistant heavily putting his head on his desk.
Nighteye: You didn’t tell her.
YagiT: I didn’t tell her. Also, I suggested that she move in with me.
Nighteye: Yeah. You’re the world’s biggest idiot.
Nighteye: You need to tell her before this goes further.
YagiT: I know. But she needed help.
Nighteye: You are making my life much more stressful than it was yesterday.
Nighteye: Don’t be sorry, be better.
Hisashi threw himself down on the couch beside Toshinori and sighed. “So today’s been a day, huh?”
“You have no idea.”
I'm pretty sure Nezu has been at UA since the dawn of time. Just doin' his thing. Being a bear-mouse-eldritch abomination and terrifying all the students and teachers.
I can't imagine that Recovery Girl and Gran Torino got along at all. I'm personally enjoying the idea that she gave him all sorts of unholy hell when a 'quirkless' boy shows up with multiple broken bones. I'm tempted to write a prequel with Toshinori in school.
Y'know Toshi it's real bad you let your girlfriend move in with you without telling her about your secret identity. Something's gonna change that'll make you have to show her, you know that right?
Chapter 7: No more lies
He has to tell her, even if the reaction she gives is negative. Toshinori can't live a lie, not with her.
“Can we talk over dinner?” Toshinori asks at breakfast, carefully doling out Izuku’s food. He had a good sampling to choose from and everything cut to bite sizes so he could feed himself. The boy burbled as he grabbed some fruit. “There are some things we need to work out.”
“Of course.” Inko smiled briefly at him before going back to packing Izuku’s bag for the day. “Do you need me to grab anything from the store for dinner?”
“Ah, I shouldn’t. If you want to you can look in the refrigerator and see if there’s anything missing that you’d like.” He always kept enough supplies on hand for himself, but now there were two more people (well, a person and a quarter, really) living in his apartment. He’d be making more grocery runs for sure.
Inko hummed a bit under her breath and nodded to him. “All right, will do. Ah, I have to leave soon, your place is farther away and I need to catch the bus.” She tugged on his sleeve and dragged him down just enough for her to pop up onto her tiptoes and kiss his cheek. Toshinori couldn’t stop himself from gently touching that cheek with his fingertips any more than he could control the blush from spreading on his face. “Okay, I’ll see you tonight! C’mon, Zuzu.”
Toshinori leaned against the counter and hid his smile behind a mug of tea. “Have a good day.”
“I will!” With one last grin both the woman and her boy are out the door and Toshinori can’t stop himself from staring after them with a sigh.
All he has to do is get through one day of work and he’ll bring everything up with Inko. Hopefully she’ll react well. He hates to think of the worst possible scenario, of her being betrayed by his inaction and leaving his life. The warmth and joy that she and Izuku bring to his life has quickly became necessary. Losing it would be devastating.
He makes his way into work and prepares for a normal day, catching up on paperwork and darting out of the office if need be. It might be a bit easier to duck out now that Nighteye knew about him. Aaah, should he inform the other assistants? Truthfully, he let Nighteye in on the secret because he just had a feeling. Years of working the hero lifestyle had sharpened his intuition. He could see Ectoplasm moving on, as well as Jeanist and Edgeshot once their careers took off. But Nighteye seemed content to stay.
Things are slow in the office and it’s time well spent pulling out the plans for the proposed Might Tower. There’d been a vacant high rise several blocks away, and getting that large a space would have room for all of the various parts of his agency. The copyright department, the merchandise department, the PR team could be brought under the same roof. A few lower floors for visitors to bring in tourism with a museum and a cafe, enough space on upper floors to dedicate to the various non profits. He could likely even have an in house clinic. While Toshinori did love this small brownstone that his actual hero agency was in, he wasn’t blind to the fact that a larger building would better serve everything he’d been working on over the years.
He’s engrossed enough in looking over the plans and thinking about the future that the sound of the door opening surprises him. Generally, the ‘Building not open to the public’ sign would weed out all but the most determined of fans, and even then they run at the first sign of Toshinori contacting the police. The group that walks in doesn’t look like tourists, with their outlandish costumes they are clearly heroes.
But, goodness, despite their various costumes covering up some or all of their faces they just look so young! Either Toshinori was getting old or each graduating class was getting progressively younger. “Hello, how may I assist you today?” Toshinori smiled politely as he rolled up the plans and pushed them back into their tube.
It appears that the young woman is their leader, as she’s the one to walk up to the desk. My goodness, her costume is a bit risque for one so young. If she wasn’t wearing a bodysuit under it, well, she’d barely be wearing anything at all. “I certainly hope you can.” She slid an envelope marked with the agency’s seal over to him. “We all received these from this agency. Since we were in the neighborhood we thought that we would stop in and make an appointment or perhaps catch All Might in the office.”
Toshinori nodded to the envelope and got the woman’s permission before he slipped the letter out. It was a standard form from the agency sent to prospective assistants. He looked it over and admired it. Expertly done, down to his own signature as All Might. It was a fantastic forgery, he honestly was impressed.
“Ah, Miss Kayama, is it?” The young woman smiled and nodded. “Fantastic. Mr. Might isn’t in the office today, but if you will all show me your letters I’ll see if I can contact him in the field.”
The blonde young man with glasses brings his information up first, followed by a more nervous young man in a costume that looked more like a medieval suit of armor than a hero outfit. The last young man in a black jumpsuit and a hood gives him his letter with a bit of reluctance. Toshinori carefully excused himself back into the staff room.
Once he went over the rest of the names he laughed a bit. He’d seen Yamada at UA’s previous sports festival and Iida was from a long line of heroes. Aizawa and Kayama weren’t known off hand, but Toshinori knew that if he looked up UA’s admittance records they would be current students. So, not even old enough to be assistants. Why were they there, trying to pretend to be older?
He had to admit, he was intrigued. His first instinct was to call Nezu and have him deal with this. Truant students were his responsibility. But the question that he needed answered was why? Surely they didn’t think that All Might would be so obtuse that he’d accept four students from UA as assistants?
While deciding on what to do Toshinori carefully filled four mugs with tea and brought them out on a tray. The boy in the black jumpsuit, Aizawa, was close to the door and from the hushed hisses that stopped as soon as Toshinori entered was likely arguing with his companions. “Here, please have some refreshments.” Toshinori said cheerfully, handing each teenager a mug. He gestured for Aizawa to sit and the dark haired boy does begrudgingly.
Toshinori stood by the door with a big smile on his face and very calmly and deliberately locked the door. Four sets of eyes were instantly locked on him. “You performed quite well at last years’ sports festival, young Mister Iida.” Iida, Ingenium if he remembers correctly, doesn’t show any emotion because of his helmet covered head but his shoulders slump. “I am Yagi Toshinori, All Might’s assistant. I send out all offers to prospective heroes.”
“I told you this wouldn’t work.” Aizawa sighed and leaned against the wall. He gives Toshinori a flat, unimpressed look.
Iida stands and gives a quick bow to Toshinori. “I apologize, this is my fault.”
“Actually it was Yamada’s idea.”
“Shōta if you throw me under the bus I’ll drag you under with me.”
Toshinori bit back a laugh at the two teenagers sniping at each other. Ah, youth. “What were you hoping to accomplish?” He asked the group, eyes coming to rest on young Iida. “You’ve skipped school and forged documents. Not exactly heroic, there.”
The young man took off his helmet so that he could look up at Toshinori with a plain face. He doesn’t flinch away which gives him a few points as far as Toshinori’s concerned. “I apologize for the deception. We, well, that is to say...” He stumbles on his words and takes a moment to arrange his thoughts.
Kayama steps in where he trails off. There’s not an ounce of fear in this girl. “Shō-kun and I got the short end of the stick in internships last semester.” She said without preamble, earning a glare from Aizawa. “Iida-kun has his family name to help him, and Yamada-kun has his performance in the last sports festival. But Shō-kun and I, our quirks aren’t flashy. And Yamanda-kun....”
Flashy described him, that was for sure. “It was my idea.” He admits, confirming what his friend had said earlier. “I thought, hey, maybe we can just get an audience with the big guy! Talk to him, get some advice. So we, uh, did some creative editing to acceptance letters I found posted online.”
A desperate, far fetched plan. Certainly they knew that it wouldn’t work. That meant that the alternative to trying must be worse than not trying.
“Where did you two intern at?” Toshinori asked them, back still to the door.
Kayama sighed and looked off to the side. “I spent my time with Nightwish, and Shō-kun was with Ippan.”
That explained this stupid plan of somehow getting All Might to notice them. There were a great many agencies that took UA interns to teach them and let them grow into the next generation of heroes. Then there were the agencies who saw the intern sheets as free labor requests. Sadly, Ippan’s agency had gained that sort of reputation. Nightwish was just... Well, to say that he should’ve retired years ago would be generous. Neither student would have gotten the experience they needed from their mentors. “Did Ippan even fill out your progress report?” Toshinori asked Aizawa evenly.
The youth shrugged and tried to look unaffected, but he wasn’t a master at hiding his feelings yet. Frustration and resentment warred for dominance in the stance of his shoulders and the firm set of his mouth. “It doesn’t matter.” He sounds brittle and disillusioned, and he’s too damn young to sounds like he knows that life is made of long periods of struggle with too few bright spots.
He remembers back in school, watching from the outside as the hero classes came in proud and tall and how quickly that was broken out of them. The teachers knew, likely as this boy’s teachers did, that overconfident students made for dead heroes. They pushed you and threw you into situations you were too young to cope with in the hopes that if they broke you enough times in training that you’d survive in the wild. He remembered the manic nervous laughter in the libraries around especially stressful times.
Iida would be fine, he had a good heart and a good quirk and a prestigious family to fall back on if either of those failed. Yamada had made a good reputation for himself and apparently had a good internship. He had a feeling about Kayama, from the way she held herself and the bright fire in her eyes she might be able to claw her way back up without outside help. As for Aizawa, there was something in him that made Toshinori realize just what this group’s stupid plan to get All Might’s attention really was.
A last ditch call for help. All Might had always been good about hearing those.
“Most agencies wouldn’t look kindly on what you’ve done. Forgery isn’t something that should be rewarded.” Yamada pressed his lips together, Iida hung his head, Kayama looked resigned, and Aizawa looked at him like he was ready for another adult to disappoint him. “I haven’t contacted UA and I’m not going to. I’m certain that you’ll handle that yourself. I have all of your names, I know where you go to school.”
He spoke evenly and gently, like he was trying to calm a herd of easily spooked animals. “So. I’ll be watching. I think the world has enough strong heroes. What it needs are kind ones who watch out for each other, clever ones. If you keep your noses clean and your performance Plus Ultra, I’m certain that the agency can find spots to mentor you.”
There’s surprise in Aizawa’s bloodshot red eyes as he looks up and up at Toshinori. His brows furrow and isn’t he just a suspicious little one? “Why.” He asks flatly.
“Shōta, maybe you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Yamada hissed, earning himself a sharp elbow in the ribs from his friend.
