Izuku was five when it first started.
He was sitting alone in his living room when a girl came up to him. It didn’t seem so strange to him that she was there, though he hesitated to talk to her at first, because his mom always told him not to talk to strangers. But then she introduced herself soon after and they became fast friends.
She loved heroes too and she wasn’t as mean as Kacchan when he made mistakes and she didn’t punch him down or anything. She was also really pretty with a bob or flouty brown hair and pink cheeks and big eyes. She had a really cool quirk too! She could make things float, kinda like his mom!
When Izuku mentioned that Kacchan sometimes called him Deku but he said it meant useless she blinked and said. “Well I think it sounds like Dekiru! That means you can do it! Can I call you that, too?”
Izuku quickly agreed, partially because he liked the sound of the name and partially because she was the first girl to ever be friends with him.
Soon after another boy shyly approached them. He was taller and wore glasses and kept doing these weird hand chopping motions. He was very well behaved but also really smart. He was kinda easy to tease. He had a really cool mutation where there were engines in his legs. He even let them touch them.
When they asked him if he liked heroes he said he loved the and talked about how his parents used to be heroes and his brother was a pro hero right now. Izuku just about passed out from excitement which put him in Tenya’s good book.
Next two more kids came in as loudly and as impressively as possible. One was a girl with bright pink hair and gold eyes that could zoom in and out. She was really smart and Izuku had a lot of fun talking to her about hero tech and costumes. Most of the other kids felt left out so they had to stop geeking out.
The other boy had pale blond hair and white pupils and he tried to be the center of attention. He could copy peoples quirks which was really cool but he also pretty loud and rude. When Ochako yelled at him for being obnoxious, he started crying. He didn’t come out looking cool at all but no one judged him.
The last three children were shyer than the rest.
One was a boy with red and white hair. He had two different colored eyes and he could control fire and ice. He said that his dad told him that having friends was a distraction. Mei told him that his dad was a weenie.
The purple haired boy thought he was imagining them because his quirk was bad and he wanted friends. When Izuku asked what his quirk was he and Mei lost there cheese over how cool it was. He could control people's minds! That was so useful, he could save so many people with a quirk like that. Mei went on and on about what she could do to help his quirk shine and they were basically talking over each other while Hitoshi leaned away from them. He seemed a little brighter afterwards.
The third and final boy was older than the rest of them. He seemed very confused and refused to touch anyone because his quirk could hurt people if he wasn’t careful. After some shockingly quick and intelligent talking between Izuku and Mei. They had a plan drawn out in one of Izuku’s sketch books to make gloves for him so that he wouldn’t have to worry.
Tenko seemed extremely excited about the idea until he pointed out that they weren’t real and that he couldn’t really be in Izuku’s living room.
This drew feelings of confusion from all the kids because he was right. They couldn’t be where they thought they were because they were somewhere else moments ago.
And in an instant they were all back where they were supposed to be. As though the meeting had never happened.
Blinking at his empty living room Izuku shrugged and decided to show his mom the drawing of the glove he and Mei made. She was good at sewing, maybe she could make them!
He had a feeling it wasn’t going to be the last time he saw his friends.
They did in fact see eachother again. They did in fact see each other the very next day and mei was ecstatic. She had so few friends and she was so curious what was going on and those kids she met were so cool and smart and they needed to figure things out.
So that means IT’S TIME FOR EXPERIMENTS!
Test 1: Can people see us ?
“Hey, mom, can you see me?”
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be able to see you? Did you make something? Lemme see, baby!” Mei’s mom responded grinning maniacally at her daughter.
Mei shook her head. “No, I didn’t make anything. I‘m just running some tests. Can you see my friends?”
Mei pointed at a sleepy looking Hitoshi. Her mom shook her head. “You made friends, baby? Are they robots? I’d love to meet them.”
Mei recreated the test a few times in everyone else’s ‘rooms’ (as they were calling each others perspectives). The same thing seemed to apply to everyone. The parents and friends couldn’t see them unless it was their room.
Test 2: Are we ghosts when we’re in eachothers rooms?
“Hito-chan, knock that over!”
“What… why?” the tired boy said looking at the coffee cup Mei was pointing at.
“I wanna see if you can touch it or if you pass right through it! Do it! Do it! Do it!”
Giving her a dry look, Hitoshi knocked the cup off the table the way an irritable cat would. “Woo!” Mei said as the thing shattered on the floor. “Mom, did you see that?”
Her mom gave her a reproachful look. “Why did you do that? You know not to intentionally break things if you can’t fix ‘em.”
Mei’s pupils contracted as she realized she was suddenly across to room standing right beside Hitoshi. “OH MY GOD! HITO-CHAN CONTROLLED MY BODY!”
