“Your father is a great man, but he is not a good one.”
Izuku learns this at the age of four.
This is what his mother tells him across the table, after he asked why dad left before dinner. Dad works odd hours, especially around nighttime, but he usually stays for dinner. And Dad always gives mom a kiss on the cheek and him a hug before leaving.
He wants to ask why mom says this, why his dad is not a good man. Yet he sees the way mom stirs the food on her plate, wearing a smile when she says they should watch a movie while they eat. Her smile looks wrong because her eyes are so sad, and he wants to tell her but that will make her cry. She’s trying so hard not to cry and that scares him because mom never shies away from crying. She’s the one that tells him its okay to cry when your sad.
So he doesn’t ask. Izuku chooses the funniest movie they have and snuggles on the couch next to his mom. He grabs the TV remote with his quirk and starts the movie.
It’s a good movie and never fails to make him laugh, but today he keeps missing the punchlines from peeking up at mom. She is eating and laughing, but her eyes are still shiny. The TV screen illuminates the wet streaks smeared across her cheeks. He hugs her closer and pretends to watch the movie.
“All finished,” the last of the Band-Aid is wrapped around Izuku’s knee, and his dad smiles at him. “What a nasty fall, but you were very strong to get back up and find me.” Izuku sniffles.
“But I cried! Kacchan calls me a weak crybaby when I do.”
“Is that so?” Izuku nods. Dad sighs and ruffles his hair. He likes to do that, as other people now do once he got his quirk. It’s not as cool as dad’s hair, the way it flickers like a flame. People always assume his dad has a fire-based quirk because of it. “Your mother cries often. Do you think she’s weak?” Izuku shakes his head.
“That’s right. Your mother may cry often, but she is anything but weak.” His dad gives a slight chuckle at the thought, amused that anyone would think so. “Crying does not make you weak, Izuku. Everyone does, but few are strong enough to cry in front of others. And sometimes you are stronger when you hold back those tears.” Izuku blinks up at him.
“When are you not supposed to cry?”
“That’s difficult to say. It could be for imitation, a situational atmosphere, or for the sake of others.” His dad picks him up gently. “Let’s go home before your mother starts to worry.” Izuku wipes his eyes and smiles back.
Something was going on.
Mom and Dad were acting funny. They would go about the days as normal, but Izuku could see something was different when they interacted with one another. The way their shoulders would stiffen and tense. How they would avoid looking at each other, or if they did it was always filled with something sad and pained. When he asked why, they wouldn’t tell him. At night, when they thought Izuku was asleep, their hushed voices carried into his room. He can never catch the words they are saying, so one night he uses his quirk to sneak down and listen.
From his hiding place underneath the table, Izuku can see his parents standing in the living room.
“…our relationship is built on lies!” this is the first words he hears from their talk, coming from his mother. She has tears running down her cheeks, but he has never seen her look so angry before. “Was all this a lie too? That this family was just a good coverup for your work? Because its real for me, and its real for your son!”
“No,” his dad voice turns soft, thick with something so heavy that Izuku starts to cry. “My feeling for you and Izuku have always been true. You are my wife and Izuku is my son, and I love you both more than anything.”
“If that was true, than this wouldn’t be happening.” Mom’s voice cuts through sharply, and Izuku cries harder. But he bites his lips and covers his mouth to stop any sound from escaping because he has to know what’s going on. Even if it hurts, he can’t fix anything if he doesn’t understand.
His dad is a bartender, who works at a bar and private parties. He is good at his job since he gets paid so well. Sometimes better than his mom, who works as a receptionist at a hospital. Izuku knows this, and although he has never been to his dad’s work he has seen him do cool tricks with drinks when the Bakugou’s sometimes host their fancy adult parties. So dad isn’t hiding his work. Unless he’s doing something else besides his work.
“Please Hisashi. Just,” his mother’s whisper interrupts his thoughts. She’s clasping dad’s hands in hers, eyes pleading. “Just stop this. My heart can’t take it anymore.”
“Oh Inko, I’m so sorry.” Dad frees his arms to pull her into a hug. He holds her tightly and closes his eyes. “I never attended to cause you such pain. Even that it hurts me to see you like this, I cannot stop this.”
“We can figure something out, we can get help. The heroes-”
The shout makes Izuku jump. He hits his head on the table with a loud bang, and immediately his parent’s voices fall silent.
“Izuku,” He freezes at the sound of his name, knowing he’s been caught. “Sweetie, is that you?”
“Please come on out son. There is no need to hide.”
Hesitantly, the little boy creeps out from under the table to meet his parents’ worried faces. Tears still cling to his eyes that he tries to rub away as his mom wraps him into her arms.
“Oh honey,” she rocks him slowly as her husband smooths his curls. “Did we wake you up? We didn’t mean to be so loud.”
“What’s going on mom?” he hiccups into her shoulder, and she stops rocking. “Why are you mad at dad? Why is he in trouble about his work? Why can’t the heroes help you, dad? They always help everyone.”
“I wish that were true,” sighs as he gives the little boy and his wife tissues before leading them to the couch. Izuku climbs into his lap, but still keeps his mom’s fingers in his chubby fist. “Unfortunately, not all heroes do.”
“All Might does,” Izuku argues.
“All Might tries, which is admirable.” Yellow eyes soften to something bittersweet, even if the young child doesn’t pick up on that. “And I know that you try as well, which your mother and I are so proud of you for. This is different however. All Might tries, but he can’t always help everyone. He can’t always fix everything. All Might is a hero, but he is human too.”
“But,” Izuku protests, and his mother squeezes his hand.
“Izuku, it’s late baby. You will be so tired for school tomorrow if you stay up any longer. Let’s go to sleep.”