Toshinori hummed as he thought just what to say to this young man. How he’d seen youngsters crash and burn at UA and a few years later wind up on the streets, in police reports, or in body bags? How he wished that there’d been someone looking out for him that wasn’t Gran Torino, someone who would support him? He crouched down to be more on eye level with the young man and simply smiled. “You looked like you were asking for help.” Aizawa can’t keep eye contact with him for long, looking down. “Even secretaries help.”
Oh, dear. The young man doesn’t smile but he does give a slightly cheery grimace. Bless his heart. He wouldn’t be on magazine covers with that face. “Now, all of you sit and drink your tea. Have you eaten?” He gets some halfway mumbled responses. Well, that wouldn’t do.
And that’s why when Sir Nighteye comes into the office after lunch to work on paperwork he finds Yagi at his desk and four high school students hanging out in the lobby chatting with him as they finish lunch. Nighteye slowly pushed his glasses up his nose and stared at Yagi, who wilted a bit under his stare. “Why is the reception area full of teenagers?” He asked sternly.
Kayama, bless her heart, seems to puff up a bit at the tone he takes with Toshinori. He just clucked his tongue and smiled at her before telling Nighteye, honestly: “Because I’ve lost all control over my life.” He said cheerfully.
Nighteye looked at each teenager and then to Toshinori before shaking his head and going into the assistant’s office. “Fair enough.”
Toshinori giggled a bit, joined by Kayama and Yamada. They continue to talk, telling Yagi about their teachers and their classmates and their quirks. It’s a shame that UA’s exams seem to be so stacked towards overwhelming power, because both Aizawa and Kayama’s quirks would be ideal in the workplace. To be able to put people to sleep with ease, or to erase quirks temporarily? Those were fantastic quirks.
“I got through the entrance exam on rescue points.” Aizawa eventually muttered, laying flat on his back on the floor with his head pillowed in Yamada’s lap. “I’ve lagged behind ever since.”
“Rescuing people is the most important part about being a hero. You’re too young to remember- don’t you groan at me.” He said seriously to young Iida who at least pretended to look contrite. “When I was younger than you being a hero was all about civil service. Community service, taking care of people. That’s something that’s been lost, I think.”
Sometime he wondered if that was his fault, or if the fate of heroism was something unchangeable. All Might had affected many things.
Eventually the teenagers leave, Aizawa being the last out the door. He doesn’t say much, but those intense eyes are on Toshinori. After a minute he does give a smile, a very small one. It was things like that that made heroism worth it.
Around five when Toshinori is closing up the office Ectoplasm and Edgeshot head out to patrol together. He wishes them a good night, focused more on heading home and making dinner. How odd it is, wanting to leave the office on time.
He heads home and beats Inko there, pulling out pots and pans and starting on dinner. Tonkatsu is something he can make well and generally is well received. Inko gets in shortly after he does and after setting Izuku up with his toys joins him in the kitchen.
It’s nice like this, sharing a small space, almost bumping into one another as they work to complete dinner. Inko laughs and elbows him, smiling up at him with pink cheeks. His phone buzzes an alert from the HeroNet app, heroes requested downtown. Toshinori moved back from the counter a bit and looked to see who was responding. Ah, two of his boys checked in that they were heading there. Good, Ectoplasm is an excellent influence on the younger heroes and he and Edgeshot pair well together.
He put his phone down on the table when Izuku yelled in his direction. Clearly it was no good if Toshinori wasn’t paying attention. “I’ve got this, you got him?” Inko asked and he nodded.
“Yes, what is it?” He asked the baby, sitting down on the floor with him. Izuku made an inquisitive sound before offering over one of the blocks on the ground. “Ah, thank you. It’s very good to share.”
Izuku regarded him seriously for a minute, chewing on an All Might toy. He pulled it out of his mouth and stared at it before offering that to Toshinori as well. “Hee. T’ank ‘oo.”
Ah, and wasn’t that the most adorable thing. “Thank you.” He echoed as he took the doll, standing it up on it’s legs and bouncing it around on the floor. “You’re getting to be a chatterbox, huh?”
The little one pursed his lips and hummed. “Aw Maw.” He took the toy back from Toshinori and smiled. “T’ank oo, Toey.”
...Oh, goodness. Was that Izuku trying to say his name? “You’re welcome, Izuku.”
“Toey, up.” It appeared that it was, because the baby held his arms up and made grabby hands. Toshinori scooped him up and held him tight, saying a quiet little prayer of thanks that this entire situation had happened to him, and prays that the news he gives Inko won’t ruin everything.
Inko put plates down and scooped Izuku up, putting him in his chair. “I figure we need to get a grocery roster done, and discuss chores and cooking. Sleeping arraignments as well. I know you’re uncomfortable with some things and I don’t want to push you.”
She’d slept in the guest bed the night before because Toshinori had fallen asleep on the couch sometime after Hisashi had left. He’d woken up stiff and uncomfortable, but he didn’t feel like he’d pushed her to do anything that she wouldn’t be all right with. Toshinori sighed and looked at the table, trying to think of a good way to bring this up and not ruin everything. “Like I said this morning, I have something I want to tell you.”
Inko tried to get Izuku to hold a spoon and eventually gave that up, letting him eat with his hands. “If you’re actually into men and just looking for a beard, I think I have to let Hisashi have the first swing at you.”
“What? No, no.” Toshinori rubbed his forehead. Ugh. This wasn’t going to be easy. “It’s about my job, and, er, my employer.”
“Okay. Whatever it is, you can tell me. I’m sure it’s not illegal.” Then Inko’s mouth squished to one side, as if she was trying to picture Toshinori and All Might in illegal activities.
Okay. Deep breaths. You can do this, Toshinori. You survived growing up, you survived losing Nana, you survived Gran Torino’s homeroom. You could tell your girlfriend the truth. “The truth is...” His eyes darted up to meet hers and he said all in a rush: “Uh actually All Might has a secret identity.”
Inko’s brows furrow and she looks at him, not picking up what he was laying down. “Is that something you should be telling me? I mean, that’s his secret.”
“It’s my secret. I’m All Might.”
Unlike with telling Nighteye there’s no sudden giddiness in his heart, no release of pressure. He feels sick to his stomach because, well, Inko didn’t ask for this kind of bullshit when she flirted with the man she sat beside on the bus. The man she tried to protect, who watched her baby. God, he was such an idiot. This was never going to work out.
“You’re... All Might.” Inko said slowly, letting it parse. He can see her fitting things together just like Nighteye had.
A loud alert from the second phone he carried went off and Toshinori stood, taking the phone from his pocket and swiping open HeroNet. Immediately this situation no longer held priority. The threat that Edgeshot and Ectoplasm had reported to was no longer categorized as mild. It was now labeled an extreme threat and tagged with a Code Blue.
One of his boys was down.
“I’m sorry. You deserve better than this.” Toshinori told Inko as he activated One for All. His bangs swept back, all of his muscles flared and bulked out just a bit more. One for All made him always at his peak. “But this is who I am.” It’s two long strides to the balcony and he slid the door open, launching himself into the air faster than the human eye could see.
Izuku stared after him and pointed. “Aw Maw.” He said in the direction of the open window.
For her part, all Inko could do was stare. “Oh my God.” She said flatly to an audience of an empty apartment and her son. “I’m dating All Might.”
Dinner forgotten, Inko moved over to the TV and turned the news on. It was set to a local news channel, where a reporter on the street looked harried and worse for wear. “And the Symbol of Peace has arrived on the scene to contain the situation.” She said, looking behind herself in awe of All Might as most people did. “Edgeshot is taking the opportunity to remove Ectoplasm from the scene to the medical team waiting nearby!”
The camera has to stay behind police tape as All Might fights a villain in the background. But Edgeshot, the one that looked like a ninja and had apparently given Izuku a few little baby hoodies of his costume to wear, was dragging Ectoplasm over. And he was...
That was a lot of blood.
“Hey, c’mon, don’t put this on TV man.” Edgeshot had spotted the reporter and looked pretty exasperated behind his ninja mask. How old was he? With his shock paled face and wide eyes he looked barely old enough to be out of high school.
The camera man apparently was contrite and turned the camera back to the fight, which All Might was ending rapidly. With a mighty punch the villain, some knife using man with a garish yellow and iridescent blue theme, was flat on his back.
“Be careful when you take him into custody, he’s got a poison quirk.” All Might said, surprisingly brusque. Normally he was always into grandstanding and quips and dad jokes, but the smile on his face seemed a bit forced as he made his way over to the ambulance. “I can make the trip faster!” He told the crew cheerily.
The medics nodded and stepped back, letting All Might pick up Ectoplasm. Then, like that, he’s gone: launched into the sky and apparently towards a hospital. “And All Might has left the scene-”
Inko switched the television off and stared at it’s blank screen. Y’know, her own mental stressing about this could wait. Ectoplasm, that sweet man that she’d just recently shared a karaoke night with, was badly injured. Inko absently cleaned food off the table; she wasn’t in a mood to eat now and Toshinori wasn’t home. She went through the motions of boxing up leftovers and putting them in the fridge.
As she was cleaning things up she spotted Toshinori’s phone on the table and stared. Hadn’t he... Wait. He had two phones? A phone for him and a phone for All Might? He was so extra. She picked the phone up and stared at it, warring with herself.
In the end, the desire to possibly help won out over the feeling that looking in his phone would be a gross abuse of privacy. It wasn’t locked, and she just stared at the background for a minute. A selfie of them at the karaoke bar, heads close together and grinning. She barely remembered that picture, but...
Of course he hadn’t told her he was All Might. That was practically a matter of national security. It explained why he’d been so standoffish with her, he probably thought that if she didn’t know he’d be taking advantage of her somehow. Toshinori was a good man above all else.
Looking in his contacts there wasn’t one for All Might. Of course not. Why would he have his boss’ number saved when he was that boss? Who else could she contact? Out of All Might’s assistants, who would be the best to get into contact with?
She pressed the call button on Sir Nigtheye’s contact information and held her breath. The man picked up quickly. “Wrong phone?” He asked flatly; what an intimidating voice!
“Ah, no, I’m sorry! I’m Midoriya Inko, T-Toshinori forgot his phone.” She said quickly, cringing as she did. This was a mistake. This was a giant mistake. “I, um, wanted to let him know and see if he needed anything? I saw on TV-”
Nighteye sighed loudly. “Did he tell you about him and All Might?”
“About... ? Yes. Right before he left. Out the window.” Because apparently that was a thing the symbol of peace did.
There was silence for a minute. “He needs clean clothes, hospitals generally don’t carry scrubs in his size. I’m on my way to the hospital right now, I’ll wait at the entrance and get you a pass. He’s likely going to be in a bad state.”
“He’s blaming himself, isn’t he?” Inko asked as she jogged to the bedroom, opening drawers until she found some nondescript clothes. Grey sweats, a white tee shirt, brand-less sneakers, socks and underwear. She didn’t know how much of Ectoplasm’s blood would be soaked into his clothes. Inko moved into the bathroom and grabbed shower gel and a towel as well, in case he needed to bathe. All of that was packed up into a gym bag.