Izuku started going on a rambling rant that went by slightly too fast for Mei to understand. She really liked Izuku. He knew a lot about quirks and while he couldn’t build anything (something she intended to change) he was really creative and she could tell they were going to make great partners.
She also like Neito because he was a caught on easily and he was sassy. He was also good at improvising and was a challenge when it came to building for him. Since his quirk could be anything his costume would need to be flexible enough to work with anything. She loved challenges.
She’d already decided that when she was going to be the one to design all her friends suits. They were hers now and any other designer could talk to her FREEZE RAY™.
Anyway, they continued the tests because it couldn’t be that simple and they got Mei’s mom to film her when one of them was moving stuff and watched it to see that Mei was in fact doing it.
Izuku’s next helpful question was: Can we use each other's quirks?
Test 3: Can we use each other's quirks?
THE ANSWER IS YEAH!!! AND TODAY IS THE BEST DAY OF MEI’S LIFE!!!
“Mei, please stop.” Shouto said looking very concerned as she set herself on fire and burned everything in the immediate vicinity. They were in his dojo that was specifically built for quirk use.
As a response she tried to freezing dummies while she was on fire. It did not work. Hmm.
She brought her hands together and tried again. It didn’t work.
Okay what if she moved like this!
“Ooh! Mei-chan! Mei-chan! Let me try! Let me try!” Izuku pleaded. They’d figured out that only one of them could control a body at a time but who cared about that when they could use each other’s quirks.
Shouto looked really disgruntled when she let Izuku take over. Izuku started by muttering to himself about how Shouto’s quirk work. Than he experimented using both sides and then got a considering look. Than he followed Mei’s example of bringing his hands together only instead of clasping them he cupped them and spread his legs apart and then used his whole body to do a motion like he was splashing water from between his knees.
And he got water! Granted not a lot but he figured out how to do it and she was so proud and AHAHAHAHA IT CAN BE DONE! YES! AHAHAHAHA!!!
Shouto stupid tiny mouth dropped open.
“DO IT AGAIN DO IT AGAIN! LET ME TRY!” Mei practically screamed.
“Mei-chan, you already had your turn!” Ochako whined.
“I wonder…” Izuku was saying.
“But recent debelopments mean I need to try again! Experiments! science!”
Izuku swung his hand back and then forward with dramatic flare ice starting at his foot fire at his hand and he clapped his hand together. No water this time but it looked really cool.
“Maybe when he’s gets more powerful...?”
“What do you mean?” Neito asked looking intrigued. Izuku jolted out of his thoughts and Shouto gladly took his body back. They’d also come to realize that now that they knew they could do it, it took actual effort to take someone’s body from them. Like they mentally resisted if they didn’t want you to do something and boom you were a ghost. It was a neat discovery.
“Well…” Izuku said cautiously. “I think with enough pressure and power Shouto might be able to make lightning.”
“WHAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!” Mei said shaking Hitoshi by the shoulder. He was one of her favorite people because he was one the easiest people to annoy. He was like a grumpy sleepy cat. It was awesome!
“R-really?” Shouto said, eyes going adorably wide. He had a really pretty face and eyes that were two different colors, so that was cool, but Mei also thought his hair was stupid.
“Uh-huh.” Izuku nodded.
“Oh, I get it!” Tenya said really loudly. He was another boy easy to pick on. “Like when they were teaching us about weather in class. Lightning is a result of hot air and cold air hitting! so Shouto would be able to do it if he heated up enough hot and cold air together, yes?”
“Ah! That’s so cool, Shouto-kun!” Ochako said bouncing up and down. “Can I try next!? Pleeeeeeease!?”
Test 4: Can Shouto-chan make lightning!!!?
The answer is currently no. No one in Shouto’s body could do it not even Shouto, but this wasn’t the end of it. If Mei could make something to help or if it worked when he was older they’d totally be coming back to this test!
Test 5: Can they use their own quirks when in each other’s room?
Ochako was totally the first to puke.
Not the only one but totally the first one.
Izuku concluded that they might be able to do it but right now it tired them out too quickly. That’s called quirk exhaustion.
It was another test they’d have to put a pin in until they were older.
Test 6: Were they sical- cycli- sycic- ly’ (psychically - love mom) connected?
HELL YEAH THEY WERE! WOOOOOOO!!!
Mei had everyone go to their own room and tried to think at each other and it freaking worked, they could mentally talk to each other and it was the greatest thing ever!
Iida warned that they shouldn’t use this to cheat on tests but he was a nerdy goody goody who didn’t see the full potential of their telepathy. Oh the plans Mei was already making!
