A hearty gust of wind ruffled the cherry-trees lining up the gates of UA, the pink blossoms flying off to join the others on the paved ground, and one flying petal is caught by his hand.
He rubs it between his gloved fingers and sighs. It’s spring again…
“Yes, Young Izuku, it is spring again…”
Izuku snaps out of his reverie and looks up to his mentor, letting the petal fly off. “Sorry, I just got distracted.”
Toshinori gave him a sympathetic but small smile, leaning more of his weight on his cane. “It’s fine; I’m keeping you longer than necessary with my chattering. I thank you again for visiting and for giving my first-years some professional advice. You didn’t have to.”
Izuku rubbed the back of his neck, laughing sheepishly. “I still don’t see why you’d want me. You’re the best professional of us all!”
“Ah, but I am old and retired, remember?” Toshinori placed a hand on his chest, grinning.
“You’re not that old, sir…”
Toshinori laughed, certainly dismissive of his claim, but still in a good mood. “By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask… What are those on your head?”
“Hm?” Izuku blinked, then realized what he meant. “Aah, this?” The goggles on his head. He adjusted it over his eyes, it’s big and wide and has a faint green tint. “Mei asked me to test it out for her. She made it after I said I wanted to move even faster around town, but you know that when I move too fast, I can’t see and hear as well as I'd have wanted, so I asked– well, I didn’t ask, she offered, and then I gave her some suggestions, like–”
“Okay, I get it.” Toshinori interrupted with an amused eye-roll and patted him on the shoulder with the cane. “Lunch-break is almost over, so off you go, you’ve got a job to do.”
“Right!” Izuku began taking steps back, readying to leave. “Don’t forget to take your medicine, sir!”
“Oh, I’m fine! Stop worrying.” Toshinori waved him off, turning to walk back inside. “Good luck out there, youngling!”
“Of course!” Izuku saluted quickly on his way, even if his mentor wasn’t looking anymore.
Izuku smiles softly, running at a normal pace until he’s outside the school’s gates. He stops to stretch his legs for a few seconds, letting his power flow through his entire body with Full Cowling, then adjusting his goggles over his eyes again, tapping its side to activate.
The earpiece connected to it beeped a few times. Izuku nodded and inhaled deeply, crouching and finally propelling himself forward into the sky towards the tallest building in his line of sight, from where he would jump to the next, then the next.
One–two–three–four–five buildings covered.
He hums in satisfaction with the wind on his hair, and he slicks it back again as he’s been doing for while Hero-ing. It didn’t lose its natural messiness, but PR agents have told him it made him look a little less ‘average.’
The light-weighted feeling of flying up and then falling back onto a roof before moving to the next and repeating the process as he looks around is a relaxing one. The usual patrolling around town puts him at ease.
Usually, he didn’t move so fast. It was good to walk around and be seen, although typically Izuku left that for when he's dealing with Villains directly on the ground. This would be a good test for Hatsume’s invention as well, though.
Shapes could be seen on his visor. Status: Active. A circle moved around the edge of his vision, scanning his surroundings. Relying on support-tech wasn’t something he liked doing these days, but it wouldn’t hurt to test it out and do what he usually avoided…
Izuku grins and pours more power to speed up further, hopping past and over buildings as quickly as he could until the world almost passed by in a blur–
An alarm sounded on his ear and he stopped, holding the railing on a roof with his feet on the wall, following the target on his visor from there. Down below on the ground, he’s quickly directed to the cause: Glass breaking.
But looking at the situation, it seemed that it was just a minor Quirk accident, and someone broke a store’s window and was now bowing repeatedly to the owner.
Izuku huffed in relief and continued on his previous track.
The goggles were still susceptible, and minor accidents like tire-screeching from an abrupt car-break, or glass cracking, or even someone showing off a little bit of their fire Quirk to friends was enough to trigger its alarm.
Izuku slows down mid-air, crossing his arms and cupping his chin, humming in thought. He’d have to report that to Mei… There was some calibrating to do until it truly served a practical purpose. He wouldn’t be using it that often, though…
The alarm beeps again when Izuku is on his way down. Oh? What is this? Hostage situation in plain daylight? Izuku didn’t ever pretend he wanted to understand what Villains were thinking…
The visor flashes with extra information; face recognition software gives him a name and a Quirk. Simple strength enhancement. Basic. Nothing difficult to deal with…
He falls with a crouch on the nearest and lowest rooftop, then hops down towards the culprit, a burly and tall man holding a petite woman and shouting at scared citizens trying to keep their distance, some with phones filming – and he digs his foot onto his back, hands already snatching the poor hostage bridal-style and walking off the downed Villain.