“He has a secondary and less well known power, somehow every action by a villain is somehow his fault.” Nighteye said with a sardonic tone. “Give me your number, I’ll text the hospital’s address to you. I don’t mean to insult you, but you probably shouldn’t root around on his phone.”
It was a reasonable thought but her hackles rose just a bit. Calm down, he was likely upset as well. “That’s fair.” She allowed as she told him the number. “If you need anything else, let me know.”
“Unless you can get the barista at ‘Cool Beans’ to make coffee like she does for Yagi, I don’t think there’s anything else we need.”
“Is Jeanist there as well? I’ll get it done. Bye!” Inko hung up and put the phone in the bag and slung it over her shoulder. Her phone went off with a text from Nighteye, giving her the address for the hospital.
She scooped Izuku up and grabbed Toshinori’s keys and her purse before heading outside and calling a cab. After finding the address for a coffee shop called ‘Cool Beans’ she had the taxi head there. Along the way she practiced what she would say.
“Hey there, what can I get you?” The barista asked when Inko strode up to the counter.
“Hi, I’m really hoping you can help.” Inko smiled and hitched Izuku up farther on her side. “My boyfriend comes in here to get coffee for his office mates, and they could all use some right now. I don’t know what they get, though. Do you know him? About seven foot tall, blonde-”
“Oh, the big beefy sweetheart!” The barista perked up. “Yeah, I know their order! Who all is it for? He normally gets for, oh who is it... Ghost, Glasses, Ninja, Jorts, and Sunflower.”
She really was dating a gigantic loser. “Glasses, Ninja, Jorts, and Sunflower. Oh, and I’ll have a hot chocolate as well. Thank you so much! Oh, and could I get some of the muffins? I think they need something sweet.”
“Yeah, I’ll bag those up no problem!” And shortly she had a bag of muffins to put into the gym bag and a tray of coffee to carry. Then it was back out to the taxi and to the hospital. When she was a few minutes away she texted Nighteye and the man met her at the doors of the hospital.
He sipped his coffee when she handed it to him and his shoulders relaxed slightly. “Why am I not surprised you managed to get them to make it like he does?” He murmured.
Inko laughed as she strode after him, taking two steps to his one. “You know, I’ll take good care of him.” She promised softly and the man looked down at her. He didn’t say anything, just took the coffee carrier out of her free hand so she could focus on jogging along side him and carrying her son.
With Nighteye leading her no one gives her any trouble as they go to a security protected area of the hospital. From there he stops in a waiting room that contains only a beat up looking Edgeshot and a tense Best Jeanist. “Here, coffee.” Sir Nighteye said, handing both men the cups.
“Oh, and I have muffins. I don’t know if you feel like eating, but I figured sugar and carbs might help if you’re feeling crashy.” Inko pulled the muffins bag out of the gym bag and put it down on the table.
Jeanist regarded her with surprise, but Edgeshot looked at her with teary eyes. “Oh man, Yagi’s team dad and you’re team mom. Oh shit, cute baby. Can I hold him?” Inko handed Izuku over and the young hero curled around him. Izuku just burbled, tugging on his mask. The hero didn’t seem to care, and Inko turned away when it looked like Izuku would actually get it loose. “I love you, cute baby.”
“Everyone does.” Inko smiled and looked to Nighteye. “Okay, I’ll go wait for Toshi, then?”
“Yes, of course, let me show you where.” Nighteye took her by the elbow, ignoring Best Jeanist softly saying that she could wait with them. Once they were out of the room he continue to edge her down the hallway. “He’s got a lot of blood on him, the nurses shoved him in a staff room with a shower. It’s better than having him pace out here in bloodstained clothes. I told him you were bringing some clean things.”
Nigheye pointed the door out and handed her the tray with her and Toshinori’s drinks before turning back around to head to the waiting room. Inko looked about to make sure that no one was eyeing her too much and let herself into the room. It was a small room likely for emergency showers and was filled with steam.
“You don’t need to scald yourself.” Inko said softly and after a moment the water shut off. All Might slowly peeked out from behind the curtain and stared at her. Then, with a small ‘pop’ sound and a bit of smoke he shrunk slightly and his hair drooped. “There you are. Hey.”
“Hey.” He said softly, eyes welling with tears. “I’m sorry.”
“Shh. I brought you some things, shower gel and clean clothes.” She handed him the gel and put the towel within reach. The shower turned back on and the smell of Toshinori’s bodywash filled the space. “I still love you. And whatever happened with Ectoplasm isn’t your fault. It’s the fault of the asshole that attacked.”
Toshinori bit back a sob and didn’t say anything in return. Inko was content to stand in the room, back pressed against the door, and wait for Toshinori to finish. When the water went off the second time she handed his towel through the curtain. “I’ll step out to give you some privacy when you change.” Inko told him. “Just knock when you’re decent.”
She let herself out and waited. After a few minutes there was a knock and she let herself back in. Toshinori stood there, meek and mute, staring at the ground. There was no force on earth that could stop her from wrapping her arms around him, and that let the floodgates open. He crumbled, going down onto his knees and burying his face into her shoulder. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He repeated, hands fisting in the back of her shirt.
Inko slipped a hand into his hair and held him to her. “It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here.”
When I was calculating ages for everyone I realized that the teachers would be in their first year of UA an I honestly couldn't resist dragging those little shits into the story. Good job, Toshinori! Be the adult you wish was around when you were a teenager at UA, terrified of Gran Torino!
Edit: oh right, I made a writing tumblr. If anyone wants to follow to read random stuff or send asks, it's eluswrites.tumblr.com
Chapter 8: Little talks
Things don't get better right away, but with comfort and support from those that you love they do get better.
Things don’t get better right away.
Ectoplasm’s prognosis was grim: he’d sustained several wounds to both legs from the villain’s knife and poison (‘Venom, actually.’ Rin had said when he’d been pulled in for consultation. ‘Since it was used to coat his knives and injected. Touched dry there’s no effect, it has to be in the bloodstream.” Thank you Rin, for the explanation no one had asked for.) combo. The wounds refused to close and the surrounding flesh was going necrotic. There were talks of amputating his legs in an attempt to save the man, but they weren’t at that stage yet.
Nighteye had gone back to the agency and Best Jeanist with him. The two assured both Yagi and All Might, Nighteye a bit sarcastically, that they’d handle everything that they could. It was up to Toshinori to ‘secure the homefront’ while All Might did as he always did, come to the rescue when the stakes were too high. Toshinori did as he always did, hold everything together that he could.
This time, however, there was added backup. Inko was able to schedule her hours down a bit at the hospital so she could help care for Edgeshot, who’d initially refused to leave the hospital waiting room until he could see Ectoplasm. “I turned my back on the guy for an instant and he got E.” He’d said, voice trembling. It was clear that he thought the blame for the entire incident rested on his shoulders. Toshinori had hugged the young man and assured him that it wasn’t anyone’s fault but the villains.
And, somehow, the teenager had wound up couch surfing at Toshinori’s house. He’d been a bit startled the first morning, coming out of his bedroom to find young Shinya asleep with Izuku on his chest. Inko was up already and the kettle was warming up water for tea as she looked in the fridge for breakfast ideas.
“I don’t want to alarm you, but there’s a ninja on the couch.” Toshinori murmured when he moved to her side in the kitchen. “When I went to sleep there wasn’t a ninja in the house.”
“He texted me after you went to bed, the hospital kicked him out and he needed some place to stay.” Inko explained softly. At his look she elaborated: “He wanted to have my number since apparently I’m ‘team mom’ now. I’m sorry I didn’t check in with you before letting him in, but you were sleeping pretty deeply and I didn’t want to wake you.”
Deeper than he had in a long time if he hadn’t noticed Inko climbing out of bed and letting someone into his house. Toshinori rubbed at his forehead and smiled down at her to dispel any feelings of guilt she might have. “Of course he’s welcome here. Everyone in the agency is like family. We’ll just need to get more groceries.”
“At least he’s free childcare.” Inko grinned and brought a hand up to hide it for whatever reason.
Well, that wouldn’t do. Toshinori carefully pulled her hand back, then leaned down to give her a quick kiss. “Don’t hide your smile. I like seeing it.” He chided gently. Inko held one of his hands in both of hers and beamed up at him.
“Stop bein’ gross.” Shinya called from the couch grumpily, apparently disturbed from sleep by their voices.
“This is my apartment, I can be gross here.” Toshinori called back. After a minute of grumbling Shinya sat up, mask askew on his face and his signature hairstyle mussed from sleep. Izuku was still cuddled up to his chest and remained so even when Shinya stood and shuffled into the kitchen. He looks unsure of himself standing there so Toshinori can’t be too annoyed at him. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you want, Edgeshot.”
The young man laughed a bit, ruffling his already mussed up hair even more. “Man, I’m Edgeshot in the office or on patrol. I think you can call me Shinya when I’m moochin’ on your couch.”
“Shinya it is.” Behind his mask Shinya’s grinning at him, Toshinori can tell from how his eyes crinkle. “I’ll start on breakfast if you’d like to have a quick shower? Get all of the product out of your hair.”
“There’s nothing quick about getting all that out of my hair.” Shinya said, but he offered Inko’s son back to her before heading towards the bathroom.
Toshinori rubbed his forehead and smiled over to Inko. “I’ve got a lot of different things to get done today. If I add you as an authorized user to my card, would you and Shinya take care of getting groceries? Get whatever you like, I know food can be comforting and he needs that.”
“You got it.”
A few hours later and Inko regrets agreeing to take Shinya grocery shopping with her. The young man, slender enough to borrow a pair of Inko’s shorts and swimming in one of Toshinori’s tee shirts, sat on the floor of the grocery store holding a gigantic bag of cereal. “We don’t need that much cereal.” She said calmly, as if she was talking to a toddler instead of a pro hero.
“I can eat one of these bags by myself in a day, don’t judge me.” He argued and stared up at her from over the top of a sanitary mask he used to hide his face. It would be hard for anyone to recognize the man as the pro hero Edgeshot with his signature hair hanging freely over his one shoulder but the kid wasn’t taking chances. “Yagi has zero cereal at his house.”
“That’s because he cooks real food.” Inko sighed and gestured towards the already half full shopping cart. Shinya grinned and hopped up from the floor, putting the cereal in with several other impulse additions that he’d needed to have. A family sized bag of marshmallows, a large bag of onion ring chips from the foreign isle, and an deluxe sized package of ‘fancy’ instant ramen noodles. His preferences didn’t fill Inko with confidence that he ate well at his own apartment.
Shinya wasn’t getting out of this arraignment without being taught how to cook real food.
“Ooh, coffee drinks-”
“Focus, kid.” Inko said, grabbing onto the back of the huge shirt Shinya wore and dragging him bodily away from that isle. There was no chance she was letting him get a case of coffee drinks. “We’re going to get some vegetables. You know what those are, right?” She teased.