Test 7: Could everyone be outta their own bodies at once?
It’s like their souls are all flouty and all their bodies belonged to each other. Like they were one entity outside of their bodies. All connected by strings or… something?
They did a full body swap and no one had to stick to their own body when they did it. It wasn’t as fun as it could be because it was basically being alone in someone else’s room but Mei did take apart Neito’s ancient Blueray player so that was fun. He got mad though so she had to promise to put it back together later (she never said when later was).
Test 8: How are they connected?
Izuku suggested that maybe it was his quirk and right now that was the best theory they had. It made more sense than it being a strangers quirk and it’d be really crazy if it wasn’t a quirk.
Izuku was the only one of them that hadn’t developed a quirk yet so it was totally be him. Since the quirk didn’t seem to turn off it might be like a background emitter quirk? Mei didn’t know that much about quirks beyond tech stuff. She’d leave the expert-y stuff to him. He seemed to know what he was talking about. But she figured he was kinda like an antenna and all they were pinging off his quirk?
They had no way of testing it right now. Izuku talked about a new hero who could turn peoples quirks off. He’s seen him in the sports festival. But there was no way he’d help them so for now it was up in the air. Izuku said he and his mommy would go back to the quirk specialist later and see.
Test 9: Why are they connected?
The question was even harder to decide on. They tried to figure out what they all had in common but they couldn’t figure it out. They were all so different. They were all kinda weird, sure, but that didn’t explain why they were connected out of everyone in the world.
Izuku looked like he had an idea but he didn’t say what it was.
So for now it was a mystery.
Mei loved mysteries so she’d solve it eventually.
She always did.
Shouto had been quietly terrified when he found out about his new power. He liked his new friends. A lot. It’d been a while since he was allowed to play with other kids and he’d been getting really lonely. Sure, he had his mom and siblings but none of them were his age and they were always busy and so serious. His new friends were great and super cool and nice.
The problem was that he had to keep them secret from his dad and he had to keep his dad a secret from them.
Shouto wasn’t stupid. His mother had explained to him that what his dad was doing to him wasn’t normal. That it was abuse and he couldn’t tell anyone without getting in trouble, without getting her in trouble. She told him to keep it a secret for her.
He couldn’t keep it a secret if he had people in his head. Thanks to Iida they already knew his dad was Endeavor and Izuku had freaked out. He couldn’t let them know that his dad hurt him. Mommy would cry.
And to make matters worse, when he told Fuyumi about his new friends, she told him not to tell dad or he’d get mad. He still wasn’t sure if they were real yet. Fuyumi seemed to think they were imaginary but they felt real and he was pretty sure some of them were smarter than him. It’d be weird if his imaginary friends knew things he didn’t, right?
But Shouto still understood why he couldn’t tell his dad about his new quirk. His dad finding out about his fire and ice power was bad enough. If he found out that Shouto could psychically (Hitoshi taught him that word) connect with other kids he’d either get yelled at for wasting his time on friends or his dad would train him even harder.
He might even try to bring his friends into his training and that was the last thing Shouto wanted. It was bad enough that mommy got hurt protecting him. Shouto didn’t want his friends getting hurt too.
But, of course, as Shouto was often reminded life wasn’t fair and the day after his new friends experimented with their new quirk, his dad dragged him in for training. And they were there with him.
“Your dad is scary,” Ochako said quietly. Most of his friends shrunk away from his father, Shouto with them.
“Well!” Endeavor said in his too loud voice. “What are you waiting for!? Attack!”
Biting his lip, Shouto sent forward an ice attack the melted pitifully almost instantly. His father kicked him in the stomach and Shouto fell on his butt and almost puked. All his friends looked like they were going to puke too.
His friends started to scream and panic. Some still looked sick from the apparently shared pain. But most seemed terrified that an adult hit him.
“That’s Abuse! That’s Abuse!” Iida said, the loudest. “That is Against The Law!”
To Shouto’s great surprise it was Tenko who moved forward. Shouto could tell he’d taken over his body. The older boy was pouting angrily but he threw a wave of ice forward harder than Shouto had. His father seemed more impressed than before but he still threw a punch and faster than Shouto could follow, Midoriya had taken Tenko’s place and dodged the hit.
“What are you doing!?” Iida was gasping and karate chopping in a panic. “This is against the law! Your father is a hero! He can’t do this!”
“But he is!” Tenko shouted back. The girls and Neito were crying. Hitoshi’s eyes were wide and scared.
Midoriya had a determined look on his face as his father grinned down at him. “So, you finally figured out how to dodge,” the man said, almost proudly. “A good start but see how you dodge this!”