No wounds visible on her, good. “It’s alright; you’re safe now.” He smiled brightly, putting her down.
She smiles with a blush, wiping off a few tears and hugging herself, still shaking and red-faced. “T-Thank you, Deku…!” The fearful crowd keeping their distance suddenly relax, smiling and approaching a bit as well.
And that is always a good sight.
“Heey, knock him down, Deku!” Someone shouted from the crown, and Izuku turned just as the Villain stood and gave his furious – drunk – scowl a flick on the forehead, effectively knocking him out.
He hears cheers in response.
No need to let him make more of a spectacle of himself. A flick is usually all Izuku gives small-scale Villains like this. It's actually a bit of trade-mark he's unfortunately acquired for himself, first stamped on his image at that very first tournament, years ago.
Even so, there was no reason to waste precious energy on such common-trash, and the police would take care of him soon enough.
As the sirens blare in the distance, Izuku only stops to greet those civies who want to meet him or ask for autographs, and he waits until the police arrive. But people know he likes to keep moving.
Staying still for too long during work-hours just makes him anxious. Someone could be in danger, and maybe precious seconds were all they had… Izuku couldn’t waste any time because of that. “Stop mumbling, idiot.” He muttered to himself already in midair, continuing his patrol for the day.
He catches an invisible robber trying to steal from a high-schooler in an alleyway.
He breaks up a small gang-fight under a bridge and promptly beats up both sides of it.
He stops a store gang-robbery in progress.
…The day is unusually calm…
His area of patrol is relatively large, and normally, he deals with Villains way more often than in just a few incidents.
Just one of those days… He’d chalk it up to a mere chance, as usual…
He didn’t like the quietness, though… It’s not that he didn’t want people to be safe. He just didn’t trust Villains with being quiet for too long…
Other than that, it’s just another day like any other. All incidents intercepted. All Villains caught and handed to the police.
It’s his usual daily routine.
The sun is setting, and Izuku always hates this part of the job…
Mainstream Heroes only work during civil hours, until the sun begins to set, and there was a small period of transition from Heroes like him to the Underground Heroes at night, the civil twilight.
By the time the sky was darkening, he wasn’t exactly allowed to roam around. He didn’t like the idea of leaving until he absolutely had to, so he always waited around until civil twilight was over to head back to the agency.
What if he missed someone in danger…? But that was a paranoid thought. Underground Heroes arrived early and took care of things very efficiently…
No need to worry so much, just go… It’s almost 6:00, and it’s getting dark. He didn’t want to be late, did he?
Izuku sighs, pocketing his phone and standing on a water-tower over an apartment complex and looking down at the city. All the lights are on by now…
A rickety metal door opens behind, and he turns quickly, relaxing when he sees a kid, maybe a first-year middle-schooler, still with his backpack – and when spotting Izuku, he immediately gasps and falls on his back in visible shock. “D-D-Deku?!”
How familiar. Izuku smiles in amusement, waving lightly. “Sorry, is this your hiding spot? I was just leaving.”
The kid was still frozen after sitting up, staring with wide, starstruck eyes. Izuku wanted to laugh at how sympathetic he felt. He really knew the feeling… although it was still so odd to realize it was directed at him. “Well, see ya on the other side of the screen, kiddo!” He prepared to leave.
“W-Wait- wait!” The kid shouts suddenly, standing up fully.
Izuku looks back but quickly rechecks his phone… He’s going to be late. “Yeah?” He’s ready to be asked for an autograph, which he has time to hand out, but just barely.
How cool and amazing that it even happens? Handing autographs? It’s surreal… He barely feels like he deserves it. He doesn't–
“C-Can I ask you a question…?!” The tone sounds… so desperate, and it strikes through the mild urgency in his head like a lightning rod, casting his thoughts into silence.
Izuku stops bouncing on his feet and leans forward slightly, hands on his knees, expression softening slightly. “Of course. What is it?”
“…C-Can I be a Hero like you if I’m…” Cold dread settles in Izuku’s stomach. What are the odds… “If I’m Quirkless?!” Oh, this poor kid… Now he knows why he looked so familiar… The browbeat posture and desperate need of some kind of validation, any at all…
He has time for this.