“Oh, yeah, like in the fried rice I get from the takeout places?” He asked, eyes shining with mischief. “Like, korokke are a vegetable right?”
“You know I’m just going to tell Toshinori all of this, right? I bet he’ll give you a whole lecture on how important it is to eat properly.” And from the way Shinya’s forehead creased it was clear he could picture the lecture.
“You know, I love all vegetables equally. Peas, carrots...” He pauses and looks at his hand as if he’s reading something off of it. “...Brolly.”
Inko can’t help but laugh and that sets Shinya off, and together they get food that’s actually food and not processed over salted stress relief. Shopping with the young hero is interesting, he’s energetic and enthusiastic and entirely too funny to be allowed.
“Mom. Mom, look but don’t look at that baby in the shopping cart.” Inko automatically looked at Izuku at his whisper, then followed his pointing to look at a cart to the left. There’s a sturdy looking child sitting in the shopping cart with a serious look on his face. Izuku has also spotted the other baby and happily burbled, waving at him. Still looking serious, the solid baby waved back. “He’s on the protein.”
Inko snorted and punched Shinya in the bicep. “Stop that.” She hissed, trying not to laugh at him. “Are you just going to call me Mom now? I’m not that much older than you.”
“Mom friend gets called Mom, it’s a rule.” Shinya said seriously as the left the serious baby and his friendly looking teenage brother behind them. The young hero started ticking out points on his fingers. “You got the mom friend who takes care of everyone, the loud friend that’s outgoing and entertaining, sporty friend does the sports real good and can punch stuff, quiet friend is creative and always has snacks, and the smart friend gets everyone else out of the trouble they get in together.”
“Are you sporty friend or loud friend, then?” Inko asks and Shinya gasps like he’s been deeply insulted. They go through the line and pay with Toshinori’s card and between the two of them they manage to get all the groceries packed up. Shinya seems much less enthused by his impulse purchases when he has to carry the extra large bags.
They lapse into silence as they walk back to Toshinori’s apartment. Izuku’s in a sling on Shinya’s chest and burbles every now and then, waving at people passing by or anything bright that catches his eye. Then her new hero friend breaks their silence. “I’m worried about E.” He said softly, not looking at Inko as he spoke. “And, like, I’m having fun out here with you and then I just think that he’s in the hospital and I don’t know how he’s doing, and I feel like shit. Like, how can I be having a good time when he’s hurt?”
Inko’s heart throbs with empathetic sympathy for him. She leans against his arm as they walk, hands full of bags she can’t hug him like he needs. “I’d say what you’re feeling is pretty reasonable. But do you think that E would want you to be upset for having a good time, or would he be glad that you’re alive and able to be happy?”
“He’d want me to be safe.” Shinya’s sure of that if he’s sure of nothing else at least. “Still, I can’t help but think, like. If I was better, y’know?”
“Have you considered talking to All Might? Like, call him, ask him if he has time to talk?” It was time to plant that seed if he hadn’t considered it, since Inko knew first hand that All Might also felt similar.
But Shinya shook his head and shrugged. “Nah, can’t bother him with that. He’s the boss, he doesn’t have time to deal with me feeling like this. It’s my problem.”
Time to meddle.
“Y’know what Toshi told me?” Inko asked, hoping that she would make it to Toshi to warn him about this before Shinya got to him. “I thought it was adorable. But he said that All Might thinks of all you younger heroes as like, his family. Little brothers or kids even. I’m sure you could go to him with anything and he’d be delighted to talk to you and share what he knows. I think he’d be so happy if he knew he could help you even just a little bit.”
The young hero was silent, but after a moment of thought he nodded. “I... Yeah, maybe I’ll ask if he’s got a few minutes to talk. Y’know, I was really scared when he took me on at first. Like, it’s All Might. I’m new to this. What if I trip in front of him, or do something stupid and embarrass myself? But he’s cool with everything, and Yagi’s always doing good stuff for us. My first successful patrol he ordered in takeout and everyone sat around telling me stories from their initial patrols.” His eyes were bright above his mask at the memory. “My family’s out in Kaminoseki down south, and I miss them a lot. Having the guys all around makes it less lonely.”
Oh, she was going to hug the shit out of him when they put the bags down. Luckily they arrived home shortly and after putting all the groceries away Inko did just that. She gave him the tightest hug that she could and he hugged back just as hard. “Try to put the blame where it belongs, on the guy that actually did the damage to Ectoplasm. And if you need to talk to anyone you can come talk to me, okay? I’ll be there, as the mom-friend.”
“I’m glad Yagi didn’t chicken out on that date with you. You’re great.”
Three days after Ectoplasm is admitted to the hospital the medical team and his power of attorney agree to take the needed action. No quirk nor medicine can stop the remnants of the villain’s devastating quirk from ravaging the hero. To save his life he loses his legs.
The doctors had been keeping him in a medically induced coma while they tried whatever they could to do save his legs, and they let him out of it shortly after the surgery. It’s All Might’s duty to be there when he wakes, to explain to him what had happened.
It isn’t like he’d expected it to be, Ectoplasm didn’t jolt awake and start yelling. There was no sudden rage or grief or despair. He just woke up like it was any normal day, like he’d had a nap. He got that resigned expression on his face when he saw the ceiling tiles of the hospital, the same one they all did. Like: ‘ugh, this shit again’. “Since I’m in the hospital and I feel surprisingly well rested, I’m going to assume that I was hurt and knocked unconscious for a few days.”
All Might poured him some water and scooted the glass closer towards him. Ectoplasm nodded in thanks and sipped the water slowly. “You were put into a medically induced coma.” All Might explained softly while inside Toshinori cringed. He’d been at home starting to enjoy dinner while this dear man who worked for him lay bleeding on the pavement.
Ectoplasm tipped his head quizzically. All Might could see him go through a mental checklist of sorts and his eyes slowly moved down towards the foot of the bed. He took in a deep breath and sighed, speaking on the exhale. “That why I can’t feel my legs?”
“It was an insidious poison quirk. The damage was severe. Everyone tried their best!” All Might feels the need to defend the team of doctors who had did their all to try and save all of the hero. They’d worked tirelessly and the course of action they’d taken hadn’t been easy. “The poison was spreading and it was resistant to everything that they tried. To save you the team made a difficult call.”
He tries not to cringe when Ectoplasm pulled the blanket up off of the foot of the bed, up and up until his bandaged thighs came into view. The man’s eyes closed and he gripped the blankets in tight fists, internally counting down from a number and forcing himself to relax. “Well. Not ideal. But I’ll make it work.”
“I have good connections with hero support, and I know that we’ll find someone to provide you with prosthetics.” All Might gingerly perched on the side of his bed and gave his best reassuring smile. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there sooner.”
Ectoplasm nodded and covered himself back up with the blanket. “Don’t blame yourself. We all know that this isn’t a safe job. Above the knee is harder to work with, but like you said I can get prosthetics. I’m alive, Juzo still has a dad.” He sighed again, this one shaky. While Ectoplasm wasn’t putting on a smile like All Might did to hide the fear, he still managed to hold onto his composure. “Glad my therapist is good, because this is gonna take some working through.”
“You may be the most reasonable person I know.” All Might laughed softly, an overwhelming amount of fondness towards the ghostly hero welling in his chest. “We’re taking care of everything on the back end, making sure the paperwork’s all filed. Focus on getting better.”
“Appreciate it.” Ectoplasm reclined onto the pillows and closed his eyes. “If you see my sister could you tell her I’d like to see Juzo?”
“Of course.” All Might hears the unspoken dismissal and stands. “If there’s anything I can do at all, just let me know.”
Ectoplasm shifted on the bed, making himself as comfortable as he could. “Mind getting me my phone?” He asked, and it took but a moment for All Might to find the device plugged in nearby. All Might handed the phone to him and let himself out.
Alone for now, Ectoplasm ran a hand through his hair and swiped his contact list open. Reasonable, All Might had called him. A bit perhaps, but more than anything he was in shock. Plans had been made for his eventual retirement, but he hadn’t expected that to come for a long while yet. His investments were good and the benifits from being at All Might’s hero agency were more than sufficent, but the day would come where he wouldn’t be on the payroll.
In an effort to calm himself down he sent a text off to a recent contact. ‘Hey, nerd. You know hero stuff. Know any amputee heroes?’ He’s trying to think of them himself, but his mind keeps going to how close he must’ve came to death for amputating his legs to be considered the prudent option. How close his son came to not having a father. The wrongness he feels at the thought of what’s left of his legs, knowing he’ll never feel anything because they’re gone, and-
His phone chimes with a response. ‘Yeah, of course. You want stats or links to their pages or just me to go on a rant about them?’
‘Rant, please. I need something to distract me.’ After a moment’s deliberation he swipes the call button to his contact. “Sorry, like I said, I need to be distracted.”
“No problem, no problem. So, okay, right now if I remember right there’s at least six heroes in the top fifty ranking that are amputees. You’ve got Garoh, the highest ranking at 26. He lost both arms mid forearm and had a support team put out some really fantastic tech for him. Mirage is at spot 32-” His voice is relaxing and it’s easy for Ectoplasm to focus on that, to hear what he’s saying.
It’s been done before. There’s others who’re like him, perhaps not as severe or perhaps moreso. But if they’ve managed to keep being a hero despite needing prosthetics then he can too. All Might won’t throw him out for being useless, and with this added proof his mind finally stops racing with a fearful ‘what if’. Everything’ll be fine eventually.
There’s more talking done in the weeks following Ectoplasm’s injury than ever before. All Might spends time individually with all the heroes under his watch. His assumption about Jeanist turns out to be true, the young man had been planning of forming his own agency. “Of course, with things being how they are, I can’t possibly split away now. I would never do that to all of you.” Jeanist tugged on his jurtleneck as he spoke. “But I have been scouting places to open up a headquarters of my own.”
“Good. Thank you for letting me know.” All Might clapped his hand onto Jeanist’ shoulder and smiled at the young man. “I’m proud of you, you know that right? Ever since you’ve joined my agency you’ve done nothing but grow and improve and I am so proud of you. I know you’ll do wonderful on your own.”
Jeanist blushed and ducked his head, almost hiding his face past his eyes. “I... Thank you for everything. You beleived in me when I myself didn’t and it’s thanks to you I’ve come this far.” With only a bit of hesitance Jeanist moved forward and held his arms out. If it would’ve been anyone else All Might might’ve laughed, but instead he moved forward and wrapped his broad arms around the young man and squeezed him tightly into a hug.
“Watching you grow into the man I knew you could be has been one of my life’s greatest privileges, Tsunagu. Thank you for allowing me to be by your side to see you grow into a hero.” The long arms wrapped around his torso squeezed harder and Jeanist doesn’t break away for a few more moments. His eyes crinkle with joy and he bowed low.
“I hope to continue to make you proud.”