The man sent a wall of fire towards him, clearly not at its lowest temperature. Izuku’s eyes widened and Shouto switched places with him throwing up a wall of an ice.
Endeavor gave a pleased laugh.
Shouto, Tenko and Izuku all shared knowing looks. Shouto didn’t know the two boy’s very well yet but he understood that this wasn’t their first fight.
It was almost eerie how quickly they fell into the rhythm of switching as Shouto’s father threw attack after attack at him. They could all see that Endeavor was holding back. He was a grown man after all and the number 4 hero in all of Japan. But he was definitely pushing Shouto to the extremes of what they could all handle. He wouldn’t stop smiling.
They all had specialties. Izuku was the best at dodging, Shouto was the best at using his quirk and Tenko was the best at picking out weaknesses and strategies. Soon after his other friends got over their shock and fear, they joined the tag team. Iida was the fastest, even without his quirk. Uraraka was the lightest on her feet. Neito was the most creative and flexible. Mei was the best at using their environment, and Hitoshi was the best at seeing through his dad’s fake outs. Together they made a startlingly good team. Especially with how easily and quickly they switched.
Sometimes their skills overlapped, but all of them covered each others weakness and for the first time since his father started training him, Shouto didn’t feel afraid.
It didn’t take long for Shouto to begin to falter from exhaustion, but for every friend that fell back another took their place. Despite the discovery that they all shared pain, that they all felt what Shouto was feeling, the bruises, the tiredness, the urge to puke, the others kept getting up when Shouto failed to.
Finally his mother burst in. “Enji!” she practically screamed. “I told you to stop this! He’s only a child!”
“Shut up, woman!” Endeavor yelled back as his mother moved to stand in front of him. “This is the best he’s fought since I started training him. Get out of the way!”
“He’s a child,” his mother said glaring him down. “Shouto, get out of here.”
“Shouto, stay where you are,” Endeavor ordered and Shouto froze up even though he knew better than to stick around. “Rei,” Endeavor growled. “Move out of the way.”
“No.” she said quirk activating making ice crackle out sharply around her feet,
Endeavor struck her.
His mom fell to her knees holding her cheek, a bitter expression on her pale face. Shouto felt the urge to run. It was scary when his parents fought. Most of his friends seemed to agree, except for Hitoshi who had his fists clenched in anger, and Tenko who’d pulled his teeth back from his teeth in a defiant growl.
It was Izuku who moved. In Shouto’s body he moved to stand between Shouto’s mother and father. His green eyes held nothing but defiance.
“A hero protects people,” he said.
His father loomed above the small boy. His mother’s eyes were wide and wet with tears. Midoriya didn’t back down and in a moment, Tenko moved to join him and then Hitoshi and Iida and Ochaco and Neito and Mei. And finally with a moment of hesitance Shouto joined them too. He stood between his mother and father and he felt… something.
It was like the fear faded, if only a little. He felt strong, protecting his mother and suddenly he found himself in his own body, Izuku and all his friends beside him.
His father’s hand came down like an anvil and Shouto resisted the urge to flinch, only to have the blow never fall. Instead his father ruffled his hair, probably messing up his part.
“You’ll learn,” he said darkly. “But good job today, I’ll expect that kind of work from you from now on.”
Shouto’s father gave his mother dismissive look. “Reward him. I have work.”
And then his father left without looking back.
Shouto’s mother burst into violent tears. Shouto approached her cautiously knowing how volatile her ice could be when she was upset. She quickly dragged him into a tight hug and he hugged her back as she cried, not entirely knowing why she was crying. Shouldn’t she be happy? They stopped him.
His friends chose that moment to go back to their rooms to give him a moment with his mom.
“Shouto, I’m so sorry,” she cried. “I’m so sorry.”
“B-but... I protected you?” like a hero. Like the hero he wanted to be.
His mother cried harder.
They ended up gathering in Tenya’s room after they left Shouto with his mother.
Hitoshi was the first to say it. “So, what do we do?”
They were children but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that Endeavor hitting Shouto and his mother was a bad thing. But as children they couldn’t do much about it either. All there bodies ached with Shouto’s bruises and exhaustion.
Tenya bit his lip at the awkward silence. “I’ll tell my brother, of course. He’s a pro hero. He’ll arrest Endeavor and that’ll be the end of it.”
“Endeavor’s a pro hero, too,” Neito said leaning forward from where he was sitting on Tenya’s bed. “And we don’t have any evidence. The police only believe evidence!.”
“Yeah,” Izuku agreed looking away from Iida’s strange glasses collection. “Plus Endeavor is the number 4 hero. He’ll be a lot harder to take down than a normal person. You saw how he attacked, that wasn’t even him at his full strength. Your brother probably couldn’t take him in a fight. And he’s gots-a ton-a power, like money and lawyers.”