So Izuku sighs, head low. That in itself dampens the kid’s spirit, because he knows, deep inside, what the answer will be – and Izuku drops to the ground so he could be nearer to the kid.
“Quirkless… huh…” He nods slowly and walks past him, dropping by the edge of the building, feet dangling over – the building has guardrails low enough for him to lean over.
He motions for the kid to sit closer. He doesn’t sit too close, seems hesitant to get that close. Oh, boy…
“You’re not treated very well at school, I’m guessing?” He asks the kid, who pouts. He’s a few years younger than Izuku was back then…
“They say… I can’t be a Hero…” Nearly crying. “Call me useless and weak…”
The hurt. So, so familiar. Izuku nods again. “Can you keep a secret?” He smiles lightly, finger over his lips.
The kid’s eyes light up and he nods.
“I was treated the same.”
It’s not that this isn’t available knowledge. Izuku is just not really eager to advertise that part of his life… So he preferred to let it fade into the background. People from his old Middle School aren't very eager to admit how badly they treated the Hero 'Deku,' and Izuku wasn't eager to call them out for it.
Nobody wanted to think about those years.
“Yeeeah,” He crossed his arms over the railing, watching the horizon, his smile a bittersweet one as he tried to keep his tone lighthearted. “My Quirk… is a… complicated thing… Couldn’t quite use it when I was 4 like all the other kids. Everyone basically thought I was Quirkless, and it stayed that way for nearly a decade… I wanted to be a Hero too, but… I was really about to lose hope…” He breathed a hollow laugh, feeling that sentimental nostalgia.
A strike of pain hits him when memories resurface briefly. Tall, broad-shouldered, proud– blond hair and red eyes, and a mean grin–
“It was about that time when I met All Might.”
The kid’s mouth made an ‘o’ shape. “You knew him before UA? Was he hurt back then?”
“Yeah, pretty much. It, uh… it turned out our Quirks were a bit similar…” The lie rolled off his tongue like water. “I couldn’t use it because I just didn’t really have the know-how, and the first time I did, I just hurt myself.” He laughed, and so did the kid, probably because he knew how messy his Quirk was from back in that first tournament.
It felt so cruel… because it felt like he was leading up to something hopeful…
“But…” He braced, turning to the kid, words slowing down. “Not everyone is as lucky as me.”
He could see, he could practically feel that hope shattering in the big eyes of a child, shoulders dipping and smile fading slowly.
Izuku steeled his will and clutched his fist. “Even with all the power I have, I can still… fail to save someone. All Heroes can fail, despite their Quirks. I know it upsets you,” He continued before the kid could react to his words. “But people…? Most times, they only have one chance to be saved.” He raised a finger, eyes narrowing softly. “Not being strong or good enough for the situation, or having no Quirk at all… People can die, kid.” Or disappear. “This risk isn’t worth it.” He shook his head, turning away. “…If you truly, genuinely want to help, do what you can do. Not what you want.”
Oh, the tears… He tries not to look.
Izuku sighs again, tone sounding tired. “…I was told once… ‘Self-sacrifice’ is the essence of heroism, you know…? Being in the front-lines is just… not… realistic for you.” The words came with a bitter taste. "So, you shouldn't do it, even if it means sacrificing some dreams…"
It hurts, but…
The truth hurt him back then too. He knows it must feel just as painful to this kid…
The truth is… there aren’t many places where the Quirkless can stand out above others, if any at all.
A doctor…? Someone with a bio-focused Quirk could supplant them.
Teaching? Someone with an IQ and Memory or Empathy Quirk could supplant them.
Managerial? Someone with an Analysis Quirk could supplant them.
The list goes on forever…
The best they can do is… apparently… to find something they can do to survive, find someone who loves them, and live their lives as normally as possible…
But then again, it was easy for Izuku to admit this. He’s no longer in that situation, right?
Izuku stands. “If you want to help, leave the front-lines to those who have the best chances of actually saving those under the most danger.”
He liked to think that he understood how his mentor felt back then. But it didn’t even come close. Now he understood. But he just…
He stopped as he walked to the opposite end of the roof with a resigned nod, rubbing his forehead tiredly, looking back. “You’re welcome to keep trying; you’ll find the standards may be too high to climb, but…”
The kid looked back, hugging his knees.