The conversion with Jeanist is easy compared to the one with Edgeshot. The man still camped out on Toshinori’s couch and seemed no closer to going back to his own apartment. At the office he seemed unsure about asking to talk with him, only asking to do as such ‘if All Might had a spare minute’.
“My boy, I always have a minute for you!” All Might assured him, gesturing Edgeshot into his office.
The young man closed the door behind him and leaned against it, looking at the floor. It takes a few silent minutes for him to get all his thoughts in order. “I feel like E getting hurt is my fault.” He said slowly and plainly, plowing ahead with his thoughts before All Might can reply or comfort him. “And, like, I know it’s not. I know that. But I don’t know it? And, like, I keep thinking, y’know? What if I was better, faster, more experienced. What if I’d done... Something else.”
His first instinct is to assure the young man that there was nothing else he could do. However, Inko had warned him that she’d suggested that Shinya talk to him about these feelings. So, All Might decided to do something risky: speak the truth. No bluffing, no stage presence. “I understand. Did you know in the hospital all I could think was: I was having dinner while he was bleeding out on the pavement. If I’d been on patrol or if I’d came along with you he wouldn’t be injured.”
All Might sat on his desk and looked to the young hero in front of him, meeting his eyes. He held out his hands and after a moment Shinya gave All Might his own. Japan’s number one hero smiled a far softer smile than he gave to the media and squeezed both of his hands. “Logically, I know that there was nothing I could’ve done above and beyond what I did. Man’s heart isn’t logical, all it tells me is that if I had been better that Ectoplasm would still be fine. So in times like this I have to look at the situation and examine my responses. When the alert came from Heronet I immediately came to the scene, secured it, and took Ectoplasm to the hospital. There was nothing else I could do. I cannot be everywhere at once.”
Shinya nodded and looked down at their hands. “When E went down, I hit the signal button to send out the alert. Then I did my best to keep my distance and distract him from going after E any more until you showed up.” He took a deep breath and stared hard at their hands, like some how they would solve this mystery. “Before, I did what I was told by my elder and stayed back, I didn’t rush into the situation, it was like every other patrol until it went wrong.”
“To me, it sounds like you did everything you could. The hardest thing I’ve had to learn is that sometimes horrible things happen to good people.” His voice goes thick as he thinks of Ectoplasm, of Shimura Nana’s smile as she sent him flying. “Good people are injured, or killed, and we have to come to the realization that we’re unable to be everywhere at once. All we can do is look to the future and think: how can I make the world better so such a thing won’t happen again.”
Edgeshot nodded and looked up at All Might before pulling his hands free and jumping up, throwing his arms around All Might’s neck. With a laugh All Might patted his back and held him. “It’s not your fault, or mine. Only person we should blame is that dick with the poison quirk.” He said seriously, and in his words Toshinori can see a hint of the man that he’ll grow up to be. He hopes fate will let him still be by the young man’s side like it had with Jeanist. “I want to help make a world where no one else has to go through this and feel how we feel about it.”
He surrounded himself with the young men at the agency because they were talented, of course. But in each one there was that stubborn streak of an idealist that the world hadn’t stamped out. All Might is pleased to see that this event hadn’t tarnished Edgeshot’s shining soul. “That sounds wonderful. That’s the same future I want to see. In the future, please never hesitate to seek me out. I would never have agreed to have you at my agency if I was unwilling to make the time to speak with you.”
Whenever Shinya is out on patrol and All Might doesn’t have to be, he sits in his apartment with Inko and Izuku and marvels at how everything’s changed. There’s color everywhere, from the crayon scribbles by Izuku (and one by Shinya for hilarity) on the fridge to sweaters tossed over the backs of chairs. Inko had brought things from her storage unit and decorated the apartment, lovingly integrating her things with his.
Though she puts her things on the bookcases and table she doesn’t do a think to the memorial for Nana other than put out incense to burn. One day when she’s dusting the table off he finally feels the lump in his throat ease up a bit. “Her name was Shimura Nana.” He said thickly and Inko paused, hand still on the picture frame. “She was my teacher.” She was my mother, his heart achingly called out.
Inko carefully finished dusting and sat on the couch, patting the spot beside herself. “Tell me about her.” It’s not a request but her order is gentle and Toshinori can’t not talk about Nana.
“She was everything I needed when I was young. My whole life I was nothing, no one, bounced from house to house. Then when I was an idiot, when I put my life in danger for someone else, she swooped in and scooped me up.” He laughed as he thought about it, how Nana had been furious with him but at the same time she’d approved. When he’d told her about his quirklessness she’d still had that duality, but her scolding had increased in volume. “I told her about my dream. I wanted to make a world where everyone could smile and live in peace.”
Nana had looked so amused with him, but it hadn’t been a cruel look. Young Toshinori had been well accustomed to the cruel amusement of his peers. “She took me to her side, trained me, practically raised me.”
She’d been a ray of sunshine after being locked in a dark room his entire life. Nana was hard and demanding and she was so free with her affection, pulling him down to drag her knuckles against his scalp or hopping onto his back and hugging him as she demanded he run with her added weight. When he’d been hungry she’d fed him without thought, when his last foster home had gotten unbearable she’d been there to listen to him and to find him safety.
“She died.” It doesn’t need to be said, one didn’t make a memorial for a living person. “She insisted that Gran Torino take me away, and he finished my training. Losing her was... I felt the world got darker with her loss.”
Inko threaded her fingers between his and brought his hand up to her mouth to kiss the back of his hand. “She’s watching you and I know she’s proud.”
Toshinori laughed and leaned forward, resting his forehead against hers. He sighed and nuzzled their noses together shyly. Behind him, the door to the apartment opened and Toshinori spoke before anyone else could. “I’m allowed to be gross in my own house, Shinya.”
“Shit, man, you right, you right.” The young man agreed. “I got the takeout, so whenever you wanna not be gross you can eat.”
Inko laughed and slowly pulled away from him, going to the kitchen to help Shinya get plates and glasses and everything else. Toshinori stood and stretched his arms out above his head before looking to Izuku on the floor, happily engrossed in his toys. “Well, come along young man. It’s dinnertime.”
Izuku looked over at him and beamed, reaching his hands up to grab at the coffee table and pull himself up. He was doing that more and more, his little baby muscles getting stronger by the day. Izuku waved a hand towards Toshinori like he thought he was close enough to grab him, and when he found that he wasn’t he let go of the coffee table and took a first hesitant step as he wobbled.
At Toshinori’s loud gasp both Inko and Shinya turned in time to see him follow that first step with a second, faster than the first as he started to wobble more. He gets a third step out and before he can fall Toshinori’s there, long arms reaching out to hold onto him. The baby laughed with delight as he was scooped up and held to a warm chest.
What a precious, sweet child he was. On that moment Toshinori swore that he’d never let him fall, he’d do whatever he could to protect the world from harming this boy. Like his master had done for him, he’d teach him everything he could and he’d bring joy to his life. “How wonderful, Izuku!” He said as behind him Inko clapped and Shinya mildly lost his mind.
“My baby won’t be a baby much longer.” Inko smiled but looked meloncholly as she moved into the living area and held her hands out for her son. Izuku happily went to her, not understanding why everyone was suddenly so excited.
“Oh shit, oh shit, cute baby is growing up. Aaa what am I gonna do, cute toddler doesn’t sound nearly as cute and ugh I’m going to have to come up with a new nickname noooo.” He pulled at his hair and groaned.
Toshinori stayed where he was on the floor, watching the three of them with a wide smile on his face. He'd learned at the age of four that life wasn’t fair. By the time he’d been fourteen he’d nearly given up on the idea that it could be survivable. He'd scoffed when Nana had told him that life could get better at first because he'd been so worn down that the idea of happiness was too bright to even imagine. But there he was, in an apartment he owned with a woman he loved and her son that he thought of as his own. He had family in the men at his agency and friends in those that surrounded his life.
Things don't get better right away, but eventually they get better.
There's probably a chapter or two of epilogues left after this. I mean, Gran Torino hasn't met this girl yet, and there's those idiots in high school All Might has to mentor.
I made a writing tumblr, though I mostly post crack ideas and reblog all might images/things made out of denim that shouldn't be made out of denim. hit me up at eluswrites.tumblr.com if you're bored
Apologies for the late update. First it was just a 'oh holy shit I've got so much crap to do for my D&D character and my DM' that I couldn't work on this. Then my cat took a turn for the worst and I had to put her down on monday. Probably the worst monday I've had in my life, tbh. I understand you, Garfield.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer about two years ago, and I was lucky that it didn't metabolise as quickly as it's wont to do. I had her for eleven years and she was my best friend during times where I felt like I had nothing. So take this as a PSA to spay your cats asap, even if you got zero money try and find a low cost clinic. The sooner you get your ladies spayed the lower their risk of getting titty cancer and let me tell you comrades, these last two years have been pretty fukkin stressful. If I could turn back time and tell stupid young me to find the money and get it done I would, because she was the biggest asshole and she was also my best friend and I miss her like crazy.
Chapter 9: Dad
Maybe it’s easy for anyone to see that Toshinori’s always been Nana’s brat, but he’s Sorahiko’s boy too.
It was a rare thing for Toshinori to contact him. Nana’s brat had shot up like the star she’d always pegged him to be, brighter than the sun as he shone over Japan. There wasn’t time for him to visit his old teacher. The bond he’d had with Toshinori was nothing like the one either of them had had with Nana.
Still, he’d called. Said ‘I have someone I want you to meet’ and it doesn’t matter that Sorahiko doesn’t have much experience with being a parent, he knows exactly what that means. Toshinori’s found someone he loves and was bringing her home to ‘meet the parent’.
Nana’s brat has always been punctual, so he lurks by the windows when he says he’ll be there. Right on time a strange car pulls up, not Toshinori’s hideous muscle car from the states. This one’s understated and normal and a little too small for him, he looks relieved climbing out of it. Instead of going to the door to knock he opens the back door of the car. He leans in and pulls out a small child who squirms until Toshinori puts him on the ground and bends over halfway to hold the boy’s hand as he apparently insists on walking.
The passenger’s side door opens and out steps the girl he’s bringing home and- The sight of her is like a knife in his heart initially. The shape of the face, the way she wears her hair- his first thought is Nana, gone twenty years now. Once that reaction wears off he can see the difference, there’s none of Nana’s fire in this woman. There’s kindness and sweetness in spades.
Before Toshinori can get to the door Sorahiko opens it, looking down the steps at the ridiculous man. Toshinori smiled up at him as the boy gripped his fingers tightly and toddled at his side. “It’s good to see you, sensei.”
“Eh.” Sorahiko grunted and crossed his arms, leaning against the doorframe. Standing at the top of the steps he’s still not as tall as Toshinori, the years had done a number to his height.
Once his pupil had stopped at the foot of the steps the little boy let go of his fingers and carefully crawled up them, Toshinori’s tensing and waiting to grab him if he fell. But he didn’t, and when he got to the top step he clapped his hands and grabbed onto Sorahiko’s pants and just beamed up at him. “Hi!” The boy said, green eyes gleaming with joy and a smile so wide on his face that it nearly split.