Neito nodded firmly and everyone else looked worried.
“My brother could beat him!” Iida said, sounding offended.
“That doesn’t mean he can arrest him without evidence.” Neito said pointedly. “My mom’s a lawyer, so I would know !”
Hitoshi tilted his head. “Well, one of my moms is a detective. I could ask her to help but I’m not sure if she’ll want to if she’s not getting paid…”
“Hito-chan, don’t be stupid,” Neito said pointing his finger obnoxiously. “Of course that’ll help. Go ask her.”
“...okay,” Hitoshi said giving Neito a slightly annoyed look but taking the situation seriously enough to return to his room.
Mei hummed in a considering tone. “I could probably figure out how to make mini cameras or get my mom to teach me how to make them. Then we can mail them to Shouto and get more ebidence.”
“I don’t think Endeavor would do anything in front of a camera,” Izuku said seriously.
“That’s why they’re mini ,” Mei said as though it was obvious..
Ochako was still pale. “Guys…” she said softly. “Can we stop talking about this? That was really scary. I just… I just wanna go home.”
They all shared looks.
Tenya nodded. “She’s right… that was scary for all of us. I think, we should just go home and be with our families.”
Tenko, who’d been silent and staring out Tenya’s window whirled around to glare at Tenya. “How do you think it Shouto feels! That’s not the first time that happened, I could tell. We can’t make him stay there. We gotta save him. Now.”
Tenya fell back, not used to people yelling at him. “I’m not saying that we shouldn't help him. But there’s only so much-”
Shinsou reappeared looking like he was going to cry. “Mom didn’t believe me,” he said in his soft voice.
Tenko’s red eye’s seemed to burn. “That’s what I mean!” he shouted. “Adults don’t care. Adults don’t listen. They aren’t gonna help. So we have to act.”
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Nieto said with attitude, absolutely imitating his older sister. “But we’re five. What exactly are we going to do?”
“We go over to Shouto’s house and take him down,” Tenko declared.
“I don’t wanna fight him again,” Mei gasped.
“If he was taking us seriously he could have squashed us like bugs,” Neito said.
“I don’t think Shouto-chan wants us to kill his father,” Ochako said timidly.
“That’s so reckless!” Tenya gasped.
“What’s happening?” Hitoshi asked looking confused.
Tenko glared at all of them. Then his eyes settled on Izuku, who shrunk under his gaze. “And you?”
“I want to take him down,” he said quietly, the rest of their groups eyes widened. Tenko started to grin.”But…” Tenko’s smile froze. “But I think we gotta be smart about this. We aren’t strong enough to take him down on our own right now. And Endeavor is one of the top five heroes in all of Japan. If we just run in he’ll kill us.”
“Not if I kill him first.” Tenko said pouting.
“Your quirk depends on getting close enough to touch. Endeavor uses long range fire. You wouldn’t stand a chance.” Izuku said almost automatically.
“If we all attacked him at once-”
“Villains do that type of attack all the time. Endeavor’s won those fights too. He uses his fire like a shield.”
“How do you know?” Tenko said in an ‘I’m older and smarter’ voice.
Izuku played with the edge of his shirt. “I like studying heroes. I know a lot about them...”
“Fine,” Tenko said crossing his arms over his chest, careful to keep his pinkies out. Even though he couldn’t use his powers in other peoples rooms it was an ingrained habit. “If you’re so smart than what’s your plan?”
“Well, we try to get the adults help first,” Izuku said timidly. Tenko snorted but most of the other kids were nodding. “And we help Shouto fight his dad during his dad’s training so he doesn’t get hurt.”
“Doesn’t that mean he’ll just hurt all of us?” Neito asked. “You saw how he attacked today. He’s only gonna get worse.”
Izuku nodded in agreement. “We gotta get stronger. We gotta learn how to fight like a hero. We gotta become heroes and save him like All Might!”
All the kids shared looks again. Most of them wanted to be heroes. Mei still wanted to be an inventor but she figured that helped them because they need support items. Ochako wanted to be an astronaut but she figured she could be an astronaut and a superhero.
Tenko frowned. Heroes had never done anything for him, but Izuku had been agreeing with him so he didn’t know how to disagree.
“Why don’t we just tell All Might?” Hitoshi asked. All the kids eyes widened and rushed to agree with him because that was the best idea they’d had yet.
Tenko disappeared to his own room, not saying another word. Izuku was the only one who noticed.
Several letters to All Might later, when most of the friends had gone home and fallen asleep Izuku returned to Shouto’s room.