Izuku doesn’t want to go to sleep. He wants answers. He wants everything to be right again.
When he wakes up he doesn’t bother asking questions, even when he can tell his parents were talking again. If they will not tell him, he will find the answers on his own.
At school, Kacchan gets mad that he doesn’t join him and their friends at recess to play.
“Why not?” the blonde growls, sparks already popping across his palm. Think that you’re going to beat me at kickball? Not a chance! I’ll crush you!”
“Yeah, c’mon Izuku!” Tsubasa flaps his wings. Don’t be a spoilsport!”
“Tsubasa brought a new ball and everything!”
“No!” Izuku waves his hands frantically. “I want to play, but today I have to think. There’s something going on that I have to solve.”
“Is it that same thing that’s been making you act all weird this week?” Izuku looks up in surprise at Kacchan. Was he really that obvious all his time? Biting his lips, Izuku nods.
“Tch,” Red eyes stare at him for a few more seconds before turning to the crowd behind him. “You guys go away. I don’t feel like playing.”
“Not you too, Bakugou!”
“Let’s go,” Kashiwaeda uses his long fingers to usher the others away. “We can’t play with an odd man team anyways.”
The crowd makes its way to the field, leaving the two boys under the tree. Kacchan plops down beside him.
“Hurry up and tell me the stupid thing so I can solve it. I want to go play kickball.”
“You didn’t have to stay, Kacchan.” Izuku says quietly, and yelps when he gets pushed down in the grass.
“Shut up! Don’t tell me what to do! It’s not my fault you’re too dumb to solve your own problems, stupid Deku!”
“W-well,” Izuku starts. “Mom and dad have been arguing a lot lately.”
“Hah? That’s it? Adults do that all the time! It’s not your problem so don’t worry about it.”
“But, I’ve never seen mom so mad before! And they won’t tell me what’s going on. I keep asking but they keep pretending nothing’s wrong. Late night, I snuck down to listen what they were saying, and mom was yelling at dad about him lying and about his work. Then he said he couldn’t stop what he was doing and yelled when mom said heroes could fix this. Dad never yells! Then they heard me, so I asked and he said even All Might couldn’t help him! That doesn’t make sense, because All Might is the number one hero!” He would have mumbled more, but Kacchan stopped him.
“Is Uncle Hisashi stupid? Of course All Might can fix this, he always wins! Unless,” his friend trails off, red eyes squinting in thought. “you heard that Auntie said he was lying. People don’t lie unless they don’t want to be in trouble.”
Kacchan’s right, so that means that his dad is in trouble. But in trouble for what? Something about his work, that he thinks that heroes can’t help him. Who do heroes not help?
Your father is a great man, but he is not a good one.
Is dad…doing bad things...?
“Oi,” Izuku’s head shoots up, and he realizes that everything is blurry. “Stop crying, dummy. Recess is over.” Izuku rubs his eyes as Kacchan drags him back to the classroom.
“Dumb uncle’s probably just exaggerating. The old hag does it all the time when she says she’s going to call All Might to beat my ass.” Izuku gasps.
“Kacchan, that’s a bad word!”
“Shut up, Deku! Like I care!”
When Izuku wakes up the next day, he goes to the kitchen and finds that his parents are sitting in the living room. Next to his dad are suitcases.
“Izuku,” his mother calls him over. Her eyes are red-rimmed and heavy bags puff out under them. Dad’s eyes are not puffy, but he doesn’t look any better. “Your father has been trying for a new job, and he was lucky to find a big business opportunity. But that means he will be working far away for a very long time. I know we should have told you sooner, but we were worried how devastating it may be-“
“Baby?” His mother blinks in shock but Izuku continues.
“Y-you said that dad wasn’t a good man, and dad was lying. People don’t lie unless there in trouble. Dad was scared and didn’t think heroes could help. T-the only people heroes don’t help when there in trouble are…”
He trails off, looking at his father.
“You’re a villain, aren’t you?”
For a moment, everything is quiet. Izuku doesn’t hear the constant ticking of the clock, or focus on the trembling rhythm across his chest. He focuses on his father, and how the light dies in those yellow eyes. In that moment, Izuku knows the answer before his father speaks.
And the world tilts.
“Why?” The word chokes out as a hiccup, voice small and scratchy as he tries again. “Why? You c-can’t, you read me bedtime stories and tuck me in at night. You, you, you said I could be a hero. Better than All-Might! You, I love you, so, so you can’t be, can’t-"
“My precious son. Oh, my dear boy.”
His father is crushing him close to his chest, head burying in his hair. Yet Izuku can hardly feel it. “I am so sorry. I am so sorry for the lies, for disappointing you. It was never my attention to hurt you like this.”
“Then, then, don’t go!” He can hear his mother sobbing, but he doesn’t dare let go of his dad. His fists cling to his dad’s shirt even tighter. “Please stay. We can make you good! I-I can, can-“
“I wish I can stay, but its too dangerous. Remaining here will ultimately cause even more harm to you and your mother, and I cannot allow that.”
With one last hug, he pries Izuku off to hand to his mother and grabs his belongings. The air twists into a portal a few feet in front of him. His dad walks forward.
“No!” Izuku shrieks out in his mother’s arms, wriggling in vain to break free. “Dad, stop!”
“Goodbye Izuku. Inko.”
“Dad!” Izuku activates his quirk to catch him before he goes away. To bring him back. A wave of fog swirls out like a wall behind the man, swallowing up Izuku’s attempt and blocking his dad from sight.
“Be good for your mother, Izuku. I love you.” The voice fades away before the barricade drops. His dad is gone. Mom still doesn’t let go.
“I’m so sorry, Izuku!”
His dad is gone.