Cute. It’s easy to see from the warm look on Toshinori’s face that the kid has him wrapped around his little finger. Sorahiko carefully disconnected the kid from his pant leg and squatted down closer to his level. Doing this put him squarely in hug range and the boy threw his arms around Sorahiko’s chest with a laugh. “You didn’t tell me you had a son.” He said dryly to his pupil and there’s something like hurt in his chest. It’s true they weren’t close, but to not tell him he’d had a kid? Brat.
Toshinori blushed and rubbed the back of his neck, looking off to the side. “Ah, young Izuku isn’t...Not in the way you’re thinking.” He said bashfully, and Sorahiko wanted to call him out on his bullshit. Kid had the same glow that Toshinori had. “This is Midoriya Inko and her son Izuku.”
His woman smiles and bows to him politely. His initial gut reaction to her appearance has settled down, she might remind him of Nana physically but there’s none of the spark that had made his best friend present in her. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Gran Torino-san.” Her voice sounded a bit teasing as she side eyed Toshinori.
“Hn.” Sorahiko grunted, nodding towards the door. “Come on inside.” He picks up the kid, just because the kid is hugging him and no other reason, and steps back into his place. Toshinori and Inko follow after him.
His place is small and messy as it’s always been and Toshinori’s face looks a little pinched. He was either itching to get the place in order or wanting to complain that Sorahiko hadn’t made an effort when he knew they’d be coming. Eh, if this woman’s someone he wants to be involved with she’ll just have to get used to Sorahiko being the way he is. It’s not like he and Toshinori have social calls much.
Still. It’s endearing to watch Toshinori be bashful around this woman, how his eyes light up at the mere sight of her. He gets another look towards the child, warm and soft and protective. It brings back a memory of watching Toshinori laugh with Nana, how he’d looked at her with utter adoration and she’d had that fierce protective look in her eyes.
The kid’s cute, at the age where he looked like a newborn fawn testing out his legs once Sorahiko put him down. He wandered around the room and babbled nonsensically to everything around him. Kid’s the only one not noticing the awkward mood in the room.
Nana’s brat doesn’t have anything to say, fretting as he knows that the silence in the room has turned more than uncomfortable. He’s doing the whole shrinking violet thing, curling in on himself as his mind went haywire. Inko stepped towards Sorahiko determinedly and brought out her phone. “Would you like to see some embarrassing pictures?”
“Inko, no.” Toshinori groaned in betrayal, but the offer had already been placed.
There’s a good number of funny pictures on her phone of both Toshinori and All Might, and from there it leads to pictures of Toshinori with Izuku, and Toshinori and All Might with the sidekicks, and the sidekicks with Izuku. The mood of the group relaxed as the sharing of pictures went on and eventually things didn’t feel so awkward.
Toshinori takes them all to a nearby restaurant for dinner and it’s endearing seeing the big idiot be a doting father and to see him cowed by the woman he was in love with. Sorahiko didn’t think he’d ever get to see either of those, Toshi’d been career driven since he came back from America. Maybe he’d found a new way to define why he raised those big fists of his.
When Toshi’s busy cleaning up a monumental mess that Izuku had managed to make Inko takes the time to lean over and speak softly to him. “Can I talk to you later without him around?”
Sorahiko nods and Inko smiles sweetly before helping Toshinori with her messy son. “You are such a tiny boy, how did you make such a big mess?” She asked and her son clapped happily and giggled, saying something garbled in baby talk as he thrust one tiny fist up into the air. “Toshinori.”
“Listen, anyone could be teaching him to say ‘Plus Ultra’.” Toshi said as he gently gripped that little fist, wiping it clean. “Shinya is a terrible influence.”
Inko gets her chance to talk to him alone later when after giving Izuku a bath Toshinori sat on the couch with the boy on his chest and both wound up falling asleep. The young woman wrote a note and taped it to her son’s back before gesturing for Sorahiko to follow her outside. It’s a cool night outside as they walk around the block from his building.
“What’d ya want?” He asked gruffly when Inko didn’t seem to be starting the conversation she wanted. She looks indecisive, like she’s planning her words out carefully.
“I love him.” She starts out slowly, arms crossing over her chest and eyes looking upward. “He loves me, he’s a father to Izuku already. I don’t want to push things too quickly, I haven’t been divorced a year yet and I don’t want him to think he’s some kind of rebound.”
Smart, that sounded like something Nana’s brat would tell himself. Get all worked up over nothing. “He ain’t?” Sorahiko asked and Inko looked over at him and glared.
There it is, a spark of something in her. Something fiery. Something that had teeth.
“Don’t ever say that again.” There’s steel in her voice and there’s that flash of Nana again. “I love him and I’m picturing a future with him, and when he first talked about bringing me here to meet you he was afraid. I want to know if you’re going to be a problem for us.”
Her voice sounds like she’s already preparing for a fight against him. She’s little woman with a third rate quirk and zero hero experience and Sorahiko knows that if she thought she needed to go all out against him that she’d give everything to protect Toshinori. And Sorahiko isn’t a faithful man, but he feels like he should send up a prayer of thanks to someone up high because that’s what Toshinori needs. He’s always needed someone in his corner like that. “It’s old bad blood, I trained him hard. Figures he’s still scared of me. He tell you about anything at all from when he was in school?”
“Not too much. That you finished his training after Shimura died.” Something inside him twists just hearing her name. Some wounds never healed.
Still. No use in dwelling on the past. “Yeah. Nana and I were good friends, thought she was crazy when she brought the half grown brat to meet me. He didn’t start sprouting up like a cornstalk for another year or so.” Nana’s brat had grown so fast he got stretch marks, and he’d spent all his downtime either eating or sleeping or sobbing because his bones hurt so damn bad. Nana’d teased him but when he shot up six inches in three months all teasing had stopped. “Before his last year of school she died and I took over. I was tough on him. I had to be. She passed him onto me.”
Toshi’d been brokenhearted and so had he, and Sorahiko had been ruthless with how he trained the kid. He’d had to be, and looking back he wouldn’t have changed a thing. All for One had killed Nana, stomped her out like she wasn’t the brightest fire of life Sorahiko’d ever seen. What chance did their boy have?
Sorahiko sees his old friend in Inko's eyes when they go soft with realization as she reads between the lines of what he says. Nana’d always been too smart, her heart too big. He has to look away from Inko then, because even if Inko doesn’t have the muscles or the cockiness she’s got that spark in her and it's all Sorahiko can see.
“I see.” She says, and maybe she really does. Maybe it’s easy for anyone to see that Toshinori’s always been Nana’s brat, but he’s Sorahiko’s boy too. Had been even before he’d adopted the little shit to get him out of the foster system and make sure he had a safe place to stay and food to eat and people around that gave a shit about him like he should’ve his whole damn life, and-
“Good. We done?” His voice was gruff and no one would ever get him to admit that it was because of emotions strangling his voice. Inko smiled and went for a hug, which Sorahiko allowed because he knew the type. You slipped out of their hug once and they’d spend the rest of their lives trying to hug you every time they saw you.
“We’re done.” Inko smiled and let him go. “You should visit more, make him not scared of you. And Izuku needs grandparents in his life, you can be Gran-Pa.”
“I will do literally anything for that name to not become a thing.” Sorahiko said flatly and Inko laughed loudly.
(That was going to become a thing.)
It gets added pretty quickly to the kid’s vocabulary, shrieked with joy whenever Sorahiko walked by. Little hands would reach up for him and he’d have to scoop the boy up and carry him around. The boy was a chatterbox already, a constant stream of mumbled not words mashed between actual real words. “Gran-Pa,” He started out and that was followed by about twenty seconds of nonsensical baby babble followed by a very serious look to the old man.
“Uh huh. Can’t believe it.” Sorahiko said calmly and he very pointedly ignored a snicker that came from his idiot prince on the couch. “Then what happened?”
He knows the kid’s not old enough to understand what he’s saying but the tone’s what matters. Izuku keeps babbling, hands fisting in the front of Sorahiko’s shirt as he earnestly stares up at him. With eyes like that the kid would have everyone wrapped around his finger. Hell, Izuku'd already gotten him.
“This ain’t been too awful. We should do it more often. Y’know.” Sorahiko grimaced a bit and Toshinori watched him curiously. “Visit. We got some things to talk about, things we ain’t aired out.”
Toshinori looked spooked for a minute, but he looked down at Izuku still being adorable and happy and he nodded. “We do. I’d like that.” His voice was firm and his big blue eyes were clear. No apprehension and no fear, and he’s smiling like he used to back in the day before the smile became part of his uniform.
One more left.
Enter, stage left and pursued by a bear: Four teenagers who thought it'd be rad to try and get internships with All Might. Okay, three teenagers that thought it'd be rad and one that just wants to fucking sleep so bad, oh my god you guys.
Chapter 10: The next chapter begins
And, against all odds, it looked like he’d made a world where even Yagi Toshinori could live and be happy.
Their first year of hero courses had passed, leaving the remaining members promoted to class 2B in their second year. Four students had crashed out over the course of the year due to exhaustion, low grades, or behavior unfitting of a hero. And somehow, despite all the odds, Shōta found himself among the members of class 2B. He’d made it past everything first year had thrown at him.
But, looking up at the obnoxious brand new Might Tower, Shōta didn’t think he’d make it past his second year.
Hizashi was beyond excited, of course. He’d been vibrating with joy ever since their giddy teacher had pulled the four of them aside to say that the beloved number one hero had requested all four of them as interns. It seemed that Yagi had been truthful the year before when he said that he’d been watching.
“Let’s get this over with.” Shōta mumbled as he slipped his hands into his pockets and walked through the sliding glass doors leading into the lobby. Once he enters everything shifts to red, white and blue. Even the receptionists wear gaudy, bright uniforms.
Of course his three idiot friends seem taken in by everything, looking everywhere at all the various displays. Picture of All Might’s successes cover the walls, there’s memorabilia everywhere, old uniforms sit in display cases. It’s a shrine to the hero that no one will ever surpass.
It’d be a bit overwhelming, but there’s a familiar face waiting for them. He looks out of place in a rumpled and unflattering yellow pinstripe suit but Yagi Toshinori smiled when he saw their group. “Good morning, everyone. It’s good to see you. I was pleased that you all held up your end of the bargain.” His hands twine together nervously in front of his bulky frame, but his smile is as bright as it was the year before. “If you’ll follow me over to security, we’ll get you all scanned in.”
Might Tower had some super high tech security, on the level of UA even. To get past the public areas they had to have scans of their fingerprints and retinas and even give an oral swab, just in case someone with a shape-changing quirk saw interns as easy ways to get into the building. Once everything was squared away with security Yagi lead them to the elevators and once he made sure that they all could pass into the restricted areas he started on their briefing.