Shouto was sitting alone hugging his knees. He was staring into space, looking lost and sad. Izuku sat on the floor beside him.
“Are you okay?” Izuku asked gently.
Shouto slowly looked up at him biting his lip as though hesitant to speak at all. Ever since his dad started his training he’d been told to keep it a secret and suddenly his seven friends knew it. He wanted to trust them, especially after the help they gave him protecting his mother but he was scared. Scared of getting in trouble, scared of what his father would do, scared of hurting his mother more, scared of getting his friends hurt. He was always scared.
“...” so he didn’t respond.
Izuku sat with him in silence. It was surprisingly okay. Shouto actually really appreciated Izuku giving him his space.
So eventually he said, “My mom cried after we saved her. I don’t know why.”
Izuku tilted his head and started muttering to himself, which wasn’t really an answer but Shouto hadn’t really expected things to be that easy anyway. Things were never easy.
“...I think maybe she was scared for you?” Izuku suggested. “My mom cries when she’s worried about me all the time. It makes sense that she got scared when you tried to protect her. You could have got hurt.”
Shouto frowned but seemed to agree that that made sense, “I wasn’t the one who stood up to him,” Shouto said almost pointedly.
Midoriya looked sheepish, “You did, too, and you were the only one your mom could see.”
Shouto hummed and thought, “Hey, are you real? Like really real?”
Midoriya shrugged, “Yeah? I mean I feel real and you seem real and I don’t think I’d make this up. Do you?”
Shouto took a long moment to consider his answer. “No,” he decided. “I couldn’t.”
“Hey!” Tenko said appearing in the quiet room and seeming surprised to find Izuku already there. His face split into a grin. “I knew you’d show up! You aren’t like the others.”
Izuku cringed some more. “What do you mean?” Izuku hated being singled out.
“You’re like me and Shouto.” Tenko said smartly. He was seven and seemed so much older than the rest of them. “When Endeavor started hitting us, you started dodging faster than everyone else. And no one knows how to dodge like that unless someone is trying to hit ‘em. And you don’t trust adults either. So you’re like us, right?”
Izuku winced and started anxiously twiddling his fingers. He didn’t think his thing with Kacchan was that bad. It was nothing like Shouto’s situation.
“Us?” Shouto questioned.
This time Tenko seemed to tense, then he stuck his chin out and said almost defiantly. “I come from an orphanage and some of the foster homes I’ve been in were shitty. They hit me, too.”
Shouto and Izuku winced, in unison this time, both at the swear and the admission. The three of them ended up sharing sad, knowing looks. Izuku couldn't not admit, “My mom never hit me. I just get bullied a lot. It’s not as bad as you two.”
Tenko frowned and Shouto’s expression didn’t change much. Izuku was noticing that Shouto often tried to control his expressions, but they always seemed to fall back down to being sad.
“How bad are you being bullied that you can dodge like that?” Tenko asked, shrewdly.
Izuku just seem to fold into himself more and Shouto ended up giving him even more worried looks.
“It’s just Kacchan…” he mumbled.
Tenko didn’t relent. “Yes?”
“Kacchan just likes to mess around with his quirk sometimes…” Izuku said, sounding like he was doing something wrong. Part of him felt like he was tattling.
“What’s his quirk?” Shouto asked, sounding slightly worried.
Izuku just shifted guiltily, “...explosions...”
“EXPLOSIONS!” Tenko shouted, alarmed. Shouto and Izuku flinched badly. Shouto bit his lip but kept quiet, shooting Tenko cautious looks. He shot worried looks at Izuku too. Shouto resembled a timid, frightened cat actually. Like the one in the neighborhood that only let Izuku near it if he was patient and slow with his approach.
“He’s just goofing around...” Izuku defended instinctively.
“‘Goofing around’?” the older boy said sounding disgusted. “A quirk like that isn’t something you goof around with. When I goofed around with my quirk I was told I could kill people! And he just gets away with it? And he actually fired explosions at you!? No wonder you’re a good dodger, you gotta be!”
Izuku’s response was an incomprehensible mumble. A small part of him felt slightly justified by Tenko’s defense. He was right after all, what Kacchan was doing was bullying. But no one had taken his side before and part of him couldn’t help but suspect that Tenko was just defending him because he didn’t see the whole picture. If he knew Kacchan he wouldn’t be on Izuku’s side.
“Have you told your teachers about him?” Shouto asked softly.
Izuku couldn’t meet his eyes and ended up staring at the wooden floorboards next to Shouto’s tatami mat. “...they told me I needed to toughen up…” he mumbled, trying to ignore the still fresh sting of that kind of rejection. His mom had always told him to go to an adult if he was in trouble. The adult would help. But they didn’t.