“Who knows…? Maybe you could get lucky too.” He shrugged with a weak smile. The kid’s eyes lit up with a new… more desperate fire. Izuku wanted to punch himself. How cruel. “Just… don’t keep your hopes up, though… I don’t want you to get hurt for no reason…” But it’s necessary to temper it down. “See ya, kiddo…”
He couldn’t crush it completely. He wasn’t as tough as All Might… But he wasn’t about to fully bring that fire back up if it would inevitably be snuffed out in a few years.
He leaves it at that and quickly heads back to the agency, wanting to have as much distance between him and the mirror-image of his past behind.
Izuku frowned as he flipped through the papers in his office’s desk, muttering what he reads and then seeing the digital clock on the laptop.
6:38. Good, he still has plenty of time.
He gathered his reports, done and signed as soon as he’d arrived.
He flipped through their contents quickly one last time to make sure no errors were present, then nodded in satisfaction with a small smile and closed the laptop, leaving the room, locking the door, and speed-walking through the hallways towards to the main office, occasionally greeting staff, and then finally knocking a few times once he reaches his destination.
He heard with the usual placid tone and walked in. He stood in front of the desk in almost a flash, creating a slight breeze, handing the reports and forms and accounts.
“Sir Nighteye.” He greeted amicably.
The man nodded, still holding his own papers in place as the breeze dissipated, then picking up the ones Izuku handed out. “How is Toshinori? You visited him, yes?”
Izuku nodded back. “He’s content. Taking his medicine and avoiding stress. No sign of complications.” He replied with an amused tilt to his report and a mock-salute.
He’s not necessarily ‘keeping an eye’ on his mentor like Sir wanted. The man could take care of himself. But it was still an amusing sight to him that Sir Nighteye, while not as distant to Toshinori-sensei as he used to be, still insisted on asking that Izuku report on how he was doing.
He wasn’t making roundabout visits all the time, or chatting enough to pry information on the man’s health, but he asked Izuku to do it instead…
Sir blinks at one report, brows jumping up. “You talked to a child about your Quirk?” His tone was just plain incredulous.
Izuku’s shoulders dropped slightly. “I didn’t say anything pertinent. A little lie and a little omission here and there… I was just… trying to be sympathetic.” He shrugged and his tone softened. “Quirkless to Quirkless, you know…?”
His foot was tapping now. If Sir noticed, he didn’t comment. But he sighed, rubbing his forehead. “Alright. It’s nearly 7 o’clock. So off you go… We’ll talk about this tomorrow.” He gave Izuku a sharp look and pointed.
Izuku beamed, bowing some nearly-90 degrees. “Thank you, Sir! We shall!” And he ran off, out of the room in a flash again.
He leaves the building, putting on a long jacket, a knit-cap, and some tinted-glasses, a disguise just good enough to leave some doubt, so people just whispered instead of approaching him.
He took the crowded train, checking his phone every minute.
Certainly much faster than trying to drive at rush-hour when everyone’s going home as well, and he wasn’t allowed to zip around the rooftops with his Quirk in civilian clothes.
Odds are, if he did, he’d just be stopped by some Underground Hero and held up for way longer than needed, being questioned and handing out identifications and giving excuses for at least half-an-hour…
He only uses his powers to move faster when he’s at Mustafu once again, and he reaches his destination within a minute.
Izuku stopped with a skid in front of the right house, tapping the tip of his dress-shoe and checking for friction damage.
It was still okay.
Taking a deep breath, he adjusted and patted his clothes, taking off the cap and the glasses, putting both in his jacket’s pockets, and shook his head to leave his hair fall naturally over his eyes again.
Checking his phone…
He stood in silence, breathing and letting his heart and body slow down for a few minutes.
He approached the door and rang the doorbell.
Phone’s still in your hand, stupid. Oh, right. He put it back in his pocket just as the door opened.
“Izuku, dear!” A tight hug immediately assaulted him, Izuku let out a mock ‘oof’ sound.
“Hey, mom.” He hugged her back, having to lean down to reach her, patting her shoulder softly.
She pulled away, smiling brightly as always, and making more new wrinkles visible. “Come in. You’re right on time.” She guided him inside.
Izuku closed the door behind and then took his shoes off as his mother chatted.
“I feel like you've grown every time I look at you… You should visit me more often!”
Izuku chuckled as he set his jacket on a coat-hanger. “I visit you every weekend, mom.”
“It’s not enough! I miss you all week!”