“You only have access to a limited part of the tower, almost everything All Might related has been centralized on this building. The first five floors are public access, the next five are for the main staff that handle our public relations. We have some outside companies that rent space on floors eleven through twenty for security purposes, and those contractors only have access to those floors. Most of the other floors have to deal with R&D and merchandising, as well as the Might foundation that supports the underprivileged. So the residential area that you’ll be staying is on floor 62 and unless you’re being accompanied by one of the heroes you’ll be shadowing then that’s the only area that you’ll have access to.” Yagi explains as the elevator takes them up and up and up.
The door finally opens on a comfortable looking room furnished with a sitting area and a large kitchen. “So, this is the residential floor. It’s open to all of the junior heroes and a small number of people with clearance.” Yagi walked into the center of the living area before starting to gesture about like a flight attendant as he pointed out various things. “The rules in the kitchen are pretty simple, if you take the last of the coffee you make another pot, no smelly food in the microwave, don’t leave your dishes in the sink. If you need specific food put it on the list and we’ll get it. Personal rooms are to either side on the east and west, if they’re occupied there’ll be a sign. All the offices to the heroes beside Mister Might are on this floor as well. Any questions?”
Hizashi put his hand in the air only to have Shōta drag it back down a moment later. Whatever question he had to ask wouldn’t be important, and he sees Yagi try and fail to contain a grin. There isn’t a person in the room who can contain Nemuri however, and she speaks without raising her hand. “Do you have a roster of what we’ll be doing, who we’ll be shadowing?” Another reason Shōta didn’t try to silence her: Nemuri actually asked good questions.
“I do, in fact! Tomorrow is when you’ll be paired with someone one on one and taken out into the city. Today you’ll all be sitting down with Ectoplasm to finish all the paperwork and get all the safety speeches and a rundown of what’s expected of you.” Yagi explained, and that made a lot of sense to Shōta. All of them had seen the incident the past year, had heard the gossip about Ectoplasm and his future as a hero. Getting a speech on safety by someone who’d been so badly injured would work on anyone.
“’S’cuse me!” Hizashi managed to get his hand up despite Shōta pushing it down. “Will we get to work with All Might one vee one?”
Yagi just smiled as he lead them back towards the offices. “We’ll see. I’m sure Mister Might will make time for all of you. He was very excited, young heroes are our future after all!” Bullshit, Shōta was willing to bet. It was impossible that someone who was in the media as much as All Might ever thought about heroes that didn’t reflect directly on him.
But there’s not much time to reflect on that, Yagi’s opening a door and gesturing them in to where Ectoplasm sat behind a wide desk. The rest of the day was spent as Yagi had said, taking care of paperwork and going over what was expected of them and safety information. The hero walked nimbly on his prosthetic, but he was able to drill into even Hizashi’s head the need for safety with every click of his leg-pegs.
When they finally all left the office, stiff after so much sitting, there’s a slow cooker sitting on the counter simmering away with a note that read ‘Please enjoy!’ complete with a little All Might smiley face. The four friends served themselves and cleaned things up before settling down for the night in separate rooms.
This was a far cry from his last internship. Shōta almost hoped that it failed quickly so that he could deal with the failure easier.
As always, it’s hard for Shōta to stay asleep and he’s the first one up the next morning. Tensei joins him not long after and they enjoy some quiet in the tower before Nemuri wakes up. Hizashi, of course, is up last.
The two of them are sitting on the couch and bickering while Shōta cleaned his breakfast dishes when the refrigerator opened again. They all turned to it, but only Shōta saw the source once the door closed. A tiny boy, probably a toddler, held a juice pack in one hand as he stared up at Shōta with wide green eyes. His eyebrows furrow after a moment and he questioningly asked: “Daddy?”
Flustered, all Shōta could do was reply: “Do I look like-”
And that is the exact wrong thing to say, apparently, because the boy’s face just crumples and he starts to sob. Tensei’s up and off the couch and midway to the kid before another door slams open and out rushes Edgeshot, hair messed up from sleep and his mask askew on his face. “Hey, little man, hey, don’t cry, don’t cry.” He picked the boy up but that wasn’t enough, the boy went rigid and refused to be comforted as he continued to sob. “Ah, shit.”
Heavy footfalls come from the hallway between the offices and the door flings open hard enough for the doorknob to leave an indent in the wall. There stood Yagi Toshinori, and wasn’t it so strange that you could find yourself forgetting that he was at least seven foot tall and built like a body builder when he slouched and smiled so sweetly? Well, he wasn’t smiling now, and Shōta found himself trying to erase a quirk that didn’t exist on instinct. Quirkless or no, the man could tear through him in an instant.
But Edgeshot’s quick minded, he twirls the boy around and holds him out to Yagi. “Look! Here’s Daddy! You found him!”
The change is instantaneous. All tears stop and the boy beams, holding both hands and the juice pack out to Yagi. As soon as the giant man realizes that the boy is fine he relaxes back down to the effacing person that they’d all met a year before in the office. He moves into the kitchenette and gladly takes the boy up into his arms, where the child snuggles in with his juice bag. “Don’t scare me like that, Izuku!” He scolded gently, softly bopping the tip of the boy’s nose with one large finger.
The boy just giggled, looking up happily at him. “Found Daddy.” He said simply, reaching up a hand to pat his face. Yagi smiled down at the boy with such open affection.
“You dropping him off at the tower daycare or is the not-yet-missus taking care of him?” Edgeshot asked as he looked at Shōta out of the corner of his eyes and tried to fix his mussed hair. It was a lost cause. “Also, if she’s here, I would like to request muffins.”
Yagi held the boy in his thick arms, ignoring when Izuku grabbed onto his bangs and tugged at them. “He’ll be in daycare. Inko had an early shift today, I put him down for a nap up here before the daycare opens and it seems he didn’t want to sleep.”
Edgeshot nodded and gestured to the boy and addressed the four teenagers. “Okay, kids. First rule of Might Tower is that this kid doesn’t cry, otherwise Yagi gets mad. And I dunno if you noticed, but that’s mad terrifying.” Yagi blushed and looked to the side, but made no apology for the show of protectiveness for his son. “Second rule of Might tower is that Yagi doesn’t cry, otherwise Inko gets mad and that’s worse. She’s half his size and can scream him into submission.”
Tensei stepped up towards Yagi and leaned over to grin at Izuku. “Hey there, buddy. You look about my little brother’s age.” He fished his phone out from his pocket and swiped open his gallery, holding it up to Yagi to show off pictures of his little brother. “Tenya’s a little over two. He’s got the engines that our family has, but his are in his legs instead of his arms. When his quirk activates I’ll be chasing him everywhere.”
That lead into Yagi and Tensei showing off photos of their respective families, with Hizashi scrambling over to show off pictures of his own extended family. Nemuri rolled her eyes good naturedly and leaned across the counter to watch while Edgeshot disappeared into a back office. He came out momentarily while looking at a clip board.
“All right, since Yagi’s been dragged off into ‘gush about my family that I love so much’ time, I’ll give you guys your schedules for today. Uh... Aizawa?” Shōta nodded in response, leaving Edgeshot to speak to him directly. “You’re going to be shadowing Nighteye today. Kaiyama, you’re going to be with me. Yamada, you’re with Jeanist. Iida, you’re with the big man himself.”
Hizashi groaned and shoved his phone into his pockets, giving Tensei a punch to the shoulder. “Really? Maaaan, you got all the luck!” He growled, but smiled quickly after to show there were no actual hard feelings.
Yagi shifted his son into his other arm and patted Hizashi’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, young Yamada. Everyone will be switching mentors daily initially before being paired with one for the rest of the internship. We want to see who you learn from best so that you’ll get the most out of this. I think I’ve paired you well, but each hero has something different to teach.” From the way he spoke, it sounded like mister secretary had picked out their pairings himself.
All eyes were on Yagi and he turned red again, scratching the side of his face. “Young Iida, you have a forthright manner and can connect well with others, this leads me to think that you’ll learn well from All Might. Yamada, your quirk is powerful but requires much technique, something that Jeanist excels in. Kaiyama, your quirk makes you excellent for situations that require finesse and a skillful hand, something that Edgeshot is already proving himself to be a master of. And you, young Aizawa, have a quirk that requires you to remain in the shadows to work best. You have much to learn from Sir Nighteye.” Despite his blush Yagi’s words are firmly spoken and earnest. “But I repeat: you have something to learn from every hero, and what matters most is how you learn from your mentor.”
Hizashi’s hand flew into the air and Yagi nodded to him. “So, no one’s getting paired up with Ectoplasm?”
“You’ll all have a day with him as well, working on things off the street. Ectoplasm is still recovering from the incident last year and is typically not out on patrol. However, if there’s a situation where any of your mentors are called out to a situation too dangerous for you to accompany them, you’ll be sent back and paired with him again.” Yagi explained. Izuku had finished his juice and started prodding his father in the face with the empty packet.
The other heroes came into the office a little after seven (Edgeshot having apparently stayed overnight in the tower in his own room) and all of Shōta’s friends paired off with their respective heroes. All Might was the last in the room and his presence filled it imminently. He boomed with laughter and swept each one of the students off the ground with a big hug. “Hello, my young heroes in training!” His smile was at full volume, brighter than the sun itself as he pulled Shōta into a warm embrace. Shōta fought this in the only manner he could, by going limp in his arms.
Surprisingly, the world’s number one hero got the hint instantly and put him down, moving onto Nemuri who squealed and hugged him tightly. “Thank you.” She said quietly, but just loud enough for Shōta to hear.
“Of course, my dear girl!” All Might boomed slightly softer, but still filled with exuberance. “I’m so glad that all of you were brought to my attention! Each one of you has such fantastic promise, and I am so pleased to have the chance to help you learn!”
God, he was exhausting to be around. Like Hizashi, but cranked up to eleven.
Thankfully he and Tensei go out together shortly after. Sir Nighteye looks less than pleased about the entire situation as he pushed his glasses up his nose, and somehow that glowering expression made Shōta feel more relaxed about this entire debacle. “Aizawa Shōta.” Hearing his name spoken with distaste was familiar, at least. “Follow along.”
Shōta fell into step behind the stern hero, hands jamming into his pockets. Nighteye’s quirk isn’t well known, but All Might’s been known to say that he relies heavily on the man. It probably isn’t combat related, whatever it is. Nighteye leads him into an elevator and down to the first floor. Before they can go out to the street he stops, Shōta stopping in his tracks behind him.
The tall hero’s eyes are stern as he looks down at Shōta. “I’m going to use my quirk on you, with your permission.” He said stiffly. Shōta raised an eyebrow and nodded. Nighteye placed a hand on Shōta’s shoulder, and his eyes-
His quirk was in his eyes, just like Shōta’s. They swirled as the man activated his quirk, and a moment later they were still and Nighteye pulled his hand away. “All right. Come along.”
They traveled in silence after that, Nighteye heading through the streets and Shōta following after him. “I’m surprised you haven’t asked what my quirk is.” Nighteye says after a couple of blocks.