Tenko made a growling noise and Shouto was suddenly glaring at nothing in particular. “That’s what they all say,” Tenko spat angrily. “They say hurting us is for our own goods and that’ll only make us stronger and they won’t have to hurt us if we just behave. But they’re wrong! You hear me. R-o-n-g! All adults do is pick on us and hit us and i’m sick of it!”
“Hey my mom isn’t like that!” Izuku protested.
“And mine isn’t either,” Shouto added.
Tenko scoffed. “They aren’t now. But it’s only a matter of time. You can’t trust any adult, I’m telling you.”
“That’s not true!” Izuku said, bursting into tears.
Tenko startled and yelled at him. “Hey! Don’t cry!”
That did not help.
Shouto was tittering silently because the only person he’d ever really seen cry was his mom and that was totally different than this. What did he do? He tried hugging Izuku. Izuku hugged him back and it was kinda nice but awkward. Shouto shot Tenko a look over his shoulder, both his eyebrows raised as if to say ‘what did you do? What do I do? Is this right?’.
Tenko snorted and averted his eyes. Kids. Izuku was just being a baby.
After Midoriya called down about he wiped his face and smiled timidly. “...sorry… I’m a crybaby…”
“Yeah, you are,” Tenko agreed arrogantly.
“Tenko.” Shouto said bluntly. “You’re being mean.”’
“I am not!”
“Yes, you are. Stop it.”
“...it’s fine.” Izuku tried to cut in.
“No, it’s not.” Shouto said. He stuck out his lower lip and stared the older boy down.
Tenko glared back, but Shouto it turned out was more stubborn and finally Tenko huffed and looked away. “Fine, sorry, Izuku.” his tone had a slight mocking tone but Shouto let it go deciding this was probably the most he was going to get.
“So why-” Izuku started.
There was a soft knocking on the door frame and everyone froze and went silent. Shouto’s mom slide the door softly open and entered, closing it behind her.
“Hey, sweetie,” she said in her soft voice. “Who were you talking to?”
“No one,” Shouto said too quickly. His mom frowned but she kneeled on his futon beside him. Izuku and Tenko both silently moved out of the way, almost afraid to say something even though they knew she couldn’t see them.
“That’s funny, I thought I heard voices,” she said, sounding amused, like she’d caught her son talking to himself. It was refreshingly childish. “Your father told me to reward you earlier, well i got you something.”
From behind her back she pulled out a toy. It was an all might action figure, already out of it’s packaging. It was a fairly cheap one, that could be found in pretty much in any store that sells hero merch. Izuku hadn’t yet discovered the wonders of collectibles, being so young. His room could still be considered a shrine to all might purely because at that age he considered it, and heroes as his current (and future) obsessions. So even though he didn’t know a lot about expensive collectibles he could still tell it was one of the common toys.
“Surprise,” she said softly. She smiled as Shouto’s eyes widened and his face split into a full smile. Izuku decided he really like Shouto’s smile and decided he would work to see it more often. Tenko couldn’t help but feel terribly jealous. It wasn’t his fault that he didn’t get toys or nice things. It wasn’t his fault that no one shared with him because his quirk damaged things. He just wanted to be like everyone else, but it wasn’t his fault that he wasn’t .
Shouto took the toy like it was something terribly precious and hugged his mom still smiling brightly. “Thank you!” he said genuine and earnest enough that it was clear he didn’t get presents like this often.
His mom just smiled tiredly back, the love warm and real, though any happiness to be had didn’t reach her eyes.
“Do you remember where to put it?” she reminded. Shouto nodded looking disappointed. He would have loved to sleep with the toy or play with it until morning but he knew he couldn’t. If his dad ever saw it, not only would the toy get destroyed, but they both would get in trouble. It was with that knowledge that Shouto stood up with his mom and together they pushed his tatami mat out of the way and pulled up one of the floorboards. This was what Shouto nicknamed his treasure hole, all his other toys and contraband were hidden there. It was a pitiful pile but one that he cherished dearly. Shouto put the toy gently beside his two comic books and the Vulpix plush his brother got him for his birthday.
He stared at it for a long, longing moment. Then he put the board back and moved his futon back over the spot. Izuku watched the entire thing with a frown. But Tenko knew about ‘treasure holes’ as well as many foster kids. His consisted more of things he’d had to steal to have in the first place but that was just how things were for him.
Shouto’s mom sat back down beside him and kissed his forehead. Then she glanced away sadly. “Shouto?” she asked.
“From now on, could you not interfere between me and your father? I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Shouto sent a look towards Izuku but earnestly asked. “But I helped. He didn’t hit you as much today.”