Then, another voice sounded. “Ara, Izuku! Finally!”
Izuku sighed, his posture relaxing slightly. “Hello, Mitsuki-san.”
She approached to hug him as well, just as tightly as his mom. “Just drop the damn san already! No need for formalities just because we see you on TV all the time. You’re practically family!” She backed away with a wide grin, patting his shoulders rather forcefully. “Ain’t it, tough guy? C’mon, dinner is almost ready!” She walked off, Izuku and his mother right behind.
In the dining room adjacent to the kitchen, he found– “Masaru-san, hey.” He greeted cordially.
The man stopped setting plates over the table to smile lightly at him, bowing very softly in courtesy. “Good evening, Izuku-kun.” Izuku bowed back ever so slightly, almost a nod.
His mother went up to him to help set the table, chatting affably about something or other with Mitsuki.
Izuku felt his attention wander already. “Masaru-san…” He called the man. “May I…?” He hesitated, pointing to the living-room.
Masaru’s smile softened. “Of course, go ahead.” He gestured towards it.
Izuku nodded in gratefulness and relief, moving into the hall and into the living room, towards a particular room.
It was a slide-door. He stopped in front of it, needing another second of deep breaths. Then he opened it calmly and closed it behind.
It was a small room. He turned on the light. Not very bright, but it was a soft, yellowish light for him to be able to see. He sat properly on his knees in front of the stand.
Slowly and with caution, he lit up the incense, placing it in the small bow, then he clapped his hands without much sound, eyes closing and bowing.
The calming scent he breathed helped, his brows had furrowed as an old pain began to resurface…
But it was fine…
He sighed again, lowering his hands and opening his eyes. Smile gone. Expression nearly blank if not for his brows tilting up without his control. His breath hitched. “…Hey, Kacchan…”
The picture didn’t respond.
It was during middle-school. Still had his Gakuran. Still looked unamused, but at least not irritated… Still… still…
After a few seconds, Izuku spoke quietly. “I wish you could hear us… Or at least, I wish you’re okay… Wherever you are…”
He wondered sometimes…
What if he’s a spirit watching them? What if reincarnation is a thing, and he’s out there somewhere with a different name and body? What if there’s a heaven? What if there’s a hell?
What if, what if, what if. So many answers he wouldn’t get until his own demise… What if he’s still out there– Izuku closed his eyes, shaking his head with a tired sigh.
No leads. The trail is dead. It’s been dead for a long time. No way to find it again… He's long come to terms with it. Its painful confirmation resurges in his mind.
“Where is Bakugou Katsuki?” Izuku almost growled.
The prisoner on the other side of the glass rolled his red eyes with a scoff. Movements restricted by the biddings. “Where indeed…” Shigaraki wondered sardonically. “Kurogiri is the only one who knew. But… he’s dead now.” The man’s corrupt and maddening smile widened. “You shot yourself on the foot there, it’s Game Over for you, and it’s your own fault … ”
Izuku dismissed the memory. It turned out, that’s the truth…
It wasn’t their fault the Warp-Gate man ended up dead.
In a battle, it’s impossible to coordinate everything.
Accidents happen, he supposed…
But this accident was the final nail in the coffin.
Their only lead was dead. Their only chance was gone along with him. They just didn’t know it at the time.
Every single surviving Villain from the League would say the same thing. Would always confirm their fears. One by one, until they finally got Shigaraki.
There’s no lead. It was over…
Bakugou Katsuki was truly gone.
"I just came to say 'hi'… Things have been okay around here…" Izuku talks quietly, trying to think of things and events Kacchan would be interested in hearing about… if Izuku had any of that at all, considering…
They never got the chance to resolve their issues and get along… They never got any closure… The fact that he'd never have that used to hurt too much to bear…
Kacchan probably wouldn't have cared much, but Izuku keeps talking for several minutes …
Eventually, Izuku stood slowly, taking deep breaths to calm his emotions again, before leaving the room, going back to the dining room and joining everyone, where they'd have a good time talking about their lives and their memories.
The good ones…
…Today, on April 20th, it wasn't necessarily a day of mourning. That was something Mitsuki and Masaru did on their own in July. Today was the day this person they held dear in their hearts was born. Not gone.
A good day. A day to be remembered as good.
…For the longest time, it was just a difficult day. But… all pain fades with time…
Their only choice was to accept it… and move on.
…So they did…