“If you wanted me to know what your quirk was, you would tell me.” Shōta said flatly, staring at the back of the tall hero. “Yagi said that I’ve got a quirk that works best when people don’t know what it is, and that I could learn from you. I assumed your quirk works the same way.”
“Hnn.” Nighteye looked over his shoulder then, regarding Shōta with a raised brow. “Not so much, but I do stick to the shadows more than most. My quirk isn’t related to combat. But-”
Nearby there’s a scream, and the sound of glass breaking. Nighteye turns to the right and starts running, Shōta falling in step behind him. “-It does help me find where I need to be!”
After they stopped the crime (A simple grab and dash from a local jewelry store, nothing world changing) Nighteye dealt with the police with a high level of efficiency before checking on Shōta’s bruised knuckles. “Your physical combat skill is good. You’ve applied yourself well since last year. Yagi told me of his bargain with your group after he made it.” He added at Shōta’s look. “You’ll do well working with support heavily to augment your physical abilities. Your quirk works until you blink, correct? How quickly after can you use it?”
“Instantaneously.” He fished his eye drops out of his pocket and took a moment to apply some to each eye. “It’s all about judging the right time to blink.”
“And you can target one person at a time?” Nighteye started on patrol again after he was done, slowing his pace slightly so that Shōta could keep up easier and walk beside him instead of behind him.
“Initially. Now I can target around a six meter area.” He looked up at Nighteye and was surprised to see a slight smile there.
Nighteye caught him looking and rolled his eyes upwards, smile tugging just a bit higher. “Yagi’s got an impeccable eye for talent, he always has. My quirk, Aizawa, is called Foresight. You’re going to be one to watch in the future.”
“You told him about your quirk?” Toshi, still wearing his All Might uniform despite letting One for All rest, asked as he dug into his container of carry out. “That’s rare.”
“Just the name, I’ll let him imagine the details.” Nighteye picked out a few pieces of shrimp first out of his carryout container before dishing his out on a plate. “They’re all good picks.”
“They’re good kids. Young Iida is going to be fantastic. He’s got a wonderful quirk and a good heart to guide it right.” Toshinori had been impressed taking the young man out, he’d been filled with pride even though he had no hand in raising the young hero. Iida had a wonderful manner with civilians, gentle and generous and warm. He was going to be amazing.
They all were. He’d gotten reports about the kids all day from his assistants (pairing Kaiyama and Shinya was a hilarious disaster, but the amusing pictures he’d been sent all day made up for it.) and all of the kids had done well. If nothing else came from this internship, at least he’d be able to tell UA just how good these kids were.
Later, after he changes out of All Might’s clothes and starts work on the mounds of paperwork he has to do, Inko and Izuku come and join himself and Nighteye. The evening passes quickly, filled with warm conversation and soft laughter and never in his entire life did Toshinori think that life could be like this.
The internship passes quickly and is probably the most pleasant week Shōta’s had since early childhood. Each of the heroes in the agency does have something to teach, just like Yagi’d said. And, even more importantly, they’re willing to teach. Jeanist gives him tips on how to use his capture weapon from the support department and advances his skill level more in just a few hours than he’d managed to do by himself in months. Edgeshot had offered tips on sticking to the shadows and was more than happy to help him find information on the style of movement he used, going so far as to contact an old teacher. And All Might...
Well, even the vapid number one had useful information to pass on. “While your quirk will be best suited to the life of an underground hero, you will need to learn how to deal with the press. Even if it’s just to divert attention towards a more garish hero. Public opinion is a foe dangerous as any villain.”
They met Yagi’s not-yet-wife, a woman short enough that it’s comical to watch Yagi bend over to kiss her head. The two of them cook for all the heroes one night, then they have dinner like it’s something normal. Like top heroes get to sit around and eat and laugh and throw food back and forth (Edgeshot looked so refined on TV when he stepped into the spotlight, not so much when he was getting into a food fight with a toddler). It was unusual. It was nice.
And then Yagi had to ruin everything by getting kidnapped.
This isn’t the first time Toshinori’s found himself in this situation, but he’s angry that it happened while he had Izuku with him. Luckily his boy sat quietly on his lap, watching the people who’d taken them captive with wide eyes. “I’m sorry...” Toshinori said softly, cringing a bit when all eyes were on him again. “But it’s been a while since he’s ate. Could I have my bag, please? I don’t want him to cry.”
There’s a bit of a quiet argument between the thugs, one of them hisses that they should just kill the kid, another very quickly hisses back I didn’t sign up for killing kids, and that one hands Toshinori his bag.
In these kinds of situations it was best to build rapport with whomever you could. “Thank you.” Toshinori smiled at the man, but quickly looked down at the bag and busied himself with pulling out snacks for Izuku. “Look, Daddy packed you pears even though Mommy said no after the last time you made a mess.”
“Pears.” Izuku echoed, reaching out for the cup with both hands. It’d been his own fault, he’d put too much juice in the cup and Shinya was a horrible influence, and he’d been the one to leave his phone on the table, and- “Spoon, please.”
“Very nice manners.” Toshinori gave him the spoon he’d asked for and watched Izuku happily feed himself.
The thug that’d handed the bag over is keeping a close eye on them. He looks tired as his fellows argue in a nearby room. “You don’t seem nervous.”
“Since taking my position at the agency I’ve been held hostage sixteen times.” Toshinori explained with a shrug. “I’ve made a lot of friends in the hero world in my time working in it. Someone will come.”
The goon’s hand shakes a bit when he rubs one bloodshot eye. Withdraw from some narcotic, Toshinori’s willing to bet. It was a poorly planned grab, not thought up by brilliant villains. Just some thugs trying to make a quick buck.
“If someone comes then you and the kid die.” The bigger thug, the one that seemed to be in charge of the situation. “We know what their quirks look like. They wanna play hero, they gotta deal with the consequences.”
Toshinori kept a smile on his face, because this idiot has no idea the wasps nest he’s kicked. “And the interns?”
“The interns.” Toshinori pressed as he pulled Izuku a bit closer. The boy made an unhappy little growl as the pears on his spoon fell down into his cup. “You know the interns quirks as well?”
He’d heard it, approaching fast and bee-lining to their location. Toshinori scooped Izuku up and held him in the air, and almost instantaneously there’s the brief flash of hands on his and Izuku is gone. Another door is kicked down, and Toshinori sees a black clad figure with blazing red eyes in the doorway and over his shoulder the thug who’d been activating his quirk loses his power and stands confused. There’s a whistle through the air, and Edgeshot is stretching through the room from thug to thug, moments before a loud screech can stop anyone else trying to do anything stupid.
“Guess not.” Toshinori murmured as he looked down on the leader’s unconscious body. Nearby the man who he’d been talking to was unconscious as well, and for him Toshinori felt a pang of sadness. Addiction could cause people to do horrible things. It was a sickness.
But he doesn’t have long to focus on anything else, because Shinya’s pulling himself back together and grabbing at Toshinori’s shirt to make sure he’s okay, Kaiyama’s running in with Jeanist from where they’d been clearing out other areas of the building, Ectoplasm and all his copies finish securing the area. Outside, Iida Tensei runs around at a slower pace to hear the joyful shrieks of the child in his arms, Aizawa pulls back before a crowd can form and stands with Nighteye to watch the man deal with the police. Yamada’s laughing and standing on his tip-toes to throw an arm over Jeanist’s shoulder and ask ‘Yo, man, did you hear me?’. Ectoplasm dryly told him that ‘The whole city heard you’, Kaiyama thrust a fist into the air and echoed ‘The whole world will hear us!”
He’s fine, because they’re all there.
Inko’s waiting for them at the tower, she gives him a kiss to the head but leaves him in Iida’s arms. “You’re such a trouble maker.” She said, leaning up to give his cheek a few light smacks. Toshinori caught her hand and held it to his cheek, stooping over slightly to make sure she wasn’t at an uncomfortable angle. “Scaring everyone like that.”
“I’m sorry to worry you.” But it’s impossible not to smile at her even if she is scolding him.
Inko sighed and smiled, pulling away from him to fumble in her purse. “Don’t apologize, you don’t mean it. You’re always going to worry me. But, y’know? I think I want that.” Nearby, Edgeshot has started to make a soft croon of excitement and before Toshinori can ask him what’s wrong or wonder why he’s whipped out his phone, Inko pulled her hand out of her bag. In it was a box.
She flipped it open and held it up, and inside is a ring. “I realized if I waited on you I was going to be waiting forever. And.. I want this to be forever. I want to worry over you and be with you.” Inko stepped closer and spoke softer, looking up at him with her warm green eyes. “And maybe this’ll make you remember that I love you, and I’m not going anywhere.”
It was hard to accept that, sometimes. There was a part of him inside that would always been the quirkless teenager left alone, the unwanted child, the unloved worthless boy. Toshinori put one hand over the box and held it there, unable to speak for a moment.
But Inko’s there, and she can see the answer in his eyes. She reached up with her free arm and he leaned down, letting her hook that arm around his neck before picking her up effortlessly and swinging her around.
For a moment there’d only been the two of them in the world, but that moment of silence is gone as people around start making an awful lot of noise at once. Shinya’s hooting and jumping up at down, filming himself in the foreground and the two of them in the background. Nighteye’s grinning unrestrained, Ectoplasm looked more quietly amused and pleased. Young Kaiyama is shaking Aizawa, crooning about romance. Iida’s started running around the room again to make Izuku shriek with laughter.
Everything he’s done, every bit of suffering life had caused him, every lonely moment, every bit of pain. All of it was worth this moment where life was good and whole and wonderful. This, this was the reason he’d fought so hard all of these years, so that there’d be a world where people could laugh and be happy. And, against all odds, it looked like he’d made a world where even Yagi Toshinori could live and be happy.
Just in time for new year, I finish this part of the story. It's been an interesting few months, but I'm glad to have been able to get myself together long enough to finish this.
The current plan is to do a short story on Toshi's youth, meeting Nana and Gran, called 'Nana's Brat'. The next step will be starting around the time Izuku gets his news about being quirkless and this time having a parent who tells him what he needs to hear: You can be a hero. Also: Toshinori getting involved with a lot of things like Endeavor's A+ parenting, Mitsuki's A+ parenting, Katsuki's bullying bullshit, the school system's ignoring Izuku's bullying, and all of that fun stuff. Make a man into a family man and suddenly he's got a lot of things to worry about.
I want to thank everyone one last time for all the love they've shown this story. To those who've commented, left kudos, bookmarked: Thank you. I'm so glad that you've enjoyed this and that it holds a place in your heart. I read every comment with giggling glee and laughed over a lot of the bookmark tags. Thank you all, truly. It's one thing to start out a story going strong, telling yourself 'Oh, I'm writing this for ME' and it's another thing entirely to know that people are enjoying it.
I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's celebration. Don't party too hearty, be safe! Hopefully I'll be seeing you early in 2019 with something new.