“Today, he didn’t,” she confirmed rather sadly. “But that was because he was surprised and you’d already pleased him in training. You know how your father is. He’s stubborn. I don’t want you to get hurt because he turns that stubbornness on me. I don’t want you to get hurt at all. So from now on could you please just let mommy handle him.”
“Now, Shouto,” his mom cut him off. “It’s not a little boy’s job to protect the parents. It’s a parents job to protect the little boy.”
“But it’s a heroes job to protect civilians,” Izuku replied automatically, startling when he realized that he was speaking through Shouto.
His mother’s eyes just got sadder. “That’s true, sweetie and you’re going to be a great hero someday. But right now you’re still a little boy so you’re going to have to wait to protect me, okay? Shouto, please.”
Shouto looked down at his hands. “Okay, mom…”
“Okay,” his mother repeated hugging and kissing his forehead once more. “I love you so much, my son, I love you so, so much.”
“I love you, too,” he all but whispered. His mother tucked him in and turned the light off on her way out, leaving the three boys alone again.
“We’re gonna break you out of here,” Tenko confidently growled.
“W-what?” Shouto stuttered.
“We’re not letting you stay with that asshole, any longer,” Tenko declared.
“Tenko-chan, we already agreed that we were going to ask for all might to help,” Izuku said looking distressed.
“All Might won’t help,” Tenko scoffed. ”writing to him is like writing to Santa Clause or some other fairy tale. He’s not gonna save us just because we send him a letter.”
He said it almost too knowingly, Izuku almost guessed that he wrote letters to All Might before. “But still,” Izuku insisted. “Running away isn’t going to work. Where will he go and wouldn’t Endeavor just track Shouto down?”
“I’m not leaving my mother,” Shouto said firmly.
Tenko rolled his eyes. “Fine she can come with. But only an idiot sticks around a jerk who hurts them. So come one. Get your things and lets go.”
“Tenko, we don’t have a plan- if he just leaves there’s no telling-”
“Shut up!” Tenko snapped. “I’m the oldest so i’m in charge and i say the Shouto should have to put up with his dumb dad. So he’s not going to. We’ll figure out the rest when we get there.”
“He’ll just find me,” Shouto muttered.
“Just because you’re the oldest doesn’t mean you’re in charge.” Izuku declared.
“You should want him outta here just as much as I do,” Tenko hissed. “If you had a choice about sticking around ‘Kacchan’, would you?”
Izuku flinched and stared down at his feet. “I-I j-just w-want t-to b-be friends again.”
Tenko scoffed dismissively. “You’re just weak. If you were strong you wouldn’t let anyone mess with you.”
“Tenko you’re being mean again.” Shouto growled.
Tenko huffed in frustration. “I don’t get what you guyses problem is! Your supposed to be on my side! Endeavor is an asshole! So he needs to be taken down.”
“We need to be smart about this!”
“...he’s still my father.”
“Ugh, fine, stay helpless!” Tenko stormed off to his room. The room was considerably quieter without him.
“Should we go after him,” Izuku asked nervously.
“We should let him cool off,” Shouto said, this time all to familiar with dealing with the emotion anger.
“Okay…” the boy still looked anxious. Shouto was admittedly feeling exhausted. Izuku twiddled his fingers. “Shouto-chan do you really want to stay with your father.”
Shouto looked away. “Not really. I want things to go back to how they were before i got my quirk. Izuku smiled ruefully at the response.
“I know the feeling…”
“You don’t want to be friends with us?” Shouto said suddenly awake and upset.
“No!” Izuku reacted. “Not like that! Not like that. It’s just… it’s just… er… a year ago I was declared quirkless… I had some of the vis-vistal-vistgious-vest- vestigial traits and everything. And since then people have been bullying me for being quirkless… Kacchan especially… he’s gotten a lot meaner since he got his quirk....”
“Oh,” Shouto said, not really understanding why people would be meaner to Izuku for being quirkless. Then he thought about how his dad would react if he was quirkless and he understood.
“Well… um… thanks for coming to talk to me.” Shouto said awkwardly “It’s… it’s nice to have someone my age to talk to.”
“Oh it’s no problem!” Izuku said enthusiastically. “I think it’s nice to have friends again to. We are friends, right?”
“Yes,” Shouto nodded firmly. “We’re friends.”
“Okay great…” Izuku nodded eyes wide and bright. “I… um… I should probably be going home.”
“Yeah…" Shouto said, trying not to feel disappointed.
“And Shouto,” Izuku said, before disappearing. Shouto caught a glimpse of steely determination before he vanished. “We will save you.”